Words to the Wise

Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12

I have a saying that I attribute simply to observing the obvious. Some are prone to counsel you in front of an arduous project, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” I add the qualifier, “but it was built!” When you observe someone quietly press and plod towards a goal, focused and not frantic or fussy, it’s an inspiration.

Paul was by trade a tent maker. This process in his time certainly did not utilize mechanical means to sew the tents, but was one stitch at a time.

While there may be some social aspects to an enterprise, for any progress to be made, one must keep one’s nose to the grindstone . No row ever gets plowed without hands on the tool with significant applied effort, in the hot sun.

Success is never achieved without effort. This is the right way to conduct your life, and it’s the way that you put food on the table. This work ethic is not reserved for a particular denomination or people group, but to the wise.

Recovering Vocationally from the Virus

I found a few articles in the Wall Street Journal that might help you plan to get back on your feet.

Since these articles aren’t available unless you subscribe to the paper, I’ve taken the liberty to boil them down for you.

However, I couldn’t resist to add in my own twists! Click here for Recovering Vocationally from the Virus, a summary of my embellished highlights of the articles.

BTW–You might be well served to subscribe to the Journal and read it for trends and career advice. Become astute! [There are good deals to be had for limited time frames, i.e. the limited time you’ll be out of a job!]

Free Instruction on 30-second Elevator Speeches!

Here’s a helpful instructional video on delivering an effective 30-second elevator speech or personal marketing pitch. From the link, you can get this instruction free of charge during the initial time period. Other topics may also be available during the trial period, but I can’t say for sure because I didn’t sign up.

If I were looking for a new position, I’d find a way to check out the instruction on “personal branding” too!

While I have you, I can’t urge you enough to obtain personal business cards for these brief encounters. If you can manage to get your “mission” onto the card, all the better!


Motivating Yourself

Sooner or later, you’ll be in a position to have to motivate yourself. This will absolutely be the case when you’re between jobs. There’s no boss around when you don’t have a job. We’ll get to this in a bit.

We’re so used to having someone push us. It starts with dads and moms, then the baton gets passed somewhat to teachers, coaches, band directors and youth pastors. These are the early “motivators.”

Once you’re in college, you’re in a transition period, and the self-motivation needs to start kicking in or your whole career will be jeopardized. Many college kids don’t realize this. Staying at the task is second in importance to selecting the right career to go into, and thus the right college major.

…Regardless of who’s breathing down your neck, you need to be producing without the constant goading of a boss or supervisor.

I’ve found that regardless of who’s breathing down your neck, you need to be producing without the constant goading of a boss or supervisor. They are there for direction, clarification and information, but be your own boss! You should be smart enough to know what’s expected from you. If you don’t know ask.

Each and everyday, meet with yourself to lay out the day. Retreat with yourself periodically to lay out a plan. Review yourself for progress before it’s too late. In my latest meeting with myself (May 20, 2020), I resolved (in writing) to have a “bias for action,” to “let the chips fall where they may,” or in the popular vernacular, to acknowledge, “it is what it is,” and to “head ’em off at the pass,” the ‘em being anyone with the potential to hold me accountable.

I’ve always adhered to this Bible verse in my work life. Talk about accountability!

23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:23-24 (NAS)

But besides this, I’m constantly talking to myself and to God to stay motivated to do my work, knowing that, “the sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing. Proverbs 20:4

I don’t want to be that guy!

But my heart goes out to the unemployed. Yet the message is the same. You have to keep after it! Let your predicament drive you. Let your plight motivate you. Roll up your sleeves and dive in. You might just adopt the three action points I laid out for myself as a good starting point.

LinkedIn…A Self-Promotional Powerhouse

LinkedIn is a Godsend. Here you can post a flattering photo of yourself and verbally put your best foot forward.

Honestly, if you don’t include a photo, some people will simply not look at your profile, so make your “head shot” speak volumes. Every aspect sends a message. Study corporate head shots on various websites. If you can afford a photographer, pay to have your portrait done. This shot will be used in multiple places, especially on business cards. Lighting, dress, background, pose, smile or lack thereof, and retouching, are all elements of a good head shot, and it’s vital that they are considered.

Being an amateur  photographer with professional equipment, I took my own photo with a tripod and a timer and did some post-production.  I tried looking outdoorsy at first, but decided to go with the buttoned-down at-the-desk look. Most in my profession (environmental consulting) go both ways, likely sticking with khakis or jeans most of the time. I thought the button-down shirt lends a little more maturity and professionalism to someone trying to win the trust of a potential client!

If I was looking for employment I’d spend most of my waking hours perfecting my LinkedIn presentation and learning how to exploit it. Being gainfully employed for now, I’m still trying to perfect my page. What I normally do with a new client to which I am sending a proposal is include a link to my profile. This provides instant credibility presented in a classy way. It’s all there, and to my mind, much better than a resume given the endorsements and recommendations

Come to think of it, one facet of your LinkedIn page that’s essential is the recommendations section. Beg, borrow or…well…respectfully request recommendations from key people in your work life. Where else can you get a virtual tailor-made endorsement?

As for groups, join those which are strategic. Also use your memberships to communicate more about yourself. This is where you round out your character. I’m a member of a photography group of a particular brand of cameras. This could say that I spend time outdoors or that an otherwise left-brainer has a creative side.

I’d steer clear of turning my LinkedIn page into Facebook, constantly sharing clips and commentary. Be very careful of what you post. Keep it absolutely professional and apolitical. Share what’s in line with your profession. If you’re a writer and seasoned, share thoughts that can enhance your credibility or help your peers.

How to Be a Self-starter!

Successful people are self-starters. They don’t require managers or supervisors. They wake up each morning bound and determined to get something profitable accomplished. They’re not happy if progress isn’t made. They show real initiative!

To guarantee success, a task needs to be broken down into steps, and the one-at-a-time approach will gain yardage if you stick to it. What if there are numerous tasks to be done? Prioritize and work your list, but don’t ignore the less pressing entries. A little done today will protect your backside if you suddenly realize that your priorities were off!

There will be a time when you approach completion of a task that’s taken some time to work through. That’s when you should break off and focus on this task until it’s completely done. I said completely! This sense of accomplishment will provide some encouragement as you move onto the next task.

I would warn that there will be a desire to kick back after a big task is completed. Instead of taking a mental holiday, it’s best to work on a few lower priority, less stressful tasks to fill the time. It’s important to be conscious of human tendencies and fight against them, or allow for them, with certain diversions and rest. When you work day in and day out, you cannot be expected to work at a frantic pace all day, everyday. This is a recipe for burnout. But most people aren’t nearing their breaking points! Every job’s tough if done for long periods of time. Develop the stamina you need to produce!

I glossed over the essential need to plan. From a plan comes priorities. To keep your plans well-conceived, there needs to be a level of seriousness applied to planning. To some, planning comes easy. To others, it’s just too easy to begin work on something that’s simple or someone else’s priority.

A word of caution. You’ve got to be careful not to take on other’s work. Try to stay out of someone’s path of delegation if at all possible. You’ll need to be assertive to avoid being dumped on. In many cases, this is impossible. This makes planning all the more important! There will always be “best laid plans” that are blown away before you can get started. There is a saying in war that goes something like this, “A battle plan typically doesn’t survive the first shot!” So, perhaps plans need to be fluid. The important thing is to always be adjusting and thinking how progress can be made by the end of the day. Planning is never ending. Planning is habit. Planning is at the beginning not the end.

Before planning you need to know your purpose. In many cases, your purpose is non-negotiable. For a law enforcement officer, it’s to “serve and protect.” This is a good example of a lofty objective within the confines of dispensing what could be unbending justice. We’ll always need to find the higher good in what we do. If there is none, you’ll have a hard time understanding your purpose. You’ll have to root it out or shoot for something else that has a higher calling. If you’re crafting the very best pillow in the world, every stitch will be important. Your purpose is that, not sewing.

A good perspective is essential to operating as a self-starter. Once you find out what is “par for the course,” you’ll not get as discouraged. This requires awareness and observation. What are the certainties in your job? Will there always be customer complaints? Is there a creative way to head them off at the pass? I found out early to tell it like it is. We all want to avoid bad news, or to avoid vocalization of information that might evoke a negative reaction. For example, the price of something. Perhaps early on you set the stage for your cost issue by alluding to an item’s benefits as being expensive but well worth it. Or how about the riskiness of something. Is there a way to defuse a potential issue down the road? This is best done by educating the other party, the person you wish to persuade. Then you’ll feel like a problem solver, rather than a guy who’s hawking some product or a naysayer.

You keep a good perspective when you find out how to deliver your work at a much higher level. Be that person that when some irate person calls up about his internet going down, he hangs up thinking the person on the other end of the line at least had some empathy! But perhaps if you know that you’ll always be dealing with irritated people, you’ll learn some tricks of the trade. Experiment with your high calling in mind.

The chances of you having a good perspective are much higher if you are at peace. Inner peace comes from the assurance that God’s in control, that he can be appealed to, that he can resolve your problems. You acquire this peace through prayer. Purpose comes from him, wisdom comes from him, understanding comes from him. At a more basic level, simple roadblocks can be broken through with his intervention and power. Relationships can be strengthened with an awareness of what it’s like to walk in another’s shoes. Adversity can be withstood. Laziness can be conquered. Motivation can be infused where there is none. Energy can be restored. Anger can be abated.

It’s difficult to get started on your own. Many need a catalyst. For me, it’s my real boss, the Master whom I serve.

Work can be pure drudgery or an exciting challenge. Make some progress with priorities set through planning with a purpose. Get a good perspective from praying for the power to overcome life’s obstacles from the One who possesses an unlimited supply.

The Five E’s–Self Assessment for Job Transitions

I’m going to use “E’s” to hang my thoughts on. Self assessment is crucial if you’re planning a career or job change. You must ascertain and intimately know your essentials,  wisely use your experience, strategically deploy your education, carefully choose your environment, and honestly gauge your excitement when looking for a new career. Miss one “E” and you’ll live to regret it.

These days, however, with all rules thrown out the window due to COVID-19, the process must be accomplished even quicker, perhaps while you work a job just to make ends meet. Good thing is, once the SA is done, it really doesn’t have to be done again, except to fine tune changing environments.

Face it, there’s a whole lot of rethinking going on in everyone’s minds who’s been gainfully employed and now is suddenly out in the cold. What was, may not end up being, what will be. For example, is it wise to open a restaurant, or a small gourmet kitchen/food delivery business? Anyway, let’s get back to the matter at hand.


The first question to ask yourself is what are my essentials? You need to be able to use these in any job or you won’t fire on all cylinders. These are your God-given aptitudes. This is how you’re “hardwired.” You’ll know what’s “as easy as falling off a log” early on. Some can learn a language within weeks. Others, like myself, grew up with a mother fluent in Spanish and nothing caught on. Physicians and pharmacists, i.e. scientists, should have the capacity for remembering and pronouncing long complicated words. If you stumble over or can’t remember scientific words, don’t even think about a new career as a nurse. I once thought I might try becoming a dentist. Here’s a guy who can’t even hold onto his own toothbrush! Anything surgical requires fine motor skills or you’re doomed before you start. If you’re not a “math guy,” here’s a warning; don’t choose engineering.


Next, contemplate your experience and how it might be reworked into your prospective new career. Boil down your tasks to the fundamentals, your transferable skills as they say. You’ll need to know your lowest common denominator because it will become the essence of your sales pitch. In my career change from banking to environmental consulting, in hindsight, in banking I needed to assess financial risk. Now, I assess environmental risk. The knowledge base can be obtained with a little studying. But what was my lowest common denominator, my fundamental? After further review, it was my inherent bent to assess everything, especially risk, that was transferable. It’s my default setting. In reality, I assess everything risky, I mean everything. It’s my nature. So there’s no falloff in my new (well now old) career.

Another point. I often tell people, God did not give you 20 years of experience in something to throw it all away! In 1974, I worked all summer in the blazing sun as a carpenter’s helper. I ended up carrying every board, lifting every board, cutting every board, and nailing every board. I often thought this summer job was going to get me nowhere in my professional career. I wanted to quit everyday. Fast forward to my new position as a management trainee in the real estate division of a large bank. One of my first job responsibilities in the bank when they found out I built houses one summer?  Conducting site inspections for residential construction loan progress payments.


What about your education. It can be a disqualifier actually. After completing a liberal arts education (after flaming out in pre-med, and running into a brick wall with the LSAT), I went directly into my school’s MBA program. I thought it would be a plus. Employers thought otherwise. Now we have to pay him more they thought! I had to assure them I had no such expectations. It became something of a workaround. I was talking to an engineer with a doctorate the other day. To a prospective engineering firm, the degree became somewhat of an albatross. It was threatening and imposing to potential employers and peers.

Now here’s the other side. If you want to switch from teacher to nurse, you’ll need to go to nursing school and dig deep for the funds to do it. If you want to become a cop, you had better have graduated from an academy, or you’ll need to land a job with an agency that will put you through one.

So, as you can see, you may have to explain why you have too much education, or not enough of it! In cases where you need to acquire some kind of degree or certification, you’ll need to count the cost and calculate the time necessary to do it. Opportunity costs!

One final observation on the topic of education. A general business degree  will get you a long way if you persuade a company to allow you to intern for a good part of your senior year.  This is the best educational decision a collegiate can make!  Intern and you dramatically enhance your job prospects.

And one last thing. Don’t forget about learning a trade. There are many people out there who make far more money wiring a building than juggling Excel spreadsheets. I hear the sound of laughing all the way to the bank.


Next comes the environment in which you will be comfortable and thrive. Many have nailed the first three “E’s” and have landed in an environment they absolutely hate! I recall one woman who got a job in a closely-held family business. The owner locked the gates at 8:01 am and reopened them at 5:01 p.m. You had better have brought your lunch! Then there’s the straight-laced in an office full of  chandelier swingers. This gets old fast.

In a bank, the compliance manuals are your friend. It’s hardly the place to freelance.  The carefree will want to veer away from these structured arenas. Want to be a public relations specialist? You had better be a “lying” specialist. It’s their basic job. Are you a pacifist? The Marine Corps may not be a good career. Do you find locker rooms disgusting? You might want to take up golf. And the list goes on.

So use some keen forethought in your selection of a career. More than that, do some environmental investigation, i.e. sleuthing before you jump.


Find a job you can love, they say. That’s easier said than done.

I’m sure I’d enjoy a career as a professional baseball player, but who normally gets to translate his passion into a job? For most, the best case is finding a job that is at least tolerable. It’s important to realize that every job has its own grunt work. Professional baseball players must field buckets of balls everyday. For surgeons, it may be the volume of routine procedures you must perform everyday. For cooks, it may be chopping things everyday. For engineers, it may be data input or report writing everyday. For competitive runners, it may be covering the same miles and miles everyday.  Just realize this!

Here’s some advice. If you can only manage to tolerate your job, develop an array of hobbies for which you can be passionate. Then your off hours will make the mundane worth it, because you’ll have some extra money to fly to the south of somewhere.

Best case really is to find a job you can love. If it meets the above criteria–the first four “E’s”–it’s likely that you’ll be excited to go to work until you die.

Full Employment

Of course, Christmas is all about gifts.

  1. At the center of Christmas is God’s gift to all, Jesus, the only way to eternal life. For us it’s prepaid—bought with no small sacrifice—free if received, and effective if employed.
  2. Christians are also guaranteed at least one spiritual gift, by the way, which is employed in ministry.

As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 1 Peter 4:17

Since we can’t leave our faith at the door, a spiritual gift can be utilized in the workplace to further enhance your value, but such employment may be problematic in some cases, leading to persecutions (Mark 10:30). Still spiritual gifts employed have spiritual impacts and this can’t be bad!

  1. On the theme of gifts, with reference to what we do at iWork, everyone has some God-given talent or gift that can be employed to gain and sustain employment.

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:14 

Have you discovered how fearfully and wonderfully made you are?

My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth. Psalm 139:15 

God was involved in your creation. He skillfully and artfully made you as would an artisan, as would a craftsman, with purpose and intent.

  1. Self-assessment by any number of means can help you discover your design. You may have more than one natural gift, and you usually do.

Let’s look at a few Bible characters to see what natural gifts they were given.

  • David had gifts as a musician, singer, poet, warrior, military leader, and politician.
  • Daniel was a skilled politician, diplomat and administrator.

God gave them these gifts to them to be successful in life, as well as to serve him, and they needed them all!

  1. Have you been shortchanged? No!

To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Matthew 25:15

I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all. Eccl. 9:18

Put everything you’ve been given to work!

Success in 3D(s)

A determined person gets far in life. Implied in determination is a goal, for why would we be determined if we have no objective? Determined people set out to do something. They’ll always get farther in life than the undecided or ambivalent. Implied is resolve. Implied is single-mindedness. Implied is the application of energy and movement. Implied is drive. Drive and determination go hand-in-hand.

Diligent people set their minds to do something and sustain their determination indefinitely without lag or loss. They keep fires burning. They’re like short order cooks. They don’t squander time. They make the most of it. In fact, they race against it. They don’t watch time from the grandstands like a parade as it goes by. Diligent people plan ahead. They’re prepared. Their brows drip from sweat, but they keep going. It’s a great feeling to see progress.

The disciplined are singularly focused. They’re unswayed by sideshows. You’ll not find them on rabbit trails or gazing into the sky. They’re all business. They don’t engage in small talk. They’re intense. They hate beating the air. Discipline is the engine of determination and diligence.

The detractors would say to all of this activity that you’ve got to stop to smell the roses sometimes. There are generations that can only pull this off for a few years before they must tour Europe. But the determined, diligent, disciplined person says instead that you can’t rest on your laurels. There’s another mountain to climb.

Read these words from the most determined, diligent, disciplined person I know. An apostle named Paul.

24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.
25 Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
26 Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air;
27 but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Just a few words of warning on the application of another set of “D’s,” dedication and devotion. It’s dangerous to apply oneself wholeheartedly as described above for an organization or a boss. The favor may not be returned. All your work may turn out for naught. Always be aware that you are expendable. This may put you in a position to have to reposition yourself with another company or enterprise for which these industrious traits will be appreciated and remunerated! A good example is Jonathan. His father King Saul wanted David dead, leaving him a choice between loyalty to the king or God’s anointed. He chose the latter.

Here’s the key. Paul says, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” In this way, you’ll not regret leaving it all on the field.


Climbing the Corporate Ladder

This wisdom is inspired by Ecclesiastes 4.


There are many things that rob our joy in our work life. There’s the power structure that might be oppressive, that requires more bricks with less straw. Sometimes you’re singled out as the cause of corporate misfortune. You may have to contend with the evil motives of others, not just unfairness. Perhaps your co-worker sees you as a rival and you must guard your flank as well as contend with those above. He or she may be quite the politician, and you’re not, or you don’t want to play that game.  Then there are those who don’t pull their weight (the lazy) and you must work doubly hard to cover for them. Enduring all this when you think you’re not adequately compensated can be a bitter pill to swallow.

What’s the wisdom for dealing with all this? First, recognize these forces as the default position. Rarely does an organization empower its people rather than overpower them. Rarely can an organization root out all the bad apples. Rarely is there true teamwork and a lack of politics and rivalry in business. Rarely is there not the attitude of “what have you done for me lately?” Once you accept this, the rule is to be “shrewd as a serpent and as innocent as a dove.” (Matt. 10:16)

You want to be an agent of change. You want to turn the tables. It’s like mountain climbing. Get a foothold and then climb from cleft to cleft fostering the good attributes that an organization truly values and codified. Empower people. Foster teamwork. Commend effort and selflessness. Applaud victories. Learn from defeats and disappointments. And so forth. Read about corporate values here and you’ll get the idea.

Leaders instinctively know that nothing really gets done in an environment of oppression and backstabbing. They want buy-in to positive actions. Those who put aside pettiness and jealousy and greed and evil machinations and strive for the greater good will rise like cream to the top. They’re exercising leadership from day one. You really can’t deny an authentic leader. If these inclinations are thwarted, he or she will switch ladders.

Truth is, Christians should be the world’s best employees and managers. They answer to a higher power and possess a higher power to gain traction in an every man (or woman) for himself world

I observed mountain climbers recently in Canada. There was what is called a belayer at the bottom with a safety rope. When the climber slipped, he yelled out and the man at the bottom used his own weight to break his fall. We will need  a mentor/friend to help us up the corporate ladder, and more importantly, to help us if and when we fall.

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Eccl. 4:9-10