The Toughest Challenges

Rain on coffe plantsThe toughest challenges are the ones that you can not control, like the weather. Now that coffee farming in Laos, a business for missions, is part of my reality, I’m faced with this tough truth.

I was thinking back to our years in Oregon. It rained all the time. There life went on regardless of the rain. If it stopped you, nothing ever happened. If you ignored it and simply proceeded, life went on. Oregonians have learned to thrive in spite of the rain.

Now rain in Laos is quite another thing. There is a wet season and then a dry season, followed by a wet season...well, you get the idea. The reason such good coffee can be grown here is because of three key characteristics of the region: High elevation on the Bolaven Plateau, great volcanic soil, and the two seasons. So the seasons are critical to success.

That being said, the harvest time is so short, about 6-8 weeks that rain delay does not lead to a “rain check.” It is expensive. It just shortens the season. From a business perspective you have to be ready for the harvest; not a simple procedure. Workers, equipment, financing, vendors, buyers, government all play a role. In order to maximize the resources, there is a natural time line and a schedule for all the pieces to be in place. And then there is the rain.

Upon reflection, the rain is critical to success, and the rain stopping is too. No matter how much I’d like to control the schedule, I cannot. So the only way I can respond is to take charge of how I think about it, and then how I prepare, with flexibility.

Isn’t that like life in so many ways. Many don’t take the time to even understand the process. Those who do then are still faced with organizing the pieces to their life’s puzzle in the most effective and efficient, and enjoyable manner. All pleasing to God, no less. Yet even with all of life understood and organized there comes the “rain.” How we choose to respond to the toughest challenges, the ones we cannot control, tests our spirit, our resolve, and even our faith. A suggestion, read the Biblical book of Hebrews in The Message version. Hebrews gives a clear picture of what is true for Christians.

Planning for the time when the paycheck stops but Christian service continues has all of life’s elements inherent in it and suggested above. We certainly need a vision for that future, the implementation pieces need to be understood and organized, and we need to take action. Then when the rain comes, we are able to adjust to what is true, move on, and never give up.

There are a couple of “rains” worth noting: the investment market that we cannot control and then our view of money, which we can understand, and then our relationship with money and our spouse. If the understanding about finances and the related relationships with are not in place, they too will be barriers to achieving the goal of financial freedom to serve for a lifetime as called.

Fortunately, those of us with decision-making roles in Christian organizations can influence one of the variables for our staff. We can provide a pathway to a successful faith-based retirement plan. If we don’t, we too become one of the toughest challenges for our staff, instead of being a guide towards that successful path.

If you have not done so yet, please participate in the shared activity provided by the First Faith-Based Retirement Plan Survey. Go to www.retirementplansurvey.com and follow the prompt. The whole faith based community will be enhanced by your action and you will be rewarded.

Let me know your thoughts and comments. Our dialogue continues.

Living with Trusted Advice together,
Bruce

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