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Do You Ever Get Exasperated at Work?

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By Drew Crandall, Co-Chair, CalledToWork.org

I officially entered the work force in the spring of 1972, which means I’ve been in the workplace for half of a century. As I reflect on my workplace experiences, there have definitely been times when I’ve been exasperated. What about you?

“Exasperation” means the feeling of intense irritation or annoyance; aggravation. There are various situations that can exasperate us at work. Here are some examples:

People: Let’s face it, there are plenty of negative, disruptive, aggressive, unreasonable, or unreliable people. Sometimes these people are owners, executives, managers, Board members, fellow employees, customers, suppliers or government officials who really get under your skin and drive you nuts.

Technology: I think we all have a love-hate relationship with technology. When it works, it’s great. When it doesn’t, we want to throw our devices out the window. (That includes trying to deal with telephone or online tech support, too!)

Endless Bureaucracies: Whether on the corporate or government levels, trying to get things done while wading through the layers of rules, regulations and decision-makers can grind on you.

Intense Timelines and Logistics: Too much work to get done in too little time, with complicated processes and very tight logistics. The margin for error is practically non-existent. Pressure-cooker environments like these are hotbeds for exasperation.

Can you relate to these examples? I’m sure you can think of other examples, too. The reality is that we all deal with exasperating situations at work. The question of the day is, “how do you handle them?” It’s not one-size-fits all.

In Numbers 20:9-12, Moses became exasperated and God rebuked him for it: “And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.”

Sometimes we act out in a moment of exasperation, and we pay a price before God and man. In a moment of weakness, we lose our temper and say or do things we shouldn’t have, and there are lasting consequences.

Other times, your exasperation is appropriate. It brings to the surface some things that need to come out in the open, to be shared and dealt with. I think Jesus got exasperated when he turned over the tables and when he rebuked his disciples for their lack of faith.

Today, are there people or things at work that are exasperating you? Please pray for wisdom and discernment from the Holy Spirit on how to handle it. If He says be quiet and cool your jets, obey him. If He says speak out, obey Him. And if others around you express their exasperation, give them some “space” to vent and share it in a constructive environment. It may be a teachable moment for all.

Drew Crandall has strong New Jersey roots. He spent five formative years of his childhood in Somerset. Since 2001, he has served as Co-Chair of Called To Work, a workplace ministry originally based at Rutgers Community Christian Church in Somerset. Called To Work has since grown into a nationwide ministry. Please see www.CalledToWork.org for details.