Don’t Hog Your Journey

By Linda Tancs

A TV personality once shared some advice she’d been given: don’t hog your journey; it isn’t just for you. Life is meant to be shared. One person’s trouble is another’s beacon. You never know how your own journey can impact others. Solomon reminds us of that in Ecclesiastes, wherein he says that there’s power in numbers (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). Put another way by an old rock band, “one is the loneliest number.”

Be a mentor. Be a friend. Share what you know. Don’t let your life be the best-kept secret.

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As part of FOOT FORWARD MINISTRIES, Go Forward in Faith represents faith-based meditations for personal and professional growth. Learn more at goforwardinfaith.com. Follow us on Twitter @moveonfaith and join the Facebook group @goforwardinfaith.

 

 

So, What Do You Do?

By Linda Tancs

Everyone inevitably encounters the question, “So, what do you do?” In the physical realm, you have your “day job.” Maybe it’s performing world-class brain surgery or keeping the home fires burning. In the spiritual realm, though, we all have the same job description—you’re an ambassador for Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), an envoy of love (Ephesians 5:1-2). Discipleship isn’t just something that happened over 2,000 years ago and now we just fondly recall the actions of a dedicated group. We’re the hands and feet of God in this world, made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27) to do good works (Matthew 5:16).

 

A popular expression exhorts us to “preach at all times; use words only when necessary.” The gist of it is that actions speak louder than words. Sometimes, the best sermon you’ll hear is the one that you see.

Who, Me?

By Linda Tancs

“I’m not up to the task.” How often have you felt unworthy or unfit for a task? At least once, no doubt. We often shrink with fear when faced with an assignment that we perceive will test our limits—physically, mentally, emotionally or socially. During those times it’s good to remember how ordinary folks in the Bible were used by God to accomplish extraordinary things. Consider the prophet Jeremiah, called by God at a young age to minister to a nation; he thought he was way too young and inexperienced to be effective (Jeremiah 1:4-8). Mary pondered how she, a virgin, could become mother to our Savior (Luke 1:34). Moses felt inadequate to the task of demanding Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery (Exodus 3:11). Jonah was so intimated by God’s call for him to witness at Nineveh that he fled on a ship (Jonah 1:2-3). Gideon thought himself too lowly of a man to deliver Israel from the Midianites (Judges 6:11-16).

You get the picture. Yet in each case, God didn’t expect his draft picks to act alone. He promised to be with them. And so it is with us. He’s present in every task, duty, charge, assignment or obligation (Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 41:10; Deuteronomy 31:6; Matthew 28:20). Because of that, you can accomplish anything with the strength that He gives you (Philippians 4:13).

When it Rains, it Pours

By Linda Tancs

You know what it’s like when you’re having “one of those days,” when everything that could possibly go wrong does exactly that. The prophet Habakkuk could relate. He lamented over fig trees that did not blossom, vines that bore no fruit, failing olive trees, fruitless fields, flock cut off from the fold and no cattle in the stalls (Habakkuk 3:17). I guess you could say he was having a bad day.

Do you often get overwhelmed when circumstances seem out of control? Habakkuk did, too, but God reminded him to trust Him in the midst of oppression and destruction. He instructed him, in essence, to create a vision board and stand by it (Habakkuk 2:3). After all, what’s the use in focusing on what is going wrong when you can visualize a better outcome? It’s easy to quit in hard times, the storms of life. Habakkuk resolved to trust God to make his feet like hinds’ feet—in other words, swift and nimble. How swiftly and nimbly do you act when life throws you a curveball?

Life Outside the Box

By Linda Tancs

Sometimes life may feel like one giant closet organizer. There’s a box for hopes and dreams. A box where we shelve our concerns about money. A box for work. A box for relationships, past or present. You may even put God in a box, usually opened on Sunday for an hour or so.

Benjamin Franklin said, “A place for everything, everything in its place.” Well, that might work for closets, but living a box-like life is stifling—and unrealistic. Life is messy. It’s hard to compartmentalize feelings, actions or emotions. We’re not robots; we’re human beings created to be interdependent. Living inside the box fosters independence, isolation and self-sufficiency; living outside the box produces reliance and interdependence.

Interdependence is vital to Christian unity. The Scriptures remind us of its value in personal relationships (Genesis 2:24; 1 Timothy 5:8), teamwork (1 Peter 4:10) and character development (Philippians 2:3-4). Thinking outside the box is a business cliché. Living outside the box is a profundity.

Are You An Influencer?

By Linda Tancs

Our world is full of influencers, a term we’re bombarded with constantly in the digital realm. What does it mean to have influence? A dictionary definition presents it as the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something.

What kind of influence do you have at home or at work? Do you use it to raise others up or to tear them down? How do you behave on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter?

Scripture encourages us all to be influencers—to influence the world in a way that enhances our own character, development and behavior and those of others. Two principal means mentioned in the Bible by which to do this are by acting as salt and light. We are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13) and the light of the world (Matthew 5:14-16). Salt preserves, purifies and flavors. Paul reminded the Colossians to season their conversation with salt (Colossians 4:6). Do you lace your conversations (online or otherwise) with salt? Edifying others through words and behavior also makes us all shine (Philippians 2:14-15).

God is the ultimate influencer. As you spread salt and light, you’ll be increasingly rendered in His image from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18).

 

A Voice of One

By Linda Tancs

John the Baptist identified himself as the voice of one crying aloud in the wilderness (John 1:23). Do you sometimes feel like a voice of one? Are you a non-conformist? John certainly was; he lived alone in the desert, adorned in camel’s hair, eating locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:3-4).

John had the privilege—and grace—of not being seduced by majority rule or peer pressure. In our modern day it may sometimes seem easier to conform. We’re afraid to stand alone, worried about being set aside. Paul’s first-century dictate not to be conformed to this world may seem impossible, even dangerous, in today’s society (Romans 12:2). But the more we conform, the less able we are to discern and follow the righteous path, to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1-2). We run the risk of following the masses in doing evil (Exodus 23:2).

As a teenage motto reminded me years ago, stand for something or you’ll fall for anything.

A Sporting Approach Toward Career Management

By Linda Tancs

Tennis icon Billie Jean King once remarked, “A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.” This got me thinking about the parallels in sports and the Bible concerning winning traits: perseverance in the face of obstacles, honesty, integrity, sportsmanship. First Corinthians, in particular, provides a sporting analogy on life. In chapter nine, Paul outlines the criteria for running an effective race: determination, self-control, goal-setting and discipline (1 Corinthians 9:24-27).

Aren’t these some of the same qualities that our business leaders should possess? No doubt many of these qualities are picked up in the gym or out on the schoolyard, which is why it’s distressing when sports and academics are pitted against each other as mutually exclusive endeavors. Sports are an important part of education, teaching the value of teamwork and other career enhancing skills like strategy, goal setting, feedback and review.

Regardless whether you’re a sports fanatic and armed with biblical precepts on running your race, watch a game and ask yourself what lessons can be learned and applied in your working life based on the conduct of the players towards themselves and the opposing team, the strategies employed, the reactions of the fans, the interplay between the coach and the team, and the commentary. You’ll likely never watch a game the same way again.