Looking Out For Number One

“God gives every bird its food, but he does not throw it into the next.”

Today’s “Tip” is actually a quote from J. G. Holland. It got me thinking.

Every day that I’m out speaking, delivering a keynote address at a conference, or giving a seminar in an organization, participants ask me questions during break or after the program. They share their stories, often talking about a problem they’re having or a dilemma they’re facing. They want help.

And I get several e-mails every week from my “Tuesday Tip” subscribers. They write about hassles they’re having with their bosses or team members, and they talk about losing their jobs, their health, or their relationships.

But this week was a little different. Two people came up to me at a seminar and said, “Great seminar. I really like all the psychological strategies and communication techniques you’re teaching. But I’m wondering how ‘spirituality’ fits into all this. Some of the folks here at the company keep talking about ‘spirituality’ in the workplace. What’s that all about?”

Then I got two letters this week that addressed the same issue. The coincidence got my attention. One came from a higher level executive in a pharmaceutical company, and the other came from an hourly worker in a construction company. They both thanked me for all the good ideas and strategies they were getting from my “Tuesday Tip,” and they both asked me for advice on how to handle a certain situation. But then they ended their letters by asking, “Is there anything to this ‘spiritual’ thing?”

Absolutely. And they’re not alone. When four people ask me the same question in the same week, I know there are hundreds of “Tuesday Tip” readers asking the same thing. So I’ll address it.

But I’m addressing this subject at my own peril. I know I’ll get some e-mails from people who are offended by the very fact I mention “spiritual” things. I’ll get some folks saying, “How dare you mention God?” or “Who do you think you are?” I’ll be told that this particular “Tuesday Tip” is NOT politically correct, and some of those people will want to unsubscribe.

Let me assure you, I am not trying to offend anyone. I’m not judging anyone. And I’m not trying to “convert” anyone. I’m just answering a question from my readers, and I’m simply sharing what works for a lot of people.

So back to the question. Is there anything to this “spiritual” thing? The answer is “yes.” There is something very significant about this “spiritual” thing. Psychological truths and spiritual truths go hand in hand. There’s no contradiction between time-tested, research-validated psychology and good, solid theology.

Both psychology and theology would say that everybody has three parts: body, mind, and spirit. Those three parts are constantly influencing one another. If you’re weak in one area, it will show up in another. And if you strengthen one area, you strengthen all the other areas.

I’ve also noticed there are four times when spiritual strengthening is needed. And indeed, “strengthening” is the right word. You can’t expect to lift a 100-pound weight with muscles that haven’t been exercised. And you can’t expect to be at your best if you’re spiritually flabby.

You need spiritual strengthening when you’re: 1) stressed, 2) down, 3) weak, and 4) confused. I even organized my audio-CD album, “Spiritual Pathfinders,” around those four themes.

The first time you need spiritual strengthening is when you’re STRESSED. And who isn’t these days? The economy has a lot of people stressed out. As one person said, the definition of a recession is when your neighbor loses his job. A depression is when you lose your job.

Maybe you’re afraid of the future. I think of one little boy who was afraid. He only had two lines in the church play, but he was still afraid. He was to come on stage and say, “It is I. Be not afraid.” But when he saw the audience, he said, “It’s me. And I’m scared.”

When you’re stressed out, TRY VISUALIZING GOD AS BEING BY YOUR SIDE. The image of an all-powerful, all-loving God by your side is one of the greatest concepts the mind can hold.

Now I don’t know what “God” means to you, and I won’t presume to tell you. That’s for you to decide. But whatever your definition, picture God beside you. Visualize Him walking with you, strong, compassionate, protective, and understanding. Visualize Him helping you with your problems. The image will help you deal with even the most devastating difficulty.

That’s what one salesman did. He said his fears dominated his life. He said, “I was afraid of everything. I was afraid to call on customers. I was afraid of asking for the sale. I was afraid of rejection. I was afraid of the competition. I was afraid of losing my job. Fear controlled me. I went through each day like a scared rabbit.”

Then, one day, he said, he decided to try “this visualizing God thing.” He said, “I began to look in the Bible for everything I could find about faith and overcoming fear. I copied passages of Scriptures on cards and carried them with me. What began as a trickle of faith grew into a river. I can now say that my mind is so filled with faith that fear no longer rules me.”

I know imaging works. And so do thousands of my clients. If you need a little help in mastering the technique, you should get a copy of my audio CD on “Visualizing Success.”

A second time you need spiritual strengthening is when you’re DOWN. Even if you’re a fairly positive person, it’s almost impossible to be “up” all the time. Life and circumstances have a way of grinding us all down on occasion.

It’s like the customer who always ordered two whiskeys at a certain bar, both of which he drank. At first the bartender asked him why he didn’t order a double whiskey. But the customer said, “You don’t understand, one is for me, and one is for my friend, who’s out of town. We always drink together.”

One day the customer, looking quite down, ordered a single whiskey. The bartender asked sympathetically, “Has you friend passed away?”

“No,” the man sighed. “My doctor ordered me to give up drinking.”

If you’re feeling more down than you would like, you can get spiritually strengthened by EXPECTING GOD TO HELP YOU. If you expect nothing from God, that’s about what you’ll get. But if you expect God to help you, he will.

Donald Seibert, the former Chairman of the Board of the J. C. Penney Company talked about that. As a young man, he hoped to become a musician. He accepted a job with an orchestra playing at a summer resort in western New York. In August, however, the weather turned bad. The tourists left, then the band manager and most of the band members.

Seibert had a dilemma. Should he also quit, leaving behind a large, unpaid hotel bill, or try to fulfill his obligation as best he could?

His decision was based on a chance remark by a band member. “You have to look out for number one,” he recalled hearing.

Seibert thought, “Who is number one?” He knew instantly. He said, “I knew deep down inside there was only one answer, the God who had sustained me in the past and who would sustain me in the present.”

In other words, when Seibert was down, he put his expectations in someone bigger than himself. He put his expectations in Him instead of his situation or circumstance. He expected God to help, and He did.

Action:  I believe the healthiest people are healthy in all three parts of life — their minds, their bodies, and their spirits. Almost all of my “Tuesday Tips” focus on how you can be healthier, more effective, and more successful by using your mind. But this week, you might want to try some spiritual strengthening for those times you’re stressed or down.