Listen.

Proverbs 18:13

If one gives answers before he hears, it is folly and shame

 

The business world is full of talking. People talking over each other. Some of us go into a meeting desperately needing to make a point. Many are so wound up about something that we go into it already frustrated and just need to blurt something out. (especially on Monday mornings). That’s normally when we regret something we say.

Everybody wants to be heard. And, of course, someone has to talk. But listening is a skill. As the song goes ‘Silence is Golden’. Listening for a length of time without talking can work wonders. We’ll be tempted to jump in but we have to stop ourselves. And actually not saying anything can solve it! I have seen so many people talk themselves into a solution or simply run out of steam. Or they get to the point where they have to say “What do you think”? That’s the best place to be then a few and considered and wise words is all that’s needed.

This isn’t a lesson in management, but we all need reminders. Scripture has many verses on the subject of speaking and talking. None of them, as far as I know, tell us to talk and talk without listening. Hear what I’m saying?

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, give us peace today in the work place. May we surrender our instincts to talk so we can let You guide our hearts and ears to listen to our colleagues – Amen!

Are we ‘up to the job’?

Isaiah 48:17

‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.’

Rejection. It’s tough. Feeling worthless and incapable of doing something we thought we could do but then being told we’re not ‘up to the job’ is one of the hardest things in the business world.

I have been rejected for very senior jobs in ad agencies that I was fairly confident I could do and it was odd to me that I wasn’t getting them. But after a while, I just said “Okay God, what is that you want me to do”. Just because I hadn’t been given the opportunity I wanted it didn’t mean that God didn’t have something else equally challenging for me. For example, I was filming in Prague this past week, merrily going about my job as a Commercial’s Director. When filming, most of the crew stand behind the Director’s chair and the actors stand in front, obviously. For most of the shoot, I had been comfortably doing the job but I found myself in a situation where I couldn’t give direction because my brain froze. In that moment, the actors were staring at me. (Actors that didn’t speak much English) and when I glanced behind me all the film crew were looking at me as well.  And there was this weird ‘are you up to the job’ silence. They were all looking to me for direction. And I had to act quickly. Something came to me and I shouted out some words and I was back on track. I sensed that God had put me in that place and thankfully given me the words to do my job. I also realized that I was in a very senior position on the set but not the position I had once expected, during those times of rejection. I don’t crave or seek out senior positions any more but God had put me in one. One, that in many ways was more challenging than that of being in an ad agency but I believe it to be a better use of my skills. I also believe that it’s all God’s work. So, ‘are you up to the job’? Maybe not the one  you think you want but God will have something else for you that’s most likely even more challenging or unexpected. Are you up for praying about that?

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we ask that you guide us in our work. We want to follow your path so we do what you have planned for us not what we plan for ourselves. Give us the confidence and strength to believe in you and take that leap of faith when an opportunity arises that we weren’t expecting – Amen!

Not a failure. A Success!

Proverbs 3:5

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding

 

It’s good to know that God loves us all equally.  And that, in His eyes, we are all loved for what we are regardless of our shortfalls. There’s nothing we can do to make Him love us more. No amount of success in the work place is going to make God proud of us either. Or make Him say to himself “Now that’s what I call a successful creation”!

So, when something happens at work that is a disappointment to us like someone else getting a promotion or a position we thought we should have, God probably has us just where He wants us. What we think is a failure is a most likely a success in the eyes of God, as much as we may find that difficult to understand. The Proverbs verse implies we will never understand it. It’s actually a good feeling to know that we’re not meant to. It makes it easier because we can just let it go. Not even someone who is a million times smarter than us can understand it! All we need to do is use out heart and have faith. (notice the Proverbs verse doesn’t say ‘Trust in the Lord with all your brain’!) No, God has better plans for us. As it says in Jeremiah 29:11 – ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not evil, to give you a future and a hope’. 

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, forgive us for planning our own lives and then thinking that any disappointments are failures. Help us to know that you love us and will always want what’s best for us. Allow us to accept that success maybe just be where we are now, not where we think we should be – Amen!

Advice from someone who knows.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work

We usually seek advice from people who have been in a similar situation or have knowledge of something that we don’t. But how often so we seek it from God? He’s written an entire book on how to live our lives. The Bible. It’s quite incredible that not many people seek it out given that in some shape or form it can give us direction and advice on everything we face in this life. It may not be the advice or guidance we want to hear but it’s in there. Work, relationships and money. These are the topics in our lives that we spend the most time thinking and worrying about.

  • Money – Ecclesiastes 5:10 ‘Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless’
  • Work – Colossians 3:23 ‘Whatever you do. work heartily. as for the Lord and not for men’
  • Relationships – Proverbs 13:20 ‘He who walks with wise men will be wise. But the company of fools will suffer harm’

There are hundreds of verses on all topics of life. Some find it hard to believe there’s a God because we don’t see evidence that He exists. How do we have a relationship with someone we can’t see? But he does exist through His word. Actually picking up the book and reading it is the biggest hurdle to leap regardless of our faith. The more we read, the closer the relationship we have with Him. And then the decisions on all aspects of our lives become somewhat easier. It’s a self-help book of sorts, but unlike other self-help books we can have an on going conversation with the author through prayer and scripture.

The link below is something I sometimes use when I need help. It’s a bible search engine. Just tap in the subject and various scripture pops up.

http://www.openbible.info/topics/

Of course, we need faith to do this. It comes with time but I pray that we will all turn to His word. Silly not to turn to someone who knows everything!

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, Your word is a light to our path. Teach us to look to scripture through anyway possible. A book, the internet or even apps! We give thanks that the gift of technology allows us to seek you out in many more ways! – Amen

Go that extra mile.

Mark 9:19

“You unbelieving generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long  shall I put up with you?”

I read those words from Mark yesterday and I smiled. They sound like an impatient parent who’s just about had enough of their child’s antics. Did Jesus almost lose it? I don’t think He did but it showed that He was human.

The words sound like they were written today. An ‘unbelieving generation’ could quite easily apply to many parts of the USA and the world. Just like the disciples we sometimes just lack faith. How long will He put up with us? It’s written that Jesus will one day return. Why doesn’t he just give in and get on down here and sort us out? It’s because there’s still a lot of His work that needs to be done. For those that are believers it’s to bring as many people to faith as possible. In our community and the world. To put in more hours and find that extra ounce of energy to do His work. But do we have time for that? Funny to think that it’s really the only job we need. If we have faith and we’re fully committed to Him than He will provide all that we need. Maybe not in the way that we want, but He will supply the energy and the time. Meanwhile, He is putting up with us. Continually forgiving and showing grace and mercy. In return, we should perhaps go that extra mile. For Him!

Pray with me

Heavenly Father,  forgive us for always falling short. Help us go that extra yard in our faith, so we can fully live our lives through you – Amen!

Things can get messy.

Numbers 14:11

And the Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people despise me? And how long will they not believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have done among them?”

When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt it was no smooth journey. Moses, sent by God to do His work, was constantly moaned at and despised by the people he went to save. Even God got miffed and punished those that went against Him. Messy stuff. Good intentions, that for a while, went wrong. When we put all of our faith in God, things may feel like they’re going wrong or getting worst. And because it feels that way we start to distrust God and do things our way. That’s when it gets messy. In truth, things may seem to get worst because it’s not going to our plan or how we may imagine life to be. That was also true of the Israelites. Because they hadn’t reached the promised land within 30 minutes of leaving Egypt (an exaggeration) they decided that it was a mistake and they actually wanted to go back to Egypt. Back to being ruled over and mistreated by the Pharaoh. God delights in us and will not let us come to harm or forget us. But His plan, is not always our plan. In fact, it’s probably a better plan. But that plan will not come to fruition if we try to do things our way. No, we have to patiently wait on God and not let things get messy.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father,  forgive us for not trusting and putting our faith in You – Amen!

Be prepared!

Ephesians 6:13-14

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness

If we take a train, we have some time to prepare ourselves for the day ahead. I like the words in Ephesians – belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness. It seems only right to arm ourselves with these things. But, without us knowing, they may fall off as we wander from meeting to meeting or from thought to thought. We need to keep them firmly attached to us through prayer. So, lets ask for this while we’re prepare for the day ahead of us. And then allow it to sustain us as we go about our day.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we give thanks for your presence in our lives. Sustain us with your gift of the truth and righteousness. Help us not to wander away from these things or get drawn into bad ways. Keep our armor intact – Amen!

Today is what we’re aiming for.

Matthew 6:34

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow,  for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has trouble of its own.

In business we tend to think ahead. Business goals and career goals take up a lot of our time and thinking especially if we’re very ambitious. I’ve begun to stop thinking too far ahead and not worrying too much about the future. But the future does sometimes bring one thing – It’s very common for people to turn to God at an older age. At an age when they start wondering what life was about in the first place and maybe wondering what’s beyond this life. Most of us don’t pay much attention to it while we’re busy, healthy and trying to direct our lives the way we want them to go because we don’t think of our lives as ever really coming to an end. But enough of the old age and life ending stuff. Because life does not end when we are followers of Christ. We get eternal life that will make our life time on this earth feel like less than one second. That is great news! And if we believe that life does not end then we don’t need to worry about the future. We don’t need to spend all our time trying to achieve everything we’re aiming for and cramming it all in thinking that if we don’t we haven’t lived a full and successful life. We can simply enjoy and be at peace with life and be thankful for every day. We will leave this earth the way we entered it. With nothing. Our real reward (eternal life) comes with being believers in Christ. When we tried our best to do His work by spreading His message and bringing others to Him. That’s why this blog exists. If we know and have a relationship with Christ He will make us successful in our lifetime on earth but it will be His idea of success as seen through His eyes, not ours or anybody else’s.

I realize that this can be a very confusing subject. (As demonstrated by what I have written!) If we have questions then I would recommend this book by Nicky Gumbel. He has some answers for us. If you’re curious add it to your christmas list. A good time of year to get some answers!

http://www.amazon.com/Questions-Life-Nicky-Gumbel/dp/1934564664/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1382976214&sr=8-2&keywords=nicky+gumbel

Nicky Gumbel

Testing, Testing…

Ephesians 4;32

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Last week there was a massive power failure on the train line going into Grand Central. One of the most disruptive incidents I’ve ever know while commuting. It took me 4 hours to get into Manhattan. It usually takes less than an hour. It’s not going to be easily fixed either. It could go on for days and weeks. The link at the very bottom will give you more information, if you’re interested!

If the commute goes smoothly and it gets us to our destination on time then we’re programmed to deal with all the stuff that we’re faced with in the office. We expect ‘disruption’ there! But if the commute doesn’t go smoothly then that’s an entirely different matter. I would not have expected to turn up at the platform last Wednesday to be confronted with a 4 hour commute. It was testing to say the least. All humanity goes out of the window when we’re fighting to get into New York. I observed it all. The pushing, the shouting, the anger, the arguments, the frustration, the disrespect for fellow human beings and travelers. And this was just a power failure on one line, in one state. What if something even more disastrous happened?

Knowing God is a wonderful thing. In past years, I may have been the person sitting 3 rows back taking the incident out on the ticket collector. Or the guy that insisted on keeping his bag on the seat so no one could sit down. In truth, we were all too exhausted to argue with him. And I’m not blaming those people. I’m not perfect and on another day I may not have checked myself but knowing God and having some form of relationship with him does mean we have the ability and awareness to check ourselves and realize that the situation is no big deal. It’s an opportunity to allow Jesus to shine through us by having peace and then kindness toward others. The next day I was able to help a few people out as I had memorized the revised schedule before I went to the station.

We will all face disruptions. The one’s that take us by surprise are the ones that really test our Christian beliefs and the way we behave. So, watch out! There might be another one just around the corner! May God be with you when it happens.

Pray with me.

Heavenly Father, Thank you for being so close to us that you can shine through us in tough situations. Forgive us when we forget about you and go about our lives thinking only of ourselves and our own well-being – Amen!

http://www.stamfordadvocate.com/news/article/Power-problem-paralyzes-Metro-North-4841862.php

Upstream in Uptown

Psalm 25:9

‘He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way’

We watched a film a few nights ago called ‘Salmon Fishing in The Yemen’. There was a scene in the film when the salmon were let loose into the river. At first they went the wrong way. They went downstream. But after a few seconds their instinct kicked in and they turned around and went upstream.

Being a christian is hard. In business it’s hard. Our tendency is to go with the flow. To go downstream. I have that image when I get on the train sometimes and occasionally in an office environment. We go the way everyone else goes. But to follow our faith means, that most of the time, we need to go upstream. To fight for ethics in the work place. To not go with a decision that might be harmful. Or to leave the party early or client dinner early because we have friends or family relying on us for something. Or even to turn down the job or promotion that may take us even further into the wrong place. The place that has the ‘Keep out’ sign. We need to seek God’s guidance as to whether we are going upstream or downstream. Only we know. But, speaking personally, I know when I’m going  downstream. I sometimes go that way for days and weeks. The good news, is that at least I’m aware of it. Being blind to it would be worse. Awareness is important. It means we’re trying. So, think about what way you’re going. But whatever you do, don’t take a train that’s going in the opposite direction!

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we seek Your guidance today. We pray for the right directions in our life and career. Make clear the path we should follow and be with us on that path – Amen!