180 Degrees Toward Salvation!

 

If you asked managers to describe the traits of an ideal employee, most would have lists that are quite similar–intelligent, talented, motivated, passionate, , and cooperative with a positive, team-oriented attitude. Unfortunately not all employees will measure up (neither do all managers for that matter) and a few will fall so woefully short that they become counterproductive to the organization. In these few cases, managers are faced with the uncomfortable task of confronting the issues head on and getting the employee on track.

Of course not all employees are willing or able to meet the performance needs of the employer and ultimately they leave or are fired from employment. This situation while sometimes unavoidable is not preferable because the organization has already invested precious resources into training and inculcating them into the institution.  Rather the preferable alternative is to turn around performance so completely that these employees become a star for the organization. That is to say, they become 180 degree employees.

Developing 180 degrees employees is not as complicated as it may seem. In most cases, the lack of motivation is rooted in lack of fulfillment, either professional or personal.  Personal issues are more tricky to deal with for a variety of legal and human resource reasons but getting to the root of the unfulfillment regardless of the source is key. Once that occurs, then a turn around path has to be clearly laid out in such a way that the road to success can be paved one positive brick at a time. It is also important to a connection to someone who can provide honest and positive feedback. Finally and perhaps most importantly the employee has to believe that they are an essential part of something bigger and that they can succeed.

As it turns out, this same process lies at the heart of the spiritual journey toward God. We often begin this journey with our backs partially or wholely turned away from God, incredibly unfulfilled and lacking direction and/or motivation for change. We long for something more meaningful and more purpose driven in our lives. This is precisely why we often see people turn to God only at their lowest point. We are severely underperforming our potential and at the same time practically begging for an intervention.

The good news, the great news actually, is that we are children of the ultimate turn around specialist. Recall that Saul was the chief prosecutor of Jesus and the Disciples and he became Christ’s chief messenger. This is the redemptive power of Jesus Christ. It turns what was committed against God to what is dedicated to God. The beauty and majesty of Christ is there is no one on a path that is so far removed that their course cannot be altered. Regardless of our past, Christ stands at the ready to guide us through a total transformation. We can achieve our God-given purpose and potential when completely turn 180 degrees toward salvation!

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Finding Your Spiritual Yoda!

The first time I saw Star Wars, I immediately identified with the underlying premise. The storyline of the never ending clash between good and evil is as old as humanity. Those of us who have had a more wayward path to our relationship with God can readily identify with the movie’s premise and the characters’ struggles to find greater purpose. The uncertainty of making the right choices in our lives looms ever present and finding the right force to guide us is vital.

Often times in our quest to make the right choices, we have a longing in our spirit to feel a more intense connection with God, a yearning for divine guidance and direction.  In these moments it can seem as if the more we strive to achieve closeness, the more elusive it is to our spiritual grasp.  We all face times like this and so it is important to realize the elusiveness of spiritual guidance is not due to the absence of God’s presence, but rather it is a function of the dissonance surrounding our search. Unharmonious elements in our lives can drown out the quiet affirmations of God and keep us from getting a handle on the proper direction for our lives.

In these instances, prayer and reflection are always helpful.  In addition, it is essential to have someone we can turn to who has a powerful connection to God. While none of us has a full grasp on God’s will and power, all of us can identify people we know or have run across who amaze us in their spiritual developement. Friends, relatives, siblings, parents, work colleagues, neighbors, worship leaders and pastors alike can have these incredible spiritual connections.

These special connections do not come with position but by the development of one’s gift.  Not everyone has the same spiritual gifts, but for some their relationship with God is developed to such an extent that they can serve as spiritual mentors and thus guide others through difficult times. In fact, the Scriptures are replete with examples of people and leaders who were mentored by someone that had this strong connection. Joshua was mentored by Moses, Timothy by Paul and the list goes on.

Mentors are important to our spiritual growth. Our individual spiritual connection ebbs and flows in our daily lives, but we can manage those fluctuations much better when we have access to our own spiritual mentor. Spiritual mentors have a way of grounding us, cutting through the dissonance in our lives and helping us to clear the path toward a greater connection with God. In the vernacular of Star Wars, we all seek to use the force of God for good in our lives and at our most difficult times when direction eludes us, it certainly helps when you can rely on a mentor. So go forth and find your spiritual Yoda!