Walk the King's Highway
A long time ago, I was scapegoated. The circumstances aren’t important. Suffice it to say that my supervisor used me as a scapegoat to avoid the blame for something he had done wrong. But that wasn’t all. He would repeatedly use this lie to mock me in front of my co-workers, to the extent that they wondered why he had it in for me. He also used the incident to deny me a promotion. In general, he made my life miserable. Not just in the short-term, either. This went on month after month.
To say I was devastated by this situation is putting it mildly. I was also very angry. But I determined in my heart before the Lord that I was going to take the high road. So, every morning when I came to work and rounded the corner to pass his cubicle on the way to my desk, I breathed a simple prayer: “Lord, give me the grace to smile and say ‘good morning.’”
This went on for about a year. A very, very difficult year. Then, without warning, our department was given notice that we were going to be laid off in a month. Suddenly, everyone was scrambling to polish their resumes and brush up on their interviewing skills. I was able to help my co-workers with this because I had already been looking for a new job and had been working with a career coach.
One day, my supervisor asked me to help him prepare for an interview. I was, to say the least, very surprised that he would ask for my help. We went into one of the conference rooms and I played the role of interviewer while he was the interviewee. A few minutes in, I posed the following standard interview question: “What are three things your direct reports would say about you?”
My supervisor was at a loss. The lay-off had hit him very hard and shaken his confidence in himself. He said, “To be honest, I have no idea.” Then, he followed up with this incredible question: “What would you say about me?”
Stop right there. Think about it. This is the supervisor who had scapegoated me, taunted me, and done his best to blacken my reputation. Asking me, “What would you say about me?”
If I hadn’t chosen to trudge along the high road day after day, week after week, month after month, I’m not sure what I would have said. I probably would have still been nursing anger and bitterness. I might have even thought, “It’s payback time!”
But I had chosen the high road, and a year of praying daily for grace and practicing forgiveness had left its mark. I looked him in the eyes and said steadily, “Here’s what I would say ...” and I named three positive characteristics about him.
He stared at me for a long moment. Then he asked in a small voice, “You would really say that about me?” And I was able to answer with complete truth and peace, “Yes, I would.”
A few days later, I had the opportunity to share the gospel with my supervisor. While he didn’t accept the Lord at that time, he listened attentively and I hope that he later chose to follow the Lord. I know without question that the opening to talk with him about Jesus only came because I had taken the high road. Walking the high road had strengthened and matured me so that – at that pivotal moment in the conference room – I could build him up instead of tear him down. Walking the high road had led me to the place where I could share God’s love for him from my heart.
We all encounter situations and relationships where we have to make a choice between the low road and the high road. I encourage you: take the high road. It’s not going to be easy. It may be a very long trek. But God will provide his grace to you every step of the way. He will help you work through anger, bitterness, revenge, hatred, grief, pain, and a host of other issues and emotions. And you will find that, as you walk the high road, his grace will pour out through you to everyone around you ... including to the very people who have hurt you or who are making you miserable. The testimony of your life may very well change their lives for all eternity.
Don’t give up. Keep going steadily forward and pray that simple prayer: “Lord, give me the grace I need to take the high road – to walk the King’s Highway – today.”
“Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace,
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
~ Hebrews 4:16