Posts Tagged ‘Something Personal’

Communication— IT’s Key to Success

Written by Nick B. Nicholaou on . Posted in Articles, Uncategorized

© 2018 by Nick B. Nicholaou, all rights reserved
President, Ministry Business Services, Inc.
Reprinted from MinistryTech Magazine

How we communicate dramatically affects our success in every aspect of life! We often forget how important that is, and forgetting limits us.

This is especially true in Information Technology (IT). The question becomes, then, How successful do you want to be? And along with that, Do you want to maximize how The Lord can use you?

Biblical Perspective
Paul says in Ephesians 5:15, “Be very careful, then, how you live– not as unwise but as wise.”[1] The phrase to be very careful is translated in some versions as “walking circumspectly”. The word circumspect means to have full awareness of your entire surroundings, like an animal cautiously walking through an open field. That is a good way to communicate, but it’s not easy. It leaves no room for laziness; in fact, it requires a high level of focus! But the wise pay attention!

Getting Practical
Every profession has its acronyms, and in IT we have a lot of them. When IT professionals talk to each other we use those acronyms; when we’re talking with non-professionals, however, using them limits our ability to be understood. It is always the responsibility of the one communicating to do so in a way that their message can be understood by their audience. Is it easy to switch our communication style to match our audience? No! But the wise do so because it is essential.

When I’m talking with a fellow engineer, it’s okay to say something like, “You could speed up that system by swapping the HD with SSD and bumping the RAM.” Simple. But if I’m talking to someone who is not technical, it would be better to say, “You could speed up that computer by replacing the old hard drive with a newer technology, like a solid state storage device and increasing the memory available for processing the amount of data you’re working with.”

Those who can quickly adjust their communication style to match the needs of those they’re communicating with have the greatest chance for success. Who can do that? Anyone who chooses to put out the effort to walk circumspectly. It requires more brain processing power, but that additional power consumption is worth it!

Some who know my story know that before becoming a Christian I was a major drug user. That’s not something I’m proud of, but it is part of my story. One of the drugs I used a lot was LSD. So much so, in fact, that I was losing my ability to communicate! How could I tell? By being observant and interpreting the facial expressions of people I was talking to. Their facial expressions told me they were struggling to understand what I was trying to say. So I started listening to myself while I was talking, and realized that the subject of my sentences was changing so often that I didn’t make sense! No wonder they were struggling to understand me! I concluded that I had work to do if I wanted to be successful.

Humility & Dedication
A good communicator interprets the facial expressions and body language of those they’re talking to and makes real-time adjustments to improve the success of their message. Some are too lazy or don’t care enough to communicate well. Realizing you’re not communicating successfully and making adjustments takes focus, effort, and humility. Good communicators do not insist that their audience rise to meet their communication level, but instead humbly adjust their style as needed.

Knowing Your Audience
When I talk, speak, or write, I try to identify my audience to increase my success. My professional topics are usually related to technology, so I often ask questions after using a term that might be unfamiliar like, “Is that a term you’re comfortable with?” Their response to that non-judgmental question helps me modify my content to increase my communication success.

Often there are multiple audiences we’re communicating to all at once. Writing a response to a support ticket is like that! I usually try to meet the communication needs of the user who opened the ticket, their supervisor, my supervisor, and sometimes (depending on the issue) our legal system. All at one time! Can I do that effortlessly or quickly? No, especially since it’s in writing. I have to re-read the content with each audience in mind and make terminology adjustments before it’s ready for the SEND button.

The Bottom Line
Don’t limit how The Lord can use you or your professional success by not communicating circumspectly. Slow down and make the effort to communicate well to your audiences, whether in a one-on-one conversation, in a group setting, or in writing. Watch for visual cues when possible and make adjustments! Those you’re communicating with will be blessed, and so will you.

[1] The Holy Bible: New International Version. (1984). (Eph 5:15). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Confessions of an Arrogant Man

Written by Nick B. Nicholaou on . Posted in Uncategorized

© 2016 by Nick B. Nicholaou, all rights reserved
Ministry Business Services, Inc. President
Reprinted from inSIGHT

When your life is rocked by circumstances beyond your control, your focus is on survival. While in survival mode we often cry out to God. And sometimes we get the sense that he is responding to us in the midst of our survival mode. That happened to me recently while battling a severe form of pneumonia and coming close to the end of life’s journey (click here to read a brief blog post about that event).

The message of this article is healthy for me to articulate, and perhaps my journey will impact others too.

Humbly Arrogant?
I get invited to speak at many national and regional conferences. A client who knew me well and for a long time once introduced me at a national conference as the most humble guy he knew. (Some might say he needs to get out more!) But if that was true, how could I be arrogant? The Lord sees our hearts, and that’s where arrogance had been growing.

Maybe humbly arrogant is a good description of what I learned about myself those first two nights in the hospital. Sleep was sparse, and so I prayed a lot. We weren’t told for many days that I had been near death when I checked in to the hospital; that my organs were already beginning to shut down. All I knew was that I was fighting for breath and health. My prayers were earnest and nearly constant.

How Did Arrogance Grow?
I became a Christian a little more than 40 years ago. In 1 Timothy 3:1 Paul told Timothy that aspiring to be an elder is a good thing, so I decided early on to hang with the guys who were my church’s spiritual leaders. I was willing to be used however the Lord saw fit, and honestly sought his leading and direction. I focused on being faithful with the little things he entrusted to me, knowing that doing so would grow my character and that he might choose to use me in larger ways (Luke 16:10). This was not a pursuit of position or power, but of service to the Lord. One of my favorite prayer pictures was that of a glove, whose animation without the complete filling of its master was impossible.

So, What Changed?
I always acknowledge the Lord’s power in all I’m effective at. But my heart began to change very subtly over time. The change was that some of what I was doing was almost like a force of my own personality. Yes, I still prayed and asked for wisdom, appropriate words, and his his filling; but I was in the mix too. And that is the seed of arrogance I felt him challenging me about those nights of intense prayer.

How does the Lord feel about arrogance? In 1 Samuel 15 Saul is chastised by the Lord through Samuel. Verse 23 says:

“For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.” (NIV)

In my subtle arrogance I was loving the pedestal of importance and admiration. Not good.

What Was I Doing?
My arrogance grew and became part of me in a few ways. These may seem small, but they became huge to me in those nights of prayer.

  • Even though I had nothing to do with my general good health (that, too, is a gift from the Lord), I was kind of proud that I never got flu shots! And it was getting the flu that gave me pneumonia. I can’t remember ever getting the flu before, so it kind of makes sense that I never got flu shots. But being proud of not getting them was arrogant.
  • I developed a subtly arrogant variation of a truth:
    • The truth: In Job 1 and 2 we see that the enemy’s power against us is limited by the Lord. I interpret that to mean that until the Lord is done working through me and calls me home, my life is not in danger of being ended by the enemy.
    • My subtle arrogant variation: I didn’t need to take some of life’s normal precautions because I was sort of invincible! This arrogance may be related to not getting flu shots. But it is more than that; it is a larger approach to life that impacts exercise, diet, and more.
  • Samson (see Judges 13-16) was a man filled with The Spirit and used significantly by the Lord. He arrogantly flirted with things he knew could jeopardize him being God’s man, and eventually he lost that battle. In my heart I entertain similarly spiritually unhealthy things, and need to stop doing so. Flirting with sin is inviting opportunity to cross the line, and I need to be further back from that line.

This was very uncomfortable to learn about myself. I don’t believe it is the reason I got sick. Rather, I believe the illness the Lord allowed to nearly take me out was something he chose to use get me to focus intently in prayer and open my heart to his leading. Like Paul said in 2 Corinthians 4:9, I got “struck down, but [was] not destroyed.” (NIV) That calamity exposed my pride, and resulted in humility.

The issues he dealt with me about may seem slight. But after more than 40 years of knowing him, trying to follow and grow in him, and serve him, they were significant to me. My hope is that it grew me in ways the Lord can use me further and will prolong his choice to use me as a tool to accomplish his will.