Dion's random ramblings

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Making the most of this day, come what may.

My wife has been facing some challenges at work recently. She works for a public finance company that does work for departments of the South African government. One of their primary tasks is doing skills development and upliftment training for unemployed school leavers, and persons who have been hired into posts but lack the skills to adequately perform the tasks their jobs require. It sounds crazy, but that's a reality. People are hired for many reasons other than competency to do their work. And, let me hasten to add, often these reasons are very good! Of course, at times they are not.

What she does sounds like wonderful work doesn't it? She is in charge of a team of people, managing them, overseeing a number of qualifications and short courses, helping the unemployed, and those we desperately need employment but face the struggle of going to work daily feeling inadequate to do what they have been hired to do.

Sadly though, as with most companies that do work for government departments, payment from the State is slow in coming.

Not only is the system of payment to providers fraught with inefficiency and unnecessary bureaucracy, but there is a great deal of corruption and maladministration in some government departments - this often stops payment completely. It has meant that the company my wife works for has had to wait for payments amounting to millions of Rands, some for up to a year, because the department that was supposed to pay them has had its accounts frozen, or the money that was supposed to be used to pay them has landed up in some government official's private bank account and has been spent, and many other such problems. As anyone who balances their books knows, it is difficult to survive from month to month when you don't have enough money coming in - no matter how much is owing to you! I have often prayed, and wondered, how many good companies have closed down because of poor cash flow? I am praying for their company. They do such good work.

Sadly the reality is that sometimes even the most noble and admirable work can be thwarted by evil and sinful people, and by corrupt and inefficient systems.

So, today she left for work feeling a little downhearted. I offer this prayer for her, and for all others, who face the prospect of this day with uncertainty and struggle, for those who are employed and unhappy, and for those who long to be employed but cannot find any work. For those who desperately need their employment but find themselves out of their depth.

A prayer for this day:

My God, you saw me in my unformed substance and numbered my days before I had lived even a single one of them. Be close to me today, my God, and help me to love you first, and to do my best for you in all that I do. Help me to live freely, and without the restraints of this world and my circumstances. Give me the assurance that ultimately you are in control of my life, and that there is nothing that I shall face this day that you cannot help me to deal with. And so, help me to approach all people, and all situations, with the love and openness that only you can give. Let me manage all my affairs in accordance with your will so that when I stand to give an account of this day, I may do so with confidence, and not be ashamed. In the name of Christ, the servant and the savior, I pray. Amen.

Here is something to consider:

"There is a two way relationship between prayer and life. Prayer can be seen as the focusing and redirecting of an attitude to God and to our fellow [human beings] that runs through all that we do. On the other hand we can see our daily life as something which prayer purifies, directs and consecrates. This interrelationship of prayer and life was expressed by William Temple in his well know saying "It is not that conduct is the end of life and worship helps it but that worship is the end of life and conducts tests it." Temple is here using worship in a brad sense to include all of life. For in worship, as the derivation of the work from worth implies, we declare what we value most. If in prayer I declare that I value God above all things and in my life I show that my own selfish interests come first I am making a nonsense of my praying. We declare how we value God as much by our actions, by the way we treat other people, by the manner in which we do our work, as by anything we say. If my actions are wrong or wrongly motivated prayer cannot make them right. If however, despite my failures and inconsistencies, I do on the whole want to put God above all things then prayer will help to purify my motives and clarify my judgment."

-- From The river within by Christopher Bryant

Scripture verse for today:

Col 3:23-24 (NIV) Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Drop me a line and let me know if I can pray for you.

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Friday, October 05, 2007

A year ago today... The sadness of a bureaucrat... But, tomorrow is another day!

It was the 4th of October 2006. I was dressed in a jacket and tie. Megie was about five and a half months pregnant with Liam, it was just before a week long retreat with my friends Peter Woods, Peter Grassow (above) and Kevin Needham.... A year ago today I graduated with a Doctorate in Theology. You can read more about that week here (look for the past dated 6 October 2006).

So much has changed since then! Most magnificent of all of those changes was the birth of our little miracle, Liam. I can hardly believe that he is almost a year old!

Tonight I celebrate and give thanks for Liam as I end another day of fasting - I have done 48 of these so far, every Friday for children, parents, and those who long to be parents. I do it because God knows the intensity of my gratitude and the sincerity of my intercessory prayer.

But, I am also sad - maybe I'm just hungry and pensive, but I feel sad. I miss Peter Woods - he is preparing for his year long retreat and has long since stopped blogging. I feel like I have lost a good friend. I mourn the fact that next year there will be no Phase 1 center at Plumstead in Cape Town. I wasn't involved in the final move that saw all the students from that District being placed elsewhere, but I feel guilty. Somehow as each year passes my sense of responsibility and culpability grows within the Church. Responsibility, because like most of our Church's leaders I also wish to help to make the Church more faithful so that we can honour God by bringing healing and transformation to the world, but also culpable since I realise how inadequate I am to achieve that, but also because one is seldom untouched by the struggles and mistakes of our Church, my Chuch.

My friend from Malaysia, Sivin, posted the following insightful comment on his blog - it comes from an interview with Brian Mclaren. I wonder if I am being sucked into the bureaucracy, or maybe I am already a bureaucrat, or maybe there is hope that benevolent leadership can help to change the Church and the world, or maybe I am just hopefully naive?

Bureaucracy a gift? The conversation in this post seems to model divergent and convergent thinking ?

?Whether we like it or not, hierarchy and its sibling command & control, are here to stay. That doesn?t mean that networked organisations and self-organisation are not valuable additions, but they are just that. Additions, not the norm.?

?I think the evidence is showing that hierarchy may be here to stay as a way of irrigating and organization with resources, but command and control have long given way to networked action based on relationships and intimacy. It?s how anything actually gets done, especially in large organizations. Don?t believe me? It?s the principle behind ?work to rule? slow downs. Command and control aren?t synonymous with hierarchy - one can organize a resource allocation hierarchically but use distributed leadership to get the work done.?

When the 4th ends the 5th will come... I will go for a run tomorrow and try to figure out who I am, what I should do, and what I should not do...

On Sunday I preach at Alan Storey's Church, Calvary Methodist in Midrand! I always look forward to being there!

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