Sunday, June 30, 2013


The news report showing a picture of a well-known CEO who left a major company some weeks ago said that he “resigned to pursue other opportunities”.    Sometimes these articles say “She left to spend more time with her family” or “He left due to ill health.”  For those of us who have been there, we know that he was probably terminated. 

I know so well the feeling of “pursuing other opportunities”, the standard phraseology for “we dumped him”!! I have been in the same wing-tip shoes, not as a top-level CEO but just as a person who was trying to do a good job but, through political circumstances, found that I was being separated from the company.

I didn’t leave my job to pursue “other opportunities” or any of the above “make everyone feel good” reasons. I was 
T E R M I N A T E D!!!!!!

The position I had held was a responsible one, managing a large operation, multiple million-dollar projects, pressure, deadlines, long hours. To an observer it appeared that I held a very good position, but in all honesty, I was not enjoying it. 


As I passed by a local country club golf course each morning on the way to the office, workers were mowing the grass, tending the fairways and the greens, and my thoughts turned to how fortunate they were, how I would love to have a job that was well-defined, that had less pressure, that was something I would really enjoy. But nonetheless like so many others, feeling chained to a position, I dutifully drove on to the office and faced the task each day. 

The job loss was a shock, of course, but after a
short period of feeling 
sorry for myself, blaming the company, my manager, bristling with all of the self 
justification arguments that people conjure up, I finally woke up. This was getting me nowhere.

From that moment I knew that whatever else I did, my new and most important job was being the full-time representative of my Father, God, who “owns the company” so to speak. In the end, I report only  to Him, and it is a lifetime, an eternal position!! I saw that my job had resulted in my neglecting the most important thing, listening to God, I had fallen behind in staying in tune with my spiritual heritage.  I quickly saw that this termination was really a blessing, a reminder that the important thing is to listen.

So, I got up every morning, put on my suit and tie, prepared for work expectantly, since someone might want me to start immediately!  Then, each morning, I asked God to lead me, to point me in the direction that I should walk that day. A Bible companion book I rely on, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures has this assurance: D
esire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds.*   I have found that prayer is actually a process of listening, not telling. God, the spiritual source of our being, has ALREADY supplied us with all good, and prayer, when we LISTEN, brings us into harmony with what God has ALREADY done, FULL EMPLOYMENT! 

Those thoughts that just seem to pop up in thought have an actual intelligent source, divine Mind, God. Jesus pointed out a practical fact about existence and employment when he said:

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” **  THAT was my inspiration. By virtue of my “being” I was taken care of by the Father.

I did make phone calls and sent out resumes, but not with the feeling of desperation or discouragement, even after some weeks, but patiently seeking the right path. I prayed to know that my true employment was in reflecting Godlike qualities no matter what other human activities were required;  that sometimes obstacles lie in our path but that they are opportunities to overcome and to grow.   Moses had to go through the Red Sea as part of his search for a homeland; David had to go fight a giant named Goliath; Daniel’s work was interrupted when he was sent to the lions den. I too had my task, why should I complain? 

Many people go from job to job over the years thinking of  their life of work as a "sentence”,  as punishment!! 

Breaking out of the rut, enables many to finally realize that life does not have to be years of a “nose to a grindstone” experience, but can provide opportunities to be inspired and to inspire others, to be fulfilled and to fulfill the dreams of others, to give of our very best talents. We find avenues to share undiscovered talents and abilities, hidden for years beneath the layers of convention, of “fitting in’, following the expected, sometimes the mundane and often the boring existence laid upon us.

Looking back over their careers, people of all walks of life have found that their most precious memories are not of business or professional success, wealth earned, status gained, but fond memories of people who have helped and been helped along the way, treasured moments of friendship and comradeship, cherished instances of comforting someone, or being comforted during troubled times.

How do we do that? By realizing that whatever our daily work includes, our real and eternal employment is serving as proof of God’s presence, the outcome and reflection of God, just as rays of the sun serve to convey the Sun’s qualities to earth. The Sun’s rays do not get up every morning and wonder what their job is, or if they will lose their job!! Their job is to shine, to reflect the qualities of their creator, the Sun, they are there to warm the earth, to feed the crops and animals and all life with sunlight. And our task is to shine as rays of love and comfort to the world.   Continuous employment!!

With this new inspiration, I let go of the worry, the “what will other people think” thoughts, the disappointment in self, the questioning of why and, with joy, pursued "Other Opportunities!"

God had a plan and a path and it unfolded to me in tangible ways. I was led to form a business with my next-door neighbor and this led to eventual employment by a major corporation in the same industry.

When we are employed by God, when we see our life not as a daily drudge, carrying out human activity to earn a paycheck, nor walking towards old age, but see our role as individuals who are living to reflect goodness, mercy, tenderness, selflessness, lending a hand to those in need, our employment is full-time and overflowing.   In that same textbook, Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy observes:
To those leaning on the sustaining infinite, today is big with blessings"!!! ***

God is looking for applicants. No experience necessary.

*      Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures - Mary Baker Eddy
**    The Bible  Matthew 6:28
***  Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures - Mary Baker Eddy

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Doesn’t that make you ANGRY???

There it is AGAIN!! I thought I had put that to bed once and for all!! But, Nooooo! Here it is again, that urge to react, to respond with anger, to fight back

The voice on the other end of the phone didn’t even say Hello when I answered… just..  “Who do you think you are” the irate voice, dripping with venom nearly jumping out of the receiver.

WOW. That was a shocker. It took me a moment to settle my thoughts after after a most troubling conversation. As a member of a local volunteer group I had recently agreed to help a friend by advertising an upcoming charitable event on our organization’s web site.  

Who Do I Think I Am?  Am I a person who reacts to anger? A person who needs tit-for-tat, whose pride and self importance are so stiff that I can’t bend in humility when challenged? 

I asked myself, "Am I a person that has to get back, to get even, to be hurt, upset, to react in like manner?"   I didn't really like the answer I was getting back from myself.  At that moment I was hurt, insulted, bewildered, submerged in a pool of self pity, injustice and resentment.  I was ANGRY.

That one conversation has been so beneficial.  It helped me see that anger is not a solution, but a trap, a venting of self righteousness, not productive, not endearing, not a way to elicit cooperation, not a pathway to clear thinking nor positive results.

Truly "Anger, is the nemesis of all ages". And yet how very popular it is. There’s certainly no shortage of opportunities to get plain old MAD!! In newspapers, television and on the internet we see that anger is boiling over in Brazil, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. There is anger in Washington and across the country  over many issues.  

Even here in my neighborhood in the North Georgia mountains,  the local newspaper reports an uproar over topics ranging from animal control to outrage over the local farmers’ market being kicked out of its normal place in the City Park. So many reasons to be ANGRY!!

TV networks seem to love anger... they report a terrible story and then invite us to “get angry, get upset, get irate.”

”Weigh in”, they say.  "Join in the conversation, give us your comments”.  And we are tempted to fall for it. As they stir the pot, we get agitated and upset, and like a pesky fly, buzzing around your face until you finally get fed up and smack yourself in the face trying to get that fly, and… voila… you hurt yourself!!! That's anger for ya'. I am hoping I am not the only one that has done this dumb trick!!

recall a statement by Katharine Graham who led the Washington Post for two decades and wrote a Pulitzer Prize winning memoir. Her memorable quote is

The longer I live, the more I observe that carrying around anger is the most debilitating to the person who bears it.

Oh Katherine, how well you put it. Your statement speaks volumes.

Now, of course, we all have opinions on topics of interest. Our own human experience has shaped our thoughts but in truth, anger is not really necessary.  Seth Gordon a marketing consultant recently wrote a short blurb in which he said that "Anger is a habit", a habit he calls 'a thoughtless response to an incoming trigger.'”

The most successful people in the world have been able to overcome the tendency to "thoughtless responses" and having their thinking clouded by anger. 

Jesus of Nazareth, as described in the Bible, advised us to turn the other cheek when confronted. This was not a sign of weakness, but exhibited a profound understanding that things that make us angry are distractions that would pull us away from our true selfhood, the image of Love,  the likeness of our Creator.

Relating back to my air-traffic control days I remember when a plane was in an emergency and needed to make a gear up landing, we always foamed the runway. As the plane approached and touched down metal to concrete, instead of a shower of sparks the foam smoothed the way, lessened the friction, removed most of the danger, prevented fires from erupting due to the sparks hitting fuel leaks.

I’d like to share my little list of reminders, my "Foam the Runway" thoughts that help me avoid getting angry, serve to dampen the sparks that would ignite discord, disappointment and ill feelings.  They are taken from The Bible. These “helpers”, provide guidance, as follows: 
“If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.”   “Leave off contention, before it be meddled with.”  “A soft answer turneth away wrath.”

“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.”

Feel free to use that checklist every day.  If
 we would find life’s peace, inner calm, and a joyous existence, we can turn off the TV of anger and enjoy the sweet classical music of peace.

A nineteenth century theologian, Mary Baker Eddy, faced incredible challenges in her life as a woman in a what was at that time strictly a man's world in religious circles.  Her calm and tenderness are good examples  for us all and she urges us to pray for patience, in the following, quoted from "
Blessings of Forgiveness": 

Ask to be made patient    
And loving when persecuted…
Ask to be gentle tempered
And delivered from all anger
Or spirit of revenge.
Ask for this daily bread to feed you. 
 Mary Baker Eddy

And finally, maybe the most helpful for me, when I feel that old temptation rising to get angry, I hear the gentle but firm voice of my wonderful Mother, calling softly from the past, ‘Patrick, you know better than that.” "Yes, I do. And thank you Mom. I’ll try to do better.”

Friday, June 14, 2013

Train Up a Father

It’s Father’s Day again and once more I think back over the years and the lessons that I have learned.

There’s a Bible verse which promises, “Train up a child in the way he should go,  And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)   Now with all due respect to the writer of that wonderful verse in Proverbs, after raising four children I might add to it,  “Train up a Dad in the way that he should have gone in the first place,  and when he is old he will remember the lessons.”  I have found that most of the lessons to be learned are the Dad's.

I sometimes marvel that I made it through those years. There were many wonderful moments but some filled with anguish, bewilderment, impatience, anger, self righteousness, hubris, and finally love. I love our daughters and sometimes they weren’t angels, but I think being the father of a son is a more difficult task, and I have a doozy, named Kevin.

My wife and I just returned from visiting with him in Charlotte, North Carolina earlier this week.   We hadn't seen him for quite a while and we particularly wanted to see the new store, " Carolina Furniture and Collectables"  that he opened recently.    A few months ago, after years of doing almost every job imaginable, he finally settled on opening up a furniture and collectibles store and it is something to see. I was so proud to see him in that environment and delighted with all that he has accomplished.

Now I have always known that Kevin is an indomitable sort. He is innovative and imaginative. Who else but Kevin could pull this off.   Having returned to the United States from my home in Kuwait for a very short visit just to get married, Gail and I were in our hotel room in Las Vegas the evening following the civil ceremony.  The phone rang in our hotel room and it was Kevin calling to say Congratulations.  That may not sound too unusual but he had no idea where we were staying, and there are quite a few hotels in Las Vegas, like a million!!!

While I was a little disturbed at him calling on our wedding night, I was secretly sort of proud that he was able to pull a Sherlock Holmes and find us in that maze of hotels when no one in the world knew where we were.  A resourceful salesman type, like his Dad!!!!

Kevin has always been adroit and imaginative, though.  Fathers’ Day tradition brought back memories of when he was pre-teen while we were living in Melrose Mass.  Maybe all Dads have stuff like this happening but Kev is my only son.    One day we returned home from a trip to the grocery to find a large mirror in shreds on the floor.   We had left the four children there by themselves trusting Melanie, the oldest, to run a tight ship. Seeing the shattered mirror on the floor and going into third-degree questioning mode finally resulted in a confession from that self-same son!!  He reluctantly admitted that he had done it,  but, with an ingenious bent, responded that he was throwing a shoe at his older sister, and she had ducked!!  So it was her fault. Fair enough.  That explains everything!!

A few years and many other indescribable escapades later,  at about age 12 he had gone to a party, a short walk 2 blocks up East Foster Street.  He left home at about seven o’clock and we were surprised that he was home just after eight PM.   He was obviously distressed.   In full Dad Confessor mode, I got him aside and asked what had happened.  He said that shortly after he arrived at the party they served refreshments in the party room in the basement.   The parents then had gone upstairs and left the group of about 16 boys and girls alone in the basement.  When the parents were gone, someone turned off most of the lights and boys and girls sort of paired up and started playing kissing games.   WOW.  Getting juicy!!  I asked if he had kissed any girls.  He indignantly replied “NO”.  “What did you do?”  I asked innocently.  He said, “I ate all of the sandwiches and came home!!”   TRULY his Dad’s boy!!

But the supreme example of resourcefulness might have occured one day some years earlier when we lived in Melrose Massachusetts.   The family was attending a swim meet where two of our daughters were competing.  The YMCA was only about 2 blocks from our house and my son decided he wanted to stay home.  We gave him ORDERS not to leave the house.   

Part way through the swim meet everything came to a halt, there was a bustle of activity and all swimmers were called out of the water.  Amid much seeming confusion, we observed the officials having conversations and scanning the audience with concerned looks. The meet was at a dead stop.  

Then one of the officials went to the microphone and made a hurried announcement.  “We just received a call and there is an EMERGENCY!!  Will Mr. or Mrs. Collins call home immediately?!!”    With Kevin’s face coming up on my ‘Dad Worry Screen’ I thought  “WHAT NOW”,  I ran down to the pay phone and called home. Kevin answered calmly.  I screamed into the phone, “Are you alright? What’s the problem?  What’s going on?”   

Kevin nonchalantly said,  “Oh Hi Dad, thanks for calling.    Is it all right if I go across the street to Robert’s house to play?”   Now, here I was, my heart beating fast, the officials peering down the hall anxiously awaiting word as to what could possibly have caused this emergency call, interrupting the City Swim Meet, where hundreds of people were gathered, I tried to look cool.    After calming myself, deciding to postpone the kick in the pants that I promised was in his future, then telling Kevin it was all right to go too Robert’s house, I turned to the officials and assured them that everything had settled down and the emergency had passed. Still shaking my head weeks later I had to admit that the boy had all the instincts of a first rate salesman and would probably meet world famous sales professional and inspirational speaker  Zig Zigler at the Top someday.  He would definitely be able to get through to a CEO to make a sale with that kind of courage and creative thinking.

Over the years I have learned to use some of these experiences to  examine life and its lessons more from a spiritual viewpoint.  That special relationship of Dad and Son  has eternal roots.  It applies to daughters too of course, but in this case let me talk about sons.

 You see, the challenge is trying to be as loving and forgiving as our heavenly Father.  Jesus recognized that mere human fathers would not be, could not be, the equivalent of the heavenly Father, the Creator who is described in the Bible as seeing only his pure, perfect Creation, as Habakkuk has it:  Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity:  HAB 1:13

Now about training up the father,  being a good Dad is about doing our best, about learning love, about learning trust, about seeing through the human frailties, the errors, mistakes and  temptations that would so easily distract us from our true heritage...   and about forgiveness.   When I see people using genealogy research to find out their family line, their human heritage, I am reminded how temporal this mortal existence is and that our true heritage is in God, the perfect Father. As a matter of fact Jesus said: “Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.”  But I can see how the earthly father/son relationship parallels the true eternal relationship of Father/Son… The loving, caring, respect… the guiding, the listening, the joy and trust. 

I gladly relinquish the name of father to my Heavenly Father,   Kevin’s real Father and everyone’s real Father, and gratefully settle for being called Dad, the Dad that loves his son and his daughters and has learned a lifetime of lessons from being blessed by their presence.  Thanks Kids, for being all that a dad could ask for!!