The Christian Public Servant – “you really can feed them all”

December 30, 2016 – Friday

Reading
Luke 9:12-13 [NLT] Late in the afternoon the twelve disciples came to him and said, “Send the crowds away to the nearby villages and farms, so they can find food and lodging for the night. There is nothing to eat here in this remote place.” But Jesus said, “You feed them.”

Reflection
Ever get tired of helping people? It happens despite being a Christian public servant. It happens to me on Life Row. I know it happens to you.

We are put in a position to help people. But there are so many of them. We get to that point we want them gone. Lots of excuses. Too busy. Too Holy. Too self-righteous. Too selfish. Too tired.

Scripture describes what the tired Twelve wanted to do: send the crowd away. But Jesus said not to send any away – that it was their job to feed them even if they only had five loaves of bread, two fish, and no money.

The really sad thing is that these tired disciples came to Jesus not to seek His help in feeding the crowd. They just wanted them gone. But in the end, Jesus refreshed the Followers with His Devine compassion – His endless, tireless, limitless love. And He renewed a faith that a miracle will happen each time they refresh in His Devine compassion.

And here we sit – you and me – doing the same thing. When we grow tired of helping, we find a way to run people away. But we both can refresh in His Devine compassion. And a miracle will happen. Yes, you really can feed them all. And so can I.

Today at work, remember you are a Christian public servant. You are tired, sure. But He is not tired. So refresh in His Devine compassion – get an addictive fix of His endless, tireless, limitless love. And, I promise you, a miracle will happen today.

Yes, you really can feed them all.

Prayer
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Thank You for refreshing me in Your Devine compassion. I look forward to a miracle today! Through You, and only through You, I know I can feed them all. Amen.

Jimmy Davis, Jr.
Z-557 Unit N-10
Death Row
Holman Correctional Facility
Atmore, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “the urgency of hope”

December 29, 2016 – Thursday

Reading
Psalm 42:5 [NIV] Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Jeremiah 20:11 [NIV] “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Reflection
Susan, we made an offer to another candidate, and he accepted. It was a difficult decision because we could see what you would bring to the table. It was a pleasure meeting you.”

A Christian sister emailed me last night. Susan had applied for a position, and the job looked like it had her name all over it. The interview went so fantastic, she awaited the phone call offering the position. But the phone never rang. Instead, she received an email with the words above. Devastated. Depressed. Shattered. Above all, angry. Susan was angry at herself and at that agency. But most of all, she was angry at God for letting her down.

It’s difficult to console someone who is convinced something of value was taken away. That “something” could be a relationship gone bad. A son in prison. A daughter killed in a car accident. Fact is, the loss of many things clearly surpass the loss of a career opportunity. But at the time, that particular loss still hurts. In fact, the pain is tremendous.

So we exchanged emails throughout the night. We focused on the urgency of hope in God. That now is the time to praise Him – for His wisdom in this matter – and for being Savior. I reminded her that God truly does have a plan – one that includes a career opportunity He needs Susan to take. All the more reason, I argued, to focus on the urgency of hope. He is all Susan has.

Today you may be in the same boat as my Christian sister. That promotion slipped away. That job opportunity went south. And it will be difficult not to get angry at God. But do not be angry. Instead, praise Him for keeping you from something that was not yours in the first place. Praise Him for having a plan for you. And focus on the urgency of hope in Him for the future.

Yes, regardless of what you think is lost today, focus on the urgency of hope. He is all you have.

Prayer
Lord, throughout this workday, my hope is in You. My hope is in You alone. You are all I have. I praise you in bad times and in good times. And only in Your name, I pray. Amen.

James D. Slack, Ph.D., Ph.D.
Department of Public Policy & Administration
Jackson State University
Jackson, Mississippi USA

The Christian Public Servant – “this really simple question”

December 28, 2016 – Wednesday

Reading
Philippians 3:10(a) [HCSB] My goal is to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings

Reflection
I have this really simple question. What are your daily work goals in relationship with Jesus?

Work goals? In relationship with Jesus? That’s right. What are your daily work goals in relationship with Jesus?

You spend most of the waking day at work, planning for work, working on work, and going to and from work. So doesn’t it make sense that the one place you spend most of your time ought to be linked to your relationship with Him?

Or do you think your workplace is off limits to Christ? Kind of like a recess from the responsibilities of knowing Him. That the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings are just phrases – requiring no action – something to reflect upon on Sunday, but not something to worry about during the workweek.

Oh, come on! Certainly you don’t think this way, do you?

And so this really simple question still stands. And only you can answer it.

What are your daily work goals in relationship with Jesus?

Won’t you answer?

Before it’s too late.

Prayer
Dear Lord, my life seems so complex, yet it remains so simple. Today at work, give me wisdom to link what I do with whom You are. Give me strength to recognize Your resurrection each minute I am at work. Give me courage to see the fellowship of Your sufferings in each person I meet. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Chris Summers
Chaplain
W.C. Holman Correctional Facility
Alabama Department of Corrections
Atmore, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “leave the day with integrity intact”

December 27, 2016 – Tuesday

Reading
Psalm 41:12 [NASB] As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, And You set me in Your presence forever.

Proverbs 22:19 [NASB] So that your trust may be in the Lord, I have taught you today, even you.

Reflection
It was high time I addressed a significant conflict between me and a fellow Housing Commissioner. The day before, she changed some procedures in a major program of my section – and did so with neither discussion nor notification. What added to my frustration was that the mayor just appointed her as the lead commissioner – in essence, she was kind of my boss. And it was not the first time this Housing Commissioner imposed her will on me and my staff – but it had to be the last. Changing these procedures was that serious.

Before our meeting, I read my two morning devotionals and a chapter in scripture – all sources taught me how God wanted things done. He expected me to respect her, but He also expected me to maintain my own integrity – the integrity He gave me. For scripture teaches me to trust in our Lord and He will uphold me in the integrity He gives.

Well, the meeting went badly. I stepped down as a housing commissioner and returned to my old post. But still, He permitted me to leave the day with integrity intact His integrity.

You might not have done what I did – quit your job. You might not have the luxury of returning to a former position in your agency. But some conflicts may require you to do something.

When those times occur, seek guidance in God’s word before you say or act. Trust in Him, and He will let you leave the day with integrity intact His integrity.

Yes, today at work, follow God’s teachings and, whatever happens, He will let you leave the day with integrity intactHis integrity. And He will set you in His presence forever!

Prayer
Lord Jesus, let me seek Your will in all that I do at work. As I serve Your people, be they citizens or staff, may Your trust shine through my actions and words. Whatever happens, teach me what to do and permit me to leave the day with integrity intact. For that integrity comes from You, not me. It is Your integrity I bear. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Alan Cox
Development Specialist
City of Toledo
Toledo, Ohio USA

The Christian Public Servant – “that other workplace document”

December 26, 2016 – Monday

Reading
Proverbs 14:23 [NIV] All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

James 2:12-13 [NIV] Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Reflection
Got a phone call from a younger colleague. She now holds a management position and, for the first time, she is required to evaluate others. She knows this is part of the job, but she doesn’t relish doing it. And I told her she shouldn’t enjoy doing it!

Performance appraisal is important, yet it should be the least-favorite task of the manager. But because of the distaste, many managers try to get around doing it honestly. Some water-down weaknesses so not to offend. Or, balance strength for every weakness so to make the worker feel good. Or, rate all employees at the same level in an effort to treat everyone equally. Naturally these strategies have awful consequences for employee and agency.

In addition to job descriptions and workflow charts, I recommended my young colleague consult that other workplace document – the Bible. There’s a lot in it about job performance. God expects benefits for hard-workers, as well as consequences for others.

Now, some believe that other workplace document is filled with contradictions. But I told my friend to read carefully. Evaluation must be done without prejudice – but it must be done with mercy. For poor performance, penalize. For no performance, terminate. For exceptional performance, reward. Do not be afraid of what others will say but, find merciful paths in speaking and acting about the performance.

Nowhere in that other workplace document does it suggest you should have fun in the performance process. And following Jesus is never easy – including at work.

So at work today, you will be more in line with Him if you do not forget to use that other workplace document! There you will find merciful paths in rendering judgment.

Prayer
Father God, it is never easy in my workplace. If I must assess, give me wisdom to rely on Your word as I follow the job description and other reports. But let me find merciful paths in rendering judgment. In Your Son’s name, I pray. Amen.

James D. Slack, Ph.D., Ph.D.
Department of Public Policy & Administration
Jackson State University
Jackson, Mississippi USA

The Christian Public Servant – “a Jesus change”

December 23, 2016 – Friday

Reading
Acts 3:5-6 [NLT] The lame man looked at them eagerly, expecting some money. But Peter said, “I don’t have any silver or gold for you. But I’ll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!”

Reflection
A young brother used to be very angry all the time. He cussed at everything, and he even cussed at himself. Worse, he cussed at Jesus whenever something went wrong. And things always went wrong for him, because he was on death row – not Life Row. And being on death row is a terrible situation.

I could have tried to help by giving him something I bought from the prison store. A candy bar. Instant soup. Some spam. Coffee. But that would have been a temporary fix. And like the lame man in scripture, where Peter wanted to change the condition by offering Jesus, I wanted to do the same for this young brother. Like Peter, I wanted to help make a Jesus change in him.

And now this young brother is off death row. He lives fully on Life Row. And each time I see him, I have to smile because he is now up and walking!

So many times, we want to change someone’s situation but not the conditions that cause the situation. And even when we do, we try to change earthly conditions. But what will really change someone – from surviving a life on a death row to celebrating living on a Life Row – is a Jesus change.

Is there an angry brother or sister at work? A coworker? Someone you serve? Next time you see this person-in-need, don’t focus on the situation. Focus on helping to change the condition – a Jesus change.

Today at work, help that person find a Jesus change. And soon you, too, will smile seeing that person up and walking on Life Row!

Prayer
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Thank You for opening my eyes so I can see and move in compassion to help someone’s condition. Give me Your wisdom to help someone get up and walk. Amen.

Jimmy Davis, Jr.
Z-557 Unit N-10
Death Row
Holman Correctional Facility
Atmore, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “that one simple baby”

December 22, 2016 – Thursday

Reading
Luke 2:1-3 [ESV] In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town.

John 3:16 [ESV] For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Reflection
Think of it. A nation’s public service is called to conduct a worldwide registration. What a task! But you also have to ask, why?

Caesar’s decree to his public service was issued for the purpose of government control and taxation for the entire Roman Empire. But God had a purpose through Caesar for only one family – one mother and father and their baby!

Think of it! God’s overriding purpose for a worldwide registration stirred the entire world, but His immediate intention was for His universal plan that only effected One – that one simple baby to be born in Bethlehem.

How many of Caesar’s public servants actually gave thought to God acting on His behalf to save all of creation? Did they know they were being used by God?

As a Christian public servant, remember this. Every daily work activity, and every seemingly insignificant work moment, moves the “world” of your office, your community, your nation – your life and the lives of others. God is intentionally acting even through the most draconian regulation.

So today at work, think of it! What apparently insignificant part will you play in His plans?

Just remember this: It all started with one public service and that one simple baby born in Bethlehem.

Prayer
Lord, let me keep Your perspective when asked to do things at work. Let me wonder about Your purpose when new and strange rules and policies hit my workplace or my world. Let me constantly think of it when it comes to that one simple baby. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Chris Summers
Chaplain
W.C. Holman Correctional Facility
Alabama Department of Corrections
Atmore, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “a promise to preserve”

December 21, 2016 – Wednesday

Reading
Psalm 40:11 [NKJV] Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 [NKJV] But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

Reflection
A lot can keep you awake when it comes to your job. Things way out of your control. A budget cutback. A furlough or layoff. Handling the daily workload stress. Catastrophic illness. And then there’s the Evil One.

So you worry. About family. About loss of wages or work. About healthcare and its cost. You want to be in control, but you really have no control.

Yes, workplace realities and potentialities are more threatening than reassuring. And self-protection from what may happen is not possible. But as David expresses in this Psalm, God’s protection comes in the form of His truth and lovingkindness. Scripture affirms what He affords through His tender mercies – a promise to preserve. And scripture affirms His faithfulness.

So it’s up to you. Worry yourself sick. Or, recognize, acknowledge, and accept the protection God affords. It’s a promise to preserve, and it’s there continually in every area of life – including your job.

Today at work, will you allow God to protect you His way? Or, will you run from His protection by worrying and doing things your way?

At work today, have faith in a promise to preserve. And know He is faithful to you.

Prayer
Father, my workplace can be worrisome on a good day and even dangerous on another. The Evil One is always trying to break in. Thank You for protecting me. Truly I have faith in You, for You are faithful to me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Chris Summers
Chaplain
W.C. Holman Correctional Facility
Alabama Department of Corrections
Atmore, Alabama USA

The Christian Public Servant – “the rules of the road”

December 20, 2016 – Tuesday

Reading
Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 [NIV] Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

Reflection
As a Christian public servant, you see the fears of people in this day and age. Some fear the condition of the economy. Others fear political candidates who may or may not have won an election. And many fear for safety in public places.

In those ways fear is negative, but fear can also mean a healthy respect. I fear deep water and fire, but I need both to live my life – yet I have a healthy respect for both.

You and I have a duty fear God. We should fear (have a healthy respect for) Him, and keep His commandments. Fearing Him and His Commandments are not just suggestions. They are the rules of the road to keep us safe along life’s highway. And living by the rules removes many of the fears of this day and age.

Think about it. The worst evil can do is take you from this life and send you to the next. The worst evil can do at work is perhaps get you fired and send you where He needs you most.

So at work today, heed the conclusion of the matter. You certainly have nothing to fear. And you should not be afraid to help others see that, if they live their lives this way, they too will have nothing to dread.

Yes, today at work, abide by the rules of the road – and show others how to do the same!

Prayer
Dear God, if there is anyone to fear it is You who gave me life. Help me follow Your commandments and guide others to Your path. I know You will judge good and evil, and I pray for Your courage to face evil as You would have me. In Your Son’s name, I pray. Amen.

Stan Best
Training Manager, Apprentice School
Newport News Shipbuilding
Newport News, Virginia USA
and Masters of Theology Candidate
St. Leo University
Chesapeake, Virginia USA

The Christian Public Servant – “that one most-awful workday”

December 19, 2016 – Monday

Reading
Matthew 5:16(b) [NIV] let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

1 Peter 5:7 [NIV] Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Reflection
There was a time when I really struggled with going to work each day. All the drama. The negativity. The stress. It all just weighed heavy on me. One day the struggle became so overwhelming, I had enough. Either I was going to quit, or my burdens had to be lifted.

I decided not to quit. Instead, I chose God.

And after that one most-awful workday, everything started to change – not overnight, but I felt things moving in the right direction – His direction.

By casting my burdens to God, it changed my attitude. I started to walk around my workplace without a dark cloud over my head. I learned not to take the bad work environment personally. I learned with God’s help, I could still control the affect the negativity has on me. And most importantly, it allowed me to help others.

Oh, my coworkers noticed the change in me! God gave me many opportunities to discuss the power of prayer and its impact on my “work-heart.” Yes, many could see His light shining through me. And they started to feel His light beaming upon them.

Today at work, you may experience that one most-awful workday. If you do, pray and cast your cares to Christ. You cannot shine His light until you surrender all burdens to Him. And He is waiting for you.

So today, don’t let that one most-awful workday get in the way of glorifying your Father in heaven!

Prayer
God, thank You for helping me get the devil’s hand away from me. I yearn to be Your light in the face of darkness – and to share Your light with others. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Logan Dickens, MPA
Special Projects Analyst
Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services
Richmond, Virginia USA