by Pastor Tim Burt
When I was about 20 years old, I was working for a corporation that I really enjoyed working at. Within this corporation, they had a system that allowed you to move around and work various jobs within different departments. It was one of the best benefits of working for this company. If you got tired of working in one area and needed a change, you could look at some of the other jobs posted and the most senior person that bid for it was able to get it. Over my five years there, I think I worked in every department. I had fun getting to know people all over the company. I loved the experience of learning a diversity of jobs. The jobs carried different hours and schedules so you could change up your life. For me, it was a great place to work that broadened my work experience.
One day it was pointed out to me by management that I had a very positive quality I wasn’t even aware of. Whenever a new person came on staff or transferred into the department I was working in, they said I seemed to reach out and meet and greet them and help them get oriented to their area of work and their job. I didn’t think about it. It was just like breathing, something that felt appropriate to do.
The top boss was a man who had been promoted from within and someone I had worked closely with for over a year. He was about 25 years older than me and became like a big brother. We really enjoyed each other’s friendship. I was thrilled when he was promoted. Unbeknownst to me, He and other managers had noticed how I worked with other employees and had wanted to move me into management. They felt I was great at working with people and had developed a very broad base of the workings of all the departments.
I had long hair at the time. Not super long but below my collar yet not resting on my shoulders. My friend, who had become my boss, knew that he was about to ask me to step into management, but knew that I’d have to move beyond our friendship to respect his authority. He tested me knowing that if I couldn’t, it would never work out. He asked me to get a haircut, cutting my hair above my shirt collar. I had no idea he was thinking about moving me into management. I said I would cut my hair but then didn’t. He asked me two weeks later and I said I would but I didn’t. This went on for a couple of months and it was starting to strain our relationship. He had the right to make me get a haircut but it was rarely enforced anywhere else and I couldn’t figure out why he was picking on me. It was souring our relationship but it was really my fault.
One day he gave me an ultimatum. Get the haircut within two days or be fired. I just couldn’t believe he was serious. I knew that I was well-liked by all and that they valued my efforts on the job, so I ignored his request again. Two days later, he fired me. I was absolutely shocked. I couldn’t believe it nor could anyone else there. I had to leave the premises and not come back. It sent me into a mental tailspin. I cried. I got mad. I cried more. And then I began to break. I began to look inside my heart and over the entire experience. I wasn’t a Christian at this time, but most people in any crisis end up talking to God whether they admit they believe in Him or not. I could see I had disrespected him amongst the employees with my defiance and attitude of indifference. I was truly sorry.
I went back to him to apologize (with my hair cut short) but it was too late in his eyes. I went to my regional manager who I knew really liked me. I sat down with him, confessed my sins, told him I was sincerely sorry, and begged him to give me another chance and give me my job back. He intervened and did.
I again sincerely apologized to my boss and let everyone else know my attitude had been wrong. A year later they offered me a transfer and huge promotion to a management job that would have made me the youngest person to ever hold that level of management and responsibility.
As a Christian, I look back on that experience and it reminds me of 2 Corinthians 7:10 (NIV). It says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
Many people get stuck in the problems they’ve created because they will not look deep inside, examine their hearts, and own up to their faults. They pridefully defend their wrong actions. But for the person that does feel and show remorse, this is the beginning of what godly sorrow means. This is step one. But it can’t stop there. It must lead to repentance—not just trying to get out of trouble or past the problem. Repentance means coming to the recognition of what was wrong, and with sincere regret and sorrow, admitting, taking responsibility for, and committing to change the grievance.
I know that when things get tough because of wrong choices and mistakes we’ve made, we want instant forgiveness and restoration. God wants to redeem and deliver us but He also wants to make sure we have sincerely learned and turned from the cause of our self-inflicted woes.
Isaiah 57:15 says, “The high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, the Holy One, says this: “I live in that high and holy place with those whose spirits are contrite and humble. I refresh the humble and give new courage to those with repentant hearts.”
Pride is the greatest enemy you will ever face. It wants to blind you and keep you on the wrong path that God is trying to speak to you about and lead you out of. Sincere humility and sorrow open the floodgates of your heart to hear from God. Forgiveness and restoration start at this place!
1 Peter 5:5 (NIV) “…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
In His love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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