Sep 192011

A work colleague came to me recently, confiding that she had a problem with her boss. When congratulating her for winning a contest, he had put his arm around her waist for a picture. She had felt uncomfortable saying anything at the time because it occurred in public, but it had made her feel very ill at ease. She had seen a fleeting facial expression from a coworker in the same situation once that suggested she was not alone in her discomfort. I asked her if she had spoken to her boss about the incident.

A young student friend of mine shared that during school lunch breaks, a friend of hers would push tables apart so that only certain mutual friends could be included in the group eating lunch together. It made her feel embarrassed and ashamed to see some excluded. I asked her if she had decided what to do about it.

So often, we find ourselves irritated and upset by friends or acquaintances who have wronged us and yet we say nothing. Afraid of confrontation, we keep our concerns bottled up inside. They simmer, growing hotter until they boil over in an angry attack. Or, we just work out our frustrations by sharing the issue with anyone and everyone but the person directly involved!

Does God care about relationships? If so, is there anything practical in the Bible that can apply to situations like this?

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.” Matthew 18:15 NIV.

Yes, the principle found in Matthew 18 has direct application in the workplace and at school. Healing can take place only when the wound is exposed and cleaned. I can hear you saying, “But it’s so hard to confront someone! I feel awkward and scared!” Well, yes, that is true. We don’t seem to balk at cleaning out a bad cut to prevent a worse problem through infection. Why wouldn’t we want to expend energy to heal something more important than a cut?

God wants to bring healing to our lives and this includes our relationships. In fact, healing our relationships with others, and with Him, is His greatest desire for us.

But what does a person say when they confront? Making personal attacks won’t help. Finding a way to honestly, directly and gently share feelings is critical. Here’s a few sample sentences to consider:

“It makes me feel very uncomfortable when you touch me that way.”

I feel sad when you leave out some of my friends. Let’s push some tables together!”

“I’m not comfortable with you putting your arm around me.”

“Yesterday when you put your arm around me, I felt embarrased and ________. Please don’t do that again.”

No matter what you say, you will feel better doing something active and positive about it. Don’t let another day go by without choosing to confront, not for the purpose of putting someone in his place, but for the sake of mending a damaged relationship.

Does Matthew 18 apply in the workplace? Is there a place for God’s healing principles outside of the church building and the New Testament? Oh, yes. Start the healing today.

Sep 182011

Grape. That was the color of Pete’s new bicycle.  Metallic grape with shiny high rise handlebars and streamers from each handle and a banana seat. Jet black knobby tires and red reflectors. A basket between the handlebars and even a pretend lisence plate with his name on it! Pete just turned six and this was his birthday present! Sitting on the grass in the back yard, he stared at it, resting in all its glory, the kickstand keeping it upright.

“Pete,” his mother called from the back door,”are you ready to ride?” He nodded vigorously. He could hardly wait for it. Almost flying, he thought. It must be almost like flying. His mom came out the door and called to his dad to join them. She walked halfway down the gentle hill in the back yard and waited.

Pete felt his dad lifting him onto the seat and placing his feet, one on each pedal. Kicking the kickstand up, he held the bicycle upright by the back of the seat. Suddenly the ground seemed to be very far away! He couldn’t even touch it with his toes unless the bike was leaning. He started to tremble and looked behind him to make sure his dad was still holding on. The handlebars jerked sideways as he looked.

“Don’t look back, son,” his dad said. “Look at your mom!” Pete looked across the yard to his mom waving at him with reassurance. He looked at the ground, seemingly so far beneath him and the bike tilted to the side. “Don’t let go, Dad!” he hollered. “I’m right here, son,” he heard his Dad’s voice behind him. Push on the pedals!

Pete pushed on the pedals and felt the bike move forward. Looking back, the bike began to wobble. “Look at your Mom,” his dad repeated, “Don’t look back and don’t look down!”

Have you ever had someone tell you that you just needed to have more faith? How do you do that? I don’t know about you, but I’ve struggled to figure out how to “have” more faith. Somehow I needed to find a generator inside me somewhere to make some. Then everything would be ok.

Wrong, wrong, wrong! I can’t make more faith anymore than Pete could make his bicycle stay upright! Listen to the words from Hebrews 12:2 in four different versions.

Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end.  Good News Translation

Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. The Message

We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. New Living Translation

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,  New International Version

We don’t need to focus on the ground, on the bike pedals, or on who’s holding the seat. Just like Pete, we need to keep our eyes glued to Someone ahead. We need to keep focused on Jesus who not only gives us the very faith we need to trust Him, but makes it grow in our hearts as long as we keep our eyes on Him.

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