Unless the LORD builds the house,Unless God is with us, whatever we do is in vain. Moreover, without God, we are vulnerable. The imagery is perfect for expressing these thoughts.
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the LORD guards the city,
The watchman stays awake in vain.
Reading: Psalm 127
Meditation: An immediate application of this psalm to my personal life thudded into my consciousness with two feet hitting the ground, one foot being my life and work before conversion and the other being my life and work after conversion. I like to think that I have always been a good boss, not only in the sense of success but also in the sense of being supportive to employees. However, there is a different sense and feel to my experiences before and after conversion.
Before conversion, I had an excellent reputation for running a well oiled, competent, and productive enterprise where people are capable and generally happy. They felt empowered, primarily because I learned early on how to delegate, mentor, and empower. People were bonded, especially to me and to whatever organization I happened to be at. Sometimes we were bonded through fighting together against the establishment idiocies; other times we were bonded through vision and plans. I knew little about people's personal lives, with a few exceptions. That is as it should have been, I thought at the time. After all, we were at work to accomplish a professional mission, and we did that with rewarding success. What more could a manager want?
After conversion, I have an excellent reputation for running a well oiled, competent, and productive enterprise where people are capable, clearly happy, and at peace. They say that they feel empowered because they know I trust them, care about them, and will take the time needed to develop them. People are bonded not only to me but also to each other. While there are frustrations and goals to be accomplished, and while the establishment still takes some stances that appear idiotic to us, our bonds are not built in an us-against-them effort but in a loving approach that takes the starting point that everyone at all levels of our organization wants the mission to succeed and is basically a good person, that every person is needed and essential, and that we all need each other in very special ways at special times. I knew a lot about people's personal lives now. You see, people now use my open door policy not just to discuss work issues but also to share their personal concerns, insecurities, philosophies, needs, desires, and friendship. They even, at times, ask for prayer; those who are Christian sometimes they want me to pray with them. They talk to me about their families, their colleagues (how to love them better and work wtih them more effectively and harmoniously), and, in surprisingly more cases than one might think, regardless of their brand of religion, about their relationship with God. That is as it should have be in an organization where God's present is desired and felt. We have had prayed so often for one colleague or another, and we have had far more than our fair share of miracles.
I have found the answer to my unasked pre-conversion question, what more could a manager want? A manager could want God's presence in building the house and guarding the city. Ironically, the organization I built without God's help was dismantled by human hands four years later. This organization I am currently building with God's help may also be dismantled by human hands at some point in the future (although with 125% growth every year for the past five years, I don't think that is going happen any time soon), but if it is, what will not be dismantled is the house we are all building together with God's help. Some employees have retired during the past five years and some have moved on to other positions that pay more, but most have stayed in touch. Most are still willing to lend a helping hand, a sympathetic ear, a plaintive prayer. There has been set done a foundation that supports not just the work mission but also and more importantly the human condition.
Contemplation: That is far as I can go with you this Monday morning. I now retire to private prayer, repenting for those pre-conversion days when I mistakenly thought it all depended on me and pridefully thought that I could build an organization without God's help, to thank God for being with me and my colleagues as we strive to build not just a work organization but a workplace where God is an important part of the team, to praise God for the wonderful ways in which He always watches over us and the miracles He has granted our colleagues, and to ask God to help me remember that unless He is with my, my efforts are in vain, whatever it is that I am doing. Then I will move on to contemplation, my favorite part of the day, letting God take over the direction in which my relationship with Him moves.
I will leave you now to your prayer and contemplation. First, though, I would like to bring to your attention a Monday morning prayer post that you might enjoy:
Fr. Austin Fleming, priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and pastor in Concord, Massachusetts, posts a prayer each Monday morning that he calls "Monday Morning Offering." I enjoy his prayers very much. I think you also will find them inspirational. He has graciously given me permission to include a link to his blog on my Monday Morning Meditation posts. (During the week, he also posts great homilies and other thoughtful discussions. I enjoy reading those, too, as do readers of this blog who have taken the stroll over to his blog.)
For additional inspiration throughout the week, I would point out two sets of blogs: (1) the list of devotional blogs on my sidebar and (2) my blogroll, where I am following a number of inspirational priests and writers about spiritual matters. I learn so very much from all these people. I highly recommend them to you.