I have told you about the bully in my life. I was amazed (although I don't know why I should have been) after I spent extra time in prayer that morning asking God to help me with this man, to find, when I arrived at work, him verbally pummeling a co-worker for something I had done. As I climbed the stairs to our offices, I could hear him ranting (OK, ranting might be a little excessive, but he was not happy) at her about what I had done with my committee and what he could do about it. I had to stop at the top of the stairs, look at the ceiling (as if God's face would be there, grinning) and say, "OK, really God?! This is the answer to my prayer? Wow, did we have a faulty connection!"

I went to my office across the hall determined to just hide out there until he was finished. It was my intention to go across once he left and apologize to her, but he just wouldn't stop. I sat in my office for what seemed like a long time, in reality it was only a few minutes, saying over and over again, "I'm not going in there. I'm not going in there." I finally went in.

But I didn't go in meekly! I started asking him before I got to the doorway, in a kind of loud voice so he could hear me over his rant (OK, still probably not a full rant, but getting closer), if he'd like to meet with the committee that had worked with me to complete this task. I asked him if he'd like to voice his concerns to the people who could actually do something about the issue he was so unhappy with. His immediate response was, "Yes," and then he began to back up..."well, there's really nothing that can be done about it now. The decision's already been made. I just think you should have..." But he never could tell me what it was that I 'should have.'

When I asked him to explain to me exactly what was wrong with what we did, he said he couldn't really find anything. OK, so then how we did it was wrong. Well, no, he probably would have done the same thing. So if what we did wasn't wrong and how we did it wasn't wrong, then just what was wrong with it? He "should have been told what we were doing." At that point, my co-worker, who had been watching this 'battle' take place from one side of her desk to the other-over her head- said that he had been told, that she had been right there on two occasions when I had shared with him exactly what we were doing. Check-mate!

The only thing he could come up with at that point was that one of the pieces we had written wasn't a complete sentence. When I pointed out to him that, with three teachers sitting on the committee, I was quite certain it was a sentence, and I showed him the subject and the verb, followed by three prepositional phrases. Well, then they were the wrong prepositions to which I said, "This is a foolish argument," and he agreed. This particular battle was over. He'd just let the rest of the organization decide if this was good or bad. He would sit and not say a word and let come down whatever would come. I assured him that I had absolutely no problem with that. I would be happy, with other members of our committee, to present our work and let the chips fall where they may.

When my heart finally stopped pounding in my chest and I could actually breathe again, I apologized to my co-worker and went back to my office. She had assured me that nothing that had happened was my fault and that she was very glad that I had come to her rescue. As I walked back to my office, I closed the door so that I could have a few minutes to de-compress about what had just happened.

I had spent extra time that morning asking God to help me with this man, this bully, and the very first thing that happens when I arrived at work was being forced to challenge him to save my friend. While that was not really the answer I had been praying for, it was an answer. And when I really thought about what I had said to him, and how I had been able to confront him-in a peaceful manner-I could see that God had answered my prayer. God had been right there with me through the whole thing. The words I used, the questions I asked had not been from me, they had come from God.

My prayer had been for Him to make this bully go away. While that was not His plan, He helped me walk up to him and confront him. He put the words in my head that were exactly the right words to challenge him. He boxed the bully right into the corner, where both my co-worker and I could face him down.

Don't you just hate that? You spend all that time thinking, worrying, planning and praying about an outcome that you just know is what you've got to have, and then God comes along and pretty much laughs at you and says, "Well, nice try but we're going to do this instead! I've got this one."

In reality, God's got them all. God expects us to do what we can and then to leave it in his lap. This confrontation with my bully was not the first one we had had over this issue. The first round had not gone well for me. I was unable to even comprehend that anything we had done could be an issue for anyone. The words would not come to me. I don't think I lost the round, but I didn't win it either. This second round was not won by me, but it was won in my favor. I was not able to face down the bully, but God was.

You see, in my prayer I had asked for the bully to go away, to be removed from his job and then I wouldn't have to deal with him again. But God had a better idea, "Let's see if we can do a little work on the bully." And you know what, there has been a change. He showed up in my doorway this week, asking if we could talk. Oh man, Round 3! Immediately, it was different. He didn't call me to his office, to sit in his chair where he could look across his desk and down at me. He stood in my office door (for a quick retreat?). And then he asked me, "Tell me the top three reasons people are so unhappy with me."

WOW! I took a minute to say yet another prayer for guidance and I told him. Amazingly, he told me that this was not the first time he had heard these issues related to him, in fact he had been hearing them for thirty years. Then he asked me what I thought he could do to change it. YIKES! I told him. I said that people want to feel valued, they want to know that what they do is important, not just to him but to the organization, and they want to know that as our leader, he values them, that he won't just cast them aside if they don't meet every one of his criteria. Our conversation was over an hour and a half. He did a lot of pacing in front of my desk, but he had obviously been thinking since our previous conversation and, while he hadn't made any changes, he was considering making them.

He's been a different person the last few days. He's much easier to talk to, he's much easier-going and he has smiled and joked more with us than he has since I started working for him. I don't know if this change is permanent. It's hard to change habits you have had for so long. But I guess I don't have to know if the change will continue or not. I just have to keep doing my job, asking for God's help and direction, and let the BIG BOSS handle the rest.

Psalm 37:5-6

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.

God will answer your prayers. He just likes to keep you on your toes with His answers. Be prepared isn't just the Boy Scout motto. You never know where He's going to lead you! And, oh yeah, we received applause from the group for the work we did. Thanks, God!

Author's Bio: 

Ereline has served in the educational field for over 35 years. She has worked as a public school teacher, a christian education director, an early childhood professional, and a program director. She has also worked with collaborative teams promoting child abuse awareness and has helped to found child protective programs in association with the NCAC.

Working with people of all ages, Ereline has developed a communication strategy to relate with and to the participants making the lessons she teaches down-to-earth and easily understandable by all.

Ereline's blog, Simply Faith (erelinessimplyfaith.blogspot.com) provides daily lessons grounded in faith, hope, and love.