(Continued from last time)
Person looked around the conference room at the faces of the clients who had trusted him. He had let them down, he had shown poor judgment, and he was ready to put it behind him. Already the weight that he had carried coming into the meeting was lifted by admitting the truth and he was no longer afraid of what would happen.
He had already stated that he would resign over the mistake, but he was not thinking about his next job yet. He was focused on leaving the company that had taught him so much in a better condition than when he walked into the meeting. Were the clients satisfied? Was there more he should have said? Perhaps a little more explanation about the circumstances would have helped their confidence for the future. As he wondered and doubted that his words were enough, he tried to read the face of a few of the clients who were impacted by his mistake. Most of them seemed satisfied with his resignation.
He noticed that there was a rather heated exchange between two men in the room. The man in the suit was a client of the company. He was also a recent competitor in another business area who had spread rumors about them, and those rumors had already caused damage. The disagreement seemed to escalate until the focus of the room turned to the two men. The conversation stopped, and the man who was both client and competitor stood up and straightened his tie. He locked eyes with Person and seemed to make up his mind on something.
He turned to Prosper and said that the problem with the business process was not entirely his fault. He explained that he was not blameless for having a part in the mistake as well. As the facts spilled out, the room was stunned to silence. This competitor had deliberately used his influence as a client to do harm. The man who had been in disagreement with the speaker became irate at the admission of guilt. He seemed more upset that the blame had shifted and left the meeting after making a few harsh comments. He was not alone; several clients were upset with the man and began to talk together with disdain.
Person had a dilemma to ponder. It was very tempting to sit silently and allow those in the room to judge the man for his actions. It was obvious that he had taken information and used it poorly. He had also spread rumors that were meant to damage the company. But would he allow that judgment to limit the aftermath of his own wrongdoing? He called the man’s name and offered his hand. The man shook it gratefully. The decision to be honest had been painful for both of them and that handshake showed it. Prosper spoke as the two shook hands, stating that there was no cause to dig into the mistake further. He praised his competitor for being honest and openly forgave him without hesitation.
Person met Prosper’s eye as he heard the words that made him smile even as he tried to stay serious. “Resignation denied. We have a lot of work to do and we need you.” With some hesitation, Person agreed to stay with the company and the meeting ended. The news that Person would stay was a relief to his coworkers, Les in particular. Les related that his marriage had improved over the last few weeks, but staying in his apartment another month as planned would have been awkward if Person was unemployed.
As Les and Person talked, he noticed the man was in a conversation with Prosper. Excusing himself, Person joined them to be sure there was nothing more he should do. He was informed that the two had agreed to form a partnership. They realized that both men had much to offer the other and agreed that they would face stiff opposition and rumors about the mistake being deliberate or planned. Person knew better than to worry about Prosper’s ability to turn that around. This would be a great chance to learn from his mentor yet again. He smiled slightly as he tried to soak in every word. (Click here to read the next section of the story.)
—————Thoughts that motivated this section of the story—————
In this story I wanted to reflect on being reviled and judged.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. - KJV
10 Blessed are they that have been persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. – ASV
In Matthew 5:10-11 we read that Jesus is calling the persecuted and reviled ‘blessed’. Once again what would be a natural first thought about a condition is turned on its head by Jesus. I know in many cultures and in many religions persecution and bad reputations are the opposite of a good thing. The more prosperous and accepted you are, the more it is believed that deity smiles on you or good luck is with that person. Generally persecution is due to choices made, alignment with a certain ideal, or something you are born with or into. Being born with/into something is commonly viewed as destiny, luck, or some other external force.
On a deep level many people balk at the concept of chance or destiny because it takes away the ability to manage or change our circumstances and we want that opportunity. Let’s set aside persecution about birth or circumstance because Jesus clarified the persecution is for righteousness sake. That leaves us with choices made or alignment with an ideal. Both of these seem to fit better with the concept portrayed by Jesus. It could be we stand up to something evil or we align ourselves with righteousness, whatever the consequences.
The author Matthew Levi (as described in the gospels) was not a great Jew at the time of Jesus. He chose to be a tax collector for the Roman Empire and profit off his own people. When he left his tax booth to follow Jesus, it meant no income source. Following Jesus today is still costly. It means you are not your own master, you have a Lord. I go free, but my debts were paid at a very high price on the cross, and the knowledge of this changes me. The kingdom of heaven is mine and I cannot deny my allegiance or return to who I was – even if that means facing persecution or lies. After encountering Jesus, Matthew could not go back to his tax booth again, he was a different man. This is why I write this blog, to praise my Lord who paid a debt I could not pay and changed me forever.