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  • Writer's pictureStaci Sweet

The Coworker and the Shift Leader

I work for a collections agency and we were notified yesterday that we have a new client. One of those, ‘You-ain’t-doin’-nothin’-so-why-don’t-you-pick-up-the-phone-and-go-to-school’ type of clients. While going through her queue, one of my older female colleagues made the statement, ‘Oh look! He’s a Shift Leader at Jack-n-the-Box!’ I immediately put my head down; because quite frankly, I was indignant. Why? Because people that have never had to struggle or experience any type of hardship, can be some of the proudest, heartless people you’ll ever meet. And though I know she has a huge heart, her sarcasm made it evident that neither she, nor her children, had experienced extreme difficulty. I have.

I know what’s it’s like to live with other people while you tippey-toe through their house trying not to be seen or heard. I know what’s it’s like to drive around, in the winter, looking for a place to park; so that you can sleep in your backseat without anyone discovering you. I’ve had to sleep on a bed-bug ridden mat in a homeless shelter; only to be awaken at 4:30am - having to walk the streets, waiting for the buses to run; so that you can go sit at the library all day.

Yeah, I’ve lived that life, so when I heard her snide remark, it didn’t sit too well with me. I put my head down and asked the Lord to forgive me and in that moment, He allowed me to see both the Shift Leader and my coworker as He sees them. Thereafter, I began to empathize with my coworker and here’s why.

In Luke 7:36-47, we find Jesus eating at one of the Pharisees’ house, when a known prostitute, comes in and falls before Him; crying, while she pours over $30,000 in precious ointment on His feet. The dinner host becomes indignant at her gracious gesture and begins to criticize the Lord for letting her carry on that way.

Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to eat. And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, “This Man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner.”

Instead of celebrating the fact that this known sinner had finally realized the error of her ways, he criticized Jesus. Unbeknownst to her, my coworker had behaved like a Pharisee. Instead of realizing that at some point in that ‘debtors’ life, they’d tried to better themselves, by enrolling in college; she saw their debt. She didn’t see the fact that this ‘account’ was actually ‘a person’; one that was probably discouraged. Because not only had they not gotten the job they were promised at the time of enrollment, but they’d also acquired several thousands of dollars in student loan debt. And what about the fact that if they were ever inspired again to go back and get their education; they would no longer be eligible for financial aid? Now add all that up and then factor in that this person is now a Shift Leader at Jack-in-the-Box. This is what the Pharisee, who should have known better, failed to consider and so did my coworker; who was almost twenty years my senior.

I’ve got to go and work those ‘accounts’ and call those ‘debtors’ today. But now I’ll be even more determined to look at them as ‘people’ and not just my 'bonus check'. I’ll return praying that my coworker get this, ‘There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both.’ My prayer for her and for you is that you’d know that Jesus has freely forgiven you of the mistakes and sins that led to you now being in a ‘Shift Leader’ place in your life and that you’d learn to see people and look beyond their titles, sins, and their debt.

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