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Do you remember the famous quote from Charlie Brown? “I love mankind; it’s people I can’t stand.” Well, sometimes life seems that way, doesn’t it? As Christians we are to love the world, and we do things to help mankind all over the world. But what about the people, the individuals, you have to work with everyday? They can be a lot more difficult to love.
That’s because we all have annoying habits that can start to grate on people’s nerves, and we’ve been looking at some of the annoying bad habits of coworkers this week. For example, suppose you work with someone who is always in crisis mode and frequently asks you to “do them a favor” and bail them out. But the reason they’re in crisis mode so often is because they procrastinate and put everything off until crunch time. Are you supposed to continue to go the extra mile and “do them a favor,” as they ask?
In Matthew 5 Jesus exhorts us to turn the other cheek and go the extra-mile. There’s no question that Christians are supposed to do more than they have to do. So, on occasion when your coworker needs an extra pair of hands to get a job done, you should be willing to do that. But I don’t believe Jesus intended for us to go extra mile after extra mile. That would lead us to becoming enablers, making it possible for others to shirk their own responsibilities, and that is neither right for us nor for the other person.
So, with that crisis-mode coworker, you might say, “I’ll help you this time, but in the future, you can avoid this last-minute crunch by . . .” and then explain how it can be avoided, making it clear that you won’t be available to help with every crisis they have. Again, these words need to be spoken in love, from an attitude of helpfulness, not annoyance.
You know, so often it’s the way you say things that makes all the difference, and you could help this person break a bad habit of procrastination by combining a willingness to help with a little softly-given advice. Who knows; they might even listen and learn.
Remember, no one is in your life by accident, not even the annoying coworker. And we are called not only to love mankind, but to love the individual who can be annoying!
(Please click here if you would like to download the entire devotional for this week.)