ENCOURAGEMENT

Mentoring with Purpose

“Be Nice to People On the Way Up! You Might see Them On the Way Back Down…”

As a high school dropout who never went back to school, my life has been abundantly blessed in so many ways, even without a “sheepskin” hanging on my wall. My many blessings included numerous Mentors who believed in me and shared with me things that weren’t taught in school.

“Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.”

1 Thessalonians 5:11

At the ripe old age of nineteen, my life was not like my friends who were still struggling with school, girls and part-time jobs. Instead, due to the trust of my first mentor, Jack, my life was exploding with opportunity and prosperity. Personally, God had blessed me with the love of my life, who would become my bride of over 40 years.

Working in a warehouse job after dropping out of school, except for meeting my soon to be bride, my prospects seemed bleak. Until Jack.

Jack was a classic ‘50-‘60’s era salesman that had worked hard and smart all of his life in the record (music) business. You know, what people call “vinyl” today. When we first met; Jack was the national sales manager for a fledgling distribution company working to disrupt the industry. In the early 1970’s this little company had the foresight to implement computer-based stock control for automated re-ordering of inventory. Cleary their vision was genius. Think Amazon level controls in the 1970’s! Well, their business exploded, with Jack at the helm of the sales force.

In those days, Jack was always out walking around in the warehouse. It seemed when he wasn’t traveling, he was in the warehouse. Not the front office. That’s how we got to know each other. He always impressed me with the genuine interest that he showed in the people working “in the back”. Jack seemed to take a liking to me when he learned about my love of music.

It really shocked him one day when our conversation turned to my appreciation of classic musicals. Especially “The Music Man”, Jack’s favorite. Telling Jack how the movie had inspired me to play trombone, Jack exclaimed, “That record paid for my first convertible!” From that point forward, we were buddies. An event, and friendship, that would wonderfully bless my life.

One day Jack called me into his office. Thinking the worst, my mind went through a detailed recall for anything that might jeopardize my job. Nothing came to mind.

Jack always had a good poker face, however, this time there was a crack of a smile coming through as he said, Do you like working here?”

Well, that didn’t help my anxiety. “Yes”, I said, with a quiver in my voice. He continued, “We have done an extensive evaluation of you.”

My lips must have been trembling as well, but that crooked smile on his face had me puzzled. Could he really enjoy firing someone this much?

Jack went on to say, “With your work ethic, and obvious love for music, we believe you would make an excellent sales representative for our company.”

His smile was now ear to ear as he went on to say “We have an opening in our Western territory and would like to offer you the position. “

The feelings that exploded inside of me were intense. Doing everything possible not to cry. Jack’s belief and trust were one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;”

2 Corinthians 9:8

Just think, while most of my friends were still going to school; this high school dropout, at the age of nineteen, would have a company car, expense account and a salary. No more punching a time clock! Above all, was this wonderful feeling of being trusted! Trusted to represent a multi-million-dollar company and trusted to get the job done. Not only by the mucky-mucks high up in the company, but, more importantly, trusted by Jack.

My relationship with Jack quickly morphed from casual friend to Mentor-Protégé. Jack took me under his wing teaching me the core of my business knowledge. Simple things like what to eat for breakfast, and how to eat with customers. Complex things like how to read a spreadsheet. Through his patience and kindness, Jack taught me things no one else could. Today, most of my business knowledge is traceable to, and started with Jack.

One of the many lessons that Jack taught me paved the way for so many great relationships as a Mentor, and as a Protégé. One day, as we were calling on a giant discount retailer, Jack led me to walk right past the office and all the way back to the warehouse at the very end of the building.

On our way Jack said, “Always remember, get to know the people in the back, as well as, if not better than, the people in the front office. From time to time you’ll need their help. And, in my experience, they’ll rarely let you down.”

Looking back, that simple statement, guided the steps of my career. From that day forward most of my time was spent in the back warehouse instead of the front office of my customers. Oft times it made me think of Jack. Albeit, Jack probably would have told me to focus on the task and quit daydreaming.

One day, several years after working with Jack, God and my career led me to a small technology company in Minneapolis while my wife and kids stayed on the east coast to finish out the school year. The company had a phenomenal plan for self-education on their products. With my family so far away, there was ample time at night to work on the training. As a result, I spent night after night, alone in the office, “schooling” myself.

One night, a recruit named Bruce showed up. Looking like a direct descendant of Paul Bunyan, this burly guy from the woods of Northern Minnesota had no clue about computers – nor technology. He just needed a job to provide for a growing family of his own.

My first reaction to Bruce was to ignore him. Maybe he’d just go away, taking his many hunting stories with him. However, Jack’s “people in the back” lesson kept gnawing at me like one of Bruce’s bear stories. After a while the two of us began nightly meetings. Our goal? Teach Bruce enough to pass the employment test and as much as we could about computers and technology.

We both passed the test and went our separate ways. For me, my career with the company blossomed. It seemed that almost instantly, my wife and family had joined me in our new house, and the company had moved me into management roles. With all that was happening, Bruce was not on my radar screen. Other than an occasional lunchroom encounter, our paths rarely crossed.

As the years went by, the company promoted me to the position as a Regional Sales Manager with an inside sales team of ten to twelve reps. Working to hit our sales quota every month kept me focused on my territory on the East Coast. Bruce worked in the West, so we rarely saw each other. While we both went to work in Minneapolis, we now worked in different time zones.

One day, my boss asked me to change territories. It seems the West Coast was in turmoil and sales were plummeting.  At the core of the turmoil? You guessed it. Bruce. My number one job. Get rid of Bruce! In talking with everyone from the President of the company, to the sales reps on the floor, they were all saying the same thing: Get rid of Bruce!

From the stories that the team was telling me, Bruce was intimidating everyone in the company. Everyone except me. He always treated me with exceptional respect. Those days working late together in the beginning, set an early relationship based in trust. It was that trust that led me to talk with Bruce and not just let him go.

There we sat, eyeball to eyeball. My goal was to understand what was going on with Bruce; knowing that he was better than what people were telling me. Starting our meeting and asking Bruce to envision my hand around his neck and me holding him over a deep abyss. He looked at me with unexpected terror in his eyes.

Then, looking Bruce square in the eyes my inquiry started…

“Do you want me to let go?”
“Everyone in this building wants me to let go of you.”
“What do You want me to do, Bruce?”

He responded with stories of mistreatment and verbal abuse. Then almost begging, he told me how much he needed the job.

Building on our bond of trust, together we worked out a plan for him to stay. He was to build a territory in the Canadian territories that had never bought a single product from the company. In my experience, when people are put on a performance plan, they usually take the time to find a new job. Or, occasionally, they hunker down and get back on track. That’s what Bruce did. Within a year, that territory was consistently in the running for the number one territory in the region. Kudos to Bruce for persevering. By that time, most had forgotten the chaos. Funny what success can do to bad memories.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another…”

John 13:34

Bruce is just one of the many blessings during my corporate life resulting from Mentor/Protégé relationships. Christ teaches us to Love One Another; front office, warehouse or street corner. No matter if you are on your way up, or going down, leading with Love will always make the ride smoother. When you focus on helping others succeed, you can’t help but to succeed as well.

God blesses us, not for ourselves,…

…He blesses us so that we may bless others”.

Always Love! ─ Love God, Love People!

TRUTH and CONSEQUENCES

TRUTH & CONSEQUENCES

Isn’t being Truthful ultimately showing absolute respect for those you touch, for those you Love and interact with? Being Truthful can often be a daunting and difficult task.

So many times, we’re pulled towards the easy road of deceit and dishonesty. All the while convincing ourselves that a “Little White Lie” is the best thing to do. By not telling the truth, we are somehow being kind or saving others pain.

Sure, blurting out the Truth in certain situations can hurt. Is it wise to walk into a room and tell your spouse, “Wow, you’re really putting on weight!”? Is it the Truth? Does it hurt? Hurting is not born in Love. God is Love: All that we do not in Love, is not of God.

However, being dishonest when your spouse asks if they are putting on weight can bring its own hurt. Sometimes the question is a plea for help. Your answer is important in response to a request for Loving, Truthful advice. Do you hide behind the “White Lie” or, do you help?

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

Ephesians 4:29

When Jesus said that we should “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Mark 12:31, wasn’t He telling us to put the needs of others above our needs, and to treat others as we want to be treated? Is honesty important to you? Do you want people to lie to you? Even small lies?

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

Romans 14:17

Hope is the beginning of Faith as Giving is a root of LoveTruth is at the Core of Righteousness. Dishonesty, on the other hand, is at the core of all Sin. From the Garden to today, deceit has been used to hurt and destroy loved ones, relationships, nations and cultures.

So many times, dishonesty feels like it can be beneficial. It’s not. We are being deceived into believing that hiding Truth, out of Love, will increase happiness, wealth and relieve the stress of the world.

It is at those times, when the temptation to deceive is strong; cloaked in benevolence, and what seems to be the easy path, we must turn to God for guidance. Shunning what feels to be the rational thinking and logic rattling in our brains, instead, we must listen to our Heart. It is there that we will hear that still, quiet voice of God. His voice will lead us to Truth and Love – guiding us toward the Kingdom of God.

“I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.”  

John 14:16

Throughout my life in various companies and corporations, my Christian walk always led me to be honest – telling the Truth, even when it was extremely uncomfortable. The understanding that Truth is an act of Love, and, therefore, was from God, always seemed to be God’s guidance for my life: Except when it might hurt someone without any clear Blessing or benefit. Hurting is not of Love.

Through the years, God Blessed my candor and honesty. Oft times not immediately, usually years or decades later. Late in my career, my trustworthiness seemed to open doors to deep relationships with people that typically didn’t trust anyone. Those simple sacrifices of the immediate comfort of a white lie, planted seeds that only God could see at the time.

While there are so many examples of God’s Blessings and favor in my career, one that always comes to mind was when representing a technology company back in the eighties. The management team decided to hide a technology flaw from a new partner it was my honor to be managing at the time. A severe flaw in a new product we were negotiating.

As it turned out, my company had “bet the farm” on this new technology. If their new partner, a $40 Billion, Fortune 500 Company, found out, most thought they would cancel all launch plans for the product, and probably the partnership. If that happened, my company believed they would go out of business. So, the decision was made to hide the flaw. To their credit, the management team had already developed the plan to fix the problem and were going to provide it to our new partner at no charge.

Unfortunately, the fix would take six months to create and implement in the field. This move would cause untold problems for our partner and more importantly, their customers. There were no plans to resolve those problems nor compensate the end customer.

After a day full of meetings where the management team emphatically pleaded their case with me, including the threat of termination and extreme retaliation, my heart and head were deep in a battle. The drive home usually took around thirty minutes. On this day, it seemed to take days. All the time knowing the “right” thing to do, my mind was filled with the multitude of consequences. How would my family fair? Where would my next job come from? What about all those people at our company?

Aside from the management team, no one knew what was going on, nor had a part in the decision. Still, my decision could put them all out of work. The anxiety was intense. Taking it to God He reminded me… “You already know what to do.”

There was such peace in that understanding. The knowledge that my decision to be honest with our partner, was what God wanted me to do brought such comfort. Was there fear and doubt? Sure. All the while knowing that truth was an act of Love, helped me to keep my fear in check.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”

1 John 4:18

That night, calling my contact at our partner to explain, taught me so much about Truth, and how God Blesses those who sacrifice comfort for righteousness. My contact was calm and understanding. It felt unnatural for a business call of this type. Usually these kinds of calls were filled with angst, yelling and threats. Instead, together, we mapped out a plan to work through the issue. No one lost their jobs; contracts were not cancelled, and the partnership remained intact. The launch was simply trimmed back to allow for the fix to be implemented.

As for me, my trust in our management team was obliterated. There was no way for me to stay with a team that would even consider that kind of an action. With God’s guidance and patience, it was clear it was a time for change. Within six months God led me to a new company that was undoubtedly the best move of my career.

Two to three years after that phone call, my contact agreed to a million-dollar contract with my new company, simply because of me – he trusted me. That contract led to a business that eventually grew to over $500 million in revenues for his company. God’s Blessings couldn’t have been more obvious: Truth in and of itself is its own reward, and honesty will certainly bless your life and career. In my experience, honesty also leads to tangible blessings for all that honor the practice of Truth.

Always Love! ─ Love God, Love People!

Reprinted with permission of God’s Good News Gazette

© God’s Good News Gazette 2019 – www.godsgoodnewsgazette.com

My Testimony June 21, 2019

Mark McCuen Testimony, Celebrate Recovery June 21, 2019

Adding my testimony from our Celebrate Recovery meeting on June 21, 2019. God has blessed me richly throughout my life, covering and protecting me from the beginning.

It was such a pleasure to offer my testimony in hopes that it will bless others that are struggling. As an added blessing, this was my bride’s and my 44th wedding anniversary. Check it out!

Tug O’ War

“Let Go of the Rope!”

It seems at times our lives can be like a “Tug-O-War” with God. Sometimes we pull on the rope, sometimes it pulls on us. And, sometimes we give slack in the rope to God. Acting and believing we have given all to God. Still, we hold tight on the rope of this world and what it means to us. As Christians, the challenge is when we hold on to the rope, aren’t we’re still trying to control the outcome? The key is to let go of the rope completely. Let God do what God does. That’s scary to most. We could end up in a big ol’ “slimy pit” covered with the mud and mire of life if we let go.

Psalm 27:14 tells us to wait on the Lord. To be Strong and have Courage.

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!”

Psalm 27:14

Several months ago, we posted a blog called “The Key”. A story about how “Tug O’ War” was a great analogy for our walk with God. The other day, my wife Kayleen sent me this wonderful story about waiting on the LORD. The story quoted Isaiah 40:3. What a blessing it is when God sends the same message from different sources

“but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31

In the story that Kayleen sent me, the author clarified the word Wait.

He explained:

“The word wait in this verse is the Hebrew word Quvah. Quvah means to bind together of strings made on a cord or a bound primitive root, to bind together by twisting.”

Wow. In that scripture the word Wait means Rope. You could have heard me laugh all the way down the street.

It seems we are playing “Tug-O-War” with a rope tied to all the things of our earthly walk. When all we need do is to let go of the rope tied to the world…

Reach up and grab the rope called “Wait” that God is dangling in front of us.

Grab that Rope and don’t let go!

The Key…

“Let Go of the Rope!”

Aren’t we all looking for that Key? The Key that unlocks all the mysteries of life, that opens the door to an unrestricted life? One, simple understanding that lifts the burden of obligation? Ah, to never have to balance a check book again.

That perfect marriage to that perfect person. Complete acceptance in any social situation. Never wondering how I am going to do that, how do I fit in, or, what do “They” think?

Getting the key is oft times a monumental step, albeit daunting. Dad giving you the keys to the family car, the bank giving you the key to your first house. Your boss giving you a key to your first private office-or getting the key to your first business. Handing the keys to your car to your sixteen-year-old. Daunting indeed!

As Christians, because we are saved, comfortable in our eternal home, we often believe we have things completely figured out. Still, we need to balance check books, relationships with friends and loved ones can be difficult, and most of us can still fall victim to peer pressure. Knowing that we are a continual work in progress, Christians strive to be better every day. However, life can be tough. It seems we apply all we learn in Church, yet the world continues to punch us in the face.

Like most of you, my life has been full of problems, pressure, and conflict. For decades; through it all, God has been working with me, lighting my path. Teaching me to come closer to him and farther away from the stuff of the World. Looking back, through the turmoil, God has shown me a simple understanding that has helped tremendously in my life, eliminating a host of hardships.

Do you remember playing “Tug-O-War” as kids? Maybe you still play. It’s been a while for me, but it was one of my favorite games. A ruckus team sport that was usually played over a muddy pit. Initially we believed that the game was winnable only through brute strength. As our team got better, we realized it was more of a “head” game. Turns out that “Tug-O-War” was all about strategy and how to take the best advantage of the strength available. Our strategies always included “Psyching” out our opponents before the match. Mainly so that they would start the game doubting their abilities. However, my favorite move was what we called the “fake out”. That glorious move when all at once, our team would give some slack in the rope to the other team. Instantly, thinking they “had” us, the other team would often let up at the first sign of a relaxing in the rope. With a shout, our team would pull back with everything we had. “Hooking” them like a fish on the line. We won more matches with that move than any other.

You might be wondering what does “tug-o-war” have to do with a key to life’s problems? Think of it as a simple analogy of our walk with God. We start life thinking that our “Brute Strength” will get us through everything in life. Then, when we accept Christ as our savior and learn more about God’s grace. We learn that when things go wrong, we need to submit all to Christ. Do we submit? Completely?

Whether we are pulling on the rope; asking God for what WE believe WE need. Or, those times when we truly give it all to God, praying, “Your Will, Not Mine”. Still, aren’t we usually still holding tightly to the rope; fully ready to yank back when WE believe it’s needed. Isn’t “The Key” to let go of the rope? Truly give all our troubles and life to God!

In my experience, it’s all about trust. Trusting God to take us by the hand, so that when we let go of the rope, we don’t fall. The more we trust God, the more we see Him do in our lives. The more we see Him do in our lives, the more we trust Him.

Throughout my life, when letting go of the rope and letting God have it, He has never let me down. When we weren’t sure where the next dollar was coming from, where would we live, how would we find food to eat? Giving it all to God, He always had our backs. Without fail. We weren’t dripping in money, gold, and diamonds, but He always provided.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

Matthew 6:33

Dropping out of High School, it seemed my life was never going to match my dreams. Scared and frustrated, my fear led me to give it all to God, asking for guidance and help. Looking back, it was that single event — dropping out of school — that led me to meet the love of my life, my bride for over 40 years now. Unquestionably, through some very tough times, God provided and ordered our steps into a wonderful and blessed life together. Recently, when giving up alcohol and pain pills. God led me to my knees, fearing the loss everything. Again, giving it all to God and begging for His help. He not only grabbed my hand taking me out of my addictions, but from that day forward, all desire for alcohol and thought of using opiates are gone. Wiped out entirely. That is the God Factor for me. When you give it completely to Him, fear, doubt, and anxiety go away. Completely. Like it never existed.

Planning things on my own, not giving it to God, always seemed to lead me into chaos. Sure, my thoughts and prayers were with God, always asking for help; but giving in to my plans and my understanding, not His will. Things might have worked, and sometimes even got better, but it was never without strife and disorder. Looking back, it was me holding on to the rope that created the chaos while working to control the outcome.

Letting go of the rope continues to be a battle for me. It’s ALL about trust and faith. Believing that God will grab my hand, place me on His solid Rock, and see me through. He has always been there for me.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23

The Key?…

“Let Go and Let God!
God’s Got This & Grace Got You!”

I’d Be Dead

Growing up, My Sister, Brother and I were so Blessed to have a wonderful mother that believed in each one of us deeply, giving us all so much strength. She always wanted us to live our lives to the fullest; and would never miss an opportunity to tell us that we could do and be anything we wanted.

mom

A little over a decade ago, my Mom was dying. She had fought the good fight and showed us all, what it meant to always work to be a better person.

Her last battles started with lung cancer some fifteen years before she passed. Then after beating the Cancer in her lungs, it creeped into her brain causing a tumor and subsequent brain surgery. Like the trooper she always was; she fought back, and gained five more years with her beloved Grandkids, and the family she was so dedicated to.

Now, on her death bed, she was succumbing to another bout with brain cancer. Knowing her fate, she held my hand and said “Mark, please promise me that you’ll lose all the weight and take care of yourself.” “Your family loves you, and needs you.”

m2mThat was so much like her. Here she was dying… and her main concern was about me, my health and my future! I miss that lady every day.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:
The old has gone, the new is here!.” -Luke 11:36

So, the end of the story is that I promised her I would lose the weight. No doubt, if I hadn’t, I’d be dead. Turns out that was just the beginning of my personal reformation. All glory to God as he was “Ordering” my steps even through the loss of my wonderful Mom.