Praying Through an Unfair and Unethical Situation

An unfair situation at work is resolved when a woman learns to love and forgive her boss.

By Devon Burr, Mountain View, CA

Categories: Loving and Forgiving

Can you share any specific instances at work where you've experienced healing by turning to God in prayer?
At my last work place, I tried to publish an article. I let my supervisor and colleagues know about the information that my article would present. But the theory I had developed did not agree with their theory. When I submitted my work for publication, it was reviewed by two other scientists and was accepted very quickly. However, my supervisor's wife was an especially strong advocate of a different theory, and my supervisor let me know that I wouldn't be able to publish my work. Furthermore, I would have to submit all future work through him. This was very disturbing to me because I had done everything right and because it was a form of censorship, which was anathema to me being a scientist and an American.

It required several months of consecrated prayer for me just to think through what happened. It required me to take to heart Jesus dictums: "Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you" (Luke 6:27); and, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matt 22:39). I prayed with these ideas for a few weeks day and night. I would get home from work defeated and exhausted and wake up in the morning dreading going into work and facing this person and his barrage of abuse. It was very uncomfortable.

But divine Love lifted us both out of it, and it came as a result of studying those passages. I was able to leave my job and move to a totally different state where my husband had a position. It was a great blessing to be in the same state and town as my husband and to be able to live with him. This took place two or three years ago. I have had to continue discussions throughout these years with my former supervisor because we had started a project together and were sharing some funding. At one point, he very blatantly tried to take the funding from me, and I had to call NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. to get some of the funding back to pay my own salary. This man was not making it easy for me to love him. He very much felt like my enemy.

The total resolution is just now taking place. I was able to publish a paper with some of this funding last year. And a couple months ago, we started to conclude our work together in a harmonious way, working together on a final publication. We'll produce scientific information that will be worthy of the amount of money granted to this project, and I think it will be an honorable contribution which will be helpful to science. Throughout this time, I worked very hard to see him as God's perfect child, which I know he is. Jesus' guidance for us in the New Testament was the thing that helped me work through this difficulty.

So what happened to the original article you were trying to publish?
When my boss contacted the editor and said, "I forbid it," he also gave me pages of criticisms on my theory. I told the editor I'd take it back and revise it. At first I took offense to my boss's critical attacks. But I kept holding in my thought that this man was not my enemy, even though it felt like he was. Like David in the Bible, I was willing to be corrected. I was willing to work through all of my boss's criticisms. I corrected my paper voluntarily, which strengthened it. The outcome was a much better paper. I invited him to be a co-author, but he declined.

Another blessing was that when I resubmitted my paper, it was published quickly. Usually after a paper's accepted, it sits around for a while until they find space in the journal for it. But when I submitted my paper and told the editor it was improved, he told me he wouldn't send it back out for review. Rather, he'd publish it right away. So it was published not so much later than it would've been originally. And, my boss was okay with it. He couldn't prevent me from publishing it any more because, by this time, I'd been able to move to another institution in another state (and live with my husband), so he was no longer my boss.

It wasn't until a couple months ago that he was able to express any kindness to me, but he has. Or maybe it was because it took me awhile to feel kindness towards him. But I really do now, and it's from being able to follow Jesus command:

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. (Matt 5:44)