Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. Facing The Forgiveness Challenge

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    March 20, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   When was the last time you forgave someone for a wrong they had done to you? When was the last time you went to someone else and asked for their forgiveness?

    These can be challenging questions, because among the many things we are asked to do in today’s business and professional world, forgiving and being forgiven are often among the most difficult. So difficult, in fact, many people choose to avoid them entirely. We hang onto grudges and nurse hurts rather than attempting to reconcile relationships. Instead of requesting forgiveness, even if we realize we have said or done something wrong, we ignore it, hoping the offending party will forget over time.

    C.S. Lewis, one of the great thinkers of the 20th century, summed it up well when he observed, “Everyone thinks that forgiveness is a lovely idea, until he has something to forgive.” He might well have been saying that when it comes to forgiveness, it is more blessed to receive than to give.

    Veteran consultants and executive coaches know a recurring issue their clients must confront involves forgiveness. Failure to forgive can destroy partnerships, leadership teams, even entire organizations. It might range from something simple, such as unkind words, to doing something in anger that we later regret, to total failure to fulfill a major business commitment.

    It can be easy to say, “forgive and forget,” but extremely hard to do. Often, to forgive feels like letting someone off the hook for wrongdoing without making amends. Instead, we decide never to forget the harm they have done to us. The problem is, we can become victims of our own unwillingness to forgive. Offending parties may not be aware of the pain we harbor, they may not care, or we may have lost contact with them, leaving no opportunity for reconciliation or restitution.

    What then should we do about forgiveness? The Bible offers sound advice on this matter:

    Be willing to forgive even more than necessary. Talking to His followers, Jesus dismissed the “eye for an eye” vengeance approach for correcting wrongs. Instead, He urged being the “bigger person” in the conflict. “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well…” (Matthew 5:38-40). 

    Consider how much God has forgiven us. In offering His model prayer as a guide, Jesus put special emphasis on forgiving others. “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:12-15). 

    Failure to forgive can plant seeds of bitterness. Even if feelings are justified, being able to forgive can free us from a form of “emotional cancer.” “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Ephesians 4:31-32).

    © 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. His biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Reviewing the opening questions, when was the last time you forgave someone for a wrong they had done to you? What were the circumstances, and how did you go about forgiving that person?

     

    1. When was the last time you went to someone else and asked for their forgiveness? What kind of response did you receive? How easy was it for you to ask that individual – or group – to forgive?

     

    1. Are you presently struggling with circumstances in which forgiveness is needed? Have you reached a point where you believe that you should take steps to seek resolution, in one way or another? Explain your answer.

     

    1.  How should an awareness of how much God has forgiven us about our own wrongdoings toward Him – our sins – affect our thinking about forgiving someone else, or seeking their forgiveness?

     

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

    Genesis 50:15-21; 1 Kings 8:47-52; Matthew 18:23-35; Mark 11:25; 2 Corinthians 2:10

  2. Principles For Running Your Business

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    March 13, 2017 – Jim Langley   A few years back, I had the opportunity to share my broad business goals with approximately 40 insurance agents when I was honored by my company for 25 years of service with our company. I offered some words from personal experience, explaining the goals I have followed are simple and yet profound: Be there; be studious; be disciplined; be persistent and consistent; be service-minded; be positive; and be near God.

    I told them that I believe these goals can be applied regardless of what direction a person takes in business and life. Over the years I have come to a better understanding of what works and does not work in selling to and servicing my clients. Let me elaborate:

    Be there. For my clients, I need to follow the words Jesus gave to His disciples in John 13:33-34: “Love one another” and place the needs of our clients before our own needs. When I follow this command, I take my work much more seriously and develop a strong desire to help others as well as I can in a timely fashion.

    Be studious. I need to continually keep up with changes in insurance laws and available products to best accommodate my clients’ needs. One of my life verses reminds me, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward” (Colossians 3:23-24) This is all the reminder I need to remain on the cutting edge of my profession.

    Be disciplined. I must stick to viable systems and only work with companies I know I can trust. Proverbs 1:7 reminds us, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” My clients want me to be wise in my recommendations and not act foolishly with their investments and well-being.

    Be persistent and consistent. I must understand the value of every “No,” and persevere to earn the next “Yes” as I meet with prospects. In James 1:12 we are encouraged, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” I consider my business a part of serving God; I know He is pleased when I honor Him in my work.

    Be service-minded. I must always place the needs of others above personal gratification. Ephesians 6:7 instructs us, “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free.” I consider myself a servant to each of my clients, but even more, I am a servant to my Lord.

    Be positive. I need to “hang around” other positive people as much as possible. Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds us, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” With so much negativity in this world, we need to immerse ourselves in positive thinking and behavior to ward off the negative, counterproductive behavior that is so prevalent.

    Be near God (most important). I need to clearly understand my purpose in life and be reminded who is really in charge. God can provide us with a peace “which transcends all understanding,” proclaimed by the apostle Paul in Philippians 4:6-7. This helps me remain close to Him and always look to Him as I deal with circumstances in life, whether it involves my business, family, or other areas of my personal life.

    I believe these seven broad goals can serve anyone well in life, but the catalyst that makes it all work is Jesus Christ. He offers to be our example and coach as we do our best to serve Him and our clients, and deal with all that He places in our path.

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

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Do you have business goals that guide your approach to work each day? If so, what are they – and how do you use them?

     

    1. Which of the goals cited by Mr. Langley seems most meaningful or significant to you? Is this a new idea for you, or does it relate to goals or principles you are currently following in your work?

     

    1. Why do you think goals are necessary, whether for establishing and building a business, or for simply going about our everyday lives?

     

    1. Do you disagree with any of the seven goals listed? Or would you suggest adding any other goals to this list? Explain your answer.

     

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

    Proverbs 1:1-7; John 13:33-34; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

  3. When You Are The Oldest Person In The Room

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    March 6, 2017 – Rick Boxx   Not long ago a business leader, Kevin, mentioned he has found himself adjusting to the fact that he is often the oldest man in the room. Just as he used to look up to his elders, Kevin said he has now become one of those “elders,” and others are looking up to him for guidance. This reality, he admitted, can be both flattering and daunting.

    It is like an athlete joining a professional sports team as a rookie, competing year after year, and one day becoming aware that he or she has become the seasoned pro, the person younger players look up to for leadership and experience. There is the sense of accomplishment that comes with longevity, but also the humbling sense of being the “wise old veteran” expected to set the pace and show the way.

    For those of us who have been in the workplace for many years, insecurities can cause us to doubt we have much to offer, despite achievements and accumulated experience. Younger people typically display much enthusiasm and energy, along with fresh, innovative ideas. However, as we mature both personally and professionally, God may want us to embrace these times when our voices and perspectives, offered with humility, become useful for guiding the younger leaders in our organizations.

    Some societies seem to defer to young, emerging leaders, recognizing they represent the future. And yet, we all would be in error if we failed to utilize the collective wisdom and expertise of older leaders who can draw from proven track records of performance and success. The Bible addresses this in many ways:

    Setting positive examples. Younger people need strong, consistent models of proper behavior, principles and values to use in the workplace. What they observe and learn will help in shaping how they approach their own careers. “Encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:6-8).

    Passing on what we have learned and experienced. Life and work provide us with a rich storehouse of knowledge and experiences. We should consider ourselves stewards of these, being eager to share and pass them along to younger team members. “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice. And the God of peace will be with you” (Phil 4:9).

    Establishing an enduring legacy. Part of our legacy, both professionally and personally, is established through the training, equipping and preparing of those that one day will succeed us in our jobs and other meaningful pursuits. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of man witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2).

    With age and maturity – in the workplace, our homes and communities – comes added responsibility. Before “turning over the keys” to newer colleagues and associates, we should plan to serve as examples and encouragers, guiding them in sound business practices and pointing them toward their own success.

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

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Where do you rank among those you work with – are you one of the senior staff members, one of the younger ones, or somewhere in between? If you are one of the older ones, what do you think should be expected of you, drawing from your experience? If you are a newer team member, what would you like to receive from those having greater knowledge and expertise?

     

    1. Why do you think suddenly realizing that you are the oldest – or one of the older – members of the workplace team can be unsettling for some people?

     

    1. How can an older, more seasoned worker overcome a sense of insecurity in interacting with younger members of the team?

     

    1. Which of the biblical principles cited seems most meaningful to you – and why? Is it the importance of setting an example, passing along what you have learned, or establishing a strong legacy? Explain your answer.

     

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

    1 Corinthians 4:16-17; 2 Corinthians 3:5; Philippians 3:17; 1 Timothy 1:18-19; 2 Timothy 1:13-14

  4. The Integrity Of Paying Bills On Time

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    February 27, 2017 – Jim Mathis   Years ago, when my wife and I were in the photofinishing business, I received a letter from a high-ranking official at Eastman Kodak. I was a little nervous that Kodak might cancel our account, since we were very small for such a large company. Even though we bought a couple thousand dollars in film, chemicals and paper each month, that was still a very meager amount by Fortune 500 standards.

    I was surprised when I opened the letter because it was the opposite of what I expected. It was a letter of commendation, thanking us for paying our bills on time. In the 15-20 years we had been doing business with The Eastman Kodak Company, we had never missed a discount or were even one day late in paying our bill. That level of integrity deserved a personal letter from a vice president of the company. I was pleased with myself, but even more impressed that someone at Kodak would recognize our financial reliability and take the time to write a letter.

    This came to mind recently as my wife and I were leading a “Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University” class in our home. I have not always been as faithful in paying my bills on time as I was years ago, but in recent months have made a renewed commitment to paying our bills before their due dates.

    All business is built on relationships. People like to do business with people they like, including those who are prompt in meeting their obligations. Having to send “Past Due” notices can quickly sour relationships, and people who are slow to pay soon run out of suppliers. For those wanting to serve as “marketplace ambassadors” for Jesus Christ, as described in 2 Corinthians 5:20, such diligences provides an unspoken witness to the character of the God we follow by faith.

    Here are some related principles the Bible gives to us:
    Faithfulness in obligations, even small ones, qualifies for greater responsibilities. We often must demonstrate we can be relied upon in small matters before we can be entrusted with greater things. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own? (Luke 16:10-12).
    Paying bills on time provides financial freedom. Prompt payment of obligations minimizes the accumulation of interest, and can pave the way to gain the trust of our suppliers as our companies grow and our need for resources increases. “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7)
    Prompt payment will enable us to stand out in the crowd. In an environment when it is so common for businesses to wait until the last possible moment to pay bills, a commitment to pay promptly speaks a lot to the integrity of the organization and its people, whether owners, top executives or employees. Above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear–not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. All you need to say is a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ Otherwise you will be condemned (James 5:12).

    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. In your experience, how prompt in paying bills are the people and companies that deal with your organization?

     

    1. What is your typical practice in paying your obligations – do you pay them quickly, or do you tend to wait until the absolute due date?

     

    1. Do you agree that the way we pay bills makes a statement about our integrity and dependability? Or do you think other areas are more vital in terms of integrity? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Give an example of a time when you – or someone you know – demonstrated faithfulness in carrying out even menial tasks that over time resulted in being given greater responsibilities and authority.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  Proverbs 10:9, 11:1,3, 20:7,14, 21:5; Colossians 3:17; James 2:14-17

  5. Genuine Humility–What It Is, And Isn’t

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    February 20, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy  Can you think of someone that’s genuinely humble? How about someone who has been extremely successful – and yet humble nonetheless? Does anyone come to mind?

    Recently I listened to a talk radio show in which the commentators were discussing humility, and how it relates to a person’s success. One speaker offered his view that humility would hinder a person from succeeding. Someone might project a sense of being humble outwardly, he said, but inwardly the individual must maintain arrogance and extreme self-confidence to become truly successful.

    That prompted me to start wondering, is that true? Are humility and success mutually exclusive? Then I remembered the classic business book by Jim Collins, Good to Great, in which he describes what he terms “Level 5 leaders,” people that led organizations that were not merely good, but great. After much research, Collins and his team discovered that among the qualities top leaders possessed, they included both humility and “ferocious resolve, a stoic determination to do whatever needs to be done to make a company great.”

    Contrary to the talk-show speaker’s opinion, leaders who guided their companies from good to great did not have to believe they were the central focus of everything that happened. In fact, Collins wrote, “The good-to-great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes. They never aspired to be put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.” They also were quick to deflect praise, redirecting it to their teams.

    How does this happen? Today the media spotlight seems to shine brightest on egotistical corporate leaders, sports figures, entertainers and other celebrities. There does not seem to be much of a “market” for the self-effacing, humble type of leader that Collins described in his book. And yet, according to the book of Proverbs, humility is a prized commodity for anyone holding a leadership capacity:

    Leaders that focus on self are flirting with disaster. Throughout history we see examples of self-centered leaders whose decisions were shaped by ambition, pride and greed, leading to their ultimate demise. “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2). “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12). 

    Humble leaders recognize the source of their abilities and accomplishments. We all have innate strengths and abilities; we may have worked hard to develop and refine them, but often the talents were there already. Recognizing God as the source is a big step toward becoming a humble, yet successful leader. “The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 15:33). “Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4).

    Humility enables a leader to seek – and receive – counsel and advice from others. The humble leader understands he or she is not all-knowing, so they are very responsive to the input from others regarding important decisions. “Do you see a man wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 26:12).

    © 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. His biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Do you think genuine humility can become an obstacle in a person’s quest for success? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Who would you identify as someone who is truly humble, not just someone who projects the appearance of humility when it seems useful to do so?

     

    1. Why is humility seemingly such a rare virtue, particularly in the business and professional world, where so many are determined to do whatever is necessary to succeed?

     

    1. How is it possible for leaders to effectively communicate a willingness to accept input and feedback without compromising their authority in the eyes of those who follow them?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  Proverbs 13:10, 16:5,18, 25:27; Luke 9:23; Philippians 2:3-4

  6. Influence–Or Contamination?

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    February 13, 2017 – Luis Cervino   A few days ago, I went to a paint store to purchase a gallon of paint to match a paint sample that I had taken earlier. The clerk took a gallon can of white paint and began mixing in drops of other colors to achieve the specific paint color that I had requested. He was following the computer specifications that tell the clerks how to blend the correct proportions or amounts of different paint hues necessary to create the desired color.

    Observing this process in action, I began thinking about how something like this happens to us on a daily basis. We all are subject to the influences or contamination from the environment around us, for our good or for our detriment. A little bit of influence, like a few drops of paint, can result in big changes in each one of us. The consequences – positive or negative – can follow us forever. Like the example of the paint that has been blended with other colors, never to return to its former state, influence or contamination from our surroundings can permanently affect us.
    Having this in mind, we can see that it takes only a very little influence from the environment to change us, and that can be good or bad. As many of us have discovered, sometimes painfully, by ourselves, we cannot return to our previous state.
    But how can we go about identifying what are the right and wrong influences? How are we to discern which ones are the best, and which we should avoid? I would suggest two important steps are the power of prayer, for discerning good and bad influences, and repentance, when we realize we have become contaminated by wrong influences. Through prayer we can receive wisdom and guidance from God. We also must follow what the Lord has told us through His Word, the Bible. As we respond in obedience to Him, we will find blessings. Here are suggestions from the Scriptures:
    Recognize the danger of contamination. Everything around us can affect us, for better or worse, so we should seek what benefits us and builds us up. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. That you may prove what the will of God, good, acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2)
    Prayer gives us certainty. As we pray to God we find the conviction that what we present to the Lord must be according to His will. “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; rather, fear the Lord and shun evil” (Proverbs 3:6-7).
    Through prayer, God calls us to obedience. By obeying God and being tenacious in seeking to serve Him, we find success. “I only ask you to be very strong and courageous to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you. do not turn from it all; only be successful wherever you go” (Joshua 1: 7).
    Prayer and repentance bring restoration. Turning to God and acknowledging when we have fallen to negative influences, we can experience His restoration and healing. “If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).

    Luis Cervino is a maxillofacial surgeon in Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico, where he resides with his wife, Rocio, and their two sons. He has been a CBMC/CPEC member in Mexico since 1997, and has been translating Monday Manna from English into Spanish since 1999. His translations reach readers in Mexico and many other parts of the world.

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Have you ever had a can of paint tinted, and then found it had been turned into the wrong color? If so, what did you do with it? Did you keep the paint and use it, or did you discard it and purchase a new can of the desired color?

     

    1. Using the paint analogy, how are we to respond when we discover we have become tinted – or tainted – by undesirable influences?

     

    1. How can we go about discerning when we have been influenced in positive ways by the environment around us, and when it has contaminated us in detrimental ways?

     

    1. What about the consequences of yielding to bad influences that contaminate us and our behavior? Is there a way to undo the wrong that has been done? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  Psalm 18:25-26; Proverbs 27:17; Romans 12:1; Philippians 4:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:2;
    Titus 1:15-16

  7. The Wisdom Of The Front Line

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    February 6, 2017 – Rick Boxx   A friend of mine, Paul, and some investors launched a new business with a promising new medical product. The product concept was excellent, but when the medical community used this new product, it was not effective because of significant design flaws.

    When Paul communicated to his investors that the product needed to be revised, the investors did not accept what their sales people were saying about the design problems. Investors believed the product did not need changes; the sales representatives just had to do a better job of marketing it.

    Ultimately, with the business rapidly nearing failure, Paul made one last effort to convince the investor group to allow him to change the design. With great reluctance, the investors finally agreed, and changes were implemented. To the surprise of the investors – but not to Paul – within three months, sales began to soar, losses were averted, and the medical community had a product they were eager to use.

    This scenario illustrates a not-uncommon problem in the business and professional world. Individuals at the top levels of leadership and management make critical decisions without consulting front-line workers, whether they are the ones involved in manufacturing the product, those who provide the services, or staff assigned sales and marketing responsibilities. When results fail to come as expected, leaders struggle to understand what went wrong.

    Decades ago, significant shifts were started to address this common issue. It began in Japan, where workers were regularly consulted before implementing changes that directly affected their work areas. Interestingly, a catalyst in this change was W. Edwards Deming, an American engineer and management consultant. His many contributions included emphasis on improved service and higher levels of product quality. One of his “14 Points for Management was, “Put everybody in the company to work to accomplish the transformation. The transformation is everybody’s job.” This led to the development of quality circles and participative management, giving everyone opportunity to provide input into systems and process.

    Demings’ approaches were revolutionary for the business world at the time, but his ideas were hardly new. The Bible speaks much about the value of obtaining the advice and perspectives of people with firsthand knowledge. For instance, Proverbs 12:15 teaches, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.”

    Every day in the workplace we engage in a battle of sorts – a battle against competitors, and a battle to gain the favor of customers and clients. Proverbs 11:14 instructs, “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisors make victory sure.” Another verse similarly observes, “A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance and for victory many advisors” (Proverbs 24:5-6).

    We would be wise never to overlook the wisdom of others in your workplace, especially those closest to your customers, as well as the production processes. They can see – from the front line – things we cannot see from the “ivory tower.”

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

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Have you ever been in a situation where problems with product design or service were made known, but corporate leadership was unwilling to make necessary changes? What is the cause for such reluctance when flaws are evident?

     

    1. How can we best overcome such unwillingness to accept recommendations for needed changes?

     

    1. Participative management and quality circles now are concepts that have been in use for many years. What has been your experience with them – if at all?

     

    1. The Bible passages cited speak to the importance of seeking out advice and counsel from people with knowledge and perspectives that apply directly to critical circumstances. How can we go about determining who those advisers should be?

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  Proverbs 12:15, 15:22, 19:20,27, 20:18, 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

  8. 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

  9. 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

  10. 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

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