HR View on Mike Pence’s Stance on Women

USA Today photo

Some of you may know that I teach Human Resources (HR) and do Corporate Training. I have taught many courses including  Business Etiquette, Business Ethics, Human Resources regulations and Cultural Diversity. When I do Executive Coaching for Businesses, we discuss not only business related topics but also personal conduct in the workplace.

I try not to watch the news or read the paper. The news bothers me and I find it depressing for the most part. Yet, I find that my friends always fill me in on what’s going on as it relates to my passions. A sweet friend told me on Friday about the media frenzy surrounding Mike Pence following the Billy Graham rule about not being alone with a woman (other than his wife). This was reported first by Laura Turner of the Washington Post article here about Karen Pence and her support of her husband. The description at the start of the article is surprisingly sweet, giving examples of how Mike Pence and his wife support one another and care deeply as a faithful, married couple. It’s towards the middle of the article that raises questions about the current times, stating “But colleagues and employees engage in a relationship between grown-ups who ought to be able to have an appropriate work-related conversation or a meal together” [bold & italics mine]. True, if we all could get along, then maybe people who are grown-ups wouldn’t sue one another or talk about each other behind their backs either. The very next line gets to the heart of the matter “Affairs start in secrecy, and to guard against them is good.” This is why Billy Graham started his rules – so that all he did was out in the open. As an Evangelical Pastor on the global stage, he had to protect himself and guard against things that could be misconstrued by others.

I am shocked at the media backlash this has garnered. Given the amount of lawsuits served up in the HR field, male and female relationships in the workplace are tenuous. For people in higher positions, this can mean being at further risk for workplace lawsuits and also personal lawsuits. For example, I generally advise managers to keep the door ajar when doing performance reviews (good or bad ones – doesn’t matter) so that employees will not charge them with duress or false imprisonment. Before you balk at that, there have been cases where someone of the opposite sex claimed both sexual harassment and also duress during a closed-door performance review. She stated that her male boss made inappropriate comments to her, said that he would raise her ratings for sexual favors and then wouldn’t let her leave because the door was closed (not locked, but simply closed). He denied all accusations, he was well-respected by his staff, but the company settled the case out of court because they did not want to go through the expense of fighting he said/she said in public.

The same holds true for lunch time conversation or long car trips. Why put yourself into that position with someone of the opposite sex? Why not invite someone else to go with you? My recommendation is always this: if you are a female in a position of authority and you want to invite a male to lunch to discuss something, have lunch in the company break room or cafeteria, where others can publicly see you and you are accessible. Do not go to another location outside of work by yourselves. Invite another person to go. This way, if there is an accusation of wrongdoing, at least you have another witness present.

I believe that both Billy Graham and Mike Pence are both correct on this issue, not just from a religious viewpoint that honors and protects their spouse and marriage but also from a secular, business viewpoint. Placing yourself into a situation that can cause doubts and show favoritism can cause tongues to wag in the workplace. This is a great way to invite lawsuits. I’m not the only one with this viewpoint. In a blog  titled “When Genders Matter” by Molly Donovan for The Muse, the same idea is supported. It’s not just a matter of male and female anymore either. The same principle holds true for transgender and LGBT orientation. The person across from you could be another female who may make sexual advances towards you as a female boss. It could be a male employee having lunch with a gay manager who might make inappropriate advances.

In this day and age, it’s good to error on the safe side. Yes, you may offend people when you leave the door slightly open. Yes, you may offend people when you ask for someone else to join you on the one hour drive to the client meeting. However, at the end of the day, you may find that it’s a bit easier to sleep at night knowing that you are not crossing the lines or sending out messages that could be misinterpreted by others.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and profound insight, 10 so that you can discern what best, that you may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.… Philippians 1:9-11

As Christians, we are held to a higher standard by God. We are to look towards Christ and not allow ourselves to be placed in situations that may mar our witness. May we choose to err on the side of caution and use the Holy Spirit’s gift of discernment to conduct ourselves in a way that’s stated in Philippians 4:8 ~ “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. ”

Think about how the world will perceive you when you go out for lunch or go for drinks with that ONE female employee after work. Think about what that does to your reputation (man or woman) in the workplace. Think most of all about what message that is sending out about you as a child of God. Mike Pence is suffering from media backlash, but from the examples given about his daily choice to not be alone with women, his witness as a Christian man is to be blameless in his interactions with others. May we all strive to focus on what God wants and not what the world wants. Amen.




“Why can’t we all get along?” This is the cry I hear from people who want to talk about cultural diversity, religion, management or anything else I happen to be speaking. Many times it’s exactly these individuals who are the ones who don’t really want to get along with another. If there was an issue – maybe it’s them who was causing it? A better question to ask then is “What’s stopping you from getting along with someone else?” or “Why aren’t you getting along with others?” Of course, those are harder questions to ask and to have answered, so we end up speaking in generalities about groups instead of individuals.

This is the situation I found myself in last weekend. The issue proposed to me by someone close to me was “Why do you talk about sensitive matters? Why do you have to present a direct contrast between Islam and Christianity? Why do you have to blog about it and why do you have to address audiences about this?”

In my professional background in the realm of Human Resources, that’s all I deal with: sensitive matters. Human Resources professionals deal mainly with issues of employment, hiring, firing. With Diversity, matters of age, race, gender, ethnicity and religion are constantly being brought up by organizations. It’s what I am paid to talk about. I understand very clearly that it makes many people nervous and downright angry to talk about some of these things.

The media and our society today has done a great job defining what is okay to talk about and what is not okay. In my line of work, I deal with the fact that people cannot leave their religion behind while they work 9 to 5, nor can they ignore their age and any discrimination that may come with that or sex, or ethnicity. That’s the reason why I make it my life’s passion and work to talk about it, write about it and live it out.

I love talking about God. I don’t like or want to leave him in the car while I go to a meeting or discuss a subject matter at a corporate meeting or even at a public university. He is a large part of my story, my background, my calling to speak and also He influences every decision I make. I am not able to separate out my religion from my career or family. The person in question found this to be UNBELIEVABLE. I am not sure if she found it to be unbelievable that I place my trust in God for all these matters or that I will not stop talking about Him.

Political Correctness has done more harm than good. Dale Carnegie said “seek first to understand and then be understood.” Why then do we say we will just not talk about all the things that are protected by the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), such as race, age gender, ethnicity & religion? We take the things of the workplace and apply them to our everyday life, missing opportunities to see how other people believe, how they live, what is their background and what makes up the content of their character.

It’s beautiful to be able to live in a country that allows for freedom of speech, of expression and of religion. We are able to have a mosque, a church, a Hindu temple and a Jewish temple in the same town – even on the same block! You do not find this type of diversity in many places. It’s a rich way to learn about others’ beliefs and to help them understand your own. The key is to approach one another with respect and not tell them to stop talking. Extinguishing dialogue will lead to darkness and misunderstanding – death of relationships. It does not allow people to freely share views and present a fresh, new way to approach century-old grudges.

Since we live in a free society, why should we not utilize these hard-won freedoms that someone else died for? Why should we stop the dialogue, pretend that culture, ethnicity and religion – differing opinions don’t exist? Why not take an opportunity to open your mind, open your heart, open your ears, and open your eyes to see the beauty of diversity that exists all around you?


May we be people who live in God’s light, sharing openly about His love, His light and the freedoms only He can bring in our life. May we share the good news of the Gospel to a hurting world that thinks this is the only reality there is.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.” ~Ephesians 5: 8-11

Bringing LIFE to Work


The Coca Cola Company published an article about what “Work/Life Balance” might mean today. There is a shifting trend going on with Millennials (those born between 1982 & 2004). The way work is viewed varies from generation to generation. With the advent of technology, those lines are blurred even more. Just last night, before going to bed, I had a meeting request from someone – there are no real set office hours anymore. People can send meeting requests, texts, e-mails when on vacation, on the weekends or in my case, at night before bed.

This is what gets the younger generation up in arms. If I am working at night on a project, or am logging on to do work-related  stuff, then why can’t I take an extra long lunch or come in a bit later in the morning (after all, I was working on your project)? When the traditionalists see office hours as 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, it’s a valid argument. Work is being done at different times of the day – so why shouldn’t there be flexibility during the 9 to 5 hours?

For those of us who have heard the term “Work/Life Balance” for at least a few decades now, still scratch our heads to see how it actually gets balanced out. For me, personally, it means making sure I am there when I need to be and everything in my personal life takes a back seat. That is NOT the case today. If there is flexibility in the time that you can do your work (and I am talking mainly of a desk job, with a computer that can be accessed from anywhere) then you should be able to do work at 3:00 am if you want to and take off from the office for a 3:00 pm Parent-Teacher conference.


Why is there such resistance to this flexible time notion? Doesn’t it mean that employees could possibly be working more if they are logging on at all hours of the day? According to the Coca Cola article, it’s about priorities and a seeming lack of respect. “I gotta leave” is the comment and there is no request “Hey, could I schedule an afternoon appointment with my child’s teacher or with my chiropractor or could I take a golf lesson?” Many of the Boomer generation did these things on their own time, especially the exercise or golf lesson part. To even think of doing something like that during the workday is unimaginable.

The bottom line is productivity. If Millennials are focused on the outcome of the project, they don’t care how many hours are spent on it – even if they are working into the night. In fact, many of the Millennials I have spoken to are more productive at night, actually preferring the peace and quiet instead of the morning hours when everyone is showing up to the office. The implication here is to take another look at how we view work.


We were made to work.In Genesis 2:15, God gave Adam a garden to work – even in a perfect setting, he was given something to do. After the Fall (Genesis 3:17-19), Adam was still going to work, except that it was going to require the sweat of his brow. WORK is not a dirty, four-letter word (okay, so it IS a four-letter word, but you know what I mean). It is something that gives both men and women a feeling of accomplishment and also for some, it is their identity. It is something that is a blessing on us that we are able to use the gifts to produce or make something.

If we look at work in this manner, it is appropriate to conclude that if the end-result is what’s desired, then the hours you spend upon it shouldn’t matter. I cannot tell you how many times at the workplace I have found people chatting it up in the break room, the smoke area outside or by the coffee machine. How many people linger on after meetings for 10-15 minutes, catching up on the weekend or the ball game? There is time being wasted at the office but no one seems to mind, as long as you show up. If someone is accessible and is working from home, then what’s the problem?

image from – liz ryan

Social media also blurs the lines between work and personal life. Millennials have grown up with social media and are often the first to know details about a new hire. This gives insight to how they wish to work. It is next to impossible to block out your personal life and not bring it to work, especially if there are big things going on that impact your work. The idea to have a workplace that accepts the fact that you have a vibrant life outside of work, that you CAN bring your laptop to the coffee shop and work there as well as the office, to know that when there is an important meeting, you will be present – but when there isn’t a mandate to be at the office, you might go and do some volunteer work… all those might be the new way to see how the office day might be changing.

In addition, work space has also changed. People don’t need large offices, or even desks. Many are choosing to share space where they plug in their computer and get to work. This is a generation that has grown up on the soccer and sports field. They are used to working in teams. They are okay with not having a corner office.

By taking a fresh look at the use of time during the weekday, we can actually invigorate the work day. The re-defined work day can actually go to after hours, into the night and even past midnight. Creativity and productivity don’t have to be limited to the office area and to the desk or cubicle. Instead of separating out our life from work, we can bring new approaches, new ideas and yes, life to work.


Lost in Translation


It’s not a secret that the English language is hard to grasp. There are grammar rules that differ from the other Latin languages, idioms, cultural variances, and top of all that, there are words with multiple meanings. Right after the attacks of 9/11, my poor father received a notice on his email that it had been monitored and that he needed to explain what his involvement was in a “plot in Pakistan to bring money over to the United States to fund the three in his charge.” Sounds incredibly suspicious doesn’t it?

My dad didn’t know if he should get mad or laugh. The word “PLOT” can have multiple meanings. One is to scheme or plan as in “a plot to topple the king,” which even the Merriam Webster online dictionary doesn’t even use. Another is used by farmers to designate parcels of land for a purpose. Third is used by authors to design a series of events that are critical to their writing, such as the main plot of a book. Fourth is to chart lines, as in plotting a course or to plot coordinates for a straight line. Last is to designate a parcel of land for usage as a unit, usually for real estate purpose. It was this last definition he was using in his e-mail. He had purchased a plot of land a long time ago in Pakistan that had three sections as an investment for his three daughters. These are the three in his charge.

I don’t disagree that it was probably not the best time to leave out details of the “three in his charge” or to use the word “plot” instead of land, but one can easily see how our communication can easily take a wrong turn, especially during emotionally charged situations. The word “run” is similar in its multiple meanings, except that instead of four or five meanings, it has a whopping 177 definitions!

When I teach business communication, it is usually to native English speakers. English was my second, almost third language (I was taught Arabic, English and Urdu almost simultaneously when I was little, living in Saudi Arabia). I try to stress the importance of why we have issues in talking with one another especially in culturally diverse settings. If you add non-verbal (body language), tone, inflection, listening, written (e-mails, text, Instant Messaging), and slang or jargon into the mix, it is an absolute wonder we can understand one another at all!

With the English language changing all the time, communication becomes more difficult even for native speakers. Consider for example, the new speak that the Millennials and Generation Z (yes, we are on the last letter of the alphabet now) are using in texting. If you don’t know what “totes” means (no, not the ones you store or carry stuff in), then you might not understand some of the messages that are being thrown around out there on social media (like, totes cray). There is an article by the Washington Post that just came out in January that addresses the new way to speak. You might want to check it out if you are over the age of 40 – no offense, but just want everyone to be on fleek (yes, that’s a new word too – just not in the dictionary yet).

To help foster good communication, whether it’s with your spouse, teenager or co-worker, we have to start somewhere. Here are a few things to consider from the authors of Crucial Conversations on Stereotypes, Distrust & Bias:

Focus on the Facts. We tend to jump in with an emotional appeal and don’t look critically at the facts surrounding the situation.

Examine the Story. Re-examine the conclusions drawn from the facts. Again, emotions can color the situation and make it seem amplified when it’s really a small issue or something that was overlooked by the other party.

Visibility and Exposure. Reconsider your initial views, and to be open to new information.

Own the Problem. No blaming. Taking accountability for actions is critical for both sides

Follow Up. Sometimes we walk away, thinking things are resolved, but it may just be the other person agreeing to something so the situation will just go away. It is important to follow-up not just for clarity in communication, but also to review and reinforce the relationship.

By doing the suggestions above, we will not only clarify misunderstandings but will be able to lead by example to make a foundation of trust with the other person. Misunderstandings can get cleared up in a new way, with new information that you may not have known about that individual’s background or a different way of speaking.

As for my dad, he is still plotting the course with consideration to the sale of his plot so he can plot another chapter of language communication issues with e-mails…




What’s the deal with women in power? As a young, driven woman who was just starting out her career,  I made many mistakes and let power get to my head. Some mistakes were small and others could have impacted or even curtailed my career, like the error of not following chain of command in a traditional organization like Campbell Soup Company. Fortunately for me, I had a kind and generous mentor named Chuck Hatz who was able to step in and guide me through management pitfalls.

As I look back on that experience, I realize that not many are blessed to have another give them advice on how to maneuver or even advance on the corporate ladder. In fact, I realized slowly that the ones who were the least helpful in my career path were WOMEN. Before I heap accusations on those women who did not mentor me or even lend a kind word of encouragement, I need to look at my own actions as a manager as well.

When I joined the management ranks, I was a supervisor. I worked mainly with two men, so things were good. When the opportunity to rise higher into a manager’s position, however, the battle lines were drawn and I quickly found out that I didn’t have many friends. In fact, most of my competition were women of equal rank. It was cut throat. I found out after I got the position mainly due to my education, that a woman closest to me had said something personal and derogatory about me to the VP. He thought it to be unprofessional (especially in Human Resources), so he did not even consider her for the position. Her desire to hurt me ended up getting her booted out.

This woman was a colleague. She was someone I had lunch with on a regular basis, so it didn’t rest easy with me. It was around this time that I had been looking at Japanese management traditions of Kaizen (collaborative management) and found that before making any big decision or doing problem solving, they went to their peers individually and got input. I thought that to be a huge waste of time! Why do that when I knew what needed to be done and go do it?

This very thing turned out to be the key in why women were not getting the larger promotions and why there seemed to be a general lack of trust among us. No one wanted to consult with another. All of us were very competitive and sabotaging the other’s efforts. In an attempt to be noticed by Executive management (=men), we were setting each other up for failure and being petty. What an eye-opener for me.

As an HR manager, I knew I could personally do something to change this. Using collaboration and not competition as my incentive, I set about asking the other female management their input on ideas and projects. I was immediately met with distrust, criticism and even sarcasm – what, is this job too difficult for you, that you need to ask for help?

Fortunately, not all of my peers were like this. I found a lifelong friend in Christine who was kind and helpful to me. In addition, I had women in my department who were caring and driven to help others. We formed a small but close-knit team. The easy collaboration in HR training began to be evident as we shared leadership roles. There was a desire to help one another and to share our strengths as a team.Other women began to look to this team as an outreach and support within the organization. Several women began to gain promotions and opportunities to excel, including me.

I share all this to make a point. Until women begin to set aside the competitive nature of business and our own prejudices against other women (she’s not career-minded her clothes are not right, etc), we are not going to be looked at as serious contenders for executive level positions. Women do not have to set aside our feminine qualities of being able to talk to one another, to empathize, to nurture relationships in order to get ahead. We don’t have to be so driven that we get a calloused edge that doesn’t take others into account. In a culture that feeds the “me, me, me” ego, climbing the corporate ladder means stepping on other women’s heads in order to see our own star rise.

As a Christian, this is made even more clear to me by Jesus Christ’s teachings, especially when he said “So the last shall be first, and the first last ” Matthew 20:16. That doesn’t leave much room for corporate ambition, does it? What one doesn’t realize right away is the blessing you get from helping others and putting your desires off for a minute or two. Getting promotions was nice (I won’t lie!) but it wasn’t nice to not have a peer to peer network of women you could trust. Getting recognition was nice, but I didn’t realize that it meant that I took it from others and gave no one else credit. When we started sharing and helping one another, we began to celebrate each other’s contributions and victories. Our enthusiasm, relationships and strength multiplied.

Bill Gates said that “As we look ahead to the next century, LEADERS will be those who EMPOWER others.” So what steps can we take today to help those around us? This Forbes article gives a great list of strengths women have that naturally lend themselves to helping others. In addition, I have a few to add that can apply to both men and women:

  1. Know your strengths and weaknesses. Look for opportunities to help fill the gap.

  2. Ask for the worst assignment. Your colleagues will thank you (& think you’re nuts!) and your bosses will appreciate you.

  3. Be willing to help not only at work, but outside work. When you see your co-worker as a mom, wife, daughter, or in a different role, you will gain respect and learn to set aside any prejudice you may have formed against them.

  4. Pray for them and for yourself to be placed in situations where you have to serve others.

We need to build each other up – both men and women. When you break others down, you get torn down right beside them. There is collateral damage. The true hallmark of a leader is when you help to develop others’ skills and strengthen them. Along the way, your own skills will be strengthened, built and sharpened.

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

Unity out of Diversity


I have taught at several universities in California and Oklahoma over the last 18 years. Many times, I teach Cultural Diversity. Of course, there are trends, like women in the workplace or hot topics like the SONY Executive e-mails that made racist comments, but still, we continue to tackle the same issues over and over.

Many people don’t know that the term ” University” means  “Unity out of Diversity.” (Uni= one Versity= groupings). Diversity has the similar word base, but in this case, the “Di” stands for division or separation. So in technical terms, diversity is actually about looking at groups separately. It’s good to start with word origins because we get confused sometimes when discussing terms that have an emotional charge associated with them.  When you look at how the dictionary defines Diversity, you end up with more of a normative definition – how we have changed the term to represent it for our culture and needs today.

Diversity: the quality or state of having many different forms, types, ideas, etc.

: the state of having people who are different races or who have different cultures in a group or organization

When I work with businesses on developing a Diversity program or initiative, there’s almost a panic – what if we aren’t doing this right or worse, what if we leave something out? I guess I come from a totally different (dare I say “diverse?”) point of view. Having been raised in six countries gives me some insight to the United States. In Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, you mainly see one type of people – Arabs. Now, granted, there are ex-pat communities, but they tend to live separately and not really join the mainstream public. In Pakistan, it’s homogeneous – everyone looked the same. The only other group I saw was the Chinese and even then it was because they owned the Chinese restaurant we were dining at.

So, coming to the United States was a it of a culture shock (to say the least). There were different people everywhere. It didn’t help that we came to New York City first. Talk about diverse! Moving to California was no different – lots of people from all different backgrounds. In fact, it was very easy for us to find a tight knit Muslim community and settle in nicely. There were many here that spoke the language as well, so it was a small piece of home.

I think as Americans, we don’t stop to admire what this country offers us – a vast variety of groups that don’t have to give up their unique identity, but are able to function as a whole, My family and I never felt any pressure to be Americanized or to take on something we were not comfortable with. Now, that doesn’t mean that we didn’t face discrimination. Moving to the US was the first time I felt discriminated against, but it wasn’t for what you might think. I was in the fifth grade and no one would play with me. No one. When I finally got the courage up after almost two months of having no friends, to ask a girl who seemed remotely kind (=she didn’t say “eew, get away”) , she acted like she didn’t want to tell me. I then started crying and said that I had no friends. She was embarrassed, but was kind enough to tell me it was because I smelled bad. She even told me that maybe I should wear deodorant. When you cook with curry at home, you have to put the spices into hot oil so they develop their flavor. With long hair, that absorbs the aromas and some oil along with it, I am sure I smelled like what we cooked – and still do at times, but take a shower and wear some good deodorant now!

Trying to teach diversity from an immigrant’s eyes has a value. I think that I bring a little appreciation for what we have in the United States. In fact, on our money, it says “E Pluribus Unum”- out of many, one. I believe that is the strongest way to address diversity and the importance Americans place on the value of differing opinions, backgrounds and cultures.

Leap of Faith


It’s not easy to be this guy (see above in the picture)… suspended in mid-air, wondering if he’s going to make it to the other side or if the other side is even more unstable than the one he just left. YET, there’s something compelling about it. Maybe it’s the fact that he did decide to jump in the first place. Then, the reason behind it comes to mind… why did he do it?

We have had choices in life that we’ve had to make. Should I? Shouldn’t I? In fact, today was one of those decision days. Nothing seemed stable for me today. My mind was in a whirl. When those days come, I almost go into a “cocoon mode,” where I want to turn in on myself and not even deal with what is going on around me. Those decisions can just wait, I tell myself. I am not ready to come to make a choice.

In organizations and business, this is the same practice. Business needs change on a daily basis. You might be reading this blog on your iPad or iPhone. The operating system on that device may have recently changed or even the latest version may have come out. Change is inevitable in any situation – work, home, school, life. HOW one deals with these situations is what makes a difference.

Taking a leap of faith is not just a religious term but is something we do on a daily basis. When I googled “Leap of Faith,” the term came up as something the philosopher Kierkegaard came up with. In fact the way he addressed the topic was almost as a leap from one thing to another.  The bottom line for a Christian, however, is what would you leap towards? If it indeed is Faith, what is that Faith placed in? Is it your paycheck? Is it gaining an education? Is it Christ? I am not asking questions in a rhetorical manner. In fact, I will be very honest here. My faith and leap goes to money first, even though on my money it says blatantly “In God We Trust.” Not so much sometimes! I have to pray every morning that my decisions are not based on my desires (for me,  money translates to security – albeit FALSE security), but instead are based upon what God wants me to pursue for His glory. It’s a daily struggle.

When I do happen to take that leap of faith into Christ’s will, however, I find that He always had a better plan in mind for me than what my limited mind could concoct. His plans usually impact others in a better way as well. So when you are faced with decisions to make or changes to contemplate in your life, I pray that you will STOP.

Stop running through scenarios – especially negative ones.

Take a deep breath.

Obedience to God shows our love for Him (1 John 5:2-3)

Pray for God to lead you and for Him to grant you the courage to put the worldly cares aside and seek only His kingdom first.

When you do that, you will find that the peace that passes all understanding will wash over you.

~For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. ~ Isaiah 55:8

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.~ Philippians 4:6-7

Take my Time


I had the opportunity to teach Cultural Intelligence to a group of employees in Oklahoma City last week. The course focuses not just on Diversity in the workplace but on how to actually increase your intelligence level (like IQ) about Cultures. It’s an interesting concept and books have been written on the topic to show how you can actually measure this.

There are many differences between the Eastern and Western cultures, including perceptions of beauty, values, ethics, family and of course, language. One aspect that some don’t think about is TIME. One trip to my parents’ home and you will see the difference between the West and East. On the weekend, we are not ruled by the clock and never really were. We woke up when we did (usually around 9-ish or 10), rolled into the kitchen to make a pot of tea and no one ate until they had a cup of tea. Breakfast preparations began around 10 and we ate somewhere around 10:30 or 11. Lunch maybe happened or didn’t happen. If we had lunch, it was later in the afternoon. Dinner was yet entirely another story and almost a 2-3 hour event on its own.

When my poor American husband first came to my parents’ home, he woke up at his usual time of about 6:00 am. Why? I still don’t know why, other than he is an early riser by habit. He twiddled his thumbs until about 8:00, when he couldn’t stand it anymore and woke me up because he was starving. He decided to go and grab something to eat by himself and then he had to wait another 2 hours before anyone else got up. He was not too happy to have to sit and wait.

Breakfast, when it finally was served, was delicious but then he had the same experience trying to figure out if we were all having lunch or not. He decided to get in the car and go grab a bite to eat, since it looked like no one was interested. It was a good thing he did that, since dinner didn’t show up until almost 8:00 pm.  Dinner preparations can also take hours at times. It just depends on what’s cooking, but many Pakistani dishes need to simmer on a low heat for hours. My dad laughingly told us once that it was this way because the village women could “look busy” cooking but sit around chatting away most of the day.

Even on the weekends, things are not always this relaxed in the West. Most families have things scheduled out to the hour even on a Sunday. It was tough getting used to that pace of life when we moved here as immigrants. In addition, people here talk about time as a commodity – “It was a waste of my time” or “What’s my time worth to you?” Time definitely has a cost associated with it, especially in terms of the workplace. There is a phenomenon that the Wall Street Journal addressed a few years ago called “Time Theft.” Yes, that’s right. You can actually steal your employer’s time by fiddling with texts, phone or internet.

It’s interesting then as a Christian to go to the Bible and see what it has to say on the subject of time, for God operates beyond time and space as we know it. 2 Peter 3:8 says “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” It’s so difficult to comprehend what this is like when we cannot see past the end of the day, the week or even the month. To think of things in terms of eternity is even more unfathomable. The Psalmist writes “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere…” Psalm 84:10 When I think of this, it’s still hard to put it in perspective but when you ponder the fact that all things are created by God and for God, then even your own time comes into it.

How difficult it is to set aside one hour for someone? What about giving up half a day or a whole day to help someone else? Even though I was raised with an Eastern mentality about time, I lived in the West. I realized a few years ago that time ruled my day. I was running from appointment to appointment and the weekend didn’t change that for me. It wasn’t until I realized that all things belong to God and the thing we hold onto most dearly is what would be the most sacrificial offering. So every morning, I started praying something very scary… “Lord, my day is yours and my time is yours. Help me to glorify you in all I do today.”

Guess what?

He did. He took my time and showed me things that I wouldn’t have normally stopped to see. He showed me opportunities to slow down and speak with people I would have normally passed by. He opened up my heart to those who may have needed a kind word, smile or even help during each day. I don’t want to tell you that this was awesome because at first, it wasn’t. It was ANNOYING. I ended up having to re-plan my day or stay later after training to speak to someone or even pray with someone who was hurting. After just a little while of giving up my time to the Lord, I realized that I was blessed. I was blessed because I was being obedient to His will and to the things that mattered in terms of eternity with Him.

It’s scary, but it’s a different adventure each day with Christ.

So we can pray (words from a Jeremy Camp song):

Take my life take my mind
Take my soul take my will
I am yours now, and I give it all to you.

… that means your time as well.