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Dan Miller Christian Blog and Commentary

Dan Miller

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Dan is the author of the New York Times best-selling 48 Days To The Work You Love , No More Dreaded Mondays and Wisdom meets Passion. He has been a guest on CBS' 'The Early Show,' MSNBC's 'Hardball with Chris Mathews,' Moody MidDay Connection, and the Dave Ramsey Show. Dan has spoken at the White House Christian Fellowship, and is in high demand at national conferences on aging and changes in the workplace, and at universities and churches. Over 130,000 people have subscribed to his weekly newsletter, his 48 Days Podcast consistently ranks in the top 3 under Careers on iTunes, and the 48Days.net business community is viewed as an example around the world for those seeking to find – or create – work they love. Committed to personal priorities, Dan and his wife Joanne have celebrated their 45th anniversary and have 3 world-changing children and 12 amazing grandchildren.

Here’s a question from a reader – an engineer.  (We’ll call him Bill)

“I’m at a job that I hate mainly because I feel like every day I’m set up to fail. There’s no job satisfaction. I go to work and try my best but the bosses and organization demand excellence in everything that we do. That is a good goal to have but there’s no way to accomplish all that needs to be and do it perfectly. ………So why would God place me in a situation like that for 8 years??”

Bill, be very careful about asking “why God put you in this place?” I certainly believe God is omnipotent – but I don’t think He micromanages the little details in our lives. I think our own decisions lead us to where we are. But that’s hopeful, because that means you can make new decisions that put you in a different place immediately. Don’t wait for supernatural movement — just start by seeing what you can do to move yourself in a new direction in the next 30-60 days.

When I found myself at the negative end of a business deal a few years ago with $430,000 owed to creditors I’m sure I could have asked, “Why did God do this to me?”  But instead, I looked back at the series of decisions I had made that put me in that position.  Yes, in reading Proverbs each day I was amazed to see the Biblical principles I had violated in getting me to that unfortunate crisis.  God had not done that to me.  I simply made decisions that resulted in that end result.  And that also meant that instead of just being miserable I was able to very quickly make decisions to walk out of that horrible experience.  

Sometimes we assume that our current situation reflects random, individual, disconnected events.  Or that God has put us in a situation where we are frustrated and set up to fail.  But seldom is either true.  Rather, we are where we are because each decision we make is a step in a particular direction.  And over time that direction determines our position in our work, our finances, our health, our relationships and our spiritual well-being.  If you think God did this to you, then it justifies doing nothing until God changes your situation.  And in doing nothing I see people open the door to blaming, resentment, anger, guilt and depression.  I think God deserves better from us.

You can look back and see how the path you have been following has gotten you to where you are.  If you don’t like the direction it is taking you, what are you willing to do to put yourself on a different path?

  • Look at where you are now.  Look back 3 years and you can identify the decisions you made that put you right where you are today.
  • Where do you want to be 3 years from today?  Are you willing to make the decisions to lead to that end result?

Dan is the author of the New York Times best-selling 48 Days To The Work You Love , No More Dreaded Mondays and the newly released Wisdom meets Passion. He has been a guest on CBS' 'The Early Show,' MSNBC's 'Hardball with Chris Mathews,' Moody MidDay Connection, and the Dave Ramsey Show. Dan has spoken at the White House Christian Fellowship, and is in high demand at national conferences on aging and changes in the workplace, and at universities and churches.  Over 130,000 people have subscribed to his weekly newsletter, his 48 Days Podcast consistently ranks in the top 3 under Careers on iTunes, and the 48Days.net business community is viewed as an example around the world for those seeking to find – or create – work they love. 

Is busyness crowding out the room for the success of your soul?

The story is told of a South American tribe that went on a long march, day after day, when all of a sudden they would stop walking, sit down to rest for a while, and then make camp for a couple of days before going any further.  They explained that they needed the time of rest so that their souls could catch up with them.    (from “Sabbath” by Wayne Muller) 

Are you working and living without the benefits of having your soul catch up?  Are you feeling like your work is soul-less and little more than a method of producing a paycheck?

In the “busyness” of modern life, I fear we have lost the rhythm between activity and rest.  Just as exhaling without occasionally inhaling will cause you to turn blue and pass out, busyness without rest will cause you to “pass out” from things that matter.   “I am so busy.”  We say this as a badge of honor, as if our exhaustion were a trophy, and our ability to withstand 70-80 hour workweeks a mark of real character.  We convince ourselves that the busier we are, the more we are accomplishing and the more important we must be.  But is this really so?  Does more activity really mean more accomplishment?  To be unavailable to friends and family, to miss the sunsets and the full moons, to blast through all our obligations without time for taking a deep breath – this has become the model of a successful life.

Can we really distinguish essentials that matter in our efforts to get more things?  Just this week I worked with a very competent lady who has reached the pinnacle in her profession, with a world class apartment and a beach house for the weekends.  Although her income puts her in the top 1% nationally, she has lost the sense of fulfilling work.  One of her expressed goals is to “smile more on my way to happiness.”  

"If you are losing your leisure, look out.  You may be losing your soul."

          - Logan Pearsall Smith (1865-1946) U.S.-born British essayist, biographer, critic

Embrace Sabbath days and times in your life.  Wisdom, peace, contentment and insight about fulfilling work will grow in those times.  Take a walk, give thanks for simple things, take a bath with music and candles, turn off the telephone, pager, TV and computer – carve out those times for restoration and spiritual breathing.  Even Jesus got away from the crowds periodically.

From the Bible:  

“Then Jesus suggested.  ‘Let’s get away from the crowds for a while and rest.’  For so many people were coming and going that they scarcely had time to eat.  So they left by boat for a quieter spot.” Mark 6:31 (TLB)

Direction for Today:

How has your striving for success crowded out the Sabbath in your life?

 

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Dan is the author of the New York Times best-selling 48 Days To The Work You Love , No More Dreaded Mondays and the newly released Wisdom meets Passion. He has been a guest on CBS' 'The Early Show,' MSNBC's 'Hardball with Chris Mathews,' Moody MidDay Connection, and the Dave Ramsey Show. Dan has spoken at the White House Christian Fellowship, and is in high demand at national conferences on aging and changes in the workplace, and at universities and churches.  Over 130,000 people have subscribed to his weekly newsletter, his 48 Days Podcast consistently ranks in the top 3 under Careers on iTunes, and the 48Days.net business community is viewed as an example around the world for those seeking to find – or create – work they love. 

Here are the 8 reasons most commonly given by human resource people for rejecting applicants.  And please note – none of these include your degree, your GPA or your IQ. By addressing these you can make yourself a top candidate without waiting and without getting any more student loans.

1. LACK OF ENTHUSIASM
You don’t have to be a Jimmy Kimmel or a Tigger, but you must express enthusiasm for a job if you don’t want to be weeded outTigger_happyimmediately. Enthusiasm, boldness, and confidence will often do more for you in an interview than another college degree.

2. LACK OF INTERPERSONAL SKILLS
When a candidate even hints at an inability to get along with others, it dramatically weakens that person’s chances in an interview. While this sounds obvious, it’s surprising how open some people are about their faults. Someone who interrupts frequently or who glances away during the interview will not be seen as a good team player.

3. WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
We know you want to know about the benefits, vacations, Friday massages and the company car, etc. but don’t lead with these questions! First, the employer will want to know what you can do for them. You can’t negotiate for more vacation time before you have been offered a job. Convince the employer that you are the right person for the job, be sure that you want to work there, then you can discuss pay and benefits.

4. UNCLEAR JOB GOALS
Don’t be a generalist. Be clear about the job you are seeking. This is the biggest flaw of job seekers that I’m seeing today.  If the interviewer gets the impression that you’re just looking for a job rather than a specific opportunity to use your skills, you will sabotage your chances.

5. POOR PERSONAL APPEARANCE
The key here is to fit in with the organization that you are contacting. I will defend your right to wear cutoffs and a baseball cap, but if you really want a job, you must dress appropriately. Many times I hear people who are irritated about not being given a job when they have a nose ring, bad breath, and unshined shoes. Keep in mind that organizations hire people, not credentials and experience. If they don’t like you, it doesn’t matter how great your experience is, you won’t get the job.

6. UNPREPARED FOR THE INTERVIEW
If you fumble when asked basic questions, you will appear unprepared and uncaring about the process. When asked, “Tell me a little about yourself” you should have a concise 2 minute answer: 15 seconds about your personal background, 1.5 minutes about your work experience, and 15 seconds about what you can do for this company. Your time spent in preparing for the interview will be time invested wisely.

7. NOT BEING CLEAR ON YOUR STRENGTHS
You should be able to state without hesitation, three characteristics that would make you a great candidate for any given job you are applying for. If you cannot clearly identify your strengths, no interviewer will convince you what they are.

8. NOT SELLING YOURSELF
Even if you would not enjoy selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door, you have to realize that in the interview process, you are selling yourself. Especially in today’s market, you have to promote yourself. Follow up immediately with a thank you note and a telephone call three or four days later. It’s a good way to reinforce your interest in the job as well as ask a question or two you may have forgotten in the interview.

Today’s workplace is desperately seeking competent workers. Know how you are gifted, present yourself with confidence, follow up, and be ready to have multiple offers from which to choose!

For more tips, go to: Q&A with Dan

A podcast listener recently asked:

“Dan, You mentioned Wattles’ book, The Science of Getting Rich.  I have heard strong negative reaction to such books (Think and Grow Rich, specifically) among believers.  (And my wife is among them, unfortunately.)  What is your response to Christians who are antagonistic towards those books?  How can I persuade my wife to consider their message?”

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The question is how much initiative do we take in our own lives as opposed to just letting God direct our every move.  Now personally, I’ve never seen God show up at the bank to make my mortgage payment or to pay the lawn guys for mowing my grass.  Just this morning I was driving Joanne’s car and noticed it was low on gas.  It was raining like crazy – I pulled into the gas station – man, I would have loved it if God just showed up and pumped gas in for me.  But no, like always, I had to get out in the rain, pump the gas myself and pull money out of my pocket to pay for it.

Do I think then that we’re just all on our own – certainly not?  How then does God help or equip us.  Last Christmas we had a private concert here with Ted Yoder – the 2010 National Hammered Dulcimer Champion.  Ted told me that in the early years people always told him he was so gifted, and he often wondered why God hadn’t made him successful.  But then he discovered being “gifted” means there was the seed of a talent – and that seed needed to be nurtured by hours and hours of practice, asking for opportunities to play, scraping enough money together to produce that first album and developing that seed into a national championship.  Seeds of any kind typically require fertilizer, water and hard work before they grow into a profitable and appealing plant.

Have you ever noticed that even if God allows you to have a dream – you’re expected to work to make it happen?  If you’re chosen for the football team at your school – then you have to practice, to work out hard, day after day – to keep your place.  If you’re accepted into a prestigious college – then you have to study to keep your grades up or that college will ask you to leave.  It seems that even when dreams are coming true – God requires our part in the process.

There is a spiritual life lesson for all of us to gain from seeing what happened in Ted Yoder’s success.   Yes, we can have dreams – yes, those dreams may come into view – but it requires a clear plan of action on our part.  It requires imagination.  It requires desire, hard work, self-discipline and faith.

The life I have today was not merely God’s gift to Joanne and me.  What we have and are is the result of God’s creation having been shaped and molded by human intelligence and hard work.  The ancient Jewish church had a prayer that they would recite at Passover that describes how this works:

“Blessed are you, Lord, God of all creation.
Through your goodness we have this bread to offer,
which earth has given and human hands have made.
It will become for us the bread of life.”

That prayer reveals a profound spiritual principle:  God’s gifts are raw materials, not finished products.  Think about the most revered sacrament in the church – Holy Communion.  Does God give us bread and wine?  Where can you find those in nature?  You can’t.   God makes wheat, He doesn’t make bread.  He makes grapes – not wine.  But when we take the raw materials God gives us, we can add our work and give them back to him as an offering.

And I remember reading in the most popular “self-help” book available:  “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” ( 2 Thes. 3:10)

This is a picture of the spiritual life for each of us.  Every one of you has special gifts – singing, writing, gardening, art, computer skills, selling abilities, teaching others, encouraging others – but whatever our gift is – it’s a raw product.  It has limited value until we apply the discipline necessary to make it useful to ourselves and others.

We get nothing but rough materials – life doesn’t hand us the finished product.  Life may even bring us obstacles or heartache along the way.  But ultimately, our lives are the bread that we prepare.  Our lives are what those around us see as the result of what we’ve done with those raw materials.

So the issue is balance – is it all us, NO.  Is it all God, NO.  We develop the raw products of what God has given us.  The debate about books like The Science of Getting Rich, orThink and Grow Rich comes from extreme edges of the faith community - where personal responsibility is pushed aside. 

I recently read a couple books by Franciscan priest Richard Rohr.  He comments on how to joyfully surrender ourselves to God, and how to pray:  “Asking for something from God does not mean talking God into it; it means an awakening of the gift within ourselves.”

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Example: "Gen 1:1" "John 3" "Moses" "trust"
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