Faith, Work

Listening

Yesterday, as I was wrapping up my work week, I told one of my colleagues I felt like I was crashing through the whole week. The image in my mind was one of stomping through a thick forest, a little bit lost, but sure I would find my way out. In fact, I have been in that situation several times. I live across from a state park, and in some of my walks, I take a short cut — I go off the path because I know I’ll get back home sooner. It never works, of course, because I become quickly disoriented and the way out “over there” is never actually there but “somewhere else.”

I was crashing through my week with God too. I could not slow down enough to hear the soft whisper. Monday was a holiday, Tuesday I was in an all-day meeting, Wednesday I was out having some very minor surgery, Thursday was my dreaded steering committee for a major project I have been leading, and Friday was back to back meetings. This steering committee meeting — the one that governs the technology integration between my company and one we acquired over the summer — has a certain edge in which the members tend to take shots at what we are doing and to criticize even the smallest mistakes. And, of course, I take it personally. And I take everything they say seriously, even if it is a lie (because there is always a hidden agenda).

One of my team members, my operations lead, pulled me aside before the meeting and told me “I had it” and he told me to stay “on point.” As would happen, he reminded me, we would go off on a tangent at some point, and it was my job to bring us back to the decisions that needed to be made. (Did I mention I love team members who give honest, direct and useful feedback?)

And so at minute 35 out of our allotted 90 minutes, we went off track. Someone criticized an approach we were taking to solving a particularly difficult situation with some cost overruns. And the frenzy began. After a minute or so, four things happened. My operations lead gave me a look that I interpreted as “You need to bring us back,” then I remembered his words, “stay on point,” then I faced the real physical feeling in my stomach which I call anxiety, and at last, I prayed, “Lord. I need your help.”

Then the miraculous happened. Words came to my mind, “Thank you for your feedback. It’s important to us. But we need a decision on our staffing issue. And while this other issue is important, it’s not the focus of this meeting.” Simultaneously I took a deep breath, and I let that pit in my stomach go. A great sense of calm came to me, and people agreed to get back on track, and we took action to get back to the other topic in our next meeting.

So here’s the thing. I have been in this type of situation before and muddled through the meeting. This time around, with my desire to be more open to the Holy Spirit this year, I later asked God, “Was that you? Did you guide me?” In my intuition, in my growing openness, He did. I believe the Holy Spirit was right there. And I was listening and allowing Him to give me the words to say and the demeanor to manage this challenging situation.

That afternoon, I had three hallway conversations with people telling me that was a great meeting, and two emails saying the same. A first on both counts and this project is entering the end of its first year.

Listening to the trusted people around me, and listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. What a gift.

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Faith

Condemnation

For the last few months, my company has been undergoing a massive restructuring.  Our new CEO, who started back in April, has been working hard to make us a better company.  He recently announced to the “street” increased revenue targets, and the “street” has loved us.

From inside, we have more weary than energized staff. New lingo like “You can’t argue with the numbers” or “it all goes to the bottom line” are applied to streamlined (aka, smaller) teams. For the good of the whole, individuals are the cost of doing business.  It is with sadness that I see capitalism at its finest.

For me, all of this has put me into the dark funk of self-accusation.  It’s the voice that says in my head, “You’re not needed.  You’re not worth what they pay you.  So-and-so would be better at that new job.  You don’t want to stay anyway.  If I get laid off, I’ll lose my house… car… health insurance. I’ll never find another job at my age.” The list goes on.

The relentless onslaught of personal condemnation is overbearing and pervasive.  The ABCDEs of learned optimism are powerless to stop the mental game. I pick up on the slightest hint of a decision, and extend it to the worst of implications. This is the overpowering weight the Accuser heaps on me – and so many others – in times like this.

Hence, why being in God’s Word is so important.  I won’t speculate on the timing of this, but in my Daily Walk Bible, my readings for today came from Romans 6 – 8. Check this out:

“Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” (Romans 8:33-34 NLTse)

Who dares accuse me?  A co-worker?  One of the (many) consultants?  My boss?  Myself?  I mean, me?  Dare I accuse myself of not being worthy for something when only God can condemn and I have been freed of condemnation?  Do I dare tell myself that I am not worthy of some earthy thing when my eternal place has been determined?  For God himself has given me right standing with himself.

This morning I stopped listening to myself.  This morning God’s Word spoke directly to me.  I told the Accuser to shut up.  I told the Accuser that there is no condemnation.

“Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?” (Romans 8:35 NLTse)

No! No!

“No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.” (Romans 8:37 NLTse)

Victory is mine.  Victory, Christian, is ours.  We are free from condemnation.  All of condemnation.  Including the condemnation I speak to myself.  All condemnation.  No accusation from anywhere has power over me.  Not a single spoken word.  No a single whispered thought.

I am infinitely free of condemnation because of the death and resurrection of one.

Now those are numbers that speak for themselves.

 

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