Posted in Discipleship, Generosity, Giving, God, Job, Life, Sharing, Work

A different way to work

Sometimes it seems that all we do is work.

It is definitely a way of life for most of us. We are so used to working that we can do it in our sleep. Many struggle with the task of work and even dread it at times. I hope to shine a little different light in this post on that thing we call work.

I don’t know who first said it, but the saying is that the letters in the word B-I-B-L-E stand for  “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.”

Cute, I know, but when you really think about it, the Bible does give you everything that pertains to life and Godliness. All of our problems can actually be solved by this book.

So for the case of how we work, I think we need a change in mindset — the Bible is really good for this. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote about working his epistle to the church at Colossae.

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

Now would that fact that you are not working for your company, nor your supervisor, but you are working for the Lord change anyone’s mindset? Too often because we can see things in the physical, they appear larger than God.

If we really believed that the opportunity to work was truly an opportunity that God gave us and it wasn’t based on our merit, or something we settled for, or just the job we got stuck with, could that make a difference?

Sure it could!

If God strategically placed me in the job I have for the purpose of working out His will, would I then be working for a crappy boss or the savior of the world?

The question would be asked, “What would God want me working here for?” To that I say God always wants His  light shining in a dark place. If we truly belong to Him, then we are to reflect His light where ever we are. That means that:

  • Some people will experience unconditional love because they are in the presence of His light.
  • Some people will see kindness in a totally different circumstance because they are in the presence of His light.
  • Still others will see God because they are in the presence of His light.

God has a plan. And He uses whomever He chooses to workout His plan. So the next time that you feel down and out about the attitudes and the pressures of your job, remember the larger plan. See the bigger picture and smile … because you are working for the Lord!

Posted in Career, Free Will, Job, Sports, Success

We have no right!

I have been waiting to weigh in on a topic that is near and dear to me. I’ve been wanting to say something, but I wanted it to be received well so I held my peace. Sometimes it’s good to let certain things settle a bit before saying something about it. I am an avid basketball fan – especially NBA basketball.

 I actually love all sporting events, but I think over the years I’ve changed. Games are great to watch. I’ve even had an occasional bet on a game. I guess I’m a fan of sports because of how well I know that sports has changed many lives – both good and bad. The potential for lives to be changed for the better is almost worth all corruption that happens.

Sports have been the way some folks learn about life. It has been the ticket for some to go to college, become millionaires and even turn lives around. Sports have allowed us to witness the God-given gifts of men and women who excel through various levels. To watch Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan play basketball or Venus and Serena Williams play tennis or Usain Bolt run or Michael Phelps swim – well, you get the picture. Sporting events bring sports fans a lot of joy.

Recently, LeBron James decided to jump into free agency and sign a multi-year contract with the Miami Heat.  The reaction from Cleveland was clearly over the top. Once the announcement was made, Cleveland Cavs fans burned their LeBron James jerseys in the street. I was in Westlake, Ohio a few days ago and they were selling shirts which called the superstar the “Lyin King” among other things. I had not seen this much hatred since the owner of the original Browns football team decided to move the team away from the city. Ugliness ensued and the fans were left without a professional football team for a while, but the city was able to retain the Browns name.

Because of our love for the games and the passion that goes with it, I have found Ohioans to be very loyal to their teams. There are people who cheer for Ohio State that never even went to college. This was a shock to me coming from Michigan. I mean, I love the Maize and Blue too, but I’m not going to get into a heated argument after a game. When I first came to Ohio, a Buckeye fan keyed my car after U of M beat OSU because my car sported a Michigan license plate. I thought these people were crazy. They’d ask me each Saturday who I was rooting for and I would always say, “the Broncos” after my alma mater WMU. I would tell them that the game didn’t matter to me and that I just hoped we see a really good game. Even members of my former congregation would express their likes or dislikes on Sunday morning as to who won or lost Saturday night.

My point here is this: As fans we have the right to cheer or boo; to have favorite athletes and choose whose jersey we will wear. But when we start wishing ill-will toward our fellow man or wanting to do bodily harm to an athlete, we have crossed the line.

Earlier this year, now former UT coach Lame Kiffen left the school for the head coaching job at USC. UT fans showed their displeasure by publicly threatening his family, harassing his children and making statements like they hope his plane crashes on the way to USC. One fan said online in a statement, “Everyone is so upset now about this, but we need to let it go, it is out of our hands. Lame Kiffen’s day will come, just like the good ol’ book(Bible) says you do a good thing and you shall be rewarded, but you do bad thing and you will not be rewarded. Look on the positive side, we will get a better coach and our team will be #1 this year!” This quote is mild except for the obvious lie told on the Bible here. The good ol’ book as this fan calls it never says anything about good work always yields good rewards and visa versa. I though TN was the heart of the Bible belt?

This problem is widespread and we need to get a handle on it. If a professional athlete chooses to leave your hometown and go with another team and a few days later you are still stewing about their decision and raising your blood pressure as a result – or if you are getting so angry as to have thoughts of harming the athlete, you need help.

LeBron James is gone, Cleveland! You were not robbed and he does not owe you a thing. He made a choice that he felt was in the best interest of his family. Be thankful for the time you had him for. Be glad that a world class athlete played for your favorite team and gave his all. Be thankful that you got to witness such a talent. And above all else, remember that it’s a business and no one has to get your permission to do anything. When it’s all said and done, those of us who love sports are just fans. No more, no less. And we need to start acting like fans.

Posted in Career, Faith, God, Jesus Christ, Job, Relationships, Success, Taking Responsibility, Truth, Work

Rembering John Wooden

This week the sports world will moan the death of a legend. “The Wizard of Westwood,” as he was called, is being heralded as the greatest coach – in any sport – of all time.

This is a great honor for John Robert Wooden, who would also drop pearls of wisdom to those who played for him and admired him. Such sayings as: “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail,” “Flexibility is the key to stability, ” and “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”

Early in my journalism career, I had the esteemed pleasure of hearing one of Coach Wooden’s lectures on leadership. I was also honored to have the chance to interview him. We spent 35 minutes alone and I was able to instantly see what everyone who came in contact with him saw: Greatness.

This is not an adjective that I use lightly. When you meet someone so humble, so genuine, so gracious and so blessed, you recognize very quickly that he’s just not like the rest of us.

John Wooden sat and talked to me in three ways. I know that sounds strange, but in part of the conversation he was a coach to me – not basketball coach, but life coach. In another moment he was a father to me, sharing the lessons he learned in life very intimately. And in still another moment he was a true man of God, giving God all the credit for the man he had become.

It was weird in a way because his actions were nothing like I expected.

I wanted to talk to him about his coaching career and his 10 NCAA championships. I wanted to talk about all the great players he had coached. And I wanted to talk sports period with him and get his take on who he thought would win the championship that year.

I even remember being given the assignment because everyone else was out covering games and I was on the sports desk that night. The sports editor at the time said that if I wanted to, I could cover the talk or just write something up from talking with the event planners.

For us, this wasn’t big news.

After all, the guy had been retired from coaching for at least 15 years. He had written a book and was talking to the Boy Scouts or Boys and Girls Clubs – I actually can’t remember which one now.

But what I recall most from that interview was the fact that he didn’t think his accomplishments were as big as the people he had come into contact with throughout his career. He didn’t want to discuss basketball as a part of life, but life itself and what really matters in life.

Coach Wooden retired in 1975. He could have coached anywhere and clearly he was healthy enough to continue coaching. Obviously, Wooden was not coaching just for the love of basketball. It was his vehicle. Basketball was his means of telling God’s secret to everyone he came in contact with during his career. I call it God’s secret because it seems as though the rest of the world has forgotten it – and continues to forget it.

God’s secret is LOVE. Remember John 3:16?

Wooden was a savvy preacher because he never made you feel like he was preaching to you or that he thought you were lacking in an area so he had to instruct you. Without coming across as “holier than thou” or being inappropriate in regards to mixing religion into his business, he just lived his life in a way that reflected the image of God in the face of the people he met.

I remember reading about how Jesus did that same thing. Jesus then turned around and told His disciples to do the same thing.

Clearly Coach Wooden was listening.

And as he is put to rest and the media, fans and his family spend the next week laying him to rest, it is my wish that basketball never comes up and they don’t even talk about what he’s done, because he wouldn’t.

I hope they remember him for the man he was, and not the things he did. For the latter doesn’t even compare to the character of this great man.

And if you haven’t seen it yet, search the internet for his famous “pyramid of success,” for by reading and studying it, you will know everything you need to know about John Wooden and how you, too, can have a successful life.

R.I.P. Coach!

Posted in Accountability, Achievement, Career, Job, Success, Taking Responsibility, Work

What type of person are you?

As an employer, I’ve reviewed lots of resumes. Some made me laugh, some made me cry and some actually made me angry.

Let me explain.

An example of a resume that makes me laugh is one that I know is full of fluff. You know the type: The housewife who calls herself a domestic engineer or the receptionist who calls herself a communication specialist. Resumes that make me cry are the ones where you know the person didn’t use “spell check” and you see that the person is trying real hard, but too many errors spell trouble. Resumes that make me angry are the ones which are just an outright lie. This is beyond fluff. This is the idiot who thinks that you won’t contact the previous employers so they say they did things in the job responsibilities that don’t match the pay grade. The point of all of this is how we see ourselves.

Some people are the type that can “make it happen!” There are others who just simply “watch it happen!” and still others who wonder “what happen?” Of these three, which are you?

Are you the person who is working a dead end job with no room for advancement? Not only that, but if there was room for advancement, you don’t have any skills to advance. Does your resume look like a smorgasbord of jobs that don’t connect? There is nothing wrong with being this way if it’s working for you. If it’s not, it’s probably because you are the person who wonders “what happen?”

The scariest part of the economy collapse is the idea of old jobs vanishing and a person not being able to compete in the new job market. I remember in the ‘90s when the Willow Run plant closed in Ypsilanti, Mich., and many of the people there were out of work and could not find any jobs which paid the same as the plant. These were good folks who spent the last 18 – 20 years of their lives taking care of their families and putting their kids through school. They paid their bills on time and enjoyed a nice middle class income. Once the plant closed there was nothing. These folks had a high school education and with overtime made upwards of 70K. The only jobs available for them in the small town of Ypsilanti paid from six to eight dollars per hour.  They were then stuck wondering what happen.

Those that “watch it happen” tend to be lazy. These are your run-of-the-mill, satisfied where I am, don’t want to break a sweat type people who are still looking for a short cut to success. These people clearly have the ability to be better, but won’t. Why you ask? Any number of reasons: scared of failure, scared of success, low self-worth, arrogant or lazy. I remember when I used to manage market research companies and I had an employee who had the right stuff to become a supervisor. This woman was a single parent and a very hard worker. The increase would have been an extra $7,680 per year for her. She said she didn’t want the extra responsibility. Go figure.

Then, of course, there is the category that everyone thinks they are in. We live in a society where not everyone can “make it happen”. There are many failures at the bottom of this group as those “watching” made an attempt or two to crossover this threshold. Balance is the key to success here. Anyone who has reached the right level of balance in their life has mastered this task of “making it happen.”

What I mean by balance is fulfilling the right amount of quality with quantity. The right amount of drive with humility; skill with education and patience with love – this category houses all of your visionaries. This group did not need motivation – it was built from within. They didn’t need to be reinforced, complimented or validated. These folks are not conceited; they’re as good as they say they are.

So I ask again, which one are you? And if you’re not satisfied with the outcome, change.