As a Probation Officer, Correctional Program Manager, and for the last 10 years as a Probation Supervisor, my professional life in community corrections has taken many, many course changes.
In the long run, all of these have been for the better but sometimes with painful short term consequences due to choices made in the heat of action or decisions arrived at with not enough information or using untrustworthy sources of that information.
This happens to everybody. The wrong word at the wrong time. The right intention and action but in a peculiar circumstance, or even the right word at the wrong time can get you in trouble in my business. Often it is about how stories are spun by those with an agenda best served by throwing a co-worker, a friend, a family member or significant other under the proverbial bus.
It’s funny in a way, but the behaviors I dealt with when I supervised hundreds of felons over 24 years, ranging from murderers, to drug addicts, to sex offenders, to thieves of many kinds were far more predictable and easy to manage than in recent years as a manager dealing with other managers, officers and staff within my own profession.
Often, I find myself recalling what Paul wrote in Romans 2:29-31: “Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They invent new ways of sinning, and they disobey their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, are heartless, and have no mercy.”
Don’t get me wrong. My career has been a rewarding one by and large and a blessing from God Himself, despite some negative experiences. But who hasn’t had something negative happen on the job or at home or at church, or wherever one has been in 24 years. Please let me know if your last 24 years have been an absolute heaven and I have some beautiful desert property to sell you.
I may have mentioned in earlier posts that I allowed my work to become, as it were, my idol. More important to me than anything in my life. Looking at my words alone, my family and my relationship with The Lord were tops but my actions belied these things. My prayers, too. Sure, I always prayed for my beloved wife and son and they will always be the most important people to me in this life but my job, my leadership of others and my career were always the things to which I focused the most energy in those prayers. Not glorifying God, or any other heavenward meditation for that matter. I am fully convinced that God has used this as the place to chasten me and get me back on the right side of my walk with Him.
Idolatry. Pure and simple. To represent it as anything else, is to be a willing and active participant in the behaviors Paul describes above!
The last several months have caused me to re-evaluate my roles in life and work harder on “heavenward meditation” on God’s word so that when I say I am a child of God first, a loving husband and father second, and a faithful, hardworking employee next I can really mean it and not be considered a hypocrite or worse.
If you are engaged in the kind of life that Paul decries above, write back and let’s talk about it. Conflict of mind is painful and completely unnecessary in the long term, but can be useful when we try to get closer to our Loving God. It has worked for me and can for you, too.
Let God’s peace, the peace that surpasses understanding come to you and remain with you always.