I was witness to a situation this last week with an employee and his boss. I happened to be in an establishment headed toward the restroom when I found myself within earshot of the conversation that was taking place. Apparently the employee had failed in a task of some sort and the boss of the store was ridiculing him in front of the other co-workers. I was close enough to hear the dialog that took place without them being aware that they were being overheard. The boss mocked the employee and every time he tried to explain the situation it just made the things worse as his boss repeated everything said in a high-pitched whiney voice mocking his every word asking him, “Were you just born stupid, or what?” They were all having a good laugh at his expense.
The employee tried to walk away several times but was directed to stay by the sarcastic superior until he was done making fun of him. The only one that seemed to be enjoying the scene was the boss as the workers stood nearby looking very uncomfortable in what they were witnessing. He then told the young man to get out of his sight as he was tired of looking at his stupid face.
I was stunned to say the least and watched the employee as he walked outside looking visibly upset. I followed him outside and struck up a conversation with him. He said his name was Shane. I asked him if his boss always treated him that way, and he said yes. I asked him why he took it and he explained to me that he had no choice. Without this job he said almost tearfully, “I would be on the streets”. Besides he said, it’s not just me, he does this to everyone”.
Shane said had recently gone through a devastating divorce that had destroyed his finances. The divorce came after his service as a soldier for our country in Iraq. His wife was unable to cope with his deployment, and had divorced him. He returned home to a broken marriage, the loss of his children and had been unable to find a job. He said he had taken this particular job because it was all he could find. He told me he was staying at a roach motel down the street that he was renting for around $ 500 a month. He explained that he walked to and from work every day, as his wife had taken their vehicle and he had been unable to afford a car as of yet.
We talked for a while of God, and of faith and of life and had that talk that you do when you are learning about someone and their beliefs. He told me he believed in Jesus, but did not understand everything about religion and did not consider himself a religious man. I remarked to Him that I was not a religious man either, but I certainly believed in God and in His Son Jesus Christ as my Savior.
I shared with Sean that I thought his boss was way out of line to berate him in front of other workers. He said it was hard for him to swallow, especially in light of the fact that he had been a sergeant in charge of other men’s lives in war and he had never treated anyone like he himself was being treated. I told him that I would pray for him and was going to attempt to do so then and there when he saw his boss headed his way, and quickly headed inside.
I stood there outside for quite some time. This situation had made me unusually upset. My heart had tremendous compassion on the young former soldier and I was initially feeling very angry at the store manager. When I got home I shared the story with my wife and it seemed the more that I told her, the angrier it made me. I had half way made up my mind to go back in there and give the store manager a piece of my mind. She suggested I sleep on it and pray about it before taking any action.
The next day I could not get it off my mind. The more I thought about it and it rolled around in my head, I found myself not only praying for the young man Sean, but also his boss. I understood why Shane was where he was in life, struggling to cope with the divorce, the acclimation to civilian life again, and the inability to find a decent job. I felt tremendous compassion for him. But I believed him as he had explained to me, “ I won’t be here long, as soon as I get a vehicle I will get a good job.” I saw hope restored for him and believe God will help him find his way.
I began to think about the store manager. He seemed to be a man around 40 years old. I began to wonder what would make a man end up like that. What kind of sadness and pain did he have in his life that he had to make other people miserable around him that he had authority over? What pleasure did he drive from making people feel small? What was the source of his obvious lack of character and integrity? I decided to pray for him as well as I felt that he was in more in need of prayer that Sean was. My anger began to dissipate toward him and I began to feel pity and compassion for him. He had to be so miserable, so very sad and hurt inside. I found myself asking God to reach inside of him, touch him and heal whatever was wounded inside of him. Where there was anger, I asked God to give him joy. Where there was pain, I asked God to give him healing.
In curiosity I looked up this type of situation on the internet and found this article and many others, Belligerent Bosses: Supervisors Threaten Employees during the Financial Crisis. http://www.phoenix.edu/profiles/faculty/ruby-rouse/articles/belligerent-bosses.html . It explains in this article that many employees report employers are increasingly using threats and intimidation tactics to cope with the financial crisis. Employees are told if they discussed layoffs or downsizing, or even ask questions they would be fired – immediately.
Shane’s boss seemed selfish, self-obsessed, inadequate, insecure and totally insensitive, treating him as if he was inhuman. He seemed to exaggerate himself and looked reluctant to acknowledge anyone else. From my conversation with Shane, I got the impression that his boss expected his own needs to be met by everyone else, as he demands respect and consideration and denies similar treatment to his workers. Definitely a job for Jesus.
I am asking those in the Body of Christ who are in this situation or know of someone in this situation, to lift that situation up in prayer. And at the same time, as difficult as it may be, lift up before God that belligerent boss that his/her heart can be touched and changed by the love of God, so that many lives can be changed for the better, and not just one. If an employer is mean to you, pray for them. Pray for the love of God to touch the life of both the employee and the employer. Just remember, belligerent bosses can become born again bosses, this is the power of the love of God in Christ Jesus.