Jake joined our company a year after I joined and was now a fellow partner. I deeply valued his expertise and was equally fond of his kind and generous nature. He just served notice to our group that he was resigning his partnership and joining another group. After the announcement, he confided in me that he was dismayed that the senior partners and founders of the group had not been forthright about future financial compensation and profit sharing for newer partners like us.
I dropped by Stuart’s office, one of the senior partners, and shared my concerns with him. Of all the senior partners, I was confident that I would find a sympathetic ear with him. I launched into a passionate defense of Jake’s virtues. All the while, my partner looked at me with a wry smile, saying nothing. Sensing disinterest, I blurted out, “You like Jake, don’t you?”
“I like Jake.” My partner pursed his lips, searching for his carefully worded phrase. “I like him less, now.”
I glared at my partner. I thought him disingenuous and his comment a cheap shot and I stormed out of his office. It had been a tumultuous year. During a tense meeting a few months earlier, it was revealed the compensation amongst all of the partners was not equal. While there was quick back-peddling, none of the senior partners ever denied it. Jake was the first to leave and within the next two years, three other partners left. The newer partners were seeking financial security and equity and felt an unequal share of the workload was carried on their shoulders. The senior partners were seeking continuity of their legacy and thought the newer partners were ungrateful for their leadership that created the group and afforded them this opportunity. The truth was all of the partners needed one another, yet neither side was willing to come to the table to openly discuss their grievances. The result was a civil war.
The beginning of strife is like letting out water, so quit before the quarrel breaks out.
Proverbs 17:14 (ESV)
Negotiations are a difficult and necessary part of life. Some pundits state that a good negotiation leaves neither side completely happy or satisfied, with each making concessions. Only rarely have I been involved in a negotiation that I received everything I asked for. Before I became a Christian, I believed that my eternal destiny was a negotiation on a cosmic scale with God. If I was kind to people, did enough selfless acts, and tried to live a good life, I would earn enough favor with God to tip the balance of eternal life in my favor and earn entry into Heaven.
God, in His grace and mercy, showed me the Truth. It is never a negotiation with Him, it is all or nothing. Only when I give up complete control of my life and confess and repent of my sins to His Son, Jesus Christ, will I receive salvation and eternal life. No selfless actions, good behavior, or liking anyone more or less will ever achieve this. God gave His Only Son to die for me. God gave up everything to give me everything I needed when I was still ignorant of my true needs. This is God’s way of negotiating, the only perfect way, to rescue a hopelessly lost sinner like myself.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.