Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. Empowering Employees To Thrive

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    July 17, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   Max De Pree, an American businessman and writer, has written several thought-provoking books drawing from his experiences and observations in the workplace. One statement I have found especially interesting is: “Leaders owe people space, space in the sense of freedom. Freedom in the sense of enabling our gifts to be exercised. We need to give each other space to grow, to be ourselves.”

    This insight seems particularly meaningful for me because nearly 16 years ago, a friend took that attitude when we decided to work together. Dave and I had known each other through our involvement with CBMC, including working together on the staff team. Not long after he started his own non-profit, Leaders Legacy, I was sensing it was time to do something new, so I met with Dave to solicit his advice.

    After we talked for a while, it seemed obvious that working together in Leaders Legacy could prove to be mutually beneficial. I will never forget what Dave said to me that afternoon: “Bob, if you ever need a place where you can flourish and become all God wants you to be, we have a place for you.”

    Up to that point I had experienced a fruitful career, enjoying many rewarding experiences as both a writer and editor. This invitation, however, promised to open doors I had yet to explore. And, as it turned out, my time with Leaders Legacy over the next 15 years provided many new opportunities that, I believe, did enable me to flourish professionally.

    The key was simple. I was afforded, as De Pree wrote, the freedom to exercise my gifts, talents and experience more than ever before. In a sense, I felt like a thoroughbred racehorse when the jockey loosens the reins and gives it permission to run full out.

    I had no complaints about my previous employers; nor do I wish to pat myself on the back in any way. It is just that in many situations, workers have unrealized capabilities – sometimes ones they fail to recognize themselves. Often it requires someone – the CEO, top management, even the supervisor, to say something like, “I see a lot of potential in you. But it is untapped. Maybe you do not even see it in yourself. I want to help you to become all that you can be.” Can you imagine how liberating it would be for a valued employee to hear that?

    From the perspective of the Bible, taking this kind of approach would be part of “loving your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31), and “(doing) to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). Another passage, however, addresses this important leadership trait in a different way. Proverbs 27:23-27 admonishes everyone in authority, those having responsibility for those entrusted to our direction. It talks about being discerning, striving to be sensitive to the needs of those around us:

    “Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever, and a crown is not secure for all generations. When the hay is removed and new growth appears and the grass from the hills is gathered in, the lambs will provide you with clothing, and the goats with the price of a field….”

    Put the best interests of those working for us first – in most cases, it is also in our best interests.

    © 2017. 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 other books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob’s website is www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com, and his biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Describe the working culture like where you work. Are staff members encouraged to grow and thrive in utilizing their talents, gifts and strengths?

     

    1. Do you think giving workers freedom to explore and develop their innate abilities is important for job satisfaction? Why or why not?

     

    1. What would be some of the challenges for companies in providing “space” for their employees, giving them the freedom to develop as De Pree described?

     

    1. The passage included mentioned flocks of sheep, using a shepherding analogy for dealing with people. Do you think this comparison is appropriate to the workplace? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Psalm 139:13-14; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3:17,23; 2 Timothy 3:16-17

  2. Money And Happiness – Not Necessarily Related

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    July 10, 2017 – Jim Mathis   In addition to my regular business restoring old photographs and making executive portraits, I am also a tax professional for a national tax preparation services company. I have done about 1,000 tax returns in the past several years and earned the designation “Enrolled Agent – Master Tax Advisor.”

    Over time, this have given me a pretty good understanding of American’s financial situation. By talking with people and getting a view of their levels of happiness and contentment, and then looking at their finances through taxes, I have made some interesting observations.

    As you might expect, there is a disconnect between income and net worth. Some people with only modest income, have accumulated a lot of wealth, and many high-income people have spent it all and then some. A colleague and I were reviewing a tax return recently when I commented that this proves, “You can’t out-earn stupid.” Foolish people almost always spend more than they earn.

    Many people think if they made a little more money they would be happier. Probably not. If there is any correlation between income and happiness, it would be a bell curve, with the happiest people located in the middle. The lowest income and the highest income people, on both ends of the curve, are the least happy. In case you are wondering, surveys report that the highest percentage of people claiming happiness peaks at about $75,000 per year income. Earning more does not make people happier.

    Which brings up the eternal question, “Can money buy happiness?” I believe the answer is: It could, but it seldom does, because people spend it on the wrong things. A new car won’t bring happiness, but a road trip with good friends just might result in a lot of happiness – and fond memories that last a long time.

    If it is true that money in itself cannot buy happiness, could we use it in ways that can bring us at least some degree of satisfaction, fulfillment and joy? Yes – especially if we follow principles found in the Bible:

    Avoid extremes. As I mentioned, by far the happiest people seem to be those who would be categorized as neither poor nor rich, but somewhere in the middle. The challenge is to recognize what where the “middle” is. “Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ’Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9).

    Indebtedness can put people in physical and emotional bondage. Many times, “buying” things with credit can satisfy immediate desires, but the long-term cost can be devastating – and restricts financial flexibility in the future. “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

    Sharing with others can bring great joy. Too often people take a dim view of giving, whether to help individuals or support charitable causes. However, knowing we can use some of our resources to lighten the financial burdens of others can be very rewarding. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

    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. What has been your experience in attempting to buy or experience happiness with money?

     

    1. Do you agree with the observation that the happiest people – regardless of society or culture – are neither the poorest nor the richest of people, but rather those whose incomes fall somewhere in between the two extremes? Why or why not?

     

    1. If it is true that money cannot buy happiness, why do you think so many people are intent on trying to prove otherwise? Explain your answer.

     

    1. When we think in terms of money and material resources, we typically think in terms of what we possess. How can happiness be attained not through gaining and keeping things, but rather by giving portions of them away?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  Proverbs 11:24-25, 13:11, 15:16, 19:17, 22:9; Acts 20:35, Luke 6:38, 12:13-21

  3. Overcoming Toxic Anger

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    July 3, 2017 – Rick Boxx   Years ago, my boss at the time appointed me to chair a taskforce to address a major problem in our company. For me, this became a political landmine, a classic no-win situation. My boss was likely hoping I would protect him from the possible fallout of the taskforce’s decision, but I did not.

    In its findings, the taskforce concluded the real issue was my boss’s approach to the problem we had been researching. Soon after my report was finalized and submitted, I received a demotion. My boss, who had been an advocate for me, became my enemy.

    For more than two years I fostered a toxic anger towards him. I felt unjustly treated and maligned. I had become the scapegoat for a problem of my boss’s own making. Seeking to strike back and gain a measure of revenge, every time I had an opportunity, I bad-mouthed this man to others.

    After carrying this weight of anger and bitterness, with no hope of the executive ever offering to correct the wrong he had done to me, I came to a startling, yet freeing realization: My anger had been hurting me much more than it had affected him. Even if my negative comments succeeded in diminishing my boss in the eyes of others, my anger was not appeased.

    Then I began to do something I should have considered much sooner – I determined to read, meditate on, and apply what the Bible teaches about anger, justified or not. For instance, Ephesians 4:26 teaches, Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.” Thinking about his exhortation, it occurred to me that the sun had literally gone down on my anger hundreds of times, and the festering bitterness I had continued to feel was giving the devil ample opportunity to undermine what God was trying to do in me and through me.

    Then I began pondering Matthew 6:15-16, in which Jesus states, “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.” Those were hard words to read; as I pointed an accusing finger toward my one-time boss, it seemed the other fingers on my hand were pointing back at me. Pondering this, the Lord convicted me that since I had not forgiven my former boss, why should I expect God to forgive me for my many sins? I realized that in addition to forgiving my ex-boss – even if he never asked for it – I also needed to ask God to forgive me for many things, including my unforgiving spirit.

    To determine what God wanted me to do next, I read Matthew 5:23-24, in which Jesus says, “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”

    More than two years since my anger began, I finally started the process of reconciliation by calling my former boss – and asking his forgiveness. That did not fix what he had done, but at last I was free of the toxic anger and its devastating effects. Anger is an emotional cancer whose cure is forgiveness.

    Copyright 2017, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. 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 about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His new book, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What do you think of the term, “toxic anger”? Have you ever experienced anything like that? If so, explain what prompted it and what impact it had on you.

     

    1. Can such anger ever be justified? Are there ever times when harboring bitterness toward another person for what they have done can have positive value? Why or why not?

     

    1. One passage cited tells us to “not let the sun go down on your anger”? How can we go about putting this admonition into practice? Do you think this is important?

     

    1. Why should we resolve to forgive others for wrongs they have done to us, even if they never seek our forgiveness? Is it realistic to do so? What are the consequences of not forgiving someone else’s offenses?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 12:16, 14:29, 15:18, 17:27, 18:19, 29:8,11; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8

  4. Working Through Vocational Transition

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    June 26, 2017 – Jim Langley   Several of my friends have been dealing with new directions in their work life. These are not individuals just starting their careers, but mature workers who have given much to their respective companies for a good part of their lives. Some received substantial severance packages appropriate for their time of service, but even “golden handshakes” cannot take away the uncertainty of what lies ahead.

    None of these men is ready to leave the workforce to stay at home and live an unproductive life. Yet, until they find a new place to utilize their vocational skills and gifts, I imagine at times they will feel somewhat lost and will not know which way to turn. This happens when we become comfortable in our careers and fail to give thought to what God has planned for that next stage of our lives.

    Having enjoyed a long career as an insurance agent, I can relate. Early on I realized my job was on the line frequently, since I was continually asking for permission to work with new prospects. I have come to cherish that uncertainty over the years, trusting God will provide the clients who are willing to work with me and entrust to me their financial matters. In recent years, I have also experienced God directing me to hone my writing skills, even though it takes me away from income-generating activities. Yet through it all, He continues to provide for my family – and I must remain obedient to His call.

    The Bible provides one of the best examples of patience in waiting for God’s direction in 1 Samuel 16, where a young shepherd boy named David was anointed king of Israel by the prophet Samuel. From that day, the Spirit of the Lord was with David, but he had to wait many years before formally assuming the role of king. In the years between, he was hunted by King Saul and his men.

    After Saul’s death, David became king of Judah first, and later king of Israel in Jerusalem. In all, he reigned over God’s people for more than 40 years. The Bible tells us David was a man after God’s own heart, and even though he experienced times of great failure, he remained obedient to God until his death.

    Just as David patiently awaited God’s perfect timing to begin his reign, we must patiently await whatever God has planned for our lives. In Jeremiah 29:11 we’re reminded, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

    I am confident He has a plan for each my friends, whether they will go to work for another firm, start their own businesses, or devote their time to some special passion God puts on their heart – even if it means having to tighten their belts to make ends meet.

    Do not be surprised to one day find yourself in a situation similar to what these friends are facing, wondering what God has planned for your next chapter of life. My advice for them – and for you – is to trust He does have a plan for your future. Isaiah 60:22 states, “The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord, in its time I will do this swiftly.” That phrase, “I will do this swiftly,” has made me realize God’s timing is not my timing. But I have learned His timing is perfect, and we all need to be patient and strive to listen for His voice as He carries out His wonderful plan in our lives, for His glory.

    As Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us, “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.” We are promised that God knows His plans for all who trust in Him. Our job, even though it is not always easy to do, is wait for His perfect timing!

    © 2017, all rights reserved. Jim Langley has been an agent and chartered life underwriter (CLU) with New York Life since 1983 and an active member of CBMC of Santa Barbara, California, U.S.A. since 1987. Adapted from one of his “Fourth Quarter Strategies” discussions, these are designed to “light a fire under Christian business and professionals to become more effective in the marketplace for Jesus Christ.” His website is: www.fourthquarterstrategies.com

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. When was the last time you were confronted with a significant career transition? Maybe you are in the middle of such a transition right now. How are you dealing with it?

      

    1. Why is a major change in job responsibilities, assuming a totally new job, or even changing careers, among the most challenging and stressful times of our lives?

     

    1. Is there anything we can do to make this time of waiting easier? What are some reasons God may choose to make us wait on His answer to our prayers for direction, whether for our work or for other areas of our lives, rather than responding immediately?

     

    1. Do you believe, as Mr. Langley suggests, that God truly has a very clear, perfect plan for your life? Why or why not?

     

    If you have a Bible available, here are some other passages you might consider that relate to this discussion: Psalm 25:4-5, 27:13-14; Isaiah 60:1-2; Matthew 6:25,31-34; Romans 8:28-30; and
    2 Timothy 4:7-8

  5. Not Providing Principles We Cannot Implement

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    June 19, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   Recently I had the opportunity to spend time with Albert, a longtime friend who served as a leader in CBMC for many years. He was guest speaker at a retreat, and discussed about some of the things he has learned about applying biblical principles in his businesses, as well as his personal life.

    One of the life-changing insights Albert said experience has taught him is, “God will never give you a principle in His Word that you cannot implement.” He added, “When you follow biblical principles, you can never go wrong.”

    This was not an empty declaration. My friend proceeded to cite example after example of times when, even if it seemed counter-intuitive, he chose to follow guidelines from the Scriptures and discovered to his delight that they worked as promised. Albert was not saying that heeding biblical principles is always easy, or that outcomes will always be as we hoped. But as he commented, “A loving father will never ask you to do something that is not good for you – and the Lord is our loving Father.”

    This started me thinking: What are some of these principles from the Bible that God gives, assuring us He has established them with our best interests at heart? Books could be written about this topic, but here are some examples that came to mind:

    We do not work just for ourselves. We start our careers typically thinking in terms of “my work,” “my job.” The Bible teaches, however, the work we perform is part of our divine calling, and the talents and giftedness we possess, and even opportunities that come our way, are from God. “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). 

    There is no harm in having to wait. Many of us are action-oriented people, and having to wait for goals and desires to be realized tests our patience to the limit. But if we find ourselves having to wait, God has a good reason for it. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (Psalm 37:7). “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). 

    Difficulties in life can be stepping stones for spiritual growth. When we encounter hardships, we are prone to explore alternatives for escaping the circumstances. But it is often the crucible of adversity that teaches us the greatest lessons from God and leads to spiritual maturity. “…we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us” (Romans 5:3-5).

    You cannot out-give God. Generosity does not come naturally for many of us. We cling to our paychecks and profits, reasoning, “It’s mine. I earned it.” We act as if giving to others, even worthwhile charitable causes, could result in our running out of resources for ourselves. But 2 Corinthians 9:7 states, “God loves a cheerful giver.” Jesus also taught we need not worry about not having enough: Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you(Luke 6:38).

    © 2017. 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 other books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob’s website is www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com, and his biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. From your own experience, how do you react to the statement, “God will never give you a principle in His Word that you cannot implement”? Can you think of any times when that did not hold true in your life?

     

    1. If you agree with the following statement, “When you follow God’s principles, you can never go wrong,” what are some other principles that come to mind that you have found working effectively when put into practice?

     

    1. Looking at one of the principles cited, why is it so difficult for most of us to have to wait before seeing something come to fruition?

     

    1. Have you experienced firsthand how God can use adversity or hardship to teach us, as well as to shape us into the people He wants us to be? If so, give an example – and explain what you learned through the process.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages taken from the book of Proverbs alone: Proverbs 11:23, 11:25, 12:1, 14:29, 15:22, 17:14, 21:5, 23:19-21, 26:10, 27:17, 28:20

  6. Knowing How And When To Do The Right Thing

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    June 12, 2017 – Luis Cervino   The recent theatrical film, “Sully,” recreates events surrounding U. S. Airways flight 1549, which he was forced to crash-land in New York City’s Hudson River after the jet crossed paths with a flock of birds, shutting down its engines. This film depicts the subsequent investigation that in many ways was not complimentary of the courageous airline pilot, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, as National Transportation and Safety Board officials engaged him in intense questioning to determine the causes of the incident.

    Sullenberger, who was eventually cleared of any blame, through his responses to questions made it clear that sometimes to achieve success, it is impossible to follow steps as prescribed in the manual. He attributed being able to successfully execute a water landing with no casualties on lessons he had learned through many years of experience, including steps that were not standard procedure.

    Most of us will never confront the challenges of piloting a commercial jet. However, sooner or later, we each are faced with a “first time” – circumstances no one has never encountered in similar situations. To properly handle such situations, we must remain calm so we can quickly analyze the situation, existing probabilities and chances for success. In my profession, many times a surgeon must make decisions with a patient’s life at stake.

    The key is understanding how to make crucial decisions both effectively and quickly. This principle holds true for our lives as well; consequences of our choices will follow the lives of everyone involved, physically and spiritually. We must remember everyday life often gives us many options, but in terms of eternity, we have only two.

    Being business and professional people, we serve as ambassadors for Jesus Christ in the marketplace. In this role, we must be willing to defend our faith to people who do not know Him, and be ready to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission, presented in Matthew 28:19, by making disciples, helping others to grow in their faith and mature as His followers. He stated, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you. And I assure you that I will be with you always, to the end of the world.”

    Sometimes people who do not profess to know Christ will challenge our beliefs. About this the apostle Peter wrote, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

    At times, decisions we must make will not always following a prescribed protocol. We may need to omit established steps, as the film showed for the safe landing of a crippled jet airplane. It is always good to have a plan in mind, with reasonable alternatives. But sometimes all we can do is rely on the leading of God’s Spirit – our response is to always be alert and obedient to His direction.

    Here are helpful steps for responding to emergencies and unforeseen events spiritually:
    A. Knowledge: This give us the basis for being able to act correctly, “Jesus replied, ‘Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?’” (Mark 12:24).
    B. Trust in God: The Lord guides us in the best way as we trust in Him: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5.)
    C. Decision: Be prepared to act at the right moment, knowing we are well-grounded by the first two concepts: “Have I not already commanded you?: Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).

    Luis Cervino is a maxillofacial surgeon in Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico, where he resides with his wife, Rocio, and their two sons. He has been a CBMC member in Mexico since 1997, and has been translating Monday Manna from English into Spanish since 1999. His translations reach readers in Mexico and many other parts of the world.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Have you seen the film, “Sully”? If so, or if you read news reports, what was your reaction to his decision to take steps outside of established procedures – including landing a commercial jet in a river near New York City – trying to ensure the safety of his passengers?

     

    1. Why is abandoning protocol – some term it “going outside the box” – such a threatening idea for many people? Conversely, is there a danger in constantly disregarding protocol and standard practices? Explain your answer.

     

    1. The writer says even in a spiritual sense, at times it could be necessary to take steps that could be considered “outside the manual.” What do you think he might mean in saying this?

     

    1. What do you think of his three recommended steps for responding to unexpected situations – knowledge; trust in God; and decision? How could you apply this to a circumstance you might presently be facing in your life, or where you work?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  Psalm 37:4-5; Proverbs 16:3-4, 21:2-3; Mark 5:25-34; Colossians 4:5-6

  7. Resolving Business Conflicts And Disputes

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    June 5, 2017 – Rick Boxx   Over the years, I have the privilege – and challenge – of mediating in several disputes between business partners. In most cases, seeking to resolve them is not pretty nor easy, but very necessary. When someone begins to feel slighted by their partner in some way, the relationship can turn ugly quickly.

    These disputes can result from many factors, but commonly they are spawned by breakdowns in communication. As accusations of “he said,” “she said, “they said” escalate, the threat of lawsuits can begin to soar. Partnerships formed with the best of intentions and greatest of expectations can be destroyed because of a single event – and often, unnecessarily.

    This is why addressing and working through the problem with care is essential. In the mediation process, proving your position was right should not be the ultimate goal; instead, we need consider how to most effectively work toward a reasonable resolution, one that could be a “win-win” for everyone involved.

    Speaking to His followers, Jesus made specific observations about interpersonal conflict and how it should be resolved. For instance, He admonished, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge…” (Matthew 5:25).

    There are two key principles cited here. First, recognize areas of conflict and resolve them before small problems escalate and turn into major causes of strife. Today we call this “making a mountain out of a molehill.”

    Jesus’ second point was to avoid, whenever possible, having to take a dispute to a judge and a courtroom to be settled. Reasons for this are many:

    • Legal disputes can be costly;
    • Decisions made by judges can seem arbitrary;
    • Courtroom outcomes usually fail to resolve the relational and emotional issues involved;
    • The great resources of God’s wisdom and healing power can be excluded from the process.

    Admittedly, sometimes taking a matter to court is unavoidable. One or more parties may be unwilling to turn to a mediator, or an arbitrator, to allow them to work toward acceptable resolutions. However, that is unfortunate because while it may result in a legal judgment, the likelihood of injured feelings and inability to sustain once-enjoyable business relationships is extremely high. If you’re in a conflict with a partner, secure a wise and rational third party, whom you both trust, to help you settle the matter quickly.

    The apostle Paul, writing to a group of contentious Christians in the ancient city of Corinth, urged, If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people? Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life! Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers?…” (1 Corinthians 6:1-5).

    Copyright 2017, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. 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 about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His new book, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Were you ever involved in a conflict or dispute that could not be resolved simply by the persons involved talking through the issue? What were the factors that made successful resolution difficult in that scenario?

     

    1. Have you experienced circumstances in which parties were willing to turn to a meditator to resolve their conflict? If so, what was the outcome?

     

    1. Do you agree that, whenever possible, it is always preferable to settle disputes before they have to go before a judge or a courtroom, possibly involving a jury? Why or why not?

     

    1. Why do you think many people are unwilling to consider or accept mediation as an alternative for settling conflict, and instead insist on taking legal action to settle matters?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Matthew 6:14-15; 1 Corinthians 6:6-11; Ephesians 4:29-32; Colossians 3:12-14

  8. Success In The Marketplace Is A Team Sport

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    May 29, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   To find a template for success in today’s workplace, we need look no farther than the human body. Illness and disease are often the result of one part of the body not functioning as it should, or not functioning at all. Imagine an otherwise healthy body without a beating heart, or a brain directing the systems of the body. Even if all the other organs were fully functional, life without even one of the major organs would not be possible.

    In a similar way, success in the marketplace – individually and corporately – results from many people possessing different strengths, gifts and levels of experience, sharing a common mission.

    Recently I had the opportunity to meet with members of a small firm, one-to-one and then as a group, to review their respective traits, strengths, needs for working effectively with others, and their stress behavior when needs are not met. Through the use of an assessment tool called the Birkman Method, they learned a lot about themselves and one another.

    One of the greatest benefits of this kind of interaction is learning to value and appreciate each other’s capabilities and differences, and how to work together most effectively, understanding how they can complement one another as they engage in various projects and tasks. Members of this firm learned, as is often the case, the whole can and should be greater than the sum of the parts.

    We clearly see this demonstrated in team sports as well, athletes playing their positions and carrying out their assignments, whether on a soccer or football field, basketball court or hockey rink. They all play different roles, but for the team to win they must all do their jobs well.

    The team concept is also often presented in the Bible, even though a growing relationship with God is a very personal, individual matter. Here are some principles it cites:

    The value of creative friction. Metal rubbing against metal is a time-tested way of sharpening a blade. In like manner, our interaction with one another, even when conflict and seeming chaos result, serves as one of the best ways of planning, evaluating alternatives and discovering new solutions to problems. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

    The benefit of mutual support. At times, we might feel determined to do things our own way and resist the involvement of others. However, the combined strength, capacity and abilities of two or more people working together invariably proves to be most effective and productive. “Two are better than one, because they have a great return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!… A cord of three strands is hard to break” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

    The importance of shared learning. “Not one of us is as smart as all of us,” the adage tells us. One of the best ways of being an effective team is sharing the insights, wisdom and understanding we have attained and gained from others. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

    © 2017. 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 other books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob’s website is www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com, and his biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Have you – or someone you know well – ever suffered from having a major part of the body not functioning properly? What were the symptoms, and how did the remainder of the body attempt to rally in support of the ailing organ or member?

     

    1. When you approach your work most days, do you typically view it as an individual or as a part of a team of people working toward a commonly accepted goal or objective? Explain your answer.

     

    1. From your experience, what are some of the greatest benefits or assets of taking a team approach to workplace opportunities and challenges? Looking at the question a little differently, how can taking a team perspective enhance spiritual growth and fruitfulness?

     

    1. What are some of the greatest obstacles or hindrances to working effectively as a team in the marketplace?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-26; 2 Corinthians 3:5; 2 Timothy 1:13

  9. The Business Of Calling (Part 2)

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    May 22, 2017 – Rudolfs Dainis Smits   This year Christian history celebrates 500 years since the Reformation in Europe began. The Reformation changed the Church, impacting Western civilization and its teachings on calling. This view of work revitalized the marketplace. It is worth considering how the Reformation revolutionized the way we can approach work.

    Martin Luther, a professor of moral theology and one of the Reformation’s principal leaders, challenged established religious authority on many matters of faith, vocation and work. He taught that every man and woman is called by God, regardless of vocation or position. Because of that, we are to work faithfully, with diligence and dignity. These principles might seem self-evident in today’s society, but they were not so evident then. Our work, profession, business or mission – whatever our hands find to do – when guided by personal passion and a love to serve, will prosper society and honor God.

    A provocative quote attributed to Luther explains: “The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk whom prays – not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.” We have been called to do good works, as Ephesians 2:10 tells us: “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

    Luther taught vocation is the means and a platform by which we serve society and God. Through work, business or ministry we provide products, services and leadership, and bring a multitude of benefits to individuals and society. Through the combined the talent, ability and skill of various individuals, our work, professions and businesses provide goods and services for others and secure our own livelihoods. It is not by pursuing personal gain or profit, but excellence in service that truly benefits and impacts community. Any honorable calling or worthy goal can be traced along a path of just and faithful decision-making and service. Fulfilling our vocations with discipline, skill and excellence leads to growth necessary to sustain a business, bless society and glorify God.

    Understanding our personal vocation will bring personal fulfillment, joy and prosper society. “The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people” (Titus 3:8).

    Understanding vocation helps us to see work done in excellence draws us to God’s truth and service. “Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.” – Os Guinness, author, sociologist, co-founder Trinity Forum.

    Understanding calling does not prescribe success or ensure status, but strengthens us to overcome difficulties and trials. Calling may bring you directly into trials and failure, because obedience to God is not necessarily a matter of success. Martin Luther risked imprisonment when he posted his 95-point thesis on the door of the Wittenberg Castle. He was ready to suffer death by teaching and defending biblical doctrine that opposed established church authority. His passion for understanding and teaching what the Bible taught, a clear conscience and obedience to God, allowed him to remain faithful to God’s work in him. “…for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Luther’s dedication liberated the church and revolutionized understanding of vocation and established today’s work ethic essential to any business.

    © 2017. Rudolfs Dainis Smits, MATS BArch Dipl. Arch – architect & business owner; currently Design & Technical manager for Hill International – Project and Construction Risk management; former chairmen and board member of CBMC Latvia; founding member of Reformed Baltic Theological Seminary, Riga, Latvia and former Europartners board member.

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Vocation requires faithfulness, diligence, and skillfully executed work to serve our clients and honors God. Do you agree that these principles promote good work and serve society? What are examples of when you have seen these principles at work and make positive impact?

     

    1. The late Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, was a revolutionary, creative innovator who did not give up on his ideas. He stated, “The only way to great work is to love what you do.” Do you love what you do, or are you just watching the clock tick until the workday is over? What motivates you to use your talents, abilities and skills to perform at your best? In what ways should work define who you are (or who you are not)? How should work reflect what you believe (or do not)?

     

    1. “The ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world are the ones that do” Steve Jobs. Martin Luther overcame great opposition to bring change that impacted all of Europe. Why does understanding personal vocation help us overcome obstacles and trials, and why is this so important for society, business and trade?

     

    1. Vocation fosters excellence and gives dignity to what we do. Titus 2:7 says, “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity.” With whom does quality work begin, and what is the best way to facilitate good work?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Matthew 5:16, Colossians 3:23-24, 1 Timothy 6:18, Titus 3:14, Hebrews 10:24, and
    James 2:14, 3:13

  10. The Business Of Calling (Part 1)

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    May 15, 2017 – Rudolfs Dainis Smits   Discovering our abilities and talents, and realizing our professional desires, are critical to personal fulfillment. God will use our education, vocation, culture, language, gifts and learned skills to serve and bless the society we live in. We do not have to seek extraordinary means to find and obey God’s command. Os Guinness, in his book, The Call, writes we simply need to be who we are and to become who we are in response to God’s gracious invitation. Understanding vocation – our calling – will change us and serve to prosper society.

    In 1989, Latvia was still part of the Soviet Union, and I was presented with two worthy options to work and serve there. Option 1: Make the journey to Latvia with a denomination-sponsored mission ship to help distribute humanitarian aid. Option 2: Join a team of 12 carpenters and volunteer workers to reconstruct a church. This second option was organized by the Ministry of Culture, a secular organization, to reconstruct a dilapidated church building. Being an architect, experienced carpenter and construction worker, I chose the second proposal. This opportunity best suited my gifts, education, experience and skills.

    In the early 1990s, Latvia was ripe for communicating sound ethical principles and introducing just business practices. The challenge to operate an ethical business in a post-Soviet environment was confronted by every business owner and professional wanting to make a difference. This invitation was unique and not intended for church clergy to resolve, but entrusted to ordinary business people serving the marketplace.

    There were none better situated “to be” and better equipped ”to become” than those business people and professionals in the marketplace eager to make a difference by living, demonstrating and teaching God’s principles at work. It is not enough to know and understand who we are. We must ask ourselves, what are we going to do about it?

    Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus said, “Follow Me.” These words probably comprise the most provocative, bewildering, and most life and history-changing statement humanity has heard, tried to understand and obey. This command intrudes into darkness like a bright light, mandating change. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). This beckoning invitation, if obeyed, will impact lives, reorder families, society, education, and transform the marketplace, whether in Latvia or anywhere else in the world. In response to Christ’s extraordinary call, our ordinary lives will not remain the same. Nor will they be without purpose.

    Discovering our vocation makes you free ‘to be’ and ‘to become’ what we are. Work is messy, with daily problems and people in the marketplace that need help. There is no one better than the businessperson or professional, already in the workplace, to fulfill this call: No one more ordinary and less perfect; no one that needs more shaping because of the responsibility and potential impact on society for good. If we understand our vocation and unique purpose, we can administer, serve and glorify God in our work. God’s mandate to humankind is take dominion – “…Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it,” for good (Genesis 1:28).

    Understanding our vocation transforms our work and gives place, vision and purpose for our ministry of service. Os Guinness wrote, “Grand Christian movements will rise and fall. Grand campaigns will be mounted and grand coalitions assembled. But all together such coordinated efforts will never match the influence of untold numbers of followers of Christ living out their callings faithfully across the vastness and complexity of modern society. As King Solomon commented regarding the benefits of practicing one’s talents, “A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before the great” (Proverbs 18:16).

    © 2017. Rudolfs Dainis Smits, MATS BArch Dipl. Arch – former business owner; currently design & technical manager for Hill International – Project and Construction Risk management; founding member and board member of CBMC Latvia; founding member of Reformed Baltic Theological Seminary, and former Europartners board member.

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Os Guinness writes, “Calling is not only a matter of being and doing what we are but also of becoming what we are not yet but are called by God to be.” The ancient Greeks asked the existential question: What is my purpose? Today, we ask the same question about our existence. What purpose do I fulfill, and in what way does my life have a part in God’s plan? How would you answer the question, “What am I to be, and what am I to do?”

     

    1. Calling is effectual, and knowing your purpose will change you, your business and family. How would you define your vocation? What is the difference between just working, and serving with purpose through our work?

     

    1. What has changed in your life, knowing that you have particular gifts and abilities from God? Do you know anyone that has changed, developed, or discovered his or her abilities and gifting as a response to answering God’s call on their lives?

     

    1. Guinness says, “Somehow we human beings are never happier than when we are expressing the deepest gifts that are truly us.” Has understanding your vocation and purpose changed your work and life? What motivates your work and service? Do your work and vocation align with who you are, your training, and the desire to become all that God wants you to be?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Ephesians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; 2 Timothy 1:9; 2 Peter 1:3,10

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