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Archive for January, 2010

As a Network Service Manager for my employer I get the pleasure of dealing with customers on a daily basis. That is both a pain, and joy as they can bring out a range of emotions based on their wants and needs. I deal in large data networks that result in the customer paying millions of dollars over a contract life-cycle. Whenever that kind of money is being forked over people tend to start to feel a sense of entitlement. Especially the decision makers, and the ones that pay the bills. I think it’s a natural reaction for them, and it seems the more we give the more a customer wants, and ultimately feels entitled to. I often compare my customers to my children. First of all you have to love them unconditionally even though sometimes you want to drop kick them off the deck. Additionally whenever they are being difficult the easiest thing to do is give them what they want to make things easier. Well just like our children; that approach with a customer is very dangerous. It can lead to an unhealthy position for my employer if left unchecked. Like any business you cannot over commit your assets, personnel, or products and services.

Recently this has led to the powers that be at my employer to send out a document called “Vetting Procedures”. I will not bore you with the details, but the gist of it is we now have to go through a multi-step, highly layered, filtering process, to see if we can commit to the customer’s needs and wants. My employer has STRONGLY advised us that committing THEIR assets to the customer without first going through the vetting process will result in IMMEDIATE termination!! WOW!! Thats pretty strong language. However it all boils down to this: My employers network, assets, personnel, and time belong SOLELY to them. I as the employee am trusted to be a good steward of THEIR assets. I am trusted, and paid to manage the customers network, and meet needs WITHIN the bounds of the vetting process. Ultimately it’s not what I or the CUSTOMER wants. It’s what my EMPLOYER will allow.

As Christians we can draw a parallel with our on assets. At my church http://www.imagechurch.com we are currently studying: The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn. It’s a great book that shows where our treasure should truly be. Here are a few key thoughts as we are through the first two chapters:

  1. Everything we have belongs to God. Psalm 24:1 says: The earth is the Lords, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.  

 2.  The Lord gives you the ability to earn. Deuteronomy 8:18 says: Remember the Lord your God for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.

3. You do not even own yourself!!!!!!!!!! 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 says: You are not your own, you were bought at a price.

These three keys are FUNDAMENTAL in understanding how we manage our own assets. First and foremost all that we have is a gift from God, and EVERYTHING in the world belongs to God. Once you grasp that you start to understand that we are just managers of what does not belong to us. Just like I now have to vet thorough my employer before I make a commitment, as Christians it is ESSENTIAL that we vet to God what is His!!! Once you understand that all you have belongs to God it will radically change how you handle it.

If you are having a hard time with #1 then #2 does not get any easier. If it were not for God we would not even have the ABILITY to produce wealth. This verse says that even our ability to earn our money comes from God. So not only does our assets belong to God, but our ability to earn COMES from Him. That is humbling, and should make us even more want to vet to Him what is His.

Lastly if #1 and #2 were tough then you can throw them out the window because #3 is a nuke. Folks as Christians we do not even own OURSELVES!!!!  When Christ died on the cross we were bought with his blood, and we owe Him EVERYTHING. We did absolutely nothing to earn our salvation, and its only by His good grace that we are even allowed to approach the Father. His blood has covered it all, and made a way for us to have everlasting life which is ultimately where we should be laying up our treasures.

Once we fully grasp that all we have is His, He gives us the ability to earn, and we were bought with a price we can grasp what it means to vet what is His. Simply put NOTHING we have is ours. It is all His to be used for His glory, and to not vet to Him before we use His assets is a misuse of the trust He has placed in us.

Are you vetting today?

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Many moons ago I was a member of the baddest Armed Forces unit on the planet. The United States Air Force. Yes Marines are tough, and the Army strong, and the Navy seaworthy, but the Air Force was the smartest. At least thats what we told ourselves!!! You see when all your fellow soilders have stories from the field you have to fight back with something that makes you feel better. Thus the Air Force brain power was born. I did not invent it, but was merely educated in the ways shortly after joining.  So its with that backdrop I tell you my story.

I was in telecommunications aka Tech Control. The Air Force dubbed us the “Water Walkers” because there was supposedly nothing we could not fix in the telecom world. From day one of our training we were pumped up with pride, and overconfidence to enable us to reach high, and be the best soilder we could be. Those were some of the best days of my life, and I made some great friends along the way.

However God used two  incidents in my early career to ultimately shape who I am today.  I quickly became friends with a fellow Tech Controller named Jeff Hooven.  Jeff was older, and much different than me personally. I was young, quick tempered, quick to speak, and prideful. Jeff was older, mild mannered, thought before he spoke, and very humble.  I was a Christian. Jeff was not. One day at work while answering another co-workers question with a ridiculous answer that made me seem smart, my buddy Jeff called me out.  He busted me for always pretending to know more than I did to impress others. It was pride, and it cut me to the core. God hit me right there that I was a Christian, Jeff was not, but he was the one acting like a Christian should. This cut me deeply, and God taught me a lesson instantly about pride.

Second and shortly after that I answered a call from another tech control center. When we hung up the phone we always gave our initials in the phonetic alphabet, and this was the first time I had to do that. I knew that T was Tango, and totally blanked on W so I just rolled with Willie. (Properly used its Whiskey). I was again humilliated as everyone laughed that someone so “smart” could botch something so simple as their own initials. Again God was there to remind me of my pride, and how quickly it can cause you to fall. Thus Tango Willie was born.

Hi my name is Toby Ward, but you can call me Tango Willie if you wish. Its a constant reminder of how pride can make you seem foolish. What bothers me most about it now is that I mis-represented Christ. Everyone knew I was a Christian, yet I was probably the biggest jerk in there.

My prayer since then is for the Lord to keep me humble, and blameless so I can avoid another mis-representation of Christ. You see back then I was upset that I brought shame to myself through pride. I missed the bigger point. It was years later through a serires of events that I realized what I had truly done. We should seek to glorify God in ALL that we do ALL the time. Especially what comes out of our mouths.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts.

As Christians we LOVE to compartmentalize our lives. Church is church, work is work, and home is home. God may exist in some, and be lacking in others. Folks if we are living Spirit filled lives it will flow out of us at ALL TIMES!!!!!!!

I hope that through this blog I can continue to express how God is working in my life, and those around me. I swore I would never have a blog as I hate to write, but I guess things change. Thats what God does as we draw near to Him. He changes us.  I am very thankful He has changed me. I am very thankful where  He has brought me, and look forward to where He will lead me.

Proverbs 16: 18-20

18 Pride goes before destruction,
and a haughty spirit before a fall.
19 It is better to be of a lowly spirit with the poor
than to divide the spoil with the proud.
20 Whoever gives thought to the word
will discover good,
and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.

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