What is the Voice?
The voice I am about to talk about has nothing to do with that popular American Talent show that was won in the past by Jamaica’s Tessanne Chin.
The voice I will speak of is that voice that if you tell some individuals or quite possibly a doctor that you heard it they would think that you are schizophrenic, diagnose you with a mental disorder and possibly have you committed.
There are many persons past and present who can attest to hearing “The Voice”. The first time I remember hearing “The Voice” was when I was a youth leader at the Salisbury Plain United Church. One day I heard a quiet reassuring voice telling me that “you have a purpose”.
On another occasion the youth group was asked to lead church service one Sunday. The speaker did not inform me of the topic for the sermon. However I felt inclined (had an urge, was led) in the planning and was directed to choose the lesson of The Good Shepherd as the main Scripture reading. It so happened that the speaker had also planned to speak on that topic.
After church I commented that it was an interesting coincidence that we both chose the same lesson for the service that day. Bro Small responded:” I do not think it’s a coincidence, that was the Holy Spirit at work.”
In recent times “The Voice” has been a source of help. It has been instrumental in giving me direction and in revealing situations to me that I would not have otherwise known on my own. It has also warned me of pending danger and also reassured me that God is in control, that “God has my back”.
This series will illustrate why it is necessary for you to be able to discern between your thinking (your mind), and spiritual forces that may be influencing you positively or negatively. It will explain whose voice it is and the importance of listening.
Mothers know their babies’ cries even if they are out of sight. Human instinct gives that natural desire to be attached to our parents. They know us and we know them. Likewise, God knows his children therefore His children should know and follow him.
It is important to note that one has to be astute in listening to whoever is speaking to you. There are times when we may make our own decisions and think we are following God’s direction. We may also be prompted by evil forces to do something that is wrong. “The Voice” will never direct you to do something that is evil.” Remember the stories about Jesus being tempted by the devil . The key to distinguishing between the instructions you are receiving is to see if what you are being told contradicts “the word” that is found in the bible. If you are not breaking God’s commandment and especially if you have heard and followed what is being said and it works out in your favour go right ahead; continue to trust it.
God speaks to his people through a variety of ways. While we may not get a direct encounter with Him like with Moses and Noah, He still communicates to us via the Holy Spirit, through The Word, Prophets and other people.
I don’t recall consciously hearing or following “The Voice” until recently. In all the church services I’ve attended I do not recall being forewarned by the pastor that God will speak to the modern world just as He did in the days of Samuel.
What I do remember is being told that when you are being urged to accept Jesus as your Lord and friend that there would be a prompting, a gentle knock which would be him knocking at your heart for you to let him in. Over the years I have heard and followed the advice of that quiet reassuring voice that would remind me of things that I was to do, lift my spirit by repeating verses of Scripture and help me in times of need.
There was a time that I was undergoing severe stress in both my personal and professional life. My son was ill and was facing possible surgery, I was pursuing my Masters degree and I was getting ill quite frequently because of an unhealthy working environment.
The main stress factor I had at work was that I was being harassed by my supervisor and as foolish as this may sound I was quite unaware that the negative experiences were due to bullying or workplace harassment. I thought that the incidences which transpired occurred due to inexperience and a huge ego. I hated what was happening, and wished that we could work harmoniously.
The lesson I had to learn from the relationship I had with that individual was not an easy one. I experienced a lot of mental anguish and mixed emotions. The leader was determined to make my work life quite unbearable and when the matter of unreasonable demands and inappropriate behaviour were brought to his supervisor at the time, I was told to “comply and then complain” I couldn’t believe what I was told. I was not working in the military and was appalled at the happenings within the organization. However since the middle manager was of no help and there was no one to protect staff I had to be careful. I was unionized but the union was ineffective. I therefore stayed in my corner and tried to fight my battles my way.
There were times when staff from other locations would call and would hear over the telephone the verbal rantings or rather antagonistic behaviour and acts of intimidation and they suggested that I report him to human resources however I was too afraid to follow the set grievance procedure because of the organization’s culture. I feared retaliation, additional stress and I knew of several managers within the organization who were also viewed as bullies. I therefore prayed that the situation would change and asserted myself whenever possible which was something he certainly did not like.
Now that wonderful time of the year approached when all employees were expected to be evaluated. That year, I became particularly nervous as the previous year saw where my supervisor had conducted my appraisal in the open staff room (although it was in the evening and most of my colleagues were not in the room, the area was still open and other staff members walked in and out the small room to collect their belongings as well as to use the kitchenette area. Like an idiot I sat there thinking at the time that I was trying to “comply” with his request although it was against prescribed guidelines for such meetings. This is because appraisals should always be conducted within a private environment. At that point in time I did not realise that trying to be compliant to would turn out to haunt me in the future.
The next year a schedule was posted advising all instructors of their meeting time. News spread that the supervisor held informal meetings with members of his clique while the remaining supervisees who were not his friends awaited “the judgement”.
My meeting was scheduled for 10 am. I collected a folder filled with evidences to defend my year’s performance then went to the staff room to await the “highly anticipated” meeting. Oh yes, this meeting was “highly anticipated” by onlookers as well as myself. I was so “excited” to the point where I was nervous, anxious and most importantly scared enough to dread that judgement day. I hardly slept the night before the event. A lot of thoughts crossed my mind. I decided that I was going to ask the Acting Manager to sit in on the meeting in an effort to provide some amount of fairness, act as mediator if necessary and also an observer.
After waiting for about an hour and a half, I asked a manager who was to be in the meeting about the delay and non-communication and was advised that it would now be held at one o’ clock in the afternoon. This delay made me even more nervous; however a striking thing occurred. While waiting I heard a voice saying “Do not worry, God has your back”. I didn’t pay any attention to the voice. I went to lunch and returned to the office at 1 pm for “the Judgement”.
The appraisers took some time to enter the office. (After the meeting a friend of mine told me that they were planning their strategy to use to score me in the meeting.
As I sat there feeling quite uneasy awaiting the “judgement”, I heard “The Voice” again say “Don’t worry, God has your back”. The meeting commenced and points were made and defended and scores discussed and adjusted then suddenly “The Voice” spoke again. This time the voice gave me instructions to “tell my supervisor that I forgave him for all the things that he had done“!. I stopped talking, followed the instruction by first saying that I forgave him for the things he did. I further stated that I could not blame him entirely for all his actions as it was the organization that promoted him and expected him to perform without training him. Little did I know at the time that there was power in the word “forgiveness” and that you could receive clear instructions from the unseen which would work out in your favour.
Right after I made my statement, my supervisor stopped writing and said that he was confused (1 Corinthian 1:27). He said he no longer knew what to write on my appraisal document. At that time the meeting had already gone for approximately four hours. That meeting was possibly the longest appraisal meeting ever held at that location. It was also the longest I have had in my entire work life. I sat amazed at what I had just seen. My aggressor seemed confounded. I never realized words had such power. He said there was nothing more he could do at that point and tallied my score. His friend who was peeping at my self appraisal and recommending scored based on what she saw said nothing.
The acting manager commented on how tense the atmosphere in the room was and I exited the room quite happy and in awe about what I had just witnessed. I emerged from that meeting feeling like a champion after seeing the awesome power of God at work. Forgetting God’s word in 1 Corinthians 1:27 that “God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise and that God hath chosen the Weak things of the world to Confound the things which are mighty”!
That evening when I got home a thought was placed in my mind to research the term harassment. After seeing the material that the result yielded I was overwhelmed with emotions. As I cried due to the revelation, I noted all the things that I was experiencing at work that would have counted as workplace bullying or workplace harassment.
These actions were not obviously physical, but the stress caused eventually affected my health. They were however deliberate and had severe emotional and psychological impact on my well being. Those actions were not limited to any of the following: attempts to scold in public, undermine the relationship I had with my students, overwork, set unrealistic deadlines, provide uneven distribution of work, differential work treatment, nit-picking, micro managing and attempts to humiliate.
Can you imagine being told to re-write a year’s worth of work?
In my case it was plans already done. It just did not make sense. If he had asked for a sample from each class and asked me to edit any corrections made to them then the task would not have been so onerous. Instead, after having complied with this ridiculous request, imagine my displeasure when the auditors actually arrived at our location to be told by him that the plans were nowhere to be found. He denied receiving the plans, said I didn’t give him any plans (maybe he wanted me to think I was losing my mind- who knows) whatever the reason I did not hide my displeasure about his actions especially since that evening when I gave him the folder filled with redone/edited work (which meant I had to spend hours after work without getting overtime pay to get the job done for the plans for the 14 weekly sessions I had to teach) in the process sacrificing my health, limiting time that could have been spent with my child and defying the voice of reason from my parents to comply with the the request I became livid. Especially since I vividly remember him taking the folder and tossing it into his car!
I forgot that God had my back and tried to handle the situations I faced in my own
might. I had expected fairness and justice from the natural world when I reported the happenings to his supervisor who was also quite ignorant about workplace harrassment. I felt frustrated, helpless and hopeless as reporting him made no difference. I forgot that God told me many years ago that he had a purpose for me and that he would never leave me nor would I be condemned. I forgot that I was his child and that If I asked my “father” he would give me the help I needed. I forgot I had power! My self confidence was shattered, I had a lot of self-doubt and anger and although God had removed the bitterness when I told my oppressor I had forgiven him, however because the bullying did not stop I started to resent him again after a while.
Please click here to continue reading The Voice Part 2