Several years ago, a friend of mine landed a job working for the city’s department of architecture. Although she loved the job, there was an architect who worked there that concerned her. On her first day of work, the office manager gave her the customary tour of their office. While on the tour, he gave her a brief synopsis of each architect’s personality and quirks. As he pointed out the last one, an African-American man who appeared mixed-race in heritage, he explained that she was to stay away from him, then he said, “No one bothers with him. Stay away from him.” After a few weeks, as she became more accustomed to her new office atmosphere, one of her co-workers explained to her that the “outcast” was a “brilliant architect” who the management team had been trying to get rid of for years. However, because his work was exemplary, they could not simply fire him, so instead, they began to limit his projects to mundane tasks, eventually tapering them off to nothing. So, this man came to work every day and simply sat at his desk and stared out at the bustling activity of their office. When she heard the whole story she became even more concerned; but, when he began staring at her, her concern heightened to fear.
The day she called me to tell me the story, she was sitting at her desk and her colleague had just finished a staring session. As she told me the story, I told her to break the cycle the office had begun by speaking to this man.
“I don’t know; nobody else speaks to him.” She said. “Well, why can’t you start with Good Morning?" I argued. "That’s simple enough. —What could he say to you but Good Morning back?” “But, suppose he’s really a nut?” She shot back. “True.” I said, “But, chances are he is just angry. Angry that they have taken away the work he loves; angry that he is too afraid to leave the job after 15 years of working there, and angry that there are others far less adept at their job who have been promoted over and over again.” As I tried to convince her to overcome her fear, I finally said,“Think about this, suppose he sits at his desk everyday contemplating his anger, and finally decides to act on his anger, and one day he comes into the office and kills everyone. The only person he decides not to kill is you! Why? Because you were the only one who took the time to treat him like a human being!”
It worked. She was the only person in the office who spoke to this man—every day.
One day she called me from work and said,“Lavona you were right.” “What do you mean I was right,” I asked.
“—Where are you?” “I’m at the office.” She said continuing, “You know the man I told you about?” “Yeah, —what happened?” I asked, waiting for an answer. “He committed suicide.” She whispered. “Oh no, —what hap...?” I began to ask before she interrupted me. “He took some sheets, tied them together, and jumped out of his bathroom window, hanging himself.”
Office cultures are powerful magnets. And, it can be difficult for us to go against the grain. But, in many instances we are placed in a particular place to interact with individuals whose very life we might have the opportunity to save; not only as Christians, but also as human beings. In this case, it didn’t work. Yet it became a powerful lesson for my friend. You never know why you are placed where you are, interacting daily with the people within your midst, while invoking the power of God into your relationships. All things told; it might just be to save a life contemplating the irreversible act of suicide. -Be a Light! L.
Study Reference: James 4:13-17
From: "Going Against The Grain." In The Master's Hands: 365 Daily Devotions For Everyday Living.
Copyright © 2014 by Lavona E. Campbell