Healing the Past Frees John

I worked 10 years for my wife’s family business. Because I had previously been a recruiter for 3 years, one of my jobs was hiring. We were looking for a truck driver. During one interview with John (not his real name) I had run through my general list of questions but had the sense I needed to discover something else. I genuinely like him, he had some driving experience, and a resume and attitude that suggested a good work ethic and dependability. I asked several other probing questions, but got nothing of special interest. Then, just asked him if there was anything else he thought I should know about him? Now, John is about 6 foot 3, and 230 lbs and very fit, though not a hulky body builder or anything, he did play college football. He beings to cry. Not sobbing like a baby, but a few tears, and some guilt on his face. He shares that he had been a prison guard for 2 years, and that several months ago there were 2 inmates who freed themselves, obtained a weapon (baton) from another guard and were beating the guard. John, who is black belt in jujitsu, confronted the 2 inmates, and in the struggle killed one of them. He felt so guilty about it he had left his job as guard (even though the event was investigated and he was cleared) and had found himself unable to interview for another position-until now. In our weekly bible lessons we are regularly reminded of man’s true identity not as that of a sinner, but that his true nature is as God’s child: innocent, obedient, useful, disciplined, etc. And that man is valuable and already redeemed by the Christ that is reflected through him. While I don’t like to bring up religious belief directly with employees, I asked him what he thought about God and this event. He stressed that he honestly and sincerely did not intend to kill, but that he may have realized at the moment he had used more force and means than was necessary and was not sure if it was from fear or what. And that he was not sure God had forgiven him. We discussed how his repentance was a part of his being and feeling forgiven. And that repentance usually involves a temptation and opportunity to repeat the offence, and having the discipline to recognize and freely choose to not lose control. He promised that he could do this. I trusted his sincerity and felt that giving him the job would be a necessary part of his healing. And I also honestly felt that he would be a good employee. So I promised him that I would not share his history with anyone, except that it would be a part of his file, and that if I saw any indication that he could not discipline himself sufficiently, he would be let go. And he understood and agreed. About 6 months later there was an incident in the warehouse. I happened to be walking into the warehouse at the time, and John and Mike (warehouse manager) were having a heated discussion. Mike, with authority but not always wise, was smaller and less physically fit than John, was taking the argument closer to a physical altercation. And it appeared that John was on the verge of indulging Mike in a fight (which would not go well for Mike). I was able to catch John’s eye, and without saying anything, gave him a look to remind him of our discussion and of the man he truly is. You could see the steam venting from his face, tension dissipating, and soon the disagreement subsided. John worked for the company for over 20 more years without incident and is still friends with the warehouse crew and other drivers. I see him about once a year and he usually thanks me for giving him the job and believing in him. He has 2 children in college now.

Dale McMullen


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