Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easters Still Quiet Voice

In Genesis 3:9-10:
The LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. Gods voice, full of purity and righteousness was recognised by Adam and he immediately was aware of his failure, his sin.
In Mathew 17 we are instructed by Christ himself to not be afraid of the voice of God: While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid. And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.
In 1 Kings the voice of the Lord is delineated from the surroundings. Elijah, discouraged and ready to die on the mountain of God (Horeb), is told by the Lord: "Go, stand on the mountain at attention before God. God will pass by." A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn't to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn't in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn't in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. (1 Kings 19:11-14, The Message)

In the days of Samuel, as chronicled in 1 Samuel 3 the Lord also spoke in a quiet voice as the boy Samuel was lying down in the Temple of the Lord where the ark of God was. He mistakenly (three times) thought the voice was that of Eli his master, a prophet of the Lord. Each time he answers the call and comes to Eli. Eli finally discerns that the Lord is calling the boy and directs him to answer “Speak Lord, for your Servant is listening”. Verse 1 of Chapter 3 indicates that “word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent”
At the very birth of Christ, while Angels could be heard on high, unable to contain their joy, the voice of God Himself remains relatively quiet. This fact leads one theologian to say “While humanity slept, God came down the back staircase of heaven with a baby in his arms.” Once again, quiet & gentle. This Easter we would do good to remember that the Resurrection of Christ, the single most important event in the History of this world, happened in the still quiet of a morning, as far as we know without a sound and without a witness.

There is a great clamor of noise in the world today, as busy people chase allusive happiness and suffer the pressures of the tyranny of the urgent. People wonder if God still speaks to His people in this day, in this age. I submit that He indeed does. As was true in King David’s time, He looks to our hearts; He knows our minds and our intent. He still speaks in a still quiet voice that the open heart can hear and a willing soul can discern. He has much to say and to teach us.

Are we responding as Samuel did; “Speak Lord, for your Servant is listening”?

Happy Easter 2009

Monday, April 6, 2009

How is your Morale?

1: From Moral principles, teachings, or conduct.
2: a. the mental and emotional condition (as of enthusiasm, confidence, or loyalty) of an individual or group with regard to the function or tasks at hand. b. a sense of common purpose with respect to a group.
3: the level of individual psychological well-being based on such factors as a sense of purpose and confidence in the future.
Work place morale is a delicate mixture of the mental and emotional conditions of all the work place group participants. When people discuss their satisfaction at working for a particular place of employment, morale usually plays an important role. Some people feel great working somewhere even if they do not realize ecomomic benefits that they might otherwise expect. Some folks have a great many ecomomic benefits and priveledges with their job yet feel trapped. For a meriad of reasons work place morale can make all the difference in the work place environment.
Due to the volitale mixture of personality types, work place morale is difficult to elevate and maintain, even in periods of economic boom. A big “HATS OFF” to those unsung heros in Human Resources who carry the burden of keeping morale buoyed by decorating the office lunchroom or even individual cubicles for birthdays, anniversaries, etc; organizing pot-lucks or office parties. HR never really knows how things will be interpereted by the employee. Let me give you an example:
Years ago I worked for a mid-sized company. Every Christmas in addition to bonuses they gave their employees a ham. Not a coupon for a ham, but a Ham. In an office of some 500 employees it was really strange to see everyone lined up at the end of the day, just a few days before Christmas, to receive a ham. In many ways it was quite nice, but there was a strangeness to it as well. Imagine your entire office lined up to be handed a cold 10 of 15 lb. hunk of Ham. People would actually "Moo" in the line because we all felt like cattle, lined up, not to be slaughtered of course, but the feeling of being in a "soup line" was ever present and made it somewhat strange and uncomfortable. Everyone was cordial and friendly and would make jokes and goof around but this "nice gift" still felt a little strange for all of us. Several times I wanted to get out of the line, just to not feel that way. I think it comes down to not wanting to feel beholden to the company for a simple piece of meat. There was an element of "selling out" involved in that feeling!
During times of ecomomic decay maintaining work place morale becomes a never ending uphill battle. We are all aware that adjustments need to be made as corporations, just as families and individuals tighten their belts. But, in this era of bailouts, bonus scrutiny, layoffs and cutbacks everything that management does becomes suspect. I am fortunate to work in a small company that understands the needs of the empoyee to feel secure and vital to the overall success of the firm. When it became clear that adjustments were going to be needed to weather this current ecomomy a plan was developed that included all parties across the board and was divided into three (3) tiers. Tiers 1 and 2 involved the reduction of some lesser benefits and some reduction in hours (40 hour weeks reduced to 32 hour weeks) and tier 3 would result in a reduction in manpower (job losses). Because these company adjustments are being shared there remains a sense of community, which helps maintain the company morale and fosters respect for management.
I really feel that even in these tough times, morale is as high as it can be here at my work. People still smile and laugh and enjoy being here. I hear tales of other companies that too often management is too interested in the bottom line dollars and not enough in the individual well-being, of those that made those dollars available. Corporate American needs to remember that it is built by investing in people. People who, whether they openly acknowledge Him or not, live their lives based upon at least a subset of Gods moral principles.