Raymond L. Wheeler, DMin

Musings about leadership


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God is Not Silent – Are You Listening?


Pietro_Perugino_-_Prophets_and_Sibyls_-_WGA17241I had just completed reading the second book of Chronicles in the Jewish scriptures.  The conclusion of the author caught my attention.  It reads,

The Lord, the God of their ancestors , sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place; but they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words, and scoffing at this prophets, until the wrath of Lord against his people became so great that there was no remedy. (2 Chron. 36:16-16, NRSV)

I reflected on the persistent disregard the king’s of Israel had toward God’s personal communication.  My response is not uncommon, “How can people who have so many clear interventions from God so completely miss God’s attempt to communicate?”

My ruminations about transition emerge from the context of my own experience.  There have recently been times were I felt at the end of my most important contribution.  Oddly, opportunities for which I am amply qualified have closed in front of me. Ageism?  Perhaps. Diversity goals? Perhaps. Cost reduction? Perhaps. The reasons were insignificant compared to the questions I face at this stage in life. I am part of the Boomer generation and I look forward to the convergence of experience, learning, and opportunity. Yet, I sometimes feel convergence slipping from my grasp.  Fear assails my thoughts, resignation like a mental rigor-mortise has tried to rob my creativity and resilience.

In the midst of these fairly common emotions I am reminded to embrace yet another metamorphosis as I learn to apply my knowledge and experience in new ways. Reading the historical lessons of Chronicles has been encouraging – a reminder that God is not silent and that the shaping of destiny and purpose continues through a life time. Decisions made today are as significant as decisions made a decade ago spiritually. Look at faithful men and women in Chronicles who live an entire life of faithful and powerful relationship with God who then fail to finish well in the end through hubris or some other arrogance that leads to a wreckage of faith and not a flourishing of faith.

Hence my rumination, “How can people who have so many clear interventions from God so completely miss God’s attempts at communicating?” And hence, my commitment to remain attentive to that still small voice of God – God’s communication that is clear in the scriptures read and reflected upon or in those intuitive thoughts that emerge from prayer that bear the stamp of God’s own voice.

I went about my day and was preparing to leave my office and run some errands when I heard a knock at the door. A young man in a lime green logo shirt with iPad in hand was conducting an energy survey to find out who in our neighborhood qualifies for alternative energy projects. Janice and I have already explored these alternatives so I was closing the conversation when the young man surprised me with a request, “May I pray for you?” he said.

“Sure, what congregation are you a part of?” I asked.

He told me, we prayed and then he looked at me and said, “A man your age sometimes thinks their time of fruitfulness is over.  Your greatest time of fruitfulness is about to begin. God has you in this time of transition not to forsake you but to complete the equipping and preparation you need for what is next.  The end of your life will see the greatest of God’s work in scope and in impact.  You have been faithful in little, God will make you faithful over much more.”

He said several others things too personal to share in this format that spoke to the deepest parts of my being.

Ok, that was different. Some might even say it was weird.

After he left, I considered my reflection about the kings of Israel and their response to the prophets.  I am separated from their experience by thousands of years and yet the God of Abraham still speaks to me like the God I read about in the Bible.  I remembered something Dallas Willard once wrote:

In the last analysis nothing is more central to the practical life of the Christian than confidence in God’s individual dealings with each person.  The individual care of the shepherd for his sheep, of the parent for the child and of the lover for the beloved are all biblical images that have passed into the fundamental consciousness of Western humanity….The biblical record always presents the relationship between God and the believer as more like a friendship or family tie than like merely one person’s arranging to take care of the needs of another.(1)

I take the young prophet’s words to heart. I listen for the voice of God who is also my friend.

In case some wonder; I am not lost in the pursuit of the next episodic thrill of existential phenomenon. I am attentive to what God says in the scriptures, in prayer, and through the voices of others. I have specific goals and I work toward the convergence I want to see also recognizing that opportunities I have not thought of may well land in my lap as a result of the guidance and grace of God.

Is it a surprise that the prophetic (a gift of the Holy Spirit according to 1 Corinthians 12-14) still finds expression through and in the church?  Not at all. This is the promise of God at work to guide, restore, heal, comfort, and develop God’s people. Are you listening for the voice of God?  What do you do with what God has said or is saying now?  How do you test the validity of what you hear to decide its reliability?  If you are a follower of God through faith in Jesus Christ then be ready to see God act today just like you see God acting in history.

If you are not familiar with God acting in this way then contact me, I am happy to talk with you. Or, pray, ask God to show God’s self to you in a way you can’t miss. Walk the journey of faith with expectation, hope, and joy; one greater than you walks with you.

 

(1) Dallas Willard. Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God. (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 22-23.


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The Advice We Remember


I am always intrigued by what my clients and students remember. People hear what they need to hear and it sticks with them throughout life.  So, I asked a group of leaders what the most memorable thing they had ever heard from a mentor. This is what they said.

“You are so you … not ‘typical’, not ‘standard’ but very authentic. That is why you got the job, stay that way and give the company but most of all the team that breeze of fresh air.” So often leaders change just to “fit in”, forgetting themselves and who they really are …                                             Wendy Hagenbeek-Jacobs, Teamleader bij Scania Parts Center Opglabbeek

“The visionary leader must also be a missionary, extremely practical, intensively dynamic and capable of translating dreams into reality. This dynamism and strength of a true leader flows from an inspired and spontaneous motivation to help others.” Govind Bharadia, Facilitation, Coaching & Training – Free lance

“When you’re up to your ass in alligators and it looks like you’re in for a beating, go crazy! Nobody knows how to deal with a crazy cop and that might just give you the time you need.” Hey, Mr. Wheeler requested the most memorable or meaningful, not insightful. Believe it or not, it actually worked for me once when I was being attacked by a group of individuals, trying to pull me out of my police vehicle. I went crazy and they backed up, just enough for me to escape. Who would have thought!”
Michael McTaggart, Policing, Investigations, Security, Training, Management

“Mike, chose your battles wisely. You can lose a battle and still win the war. Also, you can win the battle and lose the war.”  Mike Ausloos, Food Waste Recycling|Renewable Fuel|Biogas Digester

“Choose your own way, or someone else will do it for you.” Can Kaplan, Geliştirme Müdürü – Trakya Cam

“There is such a thing as a great team and a bad leader, but not a great leader and bad team.”
Andy Lloyd, Managing Director at process benchmarking ltd

“Success will never lower its standard to accommodate us. We have to raise our standard to achieve it. For every bird God provides food but not in its nest.” Gagan Mittal, Team Manager- ANZ Bank

“You have to ask for the order.” As a guy in sales, he knew that people needed to be asked to join in (or buy). So many times “nobody helps in church” because “nobody asked them to.”  David Fletcher, Executive Pastor at First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton

“Don’t tell me you can’t do something, tell me what you need to get it done.” John Dix, Director of Organizational Development at Chartwells Schools

“Make your enemies become your friends.” Aysu Ugus, CIPM, B.Sc., Commercial Project Manager

“Whether you are running business or running family, never lose economic control.”                                    ramesh Rameshrahi, Director

 “Your reputation is just as important as your talent.” Karen LaGreca, Design and Color Specialist Home Furnishings Market

 “Own your greatness.” Shereen van Schoor, Course Coordinator at The Red & Yellow School

 “When I hear you preach, I want to hear . . . Rich Frazer. It took me 5 years to figure that one out.”
Richard Frazer, President at Spiritual Overseers Service International

“He told me a story about a fireplug: you know, a fireplug is one of those iron things in the ground where water pours forth for firefighting. The story was about a man who went by it every day and kicked it, everyday he grumbled about it, and it of course never moved. The moral: Some things are fireplugs. You can complain about them every day but they won’t change. Know when it’s a fireplug–don’t waste your energy and just go around it!!” Susan Foster, Master Certified Coach/Owner at Susan Foster Coaching

“The worst telling-off people get are the ones they give themselves.” “You need to have the smarts to learn from others mistakes, not wait until you make them yourself.”  Richard Morris, Senior Consultant at MartinJenkins

“When you have to do something you must make yours better”.  Carlos de Souza Teixeira, Chemistry Teacher at Secretaria da Educação

“You are allowed to make mistakes” Nikki Compton, Program Director at Spartanburg Mental Health

It’s all about the people!” Gary Daniels, Plant Supervisor at Bertolini Inc

“Anyone not rowing in the same direction is slowing the whole boat down.” Timothy Kerby, Senior Manager Network Strategy, WCS

With a wave of her arm she said “Just let it go. Do not beat yourself up if something does not go exactly as you planned. Let it go and move forward.”  Dr. William K. Mennen, Org Growth | Future Thinking at Idea Generation

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive!”  “There is something in every one of you that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in yourself. It is the only true guide you will ever have. And if you cannot hear it, you will all of your life spend your days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.” (Howard Thurman with whom I and others spent a precious year at Boston U 1953-54.)  Robert Crosby, Founder of Crosby & Associates and Leadership Institute Seattle

“Damn it Mickey. Slow down and enunciate I don’t understand a word your saying.”  “Mickey if you want to get ahead, learn the game and play the rules. Only once you learn the game better; can you influence other people. Kicking and pounding on the door yelling that YOU SHOULD PLAY gets you no-where and everyone just thinks you are an asshole.” (From Jim Cardus, my father.)                                Michael Cardus, Org Development and Managerial-Leadership Expert

“What is most powerful and enduring (yet often invisible) is process. It shapes, alters, and even creates everything that exists or is done in this world.” Arthur Lerner, Principal at Arthur Lerner Associates

“Salary should not be the primary driver of your career. It is simply one piece to the overall puzzle.”
Terrence Williamson MBA, CQM/OE, CSQE, Scrum Master at GIS

“Success is about having a vision and seeing yourself there before you’re actually there. It also requires faith, faith to get you there.” Shea Porta, Program Coordinator at Naples Botanical Garden, Soil Scientist

I appreciate the accumulated wisdom represented in these pithy anchors of sanity. What do you remember? Don’t keep these to yourself tell the rest of us.  You don’t know when something you say may alter the course of someone’s life and career for the better.