Faith in the Workplace
I finally found time to get to my flower garden.
The sun was shining, ground moist from recent rain, and I was ready to clear out tall weeds to reveal beautiful, black soil.
Down on my knees, as I pulled weed after weed, I saw a particularly large dandelion. Wanting to pull it out by the root to remove it completely, I grabbed my handy root-digger-upper tool and had at it.
Just when I thought I had it, I heard and felt the root snap off.
The dandelion plant and some of the root came up. I looked into the hole. There it was, deep inside, a portion of the root that would stay.
I continued pulling weeds out by the root and when I was finished, the soil looked black and beautiful.
But I knew that, underneath that beautiful, pristine surface, were roots that would sprout weeds again – especially that one, big dandelion root. I didn’t remove it, I didn’t kill it, the weed is still there.
And it got me thinking about us, about me, and how we can have a certain appearance of goodness or having it together, but still have issues. And if we don’t take care of those deep down inside issues by finding and removing the root, they will keep cropping up.
I tossed weed greens aside and continued pulling others as I wondered about one of my own issues. In recent months, I’ve been prone to feel angry inside. I don’t act on it, let me be super clear on that – I don’t retaliate when I feel wronged, I don’t jump to verbally defend myself, and don’t become offensive or defensive in my speech or actions.
I want to be clear because this is my blog as a professional, but I’m also a human who experiences emotions. And I want to share that with you. I want to be real with you.
As I pulled weed after weed, root after root, I wondered what could be at the root of my anger. Was it a healthy response to injustices? An indicator that I need to find a way to de-stress? A response to physical pain? I wasn’t sure. So I became prayerful about it, driven to search my motives. I want to grow, not just in my skills as a professional, but also in my faith and character as a woman.
Here’s what I know about weeds. They’ll always be there. Remove one, and another will crop up.
But if the weeds in our personal lives leave us in search of understanding of ourselves and others, they’ve benefited us.
When we discover hidden roots in our lives, ignoring them only makes them come back stronger. When we do the work of exploring and unearthing them though, we’ll grow stronger in faith and character. Our garden won’t just have the appearance of being weed-free, but it will, more and more, truly BE weed-free.
While we’re talking about faith and gardening, I’d like to let you in on something my friend Kim is doing.
In the meantime… what is one insight you’ve discovered in your garden this year?
Tina Plett, Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate
The phone rang. It was a past client.
“My marriage is over…” She explained they’d decided to end it and wanted me to list their house.
I was able to head over to her place right away. Before hanging up though, I encouraged her to rethink the separation. “Relationships are more important to me than transactions.”
“No, it won’t work. We need to sell and end it.”
“Okay, I’m on my way.”
On the drive, I prayed. For wisdom. For their relationship. That healing could happen.
At the house, they both waited for me, and together we three signed the papers and listed their house. They didn’t really want to sell it. They had custom built their dream house only a few years prior. But it was unthinkable to stay after ending the marriage. It had to go.
It was a peaceful meeting. They were not angry and yelling as some do, instead, they seemed quietly resigned to the story unfolding this way.
As we passed papers around and signed on lines, I said, “Just so you know, you’re not locked in here. You can change your mind. All you have to do is say the word and we’ll withdraw it from the market. No questions asked. You don’t owe me an explanation.”
They thanked me, and I proceeded to market the property.
Two weeks later they emailed, asking to withdraw the listing.
I drove over to their house to sign a different set of papers. This meeting was peaceful too, but hope hung in the air.
Afterward, he walked me to the door. “We want to make our marriage work.”
I smiled. “I’m so glad.”
I didn’t regret for a moment the money I spent to market their house (and by then I’d spend quite a bit already).
Now I see them having fun together, posting smiley photos of them together at Jets games and eating out with friends, and I am so thankful. I’d much rather see their happiness and success than a sold sign.
Divorce happens. Sometimes it needs to.
But sometimes it doesn’t need to.
Their courage to try again is something I greatly admire.
Tina Plett, Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate
I might be in trouble.
I think I’ve forgotten how to sit still – how to rest.
Life is busy. Crazy even. But the harried pace of this profession is one of the things I love about it!
I love dashing from appointment to appointment. I love the challenges – of clomping around in snowdrifts to measure houses, or trying not to get shot by my clients. I thrive on the adventure.
But in the dashing and strategizing and maneuvering through challenges, I’ve enjoyed it all so much I didn’t realize …. I think I’ve forgotten how to just sit down and relax!
When Eniko and I began working together, we agreed that each of us should have at least one weekend a month off of work.
A day off is difficult for a real estate agent to secure. Weekends are even more rare. But she and I have a bond of trust that makes it possible.
The thing is… I haven’t been taking that rest.
That’s a problem.
It’s in the still and quiet when reflection and insight can happen. It’s when I can actually spend time with God and be refreshed by His presence. That doesn’t happen on the fly.
And it’s tough to take that time because work is fun for me! To take a break from it is really difficult.
But I’m going to do it. This week I’m taking off.
Hmm… what will I do with all my free time? Oh, I know. I’ll turn a storage room into a guest room. I’ll spring clean my house. I’ll get to those flowerbeds that didn’t get a fall clean up.
Oops, there I go again. Dashing from thing to thing.
Okay, I’ll also spend time quietly, calmly sauntering around my house and yard. I’ll admire spring’s new growth. I’ll walk and talk with God. I’ll walk and talk with my husband. I will lie on the grass with my dogs. I’ll soak in the sound of birds chirping, bees humming, and enjoy the chorus of frogs and crickets that fill each evening.
I feel good and energetic already, but being home and mentally present will probably refresh me in a way I haven’t felt in a very long time. And it couldn’t come at a better time.
There’s a newness in the air.
Maybe it’s spring. Maybe it’s the promise of something new in my life.
Either way, I want to receive it with open, ready hands.
Do you make time to be still and recharge? Why or why not?
Tina Plett, Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate
She had bought and sold several properties in her lifetime. This time, it was different.
Perhaps the biggest move was coming from overseas to Manitoba, Canada.
She recalls the move up to Thompson and back. That sale was a nightmare of an experience. Her husband and she had moved together a few times. Then there was the time she moved alone from the country into town where she had felt very pressured by her agent. She would choose an agent carefully this time.
This was the last time.
The Realtor arrived on time at the assisted living facility that was now her home. This particular morning however, as a result of pain and stiffness, it was taking a while for the health care aid to get her dressed.
As a child, she had been taught to be a gracious hostess. She had entertained many people in her own home. Proper etiquette was something she expected of herself.
This day, she wasn’t able to greet theRealtor at the door. She wouldn’t even be able to offer her a cup of tea.
As she made her way from the bedroom to the living room she looked up from the wheelchair to meet her Realtor for the first time. She felt like she already knew her through her writings. They had enjoyed several telephone conversations over the past few weeks.
“You are a beautiful woman,” she said as her hands went up to sweep the flyaway hair from her face. Her ponytail was loose and she had not been able to groom her hair in a while.
She was self-conscious about her disheveled appearance. The woman she saw in the mirror that morning was quite different from the impeccably groomed style she had once presented.
Gone were the days of elaborate gowns and fancy hats. She had a large collection of dramatic hats. Those hats displayed her pride in her English heritage. This day her gown was a robe.
This aging lady was clearly a woman of class and elegance. The robe and wheelchair did not disguise her beauty.
In her distinct English accent, she asked the agent a lot of questions. They viewed properties on the laptop together and she became well informed of the market value of her home that she had just moved out of. It was not as high as she had hoped.
She made the choice to list her property.
She was not at home to witness the for sale sign go up on her property.
Some of her belongings were being packed and moved into the garage. There were family heirlooms and antiques that would not be following her into her next home. She had an appreciation for beautiful things. What would become of all these things, she wondered.
The month that followed was challenging. Since the death of her husband she had been a very independent woman. She didn’t like to ask for help. Now this unrelenting pain had her at the mercy of others. She said goodbye to the small room in the villa and was transported back to the hospital.
She worried about how her daughters would handle all the arrangements of the move. These beautiful women had busy lives and she was feeling like a burden to them. That was the worst part.
Then came the offer. If she signed those papers she would be faced with the brutal realization that she was never going to go back home. She would never again play in the gardens that she had planted. She would never sit on that deck to watch the sunset over the view of the park.
The buyer had allowed for a day’s wait before she needed to respond to the offer. She needed that time. She needed to be alone with her thoughts.
She gathered up some strength overnight. Perhaps the Realtor’s silent prayer had seen her through the anguish of emotions that came from letting go. She signed the contract. The house was sold.
With a worried look on her face she clasped her daughter’s hand and asked, “How are you going to manage to get everything moved so quickly?”
“Don’t worry about it Mom, I’ll take care of it,” her baby said as she leaned toward her on the hospital bed. They were comforting, reassuring words. At least, that’s how they were delivered.
She bit her tongue and tried to keep her lips from trembling. As a third person in the room, the Realtor observed a million words that were translated between Mother and Daughter that were never spoken.
As she awaits being transferred to a nursing home, she spends her time thinking about the life she has lived, the memories she has made and the inevitable truth that like 100% of others, one day this life will end.
Perhaps she will make new friends in the nursing home and have much laughter over the next season of her life. Perhaps the pain will subside and she will go for walks this summer. For now, let her grieve a little. She is saying goodbye to more than just a house.
Senior Real Estate Specialist
Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate
It’s a question we all wrestle with, whether we are the customer or the business owner, the teacher or student, the politician or voter. Does faith have a place in the public arena, and how does that look for me and my business? There’s a reason it’s confusing. (And it’s not you!)
As I was thinking about it this week, I remembered a story from years ago, and how it impacted the way I live out my faith in business today.
Many, many moons ago, I went to a clinic for blood tests in the basement lab of a clinic. As I exited the elevator, and turned to head toward the lab, I suddenly felt compelled to talk to a woman who was seated in a nearby waiting area. I didn’t know her and didn’t understand why I would feel the need to talk to her, so proceeded to the lab instead.
After my appointment, as the door closed behind me, I felt strongly compelled to talk with that woman again. I decided that if the seat beside the woman would be vacant, I would sit and talk with her. As I rounded the corner, I noticed all the waiting room seats were full, including the one beside her.
I sighed relief. As I approached the elevator, the man seated beside her got up and left. There it was, and empty seat right beside this woman, just as I had reasoned. I sat down beside her, bewildered about why I was even there. I turned to look at her, and she dropped the bomb.
“I just found out I can’t have any more babies.”
She went on to explain that she had a child, but having another would be impossible. She was deeply sad – grieving! – that she would never have another. It was a deep pain I could understand well. I had also received the news that, two and a half years after my first child, I would not be able to have more. It was devastating news to a mama who thought she was just getting started with her family. I wanted five children. It was heartbreaking, and I had to mourn the loss of a life I would never have. I didn’t know exactly how she felt – we all have different expectations and circumstances – but I could sure understand the pain.
Beyond the pain, she also felt guilty for feeling sad. “I know I should appreciate the one I have…”
“You do.” I reassured her, “Just because you’re grieving doesn’t mean you’re not grateful.”
She became quiet, and let the words sink in. Then she nodded and turned to me with glistening eyes, “Yeah. You’re right. I do!” She seemed relieved – freed to grieve without guilt. To share that common experience and encourage her in her sorrow was clearly the reason I was meant to sit beside her.
On the drive home, I thought about our encounter and realized that living out my faith is quite simple. It doesn’t necessarily require speaking Jesus’ name in every statement or to every person. It’s speaking love and truth and life into people’s life that is relevant. Seeing an unmet need and making an effort to meet that need. It’s that simple.
The beautiful thing about faith though, is that it’s not a formula or set of rules. It’s relationship, so it’s different for each person. A person has a different relationship with their spouse than with their children, and each of those is different from the relationships with friends or their insurance broker. Each relationship will look different, have different expectations and even customized vocabulary or behaviors.
For me, I’ve understood my path in business is to simply meet a need and cultivate relationship– to love and live out the character and principles that come from walking in the Spirit. For others, living faith may be a more obvious or out-loud kind of path. I think the important thing to remember is that we are each responsible for ourselves in front of God, and can’t pass judgment on each other’s paths.
Faith is just that personal, and God is way more brilliant and mysterious than to use all people in the same way.
Do you wonder how living out faith in business should look for you? What’s one way you live out your faith at work?
A number of years ago, I had a dream to plant trees and watch them grow. At the time, I thought the dream was symbolic of becoming rooted in my own personal life.
We bought an acreage, just outside of town, and enjoyed being surrounded by nature. Since we moved on to the property, we have planted a Shelterbelt of trees and random shrubs on the yard as well as a beautiful garden. Before I planted the garden, I spent much time visualizing what I wanted the garden to look like when everything was fully grown. I can see the garden from the deck.
This spring I looked outside and said to my husband, “that is exactly how I pictured the garden to look.”
Our life does not magically evolve into a garden that we have not planted. No one fulfills the dream of being a doctor without studying. No one buys a house without saving up some money!
What is it that you want? What do you want your life to look like in 10 years or 20 years?
I challenge you this day, to picture the life that you want to live. Visualize what your lifestyle would look like if you could live your dream. Then ask yourself, what kind of seeds do I need to plant in order to develop the future that I desire?
Here are a few seeds to plant that will yield a great profit: kindness, gentleness, forgiveness, patience, hope, faithfulness, perseverance, discipline, compassion, humor, empathy, and lots of encouragement. If you strategically plant these seeds where they are needed, you will grow a network of relationships both personally and in business which will then support your future success!
Conviction determines my motivation! It is the reason that I respond and behave the way that I do.
One of the things that always breaks my heart, is when I see people in authority taking advantage of innocent people.
In real estate, the seller and the buyer are dependent on the knowledge of the real estate agent, the lender, and the lawyer, to buy or sell a home.
I personally have lost countless dollars, time, and potential clients, due to the behavior of other agents.
I will always find another house to sell, another house to sell my buyer, and God will always take care of my income. I am able to handle rejection, to brush off my personal grievances, and move on into the next day.
What about the buyer or the seller?
What about the person who has purchased a property and ends up going bankrupt within a very short period of time because of the advice that they took from a professional?
What about the person who sells their house because the lender told them that they were qualified to buy, only to find out that their credit is bad and they cannot purchase another house.
Sometimes, a buyer will purchase the property believing that they can have animals on the property based on what a professional has told them, only to find out that the zoning bylaws will not allow for animals on the property.
When someone purchases a property, they are investing their finances, their future, their hopes and dreams, and changing their lifestyle in order to purchase a home.
Convictions make me want to honor someone else’s hopes, dreams, future and finances.
I could not go to sleep at night if I had placed my financial benefit ahead of the life of another person.
Tina Plett, Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate
Easter weekend was emotional for me.
A friend passed away.
I got to spend time with my family and one of my brothers was not there.
I fell on concrete and scraped my knee like a kid and bruised my pride.
One of my sellers had someone rob their house.
My paperwork has been interrupted which makes me feel overwhelmed.
And then it happened. I got the phone call. An elderly lady who used to come see me for massage in my former career wanted to talk to me. I have not seen her in aprox. 5 yrs. She was lonely and so much had happened and she needed someone to listen just a little.
My tears came as soon as I hung up the phone. Why did she choose to call me? I believe it was because she had felt cared about by me.
Suddenly, I was overwhelmed with the knowledge that I had made a difference in someone else’s life!
I truly did care for her. It used to be my goal to make her laugh. This woman nursed a husband with Alzheimer’s and a Down syndrome adult child. Her devotion to her family was honourable to a fault!
In light of the death of a friend and the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus all in one weekend, I am so aware that in the end, the thing that matters, is if you have been a positive impact to someone along the way.
I choose to believe that in the afterlife, we will get to see the results of the things we have done.
That rewarding feeling I had after the phone call, that’s a part of the Heaven I picture.