Category Archives: Working World

Are You Living in Your Divine Calling?

While in discussion with some students at The Mix tonight, I noticed how they all seemed to think of the term “calling” as it relates to their future job or career. We were discussing God’s callings for our lives. It was a fairly open context. But the discussion tended to gravitate toward skills, interests and careers.

Sometimes we tend to think our call is just about what we do as a job. But it is so much more than that. It really touches every area of life. Our calling is really whatever the Holy Spirit is directing us to do at the moment. I believe that our calling is both a very complex and simple thing. Really, our calling can change through the years as we transition through various phases of life. What we do when we are sixteen is not likley to represent our life 10 years later, 20 years later or 40 years later.

Yet, as a Christian there are some callings that I believe are not unique to me. But they are part of the calling for every true believer. All Christians are called to love God and live for His Kingdom and glory. We are all called to be witnesses of Christ’s message and be connected to a body of local believers. We are all called to pray, read the Bible and seek to know God better.

Thinking about my own calling, I am reminded of what the Holy Spirit impressed on my heart ten years ago when I went out to Kansas City to pray at IHOP just as the prayer center was getting its start. I believe God placed the following four key calls on my life: 1.) Seek God’s face in a personal, intimate relationship, 2.) Write revelation that God reveals as I seek His face, 3.) Pray for those God has called me to love, 4.) Disciple the remnant.

The first part of my calling is very generic. All Christians are to seek Christ. But the second was unique to me. I was to write the revelation that the Spirit showed me as I seek God. The third connected to the fourth. Prayer was to fuel my ministry to disciple and train up future leaders in God’s Kingdom. All of these callings developed through the years. For example, I came up with a pretty well developed sense of what God meant by remnant.

I am seeking all four callings in some respects in my life today. None of these callings are directly related to my job as a journalist and publisher serving the forest products and logistics industries. My job provides me the resources, time and flexibility to carry out these callings.

It seems that sometimes when people are young they get all worked up over what they are going to do with their life. My suggestion is to simply give it away to God. Realize that your career path may change, but your identity as a Christian doesn’t – in time you only get to know the real you better.

I believe that more than worrying about your future career, the best thing to do is to make sure that you are living for God today. Focus on whatever path you are on to live as much as possible for God. Sure, you can prepare, study, and make smart education and lifestyle decisions. Education, training, hard work are all good things. You should think about the future. But you should not get so worked up over your decisions that you fail to realize how you walk down whatever path you take is as important as which path you choose to take.

Are you living in your divine calling? Stop to ask the Holy Spirit today to help you get to know the real you.

What Would a Kingdom Company Look Like?

A few different people talked today at my church about taking a leap of faith at work. The key focus is to be a generous, loving enterprise that puts God first. I was challenged even as our company is facing some tough times. God has been providing and giving us favor despite price pressures and competitive challenges. New products are starting to come on line, and I am beginning to feel a bit optimistic for the first time in months.

Michael Thaler, a local entrepreneur and leader in the church, shared about how God met Him time and time again as he took leaps of faith with his company. He runs a company called Equity Concepts (http://www.equity-concepts.com). It has launched a variety of service initiatives designed to reach the poor in Niger. Hearing Michael’s story caused me to stop and realize that my family business has just begun to scratch the surface of what it means to be a Kingdom company.

A Kingdom company is a business that really runs for God’s Kingdom and glory. The bottom line is not the driving factor. Honoring God is. 

Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Encourage employees to put an inspiration word or thought on their e-mails and voice mail messages.
  • Involve periods of strategic silent prayer and meditation in all planning meetings.
  • Hold a weekly prayer and Bible study during office hours.
  • Do a company mission project where the company covers the cost if the employee will donate the time.
  • Adopt a special service project/mission emphasis as a company.
  • Empower employees to lead service initiatives. Give the staff a budget and let them run with it. 
  • Create service and personal enrichment committees to help spear head spiritual and community service efforts.
  • Encourage employees to go the extra mile by giving excellent customer service.
  • Publicly recognize employee accomplishments and foster an environment where excellence is rewarded.
  • Provide the employee a certain amount of money per year to donate to a charitable cause.  
  • Provide employees one paid day off per year to do a community service. Work with employees to allow flexible hours to do community service projects.
  • Offer free counseling services with an office chaplain.
  • Pray for employees by name ever day. Pray for customers regularly as well.
  • Require employees to hold to ethical business practices and follow all necessary laws. Discipline employees that violate laws or company procedures in a fair and equitable manner.
  • Avoid favoritism. Company leaders should set the example for all new initiatives.
  • Managers should take personal interests in employee development and even personal problems as appropriate.
  • Providing pro-bono service to non-profit organizations.
  • Avoid negative promotion and competitor bashing. Speak ill of no man.
  • Provide freedom of religion while honoring God as the CEO of the company.
  • Encourage employees to show interest in the personal lives of customers and their needs at the moment.
  • Listening is one of the best ways to show that you care. Encourage employees and management to really listen to each other instead of trying to talk over each other.
  • Promote Christ via your Web site and other public communications, such as company newsletter.

The ideas are limitless. Now, I just have to figure out where to start because you can’t do everything in one day. And I know it will take a lot more than just me. It starts with management casting the vision and then releasing the staff to make it happen.

Go For It!

“…why not live it up, take the risk and do the thing that you’re supposed to do.”
-From 10 mph, a documentary film about a group of friends who travel across the country on Segways                              http://www.10mph.com/

The above quote is the last line of 10 mph. I recently viewed this interesting documentary about two friends who left their posh corporate life for the adventure of the open road. They dared to be creative and travel the country at 10 mph, the maximum speed for the Segway.

Their journey brought them in touch with many different type of people and a lot of unforgettable situations. They slowed down enough to see that the American dream isn’t always what people think it is. They battled through rough weather, exhaustion and financial troubles to find many good-natured people who were willing to help along the way.

At first they didn’t find much support. Once they took the leap to begin their long road trip, support came from some unlikely places. Even some of the companies that said “No” at first were willing to support them once the buzz started.

Road trips are something that I believe everyone should try to do at least some time in their lives. There is nothing like going where the road takes you and seeing what happens when you get there. That drive and pioneer spirit is what has made this country great. We have lost that in our modern world where too many people just settle. Sure, there are some great adventures still out there. But too many people sit mesmerized by “reality” TV instead of living a life worth writing about.

Some of my greatest memories are of road trips and adventures where I had no idea where I was going. It can be fun to just go for it. I don’t know what that means for you. My challenge is going back to school.

What’s yours? And are you ready to just go for it?

Life Sentence

Have you ever heard someone say something that made you want to go do something radical? Have you ever felt dared even though the other person was just giving his/her casual opinion? That’s how I felt today while talking with another publishing colleague.

I was talking about making a career change. He brashly asked, “How long have you been at your current position?” I said, “Seven years.” He laughed and said, “Seven years. Yep, that’s a life sentence.”

This guy is a super perceiver. That’s what makes him just a great publisher. He also knows that I am in a family business, which creates a whole different set of issues. He basically said that I had spent too many years of my life there to leave now.

Honestly, if I worked any where else, I would not publicly share my process. But I doubt that my father will fire me for going public. And I don’t plan on leaving any time soon. It will take years for me to get to a position that I could teach Old Testament studies at a major university. But I am starting to see that may be my dream.

Walking the Holy Land last year did something to me. I know that people go on foreign trips and come back with ideas of grandeur. And they always think their case is different than what other pilgrims have experienced. I wonder if I could live with myself if I didn’t take this plunge?

Why the Old Testament? Well, it is largely misunderstood and contains great depths of spiritual treasure. It is the beginning of the great mystery that we call the Gospel. I always love the previews at the movies. And the Hebrew Scriptures are the previews.

Why teaching? Because I feel God’s pleasure when I do it.

I love many aspects of what I do now. But I know that this would be the opportunity of a lifetime. Honestly, part of me may want to prove my publishing colleague wrong. And part of me may want to just try something new. But I think a big part of me wants to explore the depths of what I began to discover while in Israel.

The best story is the world is God’s story. And the seeds of the narrative are found in the Hebrew Scriptures.

I certainly don’t want to live my life wondering “What if?” That in and of itself would be a life sentence.

Losing It

Sometimes we just have to come to a point where we lost it. Things build up, and we snap. In a recent issue of ESPN The Magazine, Tenessee Titans lineman, Albert Haynesworth, talked about his episode this season. Haynesworth stepped on the head of another player in anger and was severely fined by the NFL.

Looking back on my last week, I can relate with much of what Haynesworth said in his interview. It is never just the thing that caused the outburst. It is always everything that led up to it.

The ESPN article explains how the incident impacted the Haynesworth and even led to him addressing personal problems and developing improved football form.  But it certainly caused soul searching too.

Seth Wickersham wrote, “Haynesworth knows the hypocrisy of what we want from him. We want him to rid himself of the dark currents that pushed him to bloody a man’s face, and once purified, to be a better father, husband and man. And when he’s done with that, we want him to beat on his opponents and puch his way to the quarterback.”

Ultimately, the final chapter is not written in this football story. It appearsthat Haynesworth has become stronger on the field while his family life still needs a lot of work.

The story shows how a moment of rage can actually lead to a better future. Sometimes we need to lose control to realize our real problems and come to the end of ourselves. If we handle the situation right, a disaster can become a blessing. 

Haynesworth’s story also highlights the downside of success – something usually has to give to achieve it. And in the case of many pro athletes unfortunately it is their personal life.

What are you giving up to achieve the successes in your life? Is it worth the cost?

Soul-less Campaign

If most people were to hear that someone ran a soul-less campaign for public office, they would like think that is a bad thing. I would have likely thought the same thing until I saw a good friend run for the Richmond City Public School Board. One of my spiritual fathers, Rev. Don Coleman, ran for the School Board because he believed the Holy Spirit told Him to enter the race. Don narrowly lost in a race that he probably could have won if the circumstances had been different.

Most people would think that Don must not have heard from God since he did not win the election. But Don never felt that way, and I agree. His measure of success was not the election results but his obedience to God’s call.

By his presence in the community and participation in the community debates, Don brought a different tone to the election. He refused to get into a negative campaign. He focused on uniting various factions and working together to solve citywide problems. Born in the projects, Don is a man who has dedicated himself to serving the city.

Just as the campaign was really kicking off, Don suffered a foot problem that caused him pain and almost cost him part of his foot. Throughout the campign he was limited to how much he could walk on his leg. For any aspiring politician not being able to go out in public could be a tremendous drag on his campaign. Don continued his campaign even though his wife had to do a lot more of the door to door work than anyone had originally anticipated.

Doctors were close to removing part of his foot until he told them to wait just a little longer. Then miraculously his foot completely healed after the election. I asked Don if he planned on pulling out after his foot problems. He said, “No” because God had called him to run and had allowed his foot to be infected at the same time.

When doctors come and tell you that you might lose a large part of your foot, that can cause some intense emotions not to mention being in a tough fight for public office. But Don kept on.

It was the strangest thing. A couple of weeks before the election, he had such peace. Even just talking with him about the race, I could feel my soul starting to get entangled with it. But he seemed to be completely free to trust God no matter the results. Although he wanted to win and tried his best during the campaign despite his foot problems, Don’s identity and sense of worth was not tied into the race. His soul was not running things. His spirit was.

I learned a lot talking with him and watching how he reacted to the various situations. Even if he ran just to show me some important lessons, the whole thing may have been worth it. I finally found a candidate that I could trust. The only problem is that I do not live in his school district. Don showed me how you can strive to do a good job despite tough circumstances and not get too much of yourself wrapped up in the results. His soul was not wrapped up in the campaign. His emotions and intellect were under the control of his spirit, which was being led by the Holy Spirit.

Now, I am sure that there were moments when his soul took over. But for the most part, Don appeared to be at peace with the entire thing even though many outsiders might consider it a disaster. Who ever heard of not being able to walk around a lot while trying to campaing for political office?

Don told me that one reason God had allowed his illness to come at that time was to protect Don from getting too personally involved in the campaign. His soul was kept somewhat at bay because he couldn’t do more than his body would allow.

Pastor Don, thanks for showing me that there is a godly way to run a campaign. Your soul-less approach to politics shows me that our emotions and intellectual schemes may be one of the big reasons why many government and education problems don’t get solved. Three cheers for soul-less politics!!!

The Disorganized Workers of the World Unite

I am sick and tired of hearing about how cleanliness is next to godliness. That is not in the Bible. And I have fought clutter all of my life. As a journalist, I go through a lot of paper. I read a lot of stuff. Me and the printer are best friends. If I were obsessed with having a spotless desk, I would spend all of my time filing. I don’t have a secretary, and I constantly fight the paper tiger.

I have always questioned the wisdom of organizational gurus who teach the benefits of a neat desk. My experience was that more time spent organizing was a waste. While there is a point where a mess can get in the way, there is also an extreme where organizing can detract from more important activities.  I believe there is a balance.

I tend to to be a little more on the messy side. While I know of friends who can’t do anything if their desk is a mess. It’s like their kryptonite.

When I am out of town and call the office to check in on how things are going, my father frequently relays the success of his day based on how neat his desk is. I always want to laugh because I didn’t know that was an important business metric.

Finally, I have found a news article from a reputable source that backs up my theory of disorganization leading to higher productivity. Inc. magazine recently carried, “Go Ahead, Make A Mess.” The article claimed that chaos, clutter, disorganization, and on-the-fly decision-making actually are good for your company–and for you.

I felt liberated. Viva la messy revolution! Unleash the paper tigers. May paper anarchy lead you to greater profitability in 2007.  That is until the gurus come up with another theory next year.