There is a robust industry of potato farming where I live. This Fall, I participated in the potato harvest by working for a short time on, appropriately enough, a potato harvester or combine. One of the things we had to do was pick rocks out of the conveyor belt. Sometimes large. Sometimes small. Always painful on the fingers. By the end of harvest season one may be tempted to say they never want to see another potato again. But not me. I personally have no problem whatever with potatoes. It is the rocks I don't like!
May I say, I had a lot of fun most of the time. On the other hand, one of the unpleasant aspects of the job-besides sore fingers, of course-was working with certain people who seemed to have an extreme grudge on their shoulder against me. Paul tells us that we are to get along with others as best as we can. If they absolutely refuse to get along with us, what do we do?
Enduring such tribulation, I began to reflect on the seeming fact, that no matter where one works and no matter what one does, there is always someone who just arbitrarily decides that they are going to hate one's guts.
I am sure that the Christ-like thing to do in such situations is to approach the other person to talk over the problem. Of course, if the other person is not willing to talk things over with you, then there is really nothing you can do besides pray for them and try to ignore their shenanigans as best you can.
But surely this state of affairs is frustrating. I like to get along with everybody. Of course, as an apologist, I am constantly telling people, "no, you are wrong," and that could get very annoying for those I am in dialogue with, I would venture to guess. But I hope nobody gets the wrong idea. Disagreeing is part of the package that comes with being an apologist for the Christian faith. I by no means derive my jollies from being contentious or argumentative. Again, it is my desire to get along well with all.
So I find myself frustrated when others apparently dislike me. It was particularly hard to swallow when the offending party was a minister, in a Christian environment. This person made many claims to me which I could not help but realise, as time passed, were not true. When they said, "I've been honest with you from the beginning," that was, I think, especially painful. I expect that sort of behavior from jobs in the world, but not at jobs run by Christian institutions.
But there was really nothing I could do. Just pray for the other person. We are instructed by Christ Himself to pray for our enemies-though I hate to use the e-word. And of course, it being easier to see the mote than the beam, it never hurts to pray for ourselves as well. Perhaps we are at least partially at fault in such circumstances as on-the-job conflict at times.
In any case, these tribulations are relatively minor. I never got fired and life does go on. Such affairs build character in us too. Still, all this goes to show that even if we are not formally in full-time ministry as, say, pastor of a church, we still have Christ with us at work and need to follow Him there just as much as on Sunday mornings. I hope I am a faithful follower at all times. I leave you with a question. Though now it is a cliche it still behooves us to ask it of ourselves at all times and in all situations. What would Jesus do?