Work

Experiencing the power of grace when struggling with unfairness at work

Lee Yune Yee // September 3, 2019, 2:53 pm

God is fair even when your workplace isn't

We experience God’s grace in our lives in so many ways: His redemptive work on the Cross, His healing work in our lives, His protection in our comings and goings. But sometimes I feel like I’m a failure, unworthy to accept His grace.

Yet, God doesn’t keep my “failures” in His check-and-balance book. Instead, as Max Lucado puts it in his book Come Thirsty, God beckons me to come “drink deeper in grace.”

Someone in my small group once mentioned that going deeper into God’s grace is like training for deep sea diving. Every time a professional diver trains, he tries to go deeper and longer into the unknown. In time, the diver develops the skill and endurance he needs to discover more of the ocean.

Applying the analogy to my life, how can I know the full power of grace if I only know how to receive it? Relationships are two-way. The Bible clearly says: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded” (Luke 12:48). Usually we think of giving our wealth, time, talents and actions, but this time, I saw that this included giving grace to others.

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” (Matthew 5:38-39)

A few years ago, I started working in a food-and-beverage business. I knew nothing about the job, but my superior was very helpful. One day, my supervisor’s boss handed me a project to manage. Being naive of corporate culture, I thought that I only needed to report to the top boss without having to check in with my immediate supervisor.

My supervisor was offended that I didn’t consult her and began leaving me irrelevant tasks after that, telling others I was incapable, and she even stopped talking to me. She denied being offended, but I apologised nonetheless. One night, in a roomful of staff and interns, she berated me loudly for my supposed errors.

It was God’s grace that carried me through.

This was followed by the boss himself removing me from our messaging groups. The message was clear: Leave. I wanted so badly to just disappear and not come back. But that wouldn’t be right, so I waited a week to meet the boss and inform him of my leaving.

God’s grace was with me throughout that week. He gave me strength to get to work and to work well. He reminded me that I had done my best to amend the situation. And I truly felt grace enveloping me as I announced my departure. I was able to speak calmly, thanking the boss for the opportunity. I went to thank every colleague, including my superior, though she responded coldly.

It was God’s grace that carried me through that week.

Should I quit my job?

More recently, I was again leaving another position, but had to serve a three-month notice period. All was going well until a couple of missteps. I did some things that had been acceptable before my resignation but, according to unspoken company culture, now were not.

My supervisor at this job took the opportunity to get me to leave earlier, perhaps because he had already hired my replacement. He used harsh words and pushed me into a corner: Leave that same day (almost seven weeks early), or leave his department and go upstairs.

He hoped that I’d be embarrassed and leave on my own, but I chose to go upstairs instead, reported to the managing director and worked in a different position for the remainder of my time.

Again, grace never failed. I had feared that my colleagues would give me the cold shoulder for the sake of self-preservation, but they did not. My supervisor, however, acted as though I was invisible when I bumped into him, but I asked the Holy Spirit to keep me from gossiping about him.

Feeling sian about work?

I also asked for God’s grace in avoiding gossip when my colleagues complained, since I was in a position where I often had to pick up other people’s messes. Instead, I tried to simply acknowledge my colleague’s frustrations and suggest possible solutions.

God’s grace showed itself in many ways those last couple of weeks. When I worked hard to help put a project together but was left out of its celebration, God’s grace reminded me that I do not work for the glory of man. Instead, I do everything for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). So although it felt like I was relegated to an intern-level job, I was determined to do the best research possible.

In the new position, I was also able to leave punctually and go for regular evening walks with God without my phone, taking in the greenery and many beautiful dusky skies. And on my last day, I thanked everyone including my superior – and it ended on a civil note.

It is easy to say “hallelujah” when God graciously provides for our needs and wants. But when we’re in a difficult position or dealing with difficult people, the struggle becomes so real. Yet when we extend grace to others, God’s grace will carry us through. We can either choose to carry the burdens of hurt, or to leave our egos at the door and walk into freedom by the power of grace.

This article was first published on YMI and is republished with permission.

THINK + TALK

  1. Have you ever been unfairly treated at work?
  2. How did you respond at the time?
  3. How might you dispense grace in such a situation?