Friday, February 2, 2018

Much More

Recently, I took a gigantic leap of faith and jumped into Independent Consulting – empowering and encouraging people, especially women, to take charge of lives to accomplish healthier lifestyles, career fulfillment and personal happiness. This isn’t the first time I’ve taken a major leap into the unknown. People often ask me where I find the courage to walk away from what seems safe and secure, for something conceivably better - albeit unknown.

The answer is having a vital relationship with Jesus, through His Word, the Bible. Long ago when I was studying Henry Blackaby’s Experiencing God, my life was forever changed by these seven realities:
  1. God is always at work around you.
  2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.
  3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.
  4. God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.
  5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.
  6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.
  7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you.

Ever since, I’ve been experiencing God in the most remarkable ways. 

In December 2017, I had a nudge in my heart telling me it was time to move beyond my borders. One of my coaches, a former DuPont executive and current professor, challenged me to write my book. Handing me a $20 bill and a little note, he said, “You are a positive force this world desperately needs. Here’s $20 for a copy of your book.”

A master at breaking monstrous projects down into bite size pieces, he asked, “Do you think you could find the time to write one hour per week?” Just one hour a week. That was all he was asking of me. If I could do that, he assured me, the book would be complete by the October SHRM Conferences and I would be prepared to launch my own business.

Since I almost always do what my coaches suggest, and his idea didn’t seem unreasonable, I committed to write once a week on Friday afternoons through August until my book is finished. I posted his $20 bill and encouraging words at my desk to remind me that someone is waiting for a copy of the book.

A few weeks later, early in 2018, I woke up from a deep sleep with my heart racing and sweat soaking both my neck and my pillow, startled by fear that I could lose the job I love and my source of stable income.

Immediately, I turned to two prayer warriors asking them to pray for me. They did not question me. They simply encouraged and prayed, while I immersed myself in Matthew 6, that famous chapter where God deals with the dicey issues of money and worry.

As I read my Bible God spoke to me through Jesus, His Son:
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.

Pausing, I considered what I was treasuring. The thought of letting go of the job I love made me very sad. Losing my steady income scared me to death. Not having financial security in retirement also frightened me. I don’t want to live like a pauper. I want to live like a princess, full of zest and zeal. And, that requires money, right?

As I sat alone with God in my sunroom that morning, I began to wonder: Am I treasuring my job more than Jesus? Is a steady income more important to me, than steadily relying on Jesus? Am I trusting money, rather than God, my Father who created all things, owns all things, and distributes all things as He pleases?

Was I mastered by money, making God a bellhop for my business, or was I mastered by God making money a servant for the kingdom? Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I concluded that I was indeed being mastered by my job and money, because I was worried about losing both.

I continued reading Matthew 6 –
25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Jesus begins verse 25 with “For this reason,” (literally, “because of this”). It dawned on me that Jesus was tying this passage on worry back to the previous passages on money.

Do not worry (about money) is a direct command from Jesus. If He feeds the birds, He promises He will feed me. I am worth much more than birds. If He clothes the fields that are here today and gone tomorrow, how much more will He clothe me? He knows my needs.

The most vital thing I could do was keep my love relationship with the Father and bloom where I was planted. Then, Jesus promises, I will receive “much more”. I don’t know about you, but I want all the “much more” Jesus promises. Much more life. Much more relationships. Much more impact. Much more of Jesus. The “much more” that comes from being rooted and grounded in Love, not money.

Having heard God Speak, I resolved to listen and let go of worry, trusting my financial stability and my future to God.

Immediately I got up and went to lunch with a client – it was Thursday. I mentioned to her that I had been encouraged to write a book and launch my own business. She not only embraced the idea but also offered me her full support by booking a leadership retreat for her team in February.

On Friday, I was on a call with an inspiring friend and business partner. I mentioned to him my concerns about the financial stability of the organization I was working for. He too became my champion.

That Sunday I was sitting in church, when my phone vibrated to indicate I had received a message. I quickly checked to see if it was from my son who was driving back to school in OH. It was an email from my boss. The subject line said: “Look at this right away.” In the middle of the church service, I looked and to my complete astonishment I read:

Congratulations! Beth Rudy
Business Advocate and Advisor
You have been nominated to be honored for your service in Business Relations at the Pumps and Pearls “A Red Dress Affair” on Thursday, March 15, 2018. You were nominated for many reasons, especially because your peers and colleagues look up to you and aspire to be you. You are the great recipient of a 2018 “The Ms. Unstoppable Award.”

You empower and encourage others, primarily women, to take charge of their lives to accomplish healthier lifestyles, career fulfillment, and personal happiness. You are regarded as a leader, sought-after speaker, and trainer for various groups, from one-on-one consultations to regional conferences. You are AMAZING AND WE HONOR YOU.

It’s as though my Father leaned out of heaven with a twinkle in His eye and was said, “My child, you are ready for the ‘much more’.”

(The Unstoppable Woman’s Award Collective (UWAC) is a group of women with various interests, education, and principles who volunteer to pay homage to women in the District of Columbia (DC), Maryland, and Virginia region. UWAC’s mission is to honor and award twelve women who are leaders or trailblazers who give selflessly to their communities.)

I was giddy with excitement and eager to accept the honor. Bring on the red dress, pumps, and pearls!

A few days later, on Wednesday, a former colleague reached out to me for a conversation. She began with, “I love following you on Facebook and everything you are doing. Would you have time for a call with me?” We had a lovely time on the phone talking about my career path, and her dreams and aspirations. Clearly, she saw my passion, and wanted a piece of it.

The following day, I had lunch with a former CEO and friend who had hired me for a consulting project for her small business. As with the others, I mentioned to her that I was encouraged to write a book and launch my own business. She wholeheartedly agreed, and said, “You need to tell your employer you want to be a contractor right now.”

I told her I wasn’t quite ready to fly. I wanted to spend the year writing my book while enjoying a steady pay check. We agreed that I’d have a conversation with my boss immediately, giving him fair notice that at the end of the year I’d be leaving him to start my own business around my book.

Lastly, all of this within one week, I was on a coaching call with a woman at a large government agency. Deciding to test the water, I said, “There’s something I want to run past you. Tell me what you think. I’m thinking about writing a book and starting my own practice.” Like all those before her, she was completely behind me.

Not more than three hours later, on a Friday afternoon, an email came in from my boss: “Unfortunately, as of today, I will not be able to pay you again until cash starts flowing.”

My worst fears became reality. My heart sank to the floor. I was sick in the stomach. I had to tell my husband I wouldn’t be receiving another pay check for who knows how long. Momentary panic set in. This was my crisis of belief.

But then God brought to my mind, a precious family, longtime friends whose 15-year-old son was taken to NYC that morning for critical and massive brain surgery. They left behind 4 teenagers for what could have been 2 – 3 weeks. A close-knit family, these kids have never been separated from their parents or each other.

Instead of wallowing in worry, God freed me to jump into action. (A crisis of belief requires faith and action; along with major adjustments.)

I was no longer receiving a pay check; and, I don’t work for free, but I do freely work for God and go where He sends. It appeared He was sending me to stand in the gap as the acting parent for these kids while their parents were battling for the life of their sibling in a city far from home.

God had freed me from being an employee who was mastered by money, to be a servant who was mastered by Him. This was “much more” than I imagined.

On Tuesday, January 16, while the kids were in school, I began filing all my paperwork to become an independent consultant. Though I have no idea where I’m going, or where my income will come from, my Father owns it all and will give me “much more” if I stay rooted and grounded in Him.

God encouraged me through: His Word, two former executives, two clients, a business partner, a former colleague, and an unexpected award.

John Piper said, “See God’s word not as a thundering judgment, but as a delightful invitation to come and walk with him.”

When God speaks through His Word, listen. You too will experience Him as you obey Him. When you walk with Him, He will accomplish His work through you. To Him be the glory!

Now, I must go write the book.  

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