The Christian Public Servant – “training as continual learning”

January 31, 2017 – Tuesday

Reading
Proverbs 1:7 [NIV] The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Colossians 3:23 [NIV] Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters

Reflection
Being part of the 21st Century workforce, we all know we need to be constantly learning and improving our skills. A lot of money is spent by organizations to ensure its employees are up-to-date with the latest in skills and technologies. Some workers embrace these needs as part of training as continual learning, while others absolutely hate going to class.

As Christian public servants, you and I should be a part of the group that sees training as continual learning. Having a healthy respect and love (fear) for the Lord, we can be open to whatever needs to be learned for the job. And this will help us to be our best at work just as scriptures require.

So today at work, if a skill needs to be learned or refreshed, just see it as training as continual learning. And view it as a requirement for your other job – being a minister at work for the Lord.

The knowledge gained about your job will permit you to give Him even more glory!

Prayer
Dear Lord, I desire to know all that You would have me know. I thank You for the knowledge You have given me and ask for Your help to continually learn more for my employer and for Your ministry in my workplace. May You keep me from being foolish and always open to Your word. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

Stan Best
Training Manager, Apprentice School
Newport News Shipbuilding
Newport News, Virginia USA

The Christian Public Servant – “the culture of bullying”

January 30, 2017 – Monday

Reading
2 Corinthians 4:9 [NLT] We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.

Micah 7:8(b) [NLT] For though I fall, I will rise again. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light.

Reflection
One of my on-line students lives in another country where human rights are valued, including disability rights and protection from workplace bullying. I know she is a victim of workplace bullying, and that her physician prescribes an accommodation – a service animal – to help in the healing process. And I also know the accommodation was rejected by the state agency where she works – just like previous accommodations offered by the physician. But this time she called to tell me she suffered the trauma and humiliation of being escorted out of her building by security officers – escorted out for following the instructions of her physician.

Her voice trembled with trepidation. How could an accommodation be rejected when it costs the agency “not one pfennig?” How could it happen in a nation so deeply subscribed to human rights – even in the workplace. Why did a good coworker suddenly look with blank stare – as if passing a stranger – when “the fuss started”? And “why is this happening to me?”

We both prayed – for comfort and for strength. That while this was a knock-down day, tomorrow is a rise-again day. That those who hunt or hurt cannot destroy. That God is right next to her throughout this terrible mess.

You may work in an agency steeped in the culture of bullying. Lord knows, I once did. And now, so does my student. And you may blame yourself for the bad things happening. I once did that, too. And now, so does my student.

But fault belongs elsewhere, my friend. It belongs to those who deny bullying exists and now hope you will just go away. To those who allow a bully to get away with it. To those who look the other way. To those unaware that bullies seek potential victims to control – in the workplace and elsewhere – and, once found, they do not let up until the light of day.

Today at work, you can fight the culture of bullying. And you will not sit in darkness long. For the Lord truly is your light of day. He is your only light in a place with the culture of bullying.

Prayer
Lord, where bullying exists, use me as Your beam of light. 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 – “walk away to find a way”

January 27, 2017 – Friday

Reading
Hebrews 11:31 [NIV] By faith the prostitute Rahab, because she welcomed the spies, was not killed with those who were disobedient.

Reflection
Ever been attacked? Verbally attacked? Where you work? What did you do?

One day a young brother approached me when we were both outside in the yard. He was new to Life Row, and he was in pain – a lot of pain. He was just realizing what he had done, why he was here, and what was going to happen to him. It happens to all of us, and each brother handles it differently. This brother lost control of his feelings. For no reason on my part, he got in my face and started attacking me verbally.

What did I do?

Well, my response could either build his faith or hinder his faith. And it was important for our Lord to build his faith. And so I knew I had to receive this brother with peace despite how he chose to express his pain. I had to be more like Rahab – be obedient to God so I will not die.

You see, I had to walk away to find a way to respond to this brother in Jesus’ love. I could not do so when he was so angry, and I couldn’t trust myself to do so when I was angry from his verbal attack. So I waited. And shortly, I found a way to welcome him into our church. And soon enough, this young brother started to grow in his faith.

Today at work, you may run into someone so much in pain that he takes it out on you. Someone so frustrated, she really gets in your face. When that happens, do not be disobedient. Just walk away to find a way to receive that coworker in peace.

Yes, walk away to find a way to be obedient to God – just like Rahab.

And just like Rahab, you will not die.

Prayer
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Thank You for pouring Your love into me so I can pour it onto others – especially when pain overwhelms them. Amen.

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

The Christian Public Servant – “using only one ear rather than two”

January 26, 2017 – Thursday

Reading
Proverbs 17:27[NCV] The wise say very little, and those with understanding stay calm.

Reflection
My grandmother used to say, “God gave you two ears with which to listen and one mouth from which to speak…and you should use them in that proportion.” Growing up, I guess I talked a lot and didn’t listen nearly enough. And at the time, I didn’t realize she was planting a seed in me – to turn to God’s instruction for guidance so I would not mess up so much – like using only one ear rather than two.

As Christian public servants, people contact us because they have problems. They want someone to listen in order to get accurate information or useful guidance. And most people we serve are very nice and easy to listen to.

But there are always a few individuals who are frustrated with misinformation given by someone else not taking the time to listen. And we should expect that. I mean, wouldn’t it make you mad to be given the run-around by one or more staff members who just didn’t take the time to hear the full story?

Yes, most people you serve just want to be listened to and understood. But if you interrupt before they finish, or appear as if you have limited interest in hearing their problem, it is understandable that their anger and frustration can escalate right before your eyes. And not listening to the full story means you are using only one ear rather than two. And issues never find remedy in that manner.

Today at work, take my grandmother’s advice. Use His Word for guidance. Don’t respond using only one ear rather than two. Say little and understand more. And stay calm, knowing Jesus has your back in all situations that are surely coming your way today.

Issues never find remedy using only one ear rather than two.

Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for all that You do on my behalf each and every work day. I ask, Father, that You please help me listen fully when someone comes to me with a problem so I can properly guide them. Father, help me remain calm so that even the angriest of persons see only You in my response. Yes, help me remain calm in You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Wendy Standorf, PHR; IPMA-CP
Human Resources Director
City of West University Place
West University Place, Texas USA

The Christian Public Servant – “like spring rain and sunshine”

January 25, 2017 – Wednesday

Reading
Proverbs 16: 14-15 [MSG] An intemperate leader wreaks havoc in lives; you’re smart to steer clear of someone like that. Good-tempered leaders invigorate lives; they’re like spring rain and sunshine.

Reflection
Have you ever had a leader who was pushy, insensitive or often downright angry?

This type of personality may be good in the short term to motivate others to “get the job done,” but ultimately it can wreak havoc. Leaders like this tend to destroy unity and vision since their way is always “right” – and if you don’t agree, well, “there’s the door.”

Then there’s the leader who is good tempered, even keeled. He is a breath of fresh air and an anchor of stability to all those around. The office seems brighter because she encourages others to a higher standard and does all she can to help everyone succeed. The leader still holds you and me accountable, but he or she still invigorates through accountability. Yes, a good leader leads well.

Which type of leader do you have right now? Or, if you are the leader, what type of leader are you each workday?

As a Christian public servant – whether workplace leader or workplace follower – a renewal of attitude is needed every day. Be good tempered and, like spring rain and sunshine, help others grow in job and career.

Today, invigorate those with whom you work and serve. Lead or follow well. Be like spring rain and sunshine. Yes, invigorate!

Prayer
Lord Jesus, please help me reach for the higher goal of serving others before serving self – just like You did! Just like You do! In Your Name, I pray. Amen.

Ronald Wilson
Development Review Coordinator
Franklin County
Town of Rocky Mount, Virginia USA

The Christian Public Servant – “just really bad company”

January 24, 2017 – Tuesday

Reading
1 Corinthians 15:33 [NIV] Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”

Reflection
While I’ve been truly blessed to work with many wonderful people, sometimes I wasn’t so lucky. Once there was a coworker who stole my joy, my time, my passion, and even some of my money! She took things from me that I never intended to give away. And the worst part, I didn’t even notice what was happening to my own character. For I had no one to blame but myself for who I hung out with – and what the consequences would be.

It’s true, you and I are surrounded by many types of coworkers. Some with whom you have to associate, and others with whom you choose to associate. Some bring joy to your time at work, and others bring nothing but regret. And a few are just really bad company.

Today at work, choose wisely. Associate with coworkers who encourage your career-journey, love and respect you for who you are, and are dependable in completing their end of every task. Half of your career-journey is about people – not processes or product.

So at work today, don’t be misled. Stay away from those who are just really bad company.

Remember, your own character is at stake.

Prayer
Father, thank You for creating coworkers and companions. Give me decrement with whom I associate – in my work-life and in my real life. Help me take a healthy evaluation of the roles I give to those around me. Help me be grateful for the amazing people who cross my path, but give me courage to set boundaries with the ones who want to take from me. I trust You, Father, to provide me with an encouraging, motivating and reliable circle of companions. I pray these things in Your Son’s name. Amen.

Kathryn Saunders
Head Soccer Coach
Texas Southern University
Houston, Texas USA

The Christian Public Servant – “guide, advise, and watch over”

January 23, 2017 – Monday

Reading
Psalm 32:8(b) [NLT] I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.

Reflection
Public servants help others in many different capacities. Some are physical or mental health therapists, and others are substance abuse counselors. You might be a child welfare worker, or a teacher, or a nurse. You may serve others through working at a foundation or a charity. Or you may be a government employee. All these different pathways have one task in common — to guide, advise, and watch over others in some fashion.

I wanted to be a public servant so that I, too, could perform that task. I chose social work as a major in college and, after graduating, I entered the profession. And as I reflect on my career and life pathway, I realize the Lord has a similar task: to guide, advise, and watch over me – even before I chose my major — even before I came to know Him as Savior.

Imagine that! And now, saved, I am a Christian public servant!

As I guide, advise, and watch over those I serve, I know He is doing the same for me. His Word leads me and protects me. And through His Word, he is doing the same for those I serve.

As you guide, advise, and watch over others today, know He is doing the same for you and those you serve!

So as this workweek begins, remember that every interaction with others is an opportunity to introduce them to your Lord and His Word. To let them know how He is involved with their path, as He is with your path.

Remind all that His pathway is always the best pathway!

Prayer
Father, thank You for guiding me along the best pathway for my career and my life. I ask You to give me confidence to continue on this journey. I ask You to give me strength to seize each opportunity to introduce You and Your Word and Your pathway to those whom I serve. I am truly blessed that You still have good work to do in my life and in my work. I pray these things in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Greg R. Winge M.S.W.
C.S.A. Program Director
Office of Children’s Services
Franklin County
Rocky Mount, Virginia USA

The Christian Public Servant – “prey to your I-mode”

January 20, 2017 – Friday

Reading
2 Corinthians 4:5 [NLT] You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake.

Reflection
You may be “addicted” to your I-Phone, but do you ever fall prey to your I-mode? You know what I’ am talking about. God gives you an assignment and, if you’re not careful, you end up preaching about yourself – not God – forgetting that you serve for Jesus’ sake, not your sake.

It happens to me, sometimes. Does it happen to you?

When you fall prey to your I-mode, the “we” is barely remembered. Worse, the “He” is quickly forgotten.

You sometimes see it everywhere – at work and even on T.V. when elected leaders give speeches. Bragging and taking credit for all that goes right – but blaming others for all that is wrong. And before long, the preaching starts – but it is not about God.

Today at work, don’t be tempted to take credit and forget others. Don’t forget the “He” in what you accomplish. Don’t fall prey to your I-mode. Just put it to mute or turn it off completely. Better yet, just throw the whole thing away.

At work today, remember you are a servant for Jesus’ sake, not yours. Give God all the credit. Preach about Jesus, not you.

And only then will you see the fruit that Jesus brings to your table.

Prayer
Father, in the name of Jesus, I pray. Thank You for reminding me Jesus Christ is Lord. Let me preach that, and nothing else, throughout my day. Amen.

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

The Christian Public Servant – “facing mighty mountains today”

January 19, 2017 – Thursday

Reading
Philippians 1:6 [NIV] being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Reflection
I recently went hiking with a group of friends through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. It was bitter cold – like using an outside icy Stairmaster machine. Half way up the trail, my heart was beating so hard I thought it would pop out of my chest. But we made it to the top. And from there, we enjoyed a truly remarkable view – we could see the cities of Boulder and Denver and well beyond. And I thought of people who did not make it up this trail – those whom we met turning around; those who didn’t think the view would be worth it so they never started up.

Of course, after a short time enjoying the view, we started back down. At one point, I rolled my ankle and slid down a way. But I was alright, and we just laughed. Our minds were stuck on what we accomplished by taking this trail – and the confidence it gave us.

You know, it’s the same at work and in career. You and I are facing mighty mountains today. It is a struggle to climb each one of them. Others doubt our ability, and so do we. I question the worth of the trail, and you wonder whether the view will be worth it in the end. And we also witness coworkers giving up and turning back. And some coworkers never start up the trail. And once at the top, we are challenged by yet another mountain and this forces us to come down and start again – and the doubt and fears resume.

Yes, my friend, you are facing mighty mountains today. Just keep climbing in your job and in your career. Oh, your Father knows what you are up against. Know He is faithful. So be confident He will finish the good work He has started in you.

At work today, be confident. Through Him, you will make that climb!

And the next climb, too!!

Prayer
Father, thank You for the mountains in my life. Thank You for the journey. I ask that You give me strength and confidence to continue on this journey – for You still have good work to do in my life and in my work. I pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Kathryn Saunders
Head Soccer Coach
Texas Southern University
Houston, Texas USA

The Christian Public Servant – “dangerously close to running out”

January 18, 2017 – Wednesday

 Reading
Deuteronomy 16:17 [NLT] All must give as they are able, according to the blessings given to them by the Lord your God.

Reflection
The Christian Public Servant is dangerously close to running out of devotionals.

We need your help.

Would you tithe to our Lord to write one one-page workplace devotional per month?

Would you tithe to Him to write two one-page workplace devotionals per month?

Don’t have anything to write about? You have a job, right? You have a career, right? In retirement? On vacation? Searching for a new job? Dealing with job problems?

Not a good writer? We have a tip sheet, showing how and what. We also edit to make sure your best comes out.

BELOW IS A TIP-SHEET: 10 EASY TIPS TO WRITING A GREAT DEVOTIONAL for The Christian Public Servant.

We’ll never ask for a dime, but will you tithe your thoughts and experiences?

Give as you are able, and the blessings will be many!

We are dangerously close to running out.

Prayer
Father, if it is Your will, let this ministry continue. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

The Co-Editors:
Kevin Cooney kjcjapan@gmail.com
Bill Dudley bbssongs@gmail.com
Jonathan Lantz jklantz@outlook.com
Shelia Malone, shelia.malone@students.jsums.edu
Christopher Meconnahey cmeconnahey@gmail.com
Tammy Peavy tammy.peavy@mid.ms.gov
Stephen Pincus spincus@nnva.gov
Jim Slack jslack0229@live.com
Valerie Steele-Clearman valerieclearman68@gmail.com

Here is the tip-sheet: 10 tips

(1) PRAY — before you start writing. Follow the Holy Spirit. The task has nothing to do with your ego. It has everything to do with glorifying God.

(2) OVERALL:

  • Use the READING/REFLECTION/PRAYER format
  • Be CONCISE. The entire devotional should be less than 1 page. It should be designed for a quick read. Write as if it will be read at a traffic (red) light on the way to work. No tangents. No redundancies.
  • Keep it SIMPLE. Simple words – not complex ideas with complex words. ONLY ONE simple moral/scriptural/Christian point. Everything should be focused on the one point you want to make.
  • Keep in CONVERSATIONAL. Don’t worry about grammar. Write as if you are talking.
  • Keep it INTIMATE and PERSONAL. Write as if you are talking to a good friend over a cup of coffee. Write about yourself or an experience that you’ve been through, or write about a friend and an experience he/she has been through.
  • Remember, you are NOT writing a Sunday school lesson or a sermon or a lecture
  • You can “change the actors to protect the innocent or your job.” If it is about you, you can say “a friend called me last night…”
  • You can write it as a PARABLE. Keep in mind, Jesus taught best through parables. And, while I do not doubt the infallibility of scripture, parables are STORIES written to keep the attention of the audience. The details of a parable might change, depending on the audience, but the MORAL conclusion is always the same.
  • Your conclusions should be workplace or career or public service relevant. If you are a teacher/budget analyst/student/nurse — whatever – make it relevant to the workplace in general. You can write about your private/family life, but your conclusions should be relevant to the workplace. Make the connection to what should be learned and taken to work.
  • And PLEASENO POLITICS and NO IDEOLOGY. Jesus was (is) neither a liberal nor a conservative. Practicing Christians are (can be) either liberal or conservative in their view of the political world.

(3) Section on SCRIPTURE

  • Use ONLY biblical scripture. No other literature.
  • Use scripture relevant to the point you are making. Use only parts of scripture that are most relevant.
  • You can use any Bible version you want (e.g., NIV, KJ, etc.), but state which version you are using. (If you don’t, I will have to choose a version if I cannot figure out your version.)
  • Use few scriptures. Never use more than 3 scriptures. 1 is better than 2. Have a really good reason for >1.

(4) Section on REFLECTION

  • Do not add other scriptures/readings into the REFLECTION. Keep the REFLECTION focused only on the scripture used in the READING section.
  • One paragraph: tell a workplace or worker story
  • Another paragraph: link it to scripture
  • Final paragraph: link it to what the reader should take to work that day.

(5) Section on PRAYER – Keep it focused on the REFLECTION & keep it short.

(6) SIGNATURE

  • State your NAME as how you want it. Degrees are OK to list.
  • State your official title or what you do
  • State your agency
  • State your city/ state (province)/ and nation.

(7) PRAY before you send it in.

(8) ATTENTION: FIRST-TIME authors:

  • Make sure we have your email address. We will need it to send you a Contributor’s Agreement if you want it to be included in the next edition of the book version, The Christ Worker: Devotions for Job and Career (Emeth Press, 2017)
  • Send in a picture of you (for the book version). Either a picture of you doing what you do in the workplace or a shoulder/head shot picture.

(9) HAVE FUN GLORIFYING GOD!!!!!!! J It will take some thought and work, but glorifying God should always be fulfilling and fun!!!

(10) FINALLY (whew!)

Remember, we edit your work. We do so for three reasons: (a) to protect you from embarrassment, (b) to protect the reader from boredom, and (3) to give a “common voice” to the devotionals. We edit about four hours on each devotional. We might change your words, rearrange your sentences, rewrite parts, delete parts (especially where you are redundant or tangential to the ONE point you are making). We may even add sentences or paragraphs to enhance it.

Yes, we know, the Holy Spirit is guiding you in writing the devotional. But the Holy Spirit is also guiding us in the editing (or rewriting) of the devotional. And remember, it is STILL your work! It is STILL what the Holy Spirit placed in your heart. Our job is to make sure YOUR WORK helps the Holy Spirit reach the reader.

So let’s both you and us glorify God and let not our egos get in the way! J