By Margaret Mitchell
Managing frontline employees is no easy task, especially during these accelerated times in which we live and work. Add to this fast pace a high-tech, production environment and you’ve entered into a whole new level of agility.
Having been one of those managers and having been managed by those managers, I confess I’ve learned a few survival tips. I hope my lessons will prove to be your stepping stones:
If you’ve ever received a “download” from the Holy Spirit, you know that you’d better have pen and paper in hand, a Word document pulled up or, at the very least, an electronic notepad or recording device ready.
As I entered my office one morning and sat in my chair, the Holy Spirit gave me an instant download that proved to be several pages long. In my human understanding, this seemed illogical and untimely, because what He gave me was job-related, but it didn’t apply directly to my job. It was to be fleshed out at another time. The reason He gave it to me at that time was because He was about to move me out of that position, and He wanted to give me a heads up and a jumpstart. He was doing me a favor. He was also testing my obedience. So be ready.
King David praised God several times a day. Where else would a king go? Find yourself a few nearby, private places within your office building that you can enter into to pray and praise. Doing so will refocus your mind on what’s most important and give your fatigued brain a break. I found that I was most tested when I had the most on my plate. God always honors sacrificial praise. And I was fortunate to have had a few “quiet rooms” at my disposal.
On the occasions that I felt especially buried under my workload, the Holy Spirit reminded me that He was doing a work within me, a work through me and a work on my behalf—all simultaneously. He is the ultimate multi-tasker. And at times, when I wished I were home instead of at my office, He reminded me that anything that I left behind, including my home, spouse, etc., was actually entrusted to Him, not forgotten or unattended. I gained an understanding that He does this for us when we obey Him to step into our divine assignments. And I learned that if I ask, “God what do you want me to see and know in this?” He will give us the revelation understanding to get through the journey. He’s always preparing us for the next place.
When everything around me seemed to make no sense at all, such as shifting procedures midstream or massive quarterly restructuring, I learned to hang onto the hem of Jesus’ garment and remind myself that I could get through the changes with Him at my side. God also showed me time and again that my authorities had more of a vantage point than I and that I should go with the flow without any negative response. Again, God tested me. And I learned that the faster I passed the test, the faster I moved on.
Many of us have worked with these types. They’re the ones that generate reports upon reports just because they can. They think more highly of themselves than anyone else; they waste their time and yours; and they duplicate efforts, plugging up efficiency. They are the distracters, the counterfeit authorities, the thorn in everyone’s side. They are often politically well-connected and have safeguards in place at many levels and in many departments. They have been there a long time. Beware! Avoid them, step around them or step over them as much as possible without stepping on them. Send their duplicated work into the electronic trash can. Faithfully throw up a quick prayer for them. And keep smiling.
For two and a half years, I worked in an environment where every minute counted. I had no choice but to learn shortcuts on my PC, cut away every unnecessary step in new processes and quickly establish a team of solution-minded individuals who could help me understand anything that I didn’t and needed to know. This kept me humble; it kept me learning quickly; it stretched me; and it was good for me. I hurdled fear, and I realized I could do more than I had previously thought. It took me to a new normal, a new comfort level, a new confidence of “can do.” I also learned to do tasks right away, which killed a lot of little foxes of clutter that can creep in when tasks set unattended.
During this super-accelerated season of my work life, I learned to streamline my home life as well. Even the simplest things helped in a big way: I trained my mind to think of God first in the morning. So before I got out of bed, I spoke affirmations and praises. I kept my grandmother’s Bible within an arm’s reach of my bedside and learned to discipline myself to open it and read it before I showered, dressed or sipped my first cup of coffee. I kept slip-on shoes by the garage door, so I didn’t have to take time to tie. I chose a simple hair-do and a basic “uniform,” consisting of a top and trousers with very few, if any accessories. The beauty in this was that I became more aware of simple processes at home and was able to refine them. I caught up on sermons and listened to praise music on my iPod while I worked, which reduced a lot of stress for me, because it helped me keep God at the forefront of my mind. And the value of a single minute became invaluable.
Margaret D. Mitchell is the Founder and President of God’s Love At Work, a women’s ministry purposed to pursue the heart of God and to champion Christian women and their outreach in the marketplace with the love of Jesus Christ. She enjoys serving at missions for orphans and encouraging marketplace women through writing, speaking and hosting the ministry’s events, including Share the Love Fellowships, Camp Meetings and the Women’s Expo. Margaret serves as an elder alongside her husband, Glynn, at Mt. Paran Church in Atlanta, Ga. She earned a M.A. degree in journalism from New York University and a B.S. in business from the University of Maryland. She worked in the travel industry for 19 years and is the author of 100 Passengers, her occupational testimony. www.GodsLoveAtWork.com