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Leave It Better Than You Found It

Nov 10, 2017

PROGRAM D-7965

Leave it better than you found it—that’s a Boy Scout slogan. I’ve never been a Boy Scout, but I’m sure I could benefit from making that a personal goal—to leave everything better than I found it.

I’ve examined how we can leave our jobs better than we found them, leave our relationships and environments better than we found them, and leave our churches better than we found them.

I want to tell you about my friend, Cynthia, who definitely left a situation at her work so much better than she found it. Some years ago, she worked in a department where one coworker made it very clear that she and Cynthia could never be friends because Cynthia was African-American. It’s hard to believe that someone would actually say that, but this person said those very words to Cynthia.

Thankfully, Cynthia was able to get beyond her hurt feelings and respond appropriately to this situation. She prayed about it, and got the idea to start what she called “Project Love.” She didn’t announce to her coworkers that she was starting “Project Love,” she just decided to do it. Besides being kind and considerate on a daily basis, she decided to invite each person in her department to have lunch with her as her guest. Once a week she would deliver a written lunch invitation to a coworker, including this woman who said they could never be friends.

Who can refuse such an invitation? So, the two of them went to lunch. As a result, they began to get to know each other and this woman saw how wrong her attitude had been. She realized what a good friend Cynthia could be, and before long they became friends. Now this woman openly and proudly claims Cynthia as a friend and, though they no longer work together, they still keep in touch.

Cynthia left that place and that relationship so much better than she found them. She could have responded with anger and bitterness, but she chose to respond in love. That’s the power that we have as believers because we have the Holy Spirit within us to enable us to do what otherwise we would find impossible to do.

I hope you’ll remember this simple slogan: Leave it better than you found it. It’s one sure way to show God’s love to others.

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Leave It Better Than You Found It

Nov 9, 2017

PROGRAM D-7964

How’s your church doing? Since I’m on staff at my church, I’m well aware that churches which thrive and do well are those which have lots of involvement from the congregation. I’ve been proposing that we adopt the Boy Scout mantra to leave it better than you found it, and I was thinking about applying it to the following area of our lives:

Is your church better because you are a member?

It’s not difficult to find things wrong with our churches. They’re full of people—people who make mistakes, people who don’t have it all together, and many are new believers with lots to learn. As a result, we won’t have trouble finding something about our churches that we don’t like so much. But if it’s a Bible-preaching church and under godly leadership—and that’s where God has put us—then we have to ask ourselves what we’re doing to make it a better church.

I think of a woman who was in our church until God called her home—we called her Miss Shirley. Miss Shirley never held an office in our church, but few people have benefited the church like she did. For years she made it her job to greet someone new every Sunday and to invite that person to sit with her so she could get to know them and share God’s love with them.

One of my friends tells how when she started coming to our church, she was very wounded and was trying to isolate herself from everyone. However, Miss Shirley found her, sat with her, invited her to my Sunday class, and eventually helped her get involved and find healing. Miss Shirley definitely left our church better than she found it.

Ask yourself this question: If you dropped out of your church today, would it leave a hole? Would your service to the church be missed?

God created us for community. We are one body in Christ, and we need each other for fellowship, for healing, for growth, and for accountability. I hope you are very much committed to your church and you can say for sure that you are leaving it better than you found it.

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Leave It Better Than You Found It

Nov 8, 2017

PROGRAM D-7963

I’m taking a phrase from the Boy Scouts and applying it to our lives: Leave it better than you found it. I’ve examined how we can leave our jobs better than we found them, and leave our relationships better than we found them. Now I want to think about a third area:

We should leave our environment better than we found it.

There’s a lot of concern in our day about what’s happening to our environment. We should be good stewards of God’s universe, that’s for sure. This should compel us to recycle as much as possible, and to do whatever we can to make our physical world better than we found it.

There’s also our more personal environment to consider—our living space and our working space. I have a friend who decided she could do something for her personal environment. She got tired of how messy and unclean public washrooms tend to be. She decided that she would try to leave any washroom she used better than she found it. When she told me what she was doing, I realized I had never even thought of taking that kind of responsibility—to leave a public space better than I found it.

If we all did that, we’d live in cleaner, nicer environments, wouldn’t we? Our streets and roadways wouldn’t be cluttered with trash.

Someone has said that cleanliness is next to godliness. While I’m not sure that can be supported biblically, there’s no doubt that we should care about cleanliness for ourselves and for others. Why not decide to leave our environments—wherever they may be—better than we found them?!

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Leave It Better Than You Found It

Nov 7, 2017

PROGRAM D-7962

Leave it better than you found it! That’s what Boy Scouts are taught to do. What a good idea! I’m taking a look at how we, as Christians, can leave things better than we found them. One such thing is our jobs: When we leave our jobs, do we leave them better than when we were hired? Another area of our lives I want to encourage you to consider is this:

We should leave our relationships better than we found them.

Relationships are the sandpaper of life, are they not? We all need to live in relationship with others, and yet getting along with the people in our lives can be the toughest assignment we have. How can we leave our relationships better than we found them?

Let’s start with what we call The Golden Rule which Jesus gave us when he said, “Treat other people exactly as you would like to be treated by them—this is the essence of all true religion” (Matthew 7:12, J.B. Phillips New Testament). Jesus says that we should take the initiative to improve the relationships of our lives, not wait on the other person to do it. Has someone treated you unkindly lately? If so, are you willing to put this Golden Rule into practice and respond to them the way you wish they would respond to you? If you do, you will definitely improve that relationship.

Here’s another relationship principle from the Bible that will definitely leave a relationship better than we found it, and it comes from Philippians 2:3-4:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.

Putting others first is a sure winner when it comes to improving relationships. I remember when I read that passage, I just shook my head because I couldn’t figure how in the world I could ever live up to it. Value others above myself? That doesn’t come naturally for me. How about you?

I began to pray and ask God to show me how to put this into practice. God showed me that it begins with an attitude of the heart. An older New International Version says to “consider others better than yourself,” to think of others in that way. I find that if I change my thought life—if I remind myself that truly, others are just as important as I am, and that what they’re doing is just as important as what I’m doing—then I can start to genuinely look to their interests and not just my own.

If we practiced these two principles in our relationships, there is no doubt we’d see great improvement, and we’d leave them better than we found them!

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Leave It Better Than You Found It

Nov 6, 2017

PROGRAM D-7961

There’s a slogan from the Boy Scouts that I like a lot: Leave it better than you found it. It’s certainly good for Boy Scouts, but don’t you think that Christians should have that same kind of attitude? I’d like to share my thoughts on the kinds of things we should leave better than we found them.

We should leave our jobs better than we found them.

I’m not suggesting we literally leave our jobs but rather, because we are doing our job, things should be better where we work. Our presence in that job should be a positive thing such that, if we did leave the job, it would be better than we found it.

Another way to put this is to ask ourselves, “If everyone in my organization worked like I do, would the organization be better off?” Consider these questions:

  • If everyone worked as hard as you do—put in the same number of hours truly working—would productivity go up or down?
  • If everyone arrived at work the same time you do, would everyone be on time or late?
  • If everyone were as creative as you are—finding new and better ways to do things—would there be new initiatives and new ideas happening, or not?
  • If everyone were as willing to go the extra mile as you are, would there be more people exceeding requirements, or fewer?
  • If everyone were as positive and upbeat as you are, would there be a better morale where you work, or worse?
  • If everyone were as neat and tidy as you are and cleaned up after themselves like you do, would the work environment be nicer or messier?
  • If everyone talked about others in the organization the way you do, would there be lots of positive affirmation going around, or lots of gossip?

 

You get the idea. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that “if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment” (1 Corinthians 11:31). It’s just smart to check up on ourselves—to judge ourselves—and avoid coming under judgment by others. So ask yourself if you are leaving your job better than you found it!

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Measure Your Maturity

Oct 13, 2017

PROGRAM D-7945

This is program number 7945. For 7945 days, or almost 1600 weeks, I’ve been writing these daily devotionals. These milestones cause me to stop and think about God’s goodness to allow me this privilege all these years.

Milestones should also cause us to stop and measure our progress. As we’ve been examining how to measure our spiritual maturity, I can’t help but ask myself at this program marker, “Have I grown as a Christian over these many years, as I should have?” Does Jesus say to me, “You’re big for your age, Mary,” meaning I’ve pressed on, learned, and grown up in Christ? Or does he say, “You’re not where you should be after all these years”?

Dear friends, it is so important that we regularly and sincerely take stock of our spiritual progress and make sure we’re doing the things we should be doing so that we are growing up in Christ—not remaining babies, not mired down in the past, and not making the same mistakes we’ve always made. Here are some questions to ask ourselves to measure our spiritual maturity, based on what we’ve learned here:

  • Is your tongue more under control today than it was a year ago or two years ago? Do you think before you speak, choose your words carefully, and just simply stop talking so much?
  • Are you motivated to serve Christ out of a pure heart, just to please him? Or are you trying to please people and gain their approval?
  • Do you love God’s Word more than you used to? Are you spending more time studying it? Is it more and more the true bread of your life? Do you ever memorize some of it?
  • Are you allowing your past to keep you from growing up in Christ? Are you living in bitterness or regret, which keeps you from pressing forward for the good things God has for you?
  • And most importantly, are you loving Jesus more and more with each passing day? Do you frequently and fervently thank him for what he has done for you? Does it break your heart to think that you have broken his heart through disobedience?

I urge you to measure your maturity. Ask God to show you where your growth is stunted, and then do the things you need to do to grow up in Christ. That is where the abundant life is! That is where you will regain the joy of your salvation and know the peace that passes understanding.

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