A few weeks ago, I was part of a team at my workplace that was to submit a Proposal for a big job. It was Karen's (not her real name) responsibility to physically get the Proposal to its destination before the deadline. At around 1:00 pm on the due date she walked into my office saying, "I'm in big trouble." Karen had thought that the Proposal was due at 5:00 pm. It had, in fact, been due at 10:00 am that morning. We called the potential client, but were told that no late Proposals would be accepted. I felt at least partially responsible because I was part of the team. What made matters worse was that the previous week a bid from our company did not make it to the prospective client by the bid-deadline. This was the second time in two weeks that something like this had happened.
Karen was very upset at herself for the mistake that she had made. She felt that this mistake could cost her her job. We tried all day to get a few moments with our boss to let him know. We left phone messages, e-mail and tried to schedule time through his personal assistant. In the late afternoon, he left the building. I was convinced that we shouldn't let this news lie until the next day. I went down to Karen's office and called our boss on my cell phone. He picked up, I put the phone on speaker and Karen shared the news with him.
I won't quote him, but what he said went along these lines:
- Things like this happen sometimes.
- I know you guys worked really hard on that Proposal and it looked good.
- We can use a lot of the material on the next Proposal.
- I know Karen probably already feels terrible about what happened.
- We need to figure out a way to not let that happen again.
- We'll get the next one.
- Thank you for coming to me right away and not trying to hide this thing.
Honestly, it made me want to cry to see the look of relief on Karen's face. The boss had every right to be upset with us that afternoon. But he chose not to be. I felt many good emotions flood through my spirit. Awe and surprise at his response, relief, joy at Karen's reprieve, peace that we were going to be OK, grateful for grace, loyalty to a man who would let us off the hook that way, determination to do better next time, persuaded and excited to follow his example the next time something goes wrong.
I'm trying to wrap my mind around the idea that God could have orchestrated an example of grace so that we could observe it and receive it. Knowing how it feels to receive it, I want to remember to extend it when the time is right. I know the challenge will be that the circumstances will be troubling to me, they will want to make me upset, I will be inconvenienced or truly wronged when the time is right for me to extend grace. God help me, because I know the benefits for the one who receives and the one who grants grace.
PS - I wrote an e-mail to my boss thanking him and praising him for extending grace towards Karen. He just replied, "Thanks." They say things happen in threes. A couple of weeks later, our company missed a third bid deadline in a row. Hopefully, we've got it out of our system now!