Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. Clarifying The Confusion Over Leadership

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

  2. Ethics: Outward Actions Based On Inner Motives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What is your concept of ethics?

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

  3. Taking Time To Make A Timely Change

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    June 4, 2018 – Rick Boxx  One day, while giving visitors a tour of his manufacturing plant, Kevin, the plant CFO, shared with us his views on timeclocks, which many companies use to track the time workers spend on the job, sometimes to the exact minute. He explained at his plant, timeclocks are no longer used, observing that in his opinion, “timeclocks can make for lazy managers.”

    Instead of having workers “clock in” when they start the day and “clock out” when they leave, Kevin’s company chose to change the procedure to emphasize that people matter more than the process. Their managers strive to be aware of their people’s timeliness, schedules and challenges well enough that timeclocks are not necessary.

    They were willing to change their established routine for the sake of a bigger purpose, that being to demonstrate genuine care for every member of their team. As Proverbs 27:23 tells us, Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds.” Just as good shepherds keep a watchful eye on their flocks and are ever-vigilant to make certain their needs are met, wise leaders and managers also make every effort to address the unique circumstances their employees are facing.

    You might think, “But that’s not the way it is done in business. Timeclocks are a standard, traditional way of keeping record of the workers’ hours, and also for ensuring they arrive and depart on time.” That may be true. But I would respond, sometimes courageous leaders must be willing to dismantle routines and patterns for a greater cause. Here are some other principles from the Bible:

    Why not follow the usual practices of business? Sometimes leaders that put God and their people first must be willing to choose a different course, one that best serves the needs of their team members. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is”(Romans 12:2).

    The best leaders are also servants. Servant leadership is not just some lofty ideal, but a practical, effective way for leading others. We find no better example than Jesus Christ, who said, For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many(Mark 10:45).

    Demonstrating genuine care and concern. Periodically re-examining usual practices and being willing to change or adjust them to put the interests of people first shows your people that you value them. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

    Having wisdom to recognize and respond to change. It could be said that the “eight last words” of failing organizations are, “But we have always done it that way!” Discerning leaders perceive a changing environment and adapt accordingly. Such adaptability is mentioned in the Old Testament, concerning a group known as “the men of Issachar,” one of the Israelite clans: Of the sons of Issachar, men who understood the times, with knowledge of what Israel should do…(1 Chronicles 12:32). When circumstances change, sometimes that calls for a change in strategy or methodology.

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

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Does your business or organization utilize timeclocks, at least for hourly employees? If so, has anyone ever questioned their value or effectiveness? What would be the reaction, do you think, if timeclocks were suddenly eliminated?

     

    1. Can you think of any other standard, commonly accepted business practices that may have become outdated or might deserve being re-evaluated in terms of their effectiveness?

     

    1. How do you react to the statement, ”Timeclocks can make for lazy managers”? What do you think the plant executive meant when he said that?

     

    1. What are some of the pros and cons of developing organizational practices and procedures that place a strong emphasis on the needs and desires of the employees?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Romans 12:9-13; Galatians 5:22-26; Ephesians 5:15-16,21; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 3:8

  4. A Purposeful Consideration

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    May 28, 2018 – Robert J. Tamasy  Why are you here? Have you ever asked yourself that? This is a fundamental question many people wrestle with at one time or another. For some, it comprises the ultimate question of life. But even if your intent is not deeply philosophical, it can be helpful to consider. Many businesses use mission statements as guides, expressing not only what they do but also why and how they do it. In a similar way, taking time to articulate one’s purpose – or mission – can be useful for ensuring your time, energy and talents are being invested in the best possible ways.

    An industrious friend, Steve, who has built a very successful career as an entrepreneur, has spent considerable time seeking to respond to the “why am I here” question for his life, both personally and professionally. In addition to an extensive statement of purpose, Steve has articulated his core values, vision for his life, and his “primary aim,. This he defines as, “I want to know God and make him known.” He has devoted much of his life – at work, in his home, and engaged in ministries like CBMC – to pursuing that goal.

    Years ago I was in a meeting where a speaker suggested writing a personal purpose or mission statement. Kind of a “where am I going, how am I going to get there, and how will I know when I have arrived?” expression. For many of us in the room, this was a revolutionary concept. How can I put into writing what I perceive my life’s purpose to be? Does my life even have a specific purpose?

    I was not as ambitious and detailed as my friend Steve, but happened to be reading a paraphrased wording of Philippians 3:10, which says, “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him (Jesus Christ) – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His Person] more strongly and more clearly” (Amplified translation). As soon as I read this, I knew it communicated what I believed my life should be about as effectively as anything I could write.

    Several years before I had adopted another passage, Proverbs 3:5-6, as my life verse: “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.” And later I came across Psalm 45:1, which sounded like a good career verse: “My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” Combined, these passages express for me the focus I have desired to give my life, along with my sense of mission for using the gifts, abilities and experience God has given to me.

    Author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Many years later, this observation still seems fitting. Perhaps one reason is because most people have not taken the time, hit the “pause button” on their lives for a little while, to consider their overall purpose, their mission, one that is greater than earning a living, building enterprises, or seeking to “have fun” through a variety of diversions. Are you among them?

    I like the admonition from Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” When we learn to “number our days,” it helps us in putting them to good, intentional use.

    © 2018. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous books, including Advancing Through 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. Does your company or organization have a written, clearly expressed mission or purpose statement? What is the value – if any – of such an expression, in your view, for the company and its leaders, staff or team members?

     

    1. If someone were to ask you, how would you define your purpose, your answer to the question, “Why am I here?”

     

    1. Do you know of anyone else who has taken the time to write a personalized purpose statement? If so, what does that mean for them in their everyday life and work? Do you believe they are actively, consciously striving to hold true to that purpose?

     

    1. Would you agree to the idea that God has a purpose for everyone? Why or why not?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Psalm 118:24, 139:1-6,13-16; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; Galatians 6:9-10;
    Ephesians 2:8-10

  5. Choosing To Serve Rather Than To Be Served

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    May 21, 2018 – Ken Korkow  Years ago, the term “servant leadership” moved into prominence in business and professional circles. For some it seemed a contradiction in terms, what grammarians call an “oxymoron.” Leaders are the ones who are supposed to be served, right? However, writers like Robert K. Greenleaf and others pressed the point that the best leaders achieve the most by serving those they lead. He even started the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership to advance that philosophy.

    Servant leadership is a concept we encounter in the Bible as well, modeled best by Jesus Christ. Addressing His followers, Jesus stated, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He preceded that by saying, whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all” (Mark 10:44).

    There is just one problem with that: I know God wants me to be a servant – but I don’t like being treated like one. The “flesh side” of me wants people to see my acts of service and think or say, “My, oh my, isn’t Ken such a wonderful man of God.” Unfortunately, a true servant is not noticed; often he or she is even ignored. A true servant only desires to serve and see the master exalted, without thinking about self, recognition or receiving credit. You will know what it is like to be a servant – when you are treated like one.

    Pondering this, I was impressed by what author Henry Blackaby wrote about it. He says it much better than I could, so here is the excerpt:

    “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27).

    “The measure of greatness in the kingdom of God differs vastly from that of the world. Our society idolizes the rich, the powerful, the beautiful, and the athletic. We even make celebrities out of those who brazenly flaunt their immorality. The world claims it is demeaning to serve others. However, God’s kingdom completely rejects the world’s measure for esteem, giving the greatest honor to the one who serves most. The person who serves selflessly, lovingly, without complaint, and without seeking recognition is highly regarded in the kingdom of God.

    When Jesus and His disciples entered the upper room, the disciples looked for a prominent place to sit; Jesus looked for a place to serve. As they awkwardly waited to be served, Jesus took a towel and basin and washed their feet (John 13:1-15). We Christians like to refer to ourselves as servants, but we are seldom content to be treated as servants! We are tempted to adopt the world’s evaluation of importance. But when we look to Jesus as our model, we see that it takes a far more noble character to serve than to be served.

    The world will estimate your importance by the number of people serving you. God is more concerned with the number of people you are serving. If you struggle to be a servant, your heart may have shifted away from the heart of God. Ask Jesus to teach you selflessness and to give you the strength to follow His example. Watch for Jesus’ invitation to join Him in serving others. It will come.”

    Who are the people you lead? Or people in your sphere of influence, even coworkers? How might you exhibit true leadership – servant leadership – by serving them, demonstrating how important they are and putting them and their needs first, even ahead of your own?

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

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What comes to your mind when you hear the term, “servant leadership”?

     

    1. Have you ever seen someone demonstrate what it means to be a servant leader? If so, who was that person, and what did it look like for them to lead by serving others?

     

    1. One difficulty with striving to be a servant leader, Mr. Korkow observes, is the “danger” of actually being treated like a servant? Why would that be problematic?

     

    1. If you were to resolve to become a servant leader – or a better one – what do you think that would require? Would you be willing to do whatever is necessary to effectively lead others by serving them? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Matthew 8:20, 20:20-28; Luke 22:27; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:3-4,7

  6. Are You A Tourist Or An Ambassador?

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    May 14, 2018 – Robert J. Tamasy  Most of us have enjoyed being tourists, visiting new cities, even another nations. I have not been as well-traveled as some people, but have appreciated opportunities to visit nearly a dozen other countries. Being a tourist can take us to places we might have only heard people talk about or have seen in photos.

    I vividly remember my time in several Hungarian cities, for example. My grandparents had immigrated from Hungary, so it was interesting to see “the old country” firsthand. I also enjoyed going to Germany, including the city of Giessen, my birthplace. Nobody there remembered me – not surprising, since I left for the U.S.A. when I was only a year old – but it was fun retracing my personal history a bit.

    As tourists, visits are usually brief, and our commitment level is very low. We arrive to look around, maybe take some photographs, sample local cuisine, and perhaps buy souvenirs. Then we return to our homes. Contrast that with the role of an ambassador, someone who takes up residence in a foreign land for a span of time, representing his or her own native country. They have specific roles and responsibilities, acting with the authority entrusted to them.

    I mention this because 2 Corinthians 5:20 offers a challenging description of all who follow Jesus Christ, including the marketplace. It declares, “We are Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” To me, this says whether I am in a private office, conference room, making a sales call, finalizing a contract, or even traveling, my role is that of an ambassador for Jesus, representing Him to anyone I encounter. Whether I am interacting with supervisors, coworkers, customers, or suppliers, I am not only representing my organization but also Jesus Christ, as His ambassador.

    Being an ambassador is a duty not to be taken lightly. Through our actions, as well as our words, we demonstrate for others what it means to be one of Jesus’ followers. It is a sobering responsibility, as 2 Timothy 4:5 states: But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” This is written to all who profess to be “born again” through Christ, as He said in John 3:3. It does not sound like instructions directed to mere “tourists.”

    But in a practical sense, what does it mean to be “Christ’s ambassadors”? We find part of the answer in the second part of 2 Corinthians 5:20, which says, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” If we are “satisfied customers,” persons who have experienced the peace, joy, forgiveness, grace, love and mercy of God through Christ, we have an obligation and responsibility to share what we have learned with others so they can experience that as well.

    There is more. In another passage from the Bible, we read, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9). We work to earn a livelihood; utilize our skills, talents and gifts; and to experience vocational fulfillment. However, we are also called “God’s fellow workers,” given the privilege of co-laboring with Him in carrying out His plans and purposes in this world.

    As Christ’s ambassadors, He desires to work through us to demonstrate what it means to live according to His principles and the biblical truths that guide us each day. This is no task for a tourist!

    © 2018. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous books, including Advancing Through 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. What does the term “ambassador” mean to you? In what ways does being an ambassador differ from being a tourist?

     

    1. As you approach each new workday, would you describe yourself as an ambassador for Christ, or as more of a “tourist”? Explain your answer.

     

    1. When the Bible says we are to be “Christ’s ambassadors,” what do you think that means in a practical sense? What are some of the challenges – or obstacles – to being able to fulfill that role effectively?

     

    1.  Have you ever thought of yourself in terms of being “God’s fellow worker”? What difference does it make – or would it make – to regard yourself in that way?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Ecclesiastes 12:13; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3: 23;
    2 Timothy 3:16-17

  7. Thinking Through Workplace Priorities

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    May 7, 2018 – Rick Boxx  Early in my business career, like many young people I was trying to gain an understanding of what striving for success would require. One of the things I learned in this process was far from anything I had anticipated.

    The first time I met Gregg, he said, “Rick, if you choose to work with me, you need to know my priorities in life. God’s first, my family’s second, and this job is third.” Being a person who had been “running from God” for decades, listing priorities in that order was alien to my thinking. I could not imagine how Gregg’s priorities would impact the way he ran the bank where we worked.

    Soon, however, it became clear. Before moving forward on major tasks, Gregg made his business decisions by first considering God and His principles, as they are presented in the Bible. Observing how he made those decisions revealed to me how to seek God’s wisdom, and encouraged me to consider how placing Him first – as my top priority – could have a positive impact on my work, its quality and effectiveness.

    My perspectives on work and my priorities in life did not change overnight, but Gregg’s example and the ideas he had sown in my mind had a profound effect on me. Those later bore fruit, revolutionizing my thinking about business, its purpose – and my own. Ultimately, it led me to establish a consulting ministry in which I seek to help others to also understand what it means if we follow Jesus’ admonition when He said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

    Putting God first in our lives is easier said than done. First, we must believe it is even possible to do, and then act upon that belief. Be assured there will be challenges along the way, testing our convictions. There are times when we wonder, “If I insist on putting God first, this will never work.” We might be tempted to think, “Well, a minor compromise will not hurt, will it? I will bend the rules this time, but after this, no more.”

    This, however, is one reason we read, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). When our faith is tested, including our desire to remain true to priorities we have established, perseverance develops. This enables us to stay true to our convictions, even when it becomes difficult.

    Some people might think that making God the top priority is a nice-sounding ideal, but not very practical. We live and work in a highly competitive, unyielding marketplace environment where most people are operating according to rules that run counter to biblical principles. How can we thrive under those circumstances? We have to be realistic, right?

    That is what I thought when I met Gregg. But he proved me wrong. Even when confronted with adversity, or when a particular decision was very difficult, he never wavered. He stayed true to the priorities as he had stated them to me – God, family, then job. There were times when there was a cost to pay, a necessary sacrifice, but he never had to compromise his values. And he never regretted taking such a stand.

    Let me ask you: What place does God have in your work priorities?

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

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What would you say are your priorities at work? Have you ever consciously and intentionally tried to define them in your mind – and even write them down to review periodically?

     

    1. If you, like Gregg, have strived to put God first in your work and business, how easy – or difficult – has it been to stay true to that commitment? What are some of the challenges you have faced?

     

    1. If you have not always made God your first priority on the job, can you think of anyone who has done so? From your observation, what has been the impact of that commitment?

     

    1. Why do you think the testing of our faith – including holding true to our priorities – results in developing perseverance? Why is that important, or even necessary?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Psalm 127:1-2; Isaiah 26:3, 41:10; Matthew 6:9-13, 19-21, 24-34; Philippians 4:19

  8. Who Cares Where You Went To School?

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    April 30, 2018 — Robert J. Tamasy  “What kind of work do you do?” This is a question we typically ask someone we have just met, maybe during a business trip or in a coffee shop. It’s a way of getting acquainted. People also ask, “Where did you go to school?” or, “What college did you attend?” Sometimes those questions come up during a job interview. They may provide interesting information, but are not always relevant to job competency.

    Before starting my career, I enrolled in a major university’s school of journalism. I earned bachelor and master’s degrees in journalism, but learned more about writing and editing in my first few months as a newspaper editor than I had the entire five years I was in college. Most of the theoretical knowledge I accumulated in school had no practical application for my day-to-day work responsibilities.

    As Seth Godin, an author, entrepreneur and blogger, observed, “The campus you spent four years on 30 years ago makes very little contribution to the job you are going to do. Here is what matters: The way you approach your work. What have you built? What have you led? How do you make decisions?… How do you act when no one is looking? You are not your resume. You are the trail you have left behind, the people you have influenced, the work you have done.”

    There is much wisdom in what Godin says. Having an MBA from a prominent business college or degree from a prestigious university sounds impressive, but neither addresses the inner qualities needed for a high-quality staff member or leader. We want to know someone’s track record: What they accomplished and what experience they have, particularly as it relates to the job they are seeking.

    Even more important than what we have done, I think, are how we approach our work and how we behave when no one is looking. The Bible’s book of Proverbs has much to say about this:

    Approaching our work with a high level of dedication. The surest way to build a successful career, or to advance a company’s goals, is to work with diligence and determination, responding to opportunities when they present themselves. “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son” (Proverbs 10:4-5).

    Working with excellence and effectiveness. A person who strives to achieve the highest level of quality is rare in society today. Since many people seem satisfied with mediocrity, skilled workers that take pride in what they are asked to do tend to be noticed. “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29).

    Putting a priority on honesty. Sometimes it seems tempting to misrepresent vital information to gain a sale or win a contract, but as we often read in the headlines or hear in the daily news reports, dishonest practices eventually are exposed and consequences paid. “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment” (Proverbs 12:19). “Differing weights and differing measures – the Lord detests them both” (Proverbs 20:10).

    Becoming known for commitment to integrity. Another form of temptation is to behave differently when we think no one is looking, compared to when we know our actions are under scrutiny. A person of integrity, however, is one whose public and private behavior remain constant. “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9). “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3).

    © 2018. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous 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 initially meet someone, especially within a business or work context, do you ask about the kind of work they do, or where they received their college education? What level of importance do you put on that information?

     

    1. In your view, what are the most important factors that should be considered for evaluating whether a person is qualified for a new job, or for greater responsibilities?

     

    1. How would you describe someone that consistently works with diligence and/or with excellence?

     

    1. Do you agree that honesty and integrity are important qualities for excelling in the workplace? Why or why not? From your observation, how common are these traits today – and are they valued?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages:  Psalm 25:21; Proverbs 12:11, 12:24,27, 13:4,6, 14:5, 15:9, 20:14, 21:5, 29:10; Titus 2:7-8

  9. The Workplace — And The Sabbath

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    April 23, 2018 — Jim Mathis  Many of us struggle with not having enough time to get things done. Employers often expect us to be on call 24 hours a day. Self-employed people have an even greater challenge in trying to get away for a few days – or even a few hours. Studies have shown that productivity drops dramatically if we do not take time to rest to “sharpen our saw” to borrow a lumber industry term. Many of my best ideas for my business came while I was on vacation: away from work, getting a new perspective, gaining a new thought from a totally random source.

    In the biblical creation story, God created the world in six days and then He rested on the seventh day. The idea of resting on the seventh day was codified when the Ten Commandments were handed down to Moses. Jesus clarified the Sabbath by teaching that honoring the Sabbath is not about following a set of rules; the seventh day is for man, He said, a time of rest, reflection, and recuperation – time to slowing down and enjoying God’s world.

    After Jesus was crucified, He rose from the dead on the first day of the week. Because of that, the first Christians began to meet together on the first day of the week to celebrate His resurrection. 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 always been a source of conflict and confusion for me. Should we rest on the seventh day, Saturday, or the first day, Sunday? Or maybe our calendars are just labeled wrong.

    Recently I have begun to realize that 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, reflect, restore, spend time with friends, have a relaxing meal, and simply enjoy being alive. Sunday then becomes the day to honor Jesus Christ and remember the resurrection. It is time to begin each week by giving the first few hours to God, sort of the first fruits of our time at the start of our week.

    Saturday, the seventh day of the week, becomes the day of rest. Sunday, the first day of the week, becomes a time to worship God and get a good start on the week. People in vocational ministry, or those engaged in any kind of volunteer position at their church, understand that Sunday is often the most stressful day of the week, not at all a day for resting. Even those without official responsibilities know just getting the family ready for church and arriving there on time can be a hassle.

    With this in mind, I often start my actual work week on Sunday afternoon or evening, planning my weekly schedule and getting a few things in order. This makes sense for me, realizing I have rested on Saturday and have already given the first few hours of the week to the Lord. Now it is time to work until the next Saturday, the true Sabbath – a real day for resting – knowing I am mentally, physically, and spiritually ready for a new week.

    I am not suggesting this practice my wife and I follow should be normative for everyone, but it works for me. We take time for actual rest, as well as designate time for formal worship. It is how we apply what Jesus said: The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

    The key is that we do make certain to experience the proper rest, a time for physical, mental, emotional – and spiritual – recharging. Perhaps the best-known psalm tells us about the Shepherd (our Lord) and the care He provides for His sheep (us). The first two verses of Psalm 23 tell us, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.” God wants us fully rested, eager and prepared for whatever He calls us to do, and for any challenges coming our way.

    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. When you think of “the Sabbath,” what comes to your mind?

     

    1. The tradition of observing a formal day for Sabbath rest has been forgotten or abandoned by many. Do you consciously observe a Sabbath day of rest? If so, what does it look like for you? If not, do you have a specific reason for not doing so?

     

    1. Some people view the command to “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (the fourth of the Ten Commandments) as a legalistic practice that no longer applies to us in the 21st How do you feel about that?

     

    1. What are some of the consequences of not intentionally observing a day for rest? What do you think of designating one day – perhaps a Saturday – for actual rest, and then following that with a time for worshiping God to start Sunday morning, before resuming work?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Psalm 37:7,25,34; 46:10, 116:7, 127:2; Proverbs 10:29, 14:26; Ezekiel 34:15; Hebrews 4:8-11

  10. The Untried But True Path To Failure

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    April 16, 2018 — Robert J. Tamasy  Have you ever chosen not to attempt things because of fear you might fail? Maybe it was assuming greater responsibility at work, trying to change careers, or even attempting to begin an ambitious self-improvement program? I have to admit having been guilty of that several times. This is ironic, because if we decide not try to do something, there is 100 percent certainty we will not accomplish it.

    Not long ago I came across a quote from an unknown source that states, “Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try.” Sounds like a no-brainer, because it seems like common sense. But when we confront a challenge and determine it is not worth the effort – or the risk of failure – to attempt, we affirm this “sense” is not so common after all.

    Most of us are familiar with the classic case of Thomas Edison, inventor of the incandescent light bulb, who had to make hundreds of attempts before he finally succeeded in producing an electrical light as he had imagined. Scanning the pages of history, we could find countless other examples. But my intent here is not to celebrate the successes of those to tried and persisted. Rather, it is to mourn all of those who have conceived great ideas, but failed because they were unwilling to try.

    A Chinese philosopher named Mencius many centuries ago expressed it in other terms: “The difference between enthusiasm and indifference is filled with failures.” My friend, Mike, comes to mind. Years ago he chose to leave a secure, well-compensated job to start a software consulting company from scratch. His “office” was in the basement of his house, his makeshift desk consisting of a door stretched across two file cabinets. He knew it was risky, having a small family and leaving the certainty of a steady paycheck, along with corporate benefits such as health insurance.

    As bills began to mount and he was briefly hospitalized with a serious illness, Mike was tempted to give up on his dream. “What was I thinking?” he asked himself more than once. But he determined to continue pursuing his vision and found a much-needed client “just in the nick of time.” Over time he and a small staff built the business into a successful international company. Mike experienced the fulfillment of realizing his entrepreneurial vision; his faith also grew greatly through in the process.

    If we have a vision – or a lifetime dream – but find our resolve to pursue it wavering, what should we do? The Scriptures give us some insight:

    Place your trust in the right place. Even the most talented and experienced people have times when their resolve is tested by adversity. However, if we believe God is leading to take a step of faith, not taking that step would be an act of disobedience. 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).

    Make God – and His will – your priority. Before making any major decision, first commit the matter to God in prayer, sincerely seeking His wisdom and direction. Once we are confident of how He is leading, we can be assured He is with us in what we are trying to do. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun(Psalm 37:4-5).

    © 2018. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous 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. Can you think of a time when you were reluctant to try something new, fearful that you would fail? If so, what was that – and is it still on your “to do someday” list?

     

    1. How inclined are you to venture into the unknown, to try a new task, confront a new challenge, or even make a major lifestyle or career change?

     

    1. What can we learn when attempting something we have never done before, even if it were to result in failure?

     

    1.  Do you turn to God, seeking wisdom and guidance, before making a major decision? If you do, give an example of how that has affected your decision-making process. Has that made it easier for you to try the unfamiliar or unknown, even if you have no certainty of the ultimate outcome?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Proverbs 12:11,24; Isaiah 26:3, 41:10; Jeremiah 29:11; Matthew 28:20; 1 John 4:18

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