Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. All Too Easy Pitfalls Of Communication

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    March 30, 2020 – Robert J. Tamasy  Communication, as I often defined it when I taught college classes in business communications, is “the successful exchange of meaning.” With all the “advances” in modern communication technology, it seems the challenge of accomplishing that – communicating clearly and effectively – is more difficult than ever.

    Some weeks ago, one of my neighbors, “Henry,” sent me a social media message telling me that he and his family were going out of town for the weekend, and asked if I would check occasionally to make certain no unfamiliar cars stopped at his home. I told him I would do so.

    A week or so later, I sent Henry a text, kiddingly stating, “I kept an eye on your house while you were gone. No one bothered it. Hope you had a good trip.” I did not hear back from him, but a few days later texted again: “Sorry we have not had a chance to connect lately. I see you getting into your car to go to work, or when you come home. Hope we can get together to chat soon.” Still no reply.

    Not long afterward, I decided to call Henry to let him know that my wife and I were going out of town and ask if he would return the favor of keeping an eye on our house in our absence. When a female voice answered, I asked if it was my neighbor’s wife, “Cathy.” “No,” she replied. “Who is this?” I explained I was trying to call my neighbor.

    “Well, this isn’t his phone any longer,” the female voice responded. “When Henry changed jobs, I took over his old job and inherited his work phone.” I later got my neighbor’s correct phone number, but reflecting on the earlier texts I had sent, wondered what the woman receiving them must have been thinking: “I kept an eye on your house…hope you had a good trip.” “I see you getting into your car…when you come home….” Wow! Did the woman, whom I did not know, think I was some kind of stalker?

    I would like to think such confused communications are rare, but suspect they are becoming all too common in this digital age when we hastily send out texts, emails and messages almost without thinking. This brings to mind some of the perils of careless communications that date back even to biblical times:

    Too many words, not enough careful consideration. We hear it on talk shows, in news reporting, and everywhere on social media – people being too eager to speak and not as eager to consider the impact of what they are about to say. “When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise” (Proverbs 10:19).

    Too much speaking, not enough listening. It has been said that many people no longer listen to what others have to say; they only wait until the other person becomes quiet so they can start talking again. “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,” (James 1:19).

    Too much hurt, not enough healing. With the mass of communication bombarding us in every possible way, there is bound to be injury inflicted whether intended or not. Most of us must learn to become as eager to apologize, even admit, “I’m sorry,” when communication errors occur, as we are to express what we are thinking. “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).

    © 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. Have you ever experienced – either as sender or recipient – an awkward, even embarrassing error in the course of trying to communicate with someone else? If so, were there any repercussions?

     

    1. What are some of the new problems in communicating with others that have been born as a result of so-called advancements in communication technology and strategies? How have they affect you or others in your workplace?

     

    1. How – in an age when words seem to have become more abundant than ever – can we learn to exercise more control and restraint over what we communicate – and how?

     

    1. For many people, among the most difficult words to say are, “I’m sorry.” How difficult is it for you to admit when you have been wrong, even when the offense was not intentional? Why do you think it is so hard for people to apologize and admit their wrongs in what they have said?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 10:20-21, 11:13, 12:13, 13:3, 15:1,4, 16:21, 18:21, 21:23

  2. Bouncing Back In Business And In Life

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    March 23, 2020 – Jim Langley  I have been playing golf since I was 19, and can still recall joining some college friends in playing my first nine holes without any prior golf instruction. Even though my first attempt was a poor one, I was hooked and took up the game seriously that summer.

    One of the major challenges in golf is being able to “bounce back” from exceeding par on the previous hole. This is critical for shooting par or even under par over an entire round. These days, bounce-backs for me come more along the lines of managing a par after several bogeys in a row, since my golf skills have diminished as I have gotten older. But I still love the game, and bouncing back remains exhilarating.

    Of course, the importance of bouncing back is not limited to the golf course. We have all discovered this in the workplace, as well as other areas of our lives. Over the past 30-plus years I have faced my share of personal experiences that required me to bounce back from adversity. I have always found, sometimes by way of hindsight, that these memorable occasions can prove significant for learning how to persevere.

    Often we have done nothing to deserve the adverse circumstances in which we find ourselves. In golf, sometimes the golf ball just takes an unfortunate bounce into a water hazard, a sand trap or some other difficult lie. The same holds true for the workplace. We may have done everything we thought we should, and yet we fail to close a much-needed deal. A long-anticipated promotion goes to someone else. Or the proposal we devoted many hours to preparing is not received with the enthusiasm we had expected. So how do we respond? We can quit. We can wallow in self-pity. Or, we can choose to bounce back, determined not to let the setback overcome us.

    Jesus’ disciples went through many trials and most of them died as martyrs, yet they persevered for Christ until their last breath. They knew how to bounce back from adversity. In fact, Jesus assured them this would be so. A short time before His crucifixion, He told His followers, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:18-20).

    This is one reason two Scripture passages focus on how we should handle the trials and adversities that come our way. In Romans 5:3-5, the apostle Paul wrote, “,,we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us….” He might well have said, “When difficult times come, be prepared to bounce back.”

    Another apostle, James, offered a similar admonition: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4).

    God is not necessarily looking for martyrs, but is seeking devoted followers who will place Him and others before their own needs. He wants us to bounce back from whatever our spiritual enemy throws at us and remain faithful to the very end. He wants us to have true victory as we deal with adversity in this world. Bouncing back, whether in the marketplace or the golf course, can be one of our greatest joys!

    © 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. Can you relate to the idea of “bouncing back” on the golf course? Even if you do not play golf, perhaps you can understand because of another form of competition, or even in terms of some professional setbacks you have faced. What has it been like for you to bounce back from difficult circumstances?

     

    1. What are some factors that might interfere with our ability or capacity to bounce back when trials and adversities inevitably come our way?

     

    1. Do you think that those who are followers of Jesus Christ in particular should expect challenging circumstances, both at work and in their personal lives, from which they will need to bounce back? Why or why not?

     

    1. Even though he did not use the term “bounce back,” one of the biblical writers cited in this “Monday Manna” said we should “consider it pure joy…whenever we face trials of many kinds.” Does this seem like strange advice? How can we find “pure joy” as we encounter and deal with such difficulties?

     

    NOTE: For more about what the Bible says consider the following passages:
    John 16:32-33; 1 Corinthians 4:10-13; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12; Romans 8:35-39

  3. Overcoming Fear Outside The Comfort Zone

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    March 16, 2020 – Sergio M. Fortes  Some time ago I wrote about the benefits – and limitations – of living and working in the “comfort zone,” areas we find comfortable and familiar. We find security there, but staying there may inhibit our personal and professional development. Why do we remain there? I believe it is because of what we might call “the Fear Zone.”

    When we make the important decision to abandon the comfort zone, we find ourselves entering an unfamiliar, untested realm characterized by an absence of self-confidence. Fearful of challenges we have never faced before, we might feel overpowered and influenced by the opinions of others. Rather than boldly venturing into the unknown, we take refuge in excuses.

    Fear is not necessarily bad. It puts us on alert, adrenaline surging within us to prepare us for threats that surround us. But fear can also paralyze and disable us from taking any action, even positive steps for growth and professional advancement. Over the years I have learned this is the strategy of the enemy of our souls – Satan – as the Scriptures warn us. We are told he “roars like a lion looking for a victim to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). Immobilizing fear can turn us into easy prey.

    There are many kinds of fear: Fear of going wrong. Fear of not making the right decision. Fear of what others might think. Fear of the unknown. This brings to mind the people of Israel after they had been freed from slavery in Egypt. Despite the adversity they had left behind, it still represented a “comfort zone” for them – the known and familiar. Discomfort with the unknown turned into dread. They began to rationalize: “It wasn’t so bad back there.” They wanted to give up and turn back, to return to the “onions and garlic” from Egypt. Amazingly, they concluded that dying in Egypt would be better than surviving in the desert.

    Anxiety has been called “one of the evils of the century,” something that afflicts all ages, from children to the elderly. We fear in advance things that have not yet happened and may never happen. How should we deal with fear? The Bible provides us with precious guidance:

    A divine command. Addressing the Israelites, God instructed, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9). Whether leaving our comfort zone or facing a big challenge, confronting fear is a divine directive. We might regard this as the 11th commandment: “You shall not be afraid…” (Psalm 91:5).

    Spirit of a winner. Paul the apostle was mentor to his young protégé, Timothy, who found himself surrounded by obstacles imposed by Jewish leaders who did not want to leave their own comfort zones. Paul challenged him to persevere, to win: “For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, pf love and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).

    Confidence despite uncertainty. Fear is often inevitable. Circumstances, problems and obstacles attack our faith. However, drawing from personal experience, the psalmist David wrote, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you…in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4).

    No fear, not even of death. Life can put us into situations that appear hopeless, when it seems our end has been decreed. But God’s Word comes to us with unbeatable power: “Even though I walk through a dark valley like death, I will not be afraid of anything. For you, O Lord God, are with me; you protect me and direct me” (Psalm 23 4).

    Do you find yourself outside your comfort zone and into the zone of fear? We can stare it down, because of the certainty that Almighty God is with us. The Fear Zone is worth facing and overcoming, because as I will write in a future edition of “Monday Manna,” the next stage is the Learning Zone!

    Sergio Fortes is a mentor and consultant in logistics and corporate strategic business. As a member of CBMC in the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, he has coordinated the translation of Monday Manna into Portuguese for more than 20 years. He is committed to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ – to make disciples.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. By way of review, how would you define the “comfort zone”? What makes up the comfort zone for you? How difficult do you find it to venture outside this comfort zone?

     

    1. Fortes suggests a “Fear Zone” confronts us if and when we determine to step beyond our comfort zones? What kind of role do you think fear plays in encouraging us to remain with the familiar and comfortable?

     

    1. What kinds of fear do you find yourself dealing with most commonly? In what ways have you been able to overcome them?

     

    1. A number of biblical promises are presented for enabling us to overcoming the fear of venturing outside our comfort zones. Do you find them helpful? If so, in what ways? If not, why?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more consider the following passages:
    Isaiah 26:3-4, 41:10-14; Jeremiah 29:11-13, 33:3; Matthew 6:25-34; Ephesians 3:20

  4. Is Leadership Somewhat Overrated?

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    March 9, 2020 – Robert J. Tamasy  If you have been in the business and professional world for any length of time – even for just a few months – chances are you have asked, encouraged or even ordered to attend some form of leadership training. It might have been an hour-long meeting, a workshop, a seminar or even a conference. In any case, the intention was to prepare you for becoming a more effective leader.

    But does it ever occur to you that leadership – leading – is a big overrated? The reason I ask is because, unlike leadership, when was the last time you participated in training on how to follow?

    American business consultant Brian Kight pointed this out recently when he stated on social media, “You do not have to lead. It is not for everyone. That does not mean you cannot be an amazing contributor. Teams need every role. Leadership is just one. Fall in love with the role you have.”

    What Kight said might sound strange, but it is true. We cannot all be leaders. What would you think of an army in which everyone was a general, but no one was a soldier engaged in actual battle?

    Years ago I was with an organization and enjoying tremendously my job as writer and editor. My title was “director of publications,” but since I had a very small staff, much of the actual day-to-day work fell on my shoulders. And I had no problem with that.

    One day a top executive with the organization called me into his office and asked me, “Where do you see yourself in the future – maybe five years from now?” My answer was simple: I saw myself doing much of what I had been doing, since I was greatly enjoying my work, felt I was doing it was and found it very fulfilling. Many people had complimented my work, and I saw no need for making any changes.

    It was not that I lacked ambition or aspirations for achieving new goals. It was simply that I felt no need to be directing others. Rather than delegating work to others, I much preferred rolling up my sleeves and being directly involved myself in whatever publications we had to produce at the time.

    As Kight said, the responsibility to lead “is not for everyone.” Many people are well-content with carrying out their respective tasks, understanding they are contributing to a greater goal. In the Scriptures, we see this modeled perfectly by Jesus Christ. He was the unquestioned leader; what He wanted was faithful, devoted followers. Here are some examples of what the Bible says about “followship”:

    Let the leader set the pace. In assembling His team, Jesus sought people with vision – but also the willingness to follow. “”’Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men’” (Matthew 4:19).

    There is a cost to following. Following even a powerful leader is not always easy. It sometimes means sacrifice, being willing to set aside one’s own ambitions for a higher goal. “Then he said to them all: ‘If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’” Luke 9:23).

    The best leaders are also good followers. One of the foremost leaders of the early Church was the apostle Paul. He wielded much influence, but even at that, Paul never forgot whom he was following, who was determining the course. “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” 1 Corinthians 11:1).

    © 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. What types of leadership training have you participated in? What were some of the things you learned through this training, whether it took place at workshops, seminars or conferences?

     

    1. When – if ever – have you attended a training session about effective following? Why do you think so much effort is invested in teaching people to lead, but not in instructing how they should follow?

     

    1. If you are a leader in some official capacity, have you ever tried to communicate your appreciation not only for what people do but also for how they follow your direction? If not, how might you go about doing this?

     

    1. What about people – perhaps including yourself – who have not been given formal leadership responsibilities: Do you think this makes their – or your – role any less important to what the team is striving to accomplish overall? How could you, even as a leader, learn how to become a better follower?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 25:6-7, 29:23; Matthew 4:18:22, 8:18-22, 16:21-26; John 10:1-18; 1 Peter 2:18-21

  5. Teachability: An Invaluable Virtue

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    March 2, 2020 – Rick Boxx  Tom, a CEO friend of mine, had a promising executive on his leadership team that was struggling at work. It had become obvious this individual would need additional oversight until he could mature into fulfilling the potential everyone knew he possessed. One of the problems involved the junior executive’s reluctance to release any control. He lacked of a quality Tom considered critical for personal and professional growth: Teachability.

    Despite having the intelligence and raw talent for one day becoming a valued member of the team, this fellow’s resistance to instruction and correction would remain obstacles for advancement. Tom knew if the leader did not become more open to recommendations for change or improvement, most likely he would undermine any assistance and support sent his way.

    Unwilling to give up on the young executive, Tom scheduled a face-to-face meeting with him to discuss the reality of the problem. He needed to prove that he was teachable, Tom explained, or it would be necessary to consider other options.

    Fortunately, this leader humbled himself and accepted Tom’s offer of additional direction. This resulted in rapid growth for the leader and more profitability for the organization. It proved to be a win-win for him and the company, but if he had resisted change, everyone would have lost.

    Repeatedly in the Scriptures we find emphasis on the importance of teachability. Here are some examples:

    Teachability leads to prosperity. There is an old saying that “not one of us is as smart as all of us.” We might believe we can succeed independently, without help, but doing so almost always leads to failure. Relying on the wisdom and insights of others, however, usually leads to success. “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord” (Proverbs 16:20). “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed” (Proverbs 15:22).

    Teachability paves the way to wisdom. A young man seeking a mentor, when asked why he wanted to be mentored, responded, “I want to learn from your mistakes.” Showing discernment beyond his years, this individual had realized he did not need to make all of his own errors; he could also learn from the mistakes others had made. Wisdom is usually a product of experience, and experience is often gained through making mistakes and then making necessary corrections and changes. “Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise” (Proverbs 19:20).

    Teachability pursues the best resources. The world is filled with knowledge. There are hundreds, even thousands of books on virtually any topic. There is an endless supply of information through the media – TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. The Internet can serve as a library at your fingertips, a cornucopia of content about practically everything. But we only have limited time, so which resources we use can affect not only our teachability but also what we learn. Why not consult the Bible? Writing to his young disciple, the apostle Paul declared, “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).

    Teachability is a quality we should all look for in those we select for leading areas of our business.

    © 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. Do you consider yourself teachable? Explain your answer.

     

    1. From your observations, what are the consequences of not being teachable? Have you ever found yourself reporting to someone who seemed to lack teachability? What was that experience like?

     

    1. What steps do you think a person can take to become more teachable? What role, if any, does personal humility play in being able to develop and maintain teachability?

     

    1. A final suggestion in this “Monday Manna” is to turn to the Bible as an important teaching resource. Do you agree – especially when thinking in terms of today’s marketplace? Why or why not?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more, consider the following passages:
    Proverbs 12:15, 19:27, 20:18, 24:5-6, 27:17; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 1:28

  6. The Incomparable Power Of Vision

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    February 24, 2020 – Robert J. Tamasy  My first experience of driving an automobile by myself, without someone in the passenger seat beside me, was one I will never forget. I was working on the evening shift as a stock clerk at a grocery store about four miles from our house, and my parents had agreed for me to drive one of the family cars solo.

    I had received excellent driver training, through my high school and from my father and an uncle in Texas with whom I had spent about six weeks the preceding summer. So I felt well-prepared, and my drive to the grocery store was uneventful. The drive back home, however, was a different story.

    About 10 p.m., I clocked out for the evening and emerged from the store to walk to my car. An extremely dense fog had settled in and I could not see more than 10 feet ahead of me. “Well,” I thought to myself, “let’s see how this works out.” Fortunately, I had traveled the route to and from the grocery store many times, both as driver and passenger, so I could almost visualize the path I would follow, even though the fog obscured most of the way. The headlight beams seemed to bounce back toward me, which did not help the situation.

    This was in the days before anyone had even conceived of cell phones, so I could not check in with my parents to advise them of my progress. My mother was a nervous wreck, and my father had decided to become a one-man search party for me, if needed. Thankfully, I arrived home intact, without a scratch on the car, although the short drive took nearly an hour longer than it ever had before.

    I share this story because sometimes life is like this. We encounter a crisis, whether in the workplace or in our personal lives, and we cannot see more than an arm’s length ahead. “Where should I go? Is the path clear? Are there any unexpected obstacles lying hidden in the ‘fog,’ threatening to bring me harm?”

    It all comes down to vision – or the lack of it. In a business context, many successful entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders have experienced great accomplishments in part because of one key factor: They had vision for what they wanted to do and how they could get there. And they clung to that vision, even when the way seemed obscured or “fogged over.”

    Similarly, a business team typically thrives when everyone shares a common vision – not only for the present, but also for the future. You might be familiar with the story of a brick mason centuries ago who was asked what he was doing. While some of his coworkers had commented things like, “mixing cement,” or “raising up a wall,” this mason’s response was classic: “I am building a cathedral.” That is vision!

    The Bible speaks a lot about vision. One particular translation of Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Another translation expresses it, “Where there is no [prophetic] revelation, the people cast off restraint….”  

    An effective leader is one who understands the importance of casting vision for the corporate team, being able to answer questions such as, “Where are we going?” “Why are we going there?” “How are we going to get there?” “What will we be doing when we arrive?” Are they just building a wall – or a cathedral?

    © 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. Have you ever had an experience in attempting to travel in dense fog, or a severe storm, when the way ahead was nearly impossible to see? What was that like for you?

     

    1. What about in a business or professional context? Have there been times in your working career when, whether as a leader or an employee, you lacked vision for where you were headed and why you were heading that way? If so, what was that experience like for you?

     

    1. How would you describe or define the value and importance of vision in a workplace context? How can vision best be communicated and put into action?

     

    1. Vision also is an important part of growth and progress in a spiritual sense. How can a Christ-centered vision for your work make a difference in how you approach what you do, or for how you interact with others over the course of a workday?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages:

    1 Samuel 3:1; Lamentations 2:9; Daniel 10:2-12; Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Corinthians 3:9

  7. Denial-Crisis-Action

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    February 17, 2020 – Jim Mathis  For a few years I kept noticing my blood pressure was elevating. Each time I would check it, it would be slightly higher than the time before. I always attributed this to some contributing source – too much coffee, I was tired, or some other easily explained and dismissed reason. Finally, my physician came right out and told me, “Your blood pressure is too high. I am going to put you on medication for that.” The medication worked and my blood pressure was back to a normal, healthy level. I had been in denial; the doctor forced me to admit my denial and prescribed a course of action.

    Another time, my indebtedness was increasing. It started me on a slippery slope the very first time I failed to pay the entire balance on a credit card. I kept thinking I would catch up the next month, but did not. I denied this was a problem until it turned into a crisis, an amount I could no longer tolerate. I came up with a plan of action and paid off all of my debts in about the same amount of time it took to accumulate them.

    I have been gaining a little weight each year of my adult life. I convinced myself this was normal and besides, I knew a lot of people who were much more overweight than I was. I also reasoned that my scales must be off, I was wearing heavy shoes, or had just consumed a large meal, and besides, I thought, my weight varies with the time of day.

    Eventually I hit a number beyond my comfort zone for what I was willing to weigh. It became a personal crisis. I bought a new digital scale and started charting my weight at the same time every day; I wanted no variables that I could rationalize. Once again, I was in denial, reached a crisis of belief, and developed a plan of action.

    Many years ago I was drifting spiritually. I had gone to church as a youth, and even had a “religious experience.” I looked back at that experience, convinced I was right with God, but somehow realized I was not. Eventually, I reached a crisis of belief where I knew I was going to have to change my life. I started attending church again and joined a Bible study group. There I became aware my view of God was that of a child, a perspective I had picked up in Sunday school decades before.

    After a period of deep soul-searching, I decided to become a dedicated follower of Christ – this time as an adult with a plan. Just as with my blood pressure, indebtedness and weight, I had been in denial about my lack of faith. I had a crisis of belief where I knew things had to change, and that crisis led me to a new and more mature faith in Jesus Christ.

    Over the years, I have seen this same pattern played out in many other people’s lives in a wide variety of subjects. For some, their ability to live in denial is higher than others; they never seem to get to the crisis stage where they recognize the need to take action. Others confront reality and take the necessary steps before a major crisis strikes. Are there areas of your life where you are in denial? Are you heading for a crisis or should you take action now?

    I would suggest you consult others for help: God, and trusted friends. “’You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:13). “A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance and for victory many advisors” (Proverbs 24:5-6).

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

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Have you ever had a problem, whether with indebtedness, physical health, destructive behavior, or an issue in the workplace that you denied for a long time before taking action on it? If so, describe the problem, how it affected you, and what you ultimately did about it.

     

    1. Is it possible you might still be in the denial stage of some unaddressed problems or challenges in your life? How do you think you could go about discovering there actually is a problem before it turned into a full-scale crisis?

     

    1. What about your spiritual life? Do you think you are where you should be in your relationship to God? Why or why not? If you are not certain, who might you go to for counsel or advice to help you gain an honest understanding of where you are – or might not be?

     

    1. Suppose you were forced to admit you were in denial about some controlling issue in your life, and it was reaching the crisis stage. Would you be willing to surrender your pride and submit to the guidance of a trusted advisor to help you in taking whatever action is necessary? Why or why not?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: 

    Deuteronomy 5:32-33; Psalm 139:1-12,23; Proverbs 8:17, 11:14, 19:20; 1 Timothy 4:7

  8. Love In The Office That Cannot Be Discouraged

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    February 10, 2020 – Robert J. Tamasy  When you hear the term, “love in the office,” what comes to mind? A romantic relationship between coworkers or colleagues, perhaps? Some workplaces forbid such “fraternization,” while others merely discourage it or insist such relationships be kept discreet. But what about a kind of love in the office that cannot nor should not be discouraged, with no cause for discretion?

    What I am referring to is the kind of love we often see described in the Bible. For instance, Jesus on numerous occasions told His followers to, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39). This was preceded by what He called the “greatest commandment” – to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37).

    Well, that sounds nice and fits well for religious or spiritual settings. But what about the everyday, dog-eat-dog, highly competitive business and professional world? As one song put it, “what’s love got to do with it?” Actually, when we look closer, we see that love can – and should – have a lot to do with how we conduct ourselves and relate to others in the marketplace.

    Looking back at what Jesus said about loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves, this does not refer to the emotional, warm, fuzzy feelings we get when we are around people we care about. This is about revering and honoring God in all we do, and in the process, demonstrating sincere interest and care for others – including colleagues, coworkers, bosses, customers and suppliers.

    Think about perhaps the greatest single statement about love in the Scriptures: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This definitely was not a hugs-and-kisses kind of love. It was an expression of divine love – and sacrifice – that the human mind cannot fully comprehend. Yet every day of our lives, we can benefit from this.

    There is no way humanly speaking we can replicate this unfathomable form of love, but at the same time, as followers of Jesus we are called to demonstrate sincere, even sacrificial love to those around us, whether it be where we work, in our homes, or our communities. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

    What this looks like in a real-life situation will differ from one person to the next, partly depending on the circumstances we find ourselves in. But here are a couple of examples:

    Living others by putting them first. Often in the business world, the mantra is, “Looking out for No. 1 – look out for yourself,” This is not the admonition we receive from the Scriptures. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better (more important) than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).

    Seeking to give rather than to receive. The natural tendency is to seek whatever we can get out of a situation, but the biblical command is to instead, seek how much we can give.. “…the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).

    © 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. Thinking of the phrase, “love in the office” (or the workplace), what immediately comes to your mind?

     

    1. Has this “Monday Manna’s” different perspective about love expressed in a marketplace setting changed or challenged your thinking on this? If so, in what ways?

     

    1. Have you ever seen “love” demonstrated in a workplace setting, as it has been described here? If so, what did that look like? If it was shown toward you, how did it feel?

     

    1. How would you go about trying to communicate and display an others-oriented, unselfish kind of love in your own working environment today? How difficult do you think it would be for you to do so? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages:

    John 13:34-35; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Peter 4:8-10; 1 John 4:7-12

  9. The Incredible Power Of Proverbs

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    February 3, 2020 – Rick Boxx  While attending a funeral, I struck up a conversation with Joe, a guy I had not seen in 20 years. As he learned about what I do with Unconventional Business Network, the non-profit organization I direct, Joe said that in one sense it reminded of his uncle.

    He explained that his uncle started with modest means in a blue-collar trade, but years later was worth millions of dollars. When Joe asked about his uncle about his success, the uncle replied, “Years ago, I was looking for a solution to a work problem when I turned to the book of Proverbs. It worked so well that I’ve read and applied a chapter of Proverbs to my life every day since.”

    My experience with Proverbs has been similar. In fact, one of the Bible’s “wisdom books,” it says that about itself. But it is not just about the words we read; it is about the God who is behind those words. For instance, Proverbs 1:7 declares, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Those might sound like harsh words, but as we continue reading through each of the book’s 31 chapters, we come to understand why.

    Proverbs is not a book of philosophy, nor lofty idealism, but one of down-to-earth, rubber-meets-the-road, practical principles and precepts. Proverbs 7:2 tells us: “Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye.” The teachings we find in Proverbs prove equally relevant and useful for the workplace as they are for every other area of life.

    I have heard of business executives who commit to meeting weekly to discuss the wisdom and insights from Proverbs, some of whom may not even claim to be followers of Jesus Christ. Even as outsiders to God’s family of faith, they see the value of the truths they find in this concisely written Old Testament book. Here is a small sampling of what we can learn from it. For consistent wisdom in your work, turn to Proverbs frequently:

    Anger. “A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult” (Proverbs 12:16). “A patient man has great understanding, but a quick-tempered man displays folly” (Proverbs 15:18).

    Consequences for actions. “Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free” (Proverbs 11:21). “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).

    Discipline and correction. “He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray” (Proverbs 10:17). “He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored” (Proverbs 13:18).

    Seeking wise counsel. “For lack of guidance a nation falls, but many advisors make victory sure” (Proverbs 11:14). “A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance and for victory many advisers” (Proverbs 24:5-6).

    Handling finances. “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Proverbs 13:11). “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

    © 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. Have you – or someone you know – ever taken the time to read through the book of Proverbs? If so, what kind of impact has it had?

     

    1. How would you define “wisdom”? How would you distinguish it from knowledge, or experience?

     

    1. Which of the passages from Proverbs cited in this “Monday Manna” seem most interesting or insightful to you? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Since there are 31 chapters in the book of Proverbs, what would you think of committing to try reading one chapter of Proverbs a day for an entire month, and then evaluating what you had learned over that time?

     

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

    Proverbs 14:4, 15:33, 16:32, 18:16, 19:9, 20:25, 24:27, 27:4, 27:8, 27:17

  10. Resume Or Eulogy – Which Would You Choose?

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    January 27, 2020 – Jim Mathis  In modern society we are encouraged to work to build our resume. The questions are always: What have we accomplished? What skills do we have? What is our job title? Or, how much money do we earn?

    However, in the end, thinking about our eulogy is a better idea. At our funeral, what will our family and friends say about us? They will probably not list our jobs or our degrees. If so, it will only be in passing. They will most likely talk about what it was like to be our friend, or to have us as a loved one. Will they talk about our integrity and honesty? Will somebody mention how we always looked for the good side of people and situations, or how we lit up a room when we came into it?

    Is our life characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control, as the Bible describes in Galatians 5:22-23? Or are we only a list of accomplishments?

    I have never attended a funeral where the pastor read a list of the deceased person’s possessions. I was thinking about this because my mother died a few months ago. At her funeral, person after person came forward to comment on her contributions to the community, as well the many close relationships that she had. Some talked about her patience, her loving spirit, and about her always positive attitude. There were no comments or mention of her financial situation, though several people reflected on her career and what a joy it was to have worked with her.

    One of the sins of society is that we place undue honor on people because positions they hold or how much money they possess. Conversely, we fail to respect people with lower incomes or working in lower status jobs. This is exactly the opposite of how God would have us act. Scripture is clear about our need to not be prejudiced or to show favoritism. James 2:5 (New Living Translation) says, Listen to me, dear brothers and sisters. Hasn’t God chosen the poor in this world to be rich in faith? Aren’t they the ones who will inherit the Kingdom he promised to those who love him?”

    Matthew 6:19-21 reminds us to not place our trust in earthly treasures, but to lay up eternal treasure. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

    Luke 12:15 adds, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” In practical terms, what we own is not who we are. Our money, houses and cars are all external to who we are. “Things” are temporary, just along for the ride, often dragging us down. Our experiences, education, and relationships, most important our relationship with God, define who we are. Those things are internal, along with characteristics like integrity, love, joy, and peace.

    When we die, we will leave all possessions behind, but the lives we have touched and the difference we have made will live on, both on earth and in heaven.

    © 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. Have you ever attended a funeral or memorial service where people spoke at length about the deceased person’s money, or jobs, or earthly possessions? What are the things that seem to be mentioned most often?

     

    1. Why is the content of one’s resume typically so different from what is expressed through a eulogy at a memorial service?

     

    1. Which of the characteristics cited by the Bible – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – do you think people would associate with your life?

     

    1. How can we avoid becoming preoccupied or consumed with the eternal trappings of success, and learn instead to cultivate internal qualities and traits that will be remembered long after our lives have come to an end?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more consider the following passages: Proverbs 20:11, 21:21;
    Matthew 6:24,33, 7:24-27, 13:44-45; Philippians 4:8-9