Worst of the Worst

I recognized his voice as he spoke with a colleague while they walked the hall and stopped at the office next to mine. I leaned in toward the sound just a little as to catch its aura because it was so impressive that I felt it had form enough to touch and to hold. I was simply infatuated with this man but I wasn’t the only one. He had lots of admirers. His very presence demanded, captured, and held one’s attention and respect until at which time he decided to unleash his reigns. Once in his presence, you were better for it. He just made you feel that way. It wasn’t that he made you feel special because making one feel special requires that you put forth a purposeful effort to invest in their lives. He didn’t invest in my life in that way but he simply acknowledged me, validated me, and gave me the dignity of recognition. He did that for everyone that he came in contact with.

We’ve all known people like this. Perhaps it was a teacher from your youth or a mentor, an aunt or uncle, a friend’s father or mother or perhaps it was your own mother or father but whoever it was, they lassoed you and drew you in and you succumbed to their advance. I’ve been fortunate and very blessed to work among some fabulous leaders during my corporate career. Likewise, I’ve been very fortunate and blessed to work among the worst of the worst. Yes, blessed. Blessed because by not emulating their bad behaviors, they taught me how to treat people.

I spent some years in a corporate job working with a “worst of the worst” type of guy. I cannot begin to tell you how difficult he was and how poor his behavior was, not just to me but to many. There were so many instances of failures on his part that people were left scratching their heads and breathing a collective sigh as his actions were excused time after time after time. It became a running joke in our organization and he was at the heart of it. Even as I type this, by-gone feelings begin to flutter in my heart and I feel sorry that I am even bringing up the topic. Really, I have forgiven him and I have moved on and I am better for it but I need to write about this because I fear that some of my readers (and some of my past co-workers) may be enduring a similar type of turmoil and what I want to say to you is life altering so please hang with me for the closing.

You need to reach a point of decision about the people whom you associate with, including co-workers, family, friends, neighbors…everyone. Ask yourself “Do I want this relationship?” If the answer is yes then continue to invest. Ask yourself “Do I need this relationship?” If the answer is yes then continue to invest. Pay attention….if you don’t want a relationship but you need a relationship, such as my relationship with “worst of the worst” then you need to declare some boundaries in order to survive. Boundaries could be that you leave the company like I did OR you could draw a line in the sand and let “worst of the worst” off the hook. In ordinary words, forgive them. Draw a line in the sand and name one side “the past” and one side “the present”. Step over into the present and leave the toxicity behind you, including the offenses of “worst of the worst”.

I participated in a Beth Moore study some time ago. It was the book of Ester and she said something so profoundly true that I will never be able to hold a grudge ever again (thank you, Beth and thank you, Lord for using her in this capacity!). Simply put…when we nurse a grudge against someone, the grudge ties us to them. Stay here and let that sink in a minute. When I held onto that grudge with “worst of the worst”, I held onto him. My skin just crawled as I said “ick!” out loud. It’s so true…I held onto those feelings of bitterness because of all the wrong he committed. I allowed a wedge of resentment to build between me and “worst of the worst” and that wedge held me to him. As quickly as this revelation came, my knees crushed the floor and I prayed “Father, forgive me and my offenses so that I can extend forgiveness to those that offend me.” Day after day, prayer after prayer, I reached a point where I didn’t care anymore about “worst of the worst”. His offenses still bothered me but I didn’t dwell there long and eventually I left the company (an answer to prayer). I don’t think about him much anymore except when I think of the friends and co-workers that are still there nursing their grudges. Since God will never favor a grudge, I wonder what the world would be like if we all learned how to forgive.

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