Is it more than just business to you?

May 6, 2017

“If you are helping someone and expecting something in return, you are doing business not kindness.”  (Unknown) – as seen recently on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.

I’ve posted here several times before about helping others as a way to do something meaningful with your life. I never once mentioned expecting something in return, unless one counts the great feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction that comes with a helperselfless effort to help others in need. There are, however, those who do what appears to be volunteer work to help others but who have ulterior motives. Many of these people are in it to be seen, to be considered to be kind and helpful by others; presumably others whom they think it is important to impress.

You may have been involved with a volunteer effort with people like that. They end up the day of hard work looking pretty much the same as when they arrived. Many of them spend the entire time chatting with others or helping “supervise” the work. They always seem to end up in the front of the groups if there are pictures to be taken for PR purposes. To them the effort is just business; it’s a way for them to earn some “credits” for their volunteerism.

One thing that always impressed me about ex-President Jimmy Carter was that, when he volunteered at Habitat for Humanity build sites; he actually worked. He got dirty anddigging sweaty like everyone else on the site. Most important people show up for things like a ground breaking ceremony with suit and tie on and stand there with their silver shovel for the photo op and then are never seen again. Do you know people like that?

The opportunity to help someone, or to help in some effort that will benefit someone in need, is Gods way of letting us do His work with our hands. In fact, that is the theme of a upcoming weekend of volunteerism for the ELCA Lutheran Church – God’s Work, Our Hands. It is somewhat sad to think that for some this annual event is their one time of the year to get involved with volunteer work and get their ticket punched for the year. There are certainly opportunities to do work that is needed every day of the year.

I will admit that I’m not much for the hooky shirts with the theme God’s Work Our Hands emblazoned across the front or back. I think they are tacky and advertising your good works like that is really just an invitation for compliments – you are trying to get something back for the work that you are doing. You never saw Mother Therese running sewrving souparound Calcutta with a T-shirt like that on, nor will you ever see them on the thousands of volunteers who toil year around behind the scenes as food servers at shelters or councilors at safe houses.

Those people and the many, many more who work as volunteers for all of the right reasons don’t do so because they expect a reward, either here or in heaven. They do so because it is the right thing to do, the thing that God has called upon them to do; and, at the end of the day their own sense of satisfaction is reward enough. They are doing kindness and not business.

Have a great and fulfilling weekend.

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Maybe it’s a matter of trust…

April 11, 2017

From a recent blog post to the Jack’s Winning Words blog comes this wonderful little play on words – “Nothing recedes like success.”  {Walter Winchell)

Jack went on to write – There’s a Latin phrase, similar to this quote, “Sic transit gloria mundi,” worldly glories are soon gone, or, what have you done for me lately?”

In our modern, me-oriented, short attention span and throw-away world; the phrase “what have you done for me lately” defines the credo that too many people live by in group-of-girls-looking-at-phonestheir day-to-day interactions with others and in their relationship with God. If God were to come to earth and stand next to these people, the first things that they would do is whip out their phone and try to take a selfie with God, so that they could post it on Facebook.

“It’s all about me” is another favorite catch-phrase. So, I guess it somewhat natural for the self-centered person ask God, “what have you done for me lately?” I might suggest that the better question to ask is “What have I done for God lately?” Perhaps you have had success in life. Did you thank God for that? Did you give a portion back to God, so that he could use it to help others? Did you even think of God, or were your thoughts on how good you are at what you do and how to achieve even more success? Did your hubris cause you to push God aside and even ask, “What have you done for me lately?”

Maybe the real issue is a matter of trust in God. Do you trust God in your life?  Corallie Buchanan put it this way in her book Watch Out! Godly Women on the Loose – “…You say to God, “I have never seen you provide for me.” God says to you, “You have never trusted Me.” I can hear the protests now from people claiming to be good church-going Christians; people of faith. Danny L. Deaubé put it this way – “One may have an abundance of faith in God, but do we trust Him when we don’t understand? What helping handsgood is faith without trust?” It is our natural tendency to want to (maybe to have to) understand what is going to happen that causes us to have doubts that God is with us and will protect us and guide us to do the right things. We just can’t bring ourselves to let our guard and move forward with total trust in God. We cannot take the risk.  “Risk taking is believing in yourself while trusting in God; knowing that He will open doors for you, even when you don’t see any.” ― Farshad Asl

If you saw the 1986 Eddie Murphy movie The Golden Child, you may recall the scene where Murphy’s character (the chosen one) is tested by having to follow a path in the dark cave while carrying a glass of water that he must not spill. When the path to the place where the Ajanti Dagger is located, it suddenly becomes a series of wavering towers over a seemingly bottomless pit. Then even the towers stop and Murphy’s character is told to take a leap of faith and trust and step off into the darkness. He steps off and discovers that there is some hidden force that allows him to complete the journey and recover the dagger. That was entertainment and the example setting was couched in Buddhist terms; but the concept of having that kind of faith in our God was a good message for us all. We need to the faith AND the TRUST to step off, even when we don’t see the next stepping stone in front of us.

“If you’re wrestling with some sort of decision, reflect for a moment and ask yourself, Am I being brave, or am I being safe? In the end, it depends on whether we think God can be trusted.”  ― Gary Haugen. Why aren’t we all braver in our day-to-day lives? Our tendency to be safe, to not take risks in life is a failure to trust that God will hand reaching for heavennever let you tackle something that you cannot accomplish, because with Him all things are possible. It may not happen right away and you may not recognize the hand of God in what transpires. Often you will feel like the door to the opportunity has been slammed shut and God has abandoned you; however, as William Branks put it – “When God closes a door He does not always open a window. Sometimes He wants you to sit in the quiet darkness while He transforms your fear into trust. How long that takes, is often up to you!”

Others may go through life without letting fears slow them down, but also not stopping to appreciate the help that God has provided them in their success. For these people life is just a joyous happenstance and maybe God was along for the ride because of their faith. I love the way that Albert Einstein characterized God’s presence in their lives – alone at sunset“Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.” So if you’ve made it through life with one happy coincidence after another, maybe you should take some time to reflect on that, too. Perhaps you just never have taken the time to characterize your great good fortune as the hand of God in your life.

There are two takeaways here –

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.” – Proverbs 3:5-

And, once you have come to the place of trust in God;

“Don’t ask God to guide your steps if you’re not willing to move your feet.” – Unknown

Taking that next step is still up to you. Trust in God and move your feet.