“But those who do what is true come to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that their deeds have been done in God”

– John 3:21

EMBRACING THE LIGHT

Chris Gardner, the real-life main character in the movie The Pursuit of Happyness, was at one time homeless, a foster child, a single dad, and penniless. He rose to be one of the first African-Americans to start a brokerage firm. When asked, “Where did you discover your faith?” He replied, “My mom, I chose to embrace the light I saw in my mom.” He goes on to say he could have embraced darkness like the other young men from his neighborhood but chose instead to embrace the light of Jesus.

Life wasn’t easy for Chris. An abusive stepfather forced him at times to live in a foster home. He enlisted in the navy and then moved on to start a business, selling medical devices. His business failed and his wife left both him and his two-year-old son. He then entered an internship program with Dean Witter, a brokerage firm. Unpaid for six months and with only a 5 percent chance of getting hired he sold all he owned. Along the way he and his son were evicted from their rented apartment, thrown out of a motel room, and slept in a subway station. He never gave up on his dreams. He followed “plan A” and embraced the light. Outwardly he expressed a positive and trustworthy attitude that allowed him to gain clients for his firm. He was unfailingly optimistic and faithful, and as you would guess, he became the stockbroker he wanted to be.

Seven years later he started his own firm. After twenty-five years of running a successful business, he sold his business and became a philanthropist and an inspirational speaker.

“Embrace the light of Jesus and press on. We are tested by obstacles. When we surmount our obstacles, we signal to God that we have faith.”

The last Gospel, John, encourages us to embrace the light. Light being many things that are good, but most importantly being the light of Jesus. The book of John uses the imagery of light as a contrast to darkness. Darkness representing evil, materialism, and a disregard of our neighbor; light being “the way” and an option to despair and broken dreams. When we have obstacles that prevent our path to the dreams we hold dear, the Gospel of John reminds us to embrace the light of Jesus and press on. We are tested by obstacles. When we surmount our obstacles, we signal to God that we have faith.

In the marketplace we are often confronted with compromises and shortcuts. Our dreams become diminished. We go along to get along. Our plan A becomes plan B. Chris Gardner’s plan was simple: do what gave him passion and be a good dad. He put this plan under the light of God. He succeeded and achieved his dreams. He stayed riveted and focused on both his dreams and God. He endured under impossible circumstances, motivated by his partnership with God.
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. HartmanWhat are our dreams?

Are we centered with God with our dreams?

Are we willing to have a plan A or plan B?

Do we embrace the light or embrace darkness?

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

– Luke 22:42

CONFRONTING CHALLENGES

A young man in his early thirties, late at night in an ancient Judean garden, asks, “Are you sure this is the only way?” This was the third time during the evening the young man had returned to the garden. Each time with the same request, “Are you sure?” The fullness of his humanity exposed and somber, he was sweating to the point of bleeding. Finally relenting, he gives in to the task by saying, “Not my will, but yours.” He knew what lay ahead. Betrayal by his friends and humiliation in front of his community. A long, agonizing beating that would tear skin from his back. Followed by an arduous trek carrying his cross to a hill. Where he would finally be put to death. A gruesome task he had to accomplish to create a connected relationship for humanity with God. He was creating a flower for humankind called Easter.

How many times in our work lives are we faced with difficult choices? The choice between momentary safety and doing what’s right. While none our decisions have the drama of Jesus’s prayer in the garden, there are strong parallels. We have to tell our boss bad news and bear the burden of delivering the news. We are internally and externally coaxed to sugarcoat what we have to say. Perhaps blame someone else. Or even conceal the news. All these shortcuts will avoid that moment of having to deliver a tough message. The walk to deliver the news will seem like an eternity. Each breath and thought will hang thickly, almost choking us. But we have a choice and we have an example from the garden. We have all been in this spot.

Consider Sherron Watkins, the executive who delivered the bad news about Enron. Shortly afterward she became a pariah with the insiders at Enron. Her daily life was difficult and lonely. As time wore on and the issues she revealed came fully to light, she became a model for corporate integrity. In 2001 she was named one of Time magazine’s People of the Year.

“Not my will, but yours.”

Confronting the natural challenges in the marketplace is an everyday job. Many times tough and uneasy decisions have to be made. We are fortunate we have the example of Jesus in the garden to model. Through our daily prayers and relationship with God, we become emboldened and confident in decision making. Not fearing the temporary pain that is often associated with a tough decision, but sure in our faith that God is with us.Blessing, until next time,
Bruce L. HartmanWhat tough decisions do we have to make today?

Do they help our neighbor?

Are we thinking of ourselves or making the right choice?