Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. When Life Forces You Into ‘Pause’ Mode

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    October 19, 2020 – Jim Langley  You know the “Pause” button you have on your TV, or the video you are watching on your computer or smartphone? Sometimes life presses the “Pause” button, whether we like it or not. Often we don’t. But I have learned when that happens, it creates a unique opportunity to step back and assess where we have been, where we are at present, and where we are going – or at least, where we think we are going.

    Even unplanned, inconvenient pauses can serve a worthwhile purpose if we pay attention. We can easily get caught up in the “busyness” of this world and lose sight of what is truly relevant. This is not to say much of life is irrelevant, but it is often less important than we thought as we look at the bigger picture.

    Perhaps the most significant pause in my life came many years ago when I spent four days in an intensive care unit after contracting double pneumonia. Fortunately, my doctor persuaded me to admit myself into the hospital before I became a statistic. With both lungs partly filled with fluid, I had been a walking time bomb. That short hospital stay not only gave me time to heal and recover, but also allowed me to pause, reflect on my priorities, and adjust them accordingly.

    Throughout the Book of Psalms, the word “Selah” often appears. This Hebrew word seems to be used as a musical mark used by the musician/lyricist, causing readers or singers to stop and reflect on what was previously presented. This musical mark is also found three times in the book of Habakkuk, which speaks of God’s greatness since the earliest days of humankind. The prophet challenges us to dwell on the goodness of the God of the universe and learn to trust Him implicitly.

    Another of my pause moments was spending 18 months in a combat zone. Even though I was not close to God at the time, in retrospect I have since come to realize how that time served to mold and strengthen me. Looking back, I can see how God was always present, always watching over me, even when I was not paying attention.

    Just as our electronic devices and software packages include pause features for controlling our pace for watching and listening, God often uses a divine “pause button” on this world in which we live. Perhaps for you, COVID-19 restrictions have served in that role. As we continue to deal with the current pandemic, we can find great solace in knowing our Almighty God is sovereign, not at all surprised or worried. Even if we may not recognize it, He uses circumstances to navigate us through unchartered waters.

    I have found Psalm 46 to be instructive. The first four verses read: “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. Selah.” Following this pause, we read, “Come and see the works of the Lord, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. ‘Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in all the earth.’ The Lord almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (Psalm 46:8-11).

    This says we can count on God not only to bring pauses into our lives, but also to be there during times of need. Whatever challenges you are facing today, draw on these words for strength and encouragement.

    © 2020, all rights reserved. Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his relationship with God. His goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. A long-time member of CBMC, he started writing “Fourth Quarter Strategies” in 2014.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How often do you use the pause button on your electronics – your TV, smartphone, computer, video devices? What do you accomplish when you use it?

     

    1. Can you relate to the concept of “life pauses” as described in this Monday Manna? If so, what has that experience been like for you? Are you going through one right now?
    2. What is your usual reaction when you encounter one of these pauses, especially if it seems to disrupt your carefully crafted, well thought out plans?

     

    1. If we truly believe God not only allows these pauses in our lives, but also uses them to guide us through life and help us in our spiritual growth, how should this affect how we respond when God raises the “stop sign” or tells us it is time to wait?

     

    NOTE: For more about what the Bible says about this topic, consider the following passages:
    Psalm 31:19-22, 37:4-7,34, 46:10; Habakkuk 3:16-18; Luke 11:9-10; John 10:25-29

  2. Creating An Atmosphere Of ‘Creative Abrasion’

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    October 12, 2020 – Robert J. Tamasy  Recently I read social media comments presented by a business consultant and coach, Tim Kight. I have never met him, but I appreciate his pointed, practical thinking. What he posted about was the power of “creative abrasion. In other words, the value of disagreement.”

    Kight added, “When we have different perspectives and then engage in creative abrasion to test and refine our ideas, we produce better solutions.” His observations are both old – and new. Especially for our times, when it seems we have misplaced or abandoned the fine art of civil discourse.

    Many colleges and universities, for example, have created “safe zones” where students can retreat without fear of seeing or hearing viewpoints that differ from their own. Is this learning? Not having their ideas challenged? As protests, followed by rioting, have taken place in different parts of the world, it has become evident that everyone is talking – even shouting – but no one is listening.

    Even with the coronavirus pandemic, a variety of opinions and perspectives have emerged. Rather than applauding the free exchange of ideas, however, the media and politicians have largely discouraged this. Which, it appears, is to the detriment of everyone. “Creative abrasion” is regarded as an alien concept, something to be feared rather than embraced.

    This kind of friction, however, is something I valued, even when I was not familiar with Kight’s term. Especially during my years as an editor of newspapers and a magazine. In meeting with the editorial team to plan upcoming editions, we each had different ideas. We allowed them to be presented, then would discuss and often, debate them. In the process, we invariably discovered the whole (the finished product) was greater than the sum of the parts (our individual contributions).

    The fact that creative abrasion is not supported in many environments is sad, because this is hardly a novel idea. In fact, The Bible advocates this strongly. Consider the following passages:

    Friction is mutually beneficial. Imagine the blades of two knives clashing together, each making the other sharper. The same occurs between people, whether in a workplace setting, a marriage, a ministry, or a sports team. Rubbing up against each other, even with civil, congenial conflict, we can make one another better. “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Proverbs 27:17).

    Value in differing viewpoints. In court cases, multiple witnesses are often asked to give testimony so the judge or jury can receive a full, accurate account. In a similar sense, we might be convinced of our opinion or viewpoint, but if we are willing to listen to other perspectives, we may discover we are wrong – or that the best solution is a combination of a variety of ideas. “What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?” (Proverbs 25:8).

    Correction can be helpful. Pride can be a great obstacle in our pursuit of success, especially feeling self-assured that we are in the right, whether our thinking or actions. “Creative abrasion” might cause some pain, but in the end we often find ourselves better off because of it. “Like an earring of gold or an ornament of fine gold is a wise man’s rebuke to a listening ear” (Proverbs 25:12).

    © 2020. Robert J. Tamasy has written Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Discipleship; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; and The Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. In your own words, what do you understand is meant by the term, “creative abrasion”?

     

    1. Have you ever seen this – constructive disagreement – in action, used positive, productive ways? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Why do you think this idea, allowing for and even encouraging the free exchange of different ideas, including the freedom to disagree, often receives disfavor?

     

    1. Give an example of a time when you have seen the truth of “iron sharpening iron” being practiced in the workplace.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Joshua 2:1; Proverbs 10:19-21, 12:14,18; Mark 6:7; Philippians 4:9, 2 Timothy 2:2

  3. The Importance Of Self-Control

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    October 5, 2020 – Rick Boxx  Years ago, a consulting client of mine was in a printing-related industry. The principal partners enjoyed numerous opportunities within their industry, many of which were strategic to their company’s future growth.

    This was why, however, I was stunned when I discovered the two partners were seriously discussing buying a donut franchise in addition to their business. What do donuts have to do with printing? Fortunately, I was able to convince them it was a bad idea.

    Business leaders, especially those who are successful and attract attention, are offered new business opportunities almost daily. Sometimes sales pitches and projections can sound very tempting. Without self-control, it can easily lead to chasing something far off track from your God-given calling or purpose.

    We find the need for self-control and focused thinking addressed in the Bible: “Like a city that is broken into and without walls is a man who has no control over his spirit” (Proverbs 25:28). The question is, with so many enticing opportunities coming our way, how do we sort through them and determine which are the ones worth pursuing?

    This is one reason mission statements are important, both corporately and personally. They help to define things such as, “who are we?”, “what do we do?”, “why are we here?”, and “what do we intend to accomplish?” I know of business owners and executives who have crafted mission statements and regularly refer to them as constant reminders of what they and their companies should be about. These can, in effect, serve as self-control mechanisms to keep us from diverting away from our mission and goals.

    Another proverb that fits this discussion is, “Where there is no revelation [prophetic vision], the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law” (Proverbs 29:18). There are many applications for this verse, but certainly having a clear sense of mission and vision can help us in maintaining self-control, rather than following rabbit trails that can take us far off track.

    A well-known passage, Galatians 5:22-23, describes the “fruit of the Spirit,” characteristics of a truly spiritual person who is faithfully following Jesus Christ. These are “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and…self-control.” Then it says, “Against such things there is no law.”

    These are all traits that should be exhibited by believers in the business and professional world – what 2 Corinthians 5:20 calls, “Christ’s ambassadors.” The self-control spoken of relates to not becoming controlled or consumed by ungodly things, and demonstrating proper actions and words. But it also can apply to being able to avoid – as did the business partners I was working with – making unwise decisions that could hurt their effectiveness in the workplace.

    Besides having a clearly defined mission statement, one other asset for maintaining self-control is seeking to remain constantly aware of the presence and guidance of God in your life. When seeking to evaluate a new, intriguing opportunity, it helps to remember, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21). To protect the future of your business, learn self-control and the courage to say “No” to everything that doesn’t fit your mission.

    © 2020, Unconventional Business Network 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, visit www.unconventionalbusiness.org. His latest book, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. If you were to rate yourself in terms of self-control, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, how would you rank yourself? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Can you think of a time when you unwisely responded to an opportunity and later you regretted having done so? Or if not, can you recall an example of someone you know? What was that situation, and what was the outcome?

     

    1. Does your company have a mission statement? If so, is it referred to often? What about yourself – have you ever considered writing a personal mission statement to serve as a guide to where and how you invest your time, talents and resources – and not become distracted by opportunities that do not fit your mission statement?

     

    1. If you conclude you are somewhat deficient in the area of self-control, how might you go about trying to improve in that area?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 16:2-3, 16:9, 20:24, 27:1; Titus 2:2; 2 Peter 5-7

  4. And Now, For Some Very Good News

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    September 28, 2020 – Jim Mathis  I don’t know about you, but I am always ready for good news, especially in a time like this, when every news report we see or hear is challenging, disconcerting, and even terrifying.

    One bit of good news is that, according to reports, the canals in Venice, Italy have been clear for the first time in hundreds of years. They say it is possible to actually see to the bottom. The air quality in major cities has become dramatically cleaner due to diminished driving, and the reduction in greenhouse gases that has resulted could be a big step in slowing conditions that many science experts attribute to climate change. There is even evidence that birds are singing louder than normal.

    Of course, the COVID-19 virus continues to rage in many parts of the world, and unemployment figures have been higher than ever experienced in our lifetimes. It is encouraging to hear assurances that that these situations are temporary, that we can create a “new normal” for our lives as the time passes.

    All of this causes us to realize again that what we think about – what occupies our minds – largely determines who we are, how we react, and what actions we take. In other words, we are what we think. Our bodies are greatly affected by what we eat – but our lives are influenced by what we think. This is why the Bible, in Philippians 4:8, tells us to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, and especially anything that is excellent or praiseworthy.

    The obvious question is, how do we know what is true, right, pure, and all the rest? Not that many years ago, most of the news came from sources that challenged and competed with each for accuracy. News agencies went to extreme lengths to ensure the accuracy of the information they presented. Even then there were mistakes, but they usually came from unreliable sources.

    Today, many of us get information from sources with no accountability, or worse, have a particularly devious agenda to promote. It has been observed that 70 percent of the information on social media is false. This is even more alarming when we consider that the other 30 percent that is true includes how much we love our mom, or the good lunch we had. This is where our need for discretion and awareness come in. If something seems outlandish, differing from general understanding, or has an obvious agenda of promoting a cause or wanting us to buy something, we should be suspicious. Things that are noble or lovely or admirable do not tear down other people. Things that are excellent or worthy of praise are neither negative nor vicious.

    Computers function according to what is programmed into them. In a similar way, our thinking depends on how we “program” them – the content we allow to go into them. As Proverbs 12:18 says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Another passage says, “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4). What we say – and what we hear – has a profound impact on our lives.

    Those of us who have been on this planet longer than most have a longer perspective. Because of this, we can trust that things will get better. Remember to dwell on the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. It is the only way to survive and come out stronger than before.

    © 2020. Jim Mathis is a writer, photographer and small business owner in Overland Park, Kansas. His latest book is The Camel and the Needle, A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money. 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 have you been handling the seemingly constant onslaught of bad news over the past months? Have you found your moods and attitudes affected by what you have heard?

     

    1. What do you do to keep from becoming overwhelmed by this barrage of negativity? Do you just turn it off; do you turn to other, more positive sources of information, or do you simply let the “news” dominate your thoughts? Explain your answer.

     

    1. What do you think of the biblical admonition, “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things”?

     

    1. How can we go about doing that – focusing on things that are positive, uplifting and energizing, rather than information and ideas that can discourage, dishearten, even depress us?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Joshua 1:8; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 5:22-23; Philippians 4:4-7; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

  5. When God Wants To Send You, Will You Go?

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    September 21, 2020 – Robert J. Tamasy  Some weeks ago, my friend Sergio Fortes wrote about “the comfort zone,” where we feel, obviously, comfortable. It’s familiar, predictable, and usually does not require more effort than we are willing to give. So how do you respond when asked to venture outside your comfort zone? Do you resist? Dig in your heels and refuse? Or simply respond, “No, I can’t”? What about when you sense God directing you on an unfamiliar course, asking you to do something you have never tried before, maybe even something you feel totally unqualified to do?

    I think of numerous biblical accounts when people were asked to take such steps: Noah, asked to build an ark with a global flood approaching; Abraham, told to leave his friendly confines in Haran for a land he had never heard of; Moses, selected to lead the Israelites out of Egypt after more than 400 years of being enslaved; Isaiah, responding, “Here I am! Send me!” when God was looking for a prophet to take His message; and each of Jesus’ disciples, who left their livelihoods to follow Him.

    We might never have our life stories featured in a book, but if we are true followers of Jesus Christ, there will be times when God calls us out of our comfort zones to serve Him in another place, in another way. In my own life, I can recall numerous times when that happened. Let me cite just two:

    After 10 years as a community newspaper editor, God opened a door for me to become director of publications for CBMC. I had never written a magazine article, or a book, but both were in my job description – exciting and daunting. But even before making that major career shift, the Lord wanted me to do something that for me was quite frightening – to speak to a crowd of more than 400 people.

    Being what I call an “extroverted introvert,” I was comfortable speaking to people individually or in small groups, but speaking to hundreds at one time? Yet this is exactly what God was directing me to do, through my pastor in Houston, Texas, U.S.A. He had suggested I briefly speak to our congregation one Sunday morning to tell what I would be doing, and to solicit their prayers.

    My initial reaction was, “I can’t do that!” But I agreed to pray about it, and eventually felt impressed this was what I should do. That Sunday morning I was, as expected, very nervous waiting for my turn to speak, but when I stood behind the podium and saw many faces staring back at me, I felt what Philippians 4:7 calls “the peace that passes all understanding.” My short talk went surprisingly well. That step of obedience proved to be a stepping stone for many opportunities to speak at CBMC events in a variety of settings. Which leads to the second example I want to mention:

    In 1999, I was on staff with CBMC International, and Tim Philpot, then its President, said we needed to reconnect with the ministry in Brazil – and I was the one to do it. “What?” I knew nothing about Brazil, could not speak Portuguese, and was no expert in “ministry development.” But drawing from past experience, I trusted God knew what He was doing in sending me there.

    The trip turned out to be extremely fruitful, and to this day I maintain friendships that were formed more than 20 years ago in Sao Paulo, Curitiba and Vitoria. Out of that ministry journey came an unexpected result: An enthusiastic group of Brazilians who to this day translate “Monday Manna” into 5-6 other languages, then send each edition literally around the world. This and other instances taught an important lesson: When we step out in obedient faith, God will always do more than we could ever imagine.

    © 2020. Robert J. Tamasy has written Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Discipleship; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; and The Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How would you describe your own “comfort zone”?

     

    1. Have you ever had a time when you felt God directing you to do something that was far outside your comfort zone, perhaps even something you felt unqualified to do? How did you respond?

     

    1. Why do you think that taking a step of faith at such times is so difficult? What is the role of prayer when the Lord calls you to do something and you think, “I can’t do that!”?

     

    1. Can you think of a time when you – or someone you know – did take that step of obedience and the outcome proved to be “exceeding abundantly beyond anything you can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20)? Describe the impact it had on you – and others.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Psalm 37:4-5; Proverbs 3:5-6, 16:1,3, 19:21; Isaiah 6:1-8; Matthew 28:19-20

  6. Lessons For Life And Work – From Noah’s Ark

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    September 14, 2020 – Ken Korkow  Be honest: When 2020 started, did your list of goals include: “Things to do during the coronavirus pandemic”? If you did, I would like your advice on scheduling a trip to Mars. At the start of the year, none of us knew anything about COVID-19 or its global ramifications.

    However, in reflecting about these unprecedented circumstances and how we all have tried to cope with them, I was reminded of another global crisis – one that none of us was present to experience.

    Do you remember the story about Noah’s Ark? It is recounted in chapters 6-9 of the Old Testament book of Genesis. It begins, “The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth” (Genesis 6:5). God was so grieved by the evil of mankind at the time that he decided to remove all of mankind from the earth by causing a global flood. However, Noah was described as “a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time” and he “found favor in the eyes of God” (Genesis 6:8-9).

    Because of this, the Lord chose to spare Noah and his family. Noah was instructed to build a massive Ark and fill it with “representatives” from every kind of animal and bird to repopulate the earth. What does this have to do with the pandemic? I mention it because I have concluded that everything I need to know about life, whether dealing with everyday concerns or surviving a pandemic, I learned from Noah’s Ark. Here is a summary of those things:

    • Do not miss the boat. When opportunities present themselves to us, especially for avoiding a major problem, we need to respond – and quickly.
    • Remember that we are all in the same boat. We have heard this repeated, especially by people from luxurious, well-stocked homes. But it is true – the pandemic has affected us all.
    • Plan ahead. It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark.
Similarly, there was no pandemic that we were aware of when 2020 began. But wise people always have a plan B, or C, if needed.
    • Stay fit. When you are 60 years old, someone may ask you to do
something really big.So be advised to take care of yourself for future demands. And if you are already 60 or older, keep fit!
    • Do not listen to critics; just get on with the job that needs to be done. Noah had many detractors, wondering why he was building an Ark. But he persevered. When people question your well-considered preparations, just keep moving forward.
    • Build your future on high ground. Whether it is a pandemic, an economic downturn, or unexpected personal crisis, position yourself to weather the storm.
    • For safety’s sake, travel in pairs. Many of the animals God directed Noah to bring into the Ark came in twos. In the workplace, as well as the family, it is always advisable to team with others who can share the pressures as well as the actual work.
    • Speed is not always an advantage. The snails were aboard the ark with the cheetahs. In doing a quality job, trying to complete it quickly is not always the best approach,
    • When you are stressed, float for a while. Once the rains started, Noah could not do much more than wait for the storm to pass. In times of crisis, that is sometimes our only alternative, too.
    • The Ark was built by amateurs; the Titanic by professionals. So-called “experts” do not always have all the answers. If you are called by God to do a job, do not worry if you feel unqualified.
    • No matter the storm, when you are with God, there’s always a rainbow waiting. We are now in a great global storm. No one knows for how long. But we can trust God is with us, even to the end.
    Ken Korkow lives in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A., where he serves as an area director for CBMC. This is adapted from his “Fax of Life” column. Used with permission.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How have you been dealing with the virus pandemic and restrictions that have followed? Have you at times felt overwhelmed by stress and worry? How have you dealt with that?

     

    1. What do you recall about the story of Noah and the Ark?

     

    1. As you read the list of things that can be learned from Noah’s Ark, which of them seem most important to you? Explain your answer.

     

    1. How can these “lessons” help you in the future, whether it is dealing with ongoing effects of the pandemic, the sagging economy and a disruption of “normal” life, or in confronting some other type of problem?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 3:5-6, 16:3, 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Romans 6:13-14; Hebrews 13:5

  7. The Inspirational Value Of Managers

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    September 7, 2020 – Rick Boxx  Gallup, a prestigious analytics and advisory company founded more than 80 years ago, has published a book called It’s the Manager.According to an article about the book in the Wall Street Journal, Gallup research discovered “the single most profound distinct and clarifying finding” in its 80-year history.

    The Gallup organization’s study revealed that managers did not just influence the results their teams achieved; they accounted for 70 percent of the variance in the productivity levels of their people. As a result, Gallup began to advise companies to seek out managers who infect their teams with a sense of purpose, individuals that function more like a coach.

    One of the study’s conclusions was that managers can help bridge the gap between engaged and disengaged workers. We see this truth reflected in the biblical description of Israelite king David, a talented leader who knew how to engage others in his cause. In Psalm 78:72, we read, “David shepherded them with integrity of heart; with skillful hands he led them.” If you want your business to flourish, hire managers skilled at engaging others.

    It’s the Manager also identified another factor critical for hiring the right managers. They must understand why it is so important for workers to become engaged in the work they do, not just show up and put in their time. The Gallup researchers observed that in previous decades, workers ranked their families, having children, owning a home and living in peace as priorities that ranked above having a good job. But by the turn of the 21st century, that trend changed. Those surveyed said a rewarding job ranked first.

    The engagement level of workers can decline dramatically if their job feels unrewarding. Good managers have learned how to inspire the uninspired. The Old Testament book of Proverbs has an interesting insight about this: “The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out” (Proverbs 20:5).

    For businesses to flourish in the future, they will need to identify discerning managers who have the capacity to “infect” their team with a sense of purpose, one that they find rewarding.

    To maximize both productivity and morale, there is another step beyond keeping workers engaged. The truly effective manager has the ability to inspire their teams to become even more engaged, and increase the level of engagement throughout the organization.

    Gallup’s research determined only about one-third of employees are highly engaged in the United States, where the study was conducted. However, they discovered that in successful businesses, engagement can often reach as high as 68 percent of the entire organization.

    This is important, they noted, because their research also discovered the top 10 percent of companies, ranked in terms of level of employee engagement, posted profit gains of 26 percent through the last recession, while their competitors having lower levels of employee engagement experienced a 14 percent decline in profits. People of character, those who can inspire their teams toward new heights of excellence and performance, are to be prized – and pursued. “But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain” (Exodus 18:21).

    © 2020, Unconventional Business Network 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, visit www.unconventionalbusiness.org. His latest book, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How would you compare a worker who is engaged in his or her job, versus those who are disengaged?

     

    1. Looking at your own work situation, how engaged are you in the responsibilities you are assigned to carry out? Do you start the day with enthusiasm and zeal, or do you find yourself distracted, even gazing at what appears to be the “greener grass” on the other side of the fence?

     

    1. What steps can a manager – or anyone in a supervisory role – take to increase the engagement of the people they oversee? How would you describe a manager who is inspiring or inspirational in dealing with others?

     

    1. From a faith perspective, why is it important for a manager who is a follower of Jesus Christ to place a high priority on keeping people on the team engaged and feeling rewarded through their work?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 11:30, 22:4, 27:23, 28:2; Matthew 22:37-40; Galatians 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4

  8. Character – An Overlooked Professional Quality

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    August 31, 2020 – Robert J. Tamasy  Resumes, or if you prefer, curriculum vitae, are interesting documents. They can represent education, work experience, professional skills, achievements and certifications. They help in evaluating a job candidate’s competence and credentials – their qualifications for performing specific work.

    But one key element is rarely, if ever, shown on a resume or curriculum vitae: Character. And yet, perhaps as much as any single quality, character can have a great impact in many ways: a person’s job performance; how the individual relates to and works with other members of the team, and also how they fit into a company’s or organization’s culture, both in terms of philosophy and values.

    Legendary college basketball coach John Wooden, whose UCLA teams won 10 national championships between 1964 and 1975, said if given a choice between having a good reputation and cultivating strong character, always choose the latter: “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

    The late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who dedicated his life to the pursuit of social justice, said during his famous “I Have a Dream” speech, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”

    In a world in which outward appearances receive so much attention, inner character determines how we conduct ourselves, how we interact with others, what values we embrace, and the beliefs we hold dear. In an ethical dilemma, character enables someone to choose right over expedience.

    The importance of character is underscored throughout the Bible. Jesus Christ did not mince words when He denounced religious leaders who specialized in presenting an outward façade that belied their evil motives. Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean(Matthew 23:27). Moments later, He declared, “In the same way, on the outside you appear to be righteous, but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness” (Matthew 23:28).

    In the Old Testament we find a similar observation: “Like glaze covering an earthen vessel are burning lips and a wicked heart” (Proverbs 26:23). To carry the metaphor into the 21st century, this would be like covering a cheap plastic toy with a thin layer of gold. Outwardly it might look like a priceless object, but on the inside it remains something of very little value.

    Perhaps the most telling revelation about character in all of the Scriptures occurred when the prophet Samuel was seeking the successor to Israel’s King Saul. After the prophet had assessed nearly all of the sons of Jesse, God told Samuel that despite appearances, not one of them was suitable: “The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). Another son needed to be brought forth, David, a shepherd boy, who accomplished much for God.

    In one sense, a resume may tell others about our reputation. But what do we want them to know about our character?

    © 2020. Robert J. Tamasy has written numerous books, including Marketplace Ambassadors: CBMC’s Continuing Legacy of Evangelism and Discipleship; Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; The Heart of Mentoring, coauthored with David A. Stoddard; and has edited other books. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How much importance do you place on having a good reputation? What about other people – how important is it for you to associate with, or do business with people having good reputations?

     

    1. What, in your view, is the difference between reputation and character? How is a good reputation built? How about forming good character – are the steps the same? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Can you think of someone you know – or have known – that had a good reputation but, once you got to know them, they proved to be of poor character? How was that revealed?

     

    1. Why do you think the Bible – and ultimately, God – place such a high premium on having good character, of not just looking good on the outside, but also on the inside? How do you think a person goes about cultivating godly character?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 4:23, 16:2,7, 20:9,27, 21:2, 22:11; Luke 11:37-44; Acts 23:3; Galatians 6:12

  9. Seeking Hope In Seemingly Hopeless Times

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    August 24, 2020 – Jim Langley  We live in very troubled times, without a doubt. Between a global pandemic, social unrest, economic turmoil and frequent instances of severe, extreme weather, many people are beyond concerned – they are struggling with a sense of hopelessness. There are two primary ways to respond in circumstances like these: We can give in to the deepening despair, or we accept them for the adversity that they are, but use them as opportunities for growth.

    The problem for many people is they do not know where to turn when life seems out of control. Some find themselves returning to past addictive behaviors. There are those who even make the tragic and irreversible decision to “solve” their problems with suicide.

    I was recently saddened to hear from one of my clients, who informed me that his ex-wife decided to end her life. She had battled bi-polar disorder for many years. Even though she had a life insurance policy, the death proceeds will not remove the pain my client and his two young boys will have to bear, even though the woman deserted her family several years ago. They have still lost any future contact with someone they loved.

    Even though I can try to support the family as much as possible, often there is little consolation you can give. This was not the first time I have encountered someone who gave in to feelings of hopelessness and did not consider the impact such drastic actions could have on those nearest to them.

    Despite such tragedies, I have come to regard the search for hope in seemingly hopeless times as a worthwhile endeavor. Life is precious and worthwhile, no matter how dismal things may seem. We all face difficulties during seasons of our lives. Even for followers of Christ, we should understand life is not always easy. Jesus told His disciples, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Our hope is to be not in our circumstances, but in God, who is in control of our circumstances.

    I have also found encouragement in the lyrics from a well-known Gaither Vocal Band song, Because He Lives: “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. Because He lives all fear is gone. Because I know He holds the future. And life is worth the living just because He lives.”These are powerful words to remember, because we all find ourselves in valleys much more than on mountaintops.

    As business and professional people, we always look for the bottom line. In terms of hopelessness, it is a tactic of Satan, described in the Bible as a liar and a deceiver, the enemy of God. His goal is – and has always been – to deceive us and destroy our lives. For those of us who have placed our trust in Christ as Savior and Lord, we can be certain our eternal well-being is secure. His work of salvation and redemption took place nearly 2,000 years ago, covering our sins past, present and future.

    The world around us, which we can see and feel, can indeed cause us to lose hope, despair. However, in the Scriptures we find assurance: “For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently”  (Romans 8:24-25). A “hope-so” world breeds hopelessness, but biblical hope breeds a confident assurance and an earnest, unwavering expectation.

    © 2020, all rights reserved. Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his relationship with God. His goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. A long-time member of CBMC, he started writing “Fourth Quarter Strategies” in 2014.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How have the challenges of this year – the pandemic, social unrest, a troubled economy – affected you?

     

    1. During this time, have you ever found yourself struggling with feelings of hopelessness? If not, do you know of someone who has? What has that experience been like – for you or for them?

     

    1. Sometimes we might ask something like, “Do you think the weather will be good tomorrow?” and someone will respond, “I hope so.” What do you think is the difference between “hope so” and biblical hope?

     

    1. How do you respond when you hear someone saying they are placing their hope in God, even in difficult, seemingly impossible circumstances?

     

    NOTE: For more about what the Bible says about this topic, consider the following passages:
    Romans 5:6-8; 2 Corinthians 4:18; Ephesians 6:14-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11; Hebrews 6:17-20

  10. Minute For A Mid-Year Goal Review?

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    August 17, 2020 – Jim Mathis  Each year my wife and I have an annual meeting, just the two of us, on New Year’s Day. That is what we did on January 1 of this year. Admittedly, that seems like a long, long time ago, given what the current year has already served us! Nonetheless, this annual meeting is the time we set aside to review our finances, coordinate our goals, and plan our vacations. We look at the previous year’s goals to decide if we accomplished what we intended to get done, as well as to assess whether see those goals might have been too big – or too small.

    Some years ago, there was a buzz word circulating in the business world, identified by the acronym, BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal. It was a clever way of saying, “Shoot for something so big, so great, you can’t possibly see how it will ever happen.” Or as someone said, “Shoot for the stars and you might hit the moon.” If you conceive a big, hairy, audacious goal, you could achieve beyond anything you could have ever dreamed.

    Not everyone is eager to set goals, especially ones that seem far beyond reach. Failing to reach goals can be discouraging. For that reason – if they set goals at all – some people prefer reasonable goals that can be checked off. This builds momentum to keep us motivated. It avoids disappointment. But it also kills any chance we might have for accomplishing something memorable, so rewarding that it could even be life-changing.

    I just finished reading Jon Acuff’s newest book, Finish. He concludes with the statement, “Goals that you refuse to chase don’t disappear, they become ghosts that haunt you. Do you know why strangers rage at you online and are so easily offended? It is because their passion has no other outlet. Many a troll was born from the heartbreak of a goal he didn’t finish. A troll is just someone who gave up on his goals so many times, he decided to just tear down everyone’s else’s.”

    If you have lost your joy, and find yourself criticizing everyone and everything, it might be a good idea to check your goals. They may be so big they discourage you, or so small that they don’t inspire passion or motivate you.

    Or worse, you discover you have accomplished the wrong goals. Maybe you have a great job, or are making lots of money, but still feel unhappy. Ask yourself if you are pursuing the right goals. It is never too late to re-evaluate or rewrite your goals. It is only too late when you make the determination not to pursue goals that might have proved more rewarding and fulfilling than you could ever have imagined.

    The Scriptures address this very well. I like Ephesians 5:16 in the Amplified Version of the Bible: “making the most of your time [on earth, recognizing and taking advantage of each opportunity and using it with wisdom and diligence], because the days are [filled with] evil.” In other words, if we don’t take advantage of an opportunity when it presents itself, it might be lost forever.

    We also find wisdom on how to know whether we are pursuing the right goals. As Jesus said in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” If our primary goal is the please and honor God, we can feel confident He will guide us in the goal-setting process.

    As I said, my wife and I have found January to be an ideal time for doing a goal check. But why wait an entire year to make changes if your current goals are not working, or not bringing you joy. Today might be the best time to create new goals, even ones that seem impossible. What are you waiting for?

    © 2020. Jim Mathis is a writer, photographer and small business owner in Overland Park, Kansas. His latest book is The Camel and the Needle, A Christian Looks at Wealth and Money. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri, U.S.A.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Do you set annual goals? If so, what is the process you use – and what do your goals look like? How do you know when you have accomplished them?

     

    1. Have you ever established any of the “big, hairy, audacious goals” Mr. Mathis describes? How do you feel about that idea – does it challenge you, or does it intimidate you?

     

    1. The quote from the book says, “Goals that you refuse to chase don’t disappear, they become ghosts that haunt you.” What do you think about that?

     

    1.       For setting goals, it is suggested to make God a central part of the process. Do you agree? If so, how do you think that should be done? How can we make God part of our decision-making and goal-setting?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Proverbs 10:4-5, 12:11, 14:23, 21:5, 29:18; Ecclesiastes 9:10; Romans 13:11-12