Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. The Immeasurable Value of Empathy

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    October 2, 2017 – Rick Boxx   A major hospital in Texas had built a $165 million state-of-the-art medical tower, but the staff was astounded to discover that despite the huge capital investment, patient satisfaction was a dismal one percent. The hospital’s CEO told the Washington Post a study was undertaken to determine the cause for the high level of dissatisfaction. The missing ingredient, the top executive said, was empathy.

    Determined to remedy the situation, the hospital took decisive steps to correct the problem. They developed new training, providing all employees with important instruction in how to practice servant leadership, and gave staff more authority for meeting patient needs without having to receive supervisory approval.

    Results from the training and reshaping the working environment within the hospital were remarkable. Over time, patient satisfaction rose from one percent to 90 percent. Because staff had learned to focus more on patient needs and concerns, rather than simply completing tasks they had to perform, the patients felt cared for and valued, rather than as faceless medical cases occupying specific rooms.

    The psalmist addressed the importance of such sensitivity in Psalm 69:20 when he wrote, “Reproach has broken my heart and I am so sick. And I looked for sympathy, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none.” This is just as true today as it was then. When someone is lying in a hospital bed, suffering from some malady or recovering from surgery, what they need as much as skilled medical treatment is the sense that someone cares for them and understands their pain – and fears.

    However, empathy is not a quality that is expected only in medical facilities. In most businesses, customers are looking for someone who cares, whether they are buying a car, evaluating software programs, leasing office space, or choosing the right venue for an important event. The capacity for demonstrating sincere concern for customers almost certainly will richly reward you with their ongoing loyalty and patronage.

    Here are some simple principles from the Bible that apply to how we approach trying to cultivate a spirit of empathy toward those we are called to serve as business and professional people:

    Look at things from their perspective. Ask yourself: If you were the patient – or the customer – how would you want to be treated? The answer you give should be a good indication on how you should approach your own customers in meeting their needs and responding to their concerns. Jesus said as much in His so-called “golden rule”: In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you(Matthew 7:12).

    Put your interests aside and focus on others. We are all self-centered to a degree, and it takes hard work and intentionality to shift that focus onto other people. But that is what we must do to achieve high degrees of customer satisfaction. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

    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. If you were to discover the customer satisfaction at your business or organization was very low, maybe even one percent, how would you react? What immediate steps would you take to address the problem?

     

    1. Dealing with people is always a challenge, and we cannot please everybody every time. So why is customer satisfaction so important, since we cannot always control how they feel?

     

    1. How would you define “empathy,” as it relates to workplace situations? What should it look like in our interactions, not only with external customers, but also with colleagues, staff, and even vendors and suppliers?

     

    1. Why do we sometimes fail to consider the importance of treating others as we would want to be treated, if we were in their position? What can we do to avoid repeating that mistake?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 15:30, 20:28, 22:1,4, 27:23-27, 28:2; Acts 20:35; Romans 12:10

  2. Fulfilling Your Purpose As An Investor

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    September 25, 2017 – Austin Pryor   Are you a “good” or “bad” investor? This cannot be answered without understanding an investor’s purpose. If you know the purpose of an investor is to manage money in such a way as to make it grow, but your investment accounts fail to see growth year after year, then it becomes apparent that no matter how good a person you may be, you are a “bad” investor.

    In Making Sense of God, pastor Tim Keller writes, “All judgments that something or someone is good or bad are based on an awareness of purpose.… How then can we tell if a human being is good or bad? Only if we know our purpose, what human life is for.” For the secular person living without a belief God or a higher purpose, human life is not for anything. It is ultimately meaningless – we are here only by chance due to random physical forces.

    For the follower of Jesus Christ, however, we are here for a reason. Pastor Rick Warren begins his popular book, The Purpose Driven Life, this way:

    “It’s not about you. The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness. It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.”

    In the book, Warren contends – with abundant support from the Bible – that God created us with five purposes in mind: to love Him; to be a part of His family; to become like Him; to serve Him, and to tell others about Him. May I suggest that each of these purposes should encompass the way in which we manage and share whatever wealth He has entrusted to us?

    • We show our love for God when we have a heart of generosity. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
    • We show we understand what it means to be a part of God’s family when we look after others in Christ’s family. “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:15-17).
    • We show we are more like Him when we give sacrificially because He is the perfect Giver. “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17).
    • We show we intent to serve Him when we take our responsibilities as stewards seriously. We know from the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30) that God has made us managers of His resources, and know from that passage that “it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).
    • We show we are diligent about telling others about Him when we share our faith and give generously to reach out to those who do not know Him. “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you…’” (Matthew 28:18-20).

    In light of these passages, how would you say you are doing as an investor? Are you a “good” or “bad” steward?

    Austin Pryor has 36 years of experience advising investors, and is the founder of the Sound Mind Investing newsletter and website. He’s the author of The Sound Mind Investing Handbook, which enjoys the endorsements of respected Christian teachers with more than 100,000 copies sold. Austin lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, Susie.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Do you agree with the statement that to be a good, effective investor, you must have a clear sense of purpose in terms of how you and invest – and why? Explain your answer.

     

    1. How do you think a person should go about determining his or her purpose – for life, as well as for how financial and material resources are utilized?

     

    1. In light of the principles and scriptural passages cited, how are you doing in fulfilling your purpose as an investor of the resources that are entrusted to your care?

     

    1. Of the five purposes listed for using and investing personal wealth, which one(s) do you think you might need to work on to improve to become a better investor of your financial and material resources?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Proverbs 11:28, 15:6, 21:20, 23:4-5; 2 Corinthians 9:8-11; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Timothy 6:18-19.

  3. Confining Faith To Compartments?

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    September 18, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   Compartments can be useful. We have “glove compartments” in our vehicles, even though hardly anyone uses them for gloves – instead, we keep flashlights, maps, repair receipts and other things there. Toolboxes and craft cases have compartments to keep things separated for easy access. But should one’s spirituality – faith – also be kept in a compartment, taken out only for special occasions?

    Recently a friend who seeks to encourage and challenge business and professional people to consistently and effectively reflect Jesus Christ in the workplace made this comment to me:  “I try to help my groups to integrate their faith in their business and within their sphere of influence in the marketplace. Unfortunately, they are very compartmentalized and are righteous on Sundays and holy terrors the rest of the week.”

    This statement is strong, but also sad. It seems these businessmen and women have failed to grasp the connection between biblical truth they are being taught and its proper application for the work they do throughout the week. Since its inception, this has been a goal of “Monday Manna” – to show the practical relevance of what the Bible teaches to how we conduct ourselves on the job every day.

    There is an adage, “East is east, and west is west – and never the twain shall meet.” However, when it comes to faith in Jesus Christ, the Bible says His presence and influence in our lives should be evident everywhere we go, in everything we do. Consider:

    Who are we called to serve? Typically, we go to work believing we are there to serve our company, organization or immediate superior. In one sense, that is true. But the Bible says we have a higher calling than that. “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:17,23-24).

    We share in a unique partnership. It is tempting at times to question the value of our work, the significance of what we do each day. But according to the Scriptures, we are to understand we work in concert with God and His plans. “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9). 

    Work fulfillment ultimately comes from God. We often look to our work for meaning and fulfillment, but it can be even more meaningful when done as service to God and others. “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, comes from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25).

    We represent Jesus through our work. Many outside the family of God will never venture into a church on their own. Our work provides a built-in network through which we can represent Him to others. “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). 

    © 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. What are some “compartments” that you commonly use in your life? What is their purpose?

     

    1. How do you react to the statement, “…they are very compartmentalized and are righteous on Sundays and holy terrors the rest of the week”? Do you think this assessment of the business and professional people seems too harsh, or have you experienced this type of attitude yourself?

     

    1. If you were to apply the exhortation to do your work “with all your heart, as working for the Lord,” what do you think that would look like? Would it look different from how you carry out your work now?

     

    1. When you read the words, we are “God’s fellow workers,” or that we are “Christ’s ambassadors,” what does that mean to you? Do you think we can become reality for us while compartmentalizing our faith? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Proverbs 10:5,9, 11:1,3, 16:11, 18:9, 20:14, 21:5-6, 22:4,29, 27:18,21; Ephesians 2:10.

  4. Decision-Making From The Head — And The Heart

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    September 11, 2017 – Jim Langley   Those of us who work in the business world know life is filled with decision after decision. How we make decisions varies, but I have noticed most business decisions are made without much thought. Unfortunately, hastily made decisions may have a detrimental impact on businesses and the lives of those affected.

    Consider some of the poor business decisions you have made in the past. What went wrong? Some of mine were very impulsive, giving little consideration for the effects they might have on those around me. I do not dwell on bad decisions, but have resolved to learn from tactical errors in my past. I have come to understand decisions have ramifications far beyond my interests. Now my top concerns are how God will see my actions – and how my decisions might affect the lives of others.

    This is not to say we must weigh every decision for potential outcomes, but we would be wise to bring our hearts – as well as our heads – into the decision-making process. The Bible has much to say about this. For instance, in Psalm 90, described as a prayer of “Moses, the man of God,” verses 11 and 12 declare, “Who knows the power of your anger? For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you. Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Moses knew God intimately and learned from poor decisions he had made as the leader of Israel.

    In 1 Samuel 13:14, the prophet recounts for Israel’s King Saul how an unwise decision he made would end his reign: “But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord’s command.” Saul had taken things into his own hands at Gilgal, not waiting the full seven days for Samuel to arrive and conduct the prescribed sacrificial burnt offering. Apparently, Saul was greatly concerned that his troops were losing heart with the Philistines preparing to attack.

    King Solomon teaches in Proverbs 23:15-18, “My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad; my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right. Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord. There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.” This is an important lesson we need to master. Fearing (having reverence for) the Lord is critical for coming to grips with the business decisions of the heart.

    In James 4:13-16, business and professional people who claim to follow Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord are reminded, “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.’  How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.’ Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil.”. This truth is sobering – and helpful – for serving God in business.

    There is much to be gained by making business decisions of the heart, rather than acting impulsively. The Lord desires for us to have a life-changing experience during our time on earth. Trusting in and following the Scriptures in our business life will make it much more meaningful.

    The prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel both prophesied a new covenant that was forthcoming. We all can have a “new heart” that will enable us to see God and others in a totally new light. This new heart comes from a right relationship with Jesus. We should pray, seeking to let Him be intimately involved in all aspects of business and our personal lives.

    © 2017. Jim Langley has been an agent with New York Life since 1983 and an active member of CBMC of Santa Barbara, California, U.S.A. since 1987. His website is: fourthquarterstrategies.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Describe the process you use in making major decisions.

     

    1. Do you tend to be impulsive, or more methodical, in decision-making? Can you think of a time you made an important decision hastily, on impulse, that you later regretted? If so, describe that situation and the consequences of it.

     

    1. What does it mean to you to put our hearts into making decisions, as well as our heads? How difficult is it for you to do that on a consistent basis? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Which of the Bible passages cited seems most meaningful to you? Why?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:Psalms 119:9-16, 139:23-24; Proverbs 21:1-4; Jeremiah 24:7; 32:39-40; Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:26-27.

  5. Five Steps To A Healthy Business Culture

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    September 4, 2017 – Rick Boxx   In my book, Unconventional Business, I identify five steps towards developing a healthy, ethical culture within a company or organization. The first step is “Assessing the strength of your culture.” Years ago, I reviewed a culture assessment tool with a business owner. He gave himself the highest rankings, assuring me his staff would as well. When my assessment for his company was complete, however, this owner learned his entire team had rated his leadership – and the culture of his organization – very low.

    1 Corinthians 3:18 says, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.” To establish a healthy culture, begin with an objective assessment of your existing culture; otherwise, you are likely to be deceived.

    The second step is to “Cast vision for the future.” In 1961, during the “Cold War” with Russia, U.S. President John F. Kennedy cast a bold vision. He proclaimed America would place a man on the moon by 1970. By publicly communicating his dream, Kennedy set the stage for the fulfillment of that vision.

    In Habakkuk 2:3, the Lord told Habakkuk, “For the vision is yet for the appointed time; It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.” Your team needs a vision of what the culture of your organization could look like in the future. If it is compelling enough, they will help you achieve that vision.

    Step three is to “Develop your strategy and tactics.” Your culture will not change unless you take the necessary steps. A friend and I were consulting with a contractor on his business culture. While developing the strategy and tactics, it became obvious this contractor had language barriers requiring some adjustments. These helped the process – and the business – to move forward successfully.

    Proverbs 16:9 teaches, “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” When developing your strategy and tactics, begin with the vision of the future, invite God into the process, and break down the necessary steps your unique situation will require.

    Step four is to “Communicate, communicate, communicate.” If you do not constantly communicate values and vision for the future, they can be easily forgotten. Some leaders host events focused on company values. Others scroll their values on TV screens or post signs on office walls.

    In Deuteronomy 6, God communicated His laws by telling the Israelites, “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” To develop a healthy culture, communicate values frequently and consistently.

    The final step is to “Make periodic assessments and adjustments.” A company had a fairly strong culture. However, when a partner of the business left, taking customers and employees with him, this devastated the organization’s culture. Developing a culture is not a destination, it is a journey.

    Facing an enemy attack, Nehemiah, had to assess his culture and adjust while rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. In Nehemiah 4:9 he wrote, “But we prayed to our God, and because of them we set up a guard against them day and night.” As part of your plan for building a healthy culture don’t forget to schedule periodic assessments.

    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 your company’s – or organization’s culture – right now?

     

    1. What are the culture’s strengths, as you perceive them, as well as its weaknesses?

     

    1. Why is an organization’s culture important? Are not profits and losses, production numbers and sales, the primary considerations? How can a culture – good or bad – influence business successes or failures?

     

    1. If you were to focus on just one of the five suggested steps for building a healthy business culture, which would it be – and why?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 24:27, 27:23-27, 29:18; Ezekiel 34:12; John 10:1-5,11-15; Philippians 2:3-4.

  6. Marks Of A Great Leader

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    August 28, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   I seem to be an information packrat. I collect articles, columns and various notes, and hang onto them for years for future reference, not knowing when or how I might use them. Recently I came across a column from 2005 that appeared in the respected business journal, Forbes. Entitled “Five Marks of a Great Leader,” it was written by Paul Johnson, a British historian and author. He asked, “What makes a real leader? How can we recognize one?”

    Johnson offered the view that among the qualities great leaders possess, they must include:

    • Moral courage: “The willingness to stick to one’s beliefs, to pursue a course of action in the face of overwhelming criticism, great adversity and…the faintheartedness of friends and allies.”
    • Judgment: “Courage without judgment is pointless and may be dangerous. When I need advice…I turn to someone who has knocked about the world and cheerfully survived ‘the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.’”
    • A sense of priority: “Sorting out the truly big from the small takes an innate horse sense that’s not given to most human beings…it is nearly always the hallmark of a great leader.”
    • Disposal and concentration of effort: “Leaders must allocate their time and energy.”
    • Humor: “A subordinate always serves more zealously and obeys more faithfully a leader who can joke, and the public…warms to a potentate who can make them laugh.”

    Reading the Bible, we find these traits also emphasized there. Here are examples of what it says:

    Moral courage. When Joshua assumed leadership of the Israelites from Moses, God emphasized the need for courage. “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous…” (Joshua 1:6-9, 18).

    Judgment. Being able to discern right from wrong, good vs. the best, is indispensable for effective leadership. “… that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9-10). 

    A sense of priority. Effective leaders never lose sight of what’s most important. “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money…. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:24,33).

    Disposal and concentration of effort. How can energy best be expended, making certain to be able to complete critical tasks, and particularly not having to redo work due to unsatisfactory quality or workmanship? Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?… (Luke 14:28-30).

    Humor. One way to maintain a good sense of humor is to avoid having an over-inflated sense of self. Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you (Romans 12:3).

    © 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. What do you think of Johnson’s “Five Marks of a Great Leader”? Are there any that you disagree with, or would replace with another leadership quality?

     

    1. How would you define “moral courage”? Does your definition agree with that of the world around you? If not, what are the differences?

     

    1. How can a leader gain a sense of priority, and then maintain priorities once they are established in the face of other competing interests and demands?

     

    1. Consider obstacles that arise in attempting to make God the first priority in business, as well as one’s personal life. Why can it be difficult to accomplish this on a daily, consistent basis?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Joshua 10:25-28; Matthew 7:24-27; Luke 10:27; Romans 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 5:16

  7. What Is The Value Of Customer Service?

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    August 21, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   Recently I was among nearly 500 people affected when a local medical facility decided to close a specialized care center that had served our area for 15 years. The patients, many of whom had been going to the center for years (10, in my case), were understandably disappointed and upset. “Irate” was a better description for some of them.

    We all were encouraged to transfer to a new, state-of-the-art, much larger facility operated by the healthcare organization in another part of the city. For many, however, that meant an additional drive of 20-30 minutes each way, depending on traffic, and having to deal with less than ideal parking accommodations at the site. Considering many of the patients are elderly and not very mobile, or recovering from recent major surgery, moving to the new center was not an appealing option.

    To justify their decision, the healthcare officials used terms such as “full utilization of a newer facility,” “advanced equipment and supportive technology,” “continuous improvement model,” “resources allocated for optimum service,” and “high rankings in key metrics.” Terminology like this might warm the hearts of corporate executives, number crunchers and stakeholders, but not the patients living in my area. They could not help but feel forsaken. Nowhere did the officials state the decision had been formulated with the best interests of the patients – the customers – being foremost in their concerns.

    So, what is the value of customer service? Can – or should – business economics and efficiencies always justify reducing or making dramatic changes to established services? Throughout my working career, I have experienced decisions of this type on numerous occasions. They are never easy. Sometimes they are justified and unavoidable; cuts may be necessary to ensure survival. At other times, however, decisions justified by dollars and cents might make good sense fiscally, but could be detrimental to long-term relationships with customers.

    If profits are paramount, customers and their interests can easily be discounted. But if disgruntled customers vote with their dollars and go elsewhere for services and products, profit-based decisions can lead to calamity. The Bible suggests how to weigh decisions between profits and people:

    Customers are the lifeblood of any business. Balance decisions by awareness of the needs and concerns of customers who will be affected. “Be sure to know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds…the lambs will provide you with clothing and the goats with the price of a field. You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed you and your family…” (Proverbs 27:23-27).

    What would you do if you were them? Substantial cuts or changes in services may be necessary, but if you were the customer affected, how would you feel and react? Might there be any more acceptable alternatives? “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31).

    Is greed the primary motive? Profits serve as rewards; they also can be reinvested for a company’s growth. However, it’s important to remember the value of focusing on others. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit…look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

    © 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 been affected by a major change instituted by a business or organization that caused you inconvenience, or even hardship? If so, what were the circumstances – and how did you respond to the decisions made?

     

    1. How would you approach reaching a decision – and then implementing it – that you knew would have a negative impact on people within your organization, or its customers?

     

    1. What does “knowing the condition of your flocks” have to do with these kinds of decisions, where changes are not eagerly received – even strongly opposed by those involved?

     

    1. In your experience, how important are profits in the decision-making process? When greed and the desire to make more money are primary motivating factors, what – if anything – can be done to influence decisions that are reached?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Matthew 10:45; Luke 22:27;
    Romans 12:10; Ephesians 5:21; Philippians 2:7

  8. The Power Of Admitting, ‘I Don’t Know’

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    August 14, 2017 – Jim Mathis   I was at a business seminar where the instructor advised attendees to never say, “I don’t know.” She said a better response is, “That is a good question,” or “Let me find out for you.” That sounds reasonable until we realize it denies the obvious – that we really don’t know everything, and sometimes it is not possible to find suitable answers to all our questions.

    Since then I have noticed how many times I say, “I don’t know.” One morning at the tax office where I was working, the receptionist asked me why her computer said 10:30 when it was actually 9:30. I said, “I don’t know.” If I had been the IT person, I probably would have told her it was a good question and I would try to find the answer, especially since it might be indicating an even bigger problem. But not being a computer expert, a simple “I don’t know” seemed my best response. I once had a friend who cautioned about chasing “rabbit trails,” getting sidetracked by questions we did not need to answer.

    Willingness to admit we don’t know everything might be an indicator of wisdom. We should have a desire to learn continually; that is how we grow in every area of our lives. However, assuming every problem has an easy answer, or we should somehow know the answer to every question, is naïve.

    When I was in the fifth grade, sometimes the teacher would ask the class a philosophical question, such as, “Why are we here?” I remember one of my classmates responding, “We can look it up in the encyclopedia.” I suppose the student had heard all the world’s knowledge was contained in those 20 volumes, and for us, it certainly looked like it. (These days we don’t need encyclopedias. We can just “Google” the answer.)

    Today, I know a lot of things. Time, study and experience have taught me much. I am willing to pass along anything I know to anyone willing to listen, but since I don’t know everything, I am quick to admit, “I don’t know.” If nothing else, we can always suggest where or who someone might go to for the answer.

    Sometimes admitting to ourselves, “I don’t know,” is a good thing in our relationship with God. We encounter a major obstacle at work, we pray about it, and then wonder how He can resolve it: “I don’t know.” Unexpected financial issues arise and we pray about that. How can God fix this? “I don’t know,” we say. And yet, He does.

    The Bible is very clear on many matters, but there are things about God – and what He says in the Scriptures – that are not as easy to understand. This is why Dr. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey wrote in their book, In His Image, “Jesus Christ became the visible, finite expression of the invisible, infinite, inexpressible God.” We cannot understand everything about God. If we could, He wouldn’t be God.

    We can be like the leaders of the Old Testament city of Berea, who received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what (the apostle) Paul said was true (Acts 17:11). Because as Paul wrote elsewhere, “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people” (Colossians 1:26). Our desire should be to know God as intimately as possible.

    However, we must also acknowledge God’s eternal truths are beyond full human understanding. This is why Hebrews 11:1 describes faith as “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Trusting in God, in the workplace and our private lives, sometimes involves being willing to admit, “I don’t know.”

    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 feel when someone asks you a question and you have to acknowledge you do not know the answer? What is your typical response?

     

    1. What is your reaction to the suggestion that instead of saying, “I don’t know,” replying, “That is a good question” or, “I will try to find out for you”? Have you done that? If so, what has been the result?

     

    1. Considering the area of faith, and our relationship with God, how comfortable are you with admitting that in understanding His ways, often we must admit, “I don’t know”?

     

    1. Have you ever had a discussion with another follower of Christ, or someone who is seeking to know God, who asked a tough question? Did you simply say you did not know the answer, or did you respond in a different way?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Job 40:1; Psalm 40:5, 92:5, 145:3;
    Proverbs 25:2; Isaiah 40:28, 55:8-9; Romans 11:33-34

  9. 5 Steps To Success, Modeled By Nehemiah

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    August 7, 2017 – Rick Boxx   Some people view the Bible strictly as a religious book, failing to see its relevance for every day. However, it can serve as a very practical, common sense guide for any aspect of life – including the business and professional world. No better example could be cited than the Old Testament book of Nehemiah. A trusted adviser to Persian king Artaxerxes in the 5th century B.C., he dreamed of rebuilding Jerusalem, reduced to mostly rubble for more than 140 years. The account of Nehemiah shows five key steps he took that paved the way for restoring the city:

    1. Prayerful assessment. Learning Jerusalem was in ruins, Nehemiah’s heart broke. He prayed fervently before approaching the king to ask his blessing to pursue the reconstruction project. After receiving approval, Nehemiah then went to Jerusalem and quietly assessed the damage for three days before taking action. Nehemiah 2:13 states, “So I went out at night…inspecting the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were consumed by fire.” If you desire a new project or your team to be successful, start with prayer, then objectively assess the situation.
    2. A compelling vision. For nearly a century and a half, no one had revived the city of Jerusalem; few people believed it was possible, or even necessary. Nehemiah, however, had a much bigger vision. For it to become reality, he needed the locals to catch his vision. He said to the people, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace” (Nehemiah 2:17). If you desire a team to follow you, communicating a compelling vision for the future is crucial.
    3. Find the right leaders for leverage. In those days, the high priest was very powerful. If that leader did not participate, few would follow. Along with the high priest, Nehemiah knew local business leaders would be very influential. With God’s help, he managed not only to engage business leaders in rebuilding certain sections of the wall, but also convinced Eliashib, the high priest, to lead the charge. Nehemiah 3:1 tells us, “Eliashib, the high priest, and his fellow priests went to work and rebuilt the Sheep Gate.” To form a strong team that gets results, recruit and leverage people of influence.
    4. Build collaborative teams. More than 40 sections of the wall around Jerusalem needed repair. Each team could have focused on their piece of the wall, but without collaboration their section would become an island easily toppled. They needed to work together – to accomplish the bigger goal of rebuilding the wall, and to fight off enemies. “From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor” (Nehemiah 4:16). With collaborative teams, Nehemiah overcame opposition. If you desire a strong successful organization, build teams that work together.
    5. Encourage commitment and accountability. When adversity comes, teams either fall apart or become stronger together. A good leader recognizes this and addresses adverse situations accordingly. Nehemiah and his team received multiple death threats; they were understandably scared. Nehemiah was at risk of losing his workers without their strong commitment. He encouraged them by saying, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes” (Nehemiah 4:14). He later encountered internal conflict as well, requiring that he hold his leaders accountable to God’s standards. If you desire a successful project or business, encourage commitment and accountability.
    Copyright 2017, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His new book, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What do you think of using the Bible as a guidebook for everyday practical matters in the business and professional world? Do you agree its principles are useful for the workplace? Why or why not?

     

    1. The first step in Nehemiah’s success in the effort to rebuild the ancient city of Jerusalem was prayerful assessment. Have you ever taken that approach when preparing to start a major project, praying before moving into action? Explain your answer.

     

    1. How do you respond to the progression of steps Nehemiah followed as he pursued the reconstruction of Jerusalem? Are there any of the steps that you would consider unnecessary? If so, why?

     

    1. Why can it be difficult to build collaborative teams having strong commitment that are willing to submit to accountability in their performance?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 27:17, 29:18; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Philippians 4:6-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:17

  10. ‘You Are Now Entering The Mission Field’

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    July 31, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   When you hear the term “mission field,” what comes to mind? Typically we think of a distant land, with people living in an alien culture, speaking an unfamiliar, even strange language. Have you ever thought about the mission field that exists right outside your office or cubicle, or the people you will encounter during your next sales call?

    Years ago, a friend of mine, Ken Johnson, established a ministry to business owners and top executives. One of his goals was to help each member recognize that they were missionaries – in their office buildings, manufacturing plants, and sales territories. In fact, Ken had little signs printed that he gave to everyone affiliated with his Christian Network Teams. The signs read, “You are now entering the mission field.”

    Nowhere does the Bible specify that the only people who qualify as “missionaries” are those under the direct authority of a church or mission agency, or that their income must be generated solely through charitable contributions. For that reason, a business or professional person working with individuals who do not claim to be followers of Jesus Christ can rightly consider himself or herself a missionary.

    When Jesus commissioned His followers near the end of His time on earth, He directed them to “therefore go and make disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20). Nowhere in this command did He indicate this must be done only within an institutional, religious context.

    Similarly, in Acts 1:8 Jesus declares where serving others in His name should take place: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” In saying this, Jesus was describing the entirety of the known world at that time. He was instructing His followers, “Tell people about Me wherever you go, whether it is in the office next door, your neighborhood, across the city, or in a totally different part of the world.”

    Thinking about this, it indicates that regardless of the source of our incomes, we are charged to serve as representatives of Jesus Christ – what CBMC calls “marketplace ambassadors” – wherever we go. We do not need a specific call to leave our professions or move to another part of the world. As someone has wisely said, God wants us to get involved with other people where we are – because we obviously cannot serve God where we are not.

    Over its nearly 90 years of existence, CBMC has seen many thousands of men and women come to know Jesus Christ in a life-changing way, and many of them have grown to become faithful and zealous ambassadors for Him not only in their own cities and nations, but also wherever they travel and conduct business. A literal translation of Matthew 28:19 is, “As you are going, make disciples (followers) of Jesus.” Wherever we go – wherever opportunities God provides take us – we are to serve Him and reach out to others with His Good News.

    © 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 word “missionary,” what words or images come to your mind?

     

    1. What is your reaction to the idea that you are a missionary, regardless of what kind of work you perform each day? How does the thought that “you are now entering the mission field” change your perception of or attitude toward the people you encounter over the course of working each day?

     

    1. The term “marketplace ambassador” has been mentioned? What does that mean to you? What would it look like for you to become – and act like – a marketplace ambassador?

     

    1. As you think about it, what kinds of obstacles come to your mind when considering serving as a missionary in the business and professional world? How can those obstacles be overcome?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Isaiah 43:4; Mark 16:15; Colossians 4:5-6; 2 Timothy 2:2-6; 1 Peter 3:15-17

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