prayer

Connecting Your Profession With Your Purpose

We don’t have a personal life and a professional life; we have ONE life and we have to make it count!

 

Are you doing what you love for a living? Do your professional endeavors and entrepreneurial ventures reflect God’s purpose for your life? How do the mission and vision for your business align with God’s mission and vision for your life?

In the Western world, we spend most of our time at work. Our careers consume over half of our lives! We spend too much time at work not to enjoy it. So, it’s critical that what we spend most of our waking hours doing, for most of our lives, is also spiritually edifying.

But, most of us have heard the unfortunate results of studies from Harvard Business School, SMU Cox, The Gallup Poll, and other leading research organizations, reporting that Americans are consistently dissatisfied with their jobs and careers. The Gallup Poll’s 2013 State of the American Workplace study found that 70 percent of those who participated described themselves as “disengaged” from their work. This is unacceptable - - particularly for those of us who are ambassadors for Christ.

We don’t have a personal life and a professional life; we have ONE life and we have to make it count. So, how do we make our lives count through our entrepreneurial pursuits? As always, the answer is found in the Word of God. The Bible says “where there is no revelation, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18; AMP). One revelation is the importance of having a Biblical foundation for your commercial endeavors.

 

Business people don’t plan to fail;

they simply fail to follow God’s Plan

 

I am a planner at heart. I grew up in Dayton, Ohio in a Christian household and in my uncle’s church. I also grew up hearing the mantra of “Go to school to get a good job.” And, so I began developing and executing my educational pursuits and career plan. My plans. I have had the pleasure of serving in leadership roles with Fortune 500 companies and esteemed academic institutions and I am also blessed to be an entrepreneur. I have often served in a strategic planning capacity in my career and my consulting firm specializes in strategic business planning. Business Plans. But, along the way, God has taught me that my professional endeavors are not about me; they are all about Him and His sovereign Kingdom Agenda. His Plans.

Part of my journey involves Him calling me out of my comfortable position in corporate America, with my six-figure income, company stock, expense account, company vehicle, etc., to trust Him by resigning from the company and taking a sabbatical to start my business and write the book, Revelations in Business, that He had placed in my heart - - all during one of the most horrendous times in the history of the U.S. from an economic perspective – the years 2007 to 2009. Definitely not my plan.

But guess what? I obeyed God and it all worked out! I wouldn’t change my journey for anything. It continues to be a blessing. The Bible says that He knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV) and that when we commit our work to the Lord, then our plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3,NLT). I am a living testimony that His Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11, NKJV). Now, you might be saying: Well, Shelette, that all sounds good, but I’m not even sure of what my purpose is, let alone, how to align it with my profession!   Good point. Read on for a few ways to uncover your God-given purpose and connect it with your profession.

Steps for Connecting

Your Profession With Your Purpose

You are never too young, nor too old, to identify and pursue your God-given purpose. Following are a few practical suggestion and pragmatic ways to uncover your purpose and align it with your profession:

  1. Begin from Within: Pray to the God who created us and ask Him to reveal His purpose for you; and He will (James 1:5). But, you must be sincere, diligent, and intentional in doing so.
  1. Recognize the Clues: The Bible says that we are all blessed with gifts (Romans 12:4-8) and that we are to stir up the gifts that are within us (2 Timothy 1:6)!   What is it that you do so well that you are always getting complimented on? What are your passions? What are those hobbies that when you are immersed in, time just seems to fly by? The goal is to make sure that you are incorporating your natural skill sets, talents, abilities, interests, and passions into your entrepreneurial ventures. This is the proverbial sweet spot when you feel as if you are being compensated for a hobby!
  1. Quench Your Thirst: Jesus says: If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink (John 7:37, NKJV). What do you thirst for spiritually? Intellectually? Creatively? That thirst, that yearning, that calling, that desire, is there for a reason. It’s not to be ignored. Often times it’s the Holy Spirit leading us into our next season. Identify your areas of thirst and make sure that you are quenching them through your business endeavors.
  1. Leave a Positive Lasting Legacy: Corrie ten Boom, the late Christian Holocaust survivor, said: The measure of a life is not its duration, but its donation. Aligning your profession with your purpose positions you to leave a positive lasting donation, or legacy, in your family, in the community, and in the world.   You are positioned to enrich the lives of others and you have a level of peace that comes only from God because He is in control (Romans 5:1). You no longer have to worry about the economy, competitive threats, and corporate downsizing. You are transcending the world’s boundaries of temporary success and positioning yourself for eternal blessings and salvation. Success and significance. Now, my friend, go forth and connect your profession with your purpose and enjoy the journey!

Jabez, Agur and Volkswagen

I own my second Passat in three years. I believed in the "clean diesel" bill of goods sold to consumers by Volkswagen, now exposed to be a major hoax and sure to result in a series of federal and international criminal indictments and consumer lawsuits. Volkswagen got itself into this major mess out of its oft-stated goal to be the globe's largest auto manufacturer.

It is hard for a Christian business person to argue against growth. Neither do they wish to argue against the sacrifice of integrity. And yet, they seem to regularly clash against each other as they have done with Volkswagen and so many other case studies in the history of enterprise. Enter the prayers of Jabez and Agur.

The Jabez Prayer received new life and a lot of conversation a few  years ago.

"Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." - Chronicles 4:10

Less known, and perhaps more provocative, is the prayer of Agur.

"Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die. Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." -Proverbs 30:7-9

In effect, Jabez prays for an increase in his efforts and a cessation of all difficulty, while Agur prays for ethical groundedness even if he must struggle. Those who engage in business like the Jabez orientation, and yet the prayer of Agur speaks at the soul level, reminding the business person of the need for carefully cultivated integrity and a God-centered perspective of all things.

--Some seem to respond to these prayers as if one must make a choice between them. If so, which would you prefer? Which one calls to you the most?

--Others conclude that these prayers are not in conflict, rather that they reflect a progression. In effect, as Jabez lives longer and becomes more wise, his prayer shifts to something more like Agur prays. Does this reflect your pilgrimage as you have moved from the amibitious intern to the CEO who views her or his role as a steward of God's gifts?

--I think about these prayers a bit differently. For me, these prayers are not in conflict. Neither is it a progresssion a person goes through from Jabez's immaturity to Agur's wisdom. Instead I think the Agur prayer is the foundation for anyone who holds a Christian orientation. Then and only then, with the commitment to live in integrity, to be detached from material possessions, and a God-centered orientation firmly in place, can one move to pray that God would enlarge such a territory and to reduce the pain of the journey (and there will be pain).

Comparing and contrasting these prayers makes for a good exercise among a leadership team -- even if they are not people of faith. They are Jewish prayers first and foremost. And they reflect heart cries that people of all stripes tend to have. What other prayers or heart cries might be uttered that would embellish or edit what Jabez and Agur have said? What next steps are called out of those who serve your customers beside you? How does your firm reconcile the impulse to grow with the need for integrity?

Changing the Landscape

Recently driving to our family vacation in Colorado I was struck by a virtual sea of wind turbines that dotted the horizon for miles along the panhandle highways of Texas. Having grown up in Texas it occurred to me how much these three armed giants have changed our landscape! Traveling these highways as a boy we saw an occasion tumbleweed, some grazing cattle and a lot of nothing! What struck me as I marveled at the spinning rotors was the thought, isn’t that what we are called to do as Christian Leaders and that is to change the landscape? What was even more remarkable was that a cost of over $1,000,000 each, how many of them stood idol, not really doing what they were made for.

As Christian leaders we understand the ultimate price that Christ paid on the cross and that cannot be measured in dollars. Our calling is to make a difference in the market place, to make a difference….and change the landscape! Are you up to the call? How do you measure up?

As the parallels continued I thought about what these turbines are designed for and that is providing power to millions of households and business throughout the land. As Christian Leaders we are called to not only share the saving power of Jesus but be transformed!

Romans 12:2 NIV says….Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is ---his good, pleasing and perfect will.

So the question is, how are you changing the landscape? Are you empowered by the Holy Spirit and how is that power impacting your leadership? Here are 10 simple reminders:

  1. Share your vision
  2. Live your values
  3. Lead with compassion
  4. Do what right for your people
  5. Serve others
  6. Lead by example
  7. Develop others
  8. Invest in yourself
  9. Be Salt & Light
  10. Pray daily for your team

Keep in mind on a wind turbine that the rotors spin to produce the power. In your life your three sources of power are the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirt. May you lead in that power every day!

You're An Answer To Prayer

I suppose I’ve heard that before - and I never thought much about it. Maybe because I always remembered it being said after I helped someone though something pretty tough.  But me?  An answer to prayer? My 8 year old daughter asked me one night, "Have you called our neighbor to see how she is?”  Why she thought to ask that, I don’t know. We hadn’t particularly talked about them in some time. But I decided to pick up the phone.

“Hello….um, this is Michael from next door. We just thought we’d call and see how you are.  Can we bring you anything?  Go get something for you?”

“You have no idea…you’re an answer to prayer.”

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

I then heard a story of a fall, broken bones, a run to the hospital, a husband that had taken a turn for the worse…

“I was just saying to dad that we don’t have anyone to call to help us. And not but two minutes ago, I just prayed that God would help us…and then the phone rang.”  Tears welled up in me.  Now I knew where my daughter’s question came from.

God really does use us to answer prayer.  It’s Him, and His story, and we get to be a part of it.

As we sit in unique roles, leading our companies, our families, and others around us, God will use us to answer prayers, if we are open to the His voice.  It will be at work, at home, at the gas station.  Sometimes, we’ll know we part of the story, and other times, we may never know.

But, yes, we really can be an answer to prayer.