Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pursuing God Through Others

Good evening friends (or morning, or afternoon)!

Thank you for giving me the chance to share what was on my heart on Sunday. I have to say I was completely humbled by the opportunity to share in this series. As I said during the lesson, God has been working in my heart over the past several weeks regarding community and how we relate with each other as believers. I hope you were able to walk away with the truth and discipline that I tried to hammer home throughout the lesson—we cannot fully understand and know God unless we live in community with other believers, pursuing Him through each other!

At the end of the lesson, I challenged you to make a connection this week with another believer with the intent of community—to share and pursue God through that person. Well, what kind of leader would I be if I did not accept my own challenge? So I wanted to give you a follow up to my story of community that began on Thursday of last week.

For those who were not present for the lesson, let me give you a bit of background:

I manage an outpatient rehab clinic in Burleson, and last week was probably the most difficult week of employment I have had to face. Not only did our A/C break down multiple times in the beginning of the week with employees griping and complaining about every small problem that arose, but on Wednesday afternoon I received a call from our Human Resources department. Those unexpected calls are rarely a good thing, and this time was no exception. It turned out that the “powers that be” decided we needed to work more with less. I’ve been through downsizes before working for this hospital, but it never affected my department personally—you see, being an offsite (and out of town) satellite of the hospital’s outpatient department kept us isolated and somewhat protected from the politics of the hospital. Unfortunately this time was different.

I learned Wednesday afternoon that I was to lose one of my best employees, simply because she was the last hired in the office/admissions role in my clinic. To make things worse, she was a calming, happy fixture in our front office that brightened the attitudes of all those that worked with her. I have never had a more honorable, loyal, hardworking employee. And now I had to tell her she lost her job. This affected me deeply—I was saddened and angry at the same time. I agonized over this decision to the point I lost sleep and appetite.

Fortunately, in God’s divine plan, Ted had asked the Shepherding Team earlier in the week to meet for lunch near my clinic to share our lives and what was going on in our hearts. As I shared on Sunday, I went to that lunch and opened my heart and poured out my burdens to these great men. God touched me personally simply because I was willing to lay my burdens at his feet, using the men before me. I walked away from that lunch feeling rather bloated but spiritually lighter than I had felt all week, because I knew that my burden was no longer carried alone. I had four other men praying and sharing that burden with me.

Now for the follow-up to that story:

On Monday morning, less than 24 hours after sharing my lesson, I sat down with the employee and had to explain to her that, even though she was one of my best employees, I had no choice but to let her go. Fortunately she understood the situation and graciously did not hold me responsible for her job loss. Tears were shed on both side, but she left with no animosity towards me. As tragic and difficult as this event was, God created a beautiful opportunity for community shortly thereafter.

What I didn’t mention earlier was that not only was she one of my best employees, but she shared the small office with another equally great employee who happens to be her sister-in-law. This is where community happened.

After my former employee left the clinic, I sat down with her coworker who was for obvious reasons distraught and angry. Because we were in a confined space and it was just the two of us, she poured out her burdens and grief. In the midst of the conversation that ensued, she, a believer, asked me a powerful question that I will never forget, “Why do I care so much about this?” My only thought and answer was simply, “Because you love.” It was during this conversation that she realized that I shared her burden and grief, and she was not alone. Community had just occurred, and I knew she was going to be alright, despite the grieving process that would continue to take place. I knew I could trust God to heal both of our hearts.

My prayer is that this week you can find community with someone as you seek to pursue God through others. I also pray that your community is not centered on heartache and grief. However, if it is, know this: God did not intend for His children to carry their burdens alone. We were designed to commune with others. And when we share Christ with other believers, we will come to know Him more fully.

God Bless,
Jeff Bryan

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