Lesson Learned

By: Pat Drechsler

Proverbs 18:8, 26:20

The words of a gossip are like choice morsels; they go down to the inmost parts… Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.

“You have George in your next class,” said a coworker. “He’ll challenge you in front of the whole class just for argument’s sake. When everyone should be on one website, he’ll be off surfing. He’s smart, arrogant and thinks it’s all about him.”

“Great,” I thought, “four long weeks with too many people in too small a training room and now George. Strong attitudes like his can be catching, so I’ll have to deal with this early.”

Was George really a selfish, troublesome attention-seeker? Somewhat, but poor George didn’t stand a chance in my class! I was ready for him. Late to class by 30 seconds? “George, where were you?” On the wrong website? “George, you’re supposed to be on the search engine!” (His computer was ancient and slow and just hadn’t gotten there yet). Failed to hand back his headphones? “Why didn’t you return your headphones, George?” “Uh, Nancy returned them for me.”

After a particularly public rebuke, George asked to speak to me privately. “Dr. Pat, I’m upset. I feel like you’re picking on me! What have I done to have you treat me this way?” It suddenly hit me. I had been treating George based on behavior someone else had told me to expect rather than on anything I had seen. Instead of being Christ in the workplace and expecting the best, I was the “hammer”, expecting the worst!

“George, you are absolutely right and I was wrong. You didn’t deserve that treatment. Will you forgive me? And since I rebuked you in front of the class, I’d like to apologize to you the same way. Would that be okay?” It was okay, and after that the “quarrel died down.”  

George is a very committed Christian who just has a different (and very strong) personality style. Lesson learned!


TAKE THE CHALLENGE: When have I judged someone based on gossip? How did it affect my relationship with that person?