April 13, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Psalm 120:1-2 (NRSV)
In my distress I cry to the Lord,
that he may answer me:
“Deliver me, O Lord,
from lying lips,
from a deceitful tongue.”
When people are speaking untrue things at work, God is there to support and deliver us. We can always cry out to God in our distress.
In Psalm 120 the psalm writer cries out to God because he is the victim of “lying lips” and “a deceitful tongue.” People are saying about him things they know to be untrue, no doubt with the intent of injuring or undermining him.
In our workplaces, sometimes people may lie about us. They may say things about us that they know are false. But, in my experience, it is much more common for people to say things about us that are untrue though they believe them to be true. In other words, people are not lying about us in the full sense of the word. But they are misrepresenting us unintentionally.
For example, when I was in my early years as pastor of a church in Irvine, California, some people in my congregation resisted my leadership in a way that made no sense to me. For a couple of years, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Finally, I had a heart-to-heart talk with one of these resistant members. “Cindy,” I said, “why are you so hesitant about my leadership?”
“We know,” she said, “what you’re really trying to do. You really want to kill off [her favorite ministry]?”
“I do?” I said, incredulously. “I don’t understand.”
“Well, James told us about your secret plans,” she explained.
I responded, “First of all, James has no idea about what I want for this ministry. And second, I deeply value this ministry and would never want to kill it off. Not ever. That’s simply untrue.” Hearing this, Cindy was both surprised and pleased. I begged her to go to her friends and tell them the truth. And, just to be clear, in 16 year I never ended that ministry. In fact, I supported it with all of my heart.
My point in telling this story is that Cindy was speaking untruth about me but not lying. She thought she was telling the truth. This sort of thing often happens in workplaces, where untruth is fueled more by ignorance and gossip than by the intent to mislead. Nevertheless, the impact on one’s life can be painful. No matter what’s behind the untrue things said about us, we need God’s deliverance.
Gracious God, I can’t believe what people are saying about me. I can’t believe that they actually believe it. I hear the “buzz” and feel so misunderstood, so unappreciated, so hurt.
I don’t know where these things are coming from. Perhaps somebody has been lying about me. Or perhaps there is just a big misunderstanding. But even if people aren’t intending to lie, what they’re saying and thinking is still so painful. I feel like I just want to crawl under a rock somewhere and hide.
Actually, I do need a rock. I need you, Lord, to be my rock. I remember the promise in Isaiah, “Those of steadfast mind you keep in peace – in peace because they trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for in the LORD God you have an everlasting rock” (Isaiah 26:3-4).
Help me, Lord, to trust you in this time. Please help what is true to be known and believed. And if I have in any way contributed to the misunderstanding, help me to find ways to clear the air.
Thank you, God, for being one to whom I can turn at all times. Thank you for comforting me in my distress. Thank you for answering me and delivering me. You are such a kind and gracious God! Amen.
Ponder Throughout the Day
You can always cry out to God in your distress.
For Further Reflection
Read all of Psalm 120.
You may also wish to read Isaiah 26:1-15.
Banner image by Nick Fewings on Unsplash.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Messy Praying.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.