Truly open to what God’s says? Or listening for only what I wanna hear?

This is a passage that moved me exactly one year ago while reading “Moving Mountains: Praying with Passion, Confidence, and Authority” by John Eldredge – a book that was gifted to me by one of my favorite friends in the world.
“And as I do, I am also keeping my heart open to whatever answer he has for me. This is crucial. If I am really only open to hearing yes or no, if I am not really asking God’s counsel but have already decided in my mind what I am going to do, then the whole thing is play-acting. Surrender, true open-handedness, on the question before me is crucial to hearing from God.”

I worry about wanting what I want so bad that I fool myself and others into thinking it’s God’s will; or if it is His will, that I short-circuit by not waiting on Him or doing things my way.

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Devotional: Predestination and adoption

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The above passage comes from Ephesians 1:14.

One of the strongest desires that we human beings have is a sense of belonging and significance. I can never feel alone or neglected – only empowered – because God my Father loves me unconditionally by choice and creation, (regardless of what I do or don’t do), and I am family heir to the kingdom

Knowing your team

This message was sent to all franchisees of a brand that I developed in the past (that later on went public; so it carries some merit). It’s a great reminder that one of your biggest investments – one of your biggest parts of your business that is in your company – is taking care of the home team. Happy customers, profitability, culture, etc. all take care of itself thereafter.

Tip of the Week: Knowing Your Team

How happy are your team members?
Extremely happy?
Happy?
Unhappy?
Looking to leave?
Can you confidently answer the question? Does your answer include the words “I think”? Or is you answer, “I don’t know?”

Are seemingly happy team members quitting for what seems like no reason?

How in touch are we really with our team members?

Do you employ a team? Or are they just a bunch of people who work together?

How do we find the answers?

First let’s understand why people don’t feel content in their jobs:

The may be surprising to realize that most people don’t quit their jobs because of money. If money comes into the equation it is generally about a perception of fairness issue. “Others are paid more for less work or less dedication.”

Quantity of hours. Team members being unhappy over not receiving enough hours can be about not being able to pay bills, but is often times a perception issue, “I am not getting as many hours as others.” Sometimes the issue of hours is about team members feeling that they are being pressured to work more or longer hours then they can handle.

Favoritism. Team members feel that some of their colleagues are given preferential treatment, praise or privileges that are not afforded to all.

Criticism. Team members feel singled out or are being publicly admonished.

Lack of appreciation. Team members feel as though their work is taken for granted or not noticed.

Internal disputes between team members. Sides are taken, and a negative environment is created for all.

Not being set up for success. Team members often feel that they cannot accomplish goals because of poor training, or not having access to the necessary tools. This creates frustration and possibly quitting.

Problems outside of work adding to the pressures of the job.

What should we, as managers of people do?

Always take five minutes out of every day to sit down and have a one on one conversation with a team member. Ask them how they are feeling, if their schedule works, what they feel they need to be successful.

Foster an environment of fairness and openness. The team looks to the manager to set the example.

Listen to what team members are really saying. Don’t just brush issues of as having a bad day. People need to feel heard.

Conduct exit interviews when a team member leaves the company’s employ. This is a good opportunity to hear the truth; after all there is nothing to lose at this point.

The biggest investment you can make at your company is in your team. If your team is happy, guests are happy, there is low turn over, there is heightened efficiency, and it’s a total win. If even one team member is miserable it can damage the whole business. Just communicate and the wins will more than justify the time.

Devotional: Having faith in spite of circumstances

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He can direct your paths.” (Prov. 5:5-6)

This devotional is a reminder that there are times – most times – where circumstances happen out of my control. We may have taken a wrong turn; someone had made a poor decision that affected us; or things just hit us like a ton of bricks out of no where.

These are moments where we need to either activate our faith to trust Him, activate our faith to move forward, or both – and they’re normally painful and never easy to do.

But we need to remember that God is sovereign, you can’t lean on your own understanding, thank God in advance for His bigger plan that will be revealed, and pray for the peace that surpasses understanding. He will direct our paths and we will be getting out of this desert period.

Devotional: God’s timing

“But the angel said, ‘I am Gabriel, the sentinel of God, sent especially to bring you this glad news. But because you won’t believe me, you’ll be unable to say a word until the day of your son’s birth. Every word I’ve spoken to you will come true on time – God’s time.” (Luke 1:20)

This story talks about a priest named Zachariah who – along with his wife – feared God and had a clear conscience in upholding His law and loving the Lord; and how the angel Gabriel had come to him during his priestly duties to give him the good news that he would have a son. Zachariah didn’t believe him because he and his wife were way too old to have children – even if the news was from God – and so Gabriel muted him until the day God delivered the son he announced.

Although verbally and consciously I am certain of God’s provision on His timing; but I’m pretty sure there are times I get ancy and exhibit disbelief in my actions. I go on ahead and do things I’m certain God will give me, but on my own time and terms. I am impatient – which is partial obedience. And I know that partial obedience is the same as full-on disobedience. And time and time again, it either doesn’t work, it doesn’t work to its fullest potential, it does work and creates an ego that destroys me later, and it’s inconsistent and unreliable. I’m tired of not doing it right the first time, and tired of getting wishy-washy results – and they always happen when God’s not at the heart of it all.

Lord – in this story, Gabriel had to mute Zachariah’s ability to speak. I pray for the strength to be able to mute my own feelings and completely, wholeheartedly, and wholespiritedly trust You on not only what You’ve promised to provide for me, but that it will come right on time when I need it most.

Devotional: Purpose versus provision

“For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Chris in God.” (Col. 3:3)

A great reminder about how things are prioritized here on Earth, and how God does things above. I easily get tempted to go after provision first, instead of the Provider. Which – if I say it that way – doesn’t make sense, right?

It’s like trying to chase a few bucks and having to do it over and over again; versus finding the ATM machine itself that will always dispense.

God promises that if we seek Him first, provision for all of our needs and more will be taken care of. He has all of the answers we will need in business, health, relationships, and finances – and they are waiting on the other side of faith and going after God’s heart. Not only that, we will experience peace and life and fulfillment of the ultimate purpose that God has put in my life to do/have/be.

Saddleback: “Finding Hope Again” by Kay Warren

Notes I took over the weekend from an amazing message by Kay Warren. Hope you find them helpful in your own battles as they do for me.

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:35, 37-39)

Resilience is a set of skills that can be learned in traumatic events, strained relationships, serious health problems, crushing disappointments, unchangeable circumstances, and painful losses.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Rom. 5:3-4)

“Yet man is born to trouble as surely as sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7)

“In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33b)

“My days have passed; my plans have failed; my hope is gone. But my friends say night is daylight; they say that light is near; but I know I remain in darkness. My only hope is the world of the dead, where I will lie down to sleep in the dark.” (Job 17:11-13)

The Bible has already given us the heads up that life will be hard; there is no candy coating that. But God does give you all the resources needed to stand firm in your faith and your fight.

“I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world!” (John 16:33)

“Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by the renewing of your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.” (Rom. 12:2)

“By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.” (Psalm 119:105)

I can validate this verse; as I am reminded and recalibrated every day upon reading my Bible verses and the TGIF (Today God Is First) daily devotional in general.

Although there are undesirable circumstances in my life that cannot be changed, I can change my responses to them – and that’s the most powerful thing (and the only thing, sometimes) that I can control. I am fooling myself if I think I can do anything else; so I should focus on what I truly have full dominion over. Here are a few actions I can take:

1. Expand my connections. We tend to isolate, but this isn’t healthy.
“A friend is always a friend, and relatives are born to share our troubles.” (Prov. 17:17)

2. Believe you can handle anything with God.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Phil. 4:13)

3. Avoid expecting the worse (“catastrophizing”).
“Lord, when doubt fills my mind, when my heart is in turmoil, quiet me and give me renewed hope and cheer.” (Psalm 94:19)

4. Practice self-care.

5. Seek self-discovery.
“We can also learn from insults and hard knocks.” (Lam. 3:30)

6. Practice gratitude.
“Plant your roots in Christ and let Him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful.” (Col. 2:7)

7. Decide that I am not held captive, and that nothing can destroy me.

“You have become ‘more than conquerors’ when you make your pain and scars serve YOU” – Kay Warren

Devotional: Dying for lack of knowledge

“The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah, and He struck him down because he had put his hand on the ark. So he died there before God.” (1 Chron. 13:10)

There is a reason why God has given us His Word. It’s an instruction manual for life – all of its pitfalls, rewards, truths, and wisdom. Not consulting the instruction manual for you can result in unnecessary pain, losing your way, malfunction, inconsistent results, mishandling, and even death. I used to (and still do sometimes, but working on it) take God’s Word very lightly – only following it when it’s convenient, serves my own selfish nature, or if I want to look good in front of my kids or others. I need to treat it with more seriousness and commitment – or I will miss out on maximizing His blessings to me, enjoying the inheritances and promises given to me, staying clear of unfavorable circumstances, and experiencing the unconditional, all-powerful love and peace that transcends any thing else.