Measure not the work until the days out and the labor done.
Elizabeth Barret Browning
The beautiful greenery that had started to dot the roundabout was felled down. Alarmed, I inquired about the unpleasant development and was informed that it was all part of the exercise of paving way for the new road. A few days later, in the morning rush of work schedules, I noted the presence of a beggar who was obviously not taking any chances and who had strategically placed himself at the centre of the crossing footpaths. I smiled as I thought of how positioning sometimes really meant the difference between making it or not.
And so it was that I encountered the story of Stephen in the biblical book of Acts6 and who had been chosen alongside six others to address the complaints arising between the Grecian (Greek speaking) and Hebraic Jews after the former felt that their widows were being overlooked in the distribution of food. The disciples therefore opted to choose men who were known for their wisdom, uprightness and spirituality for they felt that "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables". What they did not know however is that whereas they could now concentrate on matters pertaining to prayer, they had unknowingly nudged Stephen into greatness. God obviously had a purpose for him, events of which would be offset by his supposed relegation to waiting on tables. As an aggressive crusader of God's word, to him were granted miraculous signs that became his trademark.
It was his character traits that first had him noticed for a task such as was at hand, for the real qualifications lay in his spirituality. His gifting emerged after he was pushed to what might have looked like a lesser vocation. He could have remained quietly waiting on tables but for the space of time that we encounter him, his star shone brighter than all the rest.
How many of us position ourselves first with our inner attributes then with our efforts to stand out when we are given the chance? Stephen's example gives credence to the fact that if we do not expect to be overlooked for chances of promotions and transfers, then we should first and foremost win the race at the point where the short listings begin. In an old copy of a reader's digest that I unearthed from the bottom of an old box I refuse to let go, is an article by Doug Colligan on how we only have got seconds to make our best impressions. Based on findings collected by a firm, First Impressions, that helps clients put their best foot forward, it is apparent that the first take people have of you leads to assumptions. The first information we see or learn about someone is weighed more heavily than what we learn later, say Demaris and White, the psychologists who run the firm.
We might be asked to leave the comforts of homes to become missionaries in far off lands; we might even be asked to give up some of our benefits or have taxes that are a rare feature introduced into our pay slips; we might sulk at reshuffles and restructuring yet all the time be unaware of the blessings that await us with the little changes; we might even be in positions or places that do not bring out our best. We only need to discover where our strategic placing would be in our lives in order to reach our destinies. For this we should be prepared with the right attributes and character traits.
May these words (sermons), from various men and women of God be a blessing to all.