Jake was an employee in my former laboratory. Industrious, affable, and always willing to lend a hand, he was the ideal team player and when he sought to advance himself by adding new responsibilities, our management was eager to accept his application. Jake was a courier but an injury constrained his activities and he was now seeking to be an accessioner. This new position required a thorough review of a laboratory requisition slip that was completed by the referring dermatologist, carefully copying the patient’s demographic data into our computer database. Each accession took approximately a minute and good typing skills were a necessity. Within a week, his supervisor alerted the senior management to some problems. His error rate was unacceptably high and his pace was less than half of the other accessioners. An attempt was made to modify his duties but each time ended in failure. He was apologetic, promising to improve. His excellent past performance made it easier to overlook these initial setbacks and we were all hoping he would soon excel. Unfortunately, he did not and frustration and disappointment grew between Jake and management. A few days later, Jake resigned, tersely stating, “I have a problem with my eyes!” He was having difficulty focusing and thought it may be related to his earlier injury. We agreed to part ways, disappointed that this man, who played so well in the sandbox with others, could not succeed as he had in the past. A few weeks later, I had a conversation with another courier, a friend who worked with him for several years. I wanted to know if he had been in touch with Jake and if his eye problems were improving.
“Eye problems?” The courier was bewildered. “Jake didn’t quit because of eye problems. He quit because he couldn’t read.”
I was stunned. Our company failed to completely investigate the reasons for Jake’s failings. It was a sobering lesson. We all resolved to reaffirm our commitment to everyone who desires to succeed in our company and be willing to ask the proper questions when things go awry. Thankfully, Jake was soon hired at another job that was a perfect fit for his skills.
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7 (ESV)
The prophet Samuel was ready to reject David, as the next king of Israel, because of his youthful appearance. God reminded Samuel that he needed to look beyond appearances and judge a person’s heart and character. Thanks be to God that He sees beyond our apparent limitations and finds the perfect match for the talents He bestows upon us, even talents we think we may not have. I and my company failed Jake, but God does not fail us. I focus upon external appearances and behavior, unable or unwilling to see deeper into a person and recognize their true potential. On many occasions and in different work environments, I felt like a square peg in a round hole, completely out of my element. If I was supervising someone like myself, I would have been dismissed. God, through His grace and mercy, taught me lessons about perseverance and patience and provided me with compassionate mentors and associates, willing to work through my insecurities and failings.
This is the God I serve. This is the God who loves me and everyone He has created. I pray that God will allow me to see the true nature and potential of everyone whom I meet, through His eyes of compassion, grace, and mercy.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.