Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. Are You Simply Limping Through Life?

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    August 13, 2018 – Jim Langley  Have you ever felt like you were simply limping through life? Some days will be tougher than others, facing challenges that can seem insurmountable. My insurance career has seen exceptionally good months and some very good years, but there have been lean times as well. A lackluster economy can take a toll on anyone who sells a specific product or a service.

    Through experience I have learned these difficult times require true dedication to your profession and perseverance. To survive, you must work more diligently, meet daily goals and not get discouraged.

    Most successful businessmen have had multiple setbacks in life. Success has required tenacious ability to cope with difficult times and rebound as opportunities arise. This can be done without deceiving others or taking unfair advantage of your competition. Hard work and ingenuity can pay great rewards in any field of expertise. Some allow circumstances to dictate their lives, but we don’t have to limp through life.

    In sports, baseball became my main focus during my boyhood and young adult years. As a lead-off hitter, my goal was to get on base as often as I could. I worked diligently on techniques that helped me reach base nearly half my plate appearances. Improving my understanding of the strike zone, developing good bat control and working on my bunting strategies helped greatly.

    However, I recall limping through a portion of one baseball season with a torn hamstring, but that did not prevent me from playing every game that summer. I refused to let the injury keep me down.

    Over the past 30 years, I have discovered deep faith can make a great difference, whether at work, trying to acquire and develop a specific skill, or just getting through everyday life. That faith is strengthened by confronting trials and realizing God desires to reveal Himself through those difficult timess. Like physical exercise, one’s faith can only be strengthened through putting it to use.

    A biblical account recorded in Genesis 32:22-32 describes Jacob wrestling with the angel of the Lord. Jacob’s life was filled with struggles, but on this particular occasion he would not let go of God. Jacob asked Him to bless him and he got his wish. However, the Lord touched the socket of Jacob’s hip, causing him to walk with a limp the rest of his life. Nevertheless, God did bless him, even giving him a new name, Israel. He became the ancestral father of the nation of Israel, which traces its lineage to him even now.

    One of the best illustrations for all who follow Jesus Christ is the life of the apostle Paul. His tenacity in remaining strong through adversity has shown us what faith looks like when it is put into action. His teachings and personal example have inspired countless millions over the past 2,000 years to follow Jesus and surrender to Him.

    The apostle suffered greatly for the cause of Christ, to the point of his eventual death. Most of us will not have to face death for our faith, but we must persevere for His sake and the sake of those He puts into our path throughout this journey of life.

    Consider your life precious to our Lord, as it is, and realize that even if you must “limp” in some way, you can still hold your head high and persevere for the sake of Christ, experiencing the abundant life He has promised (John 10:10).

    Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God. His goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. A long-time member of CBMC, he started writing “Fourth Quarter Strategies” in 2014.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Are you “limping” through life now, whether due to some physical malady or disability, or because of circumstances that are hindering you in striving to advance through life? If so, briefly describe what you are presently dealing with.

      

    1. How easy have you found it to ignore the problems that cause you to “limp,” or to persevere through those challenges? What poses the greatest difficulty for you?

     

    1. Are you familiar with the story in the Bible about Jacob wrestling with the angel of God, His representative, to receive the Lord’s blessing? Would you ever consider doing something like that? Why or why not?

     

    1. What is your typical response to adversity, obstacles that can sometimes seem so formidable that you are tempted to lose heart and give up?

     

    NOTE: If you would like to consider other things the Bible says about this topic, read and reflect on the following passages: Genesis 32:22-28; Proverbs 24:16; Romans 12:3; Hebrews 11:21; James 1:2-4; 1 Peter 1:6-7

  2. Unconventional Strategies

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    August 6, 2018 – Rick Boxx  In the 1880s, entrepreneur Henry Crowell bought an oat mill to produce feed for horses. Even though Crowell had high expectations when he started, the business was struggling and he resolved to turn to God in prayer, seeking a creative solution for his business woes. He had run out of ideas for expanding his horse feed enterprise.

    In answer to his prayers, God led Henry to embark of an concept that few people, if any, had ever imagined. Crowell would change his “market” for oats, beginning to sell his oats to people– as a breakfast cereal. This was an unconventional strategy, because oats were traditionally sold from insect-infested barrels in general stores as horse feed. No reasonable human being would want to buy oats infested with bugs!

    Selling oats for human consumption seemed foolish at best, crazy at worst, and Crowell’s critics were having a good laugh at his expense. However, again in response to his prayers, God gave him another idea: He would design a cardboard box that could be filled with rolled oats to place on grocery store shelves. The cardboard boxes would be sealed, impenetrable to the insects that would desire to devour the oats as food.

    Today, Crowell’s enterprise has become prominent in the food retailing world and is widely known as Quaker Oats. The company now sells not only oats and oatmeal, but a variety of other cereals and food products. All because he was unable to sell enough oats for horse feed!

    Too often, we try to face our business challenges alone, determined to rely on our own innovation and ingenuity. This, the Bible tells us, is true foolishness when we can call on the wisdom and resources of the Creator God. As Proverbs 16:9 says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”To state it another way, many times we find ourselves inclined to think, “I know what I need to do. I’ve got this,” while God is waiting for us to ask so He can respond, “I have a much better idea.” Here is some more wisdom from the Scriptures:

    Do not insist on figuring everything out. Sometimes in our pride, arrogance or stubbornness, we feel we must understand exactly what we must do and why. God, however, has a different perspective: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight”(Proverbs 3:5-6).

    Commit your work to God and trust He will guide you. When tempted to “compartmentalize” our faith, restricting it to spiritual settings like a worship service or private devotional reading, we should remember God wants to be involved in every area of our lives, including the work we do. “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight yourself 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 righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun” (Psalm 37:3-6).

    Moral of this story: If you need fresh ideas or an unconventional strategy for your workplace, pray, listen, and let God guide your steps.

    Copyright 2018, Unconventional Business Network Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more or to sign up for Rick’s Integrity Moments emails, visitwww.unconventionalbusiness.org. His latest book, Unconventional Business,provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Had you previously heard about Henry Crowell and his oat manufacturing business? Would you consider the shift in focus – from horses to people – an unconventional strategy? Why or why not?

     

    1. When, if ever, have you seen someone – perhaps even yourself – adopt an unconventional strategy to revive a failing business, or to resolve a major business dilemma? Where do you think the idea for that strategy came from?

     

    1. How would you restate or paraphrase Proverbs 16:9, which says, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps”? How can you apply this teaching to your circumstances where you work?

     

    1. Why, in seeking to make a major decision – especially if time seems to be an important factor in the process – does it seem so difficult to “trust in the Lord,” as Proverbs 37 instructs us to do?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Jeremiah 29:11-13;
    Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:17, 23-24; 2 Timothy 3:16-17

  3. The Challenge Of Doing Business–By Faith

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    July 30, 2018 – Robert J. Tamasy  Faith is an interesting concept – and a challenging reality. When we are involved in a worship service, faith seems so simple. We sing songs that affirm our faith in God. We might repeat faith declarations that date back centuries. We hear uplifting spiritual messages that remind us of biblical promises we can embrace by faith. But then Monday arrives, and we find ourselves back in the workplace. How simple is faith then?

    Over the years I have encountered many people who express and demonstrate much faith in spiritual settings, but seem to abandon their beliefs in the so-called “secular world.” Some church traditions have even taught a divide between the sacred and the secular, but the Scriptures make no such claim. In fact, Colossians 3:23 boldly instructs, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord not for men.”Faith is not to be confined to one day a week.

    But let’s be real. In the midst of business setbacks, whether failing to secure an important contract, not being able to close a much-anticipated sale, struggling to meet a deadline, or failing to receive a much-desired promotion, our faith in God and His direction might not seem as strong as we thought it was while in a safe, worshipful environment. Then we face a dilemma, because “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by deeds, is dead,” as James 2:17 states.

    When I think of people of faith, one who comes to mind is George Muller (1805-1898), who cared for more than 10,000 orphans over his lifetime, and established 117 schools which offered Christian education to more than 120,000 children. What stands out to me is not only the Christian-based humanitarian work that consumed his life, but also the strong faith that guided his actions every day.

    Citing the impact of faith on his work, Muller wrote, “Trusting the Lord for the supply of my temporal needs keeps me from anxious thoughts like, ‘Will my salary last and will I have enough for next month?’ In this freedom I am able to say, ‘My Lord is not limited. He knows my present situation, and He can supply all I need.’ Rather than causing anxiety, living by faith in God alone keeps my heart in perfect peace.”

    Is this the attitude you take when thinking about your daily needs, whether at work, in your family, or for other personal matters? Maybe it will help for us to consider some of the things the Bible tells us about what could be termed “working faith”:

    What faith really is. Faith in God, His direction and provision is not tangible, but rather a confident assurance, or earnest expectation, that what He has promised will be fulfilled. “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”(Hebrews 11:1). Another translation of this verse states, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Another passage, Romans 8:24, elaborates by connecting faith to hope: But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?”

    Action is evidence of faith. Faith could be called “belief in action,” like a toddler trustingly jumping into a parent’s arms in a swimming pool, confident he will not be dropped into the water. It could be said, no action, no real faith. “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds?… Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do”(James 2:14,18).

    © 2018. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies;coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited other books, including Advancing Through Adversityby Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. If asked to give your own definition of faith, and what it means in your life and your work, how would you respond?

     

    1. Do you typically pursue your work and business responsibilities by faith? Or do you tend of operate “by sight,” relying on things you know, can see and touch? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Had you heard of George Muller before? He would be someone worth reading more about, but what is your reaction to what he said about his trust in God freeing him from anxious thoughts and worries?

     

    1. How do you view the connection between true biblical faith and putting it into action?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, please consider the following passages: Romans 4:18-25; 2 Corinthians 4:18, 5:7; Hebrews 11:2-40

  4. When Others Do Not Meet Our Expectations

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    July 23, 2018 – Ken Korkow  Do you ever get disappointed with someone? Frustrated? Or angry?

    Some time ago I was trying to help a man in midst of great personal struggles. His once-successful business was a mess. His checks were bouncing and he had many creditors coming after him. His marriage was ending. And topping it off, he had just failed an alcohol and chemical abuse rehabilitation program, and was now in the hospital because of his “binge” drinking.

    We had been meeting for months, but increasingly it seemed like the time had been a poor investment on my part. I was mad at him – and mad at myself – because my “best efforts” were not resulting in any visible or positive impact. Why would this guy not listen to the wisdom I had to offer to him?

    I was trying to teach him, convinced that if he would stop resisting, my counsel could help in turning his life around. Then, in the midst of my “teaching,” he taught me. He provided an important, very valuable life lesson when he said:

    “If your happiness is dependent upon your ability to get someone to meet your level of expectations, then you are destined to a life of unhappiness.”

    Wow! Even with all of his problems, this friend had briefly become the teacher and I the student. This insight is one I have never forgotten, and it has made a profound difference in how I approach others as I seek to counsel, mentor and point them to a better life – ultimately, one guided by a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

    What about you? Can you relate to this situation I experienced? What is the source of your happiness and/or unhappiness? Is it dependent on other people, especially to meet your level of expectations for them? As my troubled yet wise friend observed, people will always fail us in meeting the expectations we create for them.

    But if you have fallen into this trap, don’t feel badly. You have lots of company, including important biblical personalities. In the 15thchapter of the book of Acts, we read the apostle Paul and his mentor, Barnabas, had a falling out over Barnabas’s nephew, Mark, also called John. Because Mark had abandoned them on an earlier missionary expedition, Paul had decided he was not a faithful man and should not rejoin them on future travels. Mark had clearly not met Paul’s expectations.

    Barnabas, however, saw potential in his young relative. Going counter to popular opinion – as he had with Saul (Paul) after his conversion many years earlier – Barnabas determined to stay with Mark and encourage him in his spiritual journey. Years later, Paul makes no mention of Barnabas but writes to his protégé, Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Timothy 4:11). Not only that, but this Mark is credited with being the author of the gospel of Mark.

    This teaches us two things: First, even when people do fail to meet our expectations for them, this does not mean God is finished working with them. Perhaps we have done all we can do in their lives, and the Lord will bring others alongside to help them move farther along in their personal journey. And second, our expectations should not be in people, but in God alone. As Nehemiah 8:10 tells us, “…Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the LORD is your strength!”

    Ken Korkow lives in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A., where he serves as an area director for CBMC. This is adapted from his “Fax of Life” column. Used with permission.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How did you answer the question – have you ever been disappointed with someone, frustrated or angry because they did not meet your expectations? Describe a situation like that and how you reacted to them.

     

    1. Can you remember a time when you failed to meet someone else’s expectations? What was your response – did that make you feel badly, or did you fault them for expecting too much of you?

     

    1. Do you agree with the statement that if our happiness is dependent upon our ability to get someone to meet our level of expectations, then we are destined to a life of unhappiness? Why or why not?

     

    1. What are your thoughts about the final statement, that instead of expecting others to be the source of your happiness, “the joy of the Lord is your strength”?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Psalm 100:1-5; Philippians 1:3-11, 4:4,8-9; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4

  5. Equipped For Good Work

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    July 16, 2018 – Robert J. Tamasy  When people learn I am a writer, they often say, “Oh, I could never do that. Writing is so difficult for me to do.” This makes me chuckle, because I feel the same way about practically any other line of work. I admire people with mechanical skills, such as carpenters, plumbers, electricians or all-purpose handymen (or women). I cannot imagine how CPAs and bookkeepers do the work they do. Individuals who excel at public speaking amaze me, and gifted leaders who can inspire and mobilize those that report to them have my great respect.

    We are all different, drawing from a unique “toolbox” of gifts, skills and experiences. That is one reason we need each other – working together, we complement one another’s abilities. Have you ever considered, however, where our innate talents, skills and preferences come from?

    I began writing early in my life. Although I did not regard it as a career possibility until about two years into college, it has always been an enjoyable part of my life, something about which I grew more and more passionate. The interesting thing is, I never decided one day, “I think I am going to pursue writing, rather than becoming a mechanic, or a doctor, lawyer or scientist.” It was like writing was “hard-wired” into my being, an integral part of who I was – and am today.

    My conclusion about where we get our innate abilities is simple: God bestows them to us as He sees fit. Some people are natural salespeople; others have special management strengths, while others are uniquely equipped to become engineers, teachers, nurses or architects.

    Psalm 139:14 says of God, “For you created my inmost being…. I am fearfully and wonderfully made, your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” I believe that includes the talents and specific gifts that sometimes manifest themselves in early childhood, like a musical prodigy or a mathematical genius who can solve complex equations long before many young peers even know how to read.

    But this special equipping of the Lord does not stop at the womb. It continues throughout our lives when we are sensitive to His leading and obedient to His call. Consider:

    Using our gifts fulfills God’s will. How we use our unique talents and abilities is not just for our benefit, but also fulfill God’s will for our lives – as well as His perfect, eternal intentions. “Now may the God of peace…equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him”(Hebrews 13:20-21).

    Our skills are part of God’s plan. Our distinctive vocational capabilities were bestowed within the context of God’s greater purpose, enabling us to serve Him and others most effectively. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”(Ephesians 2:10).

    Our skills should be used according to God’s Word. The work we do, and the abilities we employ, are best utilized within the context of the truths and principles God provides in the Bible. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

    © 2018. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies;coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited other books, including Advancing Through Adversityby Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. When did you decide to pursue the kind of work you are currently doing? How did that come about? Do you consider it in line with the capabilities with which God has equipped you?

     

    1. If you could choose any line of work, would you continue doing what you are doing at this moment? Why or why not?

     

    1. What would you say are the unique gifts, talents and abilities that you possess? Would you agree they were God-given, even if you have put forth the effort to develop and refine those skills? Explain your answer.

     

    1. If we can agree that the distinctive traits and skills we have did originally come from God, what difference should that make in how we pursue our work?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:

    Proverbs 14:23, 21:5; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Romans 12:11; Colossians 3:17,23

  6. Confronting The Storms Of Life

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    July 9, 2018 – Jim Langley  Storms we experience in our personal and business life may seem inconsequential, especially if compared to hurricanes, tornadoes and tsunamis. However, like storms of nature, they can also cause irreparable damage in our lives. We can rebuild or relocate from natural disasters; internal storms we face may prove to be much more difficult to repair.

    When I returned from Vietnam, after serving 18 months in that infamous conflict, no one had any real idea of the effect the war had taken on those who patriotically served. Over the years, I have gained a better understanding of the impact that period had on me personally. After two failed marriages and other struggles, I began to realize something was causing such inner instability. But let’s look at the storms of life in a broader sense.

    We encounter many types of storms during various stages of our lives. There will be financial storms, such as losing a job, the loss of a business, out-of-control debt, bad investments, and possibly bankruptcy. There will be relational storms, such as unfounded rumors and outright lies spread maliciously, loss of friendships, accusations, infidelity, and perhaps divorce. We also will face health storms too numerous to mention, and eventually we will all have to face death.

    The apostle Paul understood the storms of life; he had experienced many of them. In 2 Timothy 3:10-11, he tells his protégé, Timothy ,“You, however, know about all my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings – what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.” The writer of Hebrews instructs, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God”(Hebrews 12:2).

    We cannot depend on a personal strategist to forewarn us of all the dangers that may lie ahead. Only our Heavenly Father knows our future storms, and we cannot know when or how these storms will come. The good news is we need not go through the storms alone. In Hebrews 10:25 we are reminded “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”Living in tenuous times, we would be wise not to try going it on our own.

    Where else can we turn during stormy times, when everything around us turns into uncontrolled chaos?For me, my attention turns to my Comforter, the Holy Spirit of God, the One I truly want to lead me through the valley experiences I will face. We have God’s promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

    In Psalm 23:4 King David proclaims, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”I find those words consoling as I anticipate the future storms that I know will come. This comfort and assurance I find is not based on wishful thinking, but on God’s faithfulness and reliability.

    Jesus prophesied in John 16:32-33, “But a time is coming, and has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me. I have told you these things so you might have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

    Those of us who know Jesus Christ personally have unwavering assurance that we are not alone, since God’s Spirit dwells in us and provides the peace that transcends all understanding, whether we’re at work, in our homes, or even as we travel. It is never too late to turn to Jesus. If you do not know Him, He awaits your plea for help.

    Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as an insurance agent. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his personal relationship with God. His goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. A long-time member of CBMC, he started writing “Fourth Quarter Strategies” in 2014.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Someone has said, “You are either in a storm of life now, have just come out of one, or are getting ready to go through one.” Which describes your life right now?

     

    1. How do you typically respond when confronted with adversity in life?

     

    1. What benefit, if any, can we derive from going through struggles and “storms” in our lives?

     

    1. Who can you turn to when your life’s storms seem overwhelming, maybe even more than you can bear? What have you learned about relying on the support of others at such times, whether it’s God or other people?

     

    NOTE: If you want to review other verses that relate to this topic, consider the following passages:

    Job 38:1-7; Psalm 22:25-28; Luke 8:22-25; Philippians 4:6-7; James 4:7-10; 1 Peter 3:13-17

  7. Working Hard For The Right Reasons

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    July 2, 2018 – Rick Boxx  Jeff was the new CEO of a chain of jewelry stores. One of his first challenges was to evaluate the performances for all of the national chain’s branches. As he was reviewing the results for each branch with his executive team, he became puzzled about one particular store.

    This had been company’s best performing store, but suddenly it had become the worst! When Jeff asked his team why this was so, he received a surprising response: “Oh, that’s Tim’s store. He was our best operator until he found the Lord.” Jeff, himself a follower of Jesus Christ, became dismayed upon hearing this and determined to investigate the dramatic shift in performance immediately.

    When he met with Tim, Jeff was blunt and uncompromising: “As a Christian, I expect you to work hard to be our best store, not our worst. I would expect for you to give no less than 100 percent, as working for the Lord, rather than just for our company.” He was referring to a Bible passage that states, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

    There is a tendency – and a temptation – to regard ourselves as working solely for the enterprise that employs us, and because of that, some people are content to do as little as they can get away with. As ambassadors for Jesus Christ, part of our witness for Him is not the words we express, but the quality and commitment we give to the work set before us. Followers of Jesus should be known for working diligently in the workplace.

    Writing to Christ followers in the ancient city of Thessalonica, the apostle Paul said, “We worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you” (1 Thessalonians 2:9). He had an important message to communicate – the Good News of Jesus Christ – but Paul never forgot the virtues of hard work and demonstrating a believer’s commitment to excellence. Here are some other biblical principles:

    Work as hard as you can while you can. There will be a time when we cannot work, whether due to retirement, disability, or ultimately, our passing from this life. So we should regard the work we have to do as a privilege, not a burden. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom(Ecclesiastes 9:10).

    Do well at whatever work you are assigned, regardless of what it is. Taking another look at Colossians 3:23, it is helpful to realize Paul was not writing to top executives or high-performing salespeople. Recipients of his letter were mostly doing mundane, even disagreeable tasks, such as shoveling manure. So when he instructs them, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,”he is telling them, “It does not matter what you have to do; give it your best effort regardless.”

    Our work is part of God’s divine purpose for us. Work may be difficult, and at times unpleasant, but from the start, God’s intent was for us to serve Him and others through our work. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”(Ephesians 2:10).

    Copyright 2018, Unconventional Business Network. Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more or to sign up for Rick’s Integrity Moments emails, visitwww.unconventionalbusiness.org.His latest book, Unconventional Business,provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Do you agree that the quality of our work should rightly be perceived as a reflection of the faith we profess? Why or why not?

     

    1. What are some difficulties you have observed or encountered in seeking to live out your faith in the workplace and to uphold the values and principles the Bible teaches?

     

    1. How do you typically respond when faced with a task or project that seems unpleasant, or even “beneath” your capabilities? Do you try to get it done as quickly as possible, even cutting corners if necessary? Or do you pursue that assignment with the same level of commitment you would give to a more challenging job?

     

    1. What are your thoughts about work being part of God’s divine purpose for our lives?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  Proverbs 10:7, 11:3, 12:11, 14:23, 21:5, 22:29; 2 Corinthians 5:20; 2 Timothy 3:16-17

  8. To Be A Good Leader, Be A Good Learner

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    June 25, 2018 – Robert J. Tamasy  Leadership offers great opportunities. Many leaders regard their roles as a tremendous privilege. But leadership also presents significant challenges, not only for effectively guiding others but also for avoiding pitfalls that have beset people in executive roles throughout history.

    For example, leadership positions can inflate the ego. This is one reason we read this admonition from the apostle Paul, himself a well-established leader: For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you(Romans 12:3).

    One form of “thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought” is operating according the assumption that we know everything, at least more than everyone we direct or manage. We fear that if we admit we do not have all the answers, subordinates might think less of us, even question our authority.

    However, one of the endearing traits of good leaders is willingness to acknowledge they still have much to learn. In fact, openness to learn from those who report to them can enable leaders to show how much they value their staff. A good leader strives to remain a good learner. Many of my greatest workplace lessons have come from people I had hired and directed.

    We find the good leaders are good learnersprinciple exemplified by Jesus Christ, whom the Bible describes as fully God and fully man. As God in the flesh, He did not lack knowledge. Yet He showed His followers a willingness to learn from them. For instance, Jesus inquired of His disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”(Matthew 16:13).

    He did not need to ask this question, but was eager to hear what His followers had to say. Predictably, they offered a variety of responses. Then Jesus asked a second question, “But what about you? Who do you say that I am?” One of them, Peter, soon replied, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15-16). Jesus not only wanted to know their answers, but also desired to encourage them to think through the most important question of all time.

    The same applies to the realm of the workplace. No matter the enterprise in which we are involved, the truth that good leaders are good learners– leader/learners – never fails. In fact, it is timeless. The Bible gives much insight into this, including the book of Proverbs. Here are just two examples:

    Maintain an openness to learning new things. It has been said, “Not one of us is as smart as all of us.” It may require humility to recognize it, but we each can learn from people even at the lowest professional levels. They can give perspectives and approaches we might not have considered. “Apply your heart to instruction and your ears to words of knowledge”(Proverbs 23:12).

    Pursue truth and understanding. Followers of Jesus Christ pray for God’s wisdom and guidance. Often He supplies that through other people. We are wise to consider what they are thinking before making key decisions. “Buy the truth and do not sell it; get wisdom, discipline and understanding”(Proverbs 23:23).

    © 2018. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies;coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous books, including Advancing Through Adversityby Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Do you agree that good learners also are good learners? Why or why not? Can you cite some examples?

     

    1. Can you think of a time when you learned from someone who held a position of lesser status and influence in your organization? What did you learn – and did you find it difficult to be open to considering what the other person had to say?

     

    1. What does it mean to be a leader/learner? What downsides, if any, can you think of in acknowledging you don’t have all the answers?

     

    1. Some people describe themselves as “lifetime learners.” Do you consider yourself one of those? If so, what kinds of things do you enjoy learning?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: 1 Samuel 3:9-10; Proverbs 11:12, 15:2,7, 16:21-23, 17:27, 20:12, 25:12

  9. Clarifying The Confusion Over Leadership

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    June 18, 2018 – Jim Mathis  An intriguing discussion topic these days is leadership, whether within the context of the marketplace, politics, the culture, sports, even the home. Many people seem eager to attain positions of leadership, but sometimes when we take an objective look at our world, it seems there is either a lot of confusion about what it takes to be a true leader, or a serious shortage of quality leaders.

    What exactly is leadership? The best definition of leadership I have heard is one word: Influence.If you have influence over somebody, you are a leader. It may be as a parent with influence over children; a teacher with influence over students; or a business person that influences employees or customers. The ability we have for exerting that influence is called leadership.

    We often think of leadership in terms of a position, such as a boss, CEO, or president. In reality, leadership has to be earned through respect, a history of good judgment, and the willingness of those you are assigned to lead to follow you. No matter what your title may be, if those under you do not respect you, or do not have a desire to be influenced by you, you will not be their leader.

    So how do we know what it requires to be a good leader? What are the traits necessary for effective leadership? The apostle Paul, in Galatians 5:22-23, lists what he calls the fruit of the Spirit which are available to any follower of the greatest leader of all, Jesus Christ. These qualities also happen to be the characteristics of a good leader: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control.” Let’s take a look at each of these, within the context of leadership.

    For the leader, “love” involves compassion, understanding, and seeking to know the other person’s story. Joy makes itself known through a positive attitude, being an encourager. Leaders are peacemakers. They work to resolve and smooth over conflict in productive ways. Parents show peacemaking skills when they help their children get along with one another. Business leaders strive to keep the workplace free of conflict and encourage friendly competition, not bitterness, with their competitors. Leaders also are patient; they do not jump to hasty conclusions or make rash statements.

    True leaders cannot be influential without being kind. Kindness and gentleness are essential ingredients for any relationship where we want to influence somebody’s behavior in meaningful ways. Faithfulness is similar to integrity, displaying honesty, reliability and consistency. Finally, we have self-control. If we cannot control our own negative habits, we will not be able to effectively influence others. Overeating, overdrinking, foul and abusive language, or any other bad habits that show lack of self-control, minimize a person’s ability to lead.

    All of us are in some position of leadership, whether we know it or not. Somebody is looking to each of us for guidance, whether by observing and copying our actions, or by verbally asking for some understanding or insight from us.

    This list of qualities outlined in Galatians, the fruit of God’s Spirit, is instructive. We would be wise not only to learn and live them ourselves, but also to use them as a guide for considering and choosing what leaders we will follow. Ultimately, we can seek to demonstrate these traits by our own effort, but only through the power of Jesus Christ can they be fully manifested in our lives.

    Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits, and operates a school of photography. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How would you define “leadership”? Or what it requires to be a good leader?

     

    1. From an overall perspective, what is your opinion of the quality and caliber of leadership you have observed – both in person, at work and in your community, as well as what you see presented through the mass media?

     

    1. What do you think of the suggestion about following the biblical listing of “the fruit of the Spirit” as a guide for effective leadership?

     

    1. Which of the items included on that list seem most important for effective leadership, from your point of view?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 20:28, 22:4, 27:23-27, 28:2; Mark 10:45; John 10:1-16; 1 Corinthians 13:13

  10. Ethics: Outward Actions Based On Inner Motives

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    June 11, 2018 – Sergio Fortes  Ethics has always been a challenge into business and professional world, and despite many advances and changes, it might be an even greater challenge in the 21st century. The word “ethics” is derived from the ancient Greek, ethos,which meant, “our place while human,”or “the place where we live.”In that sense, ethosor ethics can be regarded as “our home.”

    This reminds me of when my father would address our entire family around the table after dinner. Concerning certain actions or behaviors that he considered unacceptable, emphatically he would say, “Here in this home, this shall not be done.” Basically, he was informing us of the “house rules,” the standards, practices and traditions he expected each of us to uphold.

    Obviously our home or place, as humans, is the home where we live, our marriage, the social group which we participate, the society where we live, our city, the neighborhood where we reside, the church where we worship with others, and the company where we earn our livelihood, what the Bible calls “our daily bread.” Living according to a personal and professional code of ethics, in effect, means actions that make us feel “at home.”

    The Brazilian philosopher and educator, Prof. Dr. Mario Sergio Cortella, has presented a masterful conceptualization of ethics: “It is the set of principles and values that we use to answer three major questions of human life: Do I want? Should I do? Can I do? There are things we want, but we should not (acquire them). There are things that we should do, but we can’t. There are things we can do, but we don’t want to.”

    Dilemmas like these permeate our everyday lives, invading the depth of our business relationships and the unseen, inward origins of our professional actions.

    The Apostle Paul points out that when we do what we don’t want, it is because we are dominated by an inner force or impulse which he calls “sin”: “Now if I do what I do not desire to do, it is not myself that acts, but the sin which dwells within me fixed and operating in my soul”(Romans 7.20).

    One of the concepts of sin I have learned – I can’t remember from whom – is that “sin is hitting the wrong target.” We know what we should do, but trying to accomplish it, we have lost the target and hit something else instead.

    The divine antidote for sin is forgiveness. When we admit our sins and confess it, God will help us to overcome them, providing forgiveness, empowering us to not want what we should not, and giving us the ability to do what we should: “… He will forgive our sins and continuously cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1John 1.8-9).

    However, having ethical guidelines and displaying proper ethical conduct – our home” – is more than possessing the intention to follow good practices, values or principles. It requires more than a simple desire, or even the exercising of our will. It demands an inner change, a new mindset.

    In Romans 12:2 we are told, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”Being “transformed” is not something we can accomplish on our own. It is something that, as the Bible tells us again and again, only Jesus can do! As Galatians 2:20 assures each of His followers,“I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me (by His Spirit).”

    © 2018. J. Sergio Fortes is a consultant in strategic management and a specialist in corporate leadership. He also is a member of CBMC Brazil.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What is your concept of ethics?

     

    1. What did you think of the original concept of ethics as “the place where we live?

     

    1. In your opinion, what can lead someone to stop doing what is right, and choosing instead to do the opposite?

     

    1. Do you think that the force that drives people to do what they really don’t want to do, and not do what they really want to do, is the sin? Explain what this means for you.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about his subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 4:23; Ecclesiastes 12:14; Mathew 5:37, 7:9-12; Mark 12:17; Philippians 4:4-5

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