My Monday Morning Cup

“What do you do?” he asked.

“I’m a Destination Services Consultant.” I watched his eyes glaze over followed by a blank befuddled stare. Having seen the look before, I recognized it as being all too familiar. I have tried to offset the awkwardness by stating that I do contract work. Unfortunately, people get confused, thinking I’m some sort of Texas Mafia hit man. It’s similar to the gaze I get when I tell people about my recently completed graduate studies focused on managerial sciences.

Managerial Science sounds like management science-a quantitive discipline dealing with formulas, algorithms, data analysis, and mathematical modeling. Managerial Sciences focuses on leadership, management, communication, and human behavior. In class we examined how people make decisions and solve problems and how those processes are influenced by their culture, generational cohort, and belief system. I mastered persuasion and negotiation and learned how to use technology in virtual team environments. Oddly enough, all of these things I learned are perfectly suited for the work I do as a professional Destination Services Consultant.

Three plus years ago, when I first became a Destination Services Consultant, it was a foreign concept to me too.  I had no idea—ZERO—that such work even existed. As you may have heard, people are moving to the DFW in droves–some 400,000 folks moved to the area in 2017. Apparently, as I’ve learned, many of those people need help adjusting and settling into their new community.

This is a far cry from back in the day when my parents and I immigrated to the States. There wasn’t any official relocation assistance to help you get acclimated to your new home. Culture and language lessons were taught by neighbors, some of whom may have had previous experience relocating to a new country.

Not all my clients are from foreign soil. Many come from North America and from within the United States itself. Assignees are moving at the behest of their employer, either for a project or possibly a promotion, or a myriad of other reasons. My clients are from different generational cohorts and come from diverse intercultural backgrounds. I’ve helped South Africans moving from Canada to Dallas. I’ve worked with clients from Ghana, Eastern Mongolia, the European Union, and the Land Down Under. I’ve had the privilege of working with individuals and families moving from Cupertino, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Shanghai, Moscow, Madrid, New York City and Paris.

coffee-1149983_1920

In the three years since I began doing this work, I have had the pleasure of meeting a lot of people from all over the world. It’s been a great experience overall, although contract work isn’t for everybody. If you don’t have multiple vendors requesting your services, you will weather dry periods and lows when business isn’t booming. Other times, you may wish you had more hours in the day and a transporter to get you from point A to point B. My own business took a downturn when I took time out to help my Mom recover from a bad fall she had last Summer. It’s taken awhile, but business is picking up again. This is a true answer to prayer as I’ve tried to ascertain what God’s will for my life is now that I’ve earned my Master’s degree and as sweet T and I continue to work in different aspects of ministry, including serving the men at Union Gospel Mission through our monthly chapel service and chairing our church’s participation in Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child initiative.

hands-600497_1920

So what exactly does a destination services consultant do? In essence, I offer boots-on-the-ground expertise and a menu of concierge services including finding a home, providing an area tour, identifying school options for those with kids, opening a bank account, and applying for a myriad of things like a social security card, driver license, car registration, and you-name-it. Working as a DSC has also served as a good avenue for employing the skills I received through my Certified Tourism Ambassador training in 2015. This training increased my knowledge of the area and DFW’s history. While some of these things may seem like simple everyday tasks, in the context of packing up the family and moving halfway around the world, they become big things. It’s comforting to have someone you can trust welcome you to the area, show you around, and help you get different ducks in a row.

This type of work requires being friendly and flexible, being able to think and plan strategically, providing superior customer service, and being knowledgeable about a plethora of things critical to making a relocation experience a smooth success. To be successful, you have to be the resident expert on how things work where you live. You have to be able to demonstrate empathy, putting yourself in your assignee’s shoes.

I return my attention to the man asking me questions.

“That sounds like really interesting work,” he replies. “I bet it’s fun too.”

“It is. At least it can be. There are challenging moments for sure. But overall, it’s great to make a real difference in people’s lives, helping them call DFW home, and easing the stress inherently involved in making a big move. “

It allows me to serve others, ministering to their needs in an authentic, tangible way, during a very big moment in their life. The return on my investment features the rewards of meeting new people from fascinating places, recognizing that while we have our unique cultural differences, we also share many human experiences.

Before I got into this line of work, I asked the Lord for work that would allow me to help people and shower others with love and joy. Sometimes, the Lord answers prayers in ways we really don’t expect. This work is one blessing I have learned to be truly grateful to receive.

Shine: Dare to be Different

It can be easy to get down on yourself. Most of us experience highs and lows during our journey. What God values is different than what society holds in high regard. Not always, but usually. Looking around, we get caught up in the comparison trap. We yearn for yesterday or hunger for tomorrow while missing out on today. We may come to believe our lives aren’t worth living. Yet, God thought we were worth dying for.

What a humbling thought.

God’s grace redeemed us. Christ’s blood bought us. The Spirit sustains us. Our lives have value. We matter. We shouldn’t squander the life God redeemed. Yes, we have a past. But that past is gone. We shouldn’t continue defining ourselves by our old baggage. After all, you can’t put spilled milk back in the bottle. At least not easily. We need to get comfortable wearing our new suit, reflecting the joy we have in our Lord and Savior.

Because of Christ in us, we are no longer who we once were long ago yesterday. Today, because of God’s infinite, unfathomable love for us, we are different. We are not the same. So as a new work week begins, let us shine like the new creations in Christ we are. Show the world the difference God makes in your life. Blessings.

2 Corinthians 517

I Pray Not

Have you ever wondered who was the first person to pray? Since prayer is a conversation with God, it makes sense that Adam and Eve were the first humans to speak with God. After all, God walked with them in the Garden. I wonder what those early conversations between Adam and God were like and all the questions Adam must have had that he couldn’t wait to ask his Maker.

In the Old Testament, prayer is much more than the reciting of renowned phrases. We see the patriarchs, like Abraham, and the prophets, like Jeremiah, cry out to God, pouring their hearts and souls out to Him. How I wished that my prayers were more like that more often.

The people of ancient biblical times believed in the power of prayer and in the ability of God to deliver them from their trials and troubles, even before Jesus came on the scene as God on Earth Walking Among Us.

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25 (NIV)

Jesus, the son of God, obviously believed in the power of prayer. He prayed often, cherishing the conversations he had with his Father. His prayer in John 17 is one every Christian should read often. Maybe, we should even take time to commit the passage to memory.

cross-2598303_1920

When we pray, we are lifting our voices to God. He hears us, although He may not always give us the response we desire to hear. He delights in us when we seek Him out in prayer. Prayer, is similar to picking up the phone and calling our Mom or Dad and checking in to see how things are going and sharing with them what’s happening in our world. We only have to recall the heartfelt conversations we’ve had with our loved ones to get a glimpse of what it’s like to talk to the God of the Universe. The Lord cares deeply about us. He loves you and me.

 Jerusalem will be told:
    “Don’t be afraid.
Dear Zion,
    don’t despair.
Your God is present among you,
    a strong Warrior there to save you.
Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love
    and delight you with his songs.Zephaniah 3:16-17 (The Message)

In our society, many people question, if not outright deny, the power of prayer. This is noteworthy, since people were once considered to be “praying animals.” Growing up as a child, people prayed around the family dinner table, just like they do on TV’s “Blue Bloods.” It was common place to see people praying in public while dining in restaurants. Back then, it was unusual if you didn’t see people praying. Sadly, today, it is far too common seeing people not praying.

Have we become so hardened or so cynical that we no longer believe in the power of prayer or in the value of talking to God?

I pray not.

Blessings.

Check out my conversation with WorshipMinistry.com’s Gary Miller about “Everythingness.”