why now?

Thursday, November 10, 2005

When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1 Corinthians 13:11 NKJV

So why now? Why, after decades of compartmentalizing my life, do I decide to remove all the structural lines separating my professional and personal life and see what I get? If I combine so many seemingly unrelated aspects of my education, skills, work (and life) experiences with my faith, won’t it make me appear unfocused? Will it make me appear as if I’m trying to do so many things at once that I couldn’t possibly do any of them well? Will allowing current and potential business contacts to see my personal life (and my faith) make them uncomfortable? Will exposing my personal life (and my faith) damage my credibility as a business woman? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to stick to the old adage? Business is business.

I stopped talking openly about my faith at work in the 1980's when I got my first “career” job. I was young, surrounded by people who were more educated, more sophisticated and more wealthy. Lacking a formal education, with minimal skills, I wasn’t confident in my abilities in the workplace and was new to my faith. I was intimidated. I remember asking to take vacation so I could chaperone a youth mission trip and becoming engaged in a conversation where I found myself defending my faith when faced with the opinion “You’re young! What are you doing wasting your vacation time?” Over time, I learned to avoid conversations in which the intellectually minded attempted to convince me that my faith was idealistic and . . . wrong.

Later, as I began my career in information technology support, most of my colleagues were men. I found I was more comfortable adopting a typical masculine communication style - mostly report talk, not rapport talk. Business is business.

Over time, I let my guard down and have engaged in many workplace conversations about faith in God - but only with clients and colleagues with whom I had an established relationship.

So why expose my faith so openly now? I’ve been thinking about it and believe there are a number of reasons - some I’m not even sure I know yet.

  • I’m more educated now and the journey to attain the degrees was more life changing than the actual papers I received when I graduated.
  • My skills and experience in the workplace have increased and expanded. I’m more involved in training now, which required developing more diverse interpersonal skills.
  • My role as a wife and mother have taught me more than I ever imagined.
  • Years of teaching business and professional communication at UCF facilitated practical application of so many communication theories in my daily life.
  • I’m more confident now, not afraid of what people think and not motivated to gain approval by meeting someone else’s expectations when they are counterproductive to my goals. I understand that I will never get everyone I meet to like me and I’m okay with that. To each his own.
The bottom line is: This is me. All of me. Combining ALL my education, skills, experience ( in work and life) and goals (personal and professional) with my faith is having unexpected and interesting results:

  • I’m finding new ways to apply my formal (and informal) education across all areas of my life.
  • I’m motivated to learn even more while actively looking for ways to incorporate new knowledge in both my business and personal life.
  • I’m identifying skills I’ve not recognized before because they weren’t practical or necessary when my life was organized in neat little boxes. (Okay NOT so neat, but still - boxes)
  • My faith is growing stronger as I recognize more and more practical applications of biblical truths.
  • I’m gaining wisdom and making better decisions because I’m developing a conscious understanding of my personal, family and professional goals and mapping out the steps I need to take to achieve them.
So why now? Synergy.

What is synergy? Simply defined, it means that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. It means that the relationship which the parts have to each other is a part in and of itself. It is not only a part, but the most catalytic, the most empowering, the most unifying and the most exciting part.

The creative process is also the most terrifying part because you don’t know exactly what’s going to happen or where it is going to lead. It takes an enormous amount of internal security to begin with the spirit of adventure, the spirit of discovery, the spirit of creativity. Without doubt, you have to leave the comfort zone of base camp and confront an entirely new and unknown wilderness.
Stephen Covey
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People


Friday, October 14, 2005

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV

Last month I shared my prayer as I seek God’s direction in my life:

"Lord, please use people, circumstances, your Word and your Spirit to guide me in the direction I need to go in order to glorify you . . . and please, please, please SLAM the door in my face if I even BEGIN to move in direction you don't want me to go."

I got a door slammed in my face.

I’ve been teaching Business and Professional Communication at the University of Central Florida since the Fall of 1998, so when I received my contract for Fall of 2005, I signed it and mailed it back - no big deal. After 7 years, it’s routine.

Two days later, the phone rings. It’s my “boss.” He’s the guy who handles the scheduling and staffing for the Organizational Communication courses. He’s new to the job this semester, taking it over from my old “boss” who recently retired. He’s nice. Friendly. Turns out, he was one of my instructors when I went to UCF.

In a nutshell? UCF is going through the re-accreditation process and he needs to “confirm” my “credentials” before he finalizes the schedule. So, we go over my resume, I tell him some recent work history and then there’s the teaching of this class for the last 7 years. Twice in those 7 years, I’d been asked to allow new instructors job shadow me. So, it’s a nice conversation. I’m confident I’ve highlighted my qualifications for the job. He thanks me and tells me he’ll let me know.

I spend the next 24 hours thinking about the possibilities. Will they offer me a full time associate position? A visiting professor position? Do I really want to work full time? How would it impact my family’s life?

The next day, the phone rings and he greets me with:
“Julie, the news isn’t good.”

(“The news isn’t good?” Wait. That wasn’t one of the scenarios I’d been playing in my head for the last 24 hours.)

“It turns out you’re credentialed to teach in the Business Department, not the Communication Department.”

“I’m not qualified to teach in the Communication Department?”

“No, no, no, no, we both know you’re QUALIFIED, you’re just not CREDENTIALED. You have an MBA and to teach in the Communication Department, you need 18 hours of Master’s level work in the Communication Department.”


So he fills the awkward silence with an encouraging monologue.
(I think - I wasn’t really listening.)

Finally, I say, “You know, it’s okay. Really. I don’t know you very well, but I’ll just tell you - I’m a Christian and I’ve been praying for God’s direction. This means I’m supposed to be doing something else with my time and energy.”
(WHERE did THAT come from????)

“I’M A CHRISTIAN TOO! Julie, this is going to turn out well for you. I really believe that!”

wow. i do too. really.

So we spend a few more minutes talking, he tells me I can call him if I need a reference, we hang up and I no longer teach for UCF.

Excuse me while I tip my head back for a while.

Posted by Julie Stiles Mills at 10/14/2005 01:21:00 PM 0 comments  

this is what you get . . .

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

when you combine:

a mid-life crisis
     (I turned 29 just 12 short years ago!),
a few good books
     (okay, more than a few),
a whole lot of soul searching
     (my husband LOVED the conversations - all 4,263 of them.)
a background of seemingly unrelated skills, education & experience
     (God can use anything, right?)
and two years of listening and waiting on God
     (I hate it when God teaches me patience - again.)

I'd like to tell you my plan, but you know what they say:
"How do you make God laugh?"
"Make a plan."


I'll tell you how I got here, keep you up to date on what's going on and post my musings on what might happen in the future. Your guess is as good as mine. Here's what I pray more than anything else:

"Thank you, Thank you, Thank you, Thank you . . . "
     (I do eventually stop.)

Here's what I pray next:

"Lord, please use people, circumstances, your Word and your Spirit to guide me in the direction I need to go in order to glorify you . . . and please, please, please SLAM the door in my face if I even BEGIN to move in direction you don't want me to go."

Just be careful what you pray for.
(I'll tell you about my recent nosebleed in a later post).

in grace,

Posted by Julie Stiles Mills at 9/14/2005 12:26:00 PM 0 comments