I worked for a church and if I did not know any better, I would have thought I was back in the corporate world. The church I worked for is an historic church. The Gospel is preached. People get baptized on a weekly basis. This church does an amazing job reaching out to the community.
Yet, for two years I was confused – really confused as to how people were maneuvered, not used properly, and/or treated like they were a position rather than a person with feelings.
I was baffled as to why God would allow this amazing church and its leaders to mistreat the staff in such a way. Now don’t get me wrong. I have worked in horrible settings where supervisors thought they could call you screaming at you at any given moment like you were their two-year-old child. I have worked where supervisors expected you to neglect your family to be at work all night if need be. So, I do not want to paint the same kind of picture here.
The issue is that in a Christian setting, especially an historic church, our expectations are different. We expect to be treated like those in authority care about us. The mistreatment I am referring to from this church was not verbal abuse of any kind. We weren’t expected to be at work all hours of the night. We weren’t expected to neglect our family. In fact, we were encouraged on a regular basis to take vacation, spend time with our family – and unplug! BUT on the flipside – there was clear favoritism. There was clear nepotism. There was clear exclusion. I witnessed so many amazing people quit for these reasons alone – including myself.
Colossians 2:3 “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
The Right Way
What do you do when you have no choice but to stand up for what’s right?
Many times, when we stand up for ourselves and for others, we find ourselves standing on an island alone. We look around and we wonder why everyone else seems okay, so we start to doubt what we believe in. We cannot tell if we should flee or stay.
In Dr. Paul White’s book, A Vibrant Workplace, he says on page 53, “Although it may not occur very often, there are times when the best action to take is to leave.” Prior to this statement, White says we must evaluate the circumstances of our workplace to determine if it’s a healthy workplace for us. You might look around and wonder why everyone else seems okay and maybe they are. Maybe for them the workplace is good. Maybe it’s not and they aren’t willing to fight for their value. But if you are determined to stand up for yourself, you must evaluate the entire situation with God and make a decision that is best for you and your family.
Moses was a man of justice. He stood up for one of his own who was being mistreated. He killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, but this did not make him a hero with his people. They were not enthused about his desire for what was right.
Exodus 2:14 “The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”
The Hebrews weren’t about to stand up for themselves, and they were not interested in Moses doing it for them. This does not mean YOU do not stand up for yourself.
You must make a decision for you and your life – even if it hurts.
The Zeal for Action
Acts 4:20 “But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
Peter and John had the zeal of the Lord inside of them, so they were not afraid to stand up for their faith. When I quit my job, I can assure you we were in no financial position for long-term security. This was not an easy decision. But I could not shake the idea that the loving God of this universe would want anyone to work for a church and be devalued in His name. Trust me I was told repeatedly that I was there to serve God and it did not matter what was taking place, I had a job, I received a salary, and I was there to serve Him.
I am sorry but it made no sense to me!
My loving Father in heaven who I pray and spend time with daily who reminds me how much I am loved, loves me so much He wants me to work at a church 8 hours a day and be overlooked, excluded, not used properly (with the gifts He has given me), doing nothing on some days while others were used properly, yet be happy because I was there to serve Him? Now please do not quit your job tomorrow. We are never going to work in perfect settings all the time. You might have to do grunt work for a while to show you are faithful to your team and the organization. But how are you treated? You might not “like” what you are doing right now, but be honest, are you being treated with respect and dignity? Don’t just get up and leave because you don’t like the work you’re doing. There is a huge difference here.
In my case I was mistreated. No question. I tried to talk with my supervisor on MANY occassions and HR to no avail – so, after much prayer with my husband I eventually quit.
Micah 6:8 He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
After I left, I wrestled with leaving for close to a year. I wondered if I had made a mistake. When months were tight with bills, I fought God. Why did you let them treat me this way? Why did you let me leave if it was going to be so hard!
Then one day, while reading a Christian leadership book, God spoke so clearly to me. The leader said, people are not positions, they are people!
People are not a chess move. People are not a strategy for your leadership. People are people. Period!
As hard as it has been to leave and stand up for what was right, I will never regret standing up for my dignity. I will never regret standing up for my value. I will never regret standing up for God knowing that He created us for a great purpose and when we are in the right settings, under the right leadership, we can do amazing things for His Kingdom!
Martin Luther King Jr. paid the ultimate sacrifice for what was right. It will be hard to stand up for yourself. People will NOT be on your side friend. Trust me. But you matter to God so do not allow yourself to be mistreated and devalued in the name of God. You are loved by Jesus Christ. You matter to Him. You might not matter to those around you, but don’t hold it against them my friend. Like Jesus said on the Cross, “Father they know not what they do.” We live in a flawed world so don’t walk around with a chip on your shoulder. That serves God no purpose either.
BUT – know that your worth and value comes from God not man and stand up for His love for you. Seek Him and ask Him to guide your steps to where He wants you to be. People can change. The people around you might have a change of heart. Or maybe not. God will lead you where you will make a difference for His Kingdom, bringing people to salvation. You are a person to be used for His purpose and He has a greater purpose than you can imagine. Walk worthy of your value and calling with Him.
You are a person friend – not a position! Never forget that!
~Saleama A. Ruvalcaba, MATS
Do you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If not email me today and I will pray with you.