(Continued from last time) Person watched as his mentor and boss Prosper skillfully changed the attitude of many people toward his company yet again. The bad press and image that had been used against the company was astonishing and bold. Even Person had wondered at one time how things could turn around, even when he had seen it happen before.
The tone and attitude in the office during that time was discouraging to watch. Many people found employment elsewhere and gave fond speeches about the memorable years working there, even as they left for better stability elsewhere. The blow of losing these trusted employees was very hard on Prosper. Person noticed he had less of a smile throughout the day, and he seemed to search the faces of the office as he walked by, looking for who was missing.
It was hard to watch, knowing that there was nothing to be done about it. There were promising opportunities in other companies without such complex problems. A friend advised him that soon it might not look good to have a work history that ended with Prosper’s company. He was advised that if things turned around, he could always return after the dust settled a bit. Person wondered if this was the rationale used by the others who had left. Were they just playing it safe? The idea was completely unfair in his mind. He could not imagine leaving a company that had given him so much opportunity and taught him so much.
Person tried harder than ever to do his best work. He worked on projects after hours and occasionally stayed late to ensure he did not make the same thoughtless mistake that had caused so many problems for his employer before. He was determined not to be hasty, but with less help that meant he had to take on more himself. His friend Les stopped by his apartment to pick up his remaining belongings and advised him not to work too hard. He reminded him that there was opportunity at his new employer, without the long hours.
As the next year drug by, Person continued to press hard for each project and each client. One evening as he was working late, Prosper came by his desk. He was a little embarrassed because he had little reason for it, only that he wanted to double-check everything. He knew Prosper would ask, and started concocting a reason that might be acceptable, but Prosper saw right through it. There was no fooling him. In shame he admitted that he was trying to double check himself because he was still afraid to make another mistake that would hurt the company.
Person waited to hear a lecture. He knew Prosper had a strong stance on work-life balance and the importance of leaving work at work. Prosper didn’t say anything, he just nodded and said he understood and gave him a half smile and left. He politely reminded him of the time, and suggested it might be enough for the day and walked away.
For several weeks, Person heard rumors that the company was being shut down. He wondered at the source of these rumors, but tried to remain unaffected. Two more key employees left the company after hearing of the rumors. Person had been with the company for several years now, but had always considered himself a newcomer. As he walked around the office, it occurred to him that he really wasn’t new any longer. It was sad to think that maybe the company might end someday.
Person’s business partners visited the office more often, and he noticed that many of them seemed to look at him. He wondered at this, but said nothing. The expansion that was planned for many months happened on schedule and for a few days the rumors died down about Prosper leaving. He relaxed and hoped this was finally behind them. It was then that Prosper asked to meet with him, and informed him that he would be stepping down as CEO in the following year and putting him in charge.
Person was surprised by the statement and didn’t respond right away. There was no way he could do this; the shoes were too big to fill and the morale was too low. He formed a list of reasons to refuse the opportunity but as he met Prosper’s eyes he could say nothing. This man had seen past his insecurities and mentored him. How could he turn him down? The board of directors had already approved it and all that was left was his consent. His mentor was handing him a new challenge, and he did not want to disappoint him. (Click here to read the last section of the story.)
—————Thoughts that motivated this section of the story—————
In this story I wanted to focus on opportunities in adversity
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
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 5:11 Jesus tells us to be really glad about something that sounds impossible. To be glad about good news or an unexpected victory is easy, and no one has to tell us to be glad about it. We can be happy for someone else who overcomes an obstacle or tries hard and wins. Movies are full of the underdog winning in the end and our spirits are lifted with the hero when they finally succeed. We can be glad about that and walk away feeling great because of it. How many of us can walk away feeling pleased, let alone very glad about being persecuted?
I’ve been unable to write because the week before Thanksgiving my parents had a devastating house fire. The unexpected emotional havoc of something like this is thankfully something not many people experience. There is much to be grateful for and many miracles we’ve seen out of this. But it is hard to imagine being glad that this happened while in the middle of it. Hardship makes it easier to relate to other unpleasant situations, like persecution. Persecution is devastating because it is usually personal. I know it can’t be easy to be very glad to be on the receiving end of persecution, but that is the verse today. This is not unique to just this verse. Jesus throughout the beatitudes has turned what is normal upside down.
When you approach the beatitudes with human ability or effort it is a tedious task to do as Jesus instructs. It is no different with this verse, for we can be glad about the promise of a great reward, but to be very glad at persecution is a tall order. As with the other verses, all of this is only possible with God and cannot be authentically done on our own. If we are persecuted for allegiance with Jesus, we have reason to leap inside. Not because it is good to suffer, but because it means we were considered allied with the One who suffered first for us.