Eternal Promotion

Have you ever found yourself looking for advice on how to get ahead in your career?

10 steps for a Healthier Work Life

5 Ways to Succeed in the Workplace

7 Keys to Getting the Promotion You Always Wanted

8 Communication Skills to Become a Better Leader

4 Habits to Improve Your Confidence

11 Positions of an Office Chair

13 Maneuvers to Master the Break Room Vending Machine

Perhaps the last two are irrelevant, but article titles, such as those above, attempt to make sense of the “corporate ladder.” They prescribe a perfect formula for success and encourage laborers like you and I to focus on improving our status amongst our peers. At some point in our careers, we encounter our unforgiving friend, comparison. It comes in many shapes, but most commonly comparison attempts to make us feel inadequate. It looks around at the office and tells you that you need to be as good or better than those around you in order to gain an advantage. It will encourage you to seek approval, desire recognition, and strive for advancement. While some of these principles aren’t necessarily bad in the right context, we need to consider the motivation behind them.

Blogs, articles and instructions from friends and family can be useful tools for personal growth, but they tend revolve around self-promotion. Such worldly advice focuses on how to selfishly get ahead in your career. Assert yourself in meetings. Strategically position yourself in front of your boss. Manage and maintain your image. The overarching theme emphasizes how you can overcome obstacles and achieve success through striving to advance your position.

Take it to heart, and find yourself solely focused on your best interests. Soon each career move will bring the stress of considering how to get closer to that promotion, corner office or paycheck. The endless search for competitive perfection can quickly lead down a path of striving, which abruptly halts at a dead-end of anxiety and disappointment.

These thoughts, often motivated by unhealthy expectations of climbing the corporate ladder must be checked.

Seek advice that is unchanging. What does our heavenly Father say about work and promotions? What does His “10 steps to get ahead in the workplace” blog recommend? Throughout my thirteen years of various positions and jobs, I’ve come to find out that He is more concerned with our hearts and motives than our career goals.

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:24

“Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.”     Colossians 3:22

When you look at the history of Biblical heroes, you’ll find that most of these prominent men and women lived in complete obscurity prior to their promotion. Joseph was in a pit and imprisoned before he became Pharaoh’s right hand man. Moses spent forty years in the desert before God called him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. David was found tending sheep before being called upon to defeat Goliath and become King. Ruth was diligently gleaning in wheat fields for little reward. Paul spent fourteen years in Syria and Cilicia with no corner office, three-point sermon or business plan.

These figures of endurance emerged from places of pain, isolation and often rejection. They never strived to receive promotion. But, when the time came for them to experience advancement into their new roles, it was due to favor received through God’s faithfulness.

Although it’s quite possible we may never see earthly promotion, He assures us that we will receive an eternal promotion. Continue to press on, work with excellence, give God the glory and revel in everything bright and beautiful He has for you.

Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven’t stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you’ll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.

Colossians 1:9-12

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In My Element.

“You seem to be in your element.”

I was 16 and serving on my first missions trip. My attire consisted of  gym shorts styled on muddy, paper white legs and a random t-shirt smattered with paint stains. The wife of a grown “missionary kid” made the comment to me as I passed by on a small muddy incline carrying a bucket of paint.

I nodded sheepishly and probably said, “Yeah? Thank you.” Work was to be done, so I continued on my way.

There are few comments that have stuck with me that long. I don’t think of it often, yet it remains in the far reaches of my memory. I did not meditate on the comment at the time. I did considerately process it and conclude that it was true in a generic sense of the work I was doing.

Nearly ten years later…

“You’re so in your element.”

My doting husband abruptly exclaimed that one sentence while walking up to me in the middle of a work project for the non-profit we serve. I had the same reaction that I did ten years ago, “Really? That’s funny.” But this time I was brought back to the mountainside on the missions trip where the original comment was made. I chuckled as I compared the two in my mind. I was wearing similar clothing, walking with similar purpose and completing similar tasks.

It is in those moments that I feel I am on the edge of the sweet spot. A place in time where I feel perfectly content. It’s a rare encounter, but I remember every instance. Time stops as I take in my surroundings. A sense of surreal amazement washes over me. I want every part of my day to feel as if I’m accomplishing what I was created for. I want my nine to five job to meet me in the sweet spot. But, most often than not, I live on the outskirts of that particular realm. I live in what some call the “mundane”. Contentment from being “in my element” seems so  untouchable, except for those fleeting moments that occur every few years.

I recently questioned the perceived perfection of it all. Are we meant to live in a realm where our passions, skills, spiritual gifts and career collide? Or is the desire just another side effect of a millennial upbringing? I pondered for months. Gave up. Moved on. Continued on in the “mundane”.

But suddenly amidst the routine, I had a simple thought: What if God is giving me tiny glimpses of what He has planned for my life through these moments? A snapshot of stepping out into His will. A momentary feeling of fulfillment. A surreal vision of the potential around me. What if the hours and days I am experiencing in the routine is meant to remind me in the future of what it took to reach my element?

I believe I (and you) will reach it one day. Here’s why…

Nothing amazing, unbelievable, great, wonderful, whatever you want to call it, manifests immediately. Sorry, fellow millennials, but I believe there is work, growth and a process involved in reaching our element. We must weather the storms, the routine, the highs and lows in order to reach a point where we are ready to take on what we were “made for”. And by proxy, we were “made for” the mundane. It’s a part of the story that leads us up the mountain and into our element. And yes, we will sit on the mountain for a while and enjoy the views, take in the scenery and share our experience with others.  But, just as we ascended with great fervor and diligence, we will eventually descend into the valley again. The journey, whether in the element or out, will inevitably hold His goodness and perfect will for our lives where the “mundane” never felt so meaningful.

“God gives people the exact experiences he wants them to have in order to shape the specific destiny he’s designed for them.”

-Sun Stand Still

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Good Enough.

Opinions of men make you fall. God’s opinion makes you strong. 

It’s a note scribbled in my journal on a breezy Friday afternoon after a week of working multiple jobs, with feelings that the results weren’t good enough.

I must admit, I often align my worth with my profession and the results it brings. I’ve even conjured up people’s opinion of my work from thin air. It’s an unfortunate failing of an only child with higher standards for herself than the world around her. I deal with it occasionally…ok, maybe daily.

Dealing with it daily does not mean I succumb to it each time. It means there’s a choice to make when the temptation to feel inadequate arises. And the truth is, we are all inadequate. But, we have been given the opportunity of grace. We have been given a greater command that does not involve wearing ourselves out with tasks and duties. First, we are children of God. We are to invest time with our Father. That should be our utmost priority. How quickly I forget to seek Him, when I am concerned with the results I believe are on my shoulders. Quick reminder: they are not my results to flaunt in the first place. They are His.

When the feeling of inadequacy creeps in there are two choices: wallow or affirm what you know to be true in your heart. Wallowing deeper in your failings will only bring you to a place where nothing gets accomplished. Nothing is improved. Nothing is good enough. Eventually,the world around you feels bleak. Living in the affirmation that you are a child of God brings peace to the constant striving. As His child, you are working for a master that does not operate on human standards.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.  Colossians 3:23

When I work to please men (including myself), they are elevated as a god. The person and their approval becomes an idol. But, working for the Lord, with Him at the center, brings unbounded peace. No worries about results and approval can overtake a heart that has surrendered their work to Him, as He causes everything to come to fruition.

With my human standards, I will never reach “good enough” and I may never feel adequate. Thankfully, our Father does not see the perspective that we often see. He sees a greater picture – one where His child is growing daily in Him.


P.S. While writing this I’ve been tempted not to publish it because I have felt the finished product isn’t “good enough.”

Buried.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s time to bury a dream, not suppress…bury. Do I pack in the final dirt for it never to be unearthed again?

The thing with burying something is that you can always come back to the spot that your buried it. It may take a few moments to find the exact place, but after a few extra seconds of searching, it’s there. The memory, although faint, still flickers in the distance. A touch of sorrow lingers as you visit, especially if you knew what was buried there very well.

Do I eventually stop visiting this gravesite of buried dreams? Sounds dramatic, but go with the metaphor for a moment. Perhaps I move on, never to revisit it? One typically does not dare unearth something that was buried purposely. It’s old and deteriorated. The treasure – the shiny, new thing that we search for, typically is found in a place unexpected. But, this treasure requires time, searching and a map. 

Perhaps the time component is necessary for us to fully bury the old dream. Maybe it’s to ensure that we have completely stopped visiting the gravesite, longing for “sweeter” days. I imagine this is where the seed is planted for new growth in our life, something required for a new dream to take shape in the distance.

What if the searching is our desire to seek God’s new plan? But, in this searching, we in turn, find Him…not a plan. Our hours spent with Him turn into sweet moments of joy as we come to know our Savior more and more. And what we began searching for no longer seems that important.

After the full surrender to His will, not our plans, the map is provided. But, we take one step at a time, unable to jump from point A to point D. We must travel from A to B first. The map part is not quite that easy though. Just because you have a map, doesn’t mean you know the answer. There’s a lot of “what ifs”and doubts along the way. My attempts to decipher the many roads and obstacles only lead to frustration. The only way to successfully use a map is to start with the first step and resist jumping ahead. The entire map may not make sense with all its twists, turns and detours until you’ve reached the treasure and look back.

Perhaps burying is not a bad thing. I fear it because I’m afraid to let go of something that I thought was so perfect for my life. But, what I don’t realize in that moment is that there are other dreams that may be even more fitting. My mind simply does not have the capacity to know these dreams yet. There’s still some growth to occur before I’m ready for the treasure that awaits.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

Matthew 6:33

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Waiting & Ready

It’s an unnatural state of being.

It feels like it should be wrong to give or receive it, yet with a life in Christ we learn its ways.

We must first receive it before we are able to give it.

It’s bestowed upon us when we least deserve or expect it.

It’s the only way we move on.

It allows us forgiveness.

It says, “you are free.”

It’s a release.

A simple concept that our minds make complex.

A generous gift we reluctantly receive.

It’s open arms.

A Savior.

An option we overlook.

A way to mend the pain.

An exhale when the struggle has passed.

Grace beckons. Often ignored. Eventually we run. And it’s still there, waiting and ready.

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The Free Fall.

You know those moments of turbulence on airplanes? The ones that cause your stomach to drop and your lungs to relocate to your throat? I travel often, so I am quite familiar with these feelings. The most memorable one for me occurred on a flight from Denver to Montana. As we descended into the region of Missoula, which seems to be a valley surrounded by giant mountains full of wickedly unforgiving winds, we faced what seemed like an infinity of turbulence. It was a small commuter jet, which increased the dramatic effects of the bumpy air. My head came inches from hitting the plane’s ceiling as I floated mid-air above my seat at least three times. In the midst of my jolting, I glanced over a row across from me at a quite hefty middle-aged man with a death grip on his armrest and a look of sheer horror on his face. Meanwhile, I giggled helplessly, not at him, but at the evident state of impending doom me and 30 or so passengers were bound to face.

It seems that every time I find myself on a turbulent flight, my mind skips the panic button and goes directly into “Oh well, there’s nothing I can do” mode. Even the most religious control freak must admit that there is little they can accomplish as a passenger strapped to a saggy pleather seat moving hundreds of miles an hour in a tin can at 30,000 feet. One quickly makes peace with their final breathes being taken in a stuffy cabin of peanut dust and germs. But, we really are helpless in those moments of free fall. We have no choice but to trust the pilot, the mechanics of the plane and the few facts we know on airplane crashes.

BUT. Here’s the uplifting spiritual twist you were waiting for….

The free fall is wonderful.

It’s freedom. Freedom from all the things I could do to fix the situation. Freedom from control. And it forces me to trust God. What if we reacted with the same carefree attitude when we experience turbulence in our own lives? What if we let out that initial nervous giggle followed by throwing our arms in the air with full surrender to God? Wouldn’t that alleviate the pressure we place on ourselves to fix the situation? I’ve surely found freedom when I’ve finally let go and allowed Him to work on my behalf.

As humans, we’re not always fearless, but we have the capacity for faith. I choose to place my faith in God’s promises, that His hand will sustain me (Psalm 89:21). Although the plane ride from Denver included a bumpy and seemingly unending descent, we landed safe and sound.

Let go of the armrests and allow God to land the plane.

The Release

Solitude. A double-edged sword. It draws me in, but as I yield I must push away the world around me, though only for a moment. As I push, the struggle begins. I don’t want to alienate others by my retreat, but my heart longs for both the sweet solitude and the comforting company.

There’s something to be said for escaping the routine thoughts of the day and dwelling on visions of the future. For me, it opens up my mind to dream in faith, something I struggle with on a daily basis. But, if I’m alone and away from the day-to-day noise, willing to breath new air, I experience a freedom. It’s a cathartic feeling of release. A world of possibilities open up. God speaks. His voice whispers reminders of dreams and encouraging words of His presence when the inevitable challenges arise. It’s worth the time. And it’s worth the momentary shut down to the world’s demands.

I’ll choose to meet Him in the solitude and listen intently. Not only to listen, but to spend quality time with the One who sticks closer than a brother. I don’t want to run to Him with a needy attitude built out of desperate necessity and my inability to seek Him for over a week. I want to approach the solitude with my unrestricted time and an open heart full of thanksgiving.

“We live, in fact, in a world starved
for solitude, silence, and private:
and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”
-C.S. Lewis (The Weight of Glory)

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