Blow Your Own Horn

Those forced out onto the street may be forced for the first time to become their own publicist. It’s do or die time now. You don’t work, you don’t eat!

While you might not like to blow your own horn, you’d better get those chops in shape. No matter how many hot shots you may know, no matter how many achievements you’ve racked up, you’ll still need to sell yourself.

I love how the Apostle Paul makes his own case in 1 Corinthians 10 and 11. So worried that he’d sound full of himself, his preamble was loaded with disclaimers. He announced that what he was going would sound insane (11:23). But he spoke within his sphere (10:13), and within the measure of this sphere, he was a rock star. Not in his eyes, but in those to whom he ministered.

The takeaway is that he was a humble guy, aware of his shortcomings, like his contemptible unskilled speech (10:10), and perhaps his stature, yet he was super-confident. In his case, the power of God was behind everything he did, and his confidence was in Him. As such, he was able to take on the detractors, the naysayers, and the hungry wolves at his door (11:32).

When finally in front of a potential employer, it’s time, within your sphere, to make your impassioned plea. Your particular set of skills are worth a lot to somebody, but more so is your unbridled passion.

In Paul, this was clearly demonstrated in his many trials and tribulations. Don’t lose sight that despite the 195 gashes in his back, he was bound and determined to share the gospel to the Gentiles in the uttermost parts of the world, where no one dared to go. And he did, because he was worried sick about their welfare! (11:28)

Transmit your passion with what you’ve done, despite the obstacles and challenges, and you’ll impress!

Righting the Ship

Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand.
With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Psalm 73:23-24

Teach me to do Your will, for You are my God; let Your good Spirit lead me on level ground. Psalm 143:10

Emotions can run high with a job loss. They’re much akin to the stages of grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

But if you pinch yourself and it hurts, then the worst case hasn’t happened; you’re still alive, and likely no one has died. So it’s better for everyone, especially yourself, to move through the stages quickly, or to skip them altogether, if possible.

It’s understandable, though, to have to right the ship, because we’re human. We’ve got our plans and dreams, and when we are rerouted, it takes time to get to acceptance.

It’d be good if we all were like the Apostle Paul, who was thwarted by God’s spirit from ministering in Asia and Bithynia, and saw a vision of a Macedonian man, and quickly hopped a ship to Greece.

We normally resist change, and when forced to change, it angers us and we dig in.

The Bible addresses these natural inclinations, and offers hope and encouragement. But it also motivates and exhorts when our humanity gets in the way.

Think of Sarah when told that she’d have Abraham’s son. She laughed. God’s response to the realities of age, “Is anything too difficult for the Lord?” (Genesis 18:14) I guess we know what The Lord thinks about age discrimination!

Then there’s Elijah, who hid himself in a cave after being used mightily by God. He was despondent and wanted to die! What? He exclaimed, “I alone am left!” God asked the simple question, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” 1 Kings 19:9

And there’s Jonah who resisted the will of God to go to Nineveh, and was beside himself when they repented and the Lord relented. He was fit to be tied. The response from on high:  “Do you have a good reason to be angry?” Jonah 4:4

So pull yourselves together. Nothing’s too difficult for God. Get yourself some good counsel and focus on all that God has done for you in the past. Don’t be angry with the hand of God. Don’t slap it away. Let him lead you on level ground.

Trust him.

The Elephant in the Room

What if Mark had a Linkedin page? This guy had connections. Capable of dropping names like Apostles Peter and Paul. Cousin of the son of encouragement Barnabas. Son of Mary, at whose home the church  met.

And he had accomplishments. A ministry that ranged from Jerusalem to Rome. In on the founding of the church. Gospel author. On the first recorded missionary tour.

But he did have a blip on the radar screen. A blemish on an otherwise stellar resume. Unfortunately, as it turns out, the incident found its way onto his permanent record.

We all have episodes in our lives that we’d rather not rehash. What do we do to get the gawkers to look the other way? How do we regain our footing? More importantly, how do we address the elephant in the room?

One, is to know that God has created  these circumstances as a learning experience. It’ll always be there in the back of your mind, and in the minds of those with whom you must function.

It’s actually a good thing, and thankfully, not a real thorn in the flesh like Paul’s.  Remember, Jesus built off Peter’s failure big time.

Here’s the key. The only way we make it back is to be a humble person. Humiliation, by definition, must proceed this step. You could be a bitter person, but we don’t want to go there, do we?

Two, the contrast will be stark when you prove the detractors wrong. Mark did an amazing job returning to good graces. Just think, it’s time for the second missionary tour and Barnabas wants him back on the team, and is willing to split with Paul over him!

It turns out, by the end of the lives of both Peter and Paul, Mark’s shuttling back in forth between them as a useful person. Reading between the lines, this guy was really indispensable to two of the greatest men who ever lived.

So, get back in the game. Work hard to prove them wrong. Learn from your mistakes. Be honest. Be humble. Use your time wisely–Mark took his hiatus to write a very important book. Persevere.

As an aside, Mark might not have wanted to go to Perga, but he did not in the end shy away from ultimately travelling into the belly of the beast–Rome.

Back to LinkedIn. How good was it to get Paul’s recommendations posted in the end?

Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you his greetings; and also Barnabas’s cousin Mark (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him). Colossians 4:10

Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for service. 2 Timothy 4:11