Don’t You Just Love a Good Symphony?


10 He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” [Psalm 46:10a]

The view from my back deck 0615 this morning

A funny thing has happened to me over the last few days.

Well, not all that funny if you know me well.  You see, I’ve been craving silence.

Sometimes it seems as though I need silence like other people need air.  It feeds me and fills me with a kind of strength and peace that is simply unattainable any other way.  In the silence I hear God.

Don’t get me wrong, God doesn’t speak to me audibly like some other worldly and disembodied voice from upon high.  He doesn’t make bold pronouncements like “build an ark” or “let my people go”.  I’ve often lamented that I wish he would speak to me that way, the way he spoke to Moses through the burning bush or how he woke a young Samuel from a deep sleep.  But then again that would likely be terrifying so I guess I’ll pass.

No, God speaks to me in those thoughts that come in the quiet moments of the day.  He brings to mind people to pray for and reach out to, he plants the seeds of action and progress for my life, ministry and business but more often than not he just says:  “hey there – I’m here with you, I’m on your side, I’ve got this, relax I love you.”

Some days I tend to be a bit of a striver.  I run hard after things, like an athlete going for gold.  I remember the first time I read 1 Corinthians 9:24, I said; “Yup that’s me, I want to be that guy.”

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. [1 Corinthians 9:24, 25]

I work hard, sometimes too hard.

In my business we use a personality matrix to help us understand ourselves better so that we can direct our efforts toward the kind of prospects that respond best to our personal styles.  I’m sure you’ve seen similar things in whatever business you spend your time in.  They’ve been a staple of popular management psychology for at least the last 30 years.  The one we use the most breaks people down into 4 categories; analytical, driver, amiable and expressive.

Through a series of question and response tests you can place yourself on a quadrant diagram in one of the four areas and presto, this is who you are and how you work best.  Problem is that every time I do one of these tests, if I take my time and am honest with myself I land so close to the middle of the diagram that they tell me I must not have been honest.  Apparently nobody can be so balanced in their responses as to be nearly equal in all four traits.  Except me that is, but I digress.

On days when I tend to be a striver, (I prefer the term to driver because to my mind it better depicts a goal that you are reaching for, I’m pretty sure you can be a driver and still lack direction.) I sometimes run off ahead of God.  And when I get ahead of God things start to fall apart, deals fall through, relationships get strained and I start to crave silence so I can stop for a minute and listen to God.

That’s how I’ve been feeling lately so I tried for some quite time yesterday.  Saturdays are usually a good day to unplug from the world and sit in silence for a while but there were too many things to do, too many errands to run and too many people to visit.  I started to feel myself getting angry so I calmed myself down by resolving to get up early this morning and sit in the silence.

I began with some deep breathing exercises and an “Our Father.”  And then it happened.  The birds started it.  Not just one or two but a veritable symphony!

I was annoyed, how’s a guy supposed to hear God with all this damn chirping?  But that wasn’t all; a car with a bad muffler started up in the distance, then my neighbor’s air conditioner kicked in, a dog started barking and an airplane took off.  Did I mention I live just a few kilometers from the airport?

But just as I was about to get really upset and give up in frustration I heard it.  God whispering to me through the noise; “Don’t you just love a good symphony?”

I took another deep breath and started over; “Our Father, who art in heaven… listen to the symphony of praise your creation has brought this fine morning!

Hallowed be thy name….”

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

 

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The Success Principle You Won’t Find on the Best Seller List…


As most of you know I read about a book a week.  I’m a firm believer in the famous line that says:

“Five years from today, you will be the same person that you are today, except for the books you read and the people you meet.”

That was spoken by the motivational speaker and author Charlie “Tremendous” Jones and its truth is fairly profound.  As an introvert I find it a lot easier to read a book than to meet people so I guess by reading so much I’m making up for that fact, even when I read books about how to get better at talking to people.

I tend to read mostly in 5 broad categories that help me with the over arching mission of The Meekonomics Project, those are books on Theology, Economics, Politics, Sales Theory and Self-Help.  So this past week I picked up a copy of “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield.  Canfield is best known as the co-creator of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series that has grown into over 40 individual releases and sold well in excess of 500 million copies world-wide.   By all accounts he’s a pretty successful guy so he should know what he’s talking about.

I’m only about a third of the way through but something I read the other day struck me and I wanted to write about now before I forgot and my mind moved on to something else.  In a nutshell I’m a bit concerned about the way Canfield, and other motivational self-help authors focus on personal empowerment over mutual submission, team work and servant leadership.

You see, the first several “principles” Canfield lays out have to do with taking personal responsibility and getting clear on what it is you want.  They have titles like “Take 100% Responsibility for Your Life”, “Be Clear Why You’re Here” and “Believe It’s Possible”.  All good things to be sure but Canfield (and he’s not alone in this, most self-help authors follow a similar formula) makes it seem as though you already have all of the ingredients you will need to be super successful.  In my experience that’s just not true.

Now I don’t want to pretend I know anything about Canfield’s personal life but it appears as though he is to some degree at least a spiritual person.  He has also spoken with and interviewed several religious leaders, many of whom have contributed to the “Chicken Soup” series and are quoted through this book.  But there seems to be a serious spiritual disconnect between saying I am 100% responsible for my own life and then turning around and praying the way Jesus taught us in Matthew 6.

The Lord’s Prayer contains the phrase, “your will be done”, (Matthew 6:10) but if you are totally in tune with the party line amongst self-help authors that’s a big no-no.  It means you are giving up a part of your personal empowerment to something outside of yourself.  Even though that is exactly what is taught in scripture most self-help authors, including those who profess some form or Christianity like Canfield will gloss over that fact.  Telling people to surrender their will to God just doesn’t sell as many books as letting them think they are in complete control of their destiny.

Self Help books are all about personal empowerment, they provide a valuable service to those who need a little kick in the pants to get moving toward their dreams in life.  But before you start moving in any direction you first need to stop and make sure your dreams are in line with the God who put you here.  God has a will, or as some have said a purpose, for you.  If you’re dreams are not in line with His no amount of self-help or empowerment lectures are going to make you successful.

As A.W. Tozer, the American theologian and author of “The Knowledge of the Holy” and “The Pursuit of God” put it:

To set our will against the will of God is to dethrone God and make ourselves supreme in the little kingdom of Mansoul.  This is sin at its evil root.

The kingdom of Mansoul, as opposed to the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God is where most people and most self-help authors want to live.  That is where you and you alone are in complete control.  But Jesus calls us to a different kind of kingdom.  He calls us to the Kingdom of Heaven, where God is in control and his will is written on our hearts for all time.

Meekonomics is not a self-help or personal empowerment movement.  If anything it is more about personal depowerment, if that’s even a word.  It’s not until you release your hold on your dreams and surrender them to God at the foot of the cross that you will be able to move forward.  But don’t mourn the loss of those dreams because once you surrender your will to him he will write a new dream on your heart that is even more powerful and more fulfilling than anything you could have thought of on your own.

Once that dream is firmly embedded in your soul then all of the self-help and personal empowerment writings from people like Jack Canfield take on a whole new meaning.  We are then able to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and run the race set out for us in a whole new way. (Hebrews 12:2).

Remember, “blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth” really means that if you surrender your will to God he will give you everything!  There is no better success principle than that.