I have been searching for some spiritual advice on how to deal with annoying employees. The scriptures didn’t offer much help, other than telling me to be infinitely patient and kind.
I kept searching.
Surely Jesus must have had some irritating moments with his employees, those surly disciples. I mean, come on, they were just ordinary guys like you and me, right? They had to get on each others’ nerves from time to time. The bible doesn’t really showcase Jesus’ irritation levels, but if we read between the lines of some of his exchanges with the disciples, we can see a little hint of annoyance. For instance, here’s a gem from Matthew 16, right after Jesus had done this amazing miracle of feeding 4,000 men, plus women and children (who somehow weren’t worthy of being actually counted). So now in verse 5, he’s back on a boat with the disciples, onward ho to their next mission. But they run into a little snag…
“When they went across the lake, the disciples forgot to take bread. ‘Be careful’ Jesus said to them. ‘Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ They discussed this among themselves and said, ‘It is because we didn’t bring any bread.”
Picture it. They’ve just launched off of the dock, into the Galilean Sea, and they’ve probably been gone maybe about ten minutes when someone discovers that they forgot to bring any bread with them. It’s going to be a long trip. At times they probably regretted not having some women traveling with them. The women would definitely have remembered the bread. And they’ve also somehow completely forgotten about Jesus’ miracle from the day before when he multiplied the fish and loaves to feed the thousands. Maybe it went over their heads, or it didn’t quite compute. Can you imagine the argument that broke out? Jesus takes the opportunity to segue the no-bread topic into a riddled-laden mystery teaching about the yeast of the Pharisees. And they’re like, “What the heck is he talking about? I didn’t even know the Pharisees had their own brand of yeast to bake bread with.”
“Hey Peter, did you buy the kind of bread baked with Pharisee-yeast? Jesus is asking about it.”
“No, I thought you were supposed to bring the bread, dope-head! So who cares about what brand it is!”
“Cut it out guys! Now look, you’ve made Jesus mad. And he’s hungry.”
“Ya sure that’s not a loaf of bread under your robe?”
“No! But he wants the one made with the yeast of Pharisees! I’ve never heard of that before.”
“No bread? And how much longer are we on this boat? I’m starving already.”
“He must think we’re idiots.”
Then Jesus cuts to the chase. This time he sounds extremely annoyed:
“Aware of their discussion, Jesus asked, “You of little faith, why are you talking among yourselves about having no bread? Do you still not understand? Don’t you remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many basketfuls you gathered? How is it you don’t understand that I was not talking to you about bread? But be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Then they understood that he was not telling them to guard against the yeast used in bread, but against the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”
This passage spells it out pretty clear. Jesus is like, “HOW IS IT THAT YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND THAT I WAS NOT TALKING ABOUT BREAD?” (bold cap font added to emphasize an implied irritated tone of voice) I bet by then he was gritting his teeth and his face was turning red and his blood pressure was surging. Apparently, you had to be around him for a while to pick up on all those double-speak clues, to actually get the deeper meaning of the yeast comment. I kind of feel sorry for the disciples. All they were thinking about was food. I think I would have missed the point too.
The scriptures don’t say how their voyage turned out in terms of their cruise dinner entrée du jour that evening, but I kind of was hoping Jesus scrounged up some miracle-bread for them to munch on, even though he might have thought they were a little thick. Sometimes it all just catches up to me, too. The over-commitment, the pressures and demands coming from every side, and I just want a break. I don’t want to keep leading and being nice and thinking the best of everyone and being patient. Not that I have the pressures or expectations from The Boss like Jesus did, but the demands of the job do get wearing at times. And then I lose patience with the people I work with who start to disappoint me with their lack of judgment, their impulsiveness, their poor decisions.
Oy vey. Maybe I’ll just get on a boat and not tell anyone where I’m going. They’ll find me when they need me, right?