|Professors of Process|
Chris and Carol Green (Hon. Causa)
A Best-Practice Principle and Discipline
Next year (2021) we will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. There’s nothing like celebrating the success of a happy and fulfilling marriage, family, ministry and business, and with that milestone has come an oft repeated question: “How did you do it?” We learned that we were chosen for success.
How do you summarize forty years? It is staggering for us to say that number. How did we raise three African American sons in a racially hostile environment? How did we manage to hold on through seasons of unemployment that caused us to lose two homes by foreclosure, and bear the humiliation of two automobile repossessions? How did we manage to hold on through excessive hours of work while starting a ministry, and a church, and another ministry, and a business? How did we manage to hold on through emergencies, hospitalizations, attending the funerals of family and friends, and keep moving on while consoling one another? How do you summarize holding on to a dream from God, but waking up to the journey of Biblical examples and challenges similar to Abraham, Moses or Joseph?
On this side of the journey, as empty-nest grandparents, we’re very reflective now. We’re writing a book about that journey to be titled: You are Success in Process. We’ve also built an online educational platform to prepare, equip and empower others who are following in our footsteps. We’re intentionally establishing a legacy and baton-passing plan so that our children and their children will know the WHY behind their fore parent’s lives; so they will know the motivation that kept us moving forward even when everything around us was falling apart.
Success comes by process and understanding where you are in that process. We think about the different seasons that we went through, and how we had seasons of prosperity and seasons of leanness. We describe it like the natural four seasons. There have been seasons of autumn, when the leaves were falling and then there were seasons of winter, when everything just seemed to be dead. There were seasons of spring when life was returning, and then the seasons of summer when positive things were happening.
We learned to flow in all of the seasons. You can be thinking that because it’s your summer time, that you have arrived at your ultimate destiny. The weather's great, you’re feeling good. You’re reaping the benefits of your labor. But actually, it’s just one season of summer. It's not your ultimate arrival time and place. It's not the fulfillment of ALL that God has promised and wants to do with your life.
After we go through a summer season, then fall (autumn) comes, and many of us start to think that we failed because the same trees (ideas and plans) that were bearing fruit, and flourishing, now we're watching the leaves turn brown and yellow, and they're falling off. And we’re like, “God, what happened?”
What was happening was that we were shedding things that we couldn’t carry into the future. We were moving into another rotation of seasons.
And then comes winter, which is a season of waiting and purification. This is the season for having our motives and desires tested and proven. We had to learn how to receive help from others and get past pride. We had to learn the humility of not having it all together all the time.
Spring can be like the last months of pregnancy. You are anxiously, impatiently, and uncomfortably waiting for this new life to come; however, you know there’s a painful transition required to bring the new life into the world. The spring season closes the door on your last autumn and winter. It’s the signal for new life and looking ahead.
Then comes the summer season: We refer to summer as the test of blessing. Do you forget God when His promises are coming true? Do you forget your journey, the lessons, and from where He brought you? Summer requires stepping out of your comfort zone and becoming transparent about your success. We’ve seen it in ourselves and in others who become impatient, critical and show little patience or compassion for people who are still in the middle of their struggle and pain.
So learning to flow in all seasons is what brought us to greater maturity and understanding about what was going on in our lives. Now from this place, nearly 40 years later, we can answer a few questions like: How did we deal with the pain that comes through disappointment and the hurt when expectations are not coming to pass?
We offer these nuggets of wisdom from our process of success:
1.) Start with our Creator: Did we really hear God’s voice?
The pain drove us to our knees and seeking God for wisdom. We had to be brutally honest with ourselves about our life choices. Walking back through our decisions was a key to understanding how we got into some of the bad situations. We had to ask ourselves if every pursuit, purchase or passion was from a Godly motivation or from emotional or mental cravings for affirmation or attention.
2.) Ask the hard questions.
Be honest with yourself; don’t blame anyone or anything else.
Was this setback a result of missing something in the instruction or wisdom of God?
Did we really count up the cost?
Did we follow God’s steps?
Did we skip any steps to go faster in laying a foundation for what we wanted to build?
3.) Include preparation for storms and opposition.
In asking the hard questions, the answers came right away. We had to spend more time in preparation and planning before launching forth in pursuit of our goals and dreams.
a.) We had to learn the difference between chasing a fantasy versus following a dream.
b.) We had to learn how to recognize and follow the voice and will of God.
c.) We began to seek the wise counsel of those who have a history of success. This involved a wide range of knowledge and advice, ranging from certification programs from a local university, to attending personal and professional development workshops and seminars. We had 1:1 conversations with experts and spontaneous moments with elders or more experienced family members and friends. We could not do it alone.
Notice that this step involved making an investment in ourselves. We had to decide what was most important. Do you want to pay for an internet entertainment subscription or do you want to invest in a program or course to learn more about your dream career/ business, or even yourself?
4.) Choose to press pass the pain and press toward God.
Discernment was extremely important. It gave us the ability to let go of things and people that we could not carry into our future. The only thing you’re giving up is your view or expectation in favor of God’s view and expectations. It’s a process of maturity and learning about who God really is.
Many believers have not been taught the whole word (counsel) of God in context. They have had incomplete (false) teachings about faith, been given fancy cliches, and rely on social media memes, so their foundations are built on sand. They’ve been taught to say: I’m building my life, expecting no failure. Therefore, they’re not trained in how to handle the unexpected storms. Some are not willing to learn how to persevere. But it’s important to know that God is not only working on what you will do when you reach your destination. God is always working on WHO YOU WILL BE at His destination.
The process of success is the lifelong manifestation of God’s answers, solutions and messages that are coming through your life. We come into this world and are educated and groomed according to the ways of man. Since humans are finite beings, whatever humans manufacture or create is also finite. Human ideas, even when successful, have an expiration date. However, when we learn the ways of God, and yield to His way of thinking, we will have access to the infinite resources of God.
With that new revelation, our disappointments and setbacks began to build intestinal fortitude, to make us wiser and infinitely more effective than those who are considered wise in this world. For us, failure is not destruction and it’s not the end. It becomes an autumn and winter that’s preparing us for another spring and summer.
This understanding within your process gives you the confidence to know that no matter what’s happening, you can look at the success of God coming forth in your life and boldly declare: I was chosen for this!