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Can You Hear Me Now?

Friday, February 10, 2006

Compassion and Grace 101

There’s no question I’m not in my “DREAM JOB”. Part of my current position requires me to speak to people about past due charges and try to create some resolution for them and my company. Our desires are obviously opposed. I desire payment, hopefully in full and today. They desire to leave without having to pay today (most of them). Occasionally I am called to the front on the "harder cases", to actually meet face to face with these people, I simply put on the face of business and deal with them in a business sense.

“You owe money, please pay it, or tell me when you’re going to pay it.”

Something has been churning in me for months now. Something I recognize as the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God is not happy with my ‘collection attitude’. I found myself disbelieving every ‘sob-story’ people put before me. I no longer reacted to tears people produced when discussing this sensitive matter. I become almost agitated when they begin to share their financial difficulties. This is so contradictory to what God has placed in me.

Ironically, I too, struggled with debt and debt payments for years. I dealt with extremely aggressive collection people. I hid from them; changed numbers, moved, defaulted on debt, did everything I could but work out a payment plan with these people. It effected much of my early adulthood in a negative way. This all relates back to the WHY in God’s placement of me in this position, at this point in my life. I know this is in part, His dealing with my “pride”. He has been breaking pride off of me, day by day, since I came back to Oklahoma. Let’s be honest, moving to Oklahoma is, in and of itself, somewhat humbling (particularly for the fair gender).

Today, I interacted with a woman about her account. She wanted me to change information to ensure payment from a third party. I refused to do it and told her it would be fraudulent. She began crying and seemed so hopeless about how she would pay this bill. I gave her additional information, advised she speak to the physician directly and the doctor could notify me of his decision. I quickly departed back to my own safe office. My heart was ripping open at the stress I was “causing” this woman. I realized I have become so incredible insensitive to people and their struggles that I find myself lacking compassion and standing in judgment in response to the non-payment.

I’m not prepared to say that people shouldn’t pay their debts. What I am prepared to say is that while collecting these debts, a little compassion and grace goes a long, long way. Talk about “Jesus for Dummies”, in this course of Compassion and Grace 101. What dawns on me, even now, is that if I truly believe God has put a call on me to Pastor, aka SERVE, this is the ideal position for me to learn these life lessons. I've personally experienced leaders in ministry that react in the same "agitated" way with their "flock" and people in general. When I picture Jesus as the Shepherd, carrying the lamb on His shoulder and always seeking the lost sheep, I KNOW, His call is something greater than agitation.

I am the first to admit this is not how God “wired me”. This position is NOT my destiny…yet, for ‘such a time as this’, I am here…waiting, growing, learning, hopefully in wisdom, after all; ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it’ (George Santayana). Santayana also had these words that apply more and more in my own “journey”:

Our an omen of our destiny, and the more integrity we have and keep, the simpler and nobler that destiny is likely to be.
George Santayana, "The German Mind: A Philosophical Diagnosis"

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