Relationships That Could Make or Break You (Part 5): Engagements

Relationships That Could Make or Break You (Part 5): Engagements

Engagements

The final instalment of our meditation on relationships that could make or break will be focused on work engagements, with specific emphasis on boss-employee or superior-subordinate relationships. Here are our references:

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13

Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour. But when her masters saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to the authorities. Acts 16:16-19 

The fifth relationship we will consider under this series is the second part of work engagements, but our focus today will be on whom you work with/for. The personality of your employer or boss can also play a significant part in either you fare for better or worse in life.

Many people are fortunate to have worked with bosses who mentored them to greatness, or through whom they were able to find their own footing or niches in life. On the other hand, many people have also ended up working for masters with negative or diabolical inclinations who left them worse off than they were before their involvement; that is if they left them at all.

Some employers of labour gained their wealth through ritual means and they have occultic covenants that they renew with the blood of their staff or staff’s relations. Some even tie down the destinies of their workers such that they would amount to nothing in life. There is usually an ascription of authority with every engagement between/among humans in a gathering, team or an organisation. The person whose leadership you submit to has some influence over you. That is why the Bible says, “by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage” (2 Peter 2:19).

In the case of the benevolent bosses, our first scriptural reference tells us the example of Jesus Christ, and how He was able to develop individuals, whom the society would normally regard as dregs, into polished, learned and articulate fellows in the space of three years. And by the time He was through with them, Peter, an erstwhile crude fisherman, could stand and address a learned council of synod with such confidence and elocution that they wondered where he got his aplomb from. Then they realised that he had been with Jesus. There is no better testimony to the abilities of any master than that.

In sharp contrast to this, we see the example of a repressive master in the second passage. A young girl whose spiritual problem was the perfect merchandise her masters needed for moneymaking purposes. Their source of income was guaranteed for as long as the girl remained in that oppressed state. Did you see their reaction immediately Paul delivered the girl of her demonic possession? That is how possessive such oppressive masters can be and how violent they can get when anyone attempts to liberate their prey workers. It is not out of love for the worker, there are usually more at stake than meet the eye.

Hope these two passages provide enough insight to help you realise how important you should take the issue of the organisations you apply to for jobs as well as whose authority you submit to as boss or master. Such relationship can either make or break anyone.

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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Relationships That Could Make or Break You (Part 4): Employment

Relationships That Could Make or Break You (Part 4): Employment

Employment

The Lord was with Joseph, and he was a successful man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand… Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority. So it was, from the time that he had made him overseer of his house and all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house for Joseph’s sake; and the blessing of the Lord was on all that he had in the house and in the field. Genesis 39:2-5

The fourth relationship we will consider, which has great impact potential, is employment or work engagements – particularly the persons you hire to work with you as an employer of labour or the persons that provide various forms of services to you.

In the passage above, we see how the advent of Joseph into Potiphar’s household marked a dramatic turn in the Egyptian’s fortune. Joseph was a man with God’s calling; therefore the LORD was with him wherever he was and in whatever he did. Although the physical circumstances of his status as a slave did not indicate so; but, like all divine endowment, he didn’t need to advertise before others started seeing the grace upon his life, as everything he did came out excellent. Then his blessing started to rub off on his immediate environments until it was obvious to all that what was happening on account of him was not a fluke.

This underscores the value of engaging persons who enjoy divine patronage to work with you or be on your team. The value such individuals bring to your table is usually massive. You may wonder how you would identify them; it is by praying to God for guidance so that you could see what He sees about each person in your consideration.

Inasmuch as it is important to engage such individuals for that extra divine grace on your business or other endeavours, it is more important to retain and not lose them to envy or internal politics. Potiphar was smart enough to promote Joseph as the overseer of all his affairs, thus leveraging on the divine aura he perceived on him rather than becoming threatened by it. Some not so wise employers/superiors would start to envy Joseph and antagonise him to their own destruction.

Also, it is not uncommon for such individuals to outshine their colleagues which may result in hatred and envious schemes by the aggrieved mates, and may culminate into putting the boss on the spot. It takes a lot of wisdom to handle this kind of development as well. Potiphar failed in this second regard, as he eventually lost Joseph to a higher authority due to his inability to discern between truth and intrigues.

Employees or subordinates like Joseph are better collaborated with for fruitful results, not isolated.

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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Relationships That Could Make or Break You (Part 3): Partnership

Relationships That Could Make or Break You (Part 3): Partnership

Business Partnership

In continuation of our meditation on the relationship series, we will be considering business partnership or alliance.

Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South. Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold… Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents. Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. Genesis 13:1-2, 5-6 

Sometime later King Jehoshaphat of Judah made an alliance with King Ahaziah of Israel, who was very wicked. Together they built a fleet of trading ships at the port of Ezion-geber. Then Eliezer son of Dodavahu from Mareshah prophesied against Jehoshaphat. He said, “Because you have allied yourself with King Ahaziah, the Lord will destroy your work.” So the ships met with disaster and never put out to sea. 2 Chronicles 20:35-37 (NLT)

The two scriptures above are self-explanatory in their moral. Thus, the third category of relationship we will meditate on today, in line with its ability to make or break, push up or pull down, is business relationships or strategic alliances.

God is very interested in the details of our lives. He wants us to marry a good spouse, maintain quality friendships and build successful businesses. But He is also particular about what we do in all of these and with whom we do them because, inasmuch as He is eager to bless us and prosper the works of our hands, we can restrain Him by the choices we make which contravene His counsel and expectations as spelt out in the Holy Bible.

In the first scripture, Lot was very fortunate to have pitched his tent with Abraham, a man favoured by God. In no time, he changed from being a helpless dependant into a prosperous fellow as the blessings of Abraham rubbed off on him in no small measure.

On the other hand, Jehoshaphat who was one of the star kings in the Bible got it wrong in business partnership or strategic alliance. He went into a partnership with Ahaziah, a man despised by God, and the venture proved ruinous with attendant loss of money and other valuables, as God scuttled it. Now, Jehoshaphat was a righteous king with a good testimony before God, but his right standing could not make up for the wrongness of his partner/ally, who was a time bomb waiting to explode – as God had intended to punish him for his misdeeds.

These two examples should help us see why it is very important to seek the face of God before we commit self and resources into a venture with anyone so that we can have a fruitful show for it and not end up fetching water with a hole-ridden basket.

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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Relationships That Could Make or Break You (Part 2): Friendship

Relationships That Could Make or Break You (Part 2): Friendship

Friendship

In this second instalment on our meditation on relationships that could make or break any individual, we will be considering friendship.

Just as lotions and fragrance give sensual delight, a sweet friendship refreshes the soul. – Proverbs 27:9 (MSG)

Then they came to Him, bringing a paralytic who was carried by four men. And when they could not come near Him because of the crowd, they uncovered the roof where He was. So when they had broken through, they let down the bed on which the paralytic was lying. When Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven you…I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go to your house.” Immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went out in the presence of them all – Mark 2:3-5, 11-12

The second type of relationship with potential to affect any individual for good or for evil is friendship. Just like marriage, the kind of friends you keep, to an extent, determines how you fare in life. Friendship is one of the best indicators of your smartness; it is also a factor in how you are perceived by people. A popular maxim says, “Show me your friend and I will tell you the kind of person you are.” If you have quality friends, they will influence you positively; but if your friends are of the run-of-the-mill stock, they will rub off on you for not too noble ends.

In this fast-paced age, the word “friendship” is fast becoming synonymous with the term, “network:” that is the number of persons you maintain informal relationships with and whose friendship could bring you benefits ranging from jobs, business opportunities, and so on.

The passage above teaches us an important value of friendship: selflessness. The friends of this paralytic man seized the initiative of carrying him to the solution to his problem – Jesus, not minding the inconveniences of his weight and the distance they had to travel to do so. When they got there and couldn’t enter the house Jesus was, they did not give up and promise to bring him some other time. Rather, they forced their way to the solution – the presence of Jesus – by climbing through the roof.

Interestingly, the Bible recalls that Jesus appreciated their efforts – “He saw their faith” – and that was all He needed to stop what He was doing to attend to the man.

The question to ask yourself always, which should be your litmus test for measuring who your real friends are is, ‘Where are my friends taking me? Are they taking me to Jesus (the solution) or drawing me away from Him (the solution)?’ Your honest answer to these questions would help you ascertain which friendship you should cultivate and which you should severe.

The Bible says, “As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend” (Proverbs 27:17). Therefore, any friendship that is not helping you to become better or whom you are not helping to be better should be reviewed for relevance.

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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Relationships That Could Make or Break You (Part 1): Marriage

Relationships That Could Make or Break You (Part 1): Marriage

Marriage

Relationships are extremely important because they are the package holding whatever life may present to us at every turn. For the next few days, we will be meditating on five relationships that are pivotal to human success or failure. Our focus today is on marriage.

But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up. – 1 Kings 21:25

The first type of relationship with great potential to make or break anyone is marriage, particularly the choice of spouse that you say, “I do” to. Marital relationship is crucial to your balance and overall performance as an individual. You are as successful to the degree of cooperation you receive from your spouse. Based on his/her constitution, your spouse largely influences the thrust of your pursuits; when they are keen, you are also keen. But when they are not, you tend to doubt the workability of your ideas, and that may slow you down.

Marriage is a fundamental aspect of life. It is also a catalyst that colours and determines the thrust of your bearing in other areas of life – professional, social, academic, spiritual, emotional, etc. You are as settled in all these to the extent that your home is settled. The portrait of your home is in direct relation to the personality of your spouse – cantankerous, reticent, ambitious, laid back, driven, carefree, focused, disciplined, scattered, spiritual, social, ethical, morally lax, sociable, introverted, thorough, superficial, and other value systems that your spouse espouses and to what extent.

From the passage above, we can see that even if Ahab wasn’t so bent on evil, the influence of his wife who “stirred him up” left him with little room to do otherwise. The Bible is replete with several examples of spousal factors in the determination of how one fares in life, so is our contemporary world. Solomon’s wives turned his heart away from the LORD and positioned him for divine retribution (1 Kings 11:4-9); Samson was ruined because of the kind of woman he married. Korah, Achan, and Ananias brought sudden death upon their wives and households because of their wrong choices. Abigail saved her husband and household from certain death (1 Samuel 25); Zipporah rescued Moses from being killed by God (Exodus 4:24-26). And Mary might not have been chosen to mother Jesus if she wasn’t married to a descendant of Judah, particularly from David’s lineage. These are all pointers to the sensitivity of the choice of person you decide to spend the rest of your life with in marriage.

Marriage is something that should be approached with lots of fervent prayers for divine direction, as it is a destiny issue. Your spouse is your first destiny partner, and s/he can either fast-track, slow down or even stagnate you. That is on the light side; at the extreme, many people have had their lives cut short directly by their spouse or indirectly through their spouse’s choices or misdeeds.

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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The Dance of A Lifetime – A True Story

The Dance of A Lifetime – A True Story

The Dance of A Lifetime

In the summer recess between freshman and sophomore years in college, I was invited to be an instructor at a high school leadership camp hosted by a college in Michigan. I was already highly involved in most campus activities, and I jumped at the opportunity.

About an hour into the first day of camp, amid the frenzy of icebreakers and forced interactions, I first noticed the boy under the tree. He was small and skinny, and his obvious discomfort and shyness made him appear frail and fragile. Only 50 feet away, 200 eager campers were bumping bodies, playing, joking and meeting each other, but the boy under the tree seemed to want to be anywhere other than where he was. The desperate loneliness he radiated almost stopped me from approaching him, but I remembered the instructions from the senior staff to stay alert for campers who might feel left out.

As I walked toward him I said, “Hi, my name is Kevin and I’m one of the counselors. It’s nice to meet you. How are you?”

In a shaky, sheepish voice he reluctantly answered, “Okay, I guess.”

I calmly asked him if he wanted to join the activities and meet some new people. He quietly replied, “No, this is not really my thing.”

I could sense that he was in a new world, that this whole experience was foreign to him. But I somehow knew it wouldn’t be right to push him, either. He didn’t need a pep talk, he needed a friend. After several silent moments, my first interaction with the boy under the tree was over.

At lunch the next day, I found myself leading camp songs at the top of my lungs for 200 of my new friends. The campers eagerly participated. My gaze wandered over the mass of noise and movement and was caught by the image of the boy from under the tree, sitting alone, staring out the window. I nearly forgot the words to the song I was supposed to be leading. At my first opportunity, I tried again, with the same questions as before: “How are you doing? Are you okay?”

To which he again replied, “Yeah, I’m alright. I just don’t really get into this stuff”.

As I left the cafeteria, I too realized this was going to take more time and effort than I had thought – if it was even possible to get through to him at all.

That evening at our nightly staff meeting, I made my concerns about him known. I explained to my fellow staff members my impression of him and asked them to pay special attention and spend time with him when they could.

The days I spend at camp each year fly by faster than any others I have known. Thus, before I knew it, mid-week had dissolved into the final night of camp and I was chaperoning the “last dance”. The students were doing all they could to savour every last moment with their new “best friends” – friends they would probably never see again.

As I watched the campers share their parting moments, I suddenly saw what would be one of the most vivid memories of my life. The boy from under the tree, who stared blankly out the kitchen window, was now a shirtless dancing wonder. He owned the dance floor as he and two girls proceeded to cut up a rug. I watched as he shared meaningful, intimate time with people at whom he couldn’t even look just days earlier. I couldn’t believe it was him.

In October of my sophomore year, a late-night phone call pulled me away from my chemistry book. A soft-spoken, unfamiliar voice asked politely, “Is Kevin there?”

“You’re talking to him. Who’s this?”

“This is Tom Johnson’s mom. Do you remember Tommy from leadership camp?

The boy under the tree. How could I not remember?

“Yes, I do”, I said. “He’s a very nice young man. How is he?”

An abnormally long pause followed, then Mrs. Johnson said, “My Tommy was walking home from school this week when he was hit by a car and killed.” Shocked, I offered my condolences.

“I just wanted to call you”, she said, “because Tommy mentioned you so many times. I wanted you to know that he went back to school this fall with confidence. He made new friends. His grades went up. And he even went out on a few dates. I just wanted to thank you for making a difference for Tom. The last few months were the best few months of his life.”

In that instant, I realized how easy it is to give a bit of yourself every day. You may never know how much each gesture may mean to someone else. I tell this story as often as I can, and when I do, I urge others to look out for their own “boy under the tree.”

By David Coleman and Kevin Randall

Meditation: Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.Philippians 2:4

You will succeed in Jesus Name!

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