Finding Refuge

wooden buildingIf you just turn on the news it is everywhere. Worry. Fear. Defeat. Speculation. Everyday there is a new development on the impending spread of Ebola. Stories about the horrific crimes against humanity by ISIS pepper our daily newspapers. A few years ago, the news was saturated with the stock market crash. Before then our minds were consumed with E coli or avian flu. A decade ago it was Y2K and before that the pandemic of AIDS. No matter where you go – life and chaos confronts us.

Where do you find refuge during times of chaos?

When I am bombarded by the horrific news story or overwhelmed by the negativity in the world, I usually take a media fast and focus on more positive things. This morning as I sat in church and listened to the message, I had a tiny little revelation. I realized that I often overlook an obvious place of refuge…God.

Psalm 91:4 says:

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

I sing because I'm happyThe scriptures my pastor shared reminded me that God is always watching and He is aware of everything I do. Matthew 10:29 tells me that God watches over the sparrows and that he will not let any of them fall to the ground. If God takes care of the sparrow, won’t he also care for me?

Psalm 46:1 tells us that God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

My pastor shared several things I could do when I feel overwhelmed with the chaos and burden of my world. Below are a just a few:

1. Take a media fast. Turn off the news. The news industry is a business and like any other business, it will do what it can for the sake of generating revenue and profits. If the news business is profitable, it is more attractive for advertisers who will increase revenue and profit. News agencies look for ways to sensationalize news stories so that you will not only watch but also come back for more. As a marketer by trade, I understand the dance of revenue and profit. I am not criticizing the industry; however, if you are totally consumed with the news and the negativity is affecting you, please take a media break. I have chosen to “opt out” of watching the daily news. By limiting my intake of news media, I have found that the headlines don’t often change. There is never a shortage of stories covering war, murder, slander, cheating or scandal. Although there are human-interest stories (more often during the holidays) sprinkled in the news, the coverage is often unbalanced compared to the negativity. I choose to fill my mind with things that build me up and not tear me down. I devote my time to things that are life-giving and I offer less of my mind to life draining content.

2. Seek wisdom for guidance. Consult the scriptures for guidance on the topic that is worrying me. It does not do me any good playing out the worst-case scenarios in my mind. We often whip ourselves into frenzy and plan for the worst. I know that my imagination can be more dramatic than reality. There have been so many times when I worried myself over things that never actually came to fruition. What a waste of my energy!

Learn about what God has promised for your life in the bible. Read about God’s wisdom, power and faithfulness. Memorize scripture that will provide wise perspective on your life’s issues. I often find that the book of Psalms and Proverbs are bursting with guidance. Both are great books for wisdom. I also use the concordance (at the back of the bible) to help me search the scriptures on specific topics.

3. Get the facts for yourself. Find every piece of information on the topic that is bugging you. Seek the facts for yourself (minus the drama & sensation). For example, it is highly unlikely that you will contract Ebola by being in the same car, plane or bus with an infected person. Unless you and that person exchanged bodily fluids, you most likely will not get the disease. You have more chances of catching the flu (and by the way more people die of the flu each year than Ebola). It’s crazy! I have had friends declare that they were going to curtail their traveling plans for the remainder of the year because of Ebola. These same health conscious friends; however, won’t plan to get their flu shot either. So they will postpone their vacations to avoid Ebola yet they won’t go get a flu shot to protect them from something they have a high likelihood of contracting. Go figure.

Let the facts from your research help you determine how scared you should be. At least you will be in control and armed with the cold hard facts instead of letting the local news anchor drive you into frenzy. You can control how you react and your fear.

If you want specific scriptures for the next time you find yourself camping out at Worry World, check out the verses below:

Hebrews 13:5Never will I leave you

1 Peter 5:7cast all your anxiety on Him

Philippians 4:13I can do all things

2 Timothy 1:7power lovel

Productive Partnerships

Shaking handsThe history of successful partnerships proves the adage that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Consider Lewis and Clark, who helped open a vast, uncharted frontier for an ambitious, infant nation 200 years ago. Or Rogers and Hammerstein, whose musical theater collaboration has rarely been matched.

The beauty of good partnerships is that they expand resources, influence, potential and results. Simply put, good partnerships produce good results, whether they are forged between solo entrepreneurs, between departments within a company or between any imaginable configuration of individuals, programs, organizations or initiatives.

At a 1996 summit sponsored by the Drucker Foundation, leaders of all persuasions agreed that the challenges facing government, business, nonprofit organizations and society as a whole are too great to be addressed by any one sector. All leaders, to succeed, must build bridges, they said.

But such collaborations don’t just happen. To be sure, people can find themselves thrown together to get a particular job done or partnering with another out of convenience. Such partnerships, however, can produce as many problems as solutions.

For partnerships to be productive, the partners must be compatible in vision, approach and work processes; they must know how to communicate with each other, when to stand firm on an issue, and when to compromise. The participants must share risks and responsibilities, and treat each other fairly. This kind of relationship fosters trust, which in turn, is the foundation of a successful endeavor.

Productive partnerships take many forms, from informal collaborations and alliances to formal partner agreements. Internet technologies also facilitate easy-to-track affiliate relationships and offer potential for building effective partnerships anywhere in the world.

In any case, the objective is mutual benefit, for the benefit of customers of both entities. A few examples:

  • A web designer in Ohio, for example, partnered with a brand development firm in Singapore to offer additional services and value to clients of both.
  • A natural science museum in Texas partnered with its local public television station to produce and distribute educational programming via satellite.
  • A medical center in Illinois collaborated with a bilingual youth radio station to promote wellness messages to Latino youth.
  • Successful entrepreneurs partnered with business coaches and a university in California seeking to attract students and increase its visibility and reputation to offer a three-day boot camp for new small business owners.

Beginning the Process

Before partnering with another individual, business or department, it is crucial to be clear on your ideas and visions. What do you want to achieve, and are you certain you cannot (or do not want to) provide that yourself with current resources and know-how?

Depending on your need, you may wish to start your search for the right partner locally, with such organizations as the Chamber of Commerce, Convention and Visitors Bureau, Rotary International and the local Small Business Administration office. Leveraging social media sites such as LinkedIn can also be a great.

Super-hero girlThe Makings of a Strong Partnership

The Drucker Foundation partnership summit delineated some of the following principles of good partnership:

Partners must understand not only the values, goals, and constraints of the partnership itself but also the values, goals, and constraints of the other partners. It’s not enough to ask, “How do we accomplish our agenda?” You must also ask, “How do we help our partners accomplish their agenda?”

Partnerships must translate broad goals into measurable, interim targets and time frames. All partners must be committed to the shared mission and objectives before taking the first step. Goals must be attainable but meaningful.

Different issues require different types of partnerships. Some are appropriately initiated by businesses and entrepreneurs, while others are more appropriately initiated by the social sector or government. Openness to the project’s leadership needs is key. Equal partnership is the goal.

Partnerships rely not just on the clarity of mission but also on a mutual understanding of partners’ roles. Unless there is agreement in the beginning about the definition of success and expected results trouble is likely.

Other Factors Influencing Partnership Success

Even the best laid plans must be adapted to shifting conditions, altered needs and preferences, experience of what isn’t working, emerging opportunities and fresh thinking to improve outcomes. Partnerships are no different and clearly evolve in response to successes and partner’s needs. Productive partnerships also include:

  • Committed staff and program champions
  • Mutual respect, understanding, and trust
  • Members see collaboration as in their self-interest
  • Ability to compromise
  • Can-do attitude
  • Members share a stake in both process and outcome
  • Flexibility and adaptability
  • Open and frequent communication
  • Sufficient funds, staff, materials and time
  • Review of both disappointments and achievements
  • An exit strategy in place at the outset
  • Encouragement to explore boundaries and to grow partnership

The bottom line: To see your business grow, consider building productive partnerships.

Author’s content used under license, © 2013 Claire Communications