GPS for Your Journey – 3 Habits to Keep you on Route

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Listen rather than look for direction in your journey

The chain saw ripped another scrub tree as we cleared the north Florida site for construction. VVVMMM!. Cell phone. “Not now”, I thought. “Answer that”, said something within me. Chain saw still buzzing. Ear plugs in. I could feel that direction more than hear it. I choked off the saw and walked around a building to cut the noise of the dozer. I thought, “If this phone call leads to something signficant I will not forget it”. I found a quiet place.

Work Interrupted

“David Winter?”, It was a teaming partner. “Yes, can I help you? I said”. “David, there is an opportunity coming out of the Air Force Reserve I think we need to look at. But it is due in three weeks and you’ll have to come to Washington DC in a few days and help write it”. I had site work to do. Leaving could delay the project. But I had been praying for an open door to grow federal contract work. Should I leave existing work and chase this?

I have worked for years in mundane workplaces. Years where my desk was the only terrain I’d see. It was my own choosing. A life of comfort is easier than a life of faith. But moving to Florida from Wisconsin did not allow complacency. I had an office to build, staff to hire, and clients to gain. I needed help to create a backlog of projects from nothing.

Created to Follow

The Lord whispers in Jeremiah 10:23 an ability we do not have:

I know that the way of man is not in himself. It is not in man to direct his steps.

But if it’s not within us to know direction do we give up and go back to complacency? No, although it would be easier. He promises instead to be our guide as we follow Him. If we follow what we cannot see then we have faith. Then doors are opened for us. Doors we cannot see. In this story above, I did leave the job site, go to Washington, and write the proposal. After 6 months we were notified that a new door was opened; we won a $25M contract. It was the first large design-build contract win for me. But most meaningful was the way in which the Lord directed me to it. The opportunity was just not on my radar.

3 Steps to Clearly Hear

Our hearing can be seasonal. Great instruction followed by silence. What happens if you are off route? Turn and believe. When I need to hear clearly again I do these things:

  1. Pray Every Morning: a friend once said this to me, “You will never hear and follow the rhythm of the Holy Spirit in your life unless you pray regularly”.
  2. Read the Word Every Morning: reading the Bible cleans our spirit and mind and prepares them to receive.
  3. Talk with Him Every Day: speak and meditate to the Lord. He likes to jump into these conversations.

Have fun this week hearing from the Lord, you may just see His smile as you follow Him.

Follow In the Footsteps of God – Create in your Workplace

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Creating is an attribute of God. We read in Genesis that in the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth. The Spirit of God was brooding over the waters. Then the Lord spoke and there was light. In this passage we see the Holy Spirit moving upon the new earth and new form and new life were created as a result. Was this a unique one-time event, or a pattern?

We know of biblical accounts of the Holy spirit leading and creating with man. Moses, the architect of God’s Tabernacle, received the plan dimensions of the Tabernacle of Meeting from the Lord. Jacob, a shepherd and ancestor of Abraham, received dreams of how to prosper his flock and it made his wealth exceed his employer. Joseph as Governor of Egypt received and interpreted dreams and became second only to Pharaoh in power. It goes on and on. We see a pattern of the Lord showing us of how He wants to communicate and “create” with His creation.

Will the Lord still guide and direct us today? In an earlier post I wrote about the creation of the McPherson Bow Company through a divine dream. The Bible teaches us that the sons and daughters of God are led by His Spirit (Romans 8:14). This working together of the Holy Spirit and men and women continues today. Divine collaboration in your workplace can both be fulfilling and rewarding. Those that create in our society are generally more fulfilled and more compensated than those that are “working” the ideas of others. Why not step toward creating something new in your life and step into your full potential?

What is deep in your heart that you want to create? Would creating it make your workplace, your family, or the world a better place? Would it bring you closer to God. Would it allow Him to lead you more personally? Follow in His footsteps. Begin now to take your creative idea to the next level with these modest steps listed below. Each have helped me become more creative in different areas of my life:

Step 1. Ask God. No one knows you better. Drop what you’re doing now and ask Him what He has already placed in your heart and mind to create. You may be surprised what is already there waiting for you to recognize, name, and produce.

Step 2. Create a Mind Map. Map your idea using free mind mapping software. A mind map is a diagram used to visually outline information. It is created around a single idea around which is organized associated ideas or concepts. Then words or pictures are attached to each supporting idea. The benefit is that your idea can be taken from a general thought to an organized map to work through its implementation. Check out www.xmind.net for a free example.

Step 3. Change Your Environment. We all work more productive with a change of environment. But, equally important, our environment affects the type of work we produce. Get out of your cubical and go to Starbucks or hide out in whatever creative cave you need to connect your heart and mind to God. Get away from the normal, everyday, environment you are usually in.

Step 4. Connect with Others in Your Creative Passion. It is simple now to become part of an on-line community that is passionate and creative in the subject area of your interest. Use blogs, social networking, and on-line media to become part of the community that understands, values, and encourages your creative pursuit.

Step 5. Know Your Tribe. Surround yourself with others that believe in you. You will have to do things differently than most people to create something totally new. It will involve time and effort pursing your dream. Hang with those that believe in you and don’t take it personal if others just don’t get it.

Remember, your life will be most fulfilled as you create something new. It’s worth your time! It also may bring you closer to God by requiring that you follow in His footsteps.

The Pandering CEO’s Guide to Censoring Christmas

imagesDear American CEO

In your wish to maximize year-end profit please remember to quietly refuse any reference of Christ or Christmas in your workplace this holiday season.   In order to provide maximum sales of your products nothing must offend your customer’s experience in your stores.  Offending customers may limit traffic, create bad press, and reduce revenue.

Further, offended staff may reduce their productivity.  Remember, as the leader of your company, it is most important to keep your staff on task.   Unity is king!  Do not indulge your staff with opportunity to express any “spiritual” significance during the most important shopping season of the year.  They must together carry the message of “holiday” to help bring a successful close to the fiscal season.

I have learned effective ways to keep this holiday season focused on the almighty dollar.  They are lessons I’ve learned from CEO’s that came before me.  I am willing to share them with you because I see you have what it takes to carry them forward.  You have strictly compartmentalized your faith.  Monday through Saturday is for business.  Church is for Sundays.  Stick with that and you could gain the whole world!

Anyway, here are some lessons I’ve learned from CEO’s in my Christmas’ past:

  1. Forbid the word “Christmas”:  This word is associated with “Christians” and those that do not share their faith may feel slighted.  We want to include everyone in on the “holiday” alternative.  So, by all means no more “Merry Christmas” in the workplace.
  2. Replace the annual “Christmas Card” with a “Holiday Card”:  Most people won’t care or notice.  Again, we want to be friends to all and not slight others that are different from us.  This acceptance really shows love better than making people uncomfortable, right?
  3. Send an email to your staff explaining the “appropriate way” to communicate:  You are the leader and must communicate your vision to replace “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays”.  They will follow your lead.  Remember, it’s for the unity of the team!
  4. Donate to a “Humanitarian” Cause:  Show your goodwill to all by donating to a cause that does not offend.  Stay away from groups that take stands against non-traditional lifestyles.  Stay away from donating to groups like the Boy Scouts, Salvation Army, etc.
  5. Remind everyone the private nature of “faith”:  This is the key to convincing them all.  It’s certainly ok for your staff to have “faith” so long as they don’t share it.  What’s that saying?  Oh yeah, “Preach Christ everywhere you go, and when necessary, use words.”  Use that and you’ll get their heads nodding like a Santa Clause Bobble Head doll!

Happy Season!

Why Grace in the Marketplace?

Forever 21 prints John 3:16 on the bottom of every shopping bag (photo credit Los Angeles Times).

Forever 21 is a clothing store that was founded by Don and Jin Chang, Christians who moved to America from Korea in 1981. The small store they opened in Los Angeles in 1984 has grown into a mass business consisting of hundreds of locations across the globe.  They are lights for Jesus Christ in the marketplace.  On the bottom of each bag, shoppers will find “John 3:16,” the popular Bible verse that reads, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  This is one example of marketplace grace.  What is your example?

I wanted to write this blog to show how simple it is to follow the Lord in business.  More than a blog about leading  I wanted to offer examples about being  a follower of Christ in business.   I wanted to encourage you to be fully the Lord’s disciple in your own personal marketplace whatever your position and whatever your profession.  It’s where you are now that needs His Grace.

How do you do that?  By bringing the Spirit to the workplace as well as your soul and body.

The problem with the current business environment is that there is very little spiritual aspect to it.  There seems to be little difference in the workplace between people who know the Lord and those who do not.  The unspiritual personal behavior makes up unspiritual organizational behavior. Business vision, purpose, and strategy are articulated in secular terms.  Very few business leaders articulate business operations with a worldview that has been shaped by knowing Christ.  This leads to a “dumbed down” version of what the marketplace could be.     Christians sit silent in meetings when the Holy Spirit desires to speak through them.  As a result, our meetings can become discussions of numbers only.  We chart the progress of our organizations but the purpose of our organization remains unknown. It is all empty when compared with a business that seeks to fulfill and articulate a God ordained purpose.

The premise is that a God who changes people for the good can also change businesses for the good. If indeed the  Lord has transformed you into a “child of the Light”, then as He leads you in business, you will create products and businesses of the Light.

The solution is for you to be a child of Light wherever you are called.  I propose that you place your work into the Lord’s hands and ask Him to lead you in every part of it. The Lord has entrusted you with a position of economic influence, whether you are the CEO of an entire company or simply the CEO of your own desk.  He waits on you to give your work back to Him so that He can write a supernatural story through your life.

The benefits of allowing The Lord to lead you in the workplace are firstly, the Lord’s.  The purpose of all that we do is to bring glory to God.  The Lord will shape whatever you give him for His good purpose.  He will shape your story into His story and the success that follows will be beyond what you can hope or think.  It will be much greater than you could have accomplished without Him.

The benefit to you is that you will be fulfilled in your work as you do it for the Lord.  Our life becomes so much larger as the traditionally “secular” environments of your life give way to the Spirit and become part of your spiritual walk.  It will make your natural  and mundane 8 to 5 workday become supernatural in purpose and joy!  The greatest moments of my work life have been when I have worked hand in hand with The Lord.  So many of my testimonies of His power and grace come from the workplace.  He is waiting for that relationship with you as well.  My hope is that this blog encourages a new resolve in you to follow Christ into your marketplace.

So, follow in the footsteps of many other successful entrepreneurs and follow Christ into the marketplace.  See what God can do through you!

A Story of Moving From Two Sides – Her Perspective

To let go allows God to mend you

To start over allows God to mold you

To move ahead allows God to mature you  

(Susan Miller, After the Boxes are Unpacked – Moving On After Moving In)

This is the second post on moving.  This one is written from “her” perspective – my wife, Melanie.  

Dave and I were married 11 years with established friends, a home church and close with family when the first BIG change happened.  We were serving happily with my parents in the ministry.  Dave was established at work.  But, I would travel to different parts of the country and would have desires to live different places.  I just never thought it would be part of our plan. But the Lord was stirring in Dave to step out in faith and be challenged.  The Lord opened doors to us quickly thereafter and presented an option that would advance Dave’s career and give our family opportunities.  It would allow us to give our girls the education we wanted them to have.  When Dave told me he thought an offer was coming that would move us to Florida, 22 hours from Duluth, Minnesota, it freaked me out.  I never thought we would move.  Immediately I began to ride an emotional roller coaster.  I would miss everyone.  How would we put together a life on the other side of the country?

But I just wasn’t ready.  In my stubbornness and my lack of faith, I put my foot down.  I said , “I cannot do this”.   So, together we decided to turn down the opportunity.  We gave it up.  We said in our hearts that if  God wanted this for us He would bring it back.  After this decision we were both very let down and felt like something great was missed.

Four months later the offer came back.  It was even better for our family.  I decided that I need to trust Him.  I realized my husband could hear from Him.  That was the turning point. It was when I began to release the plans for my life and let God do what He wanted.  Then, in unity, we decided to take the offer to move to Florida.

I have learned that the Lord doesn’t blindly pull you through life.  He is good enough to lead us and confirm His leading to comfort us.   He comforts us as we walk the path He has for us.  There were many confirmations He gave that comforted me in the move.   The greatest confirmation was in our first visit to Florida.  At Destiny Worship Center, as Pastor Steve Vaggalis spoke, the words went directly to my heart.  He spoke of  stepping into a new season, letting go of the old, moving toward the new, and trusting the Lord.   He spoke that it was time to step in to the new season with faith.  I knew that this was the Lord’s Word for me and it cut me to the heart.  It was what I needed to to move forward.

Here is a list of things that helped me move forward in a difficult season of my life, a difficult move.

  1. Realize God’s plan may be bigger than you.   God has a plan bigger than you can know.  So you will not always understand it. He wants to stretch you  to help others as He grows you up.  He will need to move you from your comfort zone to do that.  Look at the big picture and not just the current corner of your life.
  2. Realize God is good.  God has your best future in mind.  He loves you and cares for you.  He won’t lead you into evil.  It will be ok!
  3. Release your situation to God.  You need to release your situation to the Lord and follow Him.  It’s a matter of trusting what you cannot see.
  4. Release your feelings of Loss.  Release your feelings of loss to the Lord and He can begin to heal you.  In each season of life there is blessing and loss.  Release any sense of loss to Him.  To help me do this, I clung to Psalm 138:8, “The Lord will perfect that which concerns me“.
  5. Believe that the Lord will protect you.  I had to trust not only the Lord, but also Dave.  Trust that the Lord can protect you even if you or your husband make a “wrong” decision.
  6. Realize you are teaching your children:  As a mother, remember your behavior will be copied by your children.  Realizing this helped me stay encouraged for them.  I wanted to model a behavior of how to hear from and follow the Lord.  Remember your words, attitudes, and actions are being watched and affect those that come after you.  Be a Mom that shows them how to step out in their life and live in God’s big plan.
  7. Don’t Fight with God:  Don’t fight God, he knows what’s best for you.
  8. Don’t Fight with your husband.  Don’t fight your husband, he wants what’s best for you
  9. Have a sense of humor – Growth is a part of the plan of your life.  Enjoy the adventure!
  10. Be Thankful.   Be thankful and embrace the opportunities the Lord brings you!

Melanie

A Story of Moving From Two Sides – His Perspective

How do you make a tough decision to move?

My wife Melanie and I wanted to write this and the following post together.  The post is how to make a tough move easier.  We each will take our turn, this post is David’s perspective. 

Deciding To Move

Months preceding the decision the pressure would build.  My wife, Melanie, and I would go for long walks and discuss what we should do.  We knew through comments made from my boss that the company wanted us to move again.  This time about 1,000 miles from Destin, Florida to the corporate headquarters in Kansas.  I had in over a decade and a half with the company and enjoyed my role.  Moving would mean another promotion and all its benefits but this wasn’t the first time we were faced with this decision.

We had moved from Wisconsin to Florida to open up a new office four years earlier.  The startup was a great success. A phenomenal team was built after we came to Destin by faith not knowing anyone.  We started in Florida on a cardboard desk with 1 laptop and the office grew to 10 staff and a $10M contribution per year to the company. But it was also one of the most difficult personal decisions we had ever made together.  Both our families, support structure, and grandparents to our three girls were in Wisconsin when we moved 22 hours away to Destin.

Now, four years later it looked like it may happen all over again. We had great friends in Florida.  We were very involved in ministry.  I wondered how a move would affect our girls?  How would it affect our marriage?  How would it affect our extended family?  What would happen to the team?  On what basis should we make this decision to move or not move?  How should we make this decision?

How To Make Tough Decisions

How do you make the toughest decisions in life?  It seems that every few years we are faced with extraordinarily tough decisions.  Perhaps you are too.  Tough decisions seem to have equally weighted benefits and costs making the path forward uncertain.

Barry Perez, leader of Harvestime Ministries gave me this advice as I asked him how I decide between two very difficult paths.  He said to use the analogy of the “The Three Harbor Lights” to make tough decisions.  It guided me through the decision to move.

There are lights along the channel as a ship comes into harbor. If the ship is on course the lights will line up behind one another and appear to be one. If you see multiple lights, you’re off target. The ship’s captain will then re-position the ship so that the lights appear to be one. In decision-making, if we can get “three lights” lining up, we may in fact know God’s will for our decision.  Below are the three lights to line up when weighing your tough decision.  If they line up you may be on target with your direction:

The Light of God’s Word.  Your decision should not contradict God’s Word or His promises.  If the decision involves a change that would make you compromise your integrity, your faith, or your obedience to the Lord it may be an indication it is not the right decision.

The Light of the Holy Spirit.  Your decision should have a peace or excitement within you. This is an indication of your inner witness from the Holy Spirit.

The Light of Circumstances.  The circumstances of your life should point to the need for the decision. God will work through us and speak to us through our circumstances.

Lining up your decision with these three lights may help you identify what is the right decision for you and your family. Do these three lights make sense to you?  Have you based a decision upon “The Three Lights”.

Trust Releases Control – 5 Steps to Victory

Trust requires releasing control to another

I prepared.  I opened my heart to constructive criticism and opened the door to the performance review. It had been 7 years of trying to get along with a boss that clearly did not like me.  Sure, I had a lot to learn when I first joined the company but after several years there just seemed to be nothing I could do to grow the professional relationship.  First, I was too maverick.  Then, later, as I gave my life to Christ, and learned to submit wholly to authority, it was something much deeper that made this boss angry with me.

The performance review suddenly turned an ugly corner.  “You’re just a maverick Dave”.  It was followed by a 10 minute emotional rant.  I am not even sure of the words anymore but I do remember the viper eyes and the curl on her upper lip as she spewed venom and ripped me.  I was floored.  I was in total submission to her authority, was making my utilization goals, and just brought a half million dollar account in the door.  I will be honest with you.  I opened up my heart thinking it would help me learn.  Instead, it made me extraordinarily vulnerable and I was completely undone. How should I now respond?

Still emotional, I prayed, “Lord, I have done well and supported the leadership.  I will not get angry with her.  Instead, I give this situation to you.  I trust you to deal with this”.  Soon after, my family and I began to pray 2 Thessalonians 3:2, “that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men”.  I was shaken for weeks not really sure where I stood at my job.  Wondering if I would be released.

The breakthrough came suddenly one morning 7 weeks later.  Someone from the corporate office flew into town.  Within hours, even though I had not said one word to anyone in the company, my boss was let go and I was given the leadership position.  Our office moved locations too, from skanky to swanky. It would be the beginning of turning the  office around and tripling revenue and profit.  It taught me that relinquishing control to the Lord is a powerful response to injustice.  David wrote in Psalm 37, ” And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them; he shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in him“.

Something powerful happens when we fully trust the Lord.  There seems to be a line in the sand when we encounter a situation in which we are helpless.  We must cross the line and come to a place where we say, “I give this situation to You”.

Is there an injustice in your life that is beyond your control?  Here are some steps that have helped me trust, step back, and relax while the Lord moves:

1.  Stop Trying To Fix It:  You must cease from your laboring and worrying.  It is evidence that you are not trusting but rather controlling.

2.  Understand that Trust is more powerful than Control:  Realize that He is more powerful than you.  So, as you let go a more powerful Team is on the scene.

3.  Ask the Lord to Take Care of the Problem:   This is where it all begins.  Until you do this you still own the problem.

4.  Relinquish Control:  Tell yourself that you have drawn a line in the sand.  It is no longer your problem to fix.

5.  Stand in Faith:  It takes time to move mountains.  Spend the time waiting being more productive.

What things do you need in your life that are beyond your control?  What would be the result if you took your situation through these steps?  Would you add any other steps?

 

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