PROGRAM W-1699 – Part I
Fran is a fictitious young widow with two children and a job in marketing. The premise of my stories about Fran is that Jesus accompanies Fran to work, sits right beside her, and gives her encouragement and biblical reminders throughout her day. Thus, I call these stories, “Fran & Jesus on the Job.”
The good news is that when we are born from above, Jesus does indeed go with us every day to our workplace. But sometimes we forget that, don’t we? This story of Fran is intended to help us all practice the presence of Jesus who is with us all day, every day, and to learn more and more how to be constantly aware of the power and help he has for us in any situation.
Today, as Fran arrives at work with Jesus at her side, she’s a little nervous because it’s the day for her appraisal with her manager, Marilyn. She says to Jesus, “I’ll be glad when this is over. I hate appraisals. But I hope it goes well because the better the appraisal, the more raise I get. I could use a nice raise.”
Jesus replies, “Fran, I’ll go right into that appraisal with you, so take a deep breath and know that whatever happens, I’m in this with you.”
“Thanks, Lord!” She smiles at Jesus’ words of encouragement. He really helps her to keep her perspective. After all, she works for Jesus not for Marilyn, and as long as he is pleased with her work, she has the approval that is important.
“You know, Lord, my track record is good this year. I was second highest in sales volume in the whole office, and my account retention record is the best. And, I got that big order from John Warton last week; nobody’s been able to break that account before. So, I think I’m in good shape.”
“Do you think Marilyn will have anything to say about the Drexel account, Fran?” Jesus asks.
The Drexel account is the one Fran had to give up because she refused to submit deceptive figures in her proposal. Marilyn gave it to Tom, a young salesman, who blew the whole thing and lost the business.
“Who knows, Lord, but with my good record, I don’t see how she can refuse to give me a good rating on my appraisal. After all, I didn’t lose that account; Tom did! Well, it’s about time to go.” Fran starts to rush out.
“Why don’t you have a quiet moment of prayer before you go in there? Do you have time?” Jesus asks.
Fran smiles, as she shuts her office door. “Of course I do, Lord! I can’t afford not to take time for prayer, can I?” She sits down and prays quietly, “Dear Father, give me your strength, your perspective, your calmness, and your wisdom as I go into this appraisal. I ask you to put the right words in my mouth. I pray for a favorable appraisal, if that is your will. Thanks for giving me Jesus to be right here beside me during this. That helps a lot. I pray this in his name. Amen.”
Together, they head toward Marilyn’s office for the appraisal.
“Come on in, Fran,” Marilyn says in a rather rigid voice, as she closes the door behind her. “I’ve already completed your appraisal. What I’d like you to do is look it over and then we’ll discuss it.” She hands Fran the appraisal form.
Fran’s eyes begin to focus on the appraisal and slowly she realizes she has been given a very poor rating. Marilyn has given her the grade of “Does not meet the requirements of the job,” which means that Fran will be put on notice. By being put on notice, she is given three months to improve and, if not, she will be fired. She gulps hard and looks at Jesus.
“Lord, do you see this? Can you believe it? There’s no way she can justify this poor rating. It means I get no raise and I may get fired. Lord!”
“Yes, Fran, I see it.” Jesus responds. “The important thing now is to stay calm. Remember, you prayed about your words, so be very careful what you say. Measure your words carefully,” Jesus says.
With her heart beating like crazy, Fran looks up at Marilyn. “I guess you can see that this appraisal is very shocking to me. I really don’t understand how you can honestly appraise my work as not meeting the requirements. Here are my sales figures. As you know, I’m second in the whole office in volume and first in customer retention. I just don’t understand,” Fran says to Marilyn, as she hands her the sales figures.
“Listen, Fran, numbers don’t tell the whole story. You demonstrated a total unwillingness to obey orders. You were insubordinate, and as a result we lost the Drexel business. I could fire you for that, Fran, but I’m giving you a break. You have three months to shape up and decide if you’re a team player or not. Otherwise, you’ll be looking for another job.”
Fran can’t believe her ears. “Jesus,” she says, “are you going to let her get by with this? You know how unfair this is! After all, I was doing what you told me to do—I was doing the right thing, and now I’m about to lose my job. Jesus, where are you?”
“I’m right here, Fran; I haven’t moved an inch,” he says comfortingly to her. “Have I ever failed you?” he asks Fran. “Have I ever left you or forsaken you?”
“No,” Fran replies, “but this is different. I’m really in trouble. What do I do?”
“I thought you’d never ask,” says Jesus, and he quietly begins to put into her mind what she should now say to Marilyn.
Fran can feel a quiet calm come over her. What’s that verse—the peace which “passes understanding”? That’s what it is—unreasonable peace.
The words she had prayed for begin to form in her mind, and Fran turns to Marilyn and says, “Well, Marilyn, I think the procedures give me the right to voice my objection to this appraisal, isn’t that right? I think I’d like to exercise that right. I believe I’m supposed to put it in writing and submit it to Ed Butler, the Vice President of Human Resources, so I’ll do that.”
Fran didn’t raise her voice or show any vindictiveness. She knows the right move to make is to tell Marilyn she intends to follow the company procedure for appeal of an appraisal. Even though she tries to be very gentle, she looks at Marilyn and realizes she is very angry.
As Marilyn’s face gets redder and redder, she gets up and stands over Fran intimidatingly. “You can do whatever you like, but it won’t get you anywhere. I’ve reviewed all this with Ed and he’s in total agreement with what I’ve done. Insubordination is an offense for which any employee can be fired. You’ll find it in the personnel handbook, if you don’t believe me.”
“Oh, I believe you, Marilyn,” Fran replies, “but I don’t feel I’ve been insubordinate and I’d like to follow the procedures for expressing my non-concurrence.”
All of a sudden Fran feels very fearful. What am I saying? she thinks. I’m in trouble and I’m making Marilyn very angry. “Jesus, this is escalating and I don’t know what to do. I’ve never seen Marilyn so out of control and hateful. Jesus!” Fran feels a sudden panic attack as she turns to Jesus for help.
Jesus whispers in her ear, “Please remember that Marilyn is angry because you did the right thing. You were a light shining in her darkness, and she didn’t like it. Don’t take it personally. I’m going to get you through this, Fran, I promise.”
Just hearing his voice reassures Fran, and the peace that passes understanding sweeps over her again. But somehow, the more peaceful she feels, the more upset and out of control Marilyn seems to be.
After pacing in front of Fran for what seemed like an eternity, Marilyn turns and says, “There’s a place on page three of the appraisal for your comments, if you insist on getting yourself in further trouble. After you write them, return the appraisal to me. I’ll take it to Ed.”
“Marilyn,” Fran says, “if I remember correctly, I believe the procedures indicate I’m to take it directly to Ed’s office, and then an interview will be scheduled, isn’t that right?” Again, the calmness of her voice amazes Fran.
But when she sees how angry this makes Marilyn, she says to Jesus, “Oops, I think I said the wrong thing. Guess I shouldn’t have brought that up, huh Lord?”
“No,” Jesus responds, “it’s okay, Fran. Marilyn is uncomfortable because she knows you could get her in a bunch of trouble if you go talk to Ed.”
“Get her in trouble? Why, of course,” Fran replies. Suddenly it’s all so clear to Fran. Marilyn is bluffing about Ed, trying to frighten Fran. She never dreamed Fran would think of talking to Ed. This is simply her way of getting back at Fran.
“You know, Lord, I just hadn’t stopped to put it all together. I heard that Marilyn’s manager was very upset with her for turning the Drexel account over to Tom at the last minute. He blamed her for losing that business. So, she’s just looking to get even with me, I think.”
“Right,” says Jesus, “but you know, you now have the advantage over Marilyn. She knows that if you escalate the issue, she’ll be in further trouble.”
Fran turns her attention back to Marilyn, who is staring at her with a look of fear and hatred. Beginning with some words of profanity, she says to Fran, “If you think you can get me in trouble, you’re wrong, Fran. My job is secure; they’ll believe what I tell them, not what you write on that form or say to Ed.”
For the first time, Fran sees that Marilyn is an insecure, desperate woman.