Shiny, Happy People…

We all have heard about the rising stars and shining stars but what about the constant stars? Those people, that every day, shine in all that they do. These are the people who jump in to help others at work, have smile even when it’s snowing in Phoenix and are simply great to be around. These people are just great to be around. They don’t want the spotlight or ask for attention; in fact, they are the ones usually shining the spotlight onto others. When we think of the next great leader, we tend to overlook those who shine consistently. Now ask yourself, what do you do for these people? Do you find yourself going to them just because YOU need a pick me up? It’s hard to imagine what keeps these people positive all of the time, but they do it. I had a peer once in my career who worked for another agency. We used to see each other for meetings once a month or sometimes more frequently but after every time I saw him, I always found myself saying what a great guy he is. I would try to be more like him and still try today. Despite my best efforts and intent, I’m just not the “smile when its snowing guy”. I do however; make sure that if I have people like in my life, that I let them know how much I enjoy their company and focus time on them. We all need positive people our lives and should seek them out regularly, not to improve our own disposition, but to mutually benefit each other.

Like the appearance of a rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the radiance around him. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. When I saw it, I fell facedown, and I heard the voice of one speaking. Ezekiel 1:28

For the first seven years of his ministry, Ezekiel faithfully relayed to his fellow Jews the stern, heart-rending, hope-crushing word of divine judgment: Because of all her sins, Jerusalem would fall. The only hope the prophet was authorized to extend to his hearers was that of living at peace with themselves and with God during their exile. Once news was received that Jerusalem had fallen, Ezekiel’s message turned to the Lord’s consoling word of hope for his people—they would experience revival, restoration and a glorious future as the redeemed and perfected kingdom of God in the world. Ezekiel had become the constant star in people’s lives. He was there for everyone. Some may argue that it was easy; God was speaking to him directly. God speaks to us every day too. We just need to listen. It’s the phone call that comes in the middle of an argument or the unexpected check that comes in the mail when your bills are late. God is with us all day, every day; we just need to learn to listen for Him. Send your worries to God, pray daily, give thanks for what you have and be assured that your sins are forgiven. Then, stop and listen for God.

Mentors

Mentoring is a popular management concept that is sometimes connected to coaching or to today’s buzz-word – succession planning. The workforce can view “mentoring” as grooming for those fortunate to have been chosen to move up the career ladder. Mentoring is a relationship in which a person with greater experience and wisdom guides another person to develop both personally and professionally. The key feature here is that the person being guided wants to be guided – they ask for this type of personal attention. Most employees expect help from their leadership in the form of guidance, inspiration, encouragement, advancement, discipline and approval for a job well done. If they don’t get these, frustration sets in. Mentoring takes this to a higher level. Some organizations make it so formal that mentee’s have to apply to find a mentor. If you are interested in professional development you don’t need a formal system to get help. I’ve been advising people throughout the years to find a “confidant” or someone who they trust to help guide them. These confidants provide valuable feedback and offer suggestions to help navigate problems or challenges. I have been blessed to have great confidants and mentors and to be the same for others. Find a mentor or a confidant in your life and you will see that there is strength in numbers.

“I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths. When you walk, your steps will not be hampered; when you run, you will not stumble.” Proverbs 4:11-12

Can you even imagine what it would be like to physically speak to Jesus everyday and ask for His advice? You can! Your prayers are heard by the Triune God, which means He hears them too. While you don’t hear Him respond back, you will get an answer. God sent us His Son to bring us closer to Him; now that’s a mentor! God provided His word to us through the scriptures and Jesus gave us examples of how to live our lives; someone to guide us both personally and professionally. This verse tells us He will lead us along straight paths, not stumbling and without impede. Another example of God’s promise to be with us. We stumble in sin, we forget to nurture our relationship with God and yet He keeps His promises. Our faith in Jesus is all that He needs to keep us along the straight paths. We don’t deserve that kind of dedication but God’s love is so great that we can’t imagine how He can forgive us. Sin is always present but more importantly, so is God’s love. Let Him guide you.

Opportunity is Knocking

I had two ideas when I read this verse, one was about “open door” policies that many leaders claim to have and the other was about opportunity knocking. The challenge here is that if the door is open, then no one would need to knock. So let’s talk about opportunity knocking. Opportunity comes in many forms and at all times; sometimes we recognize it and sometimes we don’t. The other contributing factor to “opportunity” is the people you meet in your life’s journey. I have learned first hand that it’s not what you know; it’s who you know. For example, my work with the military is a result of my meeting several very generous men of Army North two months before my unplanned retirement. We worked together on a local project, they thought that I would be a good addition to the contracting group that supported them and gave my number to the lead contractor. “Military contractor” was not something that I even knew was available for me as I stared into a black hole that was my future. As it turned out, it has become the single largest source of income for my business and has taken me all across the country. When I left the fire service, I never thought that I would find something that could bring me as much satisfaction but working with the Homeland Defense forces and the Civil Support Training Activity staff did. My journey into life after the fire service has been filled with “opportunities” that knocked, all I needed to do was answer.

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” – Revelation 3:20

Whose plan is leading your life? Is it God’s or one that you have been working on? Christians often talk about “opportunity knocking” as God’s hand at work in our lives. When a Christian waits for the knock and believe that it never comes, they start to doubt their faith. Why won’t God answer my prayer? God does answer; we just sometimes don’t realize it. We doubt ourselves and don’t take advantage of the opportunity or we don’t trust God to bring us through the challenge we face. Today’s verse tells us that God is here, standing at the door knocking. Do you hear His voice and answer the door? God promises that He will come in; all you have to do is open the door to Him. What does that mean? Open your heart, your mind and your soul to God. Believe His word, His promises and most importantly, believe in His Son Jesus Christ. Letting God take over “your” life is hard and scary – you think that you’ll have no control. This is not what God wants for you. He gave us mental reasoning and a road map in the bible for our lives; He wants fellowship with all of us. Open the door and let Him in and He will eat with you. Open yourself to Him, read His word, follow His commands, rest in knowing your sins are forgiven because you are with Him.

Stressed Out

Patience is a virtue. How often have you prayed for more of it? Nothing increases your stress levels like the constantly ringing phone, the co-worker that wants to “chat” about the events in their personal life when you have a mountain of work or the family member who wants your attention the moment you walk in the door. Stress can be a literal killer. Heart disease, illnesses, damaged relationships and substance abuse are just a few of the “side effects” caused by stress. People say that they can’t reduce their stressors because “they come with the job”. We can take steps to reduce the effects of stress by getting plenty of rest, eating good meals, exercising and avoiding caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. While some stressors can not be completely removed from our lives, we can reduce their impact by finding people to talk to; it can be quite healing and soothing and by engaging in things that make us feel good, like a hobby. There are some things that we simply cannot change but we can change how we react to them. We can be more patient with those around us and explain to them the workload we have and the deadlines we face. Set time to meet with them to talk when it is convenient for you, maybe over lunch or after work. If you don’t get control of the things that cause you stress, they will control you.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom.” Isaiah 40:28

Can imagine hearing complaints and requests from 100 people? Imagine people stopping you constantly asking for your help with something and simply interrupting your day just to chat. If that isn’t a receipe for stress I don’t know what is. Take these 100 people and multiply them by millions or billions and that is the workload of God our Father. The amazing thing is that He isn’t fazed by it in the least. “The Creator of the ends of the earth” has more power than we can imagine, even in our wildest dreams. God is pleased when we call out to Him for help, seek His guidance or simply call on Him to say thank you. He has the patience to work with us because He loves us and wants to be close to us. “He will not grow tired or weary”. We were made in His image and He wants us to be just like Him – not tired or weary but strong and full of love. Send your cares, fears, worries, concerns, anger and thanks to Him because “His understanding no one can fathom”. We have no ability to understand how He can do it and why He wants to but we can be assured that His love for us is greater than we can imagine. Take care of yourself with good food, good love, good sleep, good times, good prayer and the greatness of God.