The Extraordinary Strategist of Christmastime

I face plenty of confounding, confusing, utterly puzzling situations, especially right now. Don’t we all? Christmas season 2020, questions loom large. All is not automatically merry and bright, right? What do we do about family gatherings? How do we make already-stretched dollars stretch even further? And advance planning for 2021, is that even possible?

Amidst my own wondering, I’ve found lately that it’s really good to simply, boldly pray:

“Please King Jesus, come meet with us. Show us the way. Lend your wisdom, please Lord.”   

Headed into a board meeting and wondering, “What in the world? How will we address that?” Or a tangled situation for one of my still-maturing sons and asking, “Where’s the wisdom? What’s the right way to go?” Or trying to encourage a friend but honestly grasping at thin air: “Is there something, anything I can really say to help.”

Here’s where I find myself more and more these days just tossing out the gutsy, on-the-fly, hurry-up heart cry, “Please Lord Jesus, come meet with us. Show us the way. Lend your wisdom, please.”

We tend to think of Christmas as the magical miracle time. But I think this year, more than ever, we need the wisdom of Blumhardt: The work for God goes on quite simply in this way; one does not always have to wait for something out of the ordinary. The all-important thing is to keep your eyes on what comes from God and to make way for it to come into being here on the earth. If you always try to be heavenly and spiritually minded, you won’t understand the everyday work God has for you to do. But if you embrace what is to come from God, if you live for Christ’s coming in practical life, you will learn that divine things can be experienced here and now . . .” (Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas)

If you’re like me, you might be saying, “Okay, okay, but what about those times when I just don’t see it, or no answer is landing, no insight cometh, and all still feels utterly confusing?” I think that’s where we must come back to the confidence that comes from the babe who already came. The prophet Isaiah foretold:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.  Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)

One name really stands out for me this week: Wonderful Counselor. I love how The Passion Translation renders “Counselor.” TPT says his name is “The Extraordinary Strategist.” There’s a wonderfully fresh and encouraging way to think of your wonderful Christ. Even when I don’t yet have the answer for the puzzling family conundrum or know a solution to the board room dilemma. When I’m still not sensing how to work out a snarled situation or have a word of encouragement for my friend. It’s in those moments I can turn to my Extraordinary Strategist and say,

“Please King Jesus, come meet with us. Show us the way. Lend your wisdom, please Lord.”

So good to know, I can trust he will accomplish that, because he already came. Based on the ancient prophecy and Jesus’ arrival, I can know with confidence, he’s on it. He’s working. He’s got this! Why? He is the Extraordinary Strategist of Christmastime.   

>GREATER Things @ Work in ‘15!

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Back to the daily grind—our first work days of January. Holiday euphoria has dimmed. Why do early December’s dazzling decorations seem so treasure-like, but the same items become pesky junk by early January? It’s SO hard to find the motivation; the boxes taunt us to be packed back in the attic. And there’s a strong probability that any intentions you had of crafting fresh resolutions or objectives have now drifted. Like so many people, you could just settle into a repeat of ’14’s same old, same old. Same outlook, attitudes, and modus operandi in your workplace. It’s easy to say, “Just hit REPLAY.”

How about discovering deeper and lasting motivation, prompting you to aspire to greater things in 2015? What might make the difference in your aspirations for 2015? Three methods can lift your intentions and lead you away from settling, to instead aspire to greater things:

First, seriously contemplate: How deep does this run? How much do I desire this and believe in this? Wisdom from habit-change gurus Prochaska, Norcross, and Diclemente is also applicable for new aspirations. They describe the necessary steps: contemplation, preparation, and then action. “In the contemplation stage, people acknowledge that they have a problem and begin to think seriously about solving it. . . . Most people in the preparation stage are planning to take action within the very next month . . . Action is the most obviously busy period, and the one that requires the greatest commitment of time and energy.”[1] Here is stand-out methodology, essential for achieving greater aspirations. Such preparation and action only come after serious personal contemplation. Ask yourself, “Am I passionate, deeply and desperately serious about embracing new attitudes and actions?”

Second, search your confidence source: Where is my confidence placed—whom am I trusting to pull this off? If you’re counting only on your own UMPH and sweat to achieve those new business goals, you might as well add them to the dusty pile of yesteryear’s best intentions, never achieved. The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews proclaims Christ Jesus to be greater than any other life focus, philosophical ideology, supposed power source, or past religious paths. In fact, Jesus is the one who is “sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1, verse 3) If we believe Christ is truly leading, overseeing and empowering in such great ways—and if we believe “all things” include our workplaces—we must aspire to greater things in the New Year! Why would we hold back, dream small dreams, or expect less?

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Still wondering what your greater aspirations might include in the New Year? Try some of these ideas:

  • What will you aspire to read, to strengthen your heart and skills?
  • Whom or what group might you aim to serve?
  • Whom will you aspire to mentor?
  • Can you identify a new “garden” to plant, aiming for longer-term results?
  • How can you develop healthier habits in both body and soul?
  • How about a fresh creative dream to pursue? Can you dare to “color with brighter crayons?”
  • Will you dare to do something you know will be very difficult, because you know it’s worth the price?

Third, prayerfully plan: Make a sketch of your strategy for greatness. The old axiom still rings true: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Like most people, I’ve been a quitter on a stack of resolutions. But there have been several aspirations—praise God—that I have actually achieved. Each of my own “Yea, God!” success stories were indeed infused with deep passion, confidence in Christ’s power, but also a deliberate action-bias. Try these strategic approaches with each of your aspirations.

  • Keep your list of aspirations concise, ambitious yet achievable. Focus your energy on one, no more than three, new endeavors.
  • With each aim, identify at least three doable action steps you will take during January through March. Write down the action steps and give yourself a date for completion.
  • Prayerfully commit your plans to Christ each day. Ask him to guide, empower, and change your course where needed (that’s why it’s a sketch). And constantly pray that Jesus will be glorified in your new endeavor.
  • With each new aspiration, name and invite three to five other people to help you make this endeavor become a reality. Committing to others for encouragement and accountability is vitally important.
  • By mid-March, revisit your action steps and the list of people who make up your dream team. Revise your sketch strategy as needed.

Get ready. By January 15th, enthusiasm will be waning as you struggle with feelings of inefficiency. You may feel less-than-productive or even totally incompetent, still lacking the necessary knowledge, skill or ability to achieve those greater endeavors. Ed Silvoso winsomely reminds us: “If your job is your ministry, then God, who appointed you as a minister, has a supernatural empowerment for you to be able to do it His way.” By February 1st, you will consider scrapping your greater aspiration(s) altogether. Here’s why placing your confidence in Christ makes the deeper difference.

Silvoso challenges us: “Officially welcome the Lord Jesus into your workplace for His perfect efficiency to replace your own deficiency or insufficiency. Literally go to the front door, open it and say, ‘Welcome, Lord Jesus. Come in. I need you.”[2]

Remember, Christ is greater. He will sustain and empower you to aspire and achieve those greater things! Now gather your courage, and go put away those miserable Christmas decorations.

[1]James O. Prochaska, John C. Norcross, and Carlo C. Diclemente. Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving You Life Positively Forward. (Collins: New York) 2006, pp. 41-44.

[2]Ed Silvoso. Anointed for Business: How to Use Your Influence in the Marketplace to Change the World. (Regal: Ventura) 2002, pp. 152-160.