Tag Archives: Career

What Lab Glassware Taught Me About Community

As a graduate student working in a research lab, I quickly came to appreciate the person who washed and prepared the glassware. If we ran out of clean graduated cylinders, beakers, and flasks, all the experiments for the day would need to be put on hold. Furthermore, we had to place our trust in the person who prepared the glassware. Any soap residue left behind could ruin an experiment. If the flasks were not sterilized properly, our results would be skewed. The lady who prepared our glassware was a member of our research team, and her work was no less significant than ours.

In the laboratory or in the church, there are no unimportant people. Everyone is a vital member of the team. The key to appreciating the unique contributions made by each person is a little dose of humility. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3). Humility purifies my motives, helping me look beyond myself to the needs of others. Humility teaches me to share credit with others on the team and acknowledge their perspective. Humility produces a realistic view of life, showing me my role within a given organization is vital but time-limited. Knowing I will someday yield my role to another motivates me to teach and train those who will take my place.

When I am able to honor people for their contributions within a workplace or church community (Romans 12:10), I gain the freedom to learn from them, and I feel less pressure to pretend to be someone I am not. Celebrating another person’s success does not diminish the value of my own work on the team. Instead, acknowledging the achievements of others motivates me to do my part with greater excellence.

Anyone who has worked in both a competitive and a collaborative research environment will tell you they were not only happier in the collaborative lab, they were also more productive. When we planned our annual lab parties, the lady who prepared the glassware received an invitation along with the post-docs and graduate students. Of course, since her sense of humor equaled her attention to detail preparing glassware, we benefitted from her presence at our parties as much as we did at our lab benches. The smile on her face at the end of the event persuaded me that she appreciated us, too.

Key Concepts to Tweet

  • In the workplace or in the church, there are no unimportant people.  Buffer
  • When I am able to honor people for their contributions, I gain the freedom to learn from them.  Buffer
  • Celebrating another person’s success does not diminish the value of my own work on the team.  Buffer

Fork in the Road (A Guest Post)

“Sometimes it’s embarrassing to talk to You, to hold a conversation with the only one who sees right through this version of myself I try to hide behind” -Relient K

Yes, I DID just brilliantly quote Relient K. Despite their [for some - unpreferred] punk rock tones the lyrics of certain Relient K songs are extremely deep and can speak to my Christian walk. This particular song “I Am Understood” perfectly depicts a 19 year old version of myself. Maybe you remember a time in your life where you met “the fork in the road” as a young person. Well, I hit mine at age nineteen. I needed to make a very specific decision that I knew would determine what kind of character I would have for the rest of my life. You see… God had called me to a very full life; a life that I would have to dedicate my whole self completely to His service. I have known since I was nine years old that God has called me to full time vocational ministry. However, this dream became a little tainted when I became a teenager. I quickly realized how difficult ministry life would be for myself and my future family (husband and children). So, I planned on making a deal with God. I created a few “terms” that were my conditions for accepting the job for full time ministry! I know… I was blindly arrogant and presumptuous because I was operating out of fear. And yet, God saw right through me and He “let me know I was understood”.

I am a fourth generation pastor’s kid. My parents are exceptional Pastors and always tried their best in keeping my childhood experience as it rightfully should be. Being a PK [Pastor's Kid] is something I am very proud of. However, that also means I saw a side of ministry that most young people do not ever experience. I was exposed to the sacrificial and emotionally draining effects of ministry life. Through some of my PK friends and their families I saw the darkness of ministry failure. I saw so much anger and hurt from other wounded and failed pastors and missionaries. I knew the scary statistics for Pastor’s families. I realized as a young teen that my parent’s had somehow beaten the odds. Would I be so fortunate to replicate their success in my own adult life someday? I was so fearful to release my “terms” because I did not want my future family to struggle financially or even relationally. You’ll laugh when you hear that one of my terms was “I will NOT marry a Pastor under any circumstance”. I wanted to marry someone with a so called “normal” job that could provide a steady source of income who’s schedule was reliably 9am – 5pm. That way I could continue to do ministry myself and not have to worry about making money to provide for a family. I had to be [what I thought was] realistic about life! I thought if I married a Pastor then my children would eventually miss out on something due to our busy ministry schedule. So, I tried living my life on my precious terms. This proved more difficult than I anticipated! I was trying to do ministry uninhibited, but my “terms” kept on getting in the way! I desired to be captivated by Christ and wanted to grow my relationship with Him more and more, but this required full obedience to Him.

Ultimately, I was faced with that proverbial “fork in road”. I had to make a decision to either cling to my terms, or cling to God and trust He would take care of me. Finally, I was tired of the charade. Decision time was unavoidable. I just could not continue running from the full embrace of God’s calling – it became so draining! I couldn’t keep everything together, only God could meet all my needs. Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

During that decision time I spent so much time in prayer seeking God. As I made changes in my life God began to reveal to me a new set of terms – His promises! He promised to be with me, to meet all my needs, and assured me that He would always have my back. A difficult time of transition became an era of promises! My God had proven faithful to me, yet again. As Relient K sings “You’re the only one who knows [me] yet still loves [me] completely… through the times I’ve faded and you’ve outlined me again; You’ve just patiently waited to bring me back… Your voice has broken my defense. Let me embrace salvation.”

Six years later my life hasn’t been easy, but it’s been beautiful. I have watched God provide in good times and bad. He has delivered to me an amazing husband that I can live out my youth ministry calling with. Can you believe I ended up marrying a Pastor? We make an incredible team – leaving a dent in the kingdom of darkness! I wish there were words that existed to more accurately describe how fulfilling, joyous, and comforting it is be in the perfect will of the Father. I could have had a decent or “good” life on my terms… but now I’m living an EXTRAORINDARY life that is beyond my wildest dreams on His terms. How could I have ever thought my plans were better than God’s plan for me?

“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight 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 righteous reward shine like the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun.” Psalm 37:3-6

Kimberly Clervois is an enthusiastic Youth Minister with a passion for this generation of teenagers.

Key Concepts to Tweet

  • God saw right through me and He let me know I was understood.  Buffer
  • Do you remember a time when you met the fork in the road?  Buffer
  • A story of an incredible team that is leaving a dent in the kingdom of darkness.  Buffer

Patterns Likely to Lead to Success

I enjoy sports on a recreational rather than competitive level, yet I often find inspiration for my non-athletic goals by observing the practices of top athletes. Even elite athletes occasionally experience bad days, sustain injuries, and perform under their potential for a game or a short stretch of a season. Yet, successful athletes know how to return to high performance levels after a setback. They know the secret to a comeback is repeating previous patterns of success.

Finding Patterns

A good coach will help an athlete uncover patterns worth repeating. For example, reflecting on what makes for a successful practice session shows an athlete how to prepare for the game. The coach prompts the athlete to consider the amount of sleep he had the night before, the particular foods he ate, how he warmed up, and what was on his mind. Many times when I am working toward a particular goal, I reflect on my past successes to look for useful patterns. I remember what it feels like to focus wholeheartedly on a goal. I remember how to disband negative thoughts and embrace a faith-filled outlook. I remember the work intensity necessary to meet a deadline. I rehearse in my mind the feelings associated with completion of the goal.

Attending Practice

Once I uncover the useful patterns, I need to put them into practice. Our brains love to form habits. Habits make life easy by decreasing the amount of mental processing needed to complete a task. Once you learn how to ride a bike, scramble eggs for breakfast or drive to work along a particular route, your brain guides you almost effortlessly through these tasks without you consciously thinking through each detailed step. Of course, as every golfer who has struggled to fix a faulty swing will tell you, habits can sometimes work against you.

Patterns in our brain are like riverbeds through which water effortlessly flows. Practice is about carving out and strengthening useful patterns. The key to getting rid of a bad habit or correcting a faulty golf swing is to repeat the new habit or swing until it replaces the old one. You can bring old patterns of success to life again to help you in your new endeavor by consciously repeating these patterns until they become automatic once more.

Being Yourself

Everyone has a unique way of getting things done that works for them. I have known many academic high achievers who seem to wait to the last minute to spring into action, yet always brilliantly achieve their goals. At first glance, you might accuse these achievers of procrastinating and urge them to change. However, what appears to outsiders as procrastinating is a pattern of success in disguise. These high achievers function by quietly collecting and processing vast quantities of data before taking visible action. In reality, they have not waited until the last minute to work toward their goals; they have been at work all along.

Both athletes and academic high achievers understand that being yourself is the key to high performance. My pattern of success may be very different from yours. You will do best when you employ your own previous patterns of success instead of mine. Stay true to what works for you to achieve your own best results.

From a spiritual standpoint, moving past doubts and disappointments requires revisiting key moments in your faith journey and remembering what God has done in your life. A good way to rekindle any relationship, whether spiritual or earthly, is to remember the relationship at its best and try to recapture those feelings by repeating the behaviors and actions that strengthened the relationship in the first place. Those patterns likely to lead to success live in your memories. They are waiting to help you succeed in sports, in life, and in all your relationships.

Key Concepts to Tweet

  • Successful athletes know how to return to high performance levels after a setback.  Buffer
  • Stay true to what works for you to achieve your own best results.  Buffer
  • Patterns likely to lead to success live in your memories.  Buffer

Connecting the Dots

In his 2005 Commencement address at Stanford University, Steve Jobs (1955-2011), co-founder of Apple Inc., made this statement:

“If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later.”

Steve Jobs understood that we recognize purpose best in hindsight. Certain experiences become meaningful only as the future unfolds. With the passage of time, at least partial answers to the “why” questions regarding painful life circumstances can emerge.

Consider an athlete like Bethany Hamilton, a surfer who lost her left arm in a shark attack. She inspires others today because she first overcame hardship in her own life. Her pain became her platform for ministry.

Of course, not all pain we experience may be as dramatic as a shark attack. Sometimes pain comes through lost relationships or career setbacks. Only with time do you learn how your loss altered the course of your life. Years later, you may find that your geographical location, your present employment, and the birth of your children all exist as they are because your life was redirected through a loss. Everything you love about the present may have come into your life through an unwelcomed ending long ago.

The English romantic painter, John Constable (1776-1837), who is known for his beautiful landscape paintings, once remarked, 

“I never saw an ugly thing in my life: for let the form of an object be what it may, – light, shade, and perspective will always make it beautiful.” 

In many ways, your life is like a painting. When you look at your life from the right perspective, you find beauty. Each experience, both joyous and burdensome, creates a portrait of a life with purpose.

Questions to ponder: Do you believe that your present setback could become a future asset? When you connect the dots in your life, do you see mere coincidences or a greater purpose?

Key Concepts to Tweet

  • Certain experiences become meaningful only as the future unfolds.  Buffer
  • When you look at your life from the right perspective, you find beauty.  Buffer