Monthly Archives: July 2013

Bosses Don’t Give Gold Stars

 

–And Other Career Advice

 

(This is an article that ran on Boundless last month. It’s been such a crazy month than I just was able to get around to posting it here! It is adapted from my forthcoming book, The Measure of Success, which is due out in January, 2014.)

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For those who are beginning their careers, here are four key principles for on-the-job success.

When I was hired for my first job, my father took me aside to give me an important insight. “Carolyn, you are motivated by gold stars, high grades and lots of regular feedback,” he said. “But you won’t get that at work. Don’t expect praise for merely doing what you were hired to do. If you keep getting paid, you will know you are doing a good job.”

I’ve thought of his advice nearly every time I’ve received a paycheck. Over the years, I’ve learned other valuable on-the-job lessons, lessons that were amplified once I became a believing Christian. So for those who are beginning their careers, here are four key principles for on-the-job success:

1. Pay your dues.

In any job, it’s important to understand you have been hired to fill a position on a team with one critical mission: to make and sustain the organization’s profitability. You have a role to play in this mission, but it’s not the starring role. In fact, you have to prove yourself to the rest of the team that you are worthy of that role. It’s called paying your dues. To that end, you need to know that no one really cares about how fulfilled you are — or are not — in this role. It’s not about you, but about the organization.

I lead a small documentary film company, but it’s not unusual that I receive unsolicited résumés. Most come with sincere letters explaining how much the applicant likes film, how the applicant grew up watching film, and how the applicant loves to travel and how filmmaking can provide that opportunity.

Honestly, I dismiss those letters right away. Don’t tell me how a job at my company can fulfill all your dreams. Tell me why I need you for my company’s critical mission. Then I will know you understand the big picture and that you might make a significant contribution.

Your goal with any new job is to figure out how to add value.

Know exactly how your position contributes to the company’s bottom line. Be prepared. If you don’t know, ask informed questions, but only after you have done some research. Never ask busy people questions that you have not researched. I repeat: Don’t make other people do your homework. Those of us who were already working when the digital age arrived marvel at the wealth of information available through “the interwebs.” Fire up your keyboard and do your homework so that you can come up with the one really insightful question that proves your worth simply because you figured out what was valuable to ask.

One more vitally important tip: Respond. As in, respond to your emails. Respond to your phone calls. Respond to your invitations. Never think it’s a good idea to ignore your boss, your clients or your colleagues. Or anyone who is trying to throw a party, plan a wedding or invite you to dinner, for that matter. It doesn’t matter if you “don’t do email” or you “don’t like talking on the phone.” Get a response back in a timely manner because it honors others’ work and time. These few practices will show that you understand the process of paying your dues and will help you move up in an organization.

2. Get to the point.

One of my first jobs was working for a Fortune 50 company in their Washington, D.C., public relations office. I was at the bottom of the food chain; I was clueless about the importance of hierarchy, and I had no idea that my only role was to shut up and listen.

My boss’ boss was the executive vice-president of communications, a direct report to the CEO. Our division had an unusually short chain of command in that large multinational company, all of which set me up for being at a dinner on a business trip with my boss and his boss where I showed my immaturity by talking too much. I didn’t pick up on any of the signals until the EVP made it really clear what I was supposed to do. Turning to me, he cut me off mid-anecdote by saying, “Would you shut the (bleep) up?”

Here’s an important insight for women, a tip that will make you far more effective in all your interactions with men, both in your romantic relationships and on the job: Get to the point. Nearly all of your communications will benefit from getting to your point quickly. Your listeners can always ask for more details if they are interested, but if you frontload your conversation with too many details, you will generally incite frustration and impatience.

In her book For Women Only in the Workplace, Shaunti Feldhahn writes: “The way many of the men I interviewed described it, they prefer the conclusion or the bottom line up front because it helps them listen. Without it, they find it more difficult to absorb the information. One executive explained, ‘There’s something about a male brain that wants the end of the story so he knows why he’s listening.'”

While this might be a masculine tendency, in my observation it serves busy people of both genders. Time is the most precious commodity in the workforce because it’s the only resource you can’t renew. Profits can be restored, people can be replaced, but the passing of time is relentless.

3. Address conflict.

When performance, reputation, budgets and deadlines are all in the mix with your colleagues, you can count on experiencing conflict.

The first thing you need to know about conflict on the job is that you don’t need to take it personally. Most of the time, you are disagreeing about a process, a task or a function. This is not about you as a person, as much as it may feel that way. Keep your reactions (and later thoughts about them) contained around the particular issue and not the history of everything that’s ever happened. This can be a particular challenge for women, as we generally are more relational than men, but it is vital we compartmentalize conflict to specific situations or examples. This is where it’s helpful to remember that it’s not personal, it’s business.

The second thing you need to know is the Gospel empowers and equips us with the words and framework we need to confront people and achieve resolution. In fact, the conflict resolution process outlined in Matthew 18 is exactly the process you need at work.

If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church (Matthew 18:15-17, ESV).

The point is, go privately and directly to those who have offended you. Go with a genuine desire to understand their views and see the breach healed. Go asking questions, with the assumption you could be wrong. If you can’t reconcile on your own, get the next appropriate people involved. At work, this may be your boss or your human resources director, as appropriate. Only involve those who are or could be part of the solution. Then if that doesn’t work, you must appeal to the larger authority. But it should begin with the private conversation. Adding it to the gossip mill around the office, even to your best bud at work, is not seeking a biblical solution, nor does it protect your job.

What can be hard to understand is that, at times, conflict is a gift to you from your loving Father. It can expose your own weaknesses that He wants to correct. That is never comfortable, especially when weaknesses in the office are public. But if handled properly, conflict can lead to reconciliation and stronger working relationships.

Our natural tendencies to either go on the attack to defend ourselves or to retreat to protect ourselves never fare well. It takes calm courage to call out conflict, but it can produce amazing results. It takes maturity to look someone in the eye and calmly ask about the tensions or offenses without getting defensive. The spiritual bonus is that your humility can make a positive impact for the Gospel.

4. Put your confidence in the Lord.

Launching your career is an exciting time, but it can also stir up doubts. The emotionally challenging aspect of this time is that you have to cultivate faith in God so that you neither presume on your future nor fear what may come. Fortunately, Scripture directs us how to think about our future plans:

Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.’ You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring—what your life will be! For you are like smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes. Instead, you should say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ But as it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil (James 4:13-16, HCSB).

You see here that James is not busting on the person who has a plan. He is merely correcting the one who has arrogantly put all his confidence in that plan. Planning ahead is good, but it has to be done with humble understanding that everything is subject to God’s will.

So it is with how you anticipate your future. Never once have I heard someone say, “My life has turned out exactly how I expected it would.” But from my mid-life vantage point, I can confidently assure you that there will be many more blessings than you anticipate and many more trials. But through it all, God’s grace will be triumphant. Of that, I am most assuredly confident.

So make your plans, but do a lot of market research as you go. Ask people in the field you are considering for an informational interview, then inquire of them what their work-life balance has been like and what advice they would give you. Find out from your business and personal contacts what they wish they had done differently as young adults. Read widely in your field, following social media and trade publications. Ask your family and friends for their counsel about your personal strengths and weaknesses.

Then pray. All your best research will only lead you to come up with a plan that might prove profitable, just as James says. But prayer will keep you seeking the Lord about those plans, and that humble dependence upon Him prevents the proud boasting that James condemns.

~ Carolyn

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Read the original post and/or comment at Carolyn McCulley’s blog.

 

Carolyn McCulley

Carolyn is the author of two books, Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World (Moody Publishers, 2008) and Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God with a Hope Deferred (Crossway, 2004). Carolyn is also a contributor to Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor (Crossway, 2005), as well as to other webzines and publications. She is a frequent conference speaker for women’s ministry events and also maintains a blog, Radical Womanhood.

 

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John 17: Jesus and the Plan of God

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I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Introduction

Most of the time from a human point of view, the events of this world appear chaotic. It is not that a blind, pitiless, impersonal fate awaits all people, but everywhere there seems to be a destructive evil, intent on bringing devastation to what we assume is the normal quest for peace and happiness. Murders, terrorist acts, hatred, betrayal, exploitation, and oppression fill the headlines daily. Around the globe, people seek to ruin others for their own pleasure and profit. If people are not personally involved as agents of havoc or as victims, they try to hide the pain through ignoring what’s happening or by numbing their perceptions of it by pleasure, by mind-altering substances, by ignoring it, or by hiding.

However, on the verge of the darkest hour of history, Jesus prays to God the Father. And in this great prayer of Jesus, we can hear the divine point of view. As he is on the brink of being arrested and quickly crucified, the Lord Jesus prays about the plan of God. Let us listen to the certain confidence of Jesus as he prays this great prayer to God the Father.

 

Exposition: We learn about…

I.          Christ’s completed mission

A.        What Jesus means by “the work you gave me to do”

1.         It includes all that already happened from the time of his incarnation and birth, through his development as a human, to what he accomplished in his earthly ministry by revealing the Father, teaching the Father’s message, and showing the power of God by the signs and wonders he performed. In everything, he pleased and glorified God by fulfilling the mission the Father gave him (Jn 3:16-17; Rm 3:25; Gal 4:4; 2 Cor 5:18-19; etc.)

2.         It includes all that would shortly occur: his arrest, his suffering at the hands of sinners, and his dying for sinners on the cross. Jesus views his mission as one great whole, including what was still to be accomplished. Later on the cross, we hear his great cry of “It is finished” (19:30).

3.         It also indicates the confidence that Jesus the Son of God had in what he accomplished. He knew that all that God Almighty had given to do he had totally fulfilled. His obedience to the Father was complete.

B.        We need to recognize that all history is structured around the triumph of God’s glory in Jesus Christ. As we often say, “It’s the story of God’s glory in Jesus Christ.” It’s a story in six acts.

1.         Act One: God establishes his kingship – Creation – God creates in order to display his glory; he shows it by bringing a very good world into existence

2.         Act Two: Rebellion against God’s kingship – The Fall – at this point God might have justly ended humanity; instead, he began to make known his plan in Christ to bring greater glory to himself in redemption; he will bring about something better—salvation

3.         Act Three: God prepares for his coming King – Redemption initiated – God sets in motion his plan revealed through successive covenants and by preparing a people for the Son to redeem. This was a time of types and shadows.

4.         Act Four: God’s King arrives – Redemption accomplished – This is what Jesus is talking about in this text

5.         Act Five: Spreading the good news about the King and his cross –The mission of the church – This is our time; we are to be his temple where God is praised and people of all nations are blessed

Apply: How are you doing in living to bless others?

6.         Act Six: The return of the King – Redemption completed – This is the final victory Jesus includes us in; we will forever marvel at and rejoice in the King’s glory

Apply: We ought to be able to tell this to people. In other words, memorize this outline, so that you can explain to others the big picture of God’s plan in Christ. This will provide a context in which others can understand the purpose of Christ’s death and resurrection. It will also lead us away from our hyper-self-centered way of thinking about life and ourselves.

 

II.        Christ’s return to glory

A.        The glory that Christ prays for is linked with the pre-incarnate glory he had with the Father. Having carried out his mission, Jesus looks to return to be with the Father in glory. Some facts to notice:

1.         The Son of God is plainly speaking about his pre-human existence here (cf. 1:1-2; 8:58; 16:28).

2.         The Son longs to be back with the Father in that partnership of glory. This glory is in no way dependent on anything created, because it was God’s essential glory “before the world began.” God knows and enjoys his glory—and he wants to share it!

3.         Though sinful people are about to do their worst to him, he has confidence that the Father will bring him back to glory.

B.        Christ the Son of God views his return to glory as contingent upon the act of God the Father. He prays for the Father to bring him back to glory.

1.         This return to glory began at Christ’s resurrection (Rm 1:4).

2.         The resurrection of the Son to glory was achieved by the Father’s glory (Rm 6:4). When we speak of Christ’s resurrection, we ought always to glorify God the Father for raising his Son from the dead. The gospel events, while structured on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, were nevertheless actions of the Triune God.

Apply: This revelation about the Son’s return to glory, which happened in his resurrection and ascension, ought to increase how confidence in God first of all. And then it ought to build our confident expectation of glory, since in his great prayer, Jesus prays for his learners to be with him (17:24). So in your grief or struggles with sin or labors on mission with God, keep focused on this destiny of assured glory.

 

III.       Some important consequences

A.        Our view of Jesus must agree with this truth – This might sound rather simple or sound like something that all of us know. But does it really affect us?

1.         It is certainly true that our lives are to be formed by the cross of Christ, and so we encounter suffering for Jesus’ sake, and in Paul’s words fill up in our flesh the measure of Christ’s afflictions (Col 1:24). And it is true that Christ counts our sufferings as his (Ac 9:4). But do we actually think about our circumstances this way. Do we functionally divorce ourselves from Christ when we experience suffering by thinking, “Does God care about how rotten my life is now”? Does it even enter into our view of what is happening that this might be an opportunity for us to show the glory of a gospel-formed life?

2.         We must remember that the Lord Jesus is seated in immeasurable glory right now. He rules over everything for the good of the church (Eph 1:22). So then, in our struggles in the flesh, we must not think of him as defeated. He never is. He rules over the problems of his people to bring about a greater good.

Song: See the Lamb of God by Lou Fellingham

B.        Our security in Christ – How does this section present our certainty of the salvation of every believer in Jesus Christ?

1.         We are told the Christians have been chosen by God the Father and given to the Son to save. Clearly, if the Son completed that task then our salvation is secure.

2.         Jesus has fully completed whatever God required to save us. He left nothing undone. He removed all obstacles to our final salvation. We have nothing to pay.

3.         This work that he completed involves eternal life—life of an endless duration and great quality of knowing God and being loved by him.

4.         To accomplish our salvation, the Lord Jesus endured many kinds of suffering, including the task of propitiation. If Jesus satisfied the wrath of God to save you, he will never let you go.

5.         To do this task, the Father gave the Son all authority over everything. Therefore, nothing can separate you and me from him (Rm 8:28-39).

Apply: Therefore, we ought to grow in assurance of eternal life.

~ Dave

 

Pastor Dave Frampton

The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.

 

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