Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. Success In The Marketplace Is A Team Sport

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    © 2017. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob’s website is www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com, and his biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

  2. The Business Of Calling (Part 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

  3. The Business Of Calling (Part 1)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

  4. More Than ‘Just A Job’

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    May 8, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   Why do you go to work? To earn a paycheck? We all do that – it is good to have the money to buy food and clothing, put gas in our cars, pay bills, maybe invest a little for the future, and hopefully have some cash left over for fun activities. But is that the only reason you go to work?

    Some people might respond that work gives them something to do. Others might comment that it helps to fill the time between weekends. You can probably think of other reasons, but years ago George Washington Carver addressed the “why go to work?” question in a way that was both powerful and profound.

    Carver, who died in 1943 at the age of 79, was an African-American agricultural chemist who had discovered hundreds of uses for peanuts, soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes, among others. We still benefit from many of his discoveries today. But for him, his work was much more than “just a job” in a scientific lab. He explained it this way:

    “Man, who needed a purpose, a mission, to keep him alive, had one. He could be…God’s co-worker…. My purpose alone must be God’s purpose – to increase the welfare and happiness of His people…. Why, then, should we who believe in Christ be so surprised at what God can do with a willing man in a laboratory?”

    He hit on a truth that too many of us never fully grasp. God has placed us here for a purpose, a mission – and if we’re aligned with God’s purpose, we will enhance the lives of others and find lasting purpose that transcends paychecks, time clocks and deadlines. Along with offering his perspective on work, Carver cited Acts 17:28, “In Him (Jesus Christ) we live and move and have our being.”

    From the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, it is clear God ordained special meaning and purpose for work. “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living create that moves on the ground” (Genesis 1:28). Mankind was designated to serve as stewards over His creation. The Scriptures say more about work in terms of purpose and mission:

    A primary reason we are here. The Lord did not intend to display us in His trophy case; He had work He intended for us to accomplish for His glory. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10).

    Guidelines provided for how we are to work. God did not merely create work. In the Bible, He gives instruction on what we are to do, how we are to do it, and why. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). 

    Our work will be evaluated by the Creator of work. Once our work is completed, it will be subject to divine inspection. “…here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

    © 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. How would you answer the question, “Why do you go to work?”

     

    1. Is it important to have a sense of purpose, mission or meaning that we can find in the work we do, rather than simply regarding it as a source of income? Explain your answer.

     

    1. What are your thoughts about the statements by George Washington Carver concerning the significance of work, and striving to view it from God’s perspective?

     

    1. Do you think the Bible provides sufficient instruction and guidelines on how we are to pursue the work we are entrusted to do each day? Why or why not?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 10:4, 12:24, 18:11, 22:29; 1 Corinthians 3:9; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:17,23

  5. Rejecting The Machiavellian Way

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    May 1, 2017 – Rick Boxx   Years ago, we hosted Michael Franzese as one of our event speakers. Franzese, who spent nine years in prison, explained his incarceration was the consequence of following a code of ethics. Not someone else’s code of ethics, or a society’s code of ethics, but his own, personally adopted code of ethics.

    As a former member of the notorious Mafia crime syndicate, Michael believed in, and followed, the Machiavellian code of ethics until his spiritual conversion. Niccolo Machiavelli was an Italian Renaissance historian, philosopher and writer. His last name spawned the negative term, “Machiavellianism.” In Machiavelli’s book, The Prince, this characterized highly unscrupulous politicians. He essentially taught that anything is acceptable for pursuing self-interest and personal gain.

    This was the same perspective Franzese used to justify his actions before his life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. If victimized by his crimes, however, I doubt you would have had an appreciation for his personalized code of ethics or how he rationalized the wrongful deeds for which he later repented.

    Sadly, we see similar beliefs and behavior in much of the business and professional world. You can learn a lot of things in today’s business schools, but one thing you cannot learn is a universally agreed-upon code of ethics. It’s almost like in the days of ancient Israel, referred to in Judges 21:25 – In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

    Although we do not hear the term as much these days, business gurus used to speak of “situational ethics,” meaning to do whatever seemed appropriate at the moment for whatever goal or objective you desired to accomplish. Not much has changed today. Many people in the marketplace believe honesty and integrity are necessary only when it is expedient and serves their purposes.

    Is it any wonder that almost daily we hear or read news reports of gross ethical violations even at the top levels of some of our world’s most prestigious businesses and corporations? Without accepted standards for behavior and practice, everyone feels free to do what seems right in their own eyes. This is why the timeless teachings and truths of the Bible provide the most reliable guidelines:

    Wrongdoing will be punished. As Franzese discovered, believing one’s actions are justified does not give protection from consequences. “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death”
(Proverbs 14:12). “Food gained by fraud tastes sweet to a man, but he ends up with a mouth full of gravel” (Proverbs 20:17).

    God presents the ultimate standard. Our young people are being trained that truth is relative, that they should not judge others – and that others should not judge them. If we imagine communities filled with Machiavellians, we quickly see the flaw in that logic. “Honest scales and balances are from the Lord; all the weights in the bag are of his making” (Proverbs 16:11).

    Honesty and integrity provide security. If we strive to be honest in all our dealings, there is no need to conceal deceptions. “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3). 

    Copyright 2017, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His new book, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What code of ethics do you follow? How did you arrive at it?

     

    1. Are you familiar with the writings or thinking of Machiavelli? Do you know of anyone who has conducted himself or herself in business using a similar philosophy? If so, in your observations, what has been the result?

     

    1. Do you agree with the conclusion that it is wrong to operate according to the belief that anything is acceptable for pursuing self-interest and personal gain? Why or why not?

     

    1. If we see others succeeding according to such a philosophy, how are we to respond?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Exodus 20:15-17; Proverbs 11:1, 12:19,22, 20:10,23, 21:6, 29:4,10; James 1:8

  6. Ambition, Egos And Leadership

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    April 24, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   These days we seem to assume that ambition, inflated egos and leadership go together like a yolk, egg white and shell go together to comprise a fresh egg. Leaders want desperately to advance their organizations and themselves, so strong, even overbearing egos appear necessary if their ambitions are to be realized. In fact, their boards and stakeholders often encourage a “whatever it takes” mindset for governing their leadership tactics.

    However, my friend Randy, a pastor, recently offered some thoughts that challenge such thinking. Why should business and professional people be concerned about what a clergyman says? Because, as he wrote, “We are like small business owners fighting to get the people’s attention through advertising. Part of attracting folks…is attracting them to ourselves. Our advertising, whether through constant participation in social media or hyping our stories, can easily blow up our egos, sense of competition, and conceit.”

    One particular danger, Randy pointed out, is the temptation to give preference to those in a position to help us to maximize goals and ambitions. “When we are loved by powerful, important, influential, well-known, or wealthy people, it is quite easy to make them a priority and steal time from the poor, the isolated, the insignificant, and the overlooked.”

    Without question, powerful, influential and affluent people – often customers or investors – are critical to the survival and growth of organizations. But if as followers of Jesus Christ one of our foremost goals is to serve Him and point others to Him, then we must remember what He said: “…the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). In a similar way, one of the best ways for representing Jesus is to serve others, especially those that cannot reciprocate.

    This may run counter to the philosophies and values of many in the marketplace, but the truths and principles presented by Jesus often ran counter to the cultures in which He and His followers lived as well. The apostle Paul, for example, wrote, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others as better than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3). In no way did he suggest there might be exceptions for those engaged in business or commerce.

    To be honest, the employers and bosses that impressed me the most over the course of my working career were those who seemed to regard me as more important than themselves, who made special efforts at times to seek me out, ask how I was doing, and even assist me in my job if the need and opportunity presented itself. I can assure you, knowing they genuinely had concern for my well-being inspired me to work even harder in trying to fulfill and exceed their expectations.

    As Paul wrote elsewhere, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited” (Romans 12:16). This works for people regardless of their status or the work setting, whether in the marketplace, education, politics, media, or vocational ministry. 

    © 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. Do you think force of ego can be a positive factor in a leader’s effectiveness? Why or why not?

     

    1. If we concede that we all have egos and self-interests, at what point can we recognize when ego and pursuit of goals and ambition have gone too far?

     

    1. How can we consciously achieve a balance between worthy ambition and profits, while also ensuring that people of less importance and lower standing are not ignored or mistreated?

     

    1. What in the life and example of Jesus Christ would inspire you to “in humility consider others better than yourselves”?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 11:2, 15:33, 16:18-19, 18:12, 21:24; 22:4, 29:23; Colossians 3:12

  7. ‘Cowboy Logic’ About Calves – And People

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    April 17, 2017 – Ken Korkow   Even though I have spent many years in the business world, some of my greatest, most profound lessons about life – and work – have come from my time as a “cowboy,” spent on a family ranch in South Dakota, U.S.A. For instance, I have learned a lot about relationships with people while working with young cows – and observing other people working with them.

    Experience have taught me that in working calves, there are three places to be:

    1. When working with calves, most people not familiar with them do not want to get to close. So they stick a hand out and try to make the calf do what they want from an arm’s distance away. But the calf kicks and often, at the apex of the kick, strikes the person in the leg. Bottom line: minimum accomplished, and maximum pain.
    2. A few people actually charge the calf. They get one hand on the ear, and the other hand on the tail. They put their clean blue jeans up close and personal to the calf’s unclean hind end. Bottom line: the calf still kicks, but they are so close it does not hurt. And usually they can get the calf to go where they want it to go.
    3. The other alternative to do is stay out of the pen and away from the calves entirely. Bottom line: The person does not get hurt, and their clean jeans do not get dirty. But no work is accomplished.

    My cowboy experience has also shown me how working with people is a lot like working with calves. If you are not willing to get very close and personal, you might as well stay out of the relationship.

    We often become frustrated with what people do. We wonder why are they doing this – or that? Without being willing to go deeper in relationships with them, getting below the surface to uncover the relevant issues, we will never get the answers. This is why, if we desire to build meaningful relationships with people, approaches #1 and #3 will not work. We must get close – and must risk getting dirty. This applies to employers and their employees; business and professional people engaging with their colleagues at work, and even in interactions with customers and suppliers.

    We see in the life of Jesus Christ that He made the decision not to focus on large crowds or confine His attention to people with influence and affluence. Instead, He went extremely deep – the equivalent of a 3½ -year camping trip – with a handful of unlikely individuals, men He chose to become His disciples. No staying an arm’s length away; no hiding out. Neither was an option. Everything in their relationship was open and transparent.

    But we cannot go deep with everyone. We have neither the time nor the energy. And we cannot invest in every good opportunity that presents itself. We must follow God’s leading, starting with our relationship with God. In Mark 12:30, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” This is the foundation for all other relationships.

    In the next verse, Mark 12:31, Jesus cited the next relationship priority: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This includes our spouse, family, people where we work, friends, even people who live in our neighborhood. The order of priority Jesus gave is important, because we cannot truly love our “neighbor” – whoever that might be – without first loving God as fully and deeply as we can.

    Then, even in the workplace, we can carry out the final instructions Jesus gave His followers in His last moments on earth. We can “make disciples of all nations…teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). We can only do this if we’re willing to get close, and risk getting dirty.

    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. Have you ever been on a ranch or a farm, and interacted with the animals? If you were asked to approach a calf, which approach do you think you would take?

     

    1. Korkow observes that in working with calves – and with people – it is necessary to get close, and be willing to get dirty. What is your reaction to this?

     

    1. Why do you think willingness to get close to people can be so difficult? What has been your experience in doing this?

     

    1. It is stated that the key to developing deep, meaningful relationships with people is first having a deep, meaningful relationship with God. Do you agree? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 12:26, 17:17, 27:9-10; Philippians 4:9; 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8,11-12; 2 Timothy 2:2

  8. Success And Self-Control

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    April 10, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   “At no time is self-control more difficult than in times of success.” I do not know the originator of this unattributed quote, but it seems to carry a lot of wisdom. Success has an annoying habit of feeding egos, puffing up those who succeed with pride and overconfidence.

    We can see this every day in the news – entertainers, professional athletes and other celebrities strutting about proudly, basking in the adulation they receive and reveling in media spotlight that shines on them. Few things have the effect of bloating one’s self-image more than success.

    This phenomenon manifests itself in the marketplace as well. Sales executives closing important sales in rapid succession and then finding great difficulty containing their egos. A person receives a promotion, and suddenly becomes tempted to regard himself as more important than he was before. Someone else receives a prestigious award and before long she proceeds to “lord it over” her peers and colleagues.

    This is hardly new; it is a problem that has spanned the ages. More than 150 years ago, then U.S. President Abraham Lincoln observed, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” In his view, strength of character is revealed not in the brutish exercise of authority, but in one’s ability to retain a sense of humility in the wake of success.

    Many centuries earlier, the apostle Paul wrote about this to Christians in ancient Rome, admonishing, Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment” (Romans 12:3). In other words, we should strive to keep our successes and personal victories in proper perspective.

    Even before Paul made that observation, Jesus Christ taught about the virtues of genuine humility. He said, “For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:12).

    And thousands of years before Abraham Lincoln offered his thoughts about how power and status can test character, the writer in the Old Testament book of Proverbs made a similar observation. “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives” (Proverbs 27:21). As Lincoln noted, while we tend to perceive adversity and hardship as severe tests, how we respond when things are going very well can be just as revealing.

    How then should we respond when success comes our way, whatever that endeavor might be? We all want to succeed in our work, as well as in our personal lives. But that does not warrant practically breaking our arms patting ourselves on the back. If we refuse to let success go to our heads, we may well find commendation coming from other sources: “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2).

    Another passage instructs that focusing on God, who provides us with the opportunities, talents and resources to succeed, is the best approach: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful” (Joshua 1:8).

    © 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. His website is www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com, and his biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Do you agree with the assertion that self-control can be very difficult when experiencing times of success? Why or why not?

     

    1. Can you think of an example, whether it is a famous person or someone you know personally, whose behavior demonstrated that they could not manage to keep success in proper perspective? If so, how was that exhibited?

     

    1. Why do you think the way people handle success, power, and other forms of prosperity can become as much a test of character as how they respond to adversity?

     

    1. What steps can we take to ensure that we maintain a sense of genuine humility – even in advance of achieving success – whether in our work, our businesses, or personal pursuits?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 11:2, 15:33, 16:18-19, 22:4; Philippians 2:3-11; Colossians 3:12; 1 Peter 5:5-6

  9. From Failure To A Five-Star Review

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    April 3, 2017 – Rick Boxx   Matt’s chest tightened as he listened to the voicemail from Roger, an unsatisfied client. What he was hearing was something no businessperson wants to hear: “Matt, we will not be needing your services any longer. Your company dropped the ball on this project.”

    Initially, his reaction ranged from disappointment to feeling disheartened. Instead of making excuses or begging for a second chance, however, Matt responded out of conviction that he needed to do the right thing. He called the client, offering a 100 percent refund on the fee that had already been paid, as well as his personal guarantee to correct the problem.

    Somewhat surprised that Matt did not respond in a defensive manner, the frustration and disappointment of his client, Roger, suddenly softened. Encouraged by the professional and caring manner by which Matt handled the situation, the client responded with a 5-star online review of Matt’s company. In addition, this turned apparent disaster into an opportunity to continue and even expand their business relationship.

    Because Matt had been quick to acknowledge his company’s poor performance, potential failure turned into a stellar, 5-star review and recommendation.

    Too often we are tempted to offer excuses when things go wrong, or shift blame elsewhere, rather than recognizing our personal and corporate shortcomings. However, as the Bible’s Old Testament book of wisdom points out, “He who conceals his sin does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy” (Proverbs 28:13).

    This is not a guarantee that admission of unsatisfactory service will always result in retaining customers, but it is a good principle to follow for these reasons:

    Wronging a customer is also wronging God. “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them” (1 Kings 8:35).

    Righting a wrong through restitution restores the relationship. “Speak to the sons of Israel, ‘When a man or woman commits any of the sins of mankind, acting unfaithfully against the Lord, and that person is guilty, and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged’” (Numbers 5:6-7).

    Acknowledging a wrong brings healing for ourselves. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).

    These principles offer powerful motivation for recognizing and making amends for doing wrong or failing to live up to our commitments in business. By taking ownership of our mistakes and admitting our failures can become an opportunity to showcase your heart. God, and others, will honor this.

    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 visit www.integrityresource.org. His new book, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Question

    1. Has someone you have done business with ever acknowledged when they failed to fulfill what they had promised to do, and then made amends to you? If they did, what was your reaction? Did that restore your trust in them enough for you to consider doing business with them again? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Can you recall a time when you were the one admitting to having failed to meet the customer’s expectations and standards? What action did you take – and what was the customer’s response?

     

    1. Why do you think it is sometimes so difficult to admit our errors or failures, or to be willing to make amends when needed?

     

    1. What do you think about this real-life scenario, where a client had intended to terminate the business relationship, only to reverse his decision and end up highly endorsing the company that had failed?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Leviticus 19:18; Matthew 5:42-44, 7:12; Mark 12:33; Acts 20:35

  10. Who Will Remember Your Name?

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    March 27, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy    Patrick Morley, who wrote the best-selling book, The Man in the Mirror, and became a pioneer in the Christian men’s movement a few decades ago, is an astute observer of humankind. Recently he began a blog post by reflecting on “an enormously successful businessman and iconic philanthropist” in his city:

    “His name was constantly in the press,” Morley wrote. “He was far more well-known than you or I will ever be, yet 10 years after the last time I heard his name, I cannot remember it. And there are many more just like him.” Then he asked his readers, “Who will remember your name 10 years after you die? What a great question by which to prioritize your life!”

    Morley was right. Most of the people who make the headlines today, those whose names are heard almost daily in the business periodicals, news broadcasts, or entertainment media, will be long forgotten within a decade’s time, replaced by other more recently “famous” individuals. Think, for instance, of the “one-hit wonders” in the music industry. They recorded one or two popular songs that kept everyone humming for a while, then seemingly disappeared. Occasionally we might hear their songs again in the radio, but we are at a loss trying to remember who the recording artists were.

    The same could be said about one-time “stars” in any field of endeavor, including the business and professional world. So the question is valid: Who will remember your name 10 years after you die – and if they do remember it, why?

    In the Bible’s book of Proverbs, we find a number of thought-provoking references that underscore how fleeting fame can be. We also can learn how to establish a name that will be remembered – and for good reasons:

    A good name is priceless. A solid reputation can be destroyed in a moment of bad judgment, but a lasting legacy fondly remembered requires an entire lifetime to establish. “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold” (Proverbs 22:1). 

    Be someone people want to remember, not are eager to forget. There are good leaders and bad leaders; bad ones are not likely to be remembered for long. “The memory of the righteous will be a blessing, but the name of the wicked will rot” (Proverbs 10:7). “Do not fret because of evil men or be envious of the wicked, for the evil man has no future hope, and the lamp of the wicked will be snuffed out” (Proverbs 24:19-20).

    Focus on what will last, not on things that can be lost or rapidly decay over time. Temporal things, those that cannot be kept forever or that decline in worth over time, are vain pursuits. This is why Jesus instructed His followers to focus on the eternal, rather than the temporary: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

    © 2017. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; and coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and has co-authored and edited numerous other books. His biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How would you answer the question, “Who will remember your name 10 years after you die?”

     

    1. Why is it, do you think, that so many people that regularly appear in the public spotlight are forgotten after they die, or even soon after their careers come to an end?

     

    1. What can you do to ensure that long after you are gone – from the company where you work, from the community where you live, or even from this life – that people will remember your name, and for the right reasons?

     

    1. Do you think this should even be a concern, whether people will remember us years after our life on earth has come to an end? Explain your answer.

     

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

    Proverbs 11:30, 13:9, 25:9-10, 27:24; Matthew 7:13-14; Philippians 4:9; 2 Timothy 2:2

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