These Five Things Will Unlock Your Greatness At Work.

After nearly a year of working very hard to keep up with an ever-growing workload in my department, I was able to hire a new estimator.  We are all very glad to have her.  We know she is going to be an excellent addition to our department.  I began the search for our new person quite a while ago, and while going through resumes I began to give serious thought to not only what we wanted, but what we had to have in our new associate.  We wanted someone good.  That sounds over-simplified when I say it like that but it made me think in terms of my own employment history.  In my experience, what makes a good employee?

office imageI am amazed at what a small team of dedicated people can accomplish when they are all pulling in the same direction and when they all have a real passion for what they are doing.  I have had the privilege of being part of a small start-up company many years ago.  There were just a few of us.  I remember times of being at work for 31 hours straight.  Those first days I remember climbing over unpacked pallets of supplies trying to find the things I needed to accomplish the job.  The general mindset was that we could do it! We could make it work, but that if it was going to work and be successful, it was because we made it work.  These were challenging, rewarding & fun days (and nights) at work.  The air was just thick with purpose and everyone was breathing it.

What usually happens as a company grows is that in order to be efficient and profitable, standard operating procedures will be implemented.  These will help to streamline and unify the way everyone does their job so that the company can yield consistent results.  This is very important.  Great reputation and corporate good will are built on the foundation of quality and consistency.

Associates that find themselves in larger companies might find it harder to find the passion in what they do.  When your job consists of putting these nine nuts on those nine bolts before the piece moves to the next assembly line station, you may find it hard to get excited about your contribution or think that what you are doing matters.  As a result, you may find yourself just showing up, and just putting in the minimum effort to keep your job. You may be just enduring your work, barely able to make it to quitting time everyday and Sunday night is the worst time of your entire week.  It can be very challenging.  Let me just say this – a good job is always worth doing.

Bobby Unser
Desire! That’s the one secret of every man’s career. Not education. Not being born with hidden talents. Desire.

A good leader will try to build a vision into their associates and to communicate the big picture. Letting them see why their job is important, but you don’t have to wait for someone else.  You can stir yourself up and take steps to improve your situation now, on your own.

These things will help you connect with your purpose and become great at your job.

  1. Consider the end.  Who are you helping?  When I spend time thinking about some of our clients and why they are coming to us in the first place, it helps me find my purpose.  I believe in the work that some of our clients are doing. I can get my heart behind it.  Find a reason to get your heart behind what you do, then you will be self motivated.
  2. Solve problems.  One of the most important things my supervisors have looked for over the years is that they want employees that are problem solvers.  Let me clarify.  The reason I’m there in the first place is because they have a problem.  They have more of this specific work to do than they can do. I was hired to help solve that problem.  I can solve that problem at the minimum expectation or I can really invest myself and be remarkable and look for other problems to solve too.
  3. Don’t create problems.  I have yet to meet someone in the work place who has never made a mistake.  This isn’t what I’m talking about.  There are some associates that I have observed over the years that have personality traits that have consistently resulted in problems.  Norwood Bishop was the instructor for a class I took in Bible School called People Skills.  One of the things he said that stuck with me was that 99% of people that are hired are hired because of their ability to do the job or their ability to be trained.  85% of those people that are fired from the same job were fired because they couldn’t get along with people they worked with.
  4. Be correctable.  People who can’t take correction are arrogant and full of pride.  I have seen people defend behavior that they knew was wrong because they couldn’t admit that they were wrong.  Have you ever met anyone who was more interested in being right than in keeping friends?  I think we all have.  Being teachable goes a long way toward also giving you favor.  People like to help the humble. You don’t know it all and will not be right every time.  Be open to being corrected.  Think about it.  Correction means improvement.  You will be better because of it.
  5. Be Faithful.  Proverbs 25:19 says “Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint”.  Think about what that’s saying!  Have you ever had a sprained ankle or a broken bone in your foot?  You have two feet but one of them is totally useless.  It can’t hold any of the weight that you need for it to hold.  It slows you down in every way.  You can’t even put your pants on normally.  You have to move slowly around the trouble area.  A broken or abscessed tooth is the same way. You have a tooth but it can’t do any of the tooth duties that you need it to do.  It would be better not to have a sore tooth at all than to have one there and to cause massive discomfort in your whole mouth by using it.  This is what an unfaithful associate is like.  In some cases, it would be better if they weren’t there.  At least you would not be trusting them and then get left twisting in the wind.  Have you ever received help that actually became a “Do Over”?  There are some people who help best when they help somewhere else.

This is not a complete list.  These are just things that I have noticed in my years in the workforce that I have personally tried to build into myself and they have served me well.  I promise you.  If you incorporate these 5 things into your life, it will pay off for you in the long run and you’ll be happier and a better ambassador for Christ on the job. You will be the employee known for your spirit of excellence.

Dale Carnegie
Are you bored with life? Then throw yourself into some work you believe in with all your heart, live for it, die for it, and you will find happiness that you had thought could never be yours.

What things do you value in the people you work with?  What things have you brought to your job that make you great?  Please join the conversation & leave a comment.

If this has been helpful and you think it can help someone else, please share it.

Your First Step On The Road To Success

I want to talk to the guy who’s hearts desire is to open his own transmission shop but he’s stuck working in retail.  I want to talk to the woman who’s hearts desire has always been to open a soup kitchen for the down and out but who’s just retired from manufacturing.  I want to talk to the loan assistant who’s days are filled with stress but her heart beats for the people of Kenya.  I want to talk to the corporate manager who’s dream is to help people take steps of faith.  I want to talk to you.

start-480x313

What are you passionate about?  When you think about your future and where you want to go, what do you see?  Is it different than where you ARE going?  When you look at yourself, what do you want to become?  Is it different than what you ARE becoming?  What are you doing about it?

I have had to ask myself those same questions.   Then I forced myself to answer them with brutal honesty.  The truth is:

  • I was waiting for someone to give me permission to make my dream come true.
  • I was waiting for someone else to care about my dream.
  • I was waiting for someone else to give me the roadmap to my dream.
  • I was waiting for someone else who knew more than I did to help me.

In all these things we see two things.  #1. I was waiting.  #2. Someone else had the keys to my dream.  In my mind, I couldn’t move forward because I didn’t have what it took to succeed.  I needed someone who knew how to get there to become interested in what I was doing & help me.  With this thinking, my dream was going to be forever out of my reach.  Why?  Because that other person, who could do all of those things, was busy making their own dream come true.

I want you to take a serious look at your dream.  What one thing can you do that would give you forward motion?  Identify one thing.  It’s probably not going to be some huge thing, but isolate just one thing that will get your dream moving.  Make it something that you actually have the ability to do for yourself, and make it something that you can do now!  Every journey begins with the first step.  Most of them are small.  It takes the first step to get to the second step.  Sometimes you can’t even see step two until you’ve taken step one, but I promise, it’s there.   Step one has to be first.  Are you ready to take it?

Make up your mind in the beginning to not allow yourself to be discouraged by the small steps.  Everyone starts at the same place.  No one is born with lots of customers.  No one is born with lots of influence.  Everyone gets to start with one customer.  One listener. One faithful supporter – and it’s usually mom.  Let your vision and your dream be your driving force.  Let it be the reason your feet find the floor every morning.  Draw your strength from the purpose in what you’re doing.

Long before you play to a full house, regardless of what your dream is, you’re going to play to a lot of empty ones.  Don’t quit.  Get your eyes checked and make sure you’ve got selective vision.  See what matters, look beyond what doesn’t.  – Jon Acuff

Give serious thought in the coming days of what needs to happen in order for you to get from here to there.  Form your plan.  Nothing is going to get done unless you make it happen but you will need a plan.  The truth is that there aren’t really any good excuses.  The things you need are available if you want them badly enough.  We are living in an unprecedented time where all of the gatekeepers are gone.  There are so many tools available to every one of us that we can make our dreams come true if we will take the initiative and stop believing the lie that we can’t do it.

A few years back I was listening to a business man talk about one of his endeavors.  He had bought a nursery.  In the same area where his nursery was located there was a well established nursery that was larger and well funded.  He went out and immediately planted 4,000 trees on his property.  in his own words “Now we looked like the 800 lb. gorilla on the block”.  People began to come into his business because he looked like he knew what he was doing.  He had committed to his course and then he pulled out all the stops.  His purpose was to be successful and he didn’t ask anyone else’s permission to go for it.    Are you ready to put your creativity to work & make your dream come true?  Now – Give yourself permission to go for it, then take your first step.  It all begins with that first step.  You need to START.  On your mark, Get set, GO!

 

Isn’t Fitting In Really Hard Sometimes?

IMAG0468Here’s the truth about us.  We want to be liked.  We always want to be liked.  We always, at all times, in every situation, want everyone to think the absolute best of us, period. Most of us understand and have learned to live with the fact that we will not be liked by everyone though.  We know that we’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.  What really seems to motivate us then, is that we don’t want to be disliked by anyone – ever!  Why do we want this so badly?  Why do we expend so much effort to be so pleasing to everybody?

We seem to be engineering ourselves toward what we perceive as the “middle ground”.  The place where we draw neither derision or praise.  We call it fitting in.  I think it’s because when you really look at it, fitting in isn’t really as much for being liked as it is for not being disliked.  We don’t want to draw negative attention to ourselves or be on the receiving end of other people’s scorn or contempt.  While we deeply want to be loved and accepted, we will settle for being ignored and not persecuted.  This, however, is a big problem!

Here’s a little secret about most people.  Even when they have the time to think about you, they probably aren’t.  Dale Carnegie said it like this, “Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”  People are almost always thinking about themselves and what’s important to them.  They spend their time working out personal problems or deciding the next move.  They are in all likelihood, not thinking of you or me at all.

Remember that a person’s name is to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.  – Dale Carnegie

Several years ago I went to lunch with a couple of friends. It was a buffet so we were all up filling our plates and I was the last person to come back to our table.  When I went to sit down, I nearly fell out of the other side of the chair.  I don’t know what happened, I mean, I sit down regularly.  I’m fairly practiced at it.  Don’t ask me how on this day, in front of all of these wonderful people out here eating lunch, I decide to forget how to sit down.  Anyway, my friends got a pretty good laugh out of it and when I finally looked up to view the crowd in the restaurant, no one was looking at me anymore.  They gave me about a second and a half of their busy time and then went on about their way.  Most of them were probably just glad it wasn’t them that goofed up that day.  I’m reasonably confident that everyone in the place could identify with how I felt.  This experience helped me. My comedy event was like a rubber ball that hit the attention of everyone in the place, and just like a rubber ball, it bounced right off again.

We all have a mask.  We call it our “normal”.  We put it on when we think the social situation requires it.  The truth is though that the “normal” is not normal.  It rarely represents who a person really is.  I tell my daughters that normal is what a person is until you get to know them.  I know that there are things about me that you may not think are normal.  Most of us are like that.  I say “most” because I have met the rare individual who really is genuine and what you see is what you get.  For the rest of us, we spend bucket loads of effort trying to get positive attention or at the very least, no negative attention in order to have some peace in our life.

The problem with our little personal conformity project is that by forming ourselves to be liked by everyone, we’re engineering out of ourselves the things that make us unique and awesome!  I was watching a documentary about Henry Ford a few days ago. He revolutionized manufacturing with the idea of forming the assembly line for making automobiles.  He got the idea from the meat processing industry.  He was able to increase production of the Model T by something like 1,200 %.  One of the things that stood out to me about Henry Ford’s thinking was that, in order to make the system successful, the parts had to be manufactured consistently and interchangeably, but so did the workers.  The system had to be engineered so that employee Bob could do employee Mike’s job if employee Mike called in sick.

The industrialization of the country created a system of thinking where it was important to fit in.  We’ve all been taught to conform very easily.  Seth Godin said it best when he said “The reason that they want you to fit in is that once you do, then they can ignore you”.  What do you think about that?  I think it’s true.  Mass marketing was created to appeal to a mass of people who all think the same way and like the same things.  Going back to Henry Ford as our example, we see that Henry Ford was not like all of the men he hired.  He was different.  He had vision and drive and a willingness to let the things that made him remarkable be the things that defined him.  Instead of trying to conform, he was using his unique gifts to stand out and be set apart.

The reason that they want you to fit in is that once you do, then they can ignore you.  – Seth Godin

You and I are remarkable and have unique things about us too.  The bible says that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made”.  Instead of working so hard to suppress the things about you that make you who you are, leverage those things to reach into lives and help others.  You have suffered. You have lost. You have been victorious.  You have experienced trials and hardships in your life that make you uniquely qualified to speak into the lives of certain people in this world and help them.  This means that a hug from you can do more to minister healing to certain people than a hug from me would.  You are a divine gift to the world.  There are people that you are meant to love, help and lives that you are meant to touch and change .  Don’t cheat those people and sell them short by hiding your gifts or failing to act.

I want to encourage you today to stand up and let your scars be seen.  In a court room a testimony is a first person account of what happened by someone who was there and witnessed something .  In our walk, our testimony is our first person account of what God has done in our lives.

These are important for others to see because –

  1. It’s encouraging to others. People need to see that God is actively working in the lives of people who trust Him.
  2. It shows what’s possible to those who don’t know.  Many people haven’t read the bible and don’t know what’s on the menu – what’s available to them.
  3. It’s really hard to argue with and disprove your first hand account.  Discouragers and hard hearted people may try to argue with you but they are too late…you were there!

Are you ready to step up?  Someone out there is emotionally bleeding out and they need you to step up.  It’s time to take your place and do what you were uniquely designed to do!  It doesn’t have to be some earth shaking thing, just do something.  Start your forward motion and see what God does with it.  Look what He did with a little boy’s lunch.

Refuse to wait for others to recognize your potential.  Slip your life out of neutral into drive, you will be surprised where it will take you.  –  Doug Jones.

I want to take a line and just express my appreciation for you all.  I love you guys.  Thank you for reading my blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s So Great About America?

In recent days we have been given a front row seat to see our Federal Government in action.  We have been witness to the Judicial branch settling differences between the Legislative branch and the Executive branch.  To me this has been exciting to watch, not only because of the decisions that have been made but also just to see how our system of government checks itself, and to see that it works!  I am deeply moved when I think about the men who established our country and set in order what I personally believe to be one of the finest governments to have ever existed on earth.  While I think these men were some of the brightest, most intelligent people of the day, I also firmly believe that what was done 238 years ago to cause this country to be born was Divinely inspired.

constitution_quill_pen[1]

In the booklet “The Rebirth of America” published by the Arthur S. DeMoss foundation, the writers talk about the greatness of America’s land.

“Some say the land itself has made America great.  One of our most moving patriotic hymns cites the beauty of America – a beauty that all who have traveled across the continent surely recognize.  Katherine Lee Bates stood atop Pike’s Peak and scanned the sweep of the land, then wrote of the “Purple Mountain Majesties”, and the “amber waves of grain.” She concluded that God had shed His grace on this land – a vast unexplored wilderness that, in an astonishingly short period, grew into a great nation.  It would be foolish to deny that the rich natural resources of the land itself have not helped to make America. The oil, the ore, the timber, the water, the soil, the climate, all have combined to nourish a civilization that would eventually spread from sea to shining sea.  Other nations too, though, have been blessed with fine resources; yet some how these have not risen to such greatness.”

So what is it that has made America great?  What is it that stands behind freedoms so great that they are the envy of the world?  Why has America been blessed with such abundance when so much of the world goes to bed hungry each night?  Here are a few things that I believe have made America great.

  • The Foundation of Our Law.  Our founders firmly believed in the Creator and believed that He had endowed them with inalienable rights.  They also believed that man was “fallen” and therefore could not be trusted to be his own law or judge.  They therefore used the Divinely inspired Holy Scripture as the foundation for the law of the land. The law can not be simply what a judge or dictator says it is, It must comply with the Constitution which was based on God’s laws in scripture.  Calvin Coolidge – “The foundations of our society and our government rest so much on the teachings of the Bible that it would be difficult to support them if faith in these teachings would cease to be practically universal in our country”.  I think it’s important to point out that a country can’t have morality without religion and even though something is legal doesn’t mean that it’s moral.  Our government is designed to give liberty, but with a moral fence.
  • The Generosity of the American People.  America has been and continues to be very generous.  Whether it has been to help rebuild countries that have been ravaged by war, or help with relief for countries that have been ravaged by natural disasters, the generous spirit of the American people can be seen.  America is blessed because many Americans continue to sow good seeds, be generous, and help the less fortunate.
  • The American Dream.  America has been called the “land of Opportunity” and rightly so. The dream that a person can excel and become something in this country has been the driving force behind the immigration to our country for as long as it’s been in existence.  The Free Enterprise system has ensured that everyone has a fighting chance to be successful if they will only take the opportunities.  The ingenuity of the American people over the last 200 years has given the world well build, low cost goods, provided good jobs to millions and has given Americans the income to buy the goods they produce.
  • The Hand of God.  All of our blessings really point back to this.  In his writing “The Bulletproof George Washington” David Barton wrote: “Washington’s part in the battle of the Monongahela is indisputably one of the most significant events of his early life–his life literally hung in the balance for over two hours. Fifteen years after the battle, the chieftain of the Indians Washington had fought sought him out and gave this account to Washington of what had happened during the battle:

    “I am chief and ruler over my tribes. My influence extends to the waters of the great lakes and to the far blue mountains. I have traveled a long and weary path that I might see the young warrior of the great battle. It was on the day when the white man’s blood mixed with the streams of our forest that I first beheld this chief [Washington]…I called to my young men and said…Quick, let your aim be certain, and he dies. Our rifles were leveled, rifles which, but for you, knew not how to miss–’twas all in vain, a power mightier far than we, shielded you…I am come to pay homage to the man who is the particular favorite of Heaven, and who can never die in battle.”

    We read accounts of the British destroying the Capital during the summer of 1814.  It really looks like just 38 years after America declared independence from Britain, we’re going to lose our place and be put back in subjection to the Crown.  The British captured and set on fire the public buildings in Washington.  Then the storm blew in.  Weather experts indicate that this storm probably spawned several tornados.  One hit Washington, destroying buildings that the British soldiers were hiding in.  Some accounts indicate that canons were lifted & hurled through the air.  On his blog “Historical Digression” Patrick Browne writes:

As the storm began to subside, one of the British officers in command of the invasion emerged from his shelter and said to one of the inhabitants of Washington, “Great God, Madam, is this the kind of storm to which you are accustomed in this infernal country?!”

She responded, “No, sir, this is a special interposition of Providence to drive our enemies from the city.”

I don’t know about Providence. But there can be no doubt that the tornado that struck Washington that day did more to save the capital than the United States Army ever did. The fires were largely extinguished. And the British limped back to their ships.

As you celebrate this Independence day, take a moment to stop and thank God for your country.  Thank Him for His continued hand of protection and His continual guidance as we move forward as a Nation.  We are here by His will and by His help.  God Bless America.

What we obtain too cheaply, we esteem too lightly; it is dearness only that gives everything its value. Heaven knows how to put a price upon its goods, and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.  – Thomas Payne, 1776.


us-flag-jpg

 

 

 

Sources:
The Rebirth of America – Published by The Arthur S. DeMoss Foundation
http://historicaldigression.com/2012/03/26/a-tornado-saves-washington-during-the-war-of-1812/
http://www.reversespins.com/bulletproof.html

 

 

 

 

 

Seven quick steps to getting back on track.

Ever wake up right in the middle of your life? You scream “How did I get here? I don’t want to be here!” and with horror you realize that you have been drifting. You have not been actively tending to your course and so instead of you determining your direction and driving your life, your circumstances have been driving you! Driving you down roads you don’t want to go to places you don’t want to be with people you can’t trust. You wake up and realize how far off course you are and you become embarrassed and ashamed. “I used to be stronger that this” you might say. You have forgotten who you are.

Mufasa’s Ghost: You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of life.

I remember several years ago I found myself in this exact spot. Over the course of several years I had been given many wonderful opportunities to minister in our church. Usually on the last Sunday night of each month I would teach. It was such a blessing and real training time for me. Our pastors’ name was Mark Jacobsen. He believed in the perfecting the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ – Eph 4:12. He was always working with people & grooming them in the areas of their gifts. There was a period of time though, where I stepped back from the ministry opportunities because I was busy at work. I didn’t have much time to prepare. Over a period of months I also stopped praying as much and didn’t study as much. I began to lose ground spiritually and morally. I began to get loose with my personal standards and in some of the things I was allowing in my life. I remember the day Pastor Mark approached me and asked me to teach. I said “I’m not really in the place I should be to teach”. He looked me right in the eye and said “YOU decide whether or not YOU will be a vessel of honor”. Those words have stayed with me all these years. They have served me well and still guide me when things in my life get unstable and the temptation to compromise shows up.

Fresh Start

What did I do? I straightened up and got back to business. I decided to be a vessel of honor. It’s a decision that only you can make. It’s also a decision that you will have to make over and over again as you walk out your life. I can say with full assurance that it is the only way I want to be. I don’t want to be a mud pot. I want to be a gold pot.

Pastor Mark used to tell a story of a severe flood and a man who had a small row boat. While rowing he came upon another man who was treading water, totally exhausted and about ready to give up. The man in the water cried out “Help me” and the man in the boat replied “dry yourself off and you can climb in my boat”. The man in the water said “Please, just let me in your boat” to which the man in the boat replied again “Sure, as soon as you dry yourself off you can climb right up in here”. Pastor Mark would say “Some people think that you have to clean yourself up and spruce up your behavior before you can come to God, but the truth is you can’t do that on your own. Get a man out of the water and into the warm sunshine and guess what happens? He dries off.”

Don’t let where you are keep you from turning around. You are not too far gone. You are not out of God’s reach.


Steps to recovery.

  1. Remember God is with you. Heb 13:5b says for He has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you. You may have stepped away from Him but He didn’t step away from you.
  2. Remember that He loves you and He’s the one who’s helping you to wake up. Jer 31:3 says The Lord has appeared of old to me saying, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, with lovingkindness I have drawn you.
  3. Remember the Prodigal Son? He asked his daddy for his inheritance early and then left and began to blow it on what the bible calls riotous living. He was out partying and living it up but eventually ran out of money. Then a famine hit and he began to suffer. He got a job feeding pigs and for a Jewish boy pigs were considered unclean. This was a dirty and humiliating job. He was so desperate that he considered eating the pig slop. Then the bible says “He came to himself”. He said “even the servants at my father’s house have food enough to spare and I am dying from starvation!” He decided to go to his father and ask for a job as a servant. He said “I’m no more worthy to be called your son”. This is how we think sometimes isn’t it? But Thank God that’s not how God thinks! When the father saw his son approaching, the father ran to him, fell on his neck and kissed him. This is how God thinks!
  4. Remember 1st John 1:9. When you’ve missed it, go to God & call it what it is – sin. He promises not only to forgive what you confess but also to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.   Just pray “Lord, I thank you that Jesus came, died for me, rose from the dead for me and by his sacrifice I am redeemed. I’ve messed up and I know I’ve messed up. I confess my sin before you and call it what it is. It’s sin and I know that I shouldn’t have done it. I thank you for forgiving me and cleansed me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.” It’s a matter of humbling yourself. It’s pretty simple and it’s the bible way to clear the slate.
  5. Forget the past! Isaiah 43:25 (WEB) I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake; and I will not remember your sins. God forgets your past, you forget it too- (Phil 3:13).
  6. Make a plan. Build your life while you are strong to carry you through while you are weak. Think about when you messed up. Try to structure your situation to avoid the triggers that take you down the wrong road. Ask God for the wisdom to see the triggers.
  7. Look for someone to help. Awaken the heart of ministry in you. I have found that serving & ministering to others helps me put my problems into a better perspective.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s up to someone else as to whether or not you can be used. So many people are waiting for permission to become excellent. You’ve already been picked! Eph 2:10 says For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. God already has something wonderful planned for you.

Reverend Doug Jones, National Director of Rhema Ministerial Association International and Rhema Alumni Association said something on Facebook several months ago that resonated with me so much that I wrote it down. He said “Refuse to wait for others to recognize your potential. Slip your life out of neutral into drive, you will be surprised where it will take you”.

My prayer for you is that you will find the course for your life that God has planned for you. It’s the best life you can live. It’s the life that takes you to your full potential.  Join the conversation by leaving a comment below.

Being Charitable vs. Being a Sucker. Here’s the difference.

So here’s a scenario.  Your relative comes to you and wants to borrow money, but if you give them the money they ask for,  you will be putting yourself into financial distress. Should you give it to them?  If you don’t, are you being hard hearted?  How far should our charity go when it comes to this kind of thing?

money1

I have personally witnessed this sort of thing on more than one occasion, and I’ve seen people put themselves into a financial bind trying to help family or friends that ask for money.

Accusations sometimes arise when the person refuses to help, even after they state that they can’t afford to help right now.  A woman may even be called a hypocrite and her Christianity called into question because in the eyes of her needy relative or friend, she’s not being a good Christian because she won’t give.  So, where’s the line?  When is it okay to say NO to such requests?  What can you do?

I firmly believe in being charitable.  I believe that we are here to help one another.  If you look at the commandments that God gave the Children of Israel and also the commandments that Jesus gave the Church, they all have to do with two areas:

  • How we act toward God.
  • How we act toward one another.

It’s very important to help one another. The Bible says in Proverbs 19:17 that when you have pity on the poor, you are lending to the Lord, and the Lord will repay you.  The Bible points out in a number of places that it’s God’s will for his people to be benevolent.

Creditors have better memories than debtors. (- Proverb)

When you are asked for help, look at the condition of the one asking for it.  I try to ask myself a couple of questions before I make any decision at all concerning this.

A.  Where are they financially?

  1. Are they able to work?
  2. Do they actually have an income, that if used correctly, can meet the need?
  3. Do they have any income at all?
  4. Do they have any savings that can help them through the tough time?
  5. Do they have things of value that they can sell?

B.  Why are they where they are?

  1. Are they normally quite stable and an explosion of bad circumstances just rocked them to the point where they need help?
  2. Maybe they have recently become unemployed and they need help just bridging the gap between the old job and the next step.
  3. They may also be at the other end of this spectrum where they have had plenty of excellent opportunities to develop a strong financial life, but instead have habitually made bad choices.  I have known some that would spend money on cigarettes and beer and not have any left over for gas to get back & forth to work.  Is their Modus Operandi to live off of the charity of others? Have they gone a long time and never seemed to get it together? These people may ask for help on an ongoing basis and some may attempt to shame you if you don’t help them.  I have found that with many of these people, they believe their financial hardship is never their fault.  They are always the helpless victims of people and forces outside of their control.  They don’t take personal responsibility for where they are.

What should you do?  To find our answers we look to scripture.  2 Corinthians 9:7 (Darby) says “each according as he is purposed in his heart; not grievingly, or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver”.  Notice that the giving is to be done “as he has purposed in his heart”.  Your charity should be planned and thought out.  Look also at “not grievingly, or of necessity”.  If you can’t give by faith with a cheerful heart, you should think twice about it.  Consider the promise though, from verses 8-10 (KJV). “And God is able to make ALL grace abound toward you; that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work”.

I don’t think people should be stingy, cheap, or fearful concerning money.  I am personally convinced of how much God loves me and helps me in this area. I remember the day that Romans 8:31 – 39 became real to me.  I wept with joy when I realized that God was more “for me” than I was, and that he was actively looking for ways to get past my unbelief to help me.   Rom 8:31 & 32 says “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?”  Allow Him to build this same confidence in you.  He’s on your side.  He really is.

Practical things that you can do.

  1. Be deliberate about your giving.  Plan your giving and don’t be ruled by emotion.  Christians in general have a heart for wanting to help.  Thieves, lazy relatives and con artists take advantage of this and play to your heart.  Rev. Keith Moore said it this way: “If you show up with a fish symbol on your truck, talking about how you’re a Christian and I should trust you, bring two more references with you when you come”.  Why?  Because in reality, they may not really be Christians.  For this reason we are very deliberate in our giving. We personally have just a few organizations that we support unwaveringly.  These are planned and included in our monthly budget.
  2. Set up a benevolence fund in your budget.  Determine how much you are going to put into it every payday.  Make sure it’s an amount that you can afford but trust God to help you grow it.  It will build up over time. This will be the fund that you can use to help people with.  This should be in addition to your consistent support of your church.  In our budgeted giving we have flagged an amount each month that I sometimes call “Grass Seed”.  It’s the money that we budget for giving but doesn’t have a stated purpose.  It’s just for when situations arise and it seems like we should give.  In addition, we always make it a matter of prayer before we give.  If we don’t have peace about it, we don’t give.
  3. Set your limits.  When the fund is empty, you don’t give until you have more to give.  Don’t borrow from some other area in your budget to cover this.  That is not being a good steward of your money.
  4. Develop a resource list specific to your area. You will be able to refer people to known charities in your area that can give them the help they need. You can have everything from financial assistance to free clothing on your list. See this Resource List link for the list I use.

Your personal responsibility.  When you commit to a service or purchase something over time, you have committed your money in advance to that.  When you allow yourself to be pushed into giving money to a friend or family member when it was tagged for a payment that you owe, you’re giving away someone else’s money.  You need to keep in mind your own Christian witness to your creditors when it comes to how you give and how much you can afford.  God is not pleased, and the Gospel becomes evil spoken of when Christians poorly represent themselves and God.  When it comes to finances be wise.

Before borrowing money from a friend it’s best to decide which you need most. (Quote by – Joe Moore)

When you find yourself in a situation described by the Lord in Luke 6, obey the bible.  If your face gets smacked, turn the other cheek. Very often though, the Lord will lead you away from situations where people beat you and steal your clothes.  The bottom line in all of this is simply BE LED.  God directs his people and He will steer you. Trust Him to do it.

These are guidelines that I use and I hope they help you too.  What creative ways have you found to help others that you would like to share?  I would be glad to add them to my own tool box.  Please join the conversation by leaving your comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

Do you care what people think? Here’s why you should.

tape-over-mouth1Hurray for Social Media!  Because of Social Media I have been able to connect with people from my past that I have truly missed.  I am now connected again with my best friend from high school.  I’m able to stay current on family and friends even though we are spread across so many different states.  Social media has given me somewhat direct access to people I respect and admire and I now get to keep up better with their lives, work and ministries.  Social media gives me unique perspective that I didn’t have without it.  For example, before social media I would never be able to see or know what you’re having for lunch, even while you’re in a different time zone. Awesome!  I’ll try that restaurant when I’m there.  Without social media, I wouldn’t know how many people I know who used to secretly smoke pot in Colorado but are now posting pictures of it on Facebook.  What I have also learned is how many young people “don’t give a (cuss)” what people think of them, or at least that’s what they say…over and over again.

Let us ask ourselves; What kind of people do we think we are?   -Ronald Reagan

I am under no illusion that when it comes to my social media activity, people are forming opinions or having opinions reinforced about me.  Social media aside, people are doing that to all of us everyday.  You are doing that to others also.  Here’s the question; should you care what other people think of you?  Does it matter?  The profound answer to that question is “Yes” and “No”.  Now that we’ve muddied the waters allow me to explain.

Core values & social filters.  I break it down into three categories:

  1. Unchanging values.  Personally speaking, I have core values that are formed by the Bible.  I made a decision back in 1985 that the Bible was going to be the final authority in my life.  My understanding of the scripture has become the primary filter that I use to interpret my life and circumstances.  I am unwilling to compromise in this area.  This has become an area in my life that even when I have been made fun of, pressured or persecuted because of it, I will not change.  I have decided long ago that the negative opinions of others will not change my thinking where this is concerned.
  2. Flexible values. Socially things are a little different.  I have had a Facebook account since 2008 and in that time I have only unfriended two people, both were for very poor behavior.  My thoughts are that I don’t want to burn a bridge or remove an avenue where I might at some point have a positive influence on someone.  I am cautious as to what I will speak up about.  I am not interested in alienating people.  I do have very specific opinions on many areas of our culture but I am very reserved when it comes to engaging in debate about them.  Convictions on the other hand, I will not back down on.  The truth is that in many areas I do care what people think.  I don’t want my language, my attitude or my appearance to ever shut me out of an excellent opportunity.  Unfortunately this is happening to people all of the time.  They are being ignored for some great opportunities because of their language, attitude or appearance.
  3. Your way.  In some situations the most important thing to me is the happiness of others.  In these situations I will be watching for opportunities to adapt & change in order to make the situation run smoother and that everyone is happy.

I care not what others think of what I do, but I care very much about what I think of what I do! That is character!  –Theodore Roosevelt

Social media is a little deceptive though, don’t you think?  Looking at someone’s Facebook profile is really looking at a highlight reel.  Social media makes other people’s lives seem so much more exciting than yours.  In reality though, while people are posting cool pictures of them doing fun and interesting things, they are posting those pictures in between loads of laundry. Party over there!

Tell me an area where you care what people think?  What area are you uncompromising in?  I would love to hear your comments.  Join the conversation.