Face It

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I can’t remember where I heard this a few weeks ago, but wherever it was, I can’t stop thinking about it: The reason people refuse to face the truth is because it will cost them.

That is probably one of the most profound things I have heard in a very, very long time.

All of us have heard the excuses. But the bottom line, in most cases, is that facing the truth will cost something we don’t want to pay. And, many times, most of us don’t consider the greater cost at the end of the line.

I thought of this the other day when I watched a movie. It was an unrealistic, poorly cast movie about a couple who had adopted a little girl from an Eastern European country. In a few weeks, the wife came across some clues that this child was probably not an under-privileged child growing up in an orphanage, but instead a child maliciously stolen from her loving mother.  As she dug further, she became sure that this was the case and went to a federal agent. At one point in their conversation the agent looked this brave woman in the eye and told her that the outcome for this would not be good for her. The child would most likely be reunited with her biological mother and she would go back to a life of waiting for a baby to become available.  This was the time that she could choose to look the other way and move on with her new life of motherhood. No one would be the wiser. She could go home, treat this child as her own, and be a happy family.

Fortunately for the child’s real mother, this woman had the character and the courage to do what would cost her the most. She faced the truth.

Oh, she and her husband tried to rationalize keeping the baby for a few moments: The baby would have a better life in America and they could give her so many privileges and opportunities that she would never have in her country.  But when the decision had to be made, they bravely did the right thing.

Would we have done the same?

I would like to think so. But sometimes we can’t even face our teenagers. Our spouses. Our friends. Our bosses.

Most of us walk right by truth and try hard to ignore it. Consider these examples–

–Our child wants to do something which we know is not a good idea. We will often cave because the cost (them being mad at us or screaming “I hate you!”) is not a price we are willing to pay.

–We find out our boss or a co-worker is dishonest.  We will often ignore it because the cost (getting embroiled in drama, being harassed, or losing our job) is not worth it.

Many times, we can’t even face ourselves. Because to look at ourselves honestly is to see a sinner. And most of us do not want to see that. Even if we are saved and came to that conclusion a long time ago, we don’t want to be reminded of it over and over again.

And so we just live as if everything is just fine. Except everything is not fine.

There are a few of us who wisely look down the road and see if we don’t face the truth now, it will cost us in the end and so we do face the truth head-on –at least in the things that affect us personally.

But when it comes to a boss (who cares?) or our church (it’s none of my business) or a friend (it’s their life) we are much less apt to be willing to stick our noses in.

We often don’t have enough love for our co-workers and friends and church family to do what will help them the most because of the cost to ourselves.

And, honestly, I’ll grant you this: it takes a lot of tact, careful words, kindness, love, and, most of all, courage, to speak the truth, even when it’s going to hurt our reputations or affect our comfort level.

But perhaps being able to see ourselves and the world honestly and then being willing to act on what we see is one of the most courageous and vital things we can do.  Instead, many–if not most–of us have been molded by our culture to shy away from it. We have also been scared by our culture and what happens to people who stand for truth–especially for God’s Truth.

We don’t have to be a preacher to share God’s Truth, we just have to know it (by knowing His Word) and then share it and stand for it. It’s that simple. But it’s that difficult.

But let’s always remember this: The price we pay for speaking truth may be very, very dear.  And through the journey we may have many questions. But God faithfully and lovingly cares for us when we do the right thing. Always. He comes alongside those who stand for what is right in a way that sometimes seems even miraculous. Yes, it is difficult, but God is faithful and it is worth it.

 

 

 

7 Ways to be an Awesome Employee

employeesMy husband and I have owned a business for…well, I guess this May will be 26 years now. For most of those years we have had the pleasure–and aggravation– of being the “bosses”.  While there are some advantages to being the “boss”, there are a few disadvantages, too. But we take our role seriously and truly desire to provide a good and pleasant place to work for our employees.

Some of those employees step up and are just an absolute joy to have with us, a few have been a nightmare, and then there is everything in between.  But all of these people walking in and out of our doors for the last 26 years have given us a good idea of what makes a good employee. And, before I go any further, I want to state here very clearly, since a few of our employees may stumble upon this, this list is in no way directed at any of our current employees. We feel absolutely blessed right at this moment and thank God for it. Life changes and employee nightmares come and go, but for right now–at this moment– while life is never perfect, we are blessed and we know it.

But, that aside, if you are an employee, either full-time or part-time, you may be interested in knowing what the boss thinks makes a good employee. It may be different than you think.

Here are seven ways to become a beloved and invaluable employee for your boss–

1. Be willing to take the blame and admit your mistakes if you mess up and then step up to fix the problem in any way you can.

2. Be honest. Bring integrity to all of your communication with others. Don’t steal. And before you say you don’t, keep in mind that wasting time by talking too much or making personal calls or surfing the internet during work hours is stealing.

3. Be willing to learn new things and take on extra responsibility. Take initiative and step up to new challenges. Take the initiative and think outside the box when solving problems.

4. Be flexible. Things happen that are outside your boss’s control. When the bad stuff happens, good employees can help take the sting out of it by not getting so ruffled if the routine breaks a bit.

5. Be company-minded. Take ownership of your job. Treat equipment and spend money as if the company was your own.

6. Be respectful. It does not go over so well when you act like you know more than your boss. Of course, in this day and age this can get a little tricky -because sometimes you DO know more than your boss in certain situations.  But even if you do, be respectful and kind in your communication — not condescending and arrogant.

7. Be friendly and courteous consistently to not only your bosses and managers, but also to your co-workers and the customers, always being willing to go the extra mile. Treat people kindly no matter your mood.

When one of our employees exhibits even a few of these qualities they become a very valued member of our team.

There are lots of verses in the Bible that talk about servants and masters, but when it comes to employees do these same principles apply? They probably do–

Colossians 3:22 — obey with sincerity, not as men-pleasers

Titus 2:9 – Be well-pleasing and don’t answer back

But, there is a flip side to this, isn’t there?  God’s Word also gives instruction to masters that may well be applied to bosses–

Ephesians 6:9 — do not threaten and do not show partiality

Colossians 4:1--be just and fair

Soooo….I am curious. What are some ways to be an awesome boss??  I’d really like to know what you think and would be interested in your suggestions.

 

Wednesday Wisdom: The Power of a Habit

I am your constant companion.
I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden.
I will push you onward or drag you down to failure.
I am completely at your command.
Half the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me,
and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly.
I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me.
Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically.

I am the servant of all great men.
And, alas, of all failures as well.
Those who are great, I have made great.
Those who are failures, I have made failures.
I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine.
Plus, the intelligence of a man.
You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin; it makes no difference to me.
Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will put the world at your feet.
Be easy with me, and I will destroy you.
Who am I?

I am a HABIT!

I could not find the author of this profound bit of writing, but when I heard it the other day it struck a chord with me. How many consequences could we avoid by simply changing a habit?  It is so simple, but yet it is so difficult. I can think of several small habits that, if I could change them, would yield tremendous rewards in my life. How about you? 

 

a few favorite posts–

Well, I am all packed for my mission trip to Guatemala and have a few extra minutes. So I thought I would share a few of my favorite posts from the first year I started blogging. While I am away next week, I hope you enjoy reading these–

Why I Still Dress Up for Church

Playing in the Mud

SVL

The BIG Lie

Life Lessons I Learned at a Business Conference

 

Happy Reading! :)

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom: Five Lessons I’ve Learned From My Husband

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My husband isn’t a writer. But he has taught me a lot, nevertheless. Today I am going to share with you a few of the valuable lessons I have learned from him. I didn’t bring these qualities to marriage and now I can honestly say, that while I don’t have these perfected, I have changed a lot for the better.

1.   Don’t sweat the small stuff. He’s taught me not to get excited about the small stuff, because it isn’t worth the time, energy, or emotion. You have a flat tire? Just fix it and move on. There is a mouse in the house? Well, let’s set a trap and see if we can catch it. A customer is upset? Okay, let me call them and see what’s going on. Not too much ruffles his feathers. When we first got married, my feathers were very easily ruffled, so his approach took some getting used to for me. Eric has helped me see the uselessness of ruffled feathers.

2.   So you don’t feel 100%? You still have a job to do. Get up and do it. I was one who would lay down on the sofa at the first inkling of not feeling well. But not Eric. He could have the stomach flu and he’d be working, because there was work to do. I learned that I could probably work through that headache or queasy stomach. By the way, I think he has learned from me that sometimes he needs to stop and let his body heal. We were definitely two extremes of this when we got married.

3.   Something bad has happened? Let’s view it as a challenge and figure out how to fix it/change it/get through it. He has definitely taught me to view trials and challenges as ways to grow and change. And if you can’t figure it out, well, then you pray about it and get through it as best you can.  Dwelling on the past, floundering in the murky waters of darkness, just isn’t an option.

4.   It is always more effective to use honey than vinegar in any conversation. The use of respect and kindness is always the better choice in a difficult conversation than frustration and anger. This has been especially shown in his dealings with his customers. I would get frustrated that someone wasn’t paying and call them with that “tone” in my voice. Eric taught me that the “tone” doesn’t help me at all.

5.   Look at the bright side. The Life is Good company has a t-shirt with a glass that is filled half-way and written above it are the words “half full”. That is my husband. The glass is always half full. Most situations have a good side to them. For example, a few months ago, as I bemoaned the kids growing older and the life changes that will come with that, he reminded me of all of the good times he and I will have together after they have started their own lives.  It is all in perspective.

We have all learned lessons from our spouses, if we take a moment to think about it. One of the cool (and enormously frustrating!) things about marriage is that God often puts two opposite people together. If we can focus on learning from them instead of being irritated by them, it is so helpful. Of course, I still get irritated and I am still learning. But it is amazing what rubs off in 24 years.

What lessons have you learned from your spouse?

The Reign of Incompetence

“Ummm…just a second…I will go check.”  The young man who was on the phone with my husband was less than unsure.  Eric impatiently waited as the young man went to look for the needed item.  When he came back he stammered out an explanation of the item in his hand.  That is when Eric realized that he didn’t even have a clue what he was looking for.

Now, you might think  that we are being awfully hard on this young man, but the fact of the matter is, what Eric needed was a very basic item found in a hardware store.   He should have been able to call and get a quick yes or no.  But, instead, he ended up on the phone with someone who was incompetent.

A few weeks later we went out to eat and fell into the hands of an incompetent waitress.  She was a pleasant girl, but seemed to be struggling with the very basics of her job.   It was a frustrating meal, as we all would try to catch her attention and she wouldn’t even look our way.

We all run into incompetent people now and again, but am I the only one who feels like it is becoming more and more often?  So what can we do?

First, we should realize that the clueless person is a person with feelings.  Chances are they were thrown into the job without proper training.  Or perhaps they are trying to do a job for which they are not suitable.  Hopefully, they figure that out sooner rather than later, but our rudeness isn’t going to help them either way.  And, as a Christian, we are responsible to treat them with courtesy and kindness, no matter how frustrated we may be (so much easier to write than to do!)

And then, second, I can’t help but think that we, as believers, should never be found to be incompetent.  Oh, I know that there are those beginning days of a new job when we are uncertain about things.  But we should learn as quickly as we can, always thinking about the next thing, and working hard to know the job.  Colossians 3:23-24 are two of my favorite verses.  They say: And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.  

As believers, we are to do all we do with our best effort, for we are serving the Lord, not men.   This is hard to remember when you are in a job atmosphere where workers slack off when the boss isn’t around.  Or where there is great laziness and disinterest in the job.  But, as believers, we are called by God to be competent, diligent, and hard-working, despite the crowd around us.

And, just a word of caution, this is not the popular thing to do.  Oh, your boss will love it (if you don’t have an incompetent, lazy boss who is worried about you surpassing him!)  but your co-workers may grow resentful; they may even call you names.  Be prepared.  Doing what God calls us to in all aspects of life isn’t always easy.  In fact, I would venture to say it is usually the rockier route to travel.

And, finally, as parents, business owners, and teachers, let’s work hard to instill this passion for doing the best job we can into our children, employees, and students.  Let’s expect competence and diligence from them.  Let’s encourage their hearts, while demanding excellence.  It is up to us to train the next generation.  How are we going to do that if we lazily do our own thing?  We have a responsibility and we need to take it seriously.

Incompetence may reign in our culture – but it doesn’t need to reign in the lives of ourselves or our families.  Let’s show that we are different because we serve the Lord.  Are you ready to travel the rocky path and do what’s right, no matter the cost?

Are You Sure About That?

The headlines read “26 Years Later, Haven’t Lost Anyone”. The article went on to give the lawn company’s philosophy and why they never – yes, it said NEVER – have lost a customer. Having owned a lawn company for 25 years, my husband first recognized the impossibility of this statement. And then he started laughing as he realized that he was actually bidding some work for one of their unhappy customers. The credibility of that company and of the newspaper that ran the article was thrown into question after reading what we knew, firsthand, to be an outright lie.

Around this same time, our daughter was in a car accident with another driver, a young girl. There were not any witnesses of the incident and the young girl proceeded to lie about what had occurred. Our auto insurance is headed to battle over it, as the dents in the cars tell the true story and they believe they will be able to prove it was not our daughter’s fault.

We also had two incidents with buying mowers recently. In one, a verbal agreement was made and we were on our way to pick it up (a drive of several hours) when we were called and told that he had sold the mower to someone who had offered to pay him more. In the other case, we traveled to Philadelphia to pick one up, being told it was in mint condition, only to hear a tap in the motor.

So, what do all of these stories have in common? Integrity.

No longer do people feel it necessary to be truthful in advertising…to keep their word…to be honest in their interactions with others.  Instead they do whatever is to their own advantage, with no concern for the truth.

The lack of concern about the truth in this culture is truly frightening. But the lie that there are no moral absolutes has seeped its way into the culture so thoroughly, that now we are reaping the consequences. And they will be heavy consequences. You could see it happening twenty years ago. I remember a song in the 80s talking about this change in teaching absolute truth to our public school students. You could see it happening when TV sitcoms would (and still do) glorify and make light of someone telling a lie to get something they wanted. You could also see it coming, when parents started to set examples of lying on their taxes and being dishonest about sick days and why they couldn’t come to the phone. Another big red flag was when a person’s “happiness” became the ultimate goal for life.  You see, these things set the stage for a generation that has no respect for the truth, unless it is to their advantage.

So, as a Christian (and, hopefully, as one who practices telling the truth), what are we to do? Well, first and foremost, of course, is that we stand out in this culture by being honorable and trustworthy. We should tell the truth, no matter what the outcome (Proverbs 14:5). We also need to be unwavering and to set a godly example as we teach our children the importance of honesty and integrity.

Another important thing we need to do in this day and age is to listen to everything with the proverbial grain of salt .  Whether it is in the newspaper, on the TV news or on a reality show, or even hearing a story about someone else’s tragic circumstances from a friend, we shouldn’t be so quick to believe what we hear.  So many are the agendas and slants given to stories, that we need to be really careful in what we believe.

As I write on this topic, I find myself filled with sadness at the state of this culture. I could see it coming and now I realize that we are here.  I also know the inevitable outcome of a country that holds no respect for the truth. But, alas, here we are. And so it is our duty and responsibility to live the Christian life with integrity in a culture that holds no esteem for the truth.

 

 

Starting with the Right Account

I glared at my computer.  Why wasn’t this balancing?  I glanced down over the screen, trying to spot something that may have been entered wrong.  I was in the midst of trying to balance one of my business accounts and it just wasn’t working.  Have you ever had that problem?  You work and work to figure out why you are a few dollars off?  Only this time it was about $65 and I was determined to figure out the discrepancy.  There were only a few transactions for the whole month, so this should have been a piece of cake.  And then it hit me!  I was balancing the wrong account.  We have two accounts that happen to have very similar balances and I had accidentally brought up the wrong account.  I could have worked all day but it would never have balanced.

After I had scolded myself about making such a stupid mistake and wasting some valuable minutes, I couldn’t help but apply this to life.  You see, so many of us start at the wrong point with our Christianity.  We want to start with ourselves instead of with God. We come to God so He will meet our needs. We want to find our purpose.  We want to experience God’s blessings.  We desire for all to go well with us.  We believe that God wants us to be “happy” and so we pursue happiness instead of godliness. We praise God for finding us beautiful (which I still just can’t seem to find a verse to support) and we sing songs of worship that are ME-centered instead of God-centered.

We start with the wrong account of “me” and because of it, we can never seem to balance our Christianity.  I know this isn’t a popular thing to say but here it is:  True Christianity is about repentance of sin, self-denial, holiness, and glorifying God alone.  We need to repent of the sin that makes us unacceptable to God and come to Him with humility and a grateful heart for the gift of salvation He has graciously provided through His Son’s death and resurrection.  Upon salvation, we should start  living for Jesus, instead of ourselves.

John 3:30 says:  He must increase, but I must decrease.  Matthew 16:24 says:  Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  

Did you catch that?  We are to decrease.  We are to think less and less of ourselves the more mature we grow in Christ, so that people are seeing more and more of Christ.  We are to deny ourselves our own personal desires for the sake of God’s Kingdom. For some, it may mean going to prison or dying for Christ.  Others endure ruined reputations, ugly rumors, and broken relationships because of their dedication to Christ.  But we are to glory in this persecution, because Christ’s purposes are supreme! (Matthew 5:11-12)

Because Christianity has become so ME-centered, it has rendered many of us useless for the sake of God’s Kingdom.  We dedicate so much time to finding our personal purposes and “helping” God to bless us materially, that we aren’t even concerned about the souls of the lost.  We become so wrapped up in declaring our “rights” and “personal freedoms” that we step all over weaker brothers and sisters, not caring for their fledgling walks with Christ.  We rationalize our behaviors and choices, all the while hurting the Kingdom of God.   We seek personal pleasure and justify it under the banner of the “freedom we have in Christ”.  It is absolutely tragic.

We need to start with the right account!  We need to start with God, instead of ourselves.  Ironically, it is only when this happens, that we will find the joy, blessing, and peace that our souls long for.

Life Lessons I Learned from a Business Conference

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Yesterday I was at a Business Conference.  I learned a lot about the topic I was there to learn.  I also learned a few other things.  Like:

1.  Laughing and giggling and generally acting like an 8 year old while a speaker is speaking is not only rude, but quite distracting. Seriously, the ladies behind me in one session never stopped talking and giggling. I was made aware afresh of how rude that is. I will try to remember that when I am tempted to do that. It is not nice for the speaker or for those around you.

2. In one session, the topic of references for terminated employees came up. The advice given was that, as representatives of our companies, it is in the best interest of our companies not to say anything negative about a former employee. In essence, give no information. And yet, the session speaker went on to tell of a case where a man with a very bad record in his past jobs, went on to get a job at a nursing home and murder several of the patients there. The former employers had never let that nursing home know this man’s true history. Even after telling that story, she still stuck to her guns and said you shouldn’t say anything because of a potential slander lawsuit.  One guy raised his hand and challenged her on that.  He said that if he were in the other employer’s shoes, he would want to know. All kinds of discussion got going–most of it saying we need to protect our companies, etc. I wanted to raise my hand and quote Jesus’s  words “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  And I might have, too, if she didn’t stop the conversation before it got too out of hand. But, in that conversation, I learned that the world’s thought on this is that you worry about your own interests and not about the interests of others.  I guess my question would be: Can a negative reference really be labeled as “slander” if you have everything fully documented, anyway?  The whole discussion made me quite sad. But it tells me where the world really is on even the most basic of Christian principles.

3. It was a dreary day and I was tired. I was sure I would struggle with falling asleep during the sessions. Thankfully, all but one were extremely interesting and informative.  One thing I found disappointing, though, was the occasional use of expletives while speaking. Another tell tale sign of where our country is morally, in my opinion. 25 years ago, no one would have ever used bad language while speaking to a large group of business professionals. No one. Yes, that language was used–in bars, on the streets, and by school students who thought they were cool. But never at a professional event by a speaker. I think it says a little about the class of this nation. The country we knew is disappearing–quite rapidly. I was sad about that, too (even though I was pretty much aware of this one).

4. I learned about GOMOs yesterday, which stands for “Get Out of My Office” people. The same thing can be applied in life. We all have people who suck the energy out of us. The ones who demand a lot of our time, so that they can complain about THEIR lives, talk about THEIR activities, cry about THEIR misfortunes. The advice was to gently and kindly set boundaries for GOMOs. I think that is good advice.

5. And, last, but certainly not least, I got to talking with a very sweet lady at lunch. She is a lawyer who is very knowledgeable in labor law. She could not have been nicer and invited me to call her with any questions. In the course of conversation, we figured out that I had graduated from high school with her husband (now that is a small world!). Both of us had moved away and somehow, on a dreary day in November, I had run into his wife. Anyway, what so impressed me with this woman was how she was so friendly and gracious, while remaining professional. There are so many lawyers (of course, not all) who are arrogant and give the impression that they are doing you a favor if they even deem to talk to you. I found her so refreshing. And I guess the lesson I learned from her is that no matter what surroundings you find yourself, no matter what your profession, no matter who you are with, there is always a call for friendliness and kindness and consideration of others. What kind of impression am I giving people?  What kind of impression are you giving people?

So there you have it. No Bible verses to back the lessons up (although I could find some). Life lessons can be found everywhere. Just open your eyes and  look around you today.

Turned Around

This is an actual conversation (not exact words)–

BOSS:  So, if you would like to eventually become a supervisor you need to step it up a bit.  You need to improve your attitude.

EMPLOYEE:  Yeah, but I do not have any incentive to do that.

This young employee’s thought is that in order for him to step up and do his best, he should be given financial incentive.  Come again?  What happened to the natural process of stepping up to do a difficult job, doing your best, and then being rewarded for that behavior?  It seems like so many have it all turned around.  Anyone who deals with employees, or children, for that matter, sees this on a regular basis.

Reward me first.  Like that is going to change how they perform.  This sense of “entitlement” has permeated our culture.  I see it in my kids.  “I deserve this” is not said, but certainly implied often.

What happened to hard work for hard work’s sake?  For a sense of accomplishment?  And most importantly, for pleasing God with an honest, hard day’s work?

Colossians 3:23-24 were my homeschooling theme verses.  I would quote this to my kids often when they complained of school work.  I still try to keep it mind as I go about the mundane duties of being a wife and mother.  I still quote it to my family now and again, as well!  It says:

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

When we do the work the Lord has set before us, we are doing it for Him.  Not for others.  Not for ourselves.  But for Him.  And we are to do it heartily.

Heartily, according to Dictionary.com, means:

1.  in a hearty manner; cordially: He was greeted heartily.
2. sincerely; genuinely: He sympathized heartily with their plight.
3. without restraint; exuberantly; vigorously: They laughed heartily.
4. with a hearty appetite: The campers ate heartily.
5. thoroughly; completely: I’m heartily sick of your complaining.

Personally, I find this word rather convicting.  Am I doing my daily work “heartily”?  I know the answer is oftentimes “NO”.

These verses also inform us that material, earthly rewards are just an extra reward.  Our actual, eternal reward will be given to us by the Lord.   Am I working for my eternal reward, or am I focused on the reward I receive here on earth? Perhaps we are focused on a paycheck or a raise or maybe on receiving a compliment or praise from someone we respect.  It is so easy to get caught up in these things.

May we be challenged to do our best today…for the Lord…whether we be in school, at work, or at home.  We all have tasks set before us each day.  May we accomplish our tasks heartily, as unto the Lord, not to men!