Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. The Workplace – And The Sabbath

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    December 11, 2017 – Jim Mathis   Many of us struggle with not having enough time to get things done at work. Some employers expect us to be on call 24 hours a day. Self-employed people have an even greater challenge in being able to get away from their work for a few days, or even a few hours. We must put in the time that is needed, we reason. But at what cost?

    Studies have shown productivity drops dramatically if we do not take time to rest, to “sharpen our axe.” There is a very practical adage that the fastest way to cut wood is to first set aside time to make certain the axe is sharp. This principle holds true even if you are not in the wood-cutting business. Nearly every new idea I have gotten for my businesses has come while I am on a vacation or away from work, where I had time to gain a new perspective or discover fresh thinking from a totally random, even unrelated source.

    This necessity to take time to step away from our work, our vocations, is so important it is even given as a divine directive in the Bible.

    In the biblical creation account, God created the world in six days and then rested on the seventh day. The idea of resting on the seventh day was codified when the Ten Commandments were handed down to Moses: “Remember the Sabbath day by keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day….” (Exodus 20:8-11).

    Jesus later clarified this Sabbath commandment, teaching that honoring the Sabbath is not about following a set of rules, but that the day was established for man – a time of rest, reflection and recuperation, a time to slow down and enjoy the world God has created. Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’(Mark 2:27).

    Over the centuries, the idea of the Sabbath for Christians has shifted from the seventh day to the first day of the week. This has been a source of conflict and confusion for me. Should we rest on the seventh day, Saturday, or the first day, Sunday? I thought maybe our calendars are just labeled wrong. Recently, however, I have begun to realize both days are right. We need to honor the seventh day of the week as a day of rest. My wife calls it a REAL Saturday, meaning a day to rest, recuperate, spend time with friends, have a relaxing meal, and just enjoy being alive. Sunday then becomes the day to honor Christ and remember His resurrection. It becomes a time to start the week by giving the first few hours of the week to God, sort of the first fruits of our time – of our week.

    Saturday, the seventh day of the week, becomes my day of rest. Sunday, the first day of the week, becomes a time to worship God and start the week right. This idea might sound radical for some, but it can serve as a test of our trust in the Lord and His provision. As Psalm 127:2 assures us, It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”

    Practically speaking, I often start my work week on Sunday afternoon or evening, planning the week and getting a few things ready for Monday morning. That makes sense for me, realizing I have rested on Saturday and devoted the first few hours of the week to the Lord. Then it becomes time to work until the next Saturday, the true Sabbath in terms of getting rest, preparing mentally, physically, and spiritually for a new week.

    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. Jim is the author of High Performance Cameras for Ordinary People, a book on digital 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. Do you normally manage to get enough rest despite the many workplace demands you encounter? What steps do you take to avoid having your work control your attention and schedule seven days a week?

     

    1. How do you respond to the concept of observing and maintaining a true Sabbath within the context of your work week?

     

    1. Do you agree with the idea that God instituted the Sabbath observance not as an arbitrary, rigid regulation, but rather as a practical way to ensure we receive the rest we need? Explain your answer.

     

    1. What if you have a job – such as a medical practitioner, a law enforcement officer, or a restaurant worker – when you would be required to work on a Saturday or a Sunday, or both? How could you still ensure that you receive the Sabbath rest you require?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Exodus 23:10-12, 31:14-16; Proverbs 3:24; Ecclesiastes 2:23, 5:12; Hebrews 4:4-11

  2. The Gift Of A Teachable Spirit

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    December 4, 2017 – Rick Boxx   My friend, Larry, was being interviewed for a position to run the operations of a large, privately held, family business. The owners said they also wanted him to mentor the CEO’s son, with the intent that the young man would one day preside over the corporation.

    During the interview, the executive’s son pointedly asked Larry, “Can you train me to eventually lead this organization?” Larry responded honestly, “That is up to you. If you have a teachable spirit, I can train you to run this business.” Apparently, the company ownership liked the response, because Larry got the job.

    The world of business is littered with the failures of men and women that had great potential – possessing the intelligence and skill sets to perform well in their jobs, yet lacking one important quality: Teachability. When someone is unwilling to learn, assuming they already know everything there is to know, or acting obstinate and refusing to receive much-needed, well-intended instruction, predictably their likelihood of success is very low.

    This applies to mentoring relationships as well. A mentor can only help the person he or she is mentoring if that individual is receptive to the insights and experience the mentor wishes to offer. Someone that is unwilling to learn, even if it means humbling oneself enough to be corrected as well as instructed, is poor leadership material.

    The Bible speaks about this often, especially in the book of Proverbs. For instance, Proverbs 9:8 says, “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you.” Many people, for whatever reason, become “stiff-necked” when someone attempts to teach them. Someone that is teachable, however, remains receptive to what they can learn from others, even their peers.

    Another passage states, “He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray” (Proverbs 10:17). A teachable person appreciates learning about how to improve and overcome weaknesses. Yet another verse points out a desire to learn reflects growing wisdom: “Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin” (Proverbs 10:15).

    Being teachable is a characteristic of established leaders, as well younger people striving to advance in their careers. One familiar verse describes requirements for leadership: “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2). However, a different translation of the same passage expresses it this way: “Therefore, an elder must be blameless…stable, sensible, respectable, hospitable to strangers, and teachable.”

    One more passage offers a similar sentiment: Which of you is a wise and well-instructed man? Let him prove it by a right life with conduct guided by a wisely teachable spirit” (James 3:13).

    When looking for younger leaders in whom to invest your time, or to cultivate for future leadership, first look for those with a teachable spirit. Your investment of time and energy will prove to be far more fruitful. At the same time, we should never lose sight of the importance of remaining teachable ourselves. We are never too old, or too accomplished, to learn.

    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. How would you describe someone with a teachable spirit?

     

    1. Give an example of someone you consider to be very teachable? Can you think of any leaders you are associated with who possess that trait? What about yourself – are you a teachable person?

     

    1. In this discussion of teachability, some related traits are mentioned, including wisdom and humility. Why do you think these would be significant for maintaining a teachable spirit?

     

    1. The idea also is presented that someone who is not teachable is a fool. Do you agree, or do you think such a judgment is too harsh? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  Proverbs 1:7, 3:13-15, 9:9-10, 14:6,8, 15:31, 16:21, 19:8;
    Colossians 1:28-29, 3:16

  3. Working With People When It Is Difficult

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    November 27, 2017 – Mike Reading   Most of us spend more time at work than we do any other place. There we must interact with people to get tasks done, support coworkers, satisfy customers, and make contributions toward reaching organizational goals. Not all people, however, are easy to work with.

    Yet Jesus Christ tells us that to love God necessarily also means to love our neighbor — even those we would consider more like enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). And the quality of love He calls us to extend to our neighbor is radical: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). To love someone the way we love ourselves essentially means our attempt to address the needs of others with the same sense of urgency and tenacity with which we seek to meet our own needs.

    Jesus modeled this love for us throughout His ministry, and ultimately on the cross. He understood more than anybody the cost He was asking us to pay in order to love people to the degree with which we love ourselves: “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour” (John 12:27).

    So how can we practice loving people, especially when it is difficult? Consider these two practices the next time you find yourself in such a challenging position:

    Look Inward First. It takes courage to look within ourselves first when faced with conflict. In high-pressure situations, many people look outward. They find reasons outside of themselves for their problems. They blame others or the situation, and look for excuses. However, the Lord asks us to look inward. We are to take personal responsibility for what is happening and what needs to be done, even when circumstances or other people clearly play a definitive role.

    When faced with difficult situations and people, routinely ask yourself, “What is my part in creating the situation, and what do I, personally, need to do about it?” The apostle Paul modeled such behavior when dealing with conflicts within the Church. Early in Paul’s writings, he said he considered himself, “the least of the apostles and [I] do not even deserve to be called an apostle …” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Later in his writings, Paul referred to himself as the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). The apostle had keen self-awareness. Knowing ourselves enables us to make conscious, intentional choices about how we respond to people and situations.

    Work with Compassion. Compassion can be defined as “empathy in action.” Being open to others enables us to face tough times with creativity and resilience. Empathy enables us to connect with people. It helps us get things done, and to deal with stress and the sacrifices inherent in leadership in powerful, effective ways. We are called to care enough to want to learn about other people, feel what they feel, see the world the way they do, and then do something with what we have learned.

    The most challenging part about working with compassion is that we cannot assume or expect an equal exchange of compassion to be given to us. Compassion means giving selflessly. We find the capacity for compassion in Jesus, who said on the cross, while looking at the people who were crucifying Him, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). What an amazing request!

    Copyright 2017, Workmatters. Mike Reading is Director of Workmatters Institute, a marketplace ministry that equips young professionals to develop a Christ-centric passion for work. He holds a BS degree from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a DTL (Doctorate of Transformational Leadership) from Bakke Graduate University. To learn more about Workmatters, visit workmatters.org.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Who are those people in your workplace you find most difficult to love?

     

    1. What would it look like if you strived to meet their needs this week with the same energy you use to meet your own?

     

    1. Think back to a recent conflict. Look inward and ask yourself, “What was my part in creating the situation? What do I need to do about it now?”

     

    1. If you were to empathize and seek to understand the other person’s experience with that conflict, what would you have done differently to show compassion?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages:    Luke 10:25-37; Matthew 5:43-48, 25:31-46

  4. Motivation – And Thankfulness

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    November 20, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   When was the last time you heard a motivational talk? How did you react to it? Did it fill you with enthusiasm and inspiration? Did you find yourself filled with adrenalin, ready to take on the world?

    Years ago, I was invited to attend a multi-level sales meeting when several men and women took the stage, speaking glowingly about their product and declaring how successful they had become. Looking around the room, I saw many of the attendees becoming fired up. They were so excited, I think some of them didn’t use the doors to leave – they seemed ready to run through walls.

    I was not among them, but could understand the reaction. The stories they heard sounded convincing, and very motivating. The problem is, that kind of motivation rarely lasts. The emotional peaks it produces quickly fade as people return to the “valley” of the everyday workplace and its challenges.

    How, then, can we find the motivation we need to not only establish and start pursuing worthwhile goals, but also to sustain the effort, persevering in the face of obstacles, setbacks and discouragement? A sad reality is that many people have the capacity to start well, whether embarking on a new career, starting a business, or taking on higher levels of responsibility and authority. But relatively few are able to stick with it to bring into fulfillment their lofty objectives. Where can we find the much-needed motivation?

    Soon Americans and people in some other parts of the world will hold an annual observance called Thanksgiving Day. I would suggest, at least for those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, part of our motivation should be thankfulness. Thankfulness for God’s love, for what He has done for us, and for the privilege of being participants in the work He is doing around the world.

    Here are some of the sources of thankful motivation we find recorded in the Bible:

    Motivated by thankfulness for God’s love. The Scriptures teach we have been chosen to become members of God’s eternal family by His unconditional love. It also says the Spirit of Jesus Christ lives in every believer, empowering us to love others as He has loved us. As the apostle Paul wrote, “For Christ’s love compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

    Motivated by being thankful for God’s calling. One of the amazing statements in the Bible is God wants us to serve as “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:13), people He uses to demonstrate and express His truths. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

    Motivated to share it with others. Once we comprehend what God has done for us, and what a genuine relationship with Him offers, we should find ourselves motivated to share what the Bible calls the “good news of Jesus Christ” with others. “If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you…because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:13-15). 

    © 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 ever heard a motivational speech, listened to a recorded motivational message or read a motivational book? How long did the inspiration you received from that last? Why does external motivation often disappear after a short period of time?

     

    1. Do you agree that thankfulness can be a source of enduring motivation? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Whether you are preparing to celebrate a formal Thanksgiving Day or not, what are some of the things you are thankful for today?

     

    1. How should thankfulness to God – for what He has done in your life and continues to do – serve as motivation as you approach every day in the workplace? What are some of the challenges in maintaining this kind of motivation?

     

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

    Psalm 100:1-5; Colossians 2:7, 3:16-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Hebrews 12:28-29

  5. The Challenge Of Knowing When To Evacuate

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    November 13, 2017 – Jim Mathis   It is hard not to be moved emotionally when hearing and seeing reports of catastrophic flooding, whether it be on the Texas Gulf coast or Florida in the United States, as we have seen in recent months, in Italy, Indonesia, or India. Images we see of homes destroyed and families torn apart by devastation leave us feeling sad and helpless.

    After Hurricane Harvey struck the low-lying region of Houston, Texas, I talked with a friend living there who said he and his family were dry, but the property their house was sitting on had turned into an island. They were surrounded by feet of water. When disasters like these occur, I wonder about my response, as well as what my level of preparedness would be for myself and family, should a similar calamity occur in our area. At what point does a person determine to stay and persevere, and when do they make the decision to evacuate and seek safety elsewhere?

    This question is both practical and metaphorical. It can apply to natural calamities, or the adversities we encounter in everyday life and work. Our society puts emphasis on perseverance, of being steadfast and strong in the face of disaster. However, there is not a lot of talk about recognizing when to flee, close a business, or evacuate the area.

    One definition of wisdom borrows from the old card-playing adage: “Know when to hold them, and know when to fold them.” In other words, when to keep playing – and when to quit. The history of business is littered with the names of companies that held onto a losing hand too long. Eastman Kodak, Montgomery Ward department stores and Borders Books are just a few. All stood firm, clinging to their cultures and practices, even as the tides of change arose around them. Eventually they succumbed to this “flood.”

    Whether we are leading a company, or trying to build a successful career, we should take such high-profile failures as warnings. In the face of a severe storm, whether natural threats – hurricanes, tornados, floods, or forest fires – or metaphorical ones such as a job that is not working out, an unprofitable product line, or living in an economically depressed area, do we know the trigger point? Are we able to recognize when we should decide, “It is time to go. I cannot wait any longer. I am out of here”?

    Knowing when to act in a way that leads to the best outcome is a sign of wisdom. Here are principles from the Bible on how to find the necessary wisdom:

    Know where to put your confidence. Sometimes a storm is a test to reveal where your trust is – in your own ability, or in God. He can guide us through adversities that we think are insurmountable. “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).

    Do not fear trying something new. The Scriptures offer numerous accounts of people who were led by God to leave their comfort zones and do drastically new things. Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Ruth and Daniel are just some of the Old Testament examples. Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland(Isaiah 43:18-19).

    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. Jim is the author of High Performance Cameras for Ordinary People, a book on digital 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. Are you facing any “storms” in your life today, whether in relation to your work, or perhaps something in your personal life? How are you dealing with it?

     

    1. Have you encountered times when you struggled with whether to persevere and work through a complex dilemma or to “evacuate,” realizing that to remain would leave your future in jeopardy? Explain how you addressed the situation – and what was the outcome.

     

    1. Reading business reports, almost every day we see examples of companies trying to survive in a continually changing marketplace. What can we learn from the failures of once-highly successful enterprises like Eastman Kodak, Montgomery Ward, or others?

     

    1. What is your first reaction when you confront adversity, when an unexpected “storm” arises? Where are you placing your trust? And do you find the idea of leaving and trying a new thing too intimidating to consider? Explain your answer.

     

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

     Psalm 37:4-5; Ecclesiastes 1:9-10; Isaiah 41:10; Mark 2:21-22; 1 Peter 4:12

  6. Restrain Your Lips – You Might Be Rewarded

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    November 6, 2017 – Rick Boxx  There is an old American saying, “Loose lips sink ships.” A British equivalent, “Careless talk costs lives,” carried the same meaning – to beware of unguarded talk. These slogans during World War II were used to warn against discussing ship movements or unintentionally leaking vital information to spies. No sense letting the enemy know your plans.

    In the business and professional world, we do not typically regard ourselves as engaging in “war,” but the principle still applies: Careless, poorly considered words can be very damaging. “Loose lips” can ruin friendships, destroy customer relationships, and transform near-success into failure.

    Take Don, for example. He had formed a partnership with a close friend. Unfortunately, these two men had a serious dispute, and Don left the business angry, hurt, and suffered a substantial financial loss through no fault of his own.

    He considered suing his former partner, and wrestled with the temptation to disparage him when the right occasion presented itself. After all, Don had been wronged and he felt justice should be served. However, after much prayer – and the counsel of trusted friends – rather than seeking his own revenge, Don chose to honor God. He maintained contact with the former partner and demonstrated to him, in both word and deed, the unconditional love of Jesus Christ every time an opportunity arose.

    Don also chose to restrain himself from speaking poorly about his one-time business associate to others. About a year later, God restored the friendship, along with the partnership. Because he had refrained from speaking negatively about his partner, there was no need for damage control, no unnecessary wounds to heal.

    This is why Bible passages like Proverbs 10:19 are so powerful and useful. It teaches, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” One way of applying this admonition is that if someone has hurt us, it would be good to take a long-term view and restrain our lips. We never know what the future brings. Here are some other Scripture passages to consider:

    The tongue, tough to tame. Just as a small bit controls a horse, or a rudder guides a large ship, how we use our tongue affects the course of our lives. “…the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body…” (James 3:5-6).

    An instrument for either good or evil. Whether in a business meeting, a private conversation, or at a podium before many people, the tongue can serve as a tool for healing or a weapon for destruction. “The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse” (10:32). “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).

    Our use of words can be to our benefit, or for our harm. If cautious about what we say and how we say it, a day can go smoothly. If we speak unwisely and impulsively, a good day can quickly be ruined. “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3). 

    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. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Loose lips sink ships,” “Careless talk costs lives,” or something similar? What does it mean to you?

     

    1. What do you think of the example of Don, who overcame the temptation to demean his former partner, even though he could have justified what he was saying because of the wrongs he had suffered?

     

    1. How difficult is it to avoid lashing out toward others when we feel they have caused us harm or we have been treated unfairly?

     

    1. In the example of Don and his partner, the friendship and business relationship eventually were restored. What if we suffer unjustly, but do not experience such a “happy ending” – does this mean our determination not to strike back in vengeance, not to speak ill of the offending person(s), was ill-advised? Why or why not?

     

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

    Proverbs 4:24, 10:20-21, 11:12, 12:13-14, 13:13, 15:2,7,28; James 3:3-12

  7. Are You Minding Your Own Business?

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    October 30, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   When we use the term “minding your own business,” we typically refer to not getting involved in or interfering with someone else’s business. However, life in the business and professional world can often be a lonely, solitary pursuit. This is especially true for entrepreneurs and top executives, but it also applies to most of us, regardless of our position on the organizational chart.

    If we are confident and self-assured, it can be easy to prefer to “mind our own business” and not engage with others in making decisions or seeking to solve problems. “I can do it myself.” “I want to pull myself up by my own bootstraps – I do not need anyone’s help.”

    We may feel this way at times, but it is wise to consider the admonition, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). In contrast to that, we also read, “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).

    I cannot count how many times I was involved in publishing a newspaper or magazine, when I saw the truth of the adage, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” There are many reasons trying to succeed in the business world by oneself is unwise. Here are some cited in the Bible:

    None of us is as smart as all of us combined. Working together toward a common objective provides the opportunity for shared wisdom and experience, different perspectives and insights. “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure” (Proverbs 11:14). “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

    We need encouragement during good times, correction during times of difficulty and temptation. Even during prosperous times, we need support. And caring encouragers will challenge us whenever it seems we might be drifting off course. “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another…” (Hebrews 10:24-25). “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily…so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:12-13).

    Each of us has something to offer. With our varied skills and talents, we can all contribute toward achieving the desired goals and mission we have established. “Two are better than one, because they have a good 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! … Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

    Others can provide spiritual redirection when needed. Many in the business and professional world have accountability partners and mentors that they can count on for advice, prayer support, and admonition as well, when necessary. “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).

    © 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. When you hear the phrase, “mind your own business,” what comes to your mind – at least before you read this “Monday Manna”?

     

    1. Can you see the pitfalls of insisting upon minding one’s own business, excluding others from providing input or being able to contribute to the work in a significant way? Why or why not?

     

    1. What are some of the challenges or problems of involving others in the process? Put another way, what are the benefits – if any – of working alone, not soliciting the help of others?

     

    1. In the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 uses the human body as an analogy for the value of working together with a shared commitment and common sense of mission. Do you think this metaphor applies 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: Proverbs 12:15, 13:1, 19:20, 25:12; Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:4-16

  8. Reshaping Our Worldview In Business

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    October 23, 2017 – Jim Mathis   Recently I began rereading M. Scott Peck’s classic 1978 book, The Road Less Traveled. He defined spiritual growth as moving from a microcosm view of the world toward a macrocosm view. A microcosm worldview would be one defined by our experiences with our family, workplace, news sources we watch, the accepted views of our “tribe,” and friends and family who have had similar experiences as we have.

    Moving toward a more macrocosm view requires actively meeting and befriending people that are different than us – those with different experiences, from ethnic groups, religions or education. It requires traveling, reading, and seeking out a variety of sources of information and broadening our education.

    This is important because the ultimate goal of spiritual growth is to begin seeing things from God’s perspective. This involves perceiving the world without the constraints of time, place, or national boundaries. He sees every person as important and of equal value, regardless of their differences.

    When my wife and I were in our mid-20s, we developed a mantra of “Expanding our Horizons.” We were getting in a rut and needed to see new things, develop new interests and make new friends. This quest led to a church, a new relationship with Jesus Christ, new friends, and a larger worldview. We became almost frantic to travel, meet new people, and understand the world. Decades later we are still expanding our horizons, meeting new people in new places and trying to understand from a broader perspective.

    In our business, we meet and work with people from many backgrounds. Genuine interest in people is a real asset. I regularly do business with people from other countries, so finding out how and why they came to the U.S.A. is a key part of understanding and working with them. I consider it a privilege to serve as a face of this country to recent immigrants or people still acclimating to a new culture.

    Jesus made a point to talk with people from different cultures, and used people from other areas in His parables. Examples would include His story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37); His interactions with the centurion recounted in Matthew 8:5-13; and the woman at the well, found in John 4:1:42.

    At the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus called His disciples together and instructed them to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:19). They did that, traveling to the farthest parts of the known world at the time, teaching and making disciples. The apostles Peter and Paul both went to Europe, building relationships, making disciples, and starting churches in many places and cultures, teaching people with varied beliefs, from Ephesus and Corinth all the way to Rome.

    Unfortunately, many Christians seem to have an opposite idea of spiritual growth, even in the workplace. Their idea of growth is to become more isolated, to have a more restricted source of information, and relate only with people with a similar microcosm worldview. This is related to seeing a monastic lifestyle as an ideal permanent situation, not just a temporary time for retreat and reflection.

    To draw near to God, not only in our personal lives but also in our professional lives, we must begin to see things from His perspective – a very macrocosm view, the big picture – considering many people’s experiences and understanding, and seeing all people as unique and wonderful.

    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 do you understand the difference between a microcosm view and a macrocosm view of the world, as described by both author M. Scott Peck and Mr. Mathis?

     

    1. Have you attempted to build relationships with people from different cultures, ethnicities and beliefs? If so, what has been the result?

     

    1. In what ways can determining to intentionally interact and get to know people with different backgrounds and viewpoints help us in growing spiritually, as this “Monday Manna” suggests? What can such connections and relationships teach us about God?

     

    1. Do you agree that having a more isolationist approach to life – and to our work – inhibits our growth as individuals, as well as our success as business and professional people? How can we resolve to effectively look and explore people and ideas outside our “comfort zones”?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: John 3:16-21; Acts 17:16-33; Colossians 4:5-6; 1 Peter 3:14-16

  9. When You Work, Is It ‘Without Wax’

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    October 16, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   Since Monday Manna is received by countless thousands of people around the world speaking many different languages and living in a variety of cultures, there is a danger in introducing a topic based on a single English word. However, I hope this will translate well for all who read it.

    A word that intrigues me is “sincere.” In fact, a popular song from years ago was called, “Are You Sincere?” One of those who recorded it was the legendary Elvis Presley. The real question is, what does it mean to be sincere?

    This word comes from the Latin “sincerus,” meaning “clean, pure.” One dictionary defines it as “being without hypocrisy or pretense.” Recently I heard an explanation I like even better: Some claim in the days of antiquity, sincere literally meant “without wax,” from the Latin “sine” (without) and “cera” (wax).

    In those days, when pieces of pottery or statues were broken or damaged, they often were patched with wax. Because the wax was transparent, it cleverly concealed any flaws. At least until it was heated and the wax melted. Then it let loose broken pieces it was holding together, or the pottery fell apart entirely. So, when people went to buy fine pottery, or statuary, they insisted it be “sincere” – without wax.

    There are many qualities people look for in a business, whether it is where they work, or a company from which they buy products or services. Knowing that the people there are “sincere” would rank high among the traits. In doing business with others, we all probably would like it to be done “without wax.”

    Unfortunately, too often we find sincerity absent from the equation. Whether through unsatisfactory employment practices, failure to keep commitments to customers, or delivering less than was promised, many enterprises repeatedly demonstrate lack of sincerity.

    Most people do not expect perfect, flawless businesses. Because they are all comprised of imperfect, flawed individuals. However, when we purchase something – whether it be a computer, food products, an automobile, or anything else – we expect promises and assurances to be fulfilled. If someone is hired with the justifiable anticipation of having opportunities to advance within the organization, they should rightfully expect those in authority to be “sincere” in following through if the employee’s performance is satisfactory.

    Here are some principles to consider when striving to build an organization or be people “without wax”:

    Always striving to be others-oriented . Putting the needs of others ahead of our own is one way to ensure sincerity. Love must be sincere…. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:9-10). 

    Conducting all business above board. All agreements and transactions should be open, without deception. “A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice” (Proverbs 17:23). 

    Remaining faithful even in difficult times. Adversity can be revealing, putting sincere relationships to the test. A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

    © 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. Would you consider one criteria for trusting in a business, or a business or professional person, as being whether you believe they are sincere? Why or why not?

     

    1. Can you think of a time when you discovered a company, or someone you were working with on a project, was not being sincere? What was the situation – and how did you respond?

     

    1. How do you react to the description or interpretation of sincerity as being “without wax”? Explain your answer.

     

    1. What does it require for a person to remain sincere – to demonstrate being “without wax” in the workplace – when pressures to produce, meet quotas and deadlines, and make a profit are often so intense?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Proverbs 4:23, 11:3, 16:2, 20:14; James 2:15-16;
    James 5:22; 1 Peter 1:22

  10. Casting Vision For Possibilities

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    October 9, 2017 – Rudolfs Dainis Smits   “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein

    Putting what Einstein said in perspective, one of the few things we can be certain of in life is change – and change represents uncertainty. Change can be frightening, but it has become the new status quo. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines change in several ways: to make different in some particular way; to make radically different; to give a different position, course, or direction to something or someone. Change varies in magnitude, and affects outcomes in different ways. Being able to change and adapt frequently has become necessary both to live and succeed. Successful change requires vision, information, and preparation.

    Are adapting to change and the constancy required for project management compatible? We desire stability and consistency to achieve our goals, yet sometimes change is essential for moving a project or product forward. Effective leadership requires skills and tools that can equip and motivate an organization and its people to change. Individuals need to be properly coached to transform into a team. Introducing new software, systems, procedures, and methods of communication may require change for successfully completing a project.

    Change can be envisioned as an enemy if we don’t understand why it’s necessary. Change, a process evident within all creation, can negatively affect the individual or disengage an entire group. We don’t necessarily like change, and change does not come naturally. So, we resist it if not properly managed. Change begins with thinking differently about the very processes we have created. Romans 12:1-2 says we are to be “transformed by the renewing of (our) minds.”

    Change requires belief and faith in a cause. Providing information is essential to build loyalty and trust, which underpin motivation and maintain vision. The book of Proverbs states that “where there is no vision, the people perish (due to no restraint)” (Proverbs 29:18). Casting vision provides direction and order, and this requires proper communication, dealing with staff concerns and providing details for implementing change.

    Properly managing change is essential for transforming an organization and successful project delivery. Pat Zigarmi of The Ken Blanchard Companies, early in her career, did studies on leading change and concluded, “Those who plan the battle rarely battle the plan.” People are not as prone to resist change if they are part of the planning process – if they are, usually they will be on board with the change. Change requires leadership, but not by using a top-down approach. Input from the troops is essential to implement change and refinement.

    Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, broke all convention for conducting and musical interpretation to obtain the best performance. According to the book, Tapping into ‘The Art of Possibility,’ Zander transformed interpretation and performance into a team effort. His new paradigm of possibility inspired input from every member of the orchestra. The change benefits were not only for the listeners or the conductor, but also to enhance satisfaction and innovation among the contributing musicians.

    Successful change often starts with clear communication of vision, helping those involved in the change process to gain an understanding of possibilities that will arise from the changes. Then giving them an opportunity to gain a sense of ownership in the process. 

    © 2017. Rudolfs Dainis Smits, MATS BArch Dipl. Arch, is an architect and business owner; currently design & technical manager for Hill International, a project and construction risk management company. He is former chairman and board member of CBMC Latvia; founding member of Reformed Baltic Theological Seminary in Riga, Latvia, and a former Europartners board member.

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Even though God does not change (James 1:17), the Bible says much about transformation and lives changed by Him. God’s own work of creation is a series of transformational acts: In the beginning the earth was formless and void. God introduced light, separating day from night; and created the heavens and the earth as we know them today as a creative sequence of changes (Genesis 1: 1-9). Which essential daily processes in life, science or business can you identify that require creative change to produce required results?

     

    1. Do you agree with the statement that before we present people with the benefits of change, they should be properly informed and their concerns should be addressed? Why should addressing personal concerns and implementation come before promising change benefits?

     

    1. “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different” – C.S. Lewis. Change can take us by surprise and even go unnoticed, like the sudden arrival of spring. Have you ever looked back realizing that you were not prepared for the change, or missed an opportunity or possibilities in the midst of change? Benjamin Zander says our assumptions block innovation. What do you think he means by this? What would you say is the opposite of an assumption?

     

    1. The book referenced describes Zander as, “…a different kind of conductor. His job, as he sees it, is to inspire the musicians under his direction and ‘remind people why they went into music in the first place’ – not to command them.” We all desire to contribute with our knowledge, experience, capabilities and imagination. Otherwise, we don’t feel useful. Why is individual involvement and corporate empowerment essential for implementing successful change and innovations?

    Give an example of how you have (or have not) been given opportunity to) implement change with your employees, or how your boss has taken steps to introduce and implement change with your participation?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 43:19; Jeremiah 29:11; 2 Corinthians 3:18;
    Hebrews 11:8, 12:8; James 1:17

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