The Cross and the Calabash-We are fearfully and wonderfully created.

“We can’t have Christians serving in the leadership of this committee”: the man chairing the meeting proclaimed with a stern face.”We need to know where you all stand as far as this matter is concerned, so we can speak the same language. I can’t stress how important this is”.

I rose my hand and declared my faith. “I am a Christian and therefore I will not not be able to serve on this committee. I respect your stance but I will not be able to compromise who I am in order to serve here”

They all fell silent and something hard enveloped the room. No, it was not a religious organization, it was a project that we all felt passionate about and wanted to serve in, but we were not all aware that a religious or certain spiritual affiliation and perspective was one of the core principles. At least it was not written anywhere, hence the controversy and contention that cemented the faces of some of the delegates.

No one else declared what they believed or at least they became vague stating that they don’t believe in any religion or asking that the matter be subjected to a debate. After all, was it not a common goal that had brought us together in the first place? And now religion would be the sword that tears us apart. A distraction.

I saw pity and concern for me on some of their faces. Someone murmured how we need to understand how much organized religions have hurt and damaged people and their souls. Yet I also felt pity for my fellow colleagues that even in their contempt for Christianity in particular, they could not find common ground amongst themselves in terms of what their own spiritual practice entails. It was an interesting moment. The words “you are all fearfully and wonderfully made” kept echoing in my spirit.And I later reflected to myself how Christ is able to unify people of all nations, colours and creeds.

No matter what station or project we find ourselves “building” in, we can’t forget that we are all God’s creation, created for good works, to serve, to love one another and to die to our own selfish ambitions.

I have no doubt that this matter will remain a burning issue that will keep other awake at night and be a dinner or lunch reflection with friends. May God grant us all wisdom as we realize that at a small level, we played out and reflected why the world is burning instead of being built.

Blessings!

Work is about Serving and Honour

Two months ago I was sent to do some corporate presentations that I had never done before.It was part of my transition into a new career path.To say I was scared is an understatement. I was a nervous wreck.It was an important contract for the company that assigned me and the representative was restless, putting all of us in a tail spin. He expected nothing short of perfection and he did a great job of planting seeds of self-doubt in all of us.

For me, the expectation and the pressure were made magnified by the fact that this was a new area and I didn’t know what to expect. The days leading up to the two day presentations were filled with frantic research, prayers, meditation and scant sleep. As the company representative projected his fears on us through incessant checklists, I found myself wanting to check out. I was ready to give up.

I confessed to God that I feel like I don’t have a voice and I will stutter like Moses when He was sent to Egypt. This moment of humility and acknowledging my limitations led to me hearing God loud and clear. I felt that He was assuring me that if He could send a stuttering Moses to a king of Egypt, then He will surely be with me. I further sensed that all He wanted me to do was to go out there to Serve and Honour the people who will be there. And that is what I did.

I drove to the venue, still trembling with anxiety but I also had peace. A load had been taken off my shoulder. The event went better than I had expected and surely more than what the company had expected. I learnt a simple lesson from it;the pressure and anxiety came from too much reliance and focus on my technical performance, which is the standard by which we judge each other.

However, it was in availing myself to serve from the heart and honoring the people with empathy, deep conversation and listening to them that words on slides became alive and bore personal meaning for all of us. I left with a feeling of fulfillment witnessing the new fire in the audience and a renewed commitment to rebuild their organization and making it a humane and supportive place to work in.

I on the other hand,was left assured that with God on my side and a commitment to serve and honor, there is no place or project too intimidating to undertake. I hope you are encouraged too in whatever endeavor you are embarking on. Building companies and organizations is not about us, its about those we serve.

many thanks

Pearl

Building starts with Thanksgiving.

This past month I have been reading Ann Voskamp’s book: “A Thousand Gifts“. I got the book as a gift from one of my mentors in 2013. She told me she knows I will love the poetic prose and it’s indeed a beautiful book written in mind captivating language. Yet I must say the book has enriched me beyond just the beautiful language and imagery.

Firstly, it took me this long to read the book because when I first scanned through the pages years back, I thought there was nothing there for me to identify with. I was caught up in the humdrum of life and I wanted an easy, fast read to match the busyness of the time.

I have since slowed my life down dramatically and it was natural that the book lured me again as I was unpacking boxes and setting up the book shelf. I started reading from the middle (as i sometimes do) and in getting to the meat of the book’s message of Eucharisteo/Thanskgiving in the everyday, I was able to go back and start at the beginning.

As I re-read and closed the final pages, I found that I too, like Voskamp who was dared to find a 1000 things to be thankful for, the same spirit has caught up with me. I now experience joy in the smallest and often taken for granted everyday things and may I add especially things that I dreaded doing like house chores.

I now see them with new eyes and a tender heart. I am thankful for being awakened by a sound of garden birds in the morning, clean air, driving my children to school, laundry and cooking dinners. I know some of you have been doing this with ease, but to some of us it doesn’t come that easy and we would rather avoid and outsource as much of it as it is possible.

That’s why it comes as a shock to me that I am actually doing okay with this. It is still the same repetitive,¬†unending list of stuff but my heart now sees this as an opportunity to serve my family, each one individually. It is me making their lives easier and comfortable. I don’t do it for them, I do it as part of thanksgiving to God. I expect nothing in return; I draw inner joy seeing them living their best lives.¬†Of course, Voskamp tells this story better in her book.

I am convinced that the path to peace and love in our communities and countries, starts with planting the seeds of serving in our own homes and personal spaces. It gives meaning to the saying: “charity starts at home”. So as we seek to build and contribute to the building of communities, companies and nations, we understand that it is not an easy task and its practice entails a change of mind and heart about seemingly mundane things.

As for me, I am a new and enthusiastic student of practicing thanksgiving and reaping the rewards of joy and peace. I hope you find the same.

Many thanks.

Pearl