When The Hand That Feeds You Has Claws

“Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”, I have heard that a lot. But what do you do if those providing for you have claws and sometimes scratch you up pretty good? Now, I don’t mean physical abuse. That requires getting away and protecting self and any children. That is a matter left for the law, and I recommend them for such issues. And I am not necessarily talking about parents or spouses. The hand that feeds you can be an employer or friend or mentor or parent or spouse. I mean that you are consistently being slashed/spoken down to/berated/lied to/etc. by a person in a position of authority or provision over you. What do you do? The first step is an assessment. By assessment I mean really take a close look at the heart of the problem. For instance, if an employer for instance always criticizes your work, look first at, am I doing bad work? Am I to blame? Sometimes we are, if we can get ourselves to look objectively at it. If yes, fix yourself first and the problem may clear up. If no, look at why? Is he being critical for a particular reason? If nothing obvious jumps out or does, move on to step 2, which is to determine the level of maturity of the other person involved. Ask a test question hypothetically and gage the response. For instance in this example, ask the boss what you should do if another employee was being very critical of your work. If they get angry or charge off or start defending themselves or demand to know who is doing this, probably not a good idea to discuss this real situation with them. If they respond with “Well, you should talk to them and if that doesn’t work, come talk to me”, well you can have a heart to heart at the right time and should make an appointment to speak with him. If speaking with them isn’t a viable or wise option, here is step 3. Assess the situation again in terms of a damage meter, meaning how damaging is this behavior to you long term? Is there some way to separate myself from the damage? Can I live with it or do I need to suddenly become more independent and work towards taking care of myself another way? This is a serious line of questioning and should only be embarked upon with great wisdom and prayer and Bible study. God does not intend for His children to suffer needlessly. However, you had better be certain you have a back up plan and wise counsel/advice from an older Christ follower you know and trust who can be sure the damage is not inflated too much in your own mind. Prayer precedes decisions always. Step 4 is acting. After you have planned for a back up plan, confront the person with their behavior. If the Lord wants you to stay there, He will assist with and provide a positive response. If He wants you to go, you will be met with such a negative response that you will know the situation will only deteriorate your health over time and you must go away from the situation and explain why to the person. It is very giving of you to give them an opportunity to change themselves and we are supposed to be giving. These 4 steps I believe are sound Biblically and require much prayerful discernment and advice. We should have boundaries of protection around us, even from those who meet needs of ours because our dependence is first and foremost on God and He will provide all our needs according to His riches and glory. We are responsible to take care of His dwelling place, ourselves.

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