Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. A Tale Of Two Funerals

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    April 22, 2019 – Dr. Stephen R. Graves  A few months back, two funerals occurred in the same week in our community. Both were for men I knew who had lived a long life and had great community reach. I assumed the funerals would be pretty similar. I could not have been more wrong.

    The first funeral was as impressive a celebration of life as I have seen in a long time. All of the man’s children and grandchildren were present. I realized all of his kids had become individuals of impact and character in their own right. They have good relationships (not perfect) with each other and their respective communities. Several of his grandchildren spoke about what they had learned from their grandfather and memories of him. “I remember when Grandpa …” was said countless times. He clearly had impacted multiple generations during his life.

    But it was not just family. Several executives representing the company of one of the sons flew in from the East Coast for the funeral. The room was filled with standing room-only with hundreds of friends and relatives. I was amazed at how many people his life had clearly touched.

    Major-league baseball player and sometimes humorist Yogi Berra joked, ”You should always go to other people’s funerals or they won’t come to yours.” That was not why I was glad I went, however. I was glad because it was the kind of funeral that makes you think, “Iwant my funeral to look like this.” Of course, his funeral looked like that because his life had looked like that.

    Later that week, I checked in on the other funeral. It turned out that fewer than 10 people came. They had to hire a preacher since no preacher was close enough to the man to offer up his services.

    It was not like the man had spent his past 30 years off the grid. He had a very full life, but it led to an empty funeral. Why? Because his life was full of the wrong things. His life was self-absorbed, full of mostly stuff and material things, not healthy relationships and positive influence.

    I thought the funerals would be the same, but they were complete opposites.

    New York Times columnist and news commentator David Brooks described this more succinctly, stating our culture honors “resume virtues,” but we need to seek “eulogy virtues” in our own lives. Maybe he had attended a funeral just before he wrote that.

    Funerals have a way of making us slow down and ponder the brevity of life – and our priorities for life. They make us think toward the eternal and the Divine. They cause us to cut through the routines and noise of life to contemplate whether life is going the way we want. They make us celebrate people above things and activities. They make us look back, which can often help us look forward.

    Perhaps that’s why the book of Ecclesiastes says, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, since that is the end of all mankind, and the living should take it to heart” (Ecclesiastes 7:2).

    I certainly understand that death has a sad and even shocking side to it. But if you get a chance to watch a celebration of a life done well, take it in.

    Dr. Stephen R. Graves describes himself as an organizational strategist, pragmatic theologian, and social capitalist. He advises executives and business owners, as well as young entrepreneurs. He is author of numerous books and many articles, and a public speaker. His website is www.stephenrgraves.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. When was the last time you attended a funeral? What were your impressions of what transpired during that service?

     

    1. Graves describes two funeral ceremonies conducted in the same community, but their impact seemed very different. How would you explain the differences between them?

     

    1. Have you ever contemplated what your own funeral or memorial service might be like one day? Is that how you would like it to be? If not, in light of the discussion in this “Monday Manna,” how could you go about changing that?

     

    1. What is the difference between “resume virtues” and “eulogy virtues”? Do these occur naturally, or are they established through intentionality?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this topic, consider the following passages:  Psalm 90:12; Ecclesiastes 2:16,24, 5:10-15, 7:1-4; Romans 6:19-23

  2. Capitalizing On Monumental Moments

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    April 15, 2019 – Jim Langley  Looking back over your life, what have been the monumental moments – those times when, for better or worse, your life was forever changed? Losing a job, or finding the job of your dreams. Resolving it was time to stop being an “employee” and starting your own business. Getting married, or becoming a parent.

    I use the term “monumental moments” because of numerous instances in the Bible’s Old Testament when God instructed His people to establish monuments to serve as memorials, reminders for future generations of His goodness and love for His people. These prompted the Israelites to “never forget” what the Lord had.

    Over the course of my life and career, God has brought me through a variety of unforgettable, life-changing experiences that deserved monuments, at least in my mind. But especially since they are most recent, my mind quickly goes to specific “monuments” as they relate to my bout with cancer.

    It all started with my physician’s concern over an elevated PSA (prostate-specific antigen) in the spring of 2017. My PSA had risen by 50 percent since my last lab work two years earlier. Even after meeting with a urologist for consultation, I was unprepared to simply accept that I had prostate cancer.

    Before enduring the rigors of a biopsy, I asked what other preliminary steps were available. The urologist advised a test that measures the hypothetical risk of cancer. The score from that extensive blood work showed the biopsy was indeed appropriate. Results showed I needed to address removal of the cancer from my body.

    The urologist suggested surgically removing the prostate to prevent the cancer from spreading to other organs. However, I decided first to explore all alternative methods. One of my insurance clients had gone through an innovative prostate cancer treatment a few years earlier and had been cancer-free for the past five years, so that seemed a promising option. At the time, the procedure was not available in the U.S.A., but by the time of my diagnosis, my client’s urologist had begun performing the HIFU innovative treatment locally.

    After an initial consultation, however, even though I qualified for the procedure, the costs seemed prohibitive. As I prayed, I felt no peace about proceeding. Then I met a golfing acquaintance who had recently dealt with prostate cancer himself. He had been accepted into a government-sponsored health study and had undergone the HIFU treatment successfully. I investigated that possibility, but several tests revealed my condition did not meet parameters for the two-year study that would cover my expenses.

    Then I was referred the urologist who performed the HIFU procedure for the study. After meeting with me, he recommended Cryotherapy instead, another minimally invasive procedure he felt would be best for my condition. Best of all, my health insurance would cover nearly all the costs!

    When I awoke an hour after the procedure, called “cryoablation,” I was elated to learn the procedure had gone very well. Over the past 18 months I had experienced one monumental moment after another. Being a businessman devoted to following Christ, I had continually prayed for wisdom in dealing with the devastating diagnosis, exploring options, and the subsequent treatment. Proverbs 3:5-6 tells us, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your paths.” He truly led me in ways I could not have anticipated. Something I will never forget.

    Businessmen typically analyze alternatives and associated costs before making key decisions. As followers of Christ, we also need supernatural analysis to make certain we are in God’s will and on His appointed path. As we remain faithful to the Lord in our respective journeys, we can give Him the glory for the outcomes.

    © 2019, 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. Do you have any “monumental moments” in your life that immediately come to mind? If so, what has been their impact on how you have proceeded through your life and career?

     

    1. Do you think recognizing these moments – life-changing times and events – is even important? Why or why not? What difference does making “monuments” to these moments make?

     

    1. Have you ever had an experience similar to what Mr. Langley has gone through, a process that took several unexpected turns? What was that like for you?

     

    1. In the Bible, God’s people were instructed to build monuments to remind them and future generations of what He had done. What are your thoughts about the need (or importance) of having such remembrances, even if only in our minds?

     

    NOTE: If you would like to consider other things the Bible says about this topic, read and reflect on the following passages:
    Genesis 35:13-15; Joshua 4:19-24; 1 Samuel 7:12-13; Jeremiah 29:11; Romans 8:35-39

  3. That Terrifying, Terrific First Step

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    April 8, 2019 – Robert J. Tamasy  A journey of a thousand miles, according to the Chinese proverb, begins with a single step. In more contemporary terms, you cannot finish something until you decide to start. The problem for many people is, they never get started.

    I can relate to this. There are some things I once dreamed of doing, even might have considered to be life goals, but I never accomplished them. Because I did not take that first single step. Even though I have been a professional writer, I have never written a novel – because I have yet to take that first step. In high school, I played drums in several bands, but always wanted to improve my skills. I never took that first step to do so. I have always wondered if I have the ability to paint landscapes. But – you are right – to date I have not taken the first step to learn how.

    On the other hand, I can think of “first steps” I have taken, ones that have made all the difference in my journey, both professionally and personally. Early on, I transferred to a different university because I wanted to study journalism. This resulted in my career that has spanned nearly 50 years. I always felt intimidated by speaking in public, but took the first step to put myself into situations where I had to speak in front of groups. Public speaking still is my strength, but I can do it reasonably well when necessary.

    After more than 44 years of marriage, I wonder where I would be today if I had not taken that first step to ask my wife out on a date. And we had often talked about taking a trip together to another country; last year we finally did that, accepting the invitation of some friends to join them on a memorable trip to Italy.

    Dr. Mark Jobe, president of Moody Bible Institute, on his radio program spoke about the importance – and difficulty – of taking the first step. He pointed out many reasons for people being reluctant to take the all-important first step, but here are three of the most common. I have added some biblical passages that apply to each of these:

    • Conditions are not ideal.Jobe used an example of desiring to start an outdoor exercise program. One day might feel too cold. The next day might be a bit too hot. Conditions are rarely perfect for taking the first step, so the best plan is simply to take it as soon as possible, then continue moving forward, one day at a time. The Scriptures urge us to, “A man’s steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?”(Proverbs 20:24).
    • Timing might not seem perfect.Many of us desire to make a difference in the world around us, whether it means getting involved in community activities, or investing time and energy in helping another person grow personally and spiritually. There is no excuse for waiting; there is no better time to start than now. “Do not say to your neighbor, ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you,’ when you already have it with you(Proverbs 3:28).“…redeeming the time, for the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:16).
    • Stepping out in faith may force you to confront your greatest fears.In some cases, fear prevents us from taking that initial step. It could be fear of failure, fear of the unknown, or fear of how others might react. That is where faith fits into the equation: When we feel great anxiety, trusting in the Lord enables us to take that step anyway. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).
    © 2019. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies;coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversityby Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What can you think of that you have never accomplished – at least to this point – because you have been unwilling, or too afraid, to take that first step?

     

    1. Can you think of something you were initially reluctant to do or to try, but once you determined to take the first step, discovered it was life-changing – and now you sometimes wonder why you delayed moving into action for so long?

     

    1. How can we overcome hesitation to step out when conditions do not seem to be the best, or you question whether the timing is right for getting started?

     

    1. In what ways can faith in God – trusting in and relying on Him – enable us to get past fears that may be causing us to procrastinate over that first step? What about taking the most important first step of all, committing your life to Jesus Christand making Him the Lord of your life – have you done that yet?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this topic, consider the following passages:  Psalm 37:4-5; Proverbs 3:5-6; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Colossians 4:5

  4. Shining Like Stars In The Marketplace

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    April 1, 2019 – Rick Boxx  A question I often hear when speaking about faith in the workplace comes from people who are not CEOs, those who are not the top decision-making executives in their companies. Many of them can readily understand how a CEO can affect change within an organization, but those who are not CEOs doubt their own ability to bring about change where they work, especially in terms of faith and spiritually based values.

    This kind of thinking, while understandable, is unfortunate because it can undermine the potential for genuine, positive change. From my own experience, and in consulting with people in many kinds of businesses and organizations, I have discovered there are unlimited opportunities of all people to make a difference.

    A question that naturally arises from such a statement is, “How can we make that difference?” I think the best place to start is by considering two similar passages from the Scriptures, one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. Both talk about people of faith “shining like stars” in their surroundings.

    In the prophetic book of Daniel, it tells about a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.” But then it declares,“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever”(Daniel 12:1-3).

    The other passage, the second chapter of Philippians, reminds us, it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.” Clearly, it states wherever we go and whatever we do – even in the workplace – God can use us to accomplish His plans. Then we are instructed, “Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation. Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky” (Philippians 2:13-15).

    We live and work in turbulent times; at times things seem dark and disheartening. “Where is God in this?” we might wonder. It is at times like these, however, that we have the opportunity to do as the Scriptures say, to “shine like stars in the sky” to illuminate the oppressive darkness.

    Think of it this way: In a large, well-lit room, a lightbulb of low wattage or a candle seems to make very little difference in how bright the area appears. However, when the lights are turned off and all other sources of illumination have been eliminated, that small lightbulb or candle suddenly seems to shine brightly, drawing us to it. In a similar way, if we find ourselves working in spiritually dark environments, we can ask God to provide ways where we can “shine like stars” and make a difference far beyond anything we could imagine.

    Author C.S. Lewis wrote, “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” That is a profound statement, and we should pray as ambassadors for Jesus Christ in the marketplace, as described in 2 Corinthians 5:20, that as others observe our lives and hear us tell about what we believe and why, that they also will be able to see Him.

    It is important to remember that God’s ways are unconventional. When we embrace His ways, and model them in the places where we work, our actions stand out to others. As the Lord works in us and through us, often in unexpected ways, they will see a difference. Over time, He will give us the opportunity to reveal Jesus Christ, “the light of the world”(John 9:5) to those around us.

    Copyright 2019, 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 believe that people other than top executives can make a meaningful difference in the workplace, especially in terms of helping to set a spiritual focus for how work is done and services are provided? Why or why not?

     

    1. How can people make this kind of difference, especially if they are not the primary decision-makers?

     

    1. What do you think of the idea expressed in the Bible about “shining like stars” to the world around us, including those places where we work?

     

    1. If you made this decision, resolving that “I want to be one of those who are shining like stars at my company (my business or organization),” how might you go about striving to do this?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  Matthew 5:14-16; John 1:4-9, 3:19-21, 8:12, 12:45-46

  5. Integrity: The Art Of Being One, Being Whole

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    March 25, 2018 – Jim Mathis  It has some time since I wrote about integrity and its importance for the workplace. Integrity comes from the same root word as “integer” or “integral,” meaning one or whole. One way to describe a person with integrity is someone who is the same at all times. Oswald Chambers expressed it up well when he said, “Sincerity means that the appearance and the reality are exactly the same.”

    The opposite of integrity would be “two-faced” or a hypocrite, an actor wearing a mask or playing a part. What you see is not necessarily what you get. We know this often exists in the realm of politics, but it also manifests itself in other areas of life, including the business and professional world, where people often do whatever is necessary to land a contract or close a sale. Even if this requires false representation.

    Integrity has many aspects. Sincerity, as Chambers observed, is one element of it. So is honesty; but there are many more aspects to it. When I started my own business 44 years ago, the first thing I did was develop and print a price list. I wanted to charge everyone the same price for the same service or product, regardless of who they were. To me, consistent pricing is a basic part of integrity in business.

    Another aspect is holding tightly to a moral code. In my seasonal role as a tax professional helping people to prepare their income taxes, we are held to a high standard. In fact, it is illegal to prepare, file, or sign a tax return if we suspect any part of it is not 100 percent accurate for any reason. If I suspect a client is not providing accurate income or expense information, I can refuse to do a return and have assurance that the company will back me up.

    I know of many people that work for private or public organizations, or even government entities, who are asked to do things that are not in the best interests of their clients, customers, or public in general. Issues of this type seem to be in the news quite a bit. Personally, I would immediately resign from a job that insisted that I go against my integrity or character in any way.

    We find the Bible placing much emphasis on the importance of integrity. The book of Proverbs alone presents numerous passages about virtues like integrity and honesty. Here are some examples:

    The security of integrity. Living and working with integrity provide safeguards against consequences of acting wrongly. “The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9). “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3). “Righteousness guards the man of integrity, but wickedness overthrows the sinner” (Proverbs 13:6).

    The strong foundation of integrity. As a solid foundation stabilizes a house, integrity serves as a strong foundation for a business – and also for individual lives. “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment” (Proverbs 12:19). “By justice a king gives a country stability, but one who is greedy for bribes tears it down” (Proverbs 29:4).

    Each of us needs to lead examined lives – ones in which we are open and honest with ourselves, and others – and be conscious of how we want to act and what kind of legacy we want to leave. My goal is to be the same all the time, to present the same face to everyone in every situation: A person of integrity.

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

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How would you define integrity?

     

    1. Can you think of a time when someone demonstrated great integrity even when circumstances could have dictated that they act differently?

     

    1. What about a time when you observed someone who clearly lacked integrity: What were the circumstances? What was the outcome? What were your lasting impressions of this?

     

    1. When it seems integrity offers so many benefits, including a clear conscience, why do you think the absence of integrity so often seems absent in today’s workplace?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  Proverbs 11:1, 12:22, 13:17, 16:11, 19:5,9, 20:14,17,25, 21:6, 29:10

  6. ‘Here I Am. Send Me!’

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    March 18, 2019 – Robert J. Tamasy  Have you ever done much volunteer work? Many of us might think it is all we can do to accomplish our regular work responsibilities. However, every week millions of people volunteer in a vast variety of ways. If it were not for them, many important things would never get done.

    Volunteers provide vital services, such as helping teachers in schools; aiding individuals who are homebound due to illness or disability; assisting in orphanages; providing foster care for children; supporting international relief agencies; addressing needs of the poor and needy; participating in short-term mission trips; responding to natural disasters; mentoring both young people and adults; and helping to care for wounded and endangered animals. Charitable organizations like the Salvation Army have been built by volunteers.

    Years ago, after undergoing open-heart surgery, I volunteered at a local hospital to visit with patients who had gone through similar procedures to offer encouragement, share from my own experiences, and give suggestions for their recovery process. It was rewarding for me, especially since I could relate to what they were experiencing and knew how much such visits would have meant for me.

    For those of us who follow Jesus Christ, volunteering is a privilege. In the Old Testament, we find the example of one who recognized the importance of being a volunteer. In Isaiah 6:8, we read, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” God took him up on his offer, and Isaiah became a bold spokesman for the Lord, calling people to repentance and offering spiritual assurance to those who were seeking to know Him better.

    Everyone who has been involved with CBMC in a significant way understands it relies heavily upon volunteers. It consists of business and professional people who willingly give of their time, energy and resources to help others not only with workplace responsibilities and challenges, but also in helping them discover how biblical truth and principles relate to everyday life and work.

    CBMC promotes the concept of “marketplace ambassadors,” people who see their work not only as livelihoods but also as opportunities to represent Jesus to everyone they encounter. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). It is like Isaiah declaring, “Here am I. Send me!”

    Where are ambassadors to go? The Good News of Jesus Christ is not limited to certain people groups or segments of society. It is to be caringly and faithfully communicated in every continent, to every nation, city and town. “He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation’” (Mark 16:15).

    Who are we to serve? Workplaces around the world all consist of people needing to hear the life-transforming message of Christ. In the process, we are to serve as ambassadors – His willing, volunteer representatives. “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

    What are we to do? The mission is not simply to convey information, but to help people understand what it means to follow Christ, practicing and obeying what He taught. “…as you are going, make disciples…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded…” (Matthew 28:19-20).

    © 2019. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies;coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversityby Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How much volunteer work have you done, if any? What has that meant for you – and for those you have helped?

     

    1. If you have been involved in CBMC to any extent, what has been your impression of its reliance on volunteers and their impact?

     

    1. What do you think of the idea of serving as an ambassador for Jesus Christ where you work, whether in your job setting or as you travel to other locations? Is that “volunteer work” you’re willing to participate in? Why or why not?

     

    1. In what ways do you think followers of Jesus can be effective in representing Him and communicating the Good News of Christ to others, while at the same time being diligent to fulfill their responsibilities at work?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages:  Colossians 3:23-24; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 4:8-9; 2 Timothy 2:2

  7. Whose Business Is It, Anyway?

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    March 11, 2019 – Jim Langley  As business and professional people, we are all involved in business dealings every day. I have been overseeing my financial services practice for more than 35 years. One question we should always ask: “Whose business is this, anyway?”

    Most would proudly respond, “It’s our (my) business.”This would be a typical answer for any family-owned venture. Larger businesses are usually owned by a group of partners or a substantial number of stockholders. Often a few majority stockholders have primary control of the largest businesses.

    I believe we are deluding ourselves if we feel the businesses we run belong to us. The Bible tells us who really owns everything! It’s all our heavenly Father’s, but He does allow us to oversee business affairs for a time while we are here on earth. And quite often we get to pass the business on as an inheritance to the next generation. Sooner or later, however, it all comes back to Him. It is all part of His wonderful provision! In my view, work is good and should be enjoyed. It should not be a drudgery, but to truly enjoy it, we must have the right perspective. I offer my own spiritual journey as an example.

    Just months before my 40th birthday, I took a leap from corporate life into the financial services profession. Having never sold any products before, I knew this was a big risk. Yes, I had skills that made the jump easier, but there was no guarantee of success. I just knew I needed to get out of the corporate culture.

    I’ve always been entrepreneurial in my thinking and somewhat of a free spirit. New York Life was willing to take the risk in training me, and 35 years later I am still giving back to the company that saw something in me that I did not know existed.

    The first year in my new discipline turned out to be a true challenge. I was allowed to select a new sales manager after my first boss took over the Santa Barbara, California, U.S.A. general office, and my second manager returned to the sales force. A few months earlier I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior and Lord, so I chose to work with a sales manager whom I admired for his strong Christian faith. Working with his team was an immense blessing, and later I was appointed to a sales management position.

    In my fourth year, I was introduced to CBMC (Christian Business Men’s Connection). Relationships formed in that international organization gave me much-needed tools and encouragement to remain strong spiritually during extremely challenging times. One of the most important lessons I learned was coming to grips with the question I asked above: Whose business is it anyway?

    Volumes have been written on business success over the past few decades. Among them, for me one book stands out above all the rest: Jim Collins’ GOOD TO GREAT: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t, which has become a modern classic in management theory. As Collins writes, business greatness does not come easy. I would add my belief that it comes from recognizing God truly owns the business – and appreciating all who work in the business, while giving God the glory for the successes that follow.

    In Luke 12:16-21, Jesus tells the parable of one rich man who decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones to store all the bountiful crops he had harvested. This man realized he had many good things and felt he could simply “Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” In verses 20-21 Jesus warns, “But God said to him, ’You fool. This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself.’ This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”

    We need to be rich toward God and realize that all we have is His. I would recommend and strongly encourage you to seek Him and recognize His presence in all you do in business – and life in general.

    © 2018, 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 personal 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. Before reading this edition of “Monday Manna,” if someone had asked you, “Who owns your business?”, how would you have responded?

     

    1. After reading this edition of “Monday Manna,” if someone were to ask you, “Who owns your business?”, how would you respond?

     

    1. Do you agree with Jim Langley’s assertion that ultimately, God owns our business – as well as our work, our abilities and experience? Why or why not?

     

    1. What difference would it make – or should it make – if someone believes that indeed, God owns their business, as well as their work and all that they do? If that is true, what does it say of our roles in our companies, whether we are top executives, in middle management roles, or assigned staff positions within the organization?

     

    NOTE: If you would like to consider other things the Bible says about this topic, read and reflect on the following passages:
    Genesis 3:22-23; Proverbs 6:12-21; Ecclesiastes 5:18-20; Luke 12:16-21; James 4:13-16

  8. A Real Competitive Advantage

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    March 4, 2019 – Rick Boxx  In the business and professional world, we are always looking for a competitive advantage. Fresh ideas; staff with exceptional skills and abilities; a unique niche for products, services and marketing. We are always exploring what assets we can utilize to give us a leg up on the competition. Not long ago I was reminded of one competitive advantage that most people never consider.

    Tom, a friend in the construction business, submitted a bid on a very large building project that he felt was critical for his company to win. He prayed and prayed some more, asking God that the project rights would be awarded to them. God, he reasoned, would understand how important it was to his business, so he trusted they would get the contract. He felt great dismay therefore to learn that one of his competitors had been selected instead.

    At first, Tom was very disappointed, even angry with God. Why had his prayers not been answered? Had they been ignored? Then one day, months later, he discovered the “why.” Through a friend in the industry, Tom was informed that the project had turned out to be a financial disaster for his competitor.

    What he had perceived as an unanswered prayer was in fact a very definitive answer. God knew, well in advance, how devastating it would have been if Tom’s company’s bid had been selected. The Lord had protected him from undertaking a project that likely would have bankrupted the business. As an old country-western song states, sometimes God’s greatest gifts are what we perceive as “unanswered” prayers.

    I suspect that many times you have felt convinced of the rightness of a certain plan or decision, only to find the outcome very different from what you expected. That has happened in my life and career more times than I could count. This is why experience has taught me to place my trust in God and not my own limited understanding of a particular situation.

    Psalm 24:1 teaches, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” To me this speaks about more than ownership. It also reminds us that God is sovereign and directs all things, including our business interests, according to what He knows to be best. Sometimes in spite of our prayers and what we are asking Him to do.

    Living in extremely volatile, uncertain times, it seems more difficult than ever to evaluate what we should or should not do to achieve our goals and objectives. Trusting that God is all-knowing and ultimately in control of all circumstances can give us peace to entrust Him with whatever transpires in our lives – and in our work – on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps one of the greatest pieces of business advice I have ever encountered comes from Proverbs 3:5-6, which instructs us to, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.”

    Sometimes God answers our prayers the way we ask. At other times – as was the case with my friend Tom – His answers come very differently than what we had hoped. But invariably, as I have learned over many years in my spiritual journey, the Lord’s responses are just what we need. Even when we have no idea of what that might be.

    We need to remember, as another proverb reminds us, “In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determined his steps”(Proverbs 16:9). That is an incredible competitive advantage!

    Copyright 2019, 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. What do you think is the greatest competitive advantage that you can access at your business or organization?

     

    1. What other strategies do you employ in trying to develop plans or make decisions in a business and professional world filled with so much uncertainty?

     

    1. Do you ever pray about decisions you must make at work, or you will succeed in acquiring new customers or contracts? If you do pray about those, how do you feel at those times when your prayers seem to be unanswered or things turn out differently?

     

    1. Do you regard being able to pray, asking God for wisdom and direction, as a “competitive advantage”?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  Psalm 37:3-7,34; Proverbs 16:1,3, 21:2,30; Jeremiah 29:11-13

  9. Making Your Mark Through Mentoring, Part 2

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    February 25, 2019 – Robert J. Tamasy  In last week’s edition of “Monday Manna,” I introduced the idea of making a difference – making your mark in the world – through a highly relational, mutually beneficial approach to mentoring. This week I wrap up this discussion, citing additional principles that David A. Stoddard and I developed in our book, The Heart of Mentoring: Ten Proven Principles for Developing People to Their Fullest Potential.

    As I mentioned, this differs from the typical approach to mentoring in which two individuals are assigned to each other, whether they like it or not. In our view, the best mentoring involves a more seasoned mentor working with a “mentoring partner,” both of them learning from one another. Here are some other basic principles for this approach, along with biblical foundations that support them:

    Effective mentoring involves character building. Skill training and exchange of knowledge can be part of the mentoring process, but it should also aim for the development of the entire person, including character building and imparting values that govern their lives. To be most effective, the mentor must serve as an example of living out these traits. “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put into practice” (Philippians 4:9).

    Effective mentoring offers comfort and willingness to share the load. Relationships grow through the demonstration of genuine care and concern for one another. A good mentor will want to know how the mentoring partner is doing both professionally and personally; work invariably affects one’s private life, and what is going on in one’s personal life has an impact on their work. “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2).

    Effective mentoring helps others discover their passion. Sometimes the person being mentored is struggling because he or she is still trying to find their place. Even if they are successful, they might not be engaged in a profession they find fulfilling or meaningful. If personal interests and passions can somehow be aligned with the work they do, they will be able to thrive and become valued contributors wherever they go. The apostle Paul wrote to his protégé, Timothy, “Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you”(1 Timothy 4:14). 

    Effective mentoring includes reproduction, resulting in a legacy. Because of all he had gained from his own mentors, Dave Stoddard developed a desire to come alongside others and help them to grow professionally, personally, and spiritually. I have had a similar experience, and view that as part of my own legacy – assisting others, so they in turn can help others. “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others” (2 Timothy 2:2). ”I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 4).

    Even though he departed from this life five years ago, Dave Stoddard’s impact continues through the lives of many men who are having a strong influence in their families, their companies, and other men they are helping to develop through mentoring.

    A wise man once said the only things that will last for eternity are people and the Word of God. There are few better things we could do than to invest time, energy and resources into other people, helping them to become all they can be. Especially if we do so under the guidance of God and His eternal truth.

    © 2019. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies;coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversityby Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Do you agree that character building and the imparting of strong values can be an important part of the mentoring process? Why or why not? Has anyone ever had that kind of impact in your own life?

     

    1. What do you think offering comfort and “sharing the load” within the context of a mentoring relationship would look like, in a practical sense? Do you agree that this is something an effective mentor should strive to do?

     

    1. How do you think we can help someone if they find themselves stuck in a job that they do not find inspiring, that does not provide fulfillment or meaning beyond receiving a paycheck? Is that even important? Explain your answer.

     

    1. In what ways could mentoring someone else become a significant part of the legacy we establish that will last long after our time on earth have ended?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Proverbs 17:17, 13:20, 20:27, 21:2; Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 3:14; Luke 5:1-11

  10. Making Your Mark Through Mentoring, Part 1

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    February 18, 2019 – Robert J. Tamasy  “I want to make a difference.” Have you ever made this statement? It is a thought many of us have expressed, whether in public or at least to ourselves. Whether you are a Baby Boom generation member on the back end of your career, or a Millennial just getting a start in the workplace, this is a desire many of us share.

    The question is, how do we make that difference? How can we succeed in making a mark that will endure long after our working days have ended?

    There are many possible suggestions, but there is one I would highly recommend: Mentoring. I know, you might have an objection, saying something like, “I had a mentor once – a terrible experience!” That is not the kind of mentoring I’m talking about. Many of us have had a bad experience in which a mentor was assigned to us, had no genuine interest in us, and viewed being a mentor as an imposed assignment.

    No, the kind of mentoring I mean involves a mutually beneficial relationship, two people on a journey together seeking to grow and build into one another’s lives. When David A. Stoddard and I co-authored The Heart of Mentoring: Ten Proven Principles for Developing People to Their Fullest Potential, we were drawing from Dave’s experience of having two wonderful mentors who invested much of themselves into him, listening and teaching and modeling what it meant to be successful in business – and in life.

    Dave went on to replicate that mentoring process in the lives of dozens of other men for more than 30 years. He passed away five years ago this month, but his impact – the mark he made through mentoring others – continues to this day through many of those individuals.

    What does that kind of mentoring look like? Here are a few of the principles we cited in our book, along with biblical precepts that undergird those principles:

    Living is about giving. Too often, mentoring is viewed through a “what’s in it for me” lens. The most effective mentoring is done focused on the best interests of the person being mentored, whom we termed the “mentoring partner.” We want to help him or her become all they can possibly be. “…remembering the words of the Lord Jesus Himself: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).

    Mentoring is a process that requires perseverance. Spending time with someone who needs our help at times can be frustrating or discouraging, especially when we fail to see the progress we had hoped for. That is why perseverance is necessary, pressing on and remaining committed to the mentor even when expectations are not met.“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”(Galatians 6:9).

    Effective mentors open their world to their mentoring partners. Nothing builds trust more than being transparent, even totally vulnerable, to the other person. As we are open to others, honest with our own struggles, that gives them confidence to become open with us. “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well” (1 Thessalonians 2:8).

    I will take a look at some of the other principles from The Heart of Mentoring in the next “Monday Manna.”

    © 2019. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies;coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversityby Mike Landry. Bob’s biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Do you have a desire to make a difference in the world, at least in the world around you, your unique sphere of influence? If so, how well are you succeeding at doing that?

     

    1. When you hear the term “mentoring,” what comes to your mind?

     

    1. How might your thinking about mentoring change if it were presented not as a task, or an required assignment, but as a voluntary, “mutually beneficial relationship”?

     

    1. In what ways can you envision the process of mentoring being one that emphasizes giving rather than receiving?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages:  Isaiah 43:4; Philippians 2:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 2:6-9, 11-12