“I worked so hard on that report,” Bob told me, “but when my boss didn’t like it, he threw it away. I mean, literally, he hurled the papers to one side and they landed on the floor. This never happened to me.”
What do we do if we are of relatively humble rank and means… and we are insulted or misunderstood? Integrity is needed in the heat of this kind of battle. We usually think of it as being scrupulously honest or keeping one’s promises. But to suffer offense without sinking to the level of the offender is part of it, too.
I have three principles. The first may surprise you.
Get as much physical rest as you can. You may be expecting something spiritual like praying or reading your Bible every morning. But usually the most practical advice is the most spiritual. Experience proves that we are most prone to ill temper when we are physically worn out.
So if we remain physically fresh and alert, we have better chance to keep our emotions – and our tongues – in control. Thus, try to get eight hours of good sleep every night. Keep yourself in shape by eating healthy and getting regular exercise.
Be utterly convinced that God will make things right at the end. “What kept me under control,” Bob confessed, “is that when my boss was saying all those things, I know that God was in the room and heard it, too. If I answer back, malaking gulo [it will create a big mess]. I was praying silently, ‘Lord, please be the one to vindicate me.’”
Let us make up our minds that we have a sovereign and just God, then entrust our reputation in His hands. This doesn’t mean we don’t give our side or tolerate grave abuse. The point is that we should not suppose that it is all up to us to justify ourselves, as if God has abandoned us to fend for ourselves.
Repay evil with good. Bob didn’t stop with holding his tongue. Rather than harboring resentment and moping in his cubicle, he remained alert to his boss’ needs and responded readily to new instructions.
What eventually happened to Bob? Well, the horrible boss eventually retired, and Bob got a better boss! What's more, the new boss gave him new opportunities and he prospered in his career. Imagine what would have happened had Bob retaliated or quit.
May we be known as people with integrity amidst insult, because we trust God to make it right in the end. Just you wait and see.
Photo credit from Career Addict
When our cherished dreams go unfulfilled, in one sense they have died. This is all the more true in this time of covid. That is why we need to reconnect with Easter.
The wonderful news is that death does not have the final word. Christians worldwide celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. We believe that He died, was buried and rose from the dead. In this way, He validated His claims to be the Son of God, Lord and Savior of the world.
Let us embrace the world as it really is, not as how we want it to be. It is great to dream big and set goals. But reality can be so totally different that it breeds frustration, anger, or despair. It sounds like a big gamble, but sometimes we have to let go of cherished dreams before we can discover loftier ones.
I will be honest: it is scary to surrender our failed dreams. Will we be doomed to drift through life? What is in store for us in the future?
Dr. Gordon Smith offers this sage advice: "God will lead us every step of the way, but He leads us one step at a time. God knows the end from the beginning, but we in our finiteness can’t even see what lies around the corner."
We cook up great dreams for ourselves, but God has far more wonderful dreams for us. Since He is in full control of people and circumstances, we can be sure His goals for us will come true. We must believe this even if, for the meantime, the path is dark and difficult.
Remember, one cannot have Easter without the Cross. Even if our present life is the product of poor choices, God can use even that for our blessing. As long as we entrust ourselves to Him, no failure is final or fatal. In due time, He will redeem even our heartaches and disappointments.
Death could have barred Jesus from being with us in our triumphs and tragedies. But the good news of Easter is that He overcame death so that indeed He can be by our side. Not only in this world, but with God for all eternity. May God open doors of blessing for you, just as He opened the door of a tomb that fateful Sunday.
Photo credit from Father Kevin Eastbrook
It was time for the Last Supper. Jesus and His disciples arrived at the room that was prepared for them. In those days, the chief footwear was sandals. After walking along dusty or muddy roads, someone who entered a house would need to have his feet washed.
The normal hospitality would be that (1) the host would provide water so that the visitor can wash his feet, (2) the host would be the one to wash the visitor’s feet, or (3) the host would instruct a servant to wash the visitor’s feet. It is said that for option (3), it was the lowliest servant in the household who would do the washing.
Now let’s eavesdrop on the Last Supper. When the apostles all arrived at the dining room, surely they saw that all of their footsies needed washing. But each one played dumb and waited for the other guy to offer to wash his feet.
I can even imagine Peter harrumphing, “Ain’t no way I am gonna clean up Thomas’ toes. In fact, he should be washing mine!” Nobody volunteered, so they went on to their dinner with appalling disregard of courtesy, let alone hygiene.
We are further told that the apostles were arguing who among themselves was the greatest. Think about that for a moment. Jesus was about to die an excruciating, horrible death. And here are these guys bickering who would be Top Banana of the bunch.
Then, to their amazement, Jesus — their Teacher who cast out demons, healed the sick, multiplied fish and loaves and even raised dead people — took off His outer garments, wrapped a towel around His waist, stooped down and began to wash each of their smelly, dirty feet.
Why did Jesus do that? Well, the very first verse of John 13 said it all: “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”
What can we learn? A lover does not ignore the beloved’s need. Jesus saw the need for the disciples’ feet to be washed. The disciples ignored it and expected the other guy to do the washing. But Jesus didn’t just let it pass. He took action.
A lover finds no task beneath him. But here's what's even more mind-blowing: Jesus loves us to the end, too. But this time He didn't use water...
Photo credit: Payton Minzenmeyer
I recently read this the story of African-American singer Marian Anderson. She started in a poor section of Philadelphia and sang in a church choir. People saw her innate talent and raised one hundred twenty-six dollars in pennies, nickels and dimes (remember these are poor people) to send her to voice lessons.
At eighteen, she sought to be mentored by a famous instructor but was rejected. She then sang in a town-hall concert but received scathing reviews from the critics. There was one time in Washington, D.C. where she was barred from singing because of the color of her skin.
Anderson wallowed in self-pity until her mother said, "Marian, I want you to think about your troubles and your failures a little—and pray a lot." Then the mother said something she never forgot: "Marian, you must learn that grace comes before greatness."
In time, Marian Anderson became a famous opera singer, performing for the Eisenhowers and their guests in the White House. She was also appointed a delegate to the United Nations and received a Medal of Freedom. These happened because she took her mother’s lessons to heart.
In this Holy Week, what are the lessons we must take to heart? The Bible is laden with encouragements and promises about grace before greatness. Here are but a few:
· “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12).
· “Let us not become weary of doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” (Galatians 6:9)
· “Consider [Jesus] who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:3)
Devotional writer Stephen Davey reminds us, “Learning to fail, yet to persevere, comes as we learn to live a life of faith. Times of trial are not only necessary to teach us humility, but they remind us where our true possessions lie—in Christ. What better example than Christ—the Model—who shows us that grace comes before greatness…. humility before honor.”
Take time to ponder at Jesus Christ, Who went through astonishing opposition and difficulties, even the ignoble death on the cross. You may be in a very exasperating period of your career or of your life altogether.
But even painful times are a gift from God. He specializes in redeeming the pain, if you will learn the lessons well. In time, that crown of thorns on your own head will be transformed to a crown of honor.
P.S. That’s Marian Anderson in the top photo.
Photo credit: Philadelphia Magazine
As promised from Part 1, we will explore more tips and tricks on how to cope with overwork. In the last blog, I suggested breaking the large problem into manageable pieces and calling for help. Here are some more which I hope will work for you.
Stop obsessing about the outcome. I once read a proverb that goes something like this, “Do everything as if they depend on you. Pray everything as if they depend on God.”
Many times as we tackle intimidating tasks, we paralyze ourselves with worry. What if the results do not turn out the way we want it? I know how it’s like to be biting my nails if my output is good or bad. But we should learn when to grab the bull by the horns and when to let go.
Do something else for a while. Philip Yancey, a best-selling writer, was once asked, “What do you do when you have writer’s block?” He replied that he would turn off his computer, go to the movies with his wife or do some mountain hiking. Then when he goes back to his desk, the creative juices just flow again.
Sometimes the more we try to slog through the work, the more our minds resist. But when we give ourselves a break, our subconscious mind may start percolating and brilliant ideas may surface that will lighten your workload.
Turn to God. Actually, we should turn to God all the time, whether we are starting that project, in the thick of it, or winding it up. I have my share of anxiety attacks but I discovered a powerful antidote. It is Jesus’ promise: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Whenever I am tempted to panic due to looming deadlines or crushing assignments, I tell myself, “I am hiding behind the Man who overcomes the world.” I do not mean hiding in the sense of an ostrich burying his head in the sand. But hiding like availing the refuge of a cave while there is a furious storm outside.
Let God intercept the pressure. Ask God for clarity of thought and calmness of spirit amidst the storm. Then do your best... and trust God do the rest.
Photo credit: The Economic Times
Sooner or later, we will feel overwhelmed with our tasks. It seems that 24 hours a day, seven days a week aren't enough. But over the years I have used these survival tips whenever an avalanche of to-do’s crashes onto my head. I hope they will work for you, too.
Break the large problem into manageable pieces. How do you remove a forest? Chop down one tree at a time.
Okay, this example may not sit well with environmentalists, but it carries a gem of wisdom. Look at that massive project and organize it into smaller, bite-size pieces. That way, we can tackle one issue at a time. Chop down that tree, then this one, then that one…
This will relieve us from drowning in the enormity of the task. What’s more, it may also guide us as to what is the most strategic way to begin. Sometimes all it takes is to start somewhere, anywhere, just to get the ball rolling. As we close one issue and move to the next, this generates a sense of progress and momentum.
Call for help. They say Rome was not built in a day. It was not built by one man, either. So don’t fall into the trap of doing it all by your lonesome. A burden shared is a burden halved. So find people (or ask for people) to whom you can delegate certain tasks, especially if they can do it way better than you can.
Also, marshal a team of advisers and experts. Why reinvent the wheel and repeat mistakes that others have done? I believe that every organization has a reservoir of experience or wisdom we can drink from… if we know where to look.
Don’t despair that you don’t have all the answers. Chances are, your superiors don’t expect you to know everything either. But they do expect you to know where to find those answers. Perhaps someone in the organization had done a similar project.
Remember to be genuinely humble and appreciative as you solicit their advice. And who knows, while you are externalizing your thoughts and concerns, the solutions may be forming in your head.
I will share more tips next week in Part 2. Meantime, hang in there and recharge over the weekend. Do drop me a line firstname.lastname@example.org for comments or questions.
In a marriage seminar, Rick Warren once told the husbands in the room, “Do you know why you have problems in your marriage? Because you married a sinner!” Before the husbands could gloat and the wives could gasp, Warren quickly added, “and she married a bigger one!”
Sometimes I wonder which is harder: the offended party to forgive or the offender to apologize. If you find it hard to say sorry, let me share some tips on smoothing the ruffled feathers:
Apologize without exception. Believe thou me, I heard people saying “Why should I apologize when I have done nothing wrong?” Well, if the other party was hurt, that is evidence that you indeed have done something wrong. When you stubbornly refuse to admit your mistake, you are actually hardening your heart and if that becomes a habit, it’s all downhill from there. While this sounds counter-intuitive, even though it’s not your fault, it won’t hurt to say “sorry.”
Apologize without excuse. Doesn’t it infuriate you when someone “apologizes” only to insist he is still correct? Many apologies go “I’m sorry but…” The ‘but’ has a nasty habit of negating the contrition. Rick Warren has another gem that goes like this: “When you’re right, you don’t need a defense. When you’re wrong, you don’t have a defense.” So learn how to say “I’m sorry. I was wrong. No excuses.”
Apologize without ego. Why do we hate apologizing? Because it feels painful. Why is that? You have to do some soul-searching for yourself, but my experience is that we usually pride ourselves for being smart or right all the time. When we fall short, it wounds this pride.
So what’s the antidote to such pride? It is to look at the Cross. Jesus died for us so that when we put our trust in Him, God sees and accepts us as His dearly beloved children. Therefore, our identity is no longer based on how our spouse regards us. In Christ, we are already utterly loved, accepted and complete. Thus we have nothing to prove or defend. Saying “sorry” won’t diminish us.
So there you have it. Apologize without exception. Apologize without excuse. Apologize without ego. And if you still hate to apologize for doing something wrong, then don’t do it in the first place.
After all, the best apology is a changed behavior.
Photo credit from Grammarly
What do you do when people or circumstances have put your dreams on hold?
If you are familiar with the story of Exodus, God freed the Israelites from cruel slavery in Egypt. They were supposed to go the Promised Land but they failed to trust God. Instead, they clamored to hoof back to Egypt. So God sentenced those who were 40 years old and up to die in the desert, except Moses, Joshua and Caleb.
Fast forward four decades later. Moses had died; his successor Joshua was leading the second generation to conquer the Promised Land. Guess who stepped up with an audacious request? Caleb, who was by then a senior citizen!
In a stirring speech, he told Joshua, “Now, then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty five years… So here I am today, eighty five years old. I am still as strong today…. I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard that the [enemies] were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
Wow! He kept his dream alive by about 40 years! How did he do it? Here are Caleb’s secrets:
Keep your mind on God’s purposes. God wanted to give Caleb a piece of the Promised Land. Despite the arduous forty years of wandering in the desert, the vision of his inheritance continued to blaze within Caleb. He never let go of his dream. After the forty years were over, he had a second chance to claim the hill country that was his share of the Promised Land.
What is the “hill country” that God has laid in your heart? We need to be energized by a compelling sense of what God wants us to do with our lives. Without a vision of that hill country, we slide into mediocre living.
Keep your heart from regrets or bitterness. Have you noticed that there was not a trace of rancor in Caleb’s speech? Remember that the first generation were stuck in the desert for 40 years... and blameless Caleb was stuck with them!
He could have grumbled, “This is unfair! I should be exempted from this punishment!” His spirit could have been soured by deep resentment not only against his fellow Israelites, but against God Himself. But no. He remained as vibrant and faithful as ever.
Keep your body in great shape. Can you imagine Caleb thundering, “Now give me this hill country!” then wheezed and collapsed? I love the part of his speech where he boasted, “So here I am today, eighty five years old. I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.”
On a practical level, we are to stay physically fit. We want to pursue our lifelong dream, but we can’t do it if we are battling diabetes or incapacitated by a stroke.
It is not that life gets to take things from us as the years crawl by. It is what we put into life. Or more precisely, it is what God will put into our life as we travel with Him. Like Caleb, let us put into our life a passion for God, a spirit brimming with grace, and a body kept fit for the challenge.
In due time, we will conquer our hill countries!
Photo credit from Rostyslav Savchyn, Unsplash
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