His name is “avoidance” and sadly he has become a close acquaintance of mine over the past several years. Stealthier than a ninja stealing office supplies he has helped me to go undetected by many of my co-workers like a coffee stain on the boss’ purple paisley necktie.
The sturdy walls of my cubicle which are upholstered with corporate gray cloth and peerless glass make for the perfect cover against one of avoidance’s greatest enemies – “interaction”! My associate and I diligently avoid interaction at all costs with fellow co-workers, many of whom we meet by chance in narrow hallways, the restroom, and yes even the break room. When the lunch bell rings and the hungry hoard of blue collars roll into the break room for their 30 minutes of food, fellowship, and philosophy, avoidance and I stave off hunger pangs long enough until after lunchtime has ended with cleverly concealed goodies strategically placed in the corners of my desk.
Why all the clandestineness and elusion you ask? It’s simple really - I’m the world’s worst workplace evangelist! If I have to step one foot into that break room, even for the 1.5 minutes it takes to nuke my favorite frozen cuisine that would mean I’d have to (*sigh*) engage in conversation with my fellow co-workers. Doesn’t the Bible promote somewhere the leading of a quiet life? Besides ever since the office secretary started charging $5 bucks for utensils and napkins I didn’t want to risk accidentally partaking and thus later find an invoice stapled to my chair.
No, it’s better that avoidance and I remain in the solace of my colorfully decorated cubicle where pictures of family adorn the inside walls along with, ironically enough, motivational quotes like “Carpe Diem!” and scriptural directives such as “Go and make disciples…” O, woe is me! How I wish to be friends with compassion instead, for she would certainly come and move my feet into action. But wouldn’t that be perceived as covetousness? I don’t want to go down that road again.
The last time I made a pact with covetousness I found myself working longer hours to obtain overtime in order to acquire more wealth so that I could pay off my new car which is parked in the garage of my three bedroom domicile several days a week because my job graciously allows me to work from home. Telework is also a time where I would find myself engaging in a soliloquy of sorts regarding my workplace experiences in which every sermon typically ends with a hearty, well-intentioned yelp of “Tomorrow I will make an effort to join my co-workers in the break room!”
My fervor however quickly dissipates once I remember the unreasonable levy placed upon eating utensils and paper products by the office bureaucracy and so I therefore sink back into my shiny black upholstered office chair with added seat cushion and back support while sipping on my favorite beverage in PJs and brown bedroom slippers. Miles away from the repetitive clacking of keyboard strokes made by overzealous cube mates striving for overtime pay and 401ks with their intriguing phone conversations and distracting co-worker chatter and such.
Wait a second, what day is it? Oh no, it’s Wednesday. That can only mean one thing - TEAM BUILDING EXERCISE!! There is no greater adversary to avoidance than forced fun maneuvers in the office space by superiors who zealously aspire to construct the ultimate well-oiled marketplace machine. It’s the equivalent of kryptonite to Superman or worse "death" by PowerPoint Presentation during which marathon board meetings yield glazed looks from fellow co-workers whose fading interests reveal a continuous brawl between tedium and maintaining consciousness.
Regardless of what our struggles might be the Bible reminds us that God's grace is enough for us. In fact it is His strength that comes into its own in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:7-10 MSG). So although there may be no greater foe to my colleague avoidance than to constructively engage with others, there is however no greater remedy to the faulty personality of the world’s worst workplace evangelist than our Master's love. It's all we need!
Run to win,