PROGRAM W-1700 – Part II

Fran is in the midst of an appraisal by her manager, Marilyn, where she has been shocked to find out that her manager has given her a very poor appraisal rating. It seems Marilyn is using this opportunity to get back at Fran for her refusal to use deceptive figures in a proposal to a key prospect. Marilyn had insisted that Fran put untruthful figures in and, when Fran refused, the account was assigned to another person. As a result, they lost the business, and that didn’t make Marilyn look good with her management.

In spite of Fran’s outstanding sales record and good results, Marilyn has chosen to put her on notice, citing insubordination as the reason. This means Fran could lose her job in three months. With Jesus beside her to keep her calm, Fran expressed her non-concurrence with Marilyn’s appraisal, and her desire to talk about it with Ed, the Vice President of Human Resources.

This has made Marilyn furious with Fran—again—and Jesus has helped her put some pieces of the puzzle together. As she listens to Marilyn’s tirade and watches her lose control, Fran realizes that Marilyn is frightened: If Fran does go to Ed, it will be obvious that Marilyn has no right to do this to Fran and she’ll be in trouble again.

The facade of being in charge and having it all-together has fallen off Marilyn like a coat. Fran had always seen her as competent and in-control, but now it’s almost like the scales have dropped from her eyes and she sees a different woman. Suddenly Fran can feel nothing but pity for Marilyn. “Lord,” she says to Jesus, “look at her. She’s pitiful.”

Jesus agrees.

Fran asks, “Well, Lord, how do I respond to her now? Do I keep insisting on my right to talk with Ed? I feel so sorry for her.”

Jesus smiles. “You feel sorry for her. Isn’t that interesting, Fran? A few minutes ago, you were frightened and it appeared that Marilyn was a huge problem in your life. Now you feel sorry for her.”

Fran sees the humor and smiles inwardly. “Well, you know, Lord, that’s because you allow me to see people through your eyes. If you weren’t here beside me, I wouldn’t feel sorry for Marilyn.”

“Yes, Fran, you’re looking through my eyes now and you see Marilyn to be what she is: A very insecure and frightened woman. All that intimidation she’s been using on you is just her way of covering up,” Jesus says to Fran.

It seems like all at once Fran knows what she should do. She turns to Marilyn, and says, “Marilyn, maybe it’s not really necessary for me to talk to Ed at this time. If you’ll just tell me exactly what I have to do to improve my performance and put that in writing for me, I’ll do everything I can honestly do to improve. I believe another appraisal will be due in three months, and hopefully by then you will be able to change it. That could solve the whole issue, couldn’t it?”

Fran thinks, “I didn’t intend to say that, Lord. Where did that come from?”

“From me. You prayed for wisdom, so I put that idea in your mind. That’s an answer to prayer, Fran.”

Fran looks at Marilyn, who has rather quietly sat down and seems much calmer, almost sheepish.

“Fran,” she says, “I, uh, I’m sure, uh… Well, yeah I think that’s a possibility. We could possibly pull your appraisal up in three months. Do you still want to talk to Ed?” Marilyn asks very hesitatingly.

“No,” Fran replies, “as long as I have in writing exactly what I’m supposed to do, and as long as it’s something I can realistically achieve, I’m willing to give it a three-month trial before talking to Ed.”

Marilyn is obviously relieved and looks at Fran in bewilderment. “You mean, you aren’t going to do anything at this time, is that right?”

“Correct, Marilyn, I would prefer to work this out between us if possible. I don’t like confrontations like this, and since I know I’ll work hard and do the best job I can, I think I should have a good shot at dramatically improving that appraisal, don’t you? Provided, of course, we don’t run into anymore ‘Drexel’ experiences.” Fran looks to see how Marilyn responds to her reference to Drexel. She wants to make certain Marilyn understands that she is still unwilling to compromise her integrity, even to keep her job.

“Well,” Marilyn replies, “that’s one of those unfortunate happenings, Fran. Hopefully it won’t happen again.”

“Then we’ll have another appraisal in three months, is that right?” Fran asks.

“I have the flexibility of scheduling it sooner if I like, but at least in three months, yes,” Marilyn answers. “If I covered all your questions, I guess that’s all we need to talk about now.” Marilyn looks at Fran with what could almost be described as a smile.

As Fran and Jesus leave her office, the atmosphere is totally different. Fran says to Jesus, “Sounded like Marilyn just heaved a big sigh of relief, Lord. Did you hear that?”

“Yes,” Jesus answers, “I think Marilyn realizes you could have hung a noose around her neck today but you chose not to.”

Jesus is right. Fran could have gotten her vengeance so easily, but she’s let Marilyn off the hook. Marilyn has been nothing but a thorn in her flesh, and she could have had her in lots of trouble; instead, she chose to show mercy.

“I could never have done that without you, Lord,” she says.

“Fran, do you remember the passage in Matthew 16 that you read this morning about taking up your daily cross and following me?” Jesus asks.

“Now that you bring that up, I have to tell you that I’m not sure I know what it means to take up a cross daily and follow you. I mean, who would voluntarily want to take up some hardship or sorrow? Guess I don’t understand what you mean, Lord,” Fran replies.

“What you’ve just done, Fran, is what it means. Your own natural will has today been placed at a crossroad with what I wanted you to do. You chose to do it my way, Fran, instead of doing it your way. You were willing to let Marilyn off the hook, not knowing what the outcome would be. You faced a cross today and decided you would take it up. That’s what it means, Fran,” Jesus answers.

“You mean, that was my daily cross?” Fran asks rather puzzled.

“Anytime you relinquish your will and choose mine, you’ve taken your cross to follow me. That’s what discipleship is.” Jesus smiles at her.

“Jesus, if I’d been on my own, I would have kept pushing her and insisted on talking with Ed. But now I see that by backing off, I’ve saved Marilyn’s neck and her whole attitude changed toward me—right in front of my eyes. Your way was a lot better than mine.”

“Well, Fran,” Jesus replies with a grin, “I always lead you in paths that are good for you. You know that my plans for you are good ones, not plans to harm you, Fran.”

“Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for being so patient with me and leading me step by step, day by day. I can’t imagine facing this unfair, unjust world without you by my side. But then, nobody could understand cruel treatment better than you.” Fran’s heart is stirred again to realize how much she loves Jesus for what he has done for her.

“By the way,” Jesus says, “did you realize that Marilyn read 1 Corinthians 13 today—the chapter that describes what real love is like?”

“She did?” Fran replies. “I didn’t see a Bible on her desk? I don’t think she’s ever read the Bible, Lord.”

“No, not in the Bible. She read it in you, Fran. You are the Living Edition of God’s Word. Now you can wait and see what will happen because you chose to be merciful. Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Tears come to Fran’s eyes. Just to know that the Lord is pleased with her is all she needs to know. “You know, Lord,” Fran says, “even if I’d been fired on the spot, I could make it just hearing you say those words to me. I guess I don’t really need Marilyn’s good appraisal. All I need is yours.”

So, Fran has had another incredible lesson from Jesus on how to deal with difficult situations. In the process, she’s been a witness to a woman who desperately needs to know Jesus. Who knows what will come from all this?!

Could it be that you are facing some very unfair situation on your job or elsewhere? Please be aware that none of these things happen to us by accident. God is allowing them in our lives for various reasons.

One of the reasons is to teach you how to trust Jesus, how to step out in faith and do what he wants you to do, even when it looks dangerous and illogical. You can see how Fran’s faith and trust have grown, and how she is learning to turn to Jesus more and more. As we exercise faith, it builds more faith into us.