The Struggle is Zeal: A SOAP Study on Romans 12:18-19

Not long ago, I was on the phone with an obstinate client. 

A stubborn deer in the headlights, I made every attempt to lead him to clarity. Timelines, next steps, how to discern and provide relevant information…the works. 

Yet, after 20 minutes of verbal tennis, our conversation had locked even at deuce, the writing on the wall now clear: No call to action or motivational strategy was going to move this client

Partially defeated, I started to guide this call to a landing when I suddenly I heard the following: “Do you advise I do this?” 

A necessary inquiry in this case but one rarely sprung so late in the game. With match point in sight, I summoned my best response in the moment. The lead off?

As far as it be with you…

A few seconds later, I sensed a shift in momentum as if somehow this sentence had turned the tides. Finally, the silence was pierced. 

You’re right. While I had considered that, I just needed to hear it was possible.”

And before you knew it, we were on our way – 20 seconds of insane courage pressed against 20 minutes of desperation trying to get there. 

Fast-forward to today and I’m still processing this happy ending and the clause that made it happen. Given the Scriptural implications, I’d like to piggyback off this story to help us understand Romans 12:18-19 in a fresh light and how we can serve customers of all types with zeal (Romans 12:11, Titus 2:14)…as far as it be with us

Ready to jump in?

Let’s do it…

Scripture 1: “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.” ~ Romans 12:18 (MSG)

Scripture 2: “Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.” ~ Romans 12:19 (MSG)

Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.” ~ Romans 12:19 (NIV)

Observation 1: Let’s be honest. While God created good in everyone, we seldom see it in full display during our initial interactions. Perhaps the occasional flash or two. But generally nothing more due to limited exposure, the hustle of business, and the lack of physical engagement. In a marketplace context, this is especially true when dealing with difficult customers and colleagues. With the number of walls and veils in existence today, discovering the beauty in everyone can seem like blind faith; however, when we filter this verse through a vocational lens, we can find joy in blessing all people under our breath, if not through direct encouragement. Even when we encounter antagonism, we can promote harmony as peacemakers in the opposite spirit. As Paul later says in v. 21, we champion goodness, generosity, and joy not by what happens to us externally but the light we carry internally. Accordingly, if your goal is to be reactive, then you cannot be proactive in seeing the silver linings in challenging people and situations.

My thought is: When we go into work each day, why not center our hearts and make up our minds to get along with everyone? After all, we don’t commit to these calls because they’re easy but because we have the ingredients to season our settings with hope. All the more reason to say, ‘Thank you, Jesus‘ during the dial-ins and commutes of life. 

Observation 2: In a fast-paced culture, timing and timeliness are everything. At least, that’s what culture wants us to think. And to be fair, in a client care context, this makes sense. Many times, the pathway to blessing a customer is to honor their time with a mixture of best practice and efficient decision-making. But what about when clients delay the help they crave through impatience, procrastination, even obduracy? What do we say, what do we do when colleagues or clients insist their way or the highway? Is there a holy solution to “good riddance”? Well, in a single word, yes. There is most certainly a way and Romans 12:19 hints at the answer:

Whenever we’re inflicted in a way worthy of judgment, we have an opportunity to let go and let God handle it.

Far too often in the heat of the moment, our offense disables compassion and grace; however, when we apply v.19, we make room not only for God’s wrath (i.e. His ministry of reconciliation and love manifest through justice) but for care to be centered on the person, not their grievance. Don’t waste time trying to make things right in your own strength; you’ll only burn out in frustration or overstep an unauthorized boundary. Instead, as far as it be with you, trust God to take care of the consequences as you passionately bear results through meekness. Put another way, don’t consume yourself with unassigned fire; rather pay it forward with humility and watch God win your adversary over. 

Bottom Line 1: As you follow Christ’s example and live a life controlled by the Spirit (Ephesians 5:15-21), inspire peace and mutual upbuilding (Romans 14:19). 

Bottom Line 2: As you trust God in trying situations, make room for His justice and reconciliation to prevail. 

Prayer: “Father, we come before you now. We thank you for creating in us hearts that desire good and godliness, for upwelling thirsts for righteousness in our workplaces; however, we also confess we’re not always consistent in acknowledging your beauty, let alone the beauty you’ve cultivated in others within the mundanities of life. For those who may be struggling with offense, desiring retaliation in self-gratifying ways, refresh their hearts to know your wrath is pure and able to permeate the darkest chaos. Help them be still, to know your presence as they leave room for your wonder working power. As for the rest of us, center our desire for influence, excellence, and resolution in a supernatural satisfaction that only comes from abiding in your sovereignty. Regardless of where we’re at, what circumstances we’re facing, help us exchange our lust for control for a trust that surrenders. In all we commit our hands and feet to, may the fruit of our effort be blessed for your glory’s sake. Amen.”

Cover graphic creds: Business 2 Community

Lockstep Leaders: A SOAP Bible Study on Galatians 5:25

Scripture: “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” (ESV)

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” (MSG)

As God-fearing vocationals, this verse packs a punch on multiple levels. On one hand, Paul is confirming the Holy Spirit as a perpetual gift received upon conversion; on the other, he’s charging the Galatians to see living as Christ as abiding by the Spirit. Given the acceptance of Christ is not detached from this process, the question, as captured throughout the second half of Galatians, becomes clear: “If I have the Holy Spirit through faith, what’s next?

In few words, if God’s Spirit lives within you, live by it; to live by it, keep in lockstep.

Simple enough, right?

Well, it can be…but to get there we have to remember the life we have chosen through free will and divine inspiration was also predestined from the beginning. Essentially, to abide in our calling is to not only believe God ordained it before creation but continually blesses it as we live. Big picture, the implications are massive but for starters, we’ll keep it basic:

Just as God is faithful to help us discover Him, so must we be faithful to discover Him through His Spirit

In worldly terms, the word ‘discover’ often implies a one-time or seasonal pursuit; however, with heaven in mind, believers can know as long as we have breath, we’re meant to discern and mature in the likeness of Jesus as sanctified new creations. Since we live by the Spirit, we have everything we need to remain tethered to God’s nature through His Word and the still small voice reminding us we can do all things with the mind and strength of Christ. 

Application: As for how this looks occupationally, I love how the Message translation provides focus. If we accept the truth that abiding by the Spirit is a daily exercise, we can further embrace our unique identity as dedicated stewards of the jobs we’ve been given. For instance, since we know perfect love hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7), we can abide in God’s presence with confidence and accept His perfecting work knowing we’re 1:1 masterpieces designed to bring God glory.

Accordingly, it makes sense, as Paul suggests, to associate life in the Spirit with a life lacking room for vain imaginations and false comparisons; granted, in our insecurity, we can succumb to the idea respect and love is contingent on skills, knowledge, charisma, and chemistry.

Yet, as for you, dare to have more interesting things to think about and work towards. Sure, you may feel left at the altar with certain dreams; you may feel like you got the short of the stick in how people treat you. You may even struggle to understand why some don’t give you benefit of the doubt and/or are quick to write you off. Honestly, there many ways to struggle and wrestle in this day and age.

However, when we bask in this verse, we can know God not only as the one who has our back on the clock but also as one who never stops refining what He’s planted within. Therefore, while the daily grind may weary our flesh, we can delight through the Spirit as the gap between joyful dependence and fear-based anxiety expands over time.


Bottom Line: By abandoning the distractions of unholy fears and passions of former ignorances, we can keep each step in perfect sync with the Spirit as faithful stewards/marketplace leaders. 


Selah.

Prayer: “Lord, we thank you for calling us to a free life and celebrate your sovereign hand in guiding us towards your heart. As faithful workers, we are humbled to represent your nature to our colleagues, clients, and connections; however, we also confess we can’t possibly do this in our own strength. As willing vessels weak in the flesh but strong in your Spirit, we ask you continue to sharpen our desire to do your work your way. Develop and cultivate an internal thirst to stay persistent in perseverance and consistent in compassion. May our commitment to what we believe is true be a banner by which we conduct our behavior and affairs. Guard us from legalism and self-righteousness as we help others discover your plans and purposes. Help us get out of our way regarding prideful comparisons and coping mechanisms. Above all, as Galatians 5:25 reminds us, open our eyes to any place where we’re abusing grace, reducing the Spirit-filled life as a warm sentiment, as fortune cookie wisdom. Convict and channel what needs to waste away so we can taste your goodness in all things. Finally, create in us a new heart conformed to your precepts and new efforts seasoned in sensitivity and expectancy. While we believe good fruit and good days are ahead, we acknowledge you as the reason. Whatever happens in the weeks and months ahead, make us more and more like you as your will is perfected in us. Inspire and champion your ways in us today. In your precious name we pray, amen!” 

Graphics creds: istockphoto.com

Eyes Wide Open: The Keys to Watchful Prayer (Part 1)

As I ponder the marketplace applications in Colossians 4, I find the initial imperative in v. 2 intriguing:

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”

In its purest form, this verse is straightforward. As we’re devoted to persistent prayer, may our focus be coated in gratitude and humility – a fitting charge for supervisors and subordinates alike.

However, digging deeper, I find the next layer even more compelling.

As we worship on the go, on the clock, on the way…not only should we be alert in prayer, but also watchful in it.. 

Consider John 16:13 (AMP) and 1 Corinthians 16:13 (AMP):

“…the Spirit of Truth…will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth]. For He will not speak on His own initiative, but He will speak whatever He hears, and He will disclose to you what is to come [in the future].”

Be on guard; stand firm in your faith [in God, respecting His precepts and keeping your doctrine sound]. Act like [mature] men and be courageous; be strong.”

Fusing these contexts, we find powerful truth regarding God’s intent for our employers. As we act wisely towards clients making the most of our time (4:5) with solutions seasoned with salt (4:6), let’s not compartmentalize prayer as an extemporaneous exercise; rather let’s integrate it with expectancy into all we do from procedure and protocol to communications and collaboration. 

‘Cause truth is: While popcorn prayers are perfectly acceptable within mind and with colleagues, to be watchful for God’s unfolding purposes, we must also be sensitive to what we should ask the Holy Spirit in terms of corporate direction. For many are the meetings we set to plan our course, but fewer the ones we set for God to establish His steps.

The steps of a [good and righteous] man are directed and established by the Lord, And He delights in his way [and blesses his path].” ~ Psalm 37:23 (AMP)

A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], But the Lord directs his steps and establishes them.” ~ Proverbs 16:9 (AMP)

Granted, these exchanges can be one and the same but that, in part, is my point in writing this: As much as we chart and map our goals, for them to be set apart as anointed strategies, we must be steadfast and watchful in meekness, in praise, and the effort in between. Only then can we discern how to communicate the mystery of Christ through our work (v. 3).

As for today, my friends, uphold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience, spiritual maturity, and the belief that as your hearts are encouraged, you’ll be able to understand the doors of opportunity (4:3) God opens for you to proclaim that mystery. Remember as you seek the Lord with a pure heart to ask Him to make His intentions known and His ways straight. In this way, even during your darkest days, you’ll be in position to stay alert and be watchful in prayer when you engage God at work.

Selah.

As for next time, I will aim to build off this post with some more practical, baseline ideas on how we can abide in watchful prayer and thanksgiving during our daily routines. 

‘Til then…

As I always say, you got this!

~ Cameron

Cover graphic creds: Cities Church

You Got This: An Encouragement for Those in Client Care

As a client care professional, there’s much about the craft left to be discovered and desired.

While I love what I do, where I work, and the people I work with, the challenges of the role have sparked a unique brand of curiosity. 

For instance…

Why do many value customer service but underrate it as a skill? Why is the ability compartmentalized outside expertise in select arenas? Perhaps more egregiously, why is administration, hospitality, and helps viewed as low men on the spiritual gift totem pole?

Is it because we assume anyone can demonstrate them? Or because we think client care is less discipline than choice?

If so, I submit we reorient our perspective and adjust our approach on how we integrate client care specialists into our business models. Granted, I understand the bias potential; however, as one who went from avoiding customer service applications to relishing the call in recent years, there are scriptural confirmations as to why client care is essential in today’s marketplace. As such, I propose organizations and employees embrace the following five passages in their commitment to client service.

1 Corinthians 12:18 (AMP) – “But now [as things really are], God has placed and arranged the parts in the body, each one of them, just as He willed and saw fit [with the best balance of function].” 

For client success managers, the part can feel like a mixed bag. On one hand, they’re the face of the relationship experience; on the other, they can be perceived as dispensable simply on title alone. Yet, while the lack of ‘specialist’ tag can be a disadvantage, the opportunity is still laced with silver linings. For instance, not only can a customer service leader enhance efficiency across multiple processes and procedures but reflect the existential truth concerning our vocational purpose: 

We are all diverse in function, co-equal in value.

As Paul declares, God is intentional and strategic with what He assigns. Although hierarchical structures and parameters for governance are essential, they also do not define our contributions, attitude, and team value. By proxy, client care specialists, being the on-call troubleshooters they are, can take pride knowing their adaptability and problem-solving prowess can improve the balance of corporate load and execution.

Romans 12:3-5 (AMP) – “For by the grace [of God] given to me I say to everyone of you not to think more highly of himself [and of his importance and ability] than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has apportioned to each a degree of faith [and a purpose designed for service]. For just as in one [physical] body we have many parts, and these parts do not all have the same function or special use, so we, who are many, are [nevertheless just] one body in Christ, and individually [we are] parts one of another [mutually dependent on each other].”

Similar to 1 Corinthians 12:18, Paul applies a physical body analogy to emphasize why our perception of value and function should be rooted in holy dependence. Unlike worldly slants defining the purpose of our ability as prosperity, in God’s eyes, our gifts were intended and are continually renewed for interdependent service; hence, God’s heart for relationship. For God so loved the world, He gave His only Son and apportioned opportunities for faith, hope, and character to mature. Accordingly, may we appreciate the frontline administrators who exemplify work not only as a testament to God’s love but His desire to entrust us as faithful stewards of what He’s provided.

Philippians 2:2-3 (AMP) – “Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, having the same love [toward one another], knit together in spirit, intent on one purpose [and living a life that reflects your faith and spreads the gospel—the good news regarding salvation through faith in Christ]. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant nor self-righteous], regard others as more important than yourselves.”

On a pragmatic level, this verse is a beautiful charge to client care specialists given its versatile initiative. While any position can achieve this calling, the level of opportunity for customer service managers to make joy complete is high in most cases. Consequently, anyone who serves as a relationship manager and fosters community through administration should embrace their wiring to influence through compassionate collaboration. Whatever we say, whatever we do, may we coat it in modesty and the good news we carry inside us. May our attitude represent our faith and our faith the believe that through Christ we can inspire humility and unity through timely words, constructive insight, even prophetic encouragement.

1 Peter 4:10 (AMP) – “Just as each one of you has received a special gift [a spiritual talent, an ability graciously given by God], employ it in serving one another as [is appropriate for] good stewards of God’s multi-faceted grace [faithfully using the diverse, varied gifts and abilities granted to Christians by God’s unmerited favor].”

A sum of 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12, 1 Peter 4 reiterates the original design of God’s delegation. More specifically, while gifts and quantity of talents may vary, ultimately, we’re all meant to give pleasure to God as we employ them in meekness. While selfless service should be an aim of any organization, it should also recognize favor through stewardship. Remember to be a good steward by faith is to believe in God  and the infallibility of His assignments. As we worship through work with confidence, as we minister as marketplace leaders aware of God’s transcendent grace, let’s not forget our abilities are down payments of God’s continual help and sovereignty. 

Hebrews 10:24-25 (AMP) – “…and let us consider [thoughtfully] how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds, not forsaking our meeting together [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching.”

I love how ‘spur’, as seen in other translations, is spelled out in the AMP. Essentially, to spur one another in love is to consider how we’re to encourage our clients to do good. While moments of extemporaneous inspiration are inevitable, the focus of client care should always be to ignite courage and strength of purpose. Practically speaking, this could manifest many ways; however, as an example, consider how client care specialists can affect corporate synergy and voice from creating motivational system alerts/portal template language to incorporating client perspective into platform design. Whatever system you engage, make sure to sustain the intention of positive service with the intentionality of thoughtful encouragement.

Selah.

For those who’ve made it this far, stay tuned next time when I’ll break down another five-pack of client care Scriptures. Until then, I commend you, my fellow swiss-army knives and jack-of-all trades. You may not feel treasured or sense the evidence of appreciation but remember the God you ultimately work for is crazy over you and how He’s wired and appointed your giftings for such a time as this. Therefore, stay strong and courageous and go in peace for your journey has the Lord’s approval. 

~ Cameron