I’ve been blessed with many good bosses over the years, but “Jerry” didn’t make the list. In fact, he wins the prize for worst boss.
Jerry was a homebuilder and I worked for him as a carpenter’s helper. Jerry always craved attention. When I didn’t ooh and aah when he bragged about his exploits or showed off, it bugged him.
He would often assign me a job to do that I had never done before, not explain how to do it, then rake me over the coals when I didn’t do it the way he wanted it done. Other times he assigned me a task I’d done 50 times then tell me the most elementary instructions of how to do it as if I’d never done it before.
A half dozen times a day, sometimes a dozen, Jerry would put me down. I spent all day every day at work bracing for the next insult. The only times I could let my guard down were when Jerry left the work site to buy supplies. I came home every night beat up and emotionally drained.
I understood that Jerry was insecure. I understood that he felt threatened by me because I was college-educated and he wasn’t. But understanding did make it any less painful.
After three weeks on the job, I was begging God for a different job. What he gave me, though, wasn’t a new job, but a new way to deal with Jerry. He brought to my mind words from a psalm David wrote about the time he was fleeing for his life from his son Absalom: “You, O Lord, are a shield around me” (Psalm 3:3, NLT).
As a Star Trek fan, “shield” conjured up for me an image that wouldn’t have occurred to David—the shield created by a force field that surrounded a ship, protecting it from attack. This psalm inspired what I call my shield prayer.
Whenever Jerry hurled an insult, I used that as an instant trigger to silently pray my shield prayer, “Thank you, God, for protecting me,” while at the same time picturing a force shield instantaneously surrounding my body. Then I pictured Jerry’s insults as arrows bouncing harmlessly off my shield onto the floor. By the end of the day, the floor was littered with arrows!
I won’t tell you that Jerry’s insults no longer hurt at all, but I will tell you that the pain of those insults was reduced by 90%. I think it was because I used each attack as the trigger to shift my focus from how Jerry was treating me to how God was protecting me. By focusing on God rather than Jerry, Jerry’s words lost most of their sting.
Thank you, God, for being my shield.
Is there someone who has a habit of verbally attacking you, insulting you, or putting you down? Can you use those attacks as a trigger to pray the shield prayer?