Learn to Love Annoying Coworkers

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Let's face it. People are difficult to love. They whine, complain, they rarely listen. And what about all those annoying little habits? No matter how much of a "people person" you may be, there are still those who really get under your skin. For me, Pam was just such a person.

She sat across from me on the trolley at the company outing. A harmless honeybee buzzed down the aisle, and she screamed. I barely stopped myself from rolling my eyes in disgust. Back at work, another person disagreed with her, and she pouted for the rest of the day. Later she complained loudly about the temperature in the office, even though the rest of us were comfortable. In short, everything about her rubbed me the wrong way.

Yet, no matter how much she annoyed me, God kept thrusting us together. And all the time his words nagged at the back of my mind, "If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20).

Yikes! Hard words. It wasn't that I hated Pam, but I certainly didn't love her either.

How did Jesus love the less than loveable? During his earthly ministry, he was surrounded with annoying people. Like Peter. Impulsive, emotional, always speaking at the wrong time, Peter would have been a challenge for anyone. Peter was not so different from Pam. Yet Jesus saw more in Peter than his actions warranted. Could I see Pam the way Jesus saw Peter?


What's in a name? In the gospels, Simon Peter resembles more the shifting sand than a firm, immovable rock. Yet, early in their relationship, Jesus renames Simon, saying "And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Matt. 16:18).

Somehow, Jesus saw past Peter's present faults and shortcomings and found the seed of who Peter would become under the transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Then, Jesus chose to address Peter as if he had already become the rock.

What would I call Pam if I saw what she could become under the tutelage of the Holy Spirit? In my mind, I had been calling her "annoyer" and "petty complainer," but what did God see? As I prayed for God to show me one good quality, I began to see that her bothersome habits were partially the result of a sensitive spirit. With God's grace, that sensitivity could be transformed into a Christ-like compassion.

So, every time I saw her, I began to silently call her "compassion" and think of her as such. With her new 'name' firmly in my mind, I started watching for the glimmer of compassion I knew was in her. Soon, I found myself seeking out her company, and even beginning a real friendship.

>> Read Part Two of this article.


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