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!

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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!

He feels your pain

Matthew 27:46

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me”?

Have you ever had one of those conversations with someone and at the end of it they say “I feel your pain”. It’s usually in reply to something we’re moaning or complaining about. I suppose it’s just a sympathetic response.

But we all have times when we are genuinely feeling pain. Not physical pain but a mental and inner pain that really aches. It can be with for us for a long time. Who can we turn to apart from the sympathetic colleague? God knows all about the pain. If we think we have it tough then we should take a look at what He went through in the form of his son, Jesus. Is this an obvious thing to say? Maybe, but The Bible does tell us to be joyful in all circumstances and not complain. And when I think about what happened to Jesus versus me having to go backwards and forwards to Boston each week then I feel ever so slightly humbled. And when that happens, something else happens. I start to look at all the positives. All of the blessings that I have in my life that I should be thankful for but hardly ever am. I think that is one way to view joy. Joyful that He died for us and anything life throws at us He can deal with for us. Not so painful after all.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, You took it all on for us. Thank you for helping us overcome our pain through the joy of knowing that You are with us. Always. Amen!


BostonView from the train heading to New York from Boston. Thursday March 20th, 6.20pm.

 

One step at a time.

Psalm 18:28

“You, Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”

If you’re anything like me, you might sometimes sit on the train (or where ever you may be) wondering what the future looks like. But, of course, we don’t know. And because we don’t know, we plan. We plan something that is our idea of what it might look like. Planning is good but only if we are looking to God for guidance. Even then, we can get carried away with our own dreams. “Dear God, I pray that you can guide me to Florida where I can retire.” That’s probably not the right prayer but we all do it. Or something similar. The Psalmist of the verse above is happy to have a lamp to guide him. Lamp’s won’t light up the entire path, just a few yards. Enough to stop us from going the wrong way. The future is now. That sounds like a cliché but it’s pointless planning so far ahead because we may be missing out on so much today! So, plan the next few steps with God and let’s pray a prayer for a future (today and the for the rest of our lives) that can in some way glorify Him. Sound like a plan?

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, We thank You for always being with us even when we don’t know it. Lord, we offer our lives up to You. Our future is in Your hands. Lead us to where You want us to be. Give us the faith to follow You, one step at a time – Amen!

We are His.

Psalm 100:3

Know that the Lord, He is God! It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, and the sheep of his pasture

The business world is often a difficult place to navigate. It’s accepted that people are in different positions of authority. Often based on talent and the level of experience. Depending on where we are at we are either a manager or being managed. In truth, regardless of what position we hold there is always someone managing us. But we are not owned by anyone in the work place. No one has the right to claim ownership of us. We work with people and respect each others authority and talents, we listen to wisdom and take advice from more experienced people but we are not slaves to someone’s authority. Neither should we be judged by them.

But we do belong to God. He owns us. He created us. He knows us better than anyone can know us. We answer only to Him. He is the judge of us especially if we judge others! Matthew 7:1 ‘Do not judge or you too will be judged’. It’s easy to get wrapped up in our work environment and start to believe that someone else’s opinion of us is right when the opinion isn’t favorable. In fact, it can really drag us down and we lose all confidence in our abilities. But know this. God has gifted talent to us all. We are all capable of doing our work very well. Amazingly well  if it’s through Him. So, we should not listen to what others say if it’s demoralizing or an abuse of power and position. Pray and listen to God instead. He says in Jeremiah 29:11 ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope’. Or Joshua 1:9 ‘…Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God is with you wherever you go’ The words of a true leader!

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, You are our leader and we put our hope and faith in you. May we look to you for wisdom, advice and encouragement by reading your word then let us be at peace – Amen!

Hold your tongue!

Matthew 12:36

I tell you, on the day of judgement people will give account for every careless word they speak

‘Careless talk cost lives’ was a famous slogan on posters during World War Two in London. A quirky cartoon of two elderly women gossiping had a picture on the wall above them of Adolf Hitler listening in on their conversation. I’m not sure how their chit-chat would have affected the war but hey, it was entertainment.

Our choice of words at work can affect the course of a day. When I was working full-time, the first words I spoke in the day sometimes affected how I would behave and communicate for the rest of the day. It set the tone, sometimes. How I greeted people, how I reacted to a question and how I spoke about others. It says in James 5How great a forest is set a blaze by such a small fire.  Bad words and gossip won’t necessarily ‘cost lives’ as in the poster slogan but it can surely affect someones life. The words can spread like the fire and cause destruction. There’s nothing worst then dreading coming into the office, worried about what’s being said about you or how you might be bullied that day. Yes, bullying isn’t only reserved for the playground. So, let’s think about how we talk to others today. Be kind, loving, caring and compassionate. Be like Jesus!

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, Be with us today. Help us to hold our tongues and speak careful, kind words to out fellow workers. Help us also to be encouraging to others – Amen!

We are precious.

Isaiah 43:4

The Lord says, “You are precious in my sight, and honored, and I love you.”

Precious is normally referred to something that’s fragile, rare or worth a lot of money. It’s not usually referred to in the context of a human being. But precious we are in God’s eyes. And so we should be to each other. In fact all of those words in Isaiah apply. That’s difficult to remember when we’re in the pressured work environment. When the deadline is close and someone hasn’t delivered the goods or simply hasn’t turned up, it’s easy to turn against them and moan about them. But before we do, let ‘s remember that people have lives outside of work. Lives full of challenges and all kinds of stress and anxieties. Mortgages to pay, bad health, children to look after and other family issues. The list goes on. Of course, I know from experience that sometimes we can get let down for no reason whatsoever. Just incompetency. But it’s good to keep an eye on our fellow workers. To ask after them if they haven’t been themselves or to offer help. It’s just us living out God’s love for us to others. That’s very precious.

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, help us to pause and make time for others. To care for them as You care for us – Amen!

Well played!

Philippians 3:14

‘I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus’

In England, when a player comes off the field to be substituted we generally say “Well played”. In truth, we could have played horribly but that’s not the point. The idea is to encourage. So, you may come off the corporate playing field today thinking you have played horribly. Just one of those days when nothing goes right. You may feel that you’re useless at your job. You may feel bad that you said and did things you shouldn’t have or made a wrong decision. But think about the positives. You had the energy to go in and have a go in the first place. Well played! You are perhaps tirelessly providing for a family. Well played! You have had many other days when you made a positive impact on your workplace. Well played! God likes us to move on and not dwell on our mistakes and misgivings.  But we have to look to Him. Through prayer and by reading scripture. As it says in Matthew 4:4 – ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’. Otherwise, we’ll continue to make the same mistakes with no one to guide us. No words of encouragement or advice. With Him as our guide we can become more skillful in life as we press on to receive the prize that is waiting for us in heaven. And then who knows? Maybe He will give us a pat on the back and say “Well played”!

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, help us to not dwell on our mistakes but to turn to you for forgiveness and guidance so we can move forward with you at our side – Amen!

“What a save!”

Psalm 119:105

‘Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’

“What a save!” is a common phrase in a soccer commentator’s vocabulary. The video below is the probably the best save in the history of soccer. Be sure to watch the replay for the slow motion as you won’t catch it the first time. One miraculous save. By an Englishman…of course.

When we come to Christ we talk about being saved. We accept Jesus as our Lord and savior and then we move on with our lives. But God continues with great saves everyday. Lots of small miraculous saves. He saves us from saying something that may offend. Or being tempted by something we crave, that isn’t good for our souls like money, success and fame. How does he save us? Through scripture. We can turn to God’s word when we’re tempted away from the precious thing that saved us in the first place. Our faith and understanding that God’s way is the only way. Thousands of verses of encouragement, warnings and day-to-day advice. Thousands of saves! So, not for the first time I’d urge us all to carry scripture with us. We don’t have to carry books any more. There are thousands of bible apps and daily devotionals. Perhaps use that smart phone to look at scripture for a minute or two, rather than emails? The ‘Bible Verses Companion’ app automatically sends us scripture three times a day if we download the app. That’s three saves a day!

Pray with me

Heavenly Father, we give thanks for Your word. Help us to look to Your word so we can be guided skillfully through our lives – Amen!