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Dan Miller Christian Blog and Commentary

Dan Miller

48Days.com

Here’s a question from a reader – an accountant.  (We’ll call her Deborah)

"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 8yrs??"  Portrait of a girl praying

Deborah, 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 you can make new decisions that put you in a different place. 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, the next morning I looked at the guy in the mirror.  And I asked myself about the series of decisions I had made that put me in that position.  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 I very quickly made decisions to walk out of that horrible experience. 

Sometimes we assume that our current situation reflects random, individual, disconnected events - or God maliciously making our life miserable.  But none of those are likely 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.

Sometimes we can simply reframe how we talk about what we are doing.  Instead of saying “I have to go to work today,” try saying “I get to go to my job today where I see people I believe in and where I get a paycheck that provides for the needs of my family.  I choose to do my job with excellence and to elevate the quality of what my team is doing.”

You can look back and see how the decisions you’ve made have gotten you to where you are.  If you don’t like the direction those are taking you, make some new choices to put yourself on a different path?  Don’t continue in misery and blame God for putting you there.  It's an unrealistic and unhelpful attempt to shift responsibility. 

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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. 

After spending a night with a client in Chattanooga recently Joanne and I continued driving south to Florida.  We tend to wander when we travel and found ourselves on the southwest side of Atlanta in a section away from the freeway when I started to notice a massive number of similar signs:Cash That Check Money Payment Pile Fast Convenient Service

  • Rent to Own
  • No Credit Check
  • Title Max Loans
  • Pawn Shop
  • $799 down for any car
  • Checks cashed here
  • Tax refunds fast
  • Take charge of your life – title loans

It went on for a couple of miles.  And I thought, why is there such a concentration of ways to take advantage of poor people in one spot?  There seemed to be a thorough blend of ethnicities there but it was also clear we were in a very poor socio-economic area.

I’m sure you know that at the base of the Statue of Liberty there is a plaque with this famous quotation:

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

And I guess we’ll take those tired and poor and make them even poorer.

I know much of my sensitivity to this comes from an embarrassing part of my own history.  In 1988, while recovering from a colossal financial mess, I took a position as a commission-only sales rep for a “school” that was providing training programs for people in areas like travel agent, medical billing, front desk receptionist, dental assistant, paralegal and truck driving.  Even back then I had a strong desire to help people find more meaningful and profitable work.  The students got a set of workbooks and could do nearly all the work just from home.  We had access to plenty of Pell Grants to give the students an initial cash bonus – but they also signed on for over $2000 in student loan debt.  I went to the poorest neighborhoods in Nashville and signed people up left and right, convinced I was helping them get a fresh start in new careers.  I won big screen TVs, luggage, restaurant gift cards and exotic trips – in addition to my $10,000+ monthly commissions.

And then enough time passed where students should been churning out with new jobs, increased income and greatly improved lives.

But that wasn’t happening.  Few ever completed the easy, fill-in-the-blanks homework.  Fewer still even applied for their three week residency training.  A handful got all the way through.  One of those was a young gal who I then helped with a job interview.  She had a pleasing personality and was hired as a travel agent in Brentwood, TN.  The morning of her first day I called her to congratulate her and ask how her day was going.  She was at home.  She told me she missed the bus to her job.  I was aghast – but not as much so as when she continued.  She had decided that it was just too much work to get to the bus – and in addition, she had discovered that with her $12/hour job, some of her current benefits would be reduced.  She would be expected to pay something for her apartment – and with all things considered she decided she’d just keep things as they were.

When I started to look at the real results of my enrolling these students in this training I was mortified.  I was giving them an easy enticement – but luring them into debt that they would never be able to repay.  And their lives were not better as a result.

I remember clearly the morning the gravity of what I was doing hit me.  I was reading in Proverbs, as I do every morning.  That particular morning was the 22nd of the month as I was reading in Chapter 22.  In verse 16 it says:

“One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich—both come to poverty.”  Proverbs 22:16 (NIV)

That verse hit me like a ton of bricks.  I thought I was going to throw up.  I had read that verse many times before – but this time it stopped my in my tracks. I was oppressing the poor to increase my wealth.

I was digging my way out of my own financial mess and the income I was making I could have considered a God-send.  But I knew immediately what I needed to do.  I called the national office and gave 30 days notice that I would be leaving.  I never enrolled another student.  I had seen the reality of what I was doing and could not continue.

 

Today I enjoy the constant stream of testimonials we receive daily.  I want people to get a 1000x return on any investment in 48 Days Resources – not be poorer for it.

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“Hey 48 Days Team (and Dan)! My name is Bjork Ostrom. My wife and I have taken to heart the messages of 48 Days and No More Mondays by creating an income around our passion. I read your books a few years ago and they planted the “idea seed” that would eventual grow into the belief that we could monetizing my wife’s food blog, Pinch of Yum. We now net between $6,000 and $8,000 a month from the blog. We also launched a membership site to help others learn how to do the same. The membership site is just over 6 months old and is earning around $2,000 a month. The concepts that you teach allowed us to “think difference” about how life and work happen. Thanks, Dan, for helping to inspire us to pursue passion, purpose, creative income and giving back.”  Bjork and Lindsay

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“I want you to know that your book and message have changed my life. I read 48 Days to the Work You Love last April while finishing my Master’s degree. Your book helped me identify my transferable skills, market myself, identify companies to work for, and hone my interviewing skills. Since then, I have been offered professional jobs with 6 different companies! I feel like I am on top of the world. Your book and message have made a lasting impact on me and my family. Thank you for helping us. I am recommending your book to everyone I tell about my new job. God’s Blessings on you and your work.” -Paul

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I trust you are doing work that brings value to others – that enriches them in every way.

Check out the three free videos we just produced to help you identify where you can do that best:  48Days.com

And leave your comments about your experiences in serving the poor well.

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. 

Recently I attended an art show and reception at our local library in which my wife Joanne was one of the featured artists.  During the course of the afternoon I also wandered over into the library and naturally found myself in the business section.  Not seeing any copies of my books there I then did a quick search on the library computer and found that the 5 copies of 48 Days to the Work You Love they have in circulation were all checked out with an 18-person waiting list for those as they are returned.

So I walked up to the desk and talked to the two nice ladies who were overseeing the library on this lovely Sunday afternoon.  They confirmed that their five copies of 48 Days to the Work You Love are indeed always checked out and always have a long hold list.

I then suggested that I walk out to my car and get three additional copies that I would give them immediately.  But after a brief raised eyebrow they quickly agreed that they had no policy for that and there was no way to integrate those books into their system.  No “thank you” or “that would be great” or “we’ll figure this out.” The only solution they could come up with was that I might call the library director on Monday, although they thought she was on vacation for a couple of weeks.  I went back to the art show and drank another round of Joanne’s wonderful summer mint tea. 

Don’t you love it when you walk into a place of business and immediately see signs that say:

  • NO REFUNDS
  • NO EXCHANGES AFTER 30 DAYS
  • NO CREDIT CARDS
  • NO CHECKS
  • WATCH DOG ON DUTY

So if a customer in your restaurant finishes their meal, and then is embarrassed to realize your policy about no checks or credit cards - will you refuse their check because it’s “against policy?” 

Would you stay in the 20-mph speed limit in a school zone at 3:00 AM in the morning if your child’s head was bleeding and you were on your way to the hospital - because it’s against the law?

Would you accept a church leader's command to regularly beat your son because of the Proverbs 13:24 reference?" He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes."

Would you obey your boss’s command to serve the hamburger, even though you saw it being picked up from the floor after an accidental spill?

Do you send your check to the organization seen on TV rather than help your out-of-work niece with her rent this month because giving to her is not tax-deductible?  

Do you politely send your resume to the company you want to work for rather than call or show up because they say “No phone calls please”?

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Here in my office I have a wooden plaque that says:  “There are no rules here - we’re trying to accomplish something.”  Thomas Edison

What are the “rules” and policies in your life that are keeping you from receiving new abundance and success?

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