Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Your Work Reveals Your Character

Did you ever realize that your work tells what kind of person you are? The Bible tells us that the works of God reveal to us what kind of God he is. The beauty of his creation, the majesty and grandeur of his universe give us a clear view of his character and his personality.

That's true of us, as well. Now that's a little scary, when you think about it. Just suppose someone who doesn't know you at all was asked to write a description of you based upon an audit and inspection of your work. What would that audit reveal?

Are you careful to do your work with thoroughness, or would your work reveal a careless attitude? Does your work show that you are considerate of the person at the receiving end or at the next stage of your work? Or would the inspector conclude that you're in a hurry to get through and get going, because your work is sloppy?

When your work involves dealing with other people, would it reveal an attitude of respect and concern for others? Do you think the inspector would conclude that you care about other people, and you treat everyone with respect? Or would it reveal that you are callous toward other people, that you can’t be bothered to be kind and considerate? 

As I look at the work of God's hands, I know so much about his loving, caring nature. I see all around me evidence that he is a merciful and bountiful God, a God who wants to bestow blessings and goodness on me. His work reveals his character to me.

Our work reveals our character as well. At the end of each day we need to ask ourselves what kind of impression our work has left behind us. Think about the week that is just behind you. Would you be pleased to have someone describe you based on the work you've done this last week? It's a good question we need to ask ourselves frequently.

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.
                                                                                                Psalm 19:1-2

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Motivating Words

Are you responsible to train someone on your job? Whether you’re a manager, a trainer, or an experienced co-worker, you’re likely to have some training assignments, formal or informal. There are also those occasions when you must require certain performance or behavior from your employees or co-workers. How can we motivate and inspire others to do what has to be done?

Solomon advises us to use pleasant words. We still catch more flies with honey than vinegar, as they say. It’s amazing how differently people react to the same message given in different words. I can say, “I have a suggestion. . .”, or “You’ve got to do this right away. . .”, each followed by my instructions. Which words do you think would be more pleasant? 

The New American Standard Bible has a slightly different translation of this verse from Proverbs 16: “The wise in heart will be called discerning, and sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness.” Sweetness of speech is the art of making your words easy to swallow. It is not hypocrisy or phoniness; it is the wisdom of thinking ahead and choosing words that create a positive rather than a negative reaction.

As a Christian manager or trainer or fellow employee, remember that your choice of words can make all the difference in whether people want to follow you or not. Increase your persuasiveness and effectiveness today by choosing pleasant words that go down easy.

The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.
                                                                                                Proverbs 16:21

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Work for Jesus

Have you ever been “passed over” for a promotion or raise that you knew you deserved? It can be discouraging not to get credit for our contributions at work. And yet, these things happen all the time.

We live and work in a world that is neither fair nor kind. That’s because the world is full of people who have a sin problem, including us! And that sin problem creates injustice of all sorts.

Injustice is one of my toughest hurdles. I always want to fight when I think my rights or someone else’s rights are being violated. As you can imagine, this tendency has gotten me into some hot water and created not a few problems in my work life. I have to remind myself continually that if I serve wholeheartedly as unto the Lord, the recognitions and rewards will come in due time. 

As Christians, we pick up our paychecks at your place of work, but our real job is pleasing the Lord and working for him. Our reward is waiting for us in heaven—but we can reap the benefits now, too. Just imagine how your stress level will drop as thoughts of vengeance and discontent are replaced with calm satisfaction over a job well done!

Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.
                                                                                                                                            Ephesians 6:7

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Year of Sidestepping Jesus

Avoid. Bypass. Duck. Evade. Dance around.

Sidestep. We’ve all done it.

Avoiding eye contact in the church lobby with a woman you enjoyed working with on a committee at church until you had THAT discussion.

Crossing the street when you see a neighbor who just lost his wife in a car accident.

Letting your phone go to voicemail rather than answer a call from someone who frequently asks for help.

Time for me to confess. No pretty, euphemistic way to say it.

I spent a year—at least at year—sidestepping Jesus.

I didn’t do it to be mean. In fact, I thought I did it to be kind.  You see, people I love dearly have developed an aversion to Jesus. They don’t want to talk about Him. They don’t want to hear about Him. And they vocally state that they no longer believe Jesus is God and that His death on the cross makes any difference.


My peacemaker instinct reared its head. What to do?

Continue to speak of Jesus despite awkward silences or perhaps hostile retorts?

Reframe Jesus to make Him more approachable?

Sidestep Jesus by talking in general terms about God rather than specifically naming Jesus?

Sidestepping Jesus seemed the kind, gentle way of keeping the peace. Or so I reasoned. And thus began my year, or more, of sidestepping Jesus.

When I wrote my book Storm Sisters, I carefully referenced God and included scripture verses. But I purposely limited my references to Jesus. I rationalized my decision: I want people who don’t believe in Jesus to open the pages of my book and think about the Bible and about God. I don’t want them to stumble over Jesus, particularly his birth, death, and resurrection.

After my book released, a friend said to me over coffee, “I read your book and liked it. I wondered why I didn’t see a lot of Jesus in it.”

Months later I signed on to work with the Alpha course (a series of interactive sessions that freely explore the basics of the Christian faith), confident that I had learned how to speak of Christianity in a peace-making, non-polarizing sort of way. A sidestepping-Jesus-sort-of-way.

When I glanced at our list of topics for our weeks together, Session Two gave me pause: Who Is Jesus?

 Really? Why couldn’t we save this topic for later in our discussion?  Ease into it in a sidestepping sort of way? After all, most of these people did not yet call themselves believers in God.

Well, we did not wait. We jumped in to Jesus on Week Two using the book Questions of Life by Alpha founder Nicky Gumbel. Nicky gives a clear, rational, historical defense of Jesus. Our guest speaker that day added to our reading, speaking earnestly and winsomely of Jesus.

Did people flinch? No.

Did people respond with angry retorts? No.

Did they ask questions? Yes.

Did we have a respectful conversation? Yes.

I watched and listened. And I began to squirm. Sidestepping Jesus suddenly no longer seemed a kind gesture; instead it appeared blazingly bright as something else—cowardice. Deep down, I knew I had sidestepped Jesus because I feared I could not defend Him against public scrutiny.
And yet, around that Alpha table that morning and later as we studied the Gospel of Luke together, Jesus held His own. I had seen this same phenomenon happen years earlier in a neighborhood Bible study as we studied and discussed honestly the Gospel of Mark.

On that Alpha morning, as my cowardice washed over me, I realized that by sidestepping Jesus, I had actually sidestepped the central focus of my faith—the very core of Christianity.

Forgive me, dearest Jesus. Forgive me.

Written By Afton Rorvik

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Confronting an Incompetent Boss

Should we ever confront an incompetent boss or take any steps to try to correct this kind of situation? I'd like to share some guidelines to consider in deciding whether or not to confront your incompetent boss. 

First, is this person's incompetence truly affecting the quality of the product or service that the customer receives? Is it truly causing unfair treatment for employees, others as well as yourself? Is she or he doing things which are contrary to your organization's stated standards and policies? In other words, is there a larger picture here than simply your own irritations and frustrations at having to work for an incompetent manager?

If you're convinced there is a larger picture, then confrontation may be advisable. But, again, this must be done with great respect for their authority. You look for ways to make suggestions for improvement without pointing the finger at them. You try to find a way to make it look like their idea to which you are contributing. You do everything you can not to undermine their own self-image as the boss.

Sweetness of speech increases persuasiveness, as we read in Proverbs 16:21, and if we truly want to help our incompetent manager to improve, we have to make our suggestions with carefully chosen words. I am not suggesting we use flattery or deceit of any kind. But if we look long enough, we can find something good to say about them and to them, something positive to lead off with, some way to confront without seeming confrontational.

It's not easy; I know. But let me tell you this. It's a whole bunch easier than doing it the other way. If you've been stewing and fretting over your incompetent boss; if you're constantly frustrated because you want to get rid of him or her or tell them off; if you've been angry at having to put up with their incompetence–tell me, has that been easy? 

Of course not. It's more natural than following biblical principles, but it's not easier. It's harder - takes a much greater mental and emotional toll on you. Doesn't it make sense, then, to simply ask God to give you His perspective and His power to deal with your incompetent boss in a Christ-like way? The good news is, because of Jesus we have the power to do it. But we have to be willing to follow His principles and allow Him to do it through us.