Let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t. (Romans 12:6, The Message)
I struggled with which of the Trio to begin with because I have a lot to say about each of them. However, I’m starting with the coworker, because though I met him last of the three, he is the first one who influenced me deeply.
Coworker and I met on my first day on the job. I knew from the first moment we met that he was a mercy gift; I actually told my friend that my coworker was a mercy male, and I knew it was going to be difficult. He is my age—we graduated the same year, but he is already in a high ranking government position, making hand-over-fist money-wise, and one of the smartest people I know in his area of expertise. One time, he was talking shop in my office, and I thought, “wow, this guy is smart, good-looking, and wealthy–what is wrong with him?”
I quickly found out: he lacks identity in Jesus.
Within one week of working with him, I could tell that my coworker was rebelling against his mercy gifting. I could see it in his lack of compassion for others; the way he shuts everyone out, the way he refuses to let anyone care for him at all; the way he treats the people who work for him, the almost robotic nature of his relationships with others; the way he wraps his identity in his job; the rumors about his sexuality. I could see the struggles he was having, even though he tried to hide them.
I began praying for him and speaking very heavily into his identity as a mercy male. I wrote him notes to thank him for showing generosity and to encourage the compassion within him that I knew was there. We had a bit of a dispute—which is NOT the mercy’s strong point, as they just can’t deal with the emotions of conflict—and I made it a point to come into the office on the weekend, when I knew I could catch him, to talk the issue out with him. He hugged me (something that no one in our office has ever experienced, EVER), and we resolved the issue. I spoke life-giving words to him whenever I could, and my other coworkers noted that even they noticed the difference in him.
But after six months of praying fervently for him and speaking into his identity, I stopped. I found myself dealing with feelings for him that I did not want to have. I struggled so badly and felt so despondent about the experience that I asked a friend to take over the prayers and I pulled back from him significantly. And I watched much of the positive changes in him fade away.
During these last six months, I have seen him become even more withdrawn, argumentative, and wholly focused on himself. He has distanced himself from staff without reason and refuses to engage them when asked. He recently said that he could “take care of himself, because he had been doing so his entire life, and he didn’t need anyone.” And even worse, as I have not prayed for him, I have seen my own heart harden towards him.
Praying is imperative, and one of the things that I said I was going to do for the mercy male, regardless of what else I felt led to do, was pray for them. And one reminder I gave myself was, “what if I’m the only person in this entire world that is praying for him?” I don’t know that his parents are Christians, and he doesn’t have many friends. So pondering that question drives home to me the importance of bringing him before the Lord. But I’m also under this realization: prayer is not sovereign; God is sovereign. God doesn’t need me or my prayers to work in my coworker’s life. God needs me to pray so that I can cultivate a better relationship with Him and become more like Him in my daily interactions with everyone, including and perhaps especially with my coworker. I want to see him walking in His God-given identity as a mercy gift, and doing so cheerfully (Romans 12:8). I want Him to know the Lord as I do.
I was worried that I was getting too close to my coworker through my prayers. Now, instead of worrying, I am learning the importance of trusting the Lord to protect my heart as I fulfill His directive to pray. And though he doesn’t know it, I have my coworker to thank for this invaluable lesson.