Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. What Does It Take To Be Truly Rich?

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    January 30, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy  A while back, my wife and I visited a restaurant and later filled out a survey about our experience there. In completing the questionnaire, we were automatically entered in a contest with a monetary reward. To our surprise, we were notified we had won and weeks later received a check in the mail. It was not for a huge amount, but we put the unanticipated money to good use.

    This prompted me to wonder what it would take to truly feel rich. What if you won a huge prize in the lottery? Or if you discovered you were an heir to a wealthy relative, and that person had left you a large inheritance? Or if someone unexpectedly showed up at your door and announced you had won a major sweepstakes? Would any of those make you feel rich?

    Many people believe that if somehow they were to come into a huge amount of money, they would become truly rich and all their problems would suddenly be resolved. But would they? We can all recall news accounts about famous, extremely wealthy people who have experienced great difficulties in life despite their riches. Some of the wealthiest nations in the world are beset by great societal problems, despite their affluence. It seems that money is not necessarily the cure-all for serious struggles.

    Someone has said if given a choice between having money or not having money, they would definitely opt for having money. I think we all would agree. But is money, property, or a hefty investment portfolio the source of true riches – or is it something else? And how can we succeed in acquiring these riches? The Bible offers some observations:

    Material wealth – as well as the lack of it – can be stumbling blocks. In terms of money and material possessions, we may struggle with not having what we need. But having too much can also create problems: “…give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God” (Proverbs 30:8-9).

    In the pursuit of tangible wealth, there never is “enough.” There is something about wealth that fails to convince us that we have enough of it – even the richest people will tell you there is always room for “just a little bit more.” “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 5:10). “The leech as two daughters. ‘Give! Give!’ they cry” (Proverbs 30:15).

    Knowing and acting upon the truth is a path to true wealth. Embracing the truth God provides in the Scriptures can enrich more than anything the physical world can offer. “I rejoice in following your statutes as one rejoices in great riches” (Psalm 119:14). 

    Our use of material resources can be a test. Perhaps our attitude toward wealth and how we use what we have can serve as a strong indicator of our character, as well as our reliability as stewards of what has been entrusted to our care. “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:11). 

    © 2017. Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. Bob 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, as well as other books. His biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. 

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. From your perspective, what does it require to be truly rich?

     

    1. Who is the wealthiest person you know? What is their attitude toward their wealth – and do you believe their affluence has resulted in achieving real happiness and fulfillment? Why or why not?

     

    1. Why can having too much money become a stumbling block and source of trouble for someone?

     

    1. What do you think of the idea of trusting and acting upon the truths of God as being the source of the greatest riches? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 11:28, 13:7, 15:6, 16:8; Ecclesiastes 2:1-11, 12:13-14; Matthew 6:25-34

  2. Finding Good Ideas When Old Ones Will Not Do

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    January 23, 2017 – Jim Mathis   I had an unusual dream recently. In the dream, I was walking down a country road and it was beginning to get muddy. The farther I walked, the muddier it became. Before long the mud was over my shoes, then up to my knees. After a while I was trudging along in mud up to my waist.

    In my dream, I looked around and saw there were about a dozen people with me; we began to argue about which way to go and how to get out of the mud. Before long a young man came jogging by and asked us why we were all stuck in the mud. I looked at him and noticed he was about 20 feet away on a paved path. I quickly got out of the mud and joined him on the pavement, soon found a hotel where I had been staying, and was back to safety.

    I woke up from the dream before I could learn whether I went back to rescue the other people stuck in the mud or if they followed me to the pavement. However, I immediately recognized the metaphor. We often get stuck in the mud and expend so much energy trying to make some progress that we fail to see that there is a clear path, an easy way of escape, not far off.

    Sometimes this is literally true, even for entire communities and whole towns that have become stuck in the mud. The poorest county and the richest county in my state of Kansas, for example, are connected by a four-lane highway. However, the poor people stuck in the mud cannot see the nearby highway that could take them out, or they are simply afraid of the unknown they might encounter down the road.

    I have heard it said that one of the worst things in the world is a good idea – if we have just one. We become so committed to a single plan, whether at work or in our personal lives, that we fail to see a better way close at hand. I can remember several times where I felt “stuck” or lacking a solution to a problem, and always appreciated having someone close by who shows me a way out. We need to express thanks to those who have been willing to share their knowledge and insights to keep others moving along on a good path. Here are some thoughts from the Bible about how to free ourselves from unproductive ideas:

    It helps to seek fresh viewpoints. Often ideas that keep us stuck are paradigms, described as our unique ways of processing the information available to us. Sometimes the solution is to solicit help from people “outside the paradigm,” that offer a different perspective or suggest different ways of approaching the problem. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).

    Be open to new ideas. One definition of insanity is continuing to do the same thing the same way over and over, while expecting different results. Trusted advisers can expose faults in our thinking and suggest better, more productive alternatives. “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise” (Proverbs 19:20).

    There is always a way to escape. Sometimes the “mud” in our lives is a harmful or destructive habit. The Bible calls it “sin.” We might believe we are stuck, with no way of extricating ourselves from it, but we are promised that is not true. “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

    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. Have you ever had a time when, as in Mr. Mathis’s dream, you felt “stuck in the mud,” unable to find a way out? Explain that situation – and how it was resolved.

     

    1. Why do you think some people are inclined to stick with an idea, even when it obviously is not working, when a better alternative presents itself? Can you think of a current example where you work?

     

    1. What are your typical responses at those times when you feel stuck, unable to solve a problem? Do you seek wise counsel and input from others? Are you usually open to receiving and considering different points of view? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Regarding what the Bible calls “sin,” controlling and overwhelming forms of undesirable thinking and action that we might feel unable to escape in our own strength, have you found that God truly can provide a way out, as 1 Corinthians 10:13 states? What could be some difficulties in being willing to take that way out?

     

    NOTE: If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages: Proverbs 11:14, 12:15, 16:9, 19:27, 20:18, 24:5-6; Philippians 4:9; 2; Timothy 3:16-17

  3. Digging Extraordinary Out Of The Ordinary

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    January 16, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   Remember how excited you were the day you got your current job? Maybe it represented the realization of a dream. Or the end of a lengthy job search after being out of work. Or finally receiving an anticipated promotion. Or it offered the opportunity to pursue your passion, and utilize skills and gifts in ways you never could before.

    However, now you – or someone you know – have become restless and discontent. The job you once cherished has lost its luster; it has become boring, ordinary, routine. You feel you can no longer tolerate such an uninspiring assignment. The time has come for a change. Isn’t it interesting how a job that once enthused you so much that you could not wait for the start of a new day can become mundane, tedious, even detestable? It is like “falling in love,” becoming so fascinated with someone you cannot think of anything else, and then weeks, months or years later finding yourself wondering, “What was so special about him (or her)?”

    We can grow out of jobs, finding them no longer challenging or as rewarding as they once were. Perhaps we have developed new skills and are ready for greater responsibilities. Circumstances that seemed so appealing at first may have changed. However, sometimes this is simply a case of the newness, the novelty, having worn off, making a once very good job seem like a prison sentence.

    A time-worn adage tells us, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” But sometimes, just because a job has become familiar, that does not mean it is time to leave. As the essayist and poet Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and adore.” Just as we can lose our sense of wonderment in looking at the stars because they appear each night, we also can “fall out of love” with a job simply because we have become accustomed to it and its demands.

    Even though the excitement may have worn off, we might rediscover the extraordinary in the ordinary. Perhaps God has you where you are for a reason. Here are some thoughts to consider from the Bible:

    Maybe a new attitude, not a new job, is needed. If we could adopt a new perspective on our work, we might be able to approach it with more enthusiasm. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me” (Psalm 51:10-12).

    Sticking with it to the finish. We need to maintain a clear sense of our calling, recognizing God has placed us in our present job and may not be ready for us to move on. The apostle Paul wrote, Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus(Philippians 3:13-14).

    Remembering the One we represent. As representatives of Jesus Christ, how we approach and perform our work – even to the very last day – reflects on Him and our faith in Him. 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 is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. He 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. His biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. 

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What is your attitude toward the job you have right now? Does it excite, motivate and inspire you as it once did? If not, what has changed?

     

    1. Have you ever experienced, as poet Emerson suggested, a loss of enthusiasm – whether for the stars overhead, a job, a person, or something else – simply because of familiarity? If so, what has that experience been like for you?

     

    1. Do you agree that zeal for a job can be rekindled simply by being able to adopt a new attitude or perspective toward it? Why or why not?

     

    1. Can you think of an example of a time when God enabled you to rediscover the extraordinary out of something that had become ordinary and unexciting? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: 1 Chronicles 28:20;
    Proverbs 3:5-6, 16:3; Colossians 3:17, 23-24; Revelation 21:5-6

  4. How To Escape The Drama And The Tension

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    January 9, 2017 – Ken Korkow   Everywhere we look, we see drama, tension, fear, and a new crisis seemingly every minute. Forced to live and work in this oppressive environment, we can either become overwhelmed with anxiety, or take proactive steps to minimize external influences on us. I have chosen the latter. Here is what I am doing:

    First of all, I have determined not to waste energy on things I cannot influence. Feeling helpless can be a very debilitating emotion, so whenever I realize things are beyond my control, I choose not to spend time agonizing over them.

    My second step is actually the flip side of the first. I endeavor to exert influence in areas where I can make a difference, especially when I can see the possibility of an eternal impact.

    Like you, I find myself inundated with information overload – from TV, radio, the Internet, emails, texts, billboards and other sources. It is impossible to process it all. At the same time, we all get many requests for help, many of them very worthwhile. There are lots of valid concerns, as well as countless good and noble causes. But like you, my resources are limited; I cannot do everything, even if I wanted to. So I have applied the two principles above as a way of determining my priorities – what is the best investment of my time, talent, and treasure. As a result, here are some of the decisions I have made:

    For 40 years I have subscribed to the respected business periodical, the Wall Street Journal, but this year stopped. For 30 years we have received the Omaha World Herald every day, but this year we stopped. And a long time ago I stopped watching national television news.

    Please do not get me wrong. I am not an isolationist or a head-in-the-sand person. I have simply come to realize that the “news” is slanted entertainment with a desire for higher viewer ratings so they can sell more advertising – and I no longer want to get sucked into the drama.

    God wants us to be like the “men of Issachar” described in 1 Chronicles 12:32, because they “understood the times and knew what their nation needed to do.”

    So how can I do that? First, I make the effort to spend time in the Bible (I also read several devotionals) each day because, as King Solomon wrote, “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9). In the process, God through His Spirit guides, protects, and provides for me.

    Next, I check a few Internet news sources twice a day and read periodicals I have found useful for international, national and local news coverage. Very sporadically my wife and I will watch the first 10 minutes of the evening TV news, but again limit that because we do not wish to get caught up in the drama of managed news coverage.

    Throughout each day I strive to remind myself that the Lord is completely in control of everything, so the issue is not “What is happening?” but rather, “How will I respond to what is happening?” I have found that only then, when I am being filled with God’s truth, His Spirit and His love, does the overflow of my life reflect His character.

    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. Do you share the view that the world around us seems filled with drama, tension and fear, often manipulated, even magnified, by the various sources of information available to us? If so, what has been the impact as you go about living your life and performing your work?

     

    1. Do you sometimes find yourself caught up in agonizing about things over which you have absolutely no influence or control? Why is that – and what do you think should, or can, be done about it?

     

    1. How can a person shift the focus from things they cannot influence to those things over which they can exert positive change, even things of eternal significance?

     

    1. What is your response to the idea of restricting or limiting exposure to information sources that always seem to have an unsettling effect on our lives? Do you think this is a wise choice, or do you think we need to collect as much information as possible to ensure we are fully aware of and current on local, national and world events?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  Isaiah 41:10;
    Proverbs 4:26-27, 10:19, 14:8,30, 16:4,21, 17:24, 19:20, 26:24-26

  5. Building A Values-Based Business

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    January 2, 2017 – Rick Boxx   One of the most underestimated tools for any successful business enterprise is the foundation of values upon which it has been built. If a company’s goal is simply to make high profits, to close a lot of sales, or even to deliver huge quantities of products or services, it can lead to problems with the end serving to justify the means.

    For instance, if the objective is to finalize sales, one might be tempted to make whatever promises are needed to accomplish that – even if the promises cannot be met. Or if maximizing profits is the ultimate goal, it could become easy to justify cutting costs, even if that means compromising the quality of the product or services provided.

    However, when a company starts with a clear, well-considered framework of values to guide and govern its operations, chances of both survival and success are increased dramatically. These values essentially define “what we do,” “why we do it,” and “how we do it.”

    Many CEOs that are followers of Jesus Christ share a desire to influence their organization with principles from the Bible – which they understand to be the Word of God – while also being sensitive to those team members who may not embrace the same faith. One of the best ways to shape a company culture in an effective, non-offensive manner is to focus on values, principles of conduct and practice that everyone in the organization can be asked to embrace.

    For instance, a value of placing high priority on customer service is one that few can argue with; we don’t even have to explain this value is based on “doing to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). We might embrace the value of doing the best we can at all times, without having to insist that our staff “work at it with al your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

    Since many of the values we commonly endorse come right out of the Bible, formulating our core beliefs can serve as a non-threatening way for communicating God’s standards and values. Developing these foundational values and holding your team accountable to them can give you the opportunity to lead the way to doing business God’s way.

    As the psalmist expressed in Psalms 119:130, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” To achieve success – and then to sustain it – it is important for every key member of the team to be able to understand and explain what the organization stands for. What are the basic values and principles that serve as guideposts for how it conducts business on a day to day basis?

    If you desire to shape the culture of your organization in God’s way, try determining and articulating your core values. Next, model them, and then communicate them consistently to your team. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9).

    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. Would you consider your company to be a values-based business? Explain your answer.

     

    1. If you do believe your organization is values-based, what are those values? Are they articulated and presented in some way so that everyone has the opportunity to review and understand them as guidelines for everyday operations and practices?

     

    1. Understanding that not everyone in a business may hold to the same spiritual beliefs, would it still be appropriate for them to understand the source of the organization’s values if those are drawn from the Bible? Why or why not?

     

    1. What if an organization has not established a system of values by which to govern its operations – how do you think they could begin to work toward becoming a values-based business? Or do you think that if it has been operating without an agreed-upon statement of values, there is no need at this point to change that?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 11:1, 14:5, 15:33, 20:14, 29:4; Philippians 4:8, 2 Timothy 2:2

  6. A Suggested Goal For The New Year

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    December 26, 2016 – Robert J. Tamasy   The Christmas celebrations are over, New Year’s Eve is next on the schedule, and then we are fully locked into the new year. In anticipation of moving into a new calendar year, many of us are also engaged in the annual practice of making resolutions or setting goals.

    These can range from stopping bad habits and starting good ones, to assessing the past year and determining new goals for the next 12 months.

    Experts in planning tell us goals should have at least three common characteristics: They should be specific, they should be measurable, and they should be attainable. “I intend to do better” is none of the three, since it is vague, has no means for evaluating whether and when it is achieved, and “better” can always be a moving, frustrating target.

    Let me suggest a goal many of us could pursue, although its implementation would depend on our unique workplace circumstances. Here is the goal, borrowed from Heath Eslinger, head wrestling coach at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga:

    “The goal of every leader should be life transformation. Great outcomes are the result of great people. Be in the business of people.”

    This is a goal we all could embrace, regardless of our levels of responsibility. Yes, we need to pursue profits. We also should demand to provide quality products and services. If we are to stay in business, excellent customer service is a non-negotiable. But we find people at the heart of each of those objectives. As has been said many times, “You win with people.”

    We repeatedly find this principle in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments, applied to people whose goals and desires aligned with God’s. Israel’s King David serves as a good example:

    People having the right heart. In choosing a king of Israel to succeed King Saul, God did not choose an individual that simply passed the “look test.” Instead, He selected a young man who was right on the inside. “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’(Acts 13:22).

    People having the right spirit. After falling into grievous sin, David did not seek to deny, ignore or cover up his failings. Instead, he asked God to forgive him and restore their relationship. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me…. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me(Psalm 51:10-12).

    People having the right attitude. David exhibited a humble, teachable spirit that the apostle Peter also described. “Young men…be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothes yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6).

    © 2016. Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. Bob has written Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; and coauthored with David A. Stoddard. His biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. At this point, how would you assess your work performance over the past year? What have been your greatest successes? How did you do on goals you set? And what are some things you wish you could have done better?
    1. What goals or resolutions are you considering for the coming year?

     

    1. Do you agree with the idea that “the goal of leadership should be life transformation…. Be in the business of people”? Do you agree with the statement: “great outcomes are the result of great people”? And if so, what can we do to encourage life transformation among people that work with us, whether they report to us or are among our peers?

     

    1. How do you react to the suggestion that the “right people” have the right heart, the right spirit, and the right attitude?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  1 Samuel 13:14,
    1 Samuel 15:12-26, 16:1-13; Ezekiel 36:26; 2 Corinthians 5:17;
    Philippians 2:3-4.

  7. Finding Meaning In Christmas

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    December 19, 2016 – Robert J. Tamasy   You have probably heard the question repeated more times than you can count: “What is the true meaning of Christmas?” It might have as many answers as there are people. What the observance of Christmas looks like varies according to nation, culture, and household, but typically it is a time for family and friends to gather, enjoy good food, exchange gifts, and observe the closing of another calendar year. For many it is a fun, festive time; for others, it can be sad or depressing, a grim reminder of loss or pain.

    For the business and professional world, Christmas means much more than office parties and the end of the work year. Retailers hope to reap profits that can transform the calendar year from mediocre to outstanding. Contracts with existing clients are being drafted and hopefully, renewed. Annual goals are reassessed; plans are being formulated for the coming year. A few days off from work during the Christmas season provide a chance to catch one’s breath before another year of hectic activity.

    But is that what Christmas is all about? Someone has described it as “the season for requesting things we do not need, receiving things we do not want, and buying things we cannot afford for people we do not like.” Sounds a bit pessimistic, doesn’t it? Somehow, the nearly universal appeal of the season must be based on more than the lust for things and quest for profits. So where do we find meaning in Christmas?

    The first Christmas story is told in the opening chapters of the gospel of Luke. There we find a young Jewish man and woman, betrothed but not yet officially married, who make the arduous trek from their home in Nazareth to Jerusalem. According to the account, unable to find room in conventional lodging, the couple settles into a stable, where the Christ Child is born, His first bed a humble feed trough.

    Traditional Nativity displays give different perspectives. Shepherds, barnyard animals, angels and wise men all figure significantly. But what is missing from this scene is a crude wooden cross on which this infant – whom the Bible calls God in the flesh – will ultimately end His earthly life. Without the cross, there would be no need to remember or celebrate the first Christmas. Reflecting on this shows us important things about God, things that should be reflected in the lives of His followers. Among them are:

    Christ’s calling card was His humility. As hard as it is to imagine or conceive, the God of all creation and eternity entered time and took on human form. (He) made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross!(Philippians 2:7-8).

    God served us, so we can serve Him. A celebrity or dignity often expects people to serve their needs. But when Jesus came, His purpose was to serve others. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many(Mark 10:45).

    He became approachable. For a time, God – in the person of Jesus Christ – became as much like us as possible. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin(Hebrews 4:15).

    © 2016. Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. Bob 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. His biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com. 

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How would you explain or define, from your perspective, the true meaning of Christmas?

     

    1. What is the impact of Christmas at your business or organization, the attitudes and even moods of people with whom you work?

     

    1. Do you think that we, as a society, have drifted far from the meaning of Christmas as presented in the Bible? Or does the original basis for this annual celebration remain strong? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Which of the insights about God, as taught through the biblical Christmas story, seem most important to you – if any? What other principles or lessons does it offer for us to apply in our everyday lives, as well as our work?

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1-12; Luke 2:1-20, John 3:16.

  8. Preparing For The ‘Fourth Quarter’

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    December 12, 2016 – Jim Mathis   Life can be compared to a football or basketball game, or perhaps the final minutes of a soccer match. At some point you reach the fourth quarter. You feel tired, maybe hurting a little, but there is still time on the clock. There are still plays to be made. Chances are, they are the most important plays of the game. This is where you win or lose the contest.

    Unlike football, in real life we cannot see the clock. We do not know how much time we have left. We are also not certain about the score. Are we winning or losing? All we really know is that the game is not over. Our friends are still watching and cheering, and we need to finish strong.

    Colonel Harlan Sanders realized that he couldn’t live off of his Social Security benefits, so he started Kentucky Fried Chicken (now known as KFC) when he was 68. Arnold Palmer was still designing golf courses when he died earlier this year at 87, and Jane Pauley was recently named host of CBS’s Sunday Morning news program. She is 65.

    We could cite hundreds of other stellar examples of people who achieved much of their finest work in the latter stage of their lives. So the fourth quarter is important – even if we never will be famous.

    For me, the fourth quarter is proving to be a good time for writing, teaching and passing along what I have learned to others. Several months ago I realized I had 30 teaching or speaking dates on my calendar to be fulfilled before the end of the year. Some were tax classes, some were leading a group on personal finances, and a few were focused on the crafts of writing or photography. I needed to practice my public speaking skills, since I was going to be putting them into use over the succeeding few months.

    When we are young, it seems we have forever in front of us, so we have little concern about the final stages of our lives. However, we reach our 50s or 60s, we start to realize the time for making our mark, a meaningful contribution in life, is growing shorter. So it is wise to regard these latter years in terms of stewardship, even a sacred trust. The Bible has much to say about this:

    Time is fleeting. Time passes by relentlessly. We cannot stop it, nor can we conserve it or store it up for later use. It can be tragic to look back on our lives and think of time we failed to use wisely. If we do not use time, we lose it. “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil”
    (Ephesians 5:16)

    Take advantage of opportunities while you can. In our “fourth quarter,” we have accumulated a lifetime of experience and expertise. When opportunities present themselves to utilize those abilities, we should do so with eagerness. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

    We are being watched. How we live our life is serves as an example for others. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1).

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

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What “quarter” of life are you in at present? If you are not in your “fourth quarter,” as Mr. Mathis describes it, do you still have any concern about how you are using the time you have and opportunities presented to you? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Assuming you are in your “fourth quarter,” or at least approaching it, what are your thoughts about how you could invest the time you have remaining?

     

    1. Do you agree with the idea of viewing our time, experience, expertise and opportunities in terms of stewardship? Why or why not?

     

    1. How might you begin preparing now for the fourth quarter of your life? Or if you are already in the midst of it, are you using it in ways that you find fulfilling and meaningful, not only for yourself but also for others?

     

    NOTE: If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 8:6-8, Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 4:5-6;
    2 Timothy 3:16-17.

  9. Benefits Of Being Authentic

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    December 5, 2016 – Rick Boxx   How do you feel when you suspect someone is not being authentic or genuine, when it appears that individual is putting on an act – a “façade” – to make a desired impression with the people he or she is with at the time?

    Such behavior can sometimes be described as “hypocrisy.” The root of this word comes from the Greek, a term used to identify an actor, someone who wears a mask, as they did in ancient times. When we watch a movie or attend a live theatrical performance, we accept someone doing this because that is the actor’s job. They may portray characters very unlike who they really are, but we understand that is what “acting” is all about.

    However, witnessing such behavior in everyday life is not as defensible. We want people to be authentic – to say what they truly mean and be who they really are, not to present themselves falsely for a desired effect. We commonly observe this contradiction in the political scene: elected officials and candidates making speeches in which they say what they believe the audience wants to hear. Later, if public opinion polls indicate a shift, they start saying things very different.

    Of course, this also occurs in the business and professional world. A former CEO of United Van Lines, Rich McClure, candidly shared at one of our events that one day he was talking with some people near his assistant’s desk. After their departure, his assistant said to him, “People can tell when you’re authentic and when you’re not.”

    This was very convicting for Rich, because the assistant was right. He had just put on a show for these people, trying to impress them and elicit a certain response. This was obvious to his assistant – and likely to his guests as well. Rich humbly accepted this well-intended rebuke and determined to learn from it and act differently in the future.

    Being authentic in all of our interactions, whether in the workplace, our homes, or our communities, is not always easy. We want people to think well of us, and it can be tempting to misrepresent ourselves, our companies or our products if it seems this will help in achieving the desired result. However, people can sense a lack of sincerity, when we are not being genuine. “Putting on a mask” in real life can have very detrimental consequences.

    This is why the Bible often speaks of the importance of being authentic, giving people the assurance that “what you see is what you get.” Psalm 15:1-2 teaches, “Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart.” 

    Another passage speaks of a benefit of being authentic, warning against trying to mislead or deceive. “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who take crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9).

    In the workplace, regardless of the external circumstances, we should all strive to be known for our authenticity. As Proverbs 24:26 states, “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.”

    Copyright 2016, 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 important is it for you to know that those you work with are being authentic, and not attempting to misrepresent themselves or their business with their words or actions?

     

    1. Do you regard words or actions that are not genuine or authentic to be hypocritical? Why or why not?

     

    1. What do you think your response would be if someone, as Rich McClure’s assistant did for him, confronted you at a time they felt you were not being authentic? Do you feel you would be receptive to such constructive criticism?

     

    1. What steps can we take – should we take – to ensure we are not “putting on a mask” in work settings, seeking to misrepresent ourselves to others?

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:   1 Samuel 16:7;
    Proverbs 11:3, 20:14, 21:6, 29:5; Matthew 5:33-37, 23:27-28.

  10. ‘Tis The Season To Get Distracted

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    November 28, 2016 – Robert J. Tamasy   As each calendar begins drawing to a close, we often find a curious paradox. On one hand our desire is to focus these final weeks on attaining annual goals, quotas and deadlines. At the same time, with the many holiday festivities getting underway as seasonal holidays approach, it becomes very easy to lose our concentration on the tasks that need to be done. We could call this “the season of distraction.”

    With this in mind, I came across a fitting quote from Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister, software engineers, consultants and co-authors of Peopleware: Productive Projects and Teams. They observed, “There are a million ways to lose a day of work, but not even a single way to get one back.”

    What they say is true. Time continually moves forward, and when a minute, an hour, or a day has passed, there is no reclaiming it. It is similar to trying to put toothpaste back into the tube after we have squeezed it out. It may be human nature to want to hit the “Pause” button at the end of a busy and demanding year. We have worked hard and feel we deserve a chance to catch our breath. At the same time, opportunities that present themselves in these last weeks of the year might not be there after the New Year.

    So we confront the need for balance: Celebrating the fact we have survived another year, with its successes, failures and challenges. But also recognizing there is work that remains to be done. As the Latin adage states, “Tempus fugit.” Time flies.

    The Bible speaks to the importance of seeing ourselves as stewards of the time and opportunities being afforded to us. For instance, Ephesians 5:16 talks about “redeeming the time (making the most of every opportunity), because the days are evil.” This passage admonishes us to be wise in how we invest our time each day, not squandering it foolishly on empty, meaningless or unprofitable pursuits.

    For those that profess to be followers of Jesus Christ in the workplace, Colossians 4:5 says we are to, “Act wisely toward outsiders, redeeming the time.” A different translation also tells us to “make the most of every opportunity.” Perhaps this is especially importance in the midst of the Christmas season, when the emphasis seems on everything except the true reason for the season, celebrating the birth of Jesus.

    With all the frenetic activity surrounding the conclusion of the business calendar, on wrapping up projects and closing sales, along with the planning of holiday parties and buying gifts, are we serving as effective “marketplace ambassadors for Christ”? Is the presence and power of Jesus Christ being displayed in us despite the stresses and pressures of this season of the year? Here is another look at one of the passages above:

    Speak and act with wisdom. This time of year could be the ideal time of all for exhibiting and explaining what our faith means to us – and what it could mean for others. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone(Colossians 4:3-6).

    © 2016. Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. Bob has written Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; and coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring. His biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How does the holiday season usually affect you at work? Do you find yourself distracted by the various activities going on, or are you able to remain as productive as you usually are?

     

    1. What is the most common way for you to “lose a day of work,” or even a short bit of time? How can you try to avoid having that happen too often?

     

    1. Do you agree about the importance of “redeeming time,” or do you think there is too much emphasis on jamming as much activity as possible into a specific span of time? Explain your answer.

     

    1. What is the difference, in your opinion, between what we do with our time, and how we use our time? What is the role of wisdom in effective use or stewardship of time, and responding to opportunities?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, 8:5-6, 9:11-12; Luke 12:54-56; Galatians 4:4; 1 John 2:18-19

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