在最糟的時刻,計畫更好的將來──AFTER THE ‘WORST OF TIMES,’ PLANNING FOR BETTER TIMES

MONDAY MANNA

查爾斯.狄更斯(Charles Dickens)在他的經典小說《雙城記》(The Tour of Two Cities)的開頭如此寫道:「這是最好的時代,也是最壞的時代……」。就某些方面來說,很難相信一年又結束了,我們很多人應該都同意稱這一年是「最壞的時代」一點也不為過。

2020 年如果是要出售的商品,早就該被退貨了。新冠肺炎全球大流行在我們生活各個層面都產生了嚴重的影響,甚至超過了它造成的死亡和疾病。全世界的市場和經濟都受損慘重。

無數企業被封閉,有些更是永久性歇業。學校被迫關門,只能透過網路持續進行教學。無數人失業。我們不戴口罩隨時任意而行的人身自由,受到了嚴重限制。在世界的某些地區,惡劣的氣候和猛烈的大火比新冠肺炎更引人關注。現在我們則是對新冠肺炎疫苗的開發進程,以及它的有效性惴惴不安。

老實說,如果能回到2020年1月1日,你能想像得到今年會發生什麼嗎?如果你早就料到了這一切,我真想請你提供未來的投資建議。如果2020年能教會我們任何事,就是要預期那不可預期的事情。當我們展望2021年時,這個教訓會如何影響我們制訂計劃和設定目標?聖經提供了一些明智的建議可以遵循:

謹慎選擇信靠的對象。展望未來時,我們常常對自己、政府或經濟充滿信心。但是,2020年卻告訴我們,這些都沒有我們想像中的可靠。「你要專心仰賴耶和華,不可倚靠自己的聰明,在你一切所行的事上都要認定他,他必指引你的路。」(箴言3章5-6節)

努力懷抱著正確的動機前進。在為新年和新的事業訂定目標時,最好捫心自問「我為什麼要這樣做?」如果我們最深的渴望是用生命和工作來服事和榮耀上帝,就可以相信上帝會引導我們所做的一切。「你所做的,要交託耶和華,你所謀的,就必成立。」(箴言16章3節)

計劃和預期要切合實際。有時候,我們相信自己完全知道該做什麼、何時去做,但突如其來的意外––就像疫情一樣––讓原本的想法和準備全數落空。但很多時候,當我們回過頭看,會發現儘管我們的希望沒有實現,而比我們所預期更好的結果卻發生了。這就是為什麼相信上帝,而非自己有限的觀點,才是最好的。「人的腳步為耶和華所定;人豈能明白自己的路呢?」(箴言20章24節)

設立目標、訂定計畫時,讓上帝居首位。專注在我們想要和企圖完成的事上,也許有時候會成就,但更常發生的是我們的努力遠遠達不到期望。把我們所做的事交給上帝,祂不僅會幫助我們實現目標,也將帶領我們更明確地釐清自己的願望和夢想應有的模樣。「你當倚靠耶和華而行善,住在地上,以他的信實為糧;又要以耶和華為樂,他就將你心裏所求的賜給你。當將你的事交託耶和華,並倚靠他,他就必成全。他要使你的公義如光發出,使你的公平明如正午。」(詩篇37章3-6節 )

© 2020. Robert J. Tamasy 是企業巔峰: 給今日職場從箴言而來永恆的智慧 一書的作者。也與導師之心 的作者David A. Stoddard 合著Tufting Legacies。編輯多本著作包括Mike Landry. Bob的書: 透過苦難成長。Mike Landry. Bob的網站為www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com

反省與問題討論

  1. 在2020年初,你的目標和期望是什麼?你曾經想過2020年會如此動盪混亂嗎?
  2. 你這一年來如何面對新冠肺炎及其帶來的影響?你在今年初訂定的計畫和目標結果如何?
  3. 在面對新冠肺炎帶來的挫敗和種種限制時,你對神的信心(如果有的話)起了什麼作用?
  4. 從近期的經驗學到非預期事件可能會打亂最精心謀策的計畫後,你在為即將到來的嶄新一年作計畫、訂目標時,是否會信靠神與祂的帶領?請解釋你的答案。

備註:如果你有聖經,想要閱讀更多相關的經文,請參考:

箴言16章4、9節
16:4 耶和華所造的,各適其用;就是惡人也為禍患的日子所造。
16:9 人心籌算自己的道路;惟耶和華指引他的腳步。
箴言19章21節
19:21 人心多有計謀;惟有耶和華的籌算才能立定。
箴言27章1節
27:1 不要為明日自誇,因為一日要生何事,你尚且不能知道。
傳道書3章22節
3:22 故此,我見人莫強如在他經營的事上喜樂,因為這是他的分。他身後的事誰能使他回來得見呢?
傳道書5章18-20節
5:18 我所見為善為美的,就是人在 神賜他一生的日子吃喝,享受日光之下勞碌得來的好處,因為這是他的分。
5:19  神賜人資財豐富,使他能以吃用,能取自己的分,在他勞碌中喜樂,這乃是 神的恩賜。
5:20 他不多思念自己一生的年日,因為 神應他的心使他喜樂。
傳道書9章11-12節
9:11 我又轉念:見日光之下,快跑的未必能贏;力戰的未必得勝;智慧的未必得糧食;明哲的未必得資財;靈巧的未必得喜悅。所臨到眾人的是在乎當時的機會。
9:12 原來人也不知道自己的定期。魚被惡網圈住,鳥被網羅捉住,禍患忽然臨到的時候,世人陷在其中也是如此。
歌羅西書3章17 節
3:17 無論做甚麼,或說話或行事,都要奉主耶穌的名,藉著他感謝父 神。
歌羅西書3章23-24 節
3:23 無論做甚麼,都要從心裏做,像是給主做的,不是給人做的,
3:24 因你們知道從主那裏必得著基業為賞賜;你們所事奉的乃是主基督。


AFTER THE ‘WORST OF TIMES,’ PLANNING FOR BETTER TIMES

By Robert J. Tamasy

Charles Dickens, in his classic novel, The Tale of Two Cities, opened with the declaration, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” In some respects, it is hard to believe another calendar year is over – but many of us would agree that calling it the “worst of times” is a good description.

If 2020 were a manufactured product for sale, it probably would have been recalled by now. The global pandemic has had serious repercussions at every level of life, even beyond the deaths and illnesses it has caused. For the marketplace and economies throughout the world, consequences have been severe.

Businesses have been shut down, some permanently. Schools were closed, and in many cases, virtual learning continues online. Many jobs have been lost. And our sense of freedom, the ability to go wherever and whenever we want – without masks – has been severely limited. In some parts of the world, severe weather and huge fires have stolen attention from the coronavirus. And now we are wondering about the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, and whether it will be effective.

Be honest: when the calendar turned to 2020 back on January 1, could you have imagined what this year has brought? If you anticipated this, we all would like your advice on future investments. Because if this year (2020) has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. As we look ahead to the next year (2021), how should this affect our planning and goal-setting? The Bible has some wise advice to follow:

Be careful about where we place our trust. As we look to the future, we often put our confidence in ourselves, the government, or the economy. This past year, however, has shown that none of these is as reliable as we thought. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight”  (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Be diligent to proceed with the right motives. A good question to ask as we establish goals, whether for a new year or a new enterprise, is “Why am I doing this?” If our desire is to serve and honor God through our lives and our work, we can trust that He will direct our efforts. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed ”  (Proverbs 16:3).

Be realistic in your plans and expectations. At times we believe we know exactly what we should do and when to implement our plans, but then something unexpected occurs – like a pandemic – and then those ideas and preparations fall by the wayside. Often, in retrospect, we discover that although what we had hoped to happen did not occur, an even better result came about. This is why trusting God, and not our own limited perspectives, is best. “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?”  (Proverbs 20:24).

Be certain to put God first in your goal-setting and planning. Focusing on what we want and what we intend to accomplish sometimes works, but often our own efforts fall far short from what we had hoped. By committing what we do to God, He not only will enable us to achieve our goals but also will help us to more clearly define what our desires and dreams actually should be. “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: he will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun”  (Psalm 37:3-5).

© 2020. Robert J. Tamasy has written Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Discipleship; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; andThe Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. At the beginning of this current year, what were some of your goals and expectations? Did you have any idea that the year would turn out to be as turbulent and chaotic as it has been? 
  2. How have you responded to the pandemic and its ramifications as the year has unfolded? What has happened to the plans and goals you established at the outset? 
  3. What role has your faith in God played – if at all – in how you have coped with the setbacks that have resulted from COVID-19 and its many restrictions? 
  4. As you look ahead to the coming year, knowing from recent experience how unexpected events can derail even the best-conceived plans, are you incorporating faith in God and His direction into your planning and goal-setting? Explain your answer.

NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
Proverbs 16:4,9, 19:21, 27:1; Ecclesiastes 3:22, 5:18-20, 9:11-12; Colossians 3:17,23-24


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