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.