August 25, 2010

Credit Where It's Due

SOMETIMES, I’M ASHAMED TO ADMIT, I MISS GOD-GIVEN OPPORTUNITIES TO ?praise His name. Just the other day I was seated in a conference room with the wealthy founder of the Russian newspaper where I work, together with two other company executives. We were discussing the business results of the past year, and the founder was astounded at our performance, despite the recession and steep cutbacks.
“The publisher must not be paying salaries,” one executive quipped jokingly. “That’s the only way to explain our success.”
But I knew why the newspaper had prospered. Previously I had told the publisher one-on-one that I had been praying every day. But in the conference room I couldn’t find the words to point to God, and the moment passed.
2010 1529 page17I fretted about my cowardice for the next five days. Then I read the story of Joseph during my morning devotions. “His master [Potiphar] saw that the Lord was with [Joseph] and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did” (Gen. 39:3). Potiphar saw that the Lord was with Joseph. Did my employer see that the Lord was with me?
At that moment I resolved to write an e-mail to the three executives who were at that meeting. As soon as I arrived at the office I sat down at my computer, prayed for guidance, and wrote this:
“I cannot keep silent any longer: You expressed bewilderment at our meeting last Thursday over how the newspaper has remained commercially and editorially viable.
“I agree: it makes no sense. Ad revenues have disappeared for newspapers around the world. Logically, we should not be able to maintain our editorial content (and improve it) with so few editors and reporters.
“We have a terrific publisher. We have an outstanding team of journalists. I think, however, that you will agree that this does not fully explain what has happened.
“But it is no mystery. I am convinced that God has blessed us. The newspaper’s editorial side has been in my prayers since this economic crisis started. I added the commercial side to my daily prayers at the beginning of October—a time of year when our ad revenues usually start falling. I told this to the publisher at the end of October when she voiced surprise that we had not only beat all expectations for ad revenues that month, but had done so well that we looked likely to end up in the black for the year.
“I believe God is the secret of our success.”
After I typed those words, an inner struggle broke out over whether to send the e-mail. Would I get fired? Would my three colleagues think less of me? I prayed again and resolutely hit “Send.”
Within an hour, the computer beeped with an incoming e-mail from one of the executives. With heart pounding, I opened the message. It was addressed just to me: “Thank you so much for your letter; and, moreover, for your prayers. I do agree with you, the key success factor for us could be only God’s will to keep us alive. However, your team and you are doing a great job. Today’s paper is terrific and looks great.”
Another hour passed. Then came a letter from the company founder. It was addressed to all of us from the meeting: “Personally, I’m somewhat skeptical about the powers of God—but I’m more than willing to accept your views if this can help us.”
Wow. Despite a missed opportunity, God provided me with a second chance to give Him the glory.
You have a second chance, too. Does the Potiphar at your workplace see that the Lord is with you?
Andrew McChesney is a journalist in Russia. This article was published August 26, 2010.