Most of us recognize that the events of Tuesday, September 11, 2001, have changed things in significant ways even if we are unable to articulate all that we see or sense. It is highly unlikely that either the economy or our so-called “social psyche” will return to normal because “normal” appears to be shrouded in new, and unknown folds of insecurity.
But life goes on and must go on. The issue then becomes how do we manage whatever is manageable in a sea of apparent insecurity, at least for the foreseeable future? Put another way, we have a fair degree of control over boat, but very little control of the ocean in which it is sailing. The immediate challenge we all face, is attempting to see enough reality spiritually, and in the natural, to make the appropriate responses to a set of circumstances essentially unparalleled since World War II.
Square One: Have We Built Boats Equipped to Sail in Seas Like These?
Assuming the current situation is not leading to Armageddon (in spite of so many of our brethren’s “prophecy charts,” I don’t believe it is time), this immediate crisis is going to serve us all in some fundamentally positive ways if we can respond redemptively. Crises or storms reveal the value of what we have been practicing in our personal lives, our families, our business ministries, church lives, etc. If I have been living in, and practicing, a measure of spiritual reality, my senses have been trained in the process to discern and assess the correct choices or management decisions that others who have not been training will be unable to discern. This puts us in an advantageous position relative to those who have been dulled by our recent prosperity:
“But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have
their senses trained to discern good and evil.”
The way we play in “the game” reveals the effectiveness of our “practice sessions” lived out day to day. Things we let slide; inefficiencies we accepted; savings we didn’t make; personnel problems we didn’t deal with; biblical perspectives we didn’t sow into, or sharpen, are now rapidly being exposed. The potential for serious economic and social consequences is looming in the uncertainties of both recession and global, religious, guerilla warfare. It’s an important time to look hard at our lives and how we’ve built, praying for insight and repenting where appropriate.
We must now assess and re-adjust whatever inappropriate activities, stewardship practices, and relational mismanagements the Holy Spirit and wise counsel reveal to us. Our attitudes and prayers must unify in a single genuine voice; “Lord God, take me into Your reality, and let me respond appropriately.” Our boats may need significant refitting.
Square Two: Does My Theology of God’s Sovereignty Match My Internal Attitudes and Responses?
A theologian who declares the sovereignty of God should never suffer from ulcers. Perhaps that level of reality is the biggest potential blessing of crisis like this. It reveals the gaps between our conceptual theology and the content of the true spiritual reality in which we walk in. Indeed, pressure moves us from mere religion to reality.
In more prosperous times like the last six years or so, the cycle of prosperity allows sloppy or ineffective policies to slip by. Not so in recession. The challenge that faces us then becomes, do I believe enough in the economic and management principles of God’s kingdom to not only drop down into them, and them alone, but to also stand in faith that they will work? As we all know, the currency of our enemy is fear, while God’s currency is always faith. Faith and challenges always move together in parallel fashion. The future may well present more opportunities to sort through the clarity of our operating principles and the faith we have in the fact that truth really works!
Square Three: Stick to the Basics under Pressure
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me
that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit,
He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.”
Pruning is about strengthening our foundations or root structures. When we are “pruned,” what we do best ought to emerge. In the current situation, regardless of our business services, we ought to focus on three things: 1) What is the most essential core value our product or services renders to others, and how do we reinforce that value to our clients? 2) How do we produce and maintain a climate of excellence and faith within our staff-team? 3) Who are the essential staff members and clients we must keep, and how will we keep them? I believe, within the parameters of obedience to the scriptures and a current lively relationship with God, these three questions and their answers will put us in a good position to not only survive, but prosper.
While the uncertainities of our current situation will begin to unfold in the near future, one thing is certain; God is in control. He is ever at the helm in the affairs of men. He controls and has a desired outcome for both the one and the many. May we continue to bless Him as we work through the changes and adjustments He requires of us, individually and corporately.
By Dennis Peacocke. This article originally appeared in the October 2001 edition of Business Reform Magazine.