September 18 2013

Your Story Line

“The enemy does not have to kill you to prevent you from becoming a display of God’s splendor – he just has to disorient, disable, distract, deactivate, diminish, disconnect or distance you from your calling.”  Tim Keller

photo[1]My story line keeps me from getting distracted or disoriented from my purpose.  It diminishes the ability of the enemy to deactivate me.

In my blog on 8/29/13 “Invest Your Heart Well,(click here) you were encouraged to draw your story line and invite others to offer perspective.

Your story line captured on paper is a visual reminder to you and your family of the context of life.  Followers of Christ should have great confidence, as we know the beginning and the end.  Genesis 1-2 teaches that we are made in God’s image.  Psalms 139 says that each of us is “fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Ephesians teaches that our personal identify should be in Christ, not in our achievements.  And Scripture also teaches that we are gifted for His glory not our own.  The final chapter of “The” Kingdom story is found in Revelation 21-22; there will be a “new heaven and a new earth,” (21:1); and God will restore all creation to its full glory.   The Kingdom story reminds me that life is not for me but through me… I must not loose perspective!

The journal I have maintained for over 30 years is among my most prized possessions.  In my book, Taking on Goliath, Pfizer’s HR Director, who participated in my surprise termination meeting, testified at trial; “Jim was more worried about loosing his journal that was on the Pfizer computer than he was about loosing his job.”  She was right.  My journal provides perspective, it keeps me oriented and focused on the bigger picture.  My journal gave me strength, confidence, grace and hope that I clung to during the six-year battle with Goliath.

Choosing to believe the Kingdom story line changes everything…  it helps make sense of the disruptions in life.  My problem is that I live as though my ways are greater than God’s ways and too often I hopelessly try to rewrite God’s story for my life.

Somewhere along my 15-year career with the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, I became addicted to my career and the results of my success.  I was disconnected and disoriented from the fact that my success came at the expense of my faith and family.  When I tried to get off the corporate treadmill and find balance there was a collision of personal and corporate values.

I was addicted to what others thought… My ego was driving my decisions in life: career, numerous moves, use of time, and my lifestyle.  My heart was disconnected from my head; the enemy had me where he wanted me. I convinced myself that I could serve two masters, God and man, despite the teaching of Matthew 6:24.  I ignored Ann’s gentle nudging suggesting my career was disorienting me from my heart.  The enemy scored victories as long as I wrote checks instead of giving my heart because he knew that my time and talents could make a much greater impact.

Moving out of our “big house” exposed the distance that had grown between what I claimed to believe and how I was living.   In our first “non-corporate” move, we looked like the Beverly Hillbillies (for those of my era) pulling out of the handsome neighborhood with our “treasures” piled high on a borrowed pick-up truck and flatbed trailer.  If this were not painful enough, God allowed insult to be added to injury.  Packing my closet, I noticed moth holes in my custom tailored suits and cashmere sweaters.  I was furious.

Within moments a verse I memorized as a child came to mind; Matthew 6:19-21, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven… For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Anger turned to laughter and laughter to weeping as I reflected on my story line.  Kiekegaard’s words are so true, “Life can only be understood backwards but it must be lived forward.’

I could no longer avoid the truth.  My journal revealed a pattern of many failed attempts to find balance with work, family and faith.  I was not living according to the values I ascribed to. My pastor’s words following my termination reverberated in my mind,  “Jim, is this between you and Pfizer or is it between you and God?”  Reality hit me square between the eyes; this was between God and me.  It was time for a dramatic shift in my story line – my family and my faith deserved my heart not what money could buy.

What does your story line reveal?  I welcome your comments and questions. 

Categories: Business,Facing Difficulty,Family


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