Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. Restrain Your Lips – You Might Be Rewarded

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    November 6, 2017 – Rick Boxx  There is an old American saying, “Loose lips sink ships.” A British equivalent, “Careless talk costs lives,” carried the same meaning – to beware of unguarded talk. These slogans during World War II were used to warn against discussing ship movements or unintentionally leaking vital information to spies. No sense letting the enemy know your plans.

    In the business and professional world, we do not typically regard ourselves as engaging in “war,” but the principle still applies: Careless, poorly considered words can be very damaging. “Loose lips” can ruin friendships, destroy customer relationships, and transform near-success into failure.

    Take Don, for example. He had formed a partnership with a close friend. Unfortunately, these two men had a serious dispute, and Don left the business angry, hurt, and suffered a substantial financial loss through no fault of his own.

    He considered suing his former partner, and wrestled with the temptation to disparage him when the right occasion presented itself. After all, Don had been wronged and he felt justice should be served. However, after much prayer – and the counsel of trusted friends – rather than seeking his own revenge, Don chose to honor God. He maintained contact with the former partner and demonstrated to him, in both word and deed, the unconditional love of Jesus Christ every time an opportunity arose.

    Don also chose to restrain himself from speaking poorly about his one-time business associate to others. About a year later, God restored the friendship, along with the partnership. Because he had refrained from speaking negatively about his partner, there was no need for damage control, no unnecessary wounds to heal.

    This is why Bible passages like Proverbs 10:19 are so powerful and useful. It teaches, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” One way of applying this admonition is that if someone has hurt us, it would be good to take a long-term view and restrain our lips. We never know what the future brings. Here are some other Scripture passages to consider:

    The tongue, tough to tame. Just as a small bit controls a horse, or a rudder guides a large ship, how we use our tongue affects the course of our lives. “…the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body…” (James 3:5-6).

    An instrument for either good or evil. Whether in a business meeting, a private conversation, or at a podium before many people, the tongue can serve as a tool for healing or a weapon for destruction. “The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse” (10:32). “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).

    Our use of words can be to our benefit, or for our harm. If cautious about what we say and how we say it, a day can go smoothly. If we speak unwisely and impulsively, a good day can quickly be ruined. “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3). 

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

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Loose lips sink ships,” “Careless talk costs lives,” or something similar? What does it mean to you?

     

    1. What do you think of the example of Don, who overcame the temptation to demean his former partner, even though he could have justified what he was saying because of the wrongs he had suffered?

     

    1. How difficult is it to avoid lashing out toward others when we feel they have caused us harm or we have been treated unfairly?

     

    1. In the example of Don and his partner, the friendship and business relationship eventually were restored. What if we suffer unjustly, but do not experience such a “happy ending” – does this mean our determination not to strike back in vengeance, not to speak ill of the offending person(s), was ill-advised? Why or why not?

     

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

    Proverbs 4:24, 10:20-21, 11:12, 12:13-14, 13:13, 15:2,7,28; James 3:3-12

  2. Are You Minding Your Own Business?

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    October 30, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   When we use the term “minding your own business,” we typically refer to not getting involved in or interfering with someone else’s business. However, life in the business and professional world can often be a lonely, solitary pursuit. This is especially true for entrepreneurs and top executives, but it also applies to most of us, regardless of our position on the organizational chart.

    If we are confident and self-assured, it can be easy to prefer to “mind our own business” and not engage with others in making decisions or seeking to solve problems. “I can do it myself.” “I want to pull myself up by my own bootstraps – I do not need anyone’s help.”

    We may feel this way at times, but it is wise to consider the admonition, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18). In contrast to that, we also read, “Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor” (Proverbs 18:12).

    I cannot count how many times I was involved in publishing a newspaper or magazine, when I saw the truth of the adage, “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” There are many reasons trying to succeed in the business world by oneself is unwise. Here are some cited in the Bible:

    None of us is as smart as all of us combined. Working together toward a common objective provides the opportunity for shared wisdom and experience, different perspectives and insights. “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisers make victory sure” (Proverbs 11:14). “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22). “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

    We need encouragement during good times, correction during times of difficulty and temptation. Even during prosperous times, we need support. And caring encouragers will challenge us whenever it seems we might be drifting off course. “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…” (Hebrews 10:24-25). “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily…so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness” (Hebrews 3:12-13).

    Each of us has something to offer. With our varied skills and talents, we can all contribute toward achieving the desired goals and mission we have established. “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! … Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

    Others can provide spiritual redirection when needed. Many in the business and professional world have accountability partners and mentors that they can count on for advice, prayer support, and admonition as well, when necessary. “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

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

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. When you hear the phrase, “mind your own business,” what comes to your mind – at least before you read this “Monday Manna”?

     

    1. Can you see the pitfalls of insisting upon minding one’s own business, excluding others from providing input or being able to contribute to the work in a significant way? Why or why not?

     

    1. What are some of the challenges or problems of involving others in the process? Put another way, what are the benefits – if any – of working alone, not soliciting the help of others?

     

    1. In the Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 uses the human body as an analogy for the value of working together with a shared commitment and common sense of mission. Do you think this metaphor applies to the workplace? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Proverbs 12:15, 13:1, 19:20, 25:12; Romans 12:3-8; Ephesians 4:4-16

  3. Reshaping Our Worldview In Business

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    October 23, 2017 – Jim Mathis   Recently I began rereading M. Scott Peck’s classic 1978 book, The Road Less Traveled. He defined spiritual growth as moving from a microcosm view of the world toward a macrocosm view. A microcosm worldview would be one defined by our experiences with our family, workplace, news sources we watch, the accepted views of our “tribe,” and friends and family who have had similar experiences as we have.

    Moving toward a more macrocosm view requires actively meeting and befriending people that are different than us – those with different experiences, from ethnic groups, religions or education. It requires traveling, reading, and seeking out a variety of sources of information and broadening our education.

    This is important because the ultimate goal of spiritual growth is to begin seeing things from God’s perspective. This involves perceiving the world without the constraints of time, place, or national boundaries. He sees every person as important and of equal value, regardless of their differences.

    When my wife and I were in our mid-20s, we developed a mantra of “Expanding our Horizons.” We were getting in a rut and needed to see new things, develop new interests and make new friends. This quest led to a church, a new relationship with Jesus Christ, new friends, and a larger worldview. We became almost frantic to travel, meet new people, and understand the world. Decades later we are still expanding our horizons, meeting new people in new places and trying to understand from a broader perspective.

    In our business, we meet and work with people from many backgrounds. Genuine interest in people is a real asset. I regularly do business with people from other countries, so finding out how and why they came to the U.S.A. is a key part of understanding and working with them. I consider it a privilege to serve as a face of this country to recent immigrants or people still acclimating to a new culture.

    Jesus made a point to talk with people from different cultures, and used people from other areas in His parables. Examples would include His story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37); His interactions with the centurion recounted in Matthew 8:5-13; and the woman at the well, found in John 4:1:42.

    At the end of His earthly ministry, Jesus called His disciples together and instructed them to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all nations (Matthew 28:19). They did that, traveling to the farthest parts of the known world at the time, teaching and making disciples. The apostles Peter and Paul both went to Europe, building relationships, making disciples, and starting churches in many places and cultures, teaching people with varied beliefs, from Ephesus and Corinth all the way to Rome.

    Unfortunately, many Christians seem to have an opposite idea of spiritual growth, even in the workplace. Their idea of growth is to become more isolated, to have a more restricted source of information, and relate only with people with a similar microcosm worldview. This is related to seeing a monastic lifestyle as an ideal permanent situation, not just a temporary time for retreat and reflection.

    To draw near to God, not only in our personal lives but also in our professional lives, we must begin to see things from His perspective – a very macrocosm view, the big picture – considering many people’s experiences and understanding, and seeing all people as unique and wonderful.

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

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How do you understand the difference between a microcosm view and a macrocosm view of the world, as described by both author M. Scott Peck and Mr. Mathis?

     

    1. Have you attempted to build relationships with people from different cultures, ethnicities and beliefs? If so, what has been the result?

     

    1. In what ways can determining to intentionally interact and get to know people with different backgrounds and viewpoints help us in growing spiritually, as this “Monday Manna” suggests? What can such connections and relationships teach us about God?

     

    1. Do you agree that having a more isolationist approach to life – and to our work – inhibits our growth as individuals, as well as our success as business and professional people? How can we resolve to effectively look and explore people and ideas outside our “comfort zones”?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: John 3:16-21; Acts 17:16-33; Colossians 4:5-6; 1 Peter 3:14-16

  4. When You Work, Is It ‘Without Wax’

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    October 16, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   Since Monday Manna is received by countless thousands of people around the world speaking many different languages and living in a variety of cultures, there is a danger in introducing a topic based on a single English word. However, I hope this will translate well for all who read it.

    A word that intrigues me is “sincere.” In fact, a popular song from years ago was called, “Are You Sincere?” One of those who recorded it was the legendary Elvis Presley. The real question is, what does it mean to be sincere?

    This word comes from the Latin “sincerus,” meaning “clean, pure.” One dictionary defines it as “being without hypocrisy or pretense.” Recently I heard an explanation I like even better: Some claim in the days of antiquity, sincere literally meant “without wax,” from the Latin “sine” (without) and “cera” (wax).

    In those days, when pieces of pottery or statues were broken or damaged, they often were patched with wax. Because the wax was transparent, it cleverly concealed any flaws. At least until it was heated and the wax melted. Then it let loose broken pieces it was holding together, or the pottery fell apart entirely. So, when people went to buy fine pottery, or statuary, they insisted it be “sincere” – without wax.

    There are many qualities people look for in a business, whether it is where they work, or a company from which they buy products or services. Knowing that the people there are “sincere” would rank high among the traits. In doing business with others, we all probably would like it to be done “without wax.”

    Unfortunately, too often we find sincerity absent from the equation. Whether through unsatisfactory employment practices, failure to keep commitments to customers, or delivering less than was promised, many enterprises repeatedly demonstrate lack of sincerity.

    Most people do not expect perfect, flawless businesses. Because they are all comprised of imperfect, flawed individuals. However, when we purchase something – whether it be a computer, food products, an automobile, or anything else – we expect promises and assurances to be fulfilled. If someone is hired with the justifiable anticipation of having opportunities to advance within the organization, they should rightfully expect those in authority to be “sincere” in following through if the employee’s performance is satisfactory.

    Here are some principles to consider when striving to build an organization or be people “without wax”:

    Always striving to be others-oriented . Putting the needs of others ahead of our own is one way to ensure sincerity. Love must be sincere…. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves” (Romans 12:9-10). 

    Conducting all business above board. All agreements and transactions should be open, without deception. “A wicked man accepts a bribe in secret to pervert the course of justice” (Proverbs 17:23). 

    Remaining faithful even in difficult times. Adversity can be revealing, putting sincere relationships to the test. A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).

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

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Would you consider one criteria for trusting in a business, or a business or professional person, as being whether you believe they are sincere? Why or why not?

     

    1. Can you think of a time when you discovered a company, or someone you were working with on a project, was not being sincere? What was the situation – and how did you respond?

     

    1. How do you react to the description or interpretation of sincerity as being “without wax”? Explain your answer.

     

    1. What does it require for a person to remain sincere – to demonstrate being “without wax” in the workplace – when pressures to produce, meet quotas and deadlines, and make a profit are often so intense?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Proverbs 4:23, 11:3, 16:2, 20:14; James 2:15-16;
    James 5:22; 1 Peter 1:22

  5. Casting Vision For Possibilities

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    October 9, 2017 – Rudolfs Dainis Smits   “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein

    Putting what Einstein said in perspective, one of the few things we can be certain of in life is change – and change represents uncertainty. Change can be frightening, but it has become the new status quo. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines change in several ways: to make different in some particular way; to make radically different; to give a different position, course, or direction to something or someone. Change varies in magnitude, and affects outcomes in different ways. Being able to change and adapt frequently has become necessary both to live and succeed. Successful change requires vision, information, and preparation.

    Are adapting to change and the constancy required for project management compatible? We desire stability and consistency to achieve our goals, yet sometimes change is essential for moving a project or product forward. Effective leadership requires skills and tools that can equip and motivate an organization and its people to change. Individuals need to be properly coached to transform into a team. Introducing new software, systems, procedures, and methods of communication may require change for successfully completing a project.

    Change can be envisioned as an enemy if we don’t understand why it’s necessary. Change, a process evident within all creation, can negatively affect the individual or disengage an entire group. We don’t necessarily like change, and change does not come naturally. So, we resist it if not properly managed. Change begins with thinking differently about the very processes we have created. Romans 12:1-2 says we are to be “transformed by the renewing of (our) minds.”

    Change requires belief and faith in a cause. Providing information is essential to build loyalty and trust, which underpin motivation and maintain vision. The book of Proverbs states that “where there is no vision, the people perish (due to no restraint)” (Proverbs 29:18). Casting vision provides direction and order, and this requires proper communication, dealing with staff concerns and providing details for implementing change.

    Properly managing change is essential for transforming an organization and successful project delivery. Pat Zigarmi of The Ken Blanchard Companies, early in her career, did studies on leading change and concluded, “Those who plan the battle rarely battle the plan.” People are not as prone to resist change if they are part of the planning process – if they are, usually they will be on board with the change. Change requires leadership, but not by using a top-down approach. Input from the troops is essential to implement change and refinement.

    Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, broke all convention for conducting and musical interpretation to obtain the best performance. According to the book, Tapping into ‘The Art of Possibility,’ Zander transformed interpretation and performance into a team effort. His new paradigm of possibility inspired input from every member of the orchestra. The change benefits were not only for the listeners or the conductor, but also to enhance satisfaction and innovation among the contributing musicians.

    Successful change often starts with clear communication of vision, helping those involved in the change process to gain an understanding of possibilities that will arise from the changes. Then giving them an opportunity to gain a sense of ownership in the process. 

    © 2017. Rudolfs Dainis Smits, MATS BArch Dipl. Arch, is an architect and business owner; currently design & technical manager for Hill International, a project and construction risk management company. He is former chairman and board member of CBMC Latvia; founding member of Reformed Baltic Theological Seminary in Riga, Latvia, and a former Europartners board member.

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Even though God does not change (James 1:17), the Bible says much about transformation and lives changed by Him. God’s own work of creation is a series of transformational acts: In the beginning the earth was formless and void. God introduced light, separating day from night; and created the heavens and the earth as we know them today as a creative sequence of changes (Genesis 1: 1-9). Which essential daily processes in life, science or business can you identify that require creative change to produce required results?

     

    1. Do you agree with the statement that before we present people with the benefits of change, they should be properly informed and their concerns should be addressed? Why should addressing personal concerns and implementation come before promising change benefits?

     

    1. “Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes but when you look back everything is different” – C.S. Lewis. Change can take us by surprise and even go unnoticed, like the sudden arrival of spring. Have you ever looked back realizing that you were not prepared for the change, or missed an opportunity or possibilities in the midst of change? Benjamin Zander says our assumptions block innovation. What do you think he means by this? What would you say is the opposite of an assumption?

     

    1. The book referenced describes Zander as, “…a different kind of conductor. His job, as he sees it, is to inspire the musicians under his direction and ‘remind people why they went into music in the first place’ – not to command them.” We all desire to contribute with our knowledge, experience, capabilities and imagination. Otherwise, we don’t feel useful. Why is individual involvement and corporate empowerment essential for implementing successful change and innovations?

    Give an example of how you have (or have not) been given opportunity to) implement change with your employees, or how your boss has taken steps to introduce and implement change with your participation?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 43:19; Jeremiah 29:11; 2 Corinthians 3:18;
    Hebrews 11:8, 12:8; James 1:17

  6. The Immeasurable Value of Empathy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

  7. Fulfilling Your Purpose As An Investor

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

  8. Confining Faith To Compartments?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    We represent Jesus through our work. Many outside the family of God will never venture into a church on their own. Our work provides a built-in network through which we can represent Him to others. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God(2 Corinthians 5:20). 

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

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

  10. Five Steps To A Healthy Business Culture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How would you describe your company’s – or organization’s culture – right now?

     

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

     

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

     

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

     

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

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