Monthly Archives: November 2012

I Hate My Job!

We just celebrated Thanksgiving this past Thursday. Black Friday and Cyber Monday have come and gone. And the four-day holiday weekend is over. The beginning of a new work week has already begun. For some, you dreaded this week. Why? Because frankly you hate your job. Well “hate” may be a strong word, but it accurately describes the way you feel.

Over the years, I have come in contact with people in general and Christians in particular who have expressed this sentiment about their jobs. I often would wonder: “Why do they feel this way? What is causing them to despise a job that they once were grateful for?” Here are a few reasons (in no particular order) that I have observed. My initial thoughts were: “Hey, quite complaining and just be thankful that you have a job, especially in this economy. It could be worse.” But I have since realized that such thoughts (and comments), although they are true, come across to people who are genuinely thankful but are struggling with the current realities in their workplaces as being naively optimistic, unsympathetic, inconsiderate, and/or simplistic. Telling people to simply quite complaining and be thankful is not all that is needed in some cases, especially if you desire to see them flourish and thrive in their current employment. So in an effort to be helpful and beneficial to those who “hate” their jobs I want to list these reasons along with some some corresponding words of advice.

1. You no longer feel maximized, inspired, and challenged in your current role. In other words, you have outgrown the position (due to training, education, skill-set, drive, work ethic, etc.).

I would suggest you sit down with your boss and have a conversation with him or her. Maybe a good time to broach the subject is at your end of the year performance review (if you have one). I wouldn’t recommend going in and framing your conversation in the negative (“I don’t feel…”). Ask if there is anything else that you can do to help your department or company, and list some possible ways for your boss to consider.  Try to mention things that are within the scope of what you have been hired to do, or in your department. This of course assumes that you have an approachable supervisor. If you don’t feel like you can speak openly and honestly about your situation without fear of repercussions, then you should just probably begin applying for another job, either within your company, or outside of it.

2. You feel more used than valued.

A person can feel this way for a myriad of reasons. What I am specifically referring to here though has to do with the lack of moral support, genuine expressions of gratitude, and common courtesy. Honestly, there is not much that you can do to get your manager, boss, etc. to do these things, with the exception of bringing it to his or her attention. But you can value yourself! Tell yourself that you are doing a great job. Give yourself a pat on the back. I know this may not go a long way, but even remembering that you ultimately were the one who was hired for this position will serve to encourage you. That in and of itself shows that you are valuable to your supervisor (or company, church), even if he or she fails to express it to you.

For those of us who are Chrsitians, remember that you work for the Boss of all bosses – Jesus. And when we do our work as unto Him, He is pleased. What is fundamentally important is to remember that our value and worth before Him is not based on our performance on the job (or in life), but rather on his performance on the cross (on our behalf). Simply put, know that your value rests in the One who is supremely valuable, and on the fact that He thought enough of you and I to come, live a perfect life, die a death on the cross for our sins, and rise from the dead, so that we might be saved and have a relationship with God through Him. That is infinitely more significant to us than how we are being treated on our jobs, wouldn’t you agree?

I am not trying to over-spiritualize this. I do understand that we all have a need to be appreciated and valued for our work. But at the end of the day people cannot ultimately provide that to us. It comes from God.

3. Your interpersonal work relationship with staff and/or supervisors is in poor condition.

Let me cut to the chase. If there are problems of which you are aware, either between you and a co-worker or supervisor, address them (Note: All battles are not worth fighting. Use discretion.). If you have tried but to no avail, then resolve to at least treat that person cordially, with a basic sense of human dignity. Pray for them. Love them. Respect them.

4. You are in a field of work, in a position, or assigned tasks that don’t comprehensively match your passion, calling, gifting, talents, degree, etc.

If you asked God to direct your paths and He opened this job up for you, then understand that in spite of the “menial” tasks He has you there for a purpose. What purpose? It could be any number of things: a. To provide you with a means of income, b. To develop something in you that might be lacking (patience, faithfulness, work ethic, faith, etc.) or to bring something to light ( exposing an idol in your life, etc.), c. To reach some people with the Gospel of Jesus, d. To prepare and position you for what He has for you in the future, etc. Trust in His goodness and wisdom, and embrace where God has you right now, even if you don’t fully know or understand why.

5. Your compensation is not commensurate with your education and/or experience (but others are being paid beyond their competency).

You probably won’t be able to do anything to change this in your current employment. But who says that job has to be your only stream of income? Maybe it’s time for you to start that business that God placed on your heart awhile back.

Maybe it’s time for you to change careers. I don’t know.

Instead of seeing this as solely a problem, might this be a catalyst to propel you to something else?

Oh yeah, and also stop comparing yourself to others. I know this can be hard, especially when we feel that we are being mistreated or overlooked. But it’s not going to help you. It will more than likely only breed contempt, resentment, envy, and jealousy in you towards that individual who, by the way, probably doesn’t know why  you are being so standoffish or snappy with him or her.

6. The work environment is opposite of one in which you work best (e.g., the job has little structure – i.e., procedures, policies, processes – but you thrive in one that has more structure, or vice-versa).

If a place is too structured for you, it may be difficult for you, but while you are there, you need to accept it.  What may help is if you seek to understand why a place is the way that it is.

Also, sometimes the reason why we buck against the new is because we have become accustomed to the old. Come to terms with the change and your feelings about it and accept it for your benefit and your company’s. As the saying goes, “It is what it is.” So because you know that, resolve to no longer waste energy over what you cannot change or control. Understand it. Accept it. And work within the parameters.

If a job (company, department) is not structured enough, you need to adjust to it. You structure your workday. You create your To-Do List. Where you are able to implement or suggest structure, do so. That just might be one of the reasons you are there.

In conclusion, being grateful is a fundamental way to fight off the feelings of dread and disgust that you have related to your job. If you are like me – I am a recovering perfectionist – then you know how quickly we can get fixated on what is wrong at our jobs and lose sight of all that is going right. So remember this: Gratefulness helps to ground your perspective and keeps you from blowing things all out of proportion.

Being grateful may not move you from hating your job to loving it, but it can help you to like it enough to say I can “work” with this.

Was this helpful? What are your thoughts?

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Powerful Preachers?

I just ran across this blog post from Thabiti Anyabwile on preaching. In it he deals with a very common adjective that many of us have either used or have heard concerning those of us who preach: Powerful. But is this were the power lies, that is, in the preacher? Thabiti says “No.” And here is why: how-do-you-define-preaching-2

 

“Imagine” Cypher Video (feat. Dre Murray, Alex Faith, Christon Gray, and Swoope)

I can’t wait until the We Live As Kings album drops. These guys are a just a few of the solid rappers out there, representing for Jesus. Be inspired! This song is available on iTunes.

Your Pastor Isn’t God…

so he needs friends. God is the only one who is self-existent (the aseity of God). He has no need for anything or anyone to exist or to be fulfilled. We, however, were created with the capacity and need for human companionship. Your pastor(s) is (are) no different.

So here are a few suggestions to help the pastor(s) of your church in this area. These are just some cursory thoughts that I had regarding this issue, nothing extensive.

1. Pray for him that God would send people (both from the church that he is a part of and leads, and outside of it) into his life who will be godly and loyal friends.

2. Let him pick his friends.

Don’t force yourself or anyone else who you think would make a good friend for him. More than likely, your pastor didn’t choose your friends, so don’t choose his.

3. Don’t get offended if you are not included in your pastor’s inner circle of friends.

He still loves you as a member of the church. He, just like you, only has so much relational capital. This is one area where he mirrors Jesus. Over the course of about 3 1/2 years, Jesus in his earthly life and ministry spent a lot of his time and energy with 12 men (and gave at times special attention to 3 – Peter, James, and John) whom he called to be his apostles. Humanly speaking, Jesus knew that he couldn’t (nor wouldn’t) invest himself deeply in the large crowds that followed him. He knew his relational currency was limited and therefore leveraged it by investing it in a small group of men (and women) whom he, through God the Holy Spirit, would use later for multiplied missional impact.

He can only be close friends with a few people. So please don’t take it personal.

4. Respect your pastor and his friendships by not seeking to breach confidentiality between them.

If you hear wind of something about him or his family and go to the pastor about it and he doesn’t share the details with you, please don’t go to his friends seeking information.

N0te: If you are in a church that has multiple pastors, this not only applies to the Senior Pastor, but to the other staff pastors as well.

What else would you add to this list?

Sunday Reflections (Nov. 18, 2012): My Preaching Anniversary, 2 Peter, etc.

Friday

Friday marked my 18th year of preaching. I was 17 years old when God called me to preach. I remember my first sermon like it was yesterday. I preached a message entitled, “Time is up. Let’s go.” from the parable of the ten virgins recorded in Matthew 25:1-13. I think I did a decent job. Thank God I’ve grown since then. 🙂

I never thought that I would be preaching. If you have read my book, you know that preaching, let alone being a pastor, was the farthest thing from my mind.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can’t think of any better way to spend my life than serving The Lord Jesus and His church. God calling me to preach – along with saving me from sin through Jesus – was totally an act of grace. There was nothing about me that deserved it.

So this past Friday I did what I was called in high school to do: I preached God’s Word to a group of beautiful people who were poor and homeless. It was such an awesome time of worship with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I preached on 1 John 5:21 and entitled the sermon, “American Idols.” John’s instruction is self-explanatory. So I spent the majority of the sermon describing the type of idols that exists in our western society that we as believers need to keep ourselves away from. Here are the 5 idols that I mentioned and elaborated on:

I – Individuality
D – Desire
O – Others
L – Luxury
S – Status

I trust that the Holy Spirit opened the people’s hearts to receive the Word and enabled (and is enabling) them to respond accordingly, as He did for me.

Saturday

Our women’s ministry (Sisters) kicked off their connection groups this weekend. They are conducting about 6 or 7 book studies in a small group context.

I am excited to hear and see the growth that God produces in these women’s lives in the months to come!

Sunday

Today I continued my teaching series on 2 Peter, specifically looking at chapter 2:10b-22. The lesson title was “False Teachers in the Church (pt. 2).”

Peter uses quite a bit of figurative language to describe the spiritual condition and character of these false teachers; and he is spot on (no surprise considering he was writing under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit)!

Lord willing, next week we will conclude chapter 2 and begin our journey into the final chapter of 2 Peter. I can’t wait!

Enjoy the rest of your day.

Makeup Monday

And, no, I am not talking about beauty tips (I just saw this title on the web if you are wondering why I wrote this. :)).

I was doing so much preparation this past week and over the weekend that I didn’t have time to publish my normal Sunday Reflections post. So, this is my Monday to make it up. Where to begin?

“The Vault” Men’s Gathering

On Tuesday of last week, I was honored with the opportunity to come and teach the men of Morse Street Baptist Church in Denton, TX at the bi-weekly men’s gathering that they call “The Vault.” They call it that to communicate to the men that this is a safe place where they can come and open up about their lives to each other for care and accountability. They have a saying: “What goes on in the Vault, stays in the Vault.” I like that. My topic was “So You Want To Be Great…” (select Scriptures). I touched on three points: 1. Great Leadership (as defined by Jesus), 2. Gross Leadership, and 3. Godly Leadership. We had a great time in the Word.

My Next Book

I normally take out time to write on Fridays, which is my day off. This past Friday was no different. There are days when I sit down to write and it just flows, and then there are others where it is slow going. I have to constantly remind myself to write first and edit second. I always want to do both though. It’s tough to shake that, but I have to. I have a self-imposed deadline of the 1st quarter in 2013 to complete it. We will see if I can stick to that. I pray so. But if not, I won’t be too down. I’d rather go over my deadline in order to put out a faithful (to Scripture) and helpful (for you) book, than meet it and not.

2 Peter

I continued my “2 Peter: Living With The End In Mind” teaching series on Sunday. My lesson title was “False Teachers in the Church” (2 Peter 2-10a). We had a spirited discussion just on verses 1-3. I am praying that by the end of this section of Scripture we will all be better equipped to discern false teachers/teaching, and, more importantly, that we will be strengthened to hold to Jesus, His Gospel, and sound doctrine that produces love and holiness.

Preaching Engagement

A friend of mine, Pastor Tim Collins, called me to ask if I would come and preach at his church (Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Lancaster, TX) on yesterday. I am always elated to receive invitations to preach. It is both humbling and an honor that God would graciously give me opportunities to stand to declare His Word. I came from Philippians 2:1-10 and titled the message, “Can We Get Along?” I prayed yesterday that the Mt. Zion family would be helped through the preaching of God’s Word. By all accounts, they were. Praise God!

I hope you had a great weekend, and trust and pray that you have a great week!

 

Developing A Personal Mission Statement

I remember it like yesterday. I was a freshman on the campus of Dallas Baptist University. DBU was (and is) committed to preparing students for not only college life, but the Christian life. So I had to take a class, taught by Professor Jamie Lash (Director of Spiritual Development), that dealt with a plethora of subjects related to our growth as students and believers.

I’ll be honest, initially, I didn’t see the benefit in having to take this class. I felt it was just another prerequisite that had to be met in order for me to get on with my degree plan. I didn’t think that it would add any significant value to my life, studies, or ministry. Boy was I wrong.

On that first day when I saw him walk into the lecture hall, I thought to myself, “There is nothing too impressive about this guy. He’s tall, slender and has a slightly high-pitched voice. I wonder what he is going to share with us. It will probably be stuff that I already know or have heard before.” Well, as he began teaching us, it became apparent to me that I needed this class more than I had realized. In retrospect, now that I am well out of College, married with one daughter, and in full-time pastoral ministry, I am truly grateful to God for it because it has played an integral part in shaping me into who I am today.

There were so many nuggets that he shared with us in our time together. But the biggest takeaway for me was the need to prayerfully develop a personal or life mission statement.

What Professor Lash was asking us to write out was not a vision statement, how do you see your life 5, 10, 15 years from now, like a road map of your life. As I understood it, we were to write out what we thought God desired to be our life’s focus or mission. Of course, as Christians, we all know that Jesus has already given us our mission, which is found in Matthew 28:18-20. But what Professor Lash was asking was for us to think about how this Great Commission would be fleshed out in our personal lives, according to our God-given callings, personalities, passions, desires, experiences, and gifting. Figuratively speaking, he told us to write it down in pencil because it, or some of the nuances, might change as God directs and gives clarity to us. He also pushed us to make it brief; to write it in a sentence or two. Why? Because if it was too long, more than likely we wouldn’t remember it. So I did.

It has been a little over 15 years since I put my personal mission statement in writing. But, today, I can truly say that I am grateful for Professor Lash requiring us to complete this assignment. It has served (and continues to serve) me well. How so? Here are a few ways:

1. It surfaced my values and forced me to examine them to see if they were in line with Scripture.

2. It helped to widen my perspective – to begin thinking of the future and not just the present (i.e., to think with the end in mind – What do I want my life to be remembered for?).

3. It solidified what should be my life’s priorities.

4. It gave me a grid through which to filter opportunities to determine whether I should pursue them or not. In other words, it aided me in knowing what I should say “Yes” or “No” to.

So here is my personal mission statement:

As I pursue a life-long intimate relationship with God through Jesus, my life’s mission is to L.E.A.D.:

Love My Family

Equip Churches

Attract Non-Christians to Jesus

Develop Leaders

The implementation of this is of course more detailed. But, as I said, this statement has helped me to know, broadly speaking, what God desires for my life to be about…and so it is or will be with yours.

How about you? Have you developed a personal mission statement? If you plan on it or have already done so, remember to hold it (and especially the details) with open hands before our great, sovereign, all-wise, all-knowing, good God. Who better else to craft your life than the One who created and redeemed you?

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