Week of March 4, 2012
“Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” -Philippians 3:13-15
Professional acumen is not just about acquiring knowledge, matching a personality diagnostic or simply dressing the part. It’s about development created from the inside out. And much of the journey involves testing of the heart (Proverbs 17:3).
To do it God’s way, we must first know Him and trust Him. We must have a heart for Him. We must allow Him to prepare us, teach us and mature us, according to His methods and timing. And we must abide in Him all along the way. There are no shortcuts.
God has new manna for us every day, and although His principles do not change, His methods do. And many of His promises are conditional.
One of my friends recently asked me, “How do you do what you do?” My response was simple: “Production technology.” I went on to explain how a few years ago, God picked me up and hurled me into an ocean of technology, an area I had resisted my whole life. This time was no exception, but I knew God was doing me a favor. He knew that this area of equipping was required in my next assignment. My friend went onto explain that she was working in a position where much was heaped on her plate, and she didn’t know how to do some of what was assigned to her. “You’re in the perfect position for God to accelerate you,” I said.
We live in accelerated times, and development cannot happen without depth, resistance and stretching, all preparation for what’s ahead.
My friend was like Ruth in the Bible. She was chosen by the King, set up to step into the unknown, to make a powerful impact that will reach beyond herself and then reap a rich reward (Ruth 2:11-12). Scripture tells us that Ruth married a wealthy landowner and gave birth to the grandfather of King David. When we take to heart God’s business, He takes care of ours.
Patience is also a key element. Esther 2:12 tells us that Esther had to undergo 12 months of beauty treatments before meeting with the king. One can only imagine all the thoughts and prayers and conversations—perhaps even anxieties—that took place within her during that time. Esther was chosen purposefully and developed before being presented. She knew God and had His hand of favor and protection upon her. God set the stage, guided her and empowered her to impact a nation during a pivotal moment. She and her family were honored as a result.
I have another friend who quit her job after a single day during a down economy. “I am an executive!” she boldly proclaimed. I knew what she meant: that she was underemployed in that job, and she did not want to go back to the same position she had held years earlier. After she departed that position, she opened a women’s boutique, which lasted about two months before closing shop. Now, she’s back home where she started. Still, nothing is wasted in God’s economy. God used my friend’s brief journey to do an accelerated work in her, through her and on her behalf. Much good, even beyond herself, resulted from these fast lessons. Discipline, common sense and insight are also key (Proverbs 5:23, 10:21). And all must be led by the Holy Spirit.
Maturity, which includes wisdom, plays a paramount role in one’s professional acumen. I once worked with a young woman who was brilliant, knew her stuff, executed it well and even took on additional responsibility. It seemed her only downfall was that she belittled others. Not surprising, when it came time to restructure our department, she was asked to leave. It’s not enough to be knowledgeable. One must consistently exercise appropriate social skills, including kindness and humility (Luke 14:11). If we aren’t taught it from childhood, we must learn it in adulthood until it becomes second nature. Hard lessons are not soon forgotten. They are accelerated works. Count it all good, and move on stronger.
Hosea 4:6 tells us, “My people are being destroyed because they don't know me….” Knowledge is critical, and it takes time to achieve. There are no shortcuts. Taking time to know God and to educate ourselves is invaluable. Although God does redeem time, there is no substitute for dedicated time spent with Him and learning what He desires for us to learn so He can help us understand and accomplish His will on earth in areas and on levels that are new to us. This is growth. This is building a powerful repertoire.
Proverbs 4:7 reminds us to get understanding, insight and good judgment. Pray and ask the Lord to give these to you. I find frequently that whatever nugget I need, God gives it to me very quickly, oftentimes through a punctuated, spoken word from another ministry leader, pastor or evangelist. Revelation is the revealed word of God, spoken or written. And it’s facilitated to us by the Holy Spirit.
When we love God, we will find joy and appeal in the work He assigns to us, even if it’s a great challenge. Working for the Lord is an adventure, whether I am resting in Him while searching through scripture or out on the frontlines of a job. I know wherever He assigns me, it is temporary, and the sooner I receive what He wants me to receive and learn what He wants me to learn and do what He wants me to do, the sooner He’ll advance me to another level and area. Working unto the Lord is a winning ethic.
2 Timothy 2:6-7 tells us, “The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops. Reflect on what I am saying, for the Lord will give you insight into all this.”
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary explains, “If we would partake of the fruits, we must labor; if we would gain the prize, we must run the race. We must do the will of God, before we receive the promises, for which reason we have need of patience.”
How would you gage your professional acumen? Do you consider yourself to have great insight? Who or what is your power source? Is it Almighty God, who loves you beyond measure? Have you asked Him to help you? Have you heard from Him yet?
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