Some of you may or may not know from a previous post that I went to work for ministry. As my husband would refer, I am “The Church Lady.” I was warned that this would be the most challenging position of my life. Dismissing those words, my previous roles, titles, jobs were much more brutal; working in the car business in an all male dominated arena, the mortgage industry during the height of the boom and the pits of the burst bubble. So when I took this position I knew it was business, I had a job to do, but I was hopeful that the experience would be very unlike my former lives. I was wrong. This is worse. The worst. Normally you experience a honeymoon phase in your first few months at a job, however this one affords no honeymoon but the overt oppression of self to fit into some imaginary box of who you are as a person, as a Christian no less. Gandhi said it best, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so not like your Christ.”
Gandhi hit the nail on the head with these boldly profound sentences. Like daggers in the wind, slicing through the minutiae of a cloud that paints Christians in a beautiful light. Admittedly, we are all broken people who love our God, who love His only Son who died for our sins. But when the brokenness goes so far as to break other people is where I draw the line in the sand. My line became a pinnacle of understanding “this is why Christians are so hated.” Their failure as broken people to exhibit unconditional love and a loving nature for failure of their own egos, status, image, and personal crusades seems to be the catalyst to beget the awful behavior and taint the true meaning to be a follower of Christ. I have tried to chalk this up to, “well there are a few bad eggs in this world, you cannot control it.” Which may be true, however, wouldn’t one think that if you are
preaching educating about Jesus’ teachings and the love of God for his people that you actually walk the walk?
More specifically I attended my first staff meeting. I was put on the spot in front of 150, strike that, 148 strangers (I know TWO whole people) to introduce myself. I do not do well being put on the spot, I am a bold individual that lacks filter and when I am impromptu to put on a filter of my natural self, I fail. In this case apparently I failed miserably. The senior pastor called me on stage to interview me, at first I was disarmed by the friendliness of our banter. A foundation of playfulness was already instituted from a chain of emails we sent back and forth. Yet I was still retching with a harrowing feeling. I fumbled through my interview and roasting to share playfully who I was, but I did not escape the event unscathed.
Terrified of how I would be judged in front of my peers I started off the whole banter as being myself when asked my job title and position. I was cheeky and flip as I am and stated how I manage my boss. In part this is 95% true. As a coordinator my job is to execute projects and events and coordinate details of these events with the various resources at large of the entire ministry and the various staff to ensure an aqueous execution. Basically I am a project manager, coming from secular, this is how I would describe my job function. However, my flippant nature was bowled over by some and my lack of acme to correct the senior pastor in our discourse when he said I am an “administrative assistant” set off a cascade of events that directly affected me in the most indirect way.
Yesterday morning while getting my day off to a start I see an email from my bosses second level manager. The email thread went on to critique and criticize a situation, my boss, a perception that predated my employment. Somehow I became lumped into unknown consequences to some unknown event. The air of negativity surrounding a title, the “administrative assistant” title, as if I said it or created it. Irked at the pettiness of an email I should never have been involved, I was baffled. The thread was basically talking about me, to me, as if I were in the room and I was being spoken about in the third person. The tone was degrading, insulting, dehumanizing on so many levels and wreaked of tiers of arrogance. I tried not to take this email as such and pondered my inclusion in the first place. The event had nothing to really do with me but more about me. Again, trying not to reel too much on feelings, but the sender was the same person who interviewed me, as if the process was not any more like the Spanish Inquisition, advised me of all the ways to be fired from the organization instead of how to advance, grow. Pleasant. So “Christian” like.
I suppose this email thread incited feelings in me I had been oppressing for some time. For the last two of the four weeks I have been in this position I have come home in tears, feeling horribly broken and awful. Not wanting to return, I am reminded of my purpose, for the great command, to share the love and life of our God, His Son, to love on people as He did, trying not to succumb to broken faith.
Most of these feelings are from the lack of overall warmth, friendliness, fellowship amongst my coworkers. Suddenly I felt like my childlike self who was bullied and badgered, the feeling of not fitting in at all, despite our brokenness as people. Loneliness, sadness and today I feel pity. When your employer is suppose to be a sanctuary, suddenly the lines are blurred and you are teetering on a divide of great unknown between carrying out and living the great command during the week and then playing nice for the weekend…or do you?
I suppose that is the great unknown of how this works.
Part of me cannot help to wonder if we, as supposed followers of Christ, are so unaware of our actions, our words that we take upon others that we forget the point. The point to be loving. The point to show love. Even in a rebuke, we do so lovingly, not begrudgingly, not as if inconvenienced, but to correct a situation with love and encouragement. Rather than dehumanizing people and berating them as if they were pests.
I suppose that is the difference between myself and some of these people I work with. I was forever humbled by the team I worked for at Wells Fargo. So many of my employees came to me and told me how much I inspired them, encouraged them, instilled a drive for them to be better, do better, and the way I promoted leadership amongst each and everyone of them. Unaware of my actions, I felt only necessary to lead them, manage them as if I worked for them, not the other way around. Their success was my success. Today I miss that group more than ever. A testament of humility to love on those people and encourage them to promote all their greatness through challenges by exposing their unknown strengths. Strengths I saw in them especially when you can work side-by-side with them understanding exactly what they do each day.
Maybe that is what is paining me the most about this job. The lack of overall leadership and inspiration, the lack of love and encouragement, camaraderie and family. My boss is a wealth of love, leadership and inspiration, however his boss and bosses boss seem to lack these qualities based on the email I received. Or maybe it’s too soon to decipher. Either way, I do not like the way I feel.
Maybe this is why this job is so challenging, maybe that is what my calling is to be, to help change the view, the culture, to be the leader I am and stop playing into what I suppose to be for “church.” Maybe I am suppose to be who I am, rock the job in being me, in loving on these people to show them what our message is truly about, what we are doing for the love of Jesus Christ. Maybe God is just reminding me I am okay to be me at work and stop acting like “The Church Lady” in an effort to conform. I am to be bold, be who I am in spite of their projection of oppression. That although we are imperfect and broken unlike our Christ, we love with a fervor, an unyielding passion for people and to lead them to greatness to help promote their strengths and overcome challenges with humility and love.