Monday, August 15, 2011

"Is the Water Over God's Head?"

An Alaska a little boy went on an afternoon fishing expedition with his father. When the sight of the shore started to shrink away, the child asked, “Daddy is the water over my head?” The father laughed and replied, “Way over your head, son.”

A few moments later came the next question, “Daddy, is it over your head, too?” This time the father heard the change in his son’s voice. The father killed the boat’s engine and sat down next to his boy. “Yes, son, it’s quite a bit over my head, too.” After a few moments, the father asked, “Son, do you want to know anything else?” The boy asked the big question, “Is the water over God’s head?” The father shared that no, water could never be over God’s head.

Life is full of transitions – moving, starting a new school year, getting married, becoming a parent, losing a loved one, starting a new job, being laid off. It’s important to let God help you in the midst of your transitions. Don’t worry that it’s wrong to be going through a crisis. In fact, it’s normal to undergo many different crisis situations in life.

Remind yourself that God sees your destination, but you can only see one step at a time. Understand that God has a purpose for allowing you to go through each crisis; he will be with you along the way. Ask God to reveal His timing for when you might leave a situation and begin a new one.

Have courage to act according to what’s best, rather than according to pressure from others. If you leave your old set of circumstances, ask God to heal your spirit so you don’t enter new circumstances carrying old wounds. Acknowledge God as the ultimate source of everything you have and trust Him to provide everything you need for making a transition.

Don’t limit the ways in which you invite God to work in your life. Be open to accepting His creativity. Remember, anything is possible with God. The water is never over His head.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Most Important Lesson

A nursing student shares a profound memory from her academic career. “During my second month of nursing school,” she wrote, “our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?

“Surely, this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade. ‘Absolutely,’ said the professor. ‘In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say ‘hello’. I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.” ~ author unknown

The nurse’s professor echoes the challenge and promise of Jesus.

If you want to be great, serve. Jesus reminds us “whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” To call someone by name is to affirm the person’s dignity, uniqueness and significance. If we need to ask again, “What’s your name?” have the humility to do so. If you meet someone new, focus on that person. Forget about impressing; take a genuine interest. Try this. Say the person’s name three times in conversation. Notice the color of the person’s eye. Hear yourself say the name out loud.

A person’s name is the difference between a stranger and a friend; the difference between a prospect and your newest customer.

Remembering names isn’t necessarily about having a good memory. It’s more about caring enough to have a trained memory. Don’t get discouraged if later today you find yourself forgetting the name of someone you just met. This habit takes practice. And it’s a habit we can master. Our Lord called us by name. Let’s imitate Him by following this divine practice.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Take a Seat: Heaven or Hell?

“Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like,” said a holy man who conversed with the Lord one day. The Almighty led the holy man to two doors. He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew which smelled delicious and made the holy man’s mouth water.

But the people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths. The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, ‘You have seen Hell.’

They then went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man’s mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking. The holy man said, “I don’t understand.” “It is simple” said the Lord, “In this place the people have learned to feed one another.” (author unknown, http://

Those who learned to feed one another realized the importance of both receiving and giving. Sometimes we can struggle more with the receiving facet of the relationship. To receive one must acknowledge a need – a vulnerability that gifts the giver with importance and value. To always have it “all together” builds a distance with those who care the most for us. If we are authentic and approachable, we must remove the mask of certitude. We can only get so close to someone who fronts that image of the always capable spouse, colleague, or friend.

Our story depicts heaven as a place where everyone is vital to the success of the group. In the pecking order of our businesses, we can stop listening, stop inquiring, stop including the thinking of those “below a certain prestige level.” The front line people who implement the procedures, who get the feedback from the customers are too often excluded from the important meetings and decisions. If we really believe we can be fed by “our subordinates” at the table, we will invite them to meetings with decision makers; we will encourage their feedback; and we will create a culture of ownership that wants accountability.

Arthur W. Jones observed: “All organizations are perfectly aligned to get the results they get.” Are people reaching across the table with their long spoons nourishing each other or are they suffering from futile behavior driven by their own ambition? While such questions deserve a rigorous review of company culture, here are a few practical suggestions to nourish people’s ability to give and receive – to create those moments of heaven on the job!

1. Answer colleague’s emails and voice messages within one business day.
2. Evaluate staff meetings – just because everyone seems pleasant doesn’t mean staff find the meetings valuable.
3. Reward risk takers by celebrating their journey – even before the results are in
4. If you can’t meet a deadline, get released from your promise.
5. Give specific compliments – you will make two people happy.
6. Always keep people in the loop – even if their piece of the project is minor.
7. Before passing on information about another ask yourself, “What is my intent?”
8. Never miss an opportunity to say “Thank You.”