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Nobody loves Monday

September 30, 2013

alarmWe force ourselves to respond to the alarm clock, and trudge our way into work, all while self-medicating an extra dose of caffeine.  Mondays are not Fridays.  Fridays we are filled with optimism and hope for a weekend full of family time, and fun activities with the ones we love.  We look forward to spending time just being ourselves, and even though there are often chores that need to be done, somehow it’s different.  Mondays mean work, and work gets a bad rap.  We push ourselves to be task oriented and get things done.  Our task oriented side of our personality grapples with problems that we can “fix” and we measure success by these standards, and we push ourselves to do more and more work as a way to achieve “success”.

We love our families, but rarely do we love our work.

And yet we are drawn to work, as men.  God has wired us for it.  We get great satisfaction from accomplishment, and the ability to solve complex problems.  We invest a great deal of time at work, and we want to be respected by our colleagues and our family for the good job we do.

So why can we find no contentment in our work?  Why does Monday continue to get a bad rap?  The Sunday School answer that comes to mind is to say that work was cursed in the garden, and so Christians can easily fall into a trap of thinking then that work is bad – but work existed in the garden before the Fall, so clearly it is part of God’s intention for us, and He knows how we are made.

Consider with me this week, that the only way for us to be content is to be walking with God.  Satisfaction is not to be found in work or family alone, though both are facets – instead, let us boast in Christ alone!  I leave you with a quote from Andy Stanley,

Contentment is found neither in the marketplace nor the family alone.  It’s found when we align our priorities with his as it relates to both areas of responsibility.  There’s nothing honoring to God about the workaholic who neglects his or her family.  But the man or woman who refuses to provide for the family brings no honor to him either.

Cheating our family

April 18, 2013

We have been looking recently at topics from Andy Stanley’s book, “When Work and Family Collide”.   Stanley points out that we all cheat, and as we strive for balance in our lives, we tend to put more effort and attention into certain things and we invariably cheat on other things.  Sadly for most of us, unless we notice a significant problem at home, we are likely to “cheat”, or take for granted, the support of our family so that we can go off and pour ourselves into our work, or our other things.

In reality, many of us fail our family miserably.  We abuse their support, and make assumptions that it will simply continue indefinitely, but Stanley points out that there are limits to this support.  What starts out as a mental willingness to support us, ends with the physical exhaustion of having to keep things going at home in our absence (pg 39) and suddenly we find ourselves facing a crisis at home.

At the end of the day, we need to ensure that our spouse knows that they are important to us.  We need to be careful that we don’t send the wrong message. manual-1e-529x270 Consider that when we encounter a problem in our business, we don’t think twice about finding the right book to read to help us.  We even go to training seminars so that we can learn how to better navigate future problems in our businesses.  If our computer breaks down, we are able to pore through manuals to help us figure out how to fix it.  Yet why is it then, that when we recognise there is a problem in our marriage, we do none of these things and instead look blankly at our spouse and say, “What’s wrong??”

This week, find ways to show your spouse how important they are to you.  Don’t just buy her flowers, or chocolates!  Spend time with her.  Take on some extra responsibilities around the house.  Find some good marriage resources that you can read together to help strengthen your marriage.  In short, put the same effort into your marriage as you do for your business.  Stop cheating on your family!

Who Can You Trust?

March 21, 2013

making-choices-x100This week we repost an article from the recent issue of the Tyndale University College & Seminary Alumni magazine, which features alumni Marie Fullerton talking about the challenge of living out her faith at work.  Promise Keepers Canada is pleased to have Tyndale as a sponsor at a number of events across Canada.  

 

Used car salespeople? Real estate agents?  Lawyers? Tradespeople? Who can we trust?  The world of sales is an ethically challenging job and every day Marie Fullerton makes complicated daily choices to be a professional, ethical realtor.

During high school Marie’s English teacher told her that if she read about all the terrible things that have been done in the name of Christianity she wouldn’t believe anymore. She read all books but she also knew that there were many good things that Christians had done that were not noted in those books. Marie handed the books back saying, “Some terrible things have happened and that’s awful but God is good.”  Despite her innate assurance of God’s goodness, Marie did have questions and came to Ontario Bible College (now Tyndale) to answer some of them. She then got her BA in Psychology from York University while working full time. After that came marriage, other jobs, four children and two major house renovations.

Then Marie was reminded of the results of a university career test. Real Estate was at the top of the list, “But I didn’t have the confidence at the time,” says Marie. The confidence came with time and learning more about herself; two of her spiritual gifts are hospitality and mercy, and she knows she is wired for service. “I connect with people because I care,” says Marie. But once she became a realtor she entered the world of sales and all the suspicion that comes with that. Marie understands the suspicions and urges people to be cautious. However, when someone accused Marie of being nice just because she’s a realtor, Marie remembers being shocked, “I’ve never been told that before. I’d always been told that’s my personality [being nice] and who I am. So I had to get thicker skin fast.”

Marie is tough on behalf of others-her clients. During one of her first negotiations, after having done a lot of research, she and her client met with the seller and her realtor and Marie was able to bring the seller’s price down considerably due to many issues with the home (no basement, old windows and furnace). Marie felt that the other realtor had priced the house based on the seller’s financial situation and not its actual worth. After the negotiations Marie received a call from the other realtor accusing her of being heartless. “It wasn’t that I didn’t care about the seller but I was there to represent my client’s interest,” says Marie.

Marie has to review her motives every day. She analyzes her actions, “Did I do it because I’m a realtor or because I’m a Christian? I don’t separate who I am as a Christian from who I am in the work that I do.”

“Did I do it because I’m a realtor or because I’m a Christian? I don’t separate who I am as a Christian from who I am in the work that I do.”

Today becoming a realtor involves six challenging courses and continuous upgrading every year. Marie did very well in her courses but all the training was focused on the law, not how to sell in a very competitive field. So Marie has to choose how to do the job every day.

Marie believes, “Freedom is living in the present, in the grace of God, according to His Word and as my conscience dictates. Freedom is enjoying the security of living the purpose and direction my God and Father guides me in. In my job I help others obtain the freedom of finding a home, or selling an investment.”

Living in the present begins with Marie’s daily choices which help her make the bigger choices in her job. She wakes up and either goes to the gym or for a run. “This means I am clearheaded for the day,” says Marie. When she goes for a run or a walk she listens to the Bible on her phone. Her family also take food very seriously, living out the maxim, “Good stuff in, good stuff out.” And Marie does her homework-diligently. These regular choices provide the foundation for making sound choices in a negotiation or a bidding war or in deciding the best way to spend her time and money as a self-employed person in a service industry.

Recently Marie made a choice that illustrates the line she walks. A prospective client had a neighbour who was alone, ill and neglected. It was known that this person’s living conditions were not healthy. The state of this person’s home was going to make it difficult for Marie’s prospective client to sell their own home, but this person also obviously needed care and attention. Marie’s prospective client didn’t feel comfortable trying to find help for this neighbour, so she decided that the best outcome for everyone was to become involved. Marie spent six hours on the phone one day trying to find help for the neighbour.

After phoning multiple agencies Marie was finally able to speak to someone that specializes in these kinds of cases. The person became involved and the neighbour is now receiving much-needed medical care.

Marie chose to give up her time that day which meant giving up the opportunity of other business that same day.

It is in these choices that Marie’s job has become a profession. “I didn’t really think of this job as a ministry when I took it on. I definitely didn’t think of it as a calling. I was choosing a job. Yet as I do the job, every week there is something that comes up where I see that God uses me…[it] took being in this kind of position to have the opportunity to see where the needs were so I could reach out and do what I needed to do as a Christian. So, it wasn’t that I thought of selling Real Estate as a ministry, it just is a ministry while I am doing the job.”

The challenge of selling one’s home can be a vulnerable experience-financial decisions, divorce, or death. Yet Marie is able to face the tension in these challenges because she has seen how God has used her past training and experiences to prepare her for the world of selling Real Estate. Just as she chose to face and answer the questions posed by her high school teacher, Marie continually questions her motives in making choices of how to serve God and make a living.

Squeaky Wheels

March 13, 2013

There’s just not enough time in your day to be all things to all people.  You’re going to have to hold back somewhere.  Our knee-jerk reaction to this dilemma is to answer the call of the squeakiest wheel.  Whoever creates the biggest mess ends up with the lion’s share of our time and attention.  We run from fire to fire, troubleshooting our way through life, rescuing the needy and rewarding those who can’t seem to stay out of trouble.
-Andy Stanley

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Perhaps you can relate to this quote by Andy Stanley from “When Work and Family Collide”. (pg14)  He hits on a very important observation on how we tend to prioritize our day, and how we assign our attention.  It’s easy for us to think that this kind of mentality is actually smart thinking.  When we are in crisis management mode, we can go from one squeaky wheel to another and at the end of the day feel that we have been VERY effective and productive because after all, haven’t we solved those big problems?  As men, we do love productivity, and what could be a better boost for our ego at the end of the day than to have a nice list of completed tasks, and fixed problems- especially the “big stuff” that we completed.  That sort of sense of accomplishment is heady stuff indeed, and quite frankly somewhat addictive.  We want to feel needed like that, and in our minds eye we begin to see ourselves as some sort of superhero, arms folded in front of us and superhero cape wafting in the breeze behind us.

Andy Stanley calls us out on this, and one of the first things he talks about in his book is how we all cheat.  Each day, we make decisions that rank our tasks according to… what?  What do we use as a measure for what gets done?  Is it the squeaky wheel that asserts itself as the highest priority?  Charles Stanley calls it a trap, because it shifts our thinking away from balance, and reinforces erratic pendulum swings from crisis to crisis, and to do this we will always be cheating something else that also deserves our time.  If this is the mode you’re in, take a minute to think about where your family fits into this equation.

Will it take a family crisis to get your attention on your family?  Here’s 2 stories that Andy Staley tells…

I know a CEO who spent twenty-nine days with his wife at a detox center six hundred miles from their home.  Twenty-nine days.  Yet in the previous three years, he had done almost nothing in terms of investing in what he would tell you now is his most important relationship.  And if anyone had suggested he take a twenty-nine-day vacation in order to invest in his marriage, he would have laughed.  But he did, only when he had to.

I know a contractor who almost had to shut down his business to attend to his daughter’s drug addiction.  He escorted her from one rehab center to another, trying to find her “the best medical treatment in the country.”  This is the same guy who could never find an entire week of vacation for his family.  They left on Saturday; he joined them on Wednesday.  But suddenly he has the time.

These are powerful examples of the danger of our “crisis management” mentality, and perhaps there is no better time than this week, when many kids are enjoying March Break, and would love nothing more than to spend some quality time with their dad this week.  Do you really need to work late tonight?  Are you waiting for a family “squeaky wheel” to appear before you commit any attention to your family?   Take a moment to step back from things right now, and ask yourself if you are just putting out fires, or if you are balancing your work and family well.  Maybe today is a great opportunity to leave work early and go spend time with the ones you love and who need you.

 

New resolutions.

January 10, 2013

Well it’s now 2013 and the time honoured tradition of making resolutions is well upon us. The sad reality is that in spite of the best of intentions, many of these resolutions have already fallen by the wayside. This week I’d like to challenge you to consider a resolution for the New Year, and encourage you to stick with it.

Be more deliberate to live out your faith at work.

There it is… Simple to remember, not complicated, and incredibly important.

Work MattersThere are lots of great resources to help you do this, and the fact that you’re reading this blog is a great start! We’ll be starting a tab across the top of the page where we will list some suggested resources to help you accomplish this goal. The first resource I’d like to suggest for you is, “Work Matters” by Tom Nelson. It’s a book that will help you elevate your idea of work above the mundane drudgery that perhaps it has become- and help you gain a new perspective on work. Nelson backs up each chapter with Scripture references, and you may be surprised by just how much the Bible has to say about your work! Go get the book, and read it through. Then consider being the catalyst to getting other men to read it. The chapters are not long, and will provide the opportunity to discuss the topic and the challenges that are presented.

Whether you realise it or not- you’re the perfect guy to get this started! Don’t assume that your Pastor or someone else will start it, just go ahead and start something yourself. Begin with one other guy, and meet them for a coffee once a week, and discuss a chapter at a time. By working through it with another guy, you will find the encouragement to stick with it and learn ways to live out your faith at work.

Give it a try!

Fully Alive!

December 10, 2012

giftcardIt’s 15 days till Christmas.  For many men,that means it’s 14 days till the mad shopping spree for gift cards at the gas station!  I would venture to guess that for many who are reading this, December is a very busy time.  Our schedules are full with extra social events, and our work is often trying to cram as much into a day as possible before the end of the year.  Ironically, taking time to truly appreciate the meaning of Christmas is often lost in the shuffle.

In such a busy time of year there is perhaps no better time to talk about being fully alive!  When people look at you, you probably seem normal.  You probably seem like you are on a straight trajectory and are doing everything right to get ahead in life.  You may have a good job, a good family, and a good faith.  But are you alive?  When you look at your own life, and look past all the externals, what do you see?  Do you see a man who is going through the motions, hurtling towards the brink?  Do you see a man making any real difference in this world?

Every man feels a deep need to make a difference, to make his life count, and to leave the world a better place.  Yet in the crush of daily duties, this powerful need often gets misdirected or ignored.
–Patrick Morley, Man Alive

Christmas time is a good opportunity for us to take a break, and evaluate ourselves and what we’re doing.  Whether you only get a couple days off, or your office closes for a week or two; this is a good opportunity to make the time to reflect on your life.

Direction, not intention, determines our destination.  –Andy Stanley

You may want to make a difference (intention) but what is actually the result (Direction) of your hard work? When you take a step out of your routines, what do you see?  Nobody wakes up in the morning and says, “I’m going to irritate my wife and kids today.” Or “I’m going to work too much and have a moral failure.” Yet that is exactly the road that many of us “busy” guys are on.

God made you alive with Christ.  Col 2:123b

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Are you a man fully alive in Christ?  This Christmas, grasp the transforming power that is Christ alive IN us – and live for Him!   The starting point is to first own your stuff and allow Jesus to mold and shape you into the Man He wants you to be.  Give yourself and your family the best gift possible – the gift of living your life fully alive in Christ.

Merry Christmas, and blessed New Year!

Be a Better Wingman

November 20, 2012

Very few who are reading this are at the very top of their corporate food chain.  Chances are, you answer to someone, and even the President in the corner office often answers to a superior at corporate headquarters.  Today we are going to look at what the Bible says about how to be a better employee, which will address in particular those middle managers who are responsible to lead staff while answering to the boss.

Are you a Haman?

Consider Haman the Agagite in Esther 3-9.  He is the wingman of the Persian King Ahasuerus.  He is way more than an executive assistant; he is responsible to act on the King’s behalf in his absence, and would function with the authority of our CEO’s today.  It’s interesting to see how the Bible describes this leader.

The King looks to Haman for advice, and counts on him, yet Haman is manipulative and pursues his own agenda with the King.  A hater of the Jews, Haman convinces the King to wipe out the Jews in Persia and plunder them, but Haman lines his own pockets with the plunder.

When the King asks Haman for advice on how to honour a certain man, Haman arrogantly assumes that the King is talking about Him!

6 So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” Est 6:6 ESV

His arrogance and pride can be further seen in how he boasts to his guests in his home,

11 And Haman recounted to them the splendor of his riches, the number of his sons, all the promotions with which the king had honored him, and how he had advanced him above the officials and the servants of the king. Est 5:11 ESV

Haman is not content to serve the King.  His success and promotions have served only to fuel a desire for greater power.  He wants to wear the King’s robes, he wants to ride the King’s own horse, and ultimately wants to parade that power and wealth for all to see. (Est 6:7-9)  It is not enough for Haman to be number two to a King, and to have his trust – he wants it all.

Are you a Joseph?

In Genesis 41 and 47 we see the opposite kind of leader.  Joseph is also the wingman of a King (Pharaoh) but unlike Haman, Joseph is selfless in his service.

Right from the start, Joseph demonstrates that he doesn’t have a personal agenda, and gives God the credit for his ability to interpret Pharaohs dream.

16 Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” Gen 41:16 ESV

When interpreting the dream, Joseph offers Pharaoh a plan to save the Kingdom and offers his counsel humbly and doesn’t seem to even imagine that Pharaoh would ask him to take charge of the plan. (Gen 41:37-40)

When Joseph does take charge, he sticks to the same plan that he proposed.  He doesn’t pocket anything for himself, nor does he “tweak” the plan to serve his own interests.  He stewards the nations resources and does not abuse his authority as second in charge. (Gen 47:13-25)

In all that he does, Joseph remains faithful to serve Pharaoh, and enjoys his trust and favour. (Gen 41:53-57)

What kind of wingman are you?

The traditional military definition of a wingman refers to the formation that jets fly in, where there is a lead plane, and a wingman flies off the right wing and just behind the leader.  Tactically, the presence of a wingman allows for greater offensive manoeuvres and increased defence with someone there to “watch your back”.   A leader with a wingman is always stronger than two flying solo missions separately.

It is not hard to understand that the leader is counting on the wingman, and that that wingman is useless if, like Haman, they are off doing their own thing.  In contrast, when a wingman is following the mission plan and following the lead, like Joseph, then together they are capable of exponentially more.  When we talk about our faith being demonstrated in the workplace, God is not honoured when others see you acting like Haman for your own personal gain, and this disloyal behaviour will breed similar disloyalty towards you in others.  (Est 5:14; 6:14)

This week, consider what kind of wingman you are.  Are you a Haman, or are you a Joseph?

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