Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. A Purposeful Consideration

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    May 28, 2018 – Robert J. Tamasy  Why are you here? Have you ever asked yourself that? This is a fundamental question many people wrestle with at one time or another. For some, it comprises the ultimate question of life. But even if your intent is not deeply philosophical, it can be helpful to consider. Many businesses use mission statements as guides, expressing not only what they do but also why and how they do it. In a similar way, taking time to articulate one’s purpose – or mission – can be useful for ensuring your time, energy and talents are being invested in the best possible ways.

    An industrious friend, Steve, who has built a very successful career as an entrepreneur, has spent considerable time seeking to respond to the “why am I here” question for his life, both personally and professionally. In addition to an extensive statement of purpose, Steve has articulated his core values, vision for his life, and his “primary aim,. This he defines as, “I want to know God and make him known.” He has devoted much of his life – at work, in his home, and engaged in ministries like CBMC – to pursuing that goal.

    Years ago I was in a meeting where a speaker suggested writing a personal purpose or mission statement. Kind of a “where am I going, how am I going to get there, and how will I know when I have arrived?” expression. For many of us in the room, this was a revolutionary concept. How can I put into writing what I perceive my life’s purpose to be? Does my life even have a specific purpose?

    I was not as ambitious and detailed as my friend Steve, but happened to be reading a paraphrased wording of Philippians 3:10, which says, “[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him (Jesus Christ) – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding [the wonders of His Person] more strongly and more clearly” (Amplified translation). As soon as I read this, I knew it communicated what I believed my life should be about as effectively as anything I could write.

    Several years before I had adopted another passage, Proverbs 3:5-6, as my life verse: “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.” And later I came across Psalm 45:1, which sounded like a good career verse: “My heart is overflowing with a good theme; I recite my composition concerning the King; my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.” Combined, these passages express for me the focus I have desired to give my life, along with my sense of mission for using the gifts, abilities and experience God has given to me.

    Author and philosopher Henry David Thoreau wrote, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Many years later, this observation still seems fitting. Perhaps one reason is because most people have not taken the time, hit the “pause button” on their lives for a little while, to consider their overall purpose, their mission, one that is greater than earning a living, building enterprises, or seeking to “have fun” through a variety of diversions. Are you among them?

    I like the admonition from Psalm 90:12, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” When we learn to “number our days,” it helps us in putting them to good, intentional use.

    © 2018. 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 books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob’s website is www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com, and his biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Does your company or organization have a written, clearly expressed mission or purpose statement? What is the value – if any – of such an expression, in your view, for the company and its leaders, staff or team members?

     

    1. If someone were to ask you, how would you define your purpose, your answer to the question, “Why am I here?”

     

    1. Do you know of anyone else who has taken the time to write a personalized purpose statement? If so, what does that mean for them in their everyday life and work? Do you believe they are actively, consciously striving to hold true to that purpose?

     

    1. Would you agree to the idea that God has a purpose for everyone? Why or why not?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Psalm 118:24, 139:1-6,13-16; 2 Corinthians 5:19-21; Galatians 6:9-10;
    Ephesians 2:8-10

  2. Choosing To Serve Rather Than To Be Served

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    May 21, 2018 – Ken Korkow  Years ago, the term “servant leadership” moved into prominence in business and professional circles. For some it seemed a contradiction in terms, what grammarians call an “oxymoron.” Leaders are the ones who are supposed to be served, right? However, writers like Robert K. Greenleaf and others pressed the point that the best leaders achieve the most by serving those they lead. He even started the Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership to advance that philosophy.

    Servant leadership is a concept we encounter in the Bible as well, modeled best by Jesus Christ. Addressing His followers, Jesus stated, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He preceded that by saying, whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all” (Mark 10:44).

    There is just one problem with that: I know God wants me to be a servant – but I don’t like being treated like one. The “flesh side” of me wants people to see my acts of service and think or say, “My, oh my, isn’t Ken such a wonderful man of God.” Unfortunately, a true servant is not noticed; often he or she is even ignored. A true servant only desires to serve and see the master exalted, without thinking about self, recognition or receiving credit. You will know what it is like to be a servant – when you are treated like one.

    Pondering this, I was impressed by what author Henry Blackaby wrote about it. He says it much better than I could, so here is the excerpt:

    “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27).

    “The measure of greatness in the kingdom of God differs vastly from that of the world. Our society idolizes the rich, the powerful, the beautiful, and the athletic. We even make celebrities out of those who brazenly flaunt their immorality. The world claims it is demeaning to serve others. However, God’s kingdom completely rejects the world’s measure for esteem, giving the greatest honor to the one who serves most. The person who serves selflessly, lovingly, without complaint, and without seeking recognition is highly regarded in the kingdom of God.

    When Jesus and His disciples entered the upper room, the disciples looked for a prominent place to sit; Jesus looked for a place to serve. As they awkwardly waited to be served, Jesus took a towel and basin and washed their feet (John 13:1-15). We Christians like to refer to ourselves as servants, but we are seldom content to be treated as servants! We are tempted to adopt the world’s evaluation of importance. But when we look to Jesus as our model, we see that it takes a far more noble character to serve than to be served.

    The world will estimate your importance by the number of people serving you. God is more concerned with the number of people you are serving. If you struggle to be a servant, your heart may have shifted away from the heart of God. Ask Jesus to teach you selflessness and to give you the strength to follow His example. Watch for Jesus’ invitation to join Him in serving others. It will come.”

    Who are the people you lead? Or people in your sphere of influence, even coworkers? How might you exhibit true leadership – servant leadership – by serving them, demonstrating how important they are and putting them and their needs first, even ahead of your own?

    Ken Korkow lives in Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.A., where he serves as an area director for CBMC. This is adapted from his “Fax of Life” column. Used with permission.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What comes to your mind when you hear the term, “servant leadership”?

     

    1. Have you ever seen someone demonstrate what it means to be a servant leader? If so, who was that person, and what did it look like for them to lead by serving others?

     

    1. One difficulty with striving to be a servant leader, Mr. Korkow observes, is the “danger” of actually being treated like a servant? Why would that be problematic?

     

    1. If you were to resolve to become a servant leader – or a better one – what do you think that would require? Would you be willing to do whatever is necessary to effectively lead others by serving them? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Matthew 8:20, 20:20-28; Luke 22:27; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:3-4,7

  3. Are You A Tourist Or An Ambassador?

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    May 14, 2018 – Robert J. Tamasy  Most of us have enjoyed being tourists, visiting new cities, even another nations. I have not been as well-traveled as some people, but have appreciated opportunities to visit nearly a dozen other countries. Being a tourist can take us to places we might have only heard people talk about or have seen in photos.

    I vividly remember my time in several Hungarian cities, for example. My grandparents had immigrated from Hungary, so it was interesting to see “the old country” firsthand. I also enjoyed going to Germany, including the city of Giessen, my birthplace. Nobody there remembered me – not surprising, since I left for the U.S.A. when I was only a year old – but it was fun retracing my personal history a bit.

    As tourists, visits are usually brief, and our commitment level is very low. We arrive to look around, maybe take some photographs, sample local cuisine, and perhaps buy souvenirs. Then we return to our homes. Contrast that with the role of an ambassador, someone who takes up residence in a foreign land for a span of time, representing his or her own native country. They have specific roles and responsibilities, acting with the authority entrusted to them.

    I mention this because 2 Corinthians 5:20 offers a challenging description of all who follow Jesus Christ, including the marketplace. It declares, “We are Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” To me, this says whether I am in a private office, conference room, making a sales call, finalizing a contract, or even traveling, my role is that of an ambassador for Jesus, representing Him to anyone I encounter. Whether I am interacting with supervisors, coworkers, customers, or suppliers, I am not only representing my organization but also Jesus Christ, as His ambassador.

    Being an ambassador is a duty not to be taken lightly. Through our actions, as well as our words, we demonstrate for others what it means to be one of Jesus’ followers. It is a sobering responsibility, as 2 Timothy 4:5 states: But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” This is written to all who profess to be “born again” through Christ, as He said in John 3:3. It does not sound like instructions directed to mere “tourists.”

    But in a practical sense, what does it mean to be “Christ’s ambassadors”? We find part of the answer in the second part of 2 Corinthians 5:20, which says, “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” If we are “satisfied customers,” persons who have experienced the peace, joy, forgiveness, grace, love and mercy of God through Christ, we have an obligation and responsibility to share what we have learned with others so they can experience that as well.

    There is more. In another passage from the Bible, we read, “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Corinthians 3:9). We work to earn a livelihood; utilize our skills, talents and gifts; and to experience vocational fulfillment. However, we are also called “God’s fellow workers,” given the privilege of co-laboring with Him in carrying out His plans and purposes in this world.

    As Christ’s ambassadors, He desires to work through us to demonstrate what it means to live according to His principles and the biblical truths that guide us each day. This is no task for a tourist!

    © 2018. 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 books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob’s website is www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com, and his biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What does the term “ambassador” mean to you? In what ways does being an ambassador differ from being a tourist?

     

    1. As you approach each new workday, would you describe yourself as an ambassador for Christ, or as more of a “tourist”? Explain your answer.

     

    1. When the Bible says we are to be “Christ’s ambassadors,” what do you think that means in a practical sense? What are some of the challenges – or obstacles – to being able to fulfill that role effectively?

     

    1.  Have you ever thought of yourself in terms of being “God’s fellow worker”? What difference does it make – or would it make – to regard yourself in that way?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Ecclesiastes 12:13; 1 Corinthians 15:58; Ephesians 2:10; Colossians 3: 23;
    2 Timothy 3:16-17

  4. Thinking Through Workplace Priorities

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    May 7, 2018 – Rick Boxx  Early in my business career, like many young people I was trying to gain an understanding of what striving for success would require. One of the things I learned in this process was far from anything I had anticipated.

    The first time I met Gregg, he said, “Rick, if you choose to work with me, you need to know my priorities in life. God’s first, my family’s second, and this job is third.” Being a person who had been “running from God” for decades, listing priorities in that order was alien to my thinking. I could not imagine how Gregg’s priorities would impact the way he ran the bank where we worked.

    Soon, however, it became clear. Before moving forward on major tasks, Gregg made his business decisions by first considering God and His principles, as they are presented in the Bible. Observing how he made those decisions revealed to me how to seek God’s wisdom, and encouraged me to consider how placing Him first – as my top priority – could have a positive impact on my work, its quality and effectiveness.

    My perspectives on work and my priorities in life did not change overnight, but Gregg’s example and the ideas he had sown in my mind had a profound effect on me. Those later bore fruit, revolutionizing my thinking about business, its purpose – and my own. Ultimately, it led me to establish a consulting ministry in which I seek to help others to also understand what it means if we follow Jesus’ admonition when He said, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

    Putting God first in our lives is easier said than done. First, we must believe it is even possible to do, and then act upon that belief. Be assured there will be challenges along the way, testing our convictions. There are times when we wonder, “If I insist on putting God first, this will never work.” We might be tempted to think, “Well, a minor compromise will not hurt, will it? I will bend the rules this time, but after this, no more.”

    This, however, is one reason we read, “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 nothing” (James 1:2-4). When our faith is tested, including our desire to remain true to priorities we have established, perseverance develops. This enables us to stay true to our convictions, even when it becomes difficult.

    Some people might think that making God the top priority is a nice-sounding ideal, but not very practical. We live and work in a highly competitive, unyielding marketplace environment where most people are operating according to rules that run counter to biblical principles. How can we thrive under those circumstances? We have to be realistic, right?

    That is what I thought when I met Gregg. But he proved me wrong. Even when confronted with adversity, or when a particular decision was very difficult, he never wavered. He stayed true to the priorities as he had stated them to me – God, family, then job. There were times when there was a cost to pay, a necessary sacrifice, but he never had to compromise his values. And he never regretted taking such a stand.

    Let me ask you: What place does God have in your work priorities?

    Copyright 2018, 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 about their ministry or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments emails, visit www.unconventionalbusiness.org. His latest book, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What would you say are your priorities at work? Have you ever consciously and intentionally tried to define them in your mind – and even write them down to review periodically?

     

    1. If you, like Gregg, have strived to put God first in your work and business, how easy – or difficult – has it been to stay true to that commitment? What are some of the challenges you have faced?

     

    1. If you have not always made God your first priority on the job, can you think of anyone who has done so? From your observation, what has been the impact of that commitment?

     

    1. Why do you think the testing of our faith – including holding true to our priorities – results in developing perseverance? Why is that important, or even necessary?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Psalm 127:1-2; Isaiah 26:3, 41:10; Matthew 6:9-13, 19-21, 24-34; Philippians 4:19

  5. Who Cares Where You Went To School?

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    April 30, 2018 — Robert J. Tamasy  “What kind of work do you do?” This is a question we typically ask someone we have just met, maybe during a business trip or in a coffee shop. It’s a way of getting acquainted. People also ask, “Where did you go to school?” or, “What college did you attend?” Sometimes those questions come up during a job interview. They may provide interesting information, but are not always relevant to job competency.

    Before starting my career, I enrolled in a major university’s school of journalism. I earned bachelor and master’s degrees in journalism, but learned more about writing and editing in my first few months as a newspaper editor than I had the entire five years I was in college. Most of the theoretical knowledge I accumulated in school had no practical application for my day-to-day work responsibilities.

    As Seth Godin, an author, entrepreneur and blogger, observed, “The campus you spent four years on 30 years ago makes very little contribution to the job you are going to do. Here is what matters: The way you approach your work. What have you built? What have you led? How do you make decisions?… How do you act when no one is looking? You are not your resume. You are the trail you have left behind, the people you have influenced, the work you have done.”

    There is much wisdom in what Godin says. Having an MBA from a prominent business college or degree from a prestigious university sounds impressive, but neither addresses the inner qualities needed for a high-quality staff member or leader. We want to know someone’s track record: What they accomplished and what experience they have, particularly as it relates to the job they are seeking.

    Even more important than what we have done, I think, are how we approach our work and how we behave when no one is looking. The Bible’s book of Proverbs has much to say about this:

    Approaching our work with a high level of dedication. The surest way to build a successful career, or to advance a company’s goals, is to work with diligence and determination, responding to opportunities when they present themselves. “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth. He who gathers crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son” (Proverbs 10:4-5).

    Working with excellence and effectiveness. A person who strives to achieve the highest level of quality is rare in society today. Since many people seem satisfied with mediocrity, skilled workers that take pride in what they are asked to do tend to be noticed. “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men” (Proverbs 22:29).

    Putting a priority on honesty. Sometimes it seems tempting to misrepresent vital information to gain a sale or win a contract, but as we often read in the headlines or hear in the daily news reports, dishonest practices eventually are exposed and consequences paid. “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment” (Proverbs 12:19). “Differing weights and differing measures – the Lord detests them both” (Proverbs 20:10).

    Becoming known for commitment to integrity. Another form of temptation is to behave differently when we think no one is looking, compared to when we know our actions are under scrutiny. A person of integrity, however, is one whose public and private behavior remain constant. “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).

    © 2018. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob’s website is www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com, and his biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. When you initially meet someone, especially within a business or work context, do you ask about the kind of work they do, or where they received their college education? What level of importance do you put on that information?

     

    1. In your view, what are the most important factors that should be considered for evaluating whether a person is qualified for a new job, or for greater responsibilities?

     

    1. How would you describe someone that consistently works with diligence and/or with excellence?

     

    1. Do you agree that honesty and integrity are important qualities for excelling in the workplace? Why or why not? From your observation, how common are these traits today – and are they valued?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages:  Psalm 25:21; Proverbs 12:11, 12:24,27, 13:4,6, 14:5, 15:9, 20:14, 21:5, 29:10; Titus 2:7-8

  6. The Workplace — And The Sabbath

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    April 23, 2018 — Jim Mathis  Many of us struggle with not having enough time to get things done. Employers often expect us to be on call 24 hours a day. Self-employed people have an even greater challenge in trying to get away for a few days – or even a few hours. Studies have shown that productivity drops dramatically if we do not take time to rest to “sharpen our saw” to borrow a lumber industry term. Many of my best ideas for my business came while I was on vacation: away from work, getting a new perspective, gaining a new thought from a totally random source.

    In the biblical creation story, God created the world in six days and then He rested on the seventh day. The idea of resting on the seventh day was codified when the Ten Commandments were handed down to Moses. Jesus clarified the Sabbath by teaching that honoring the Sabbath is not about following a set of rules; the seventh day is for man, He said, a time of rest, reflection, and recuperation – time to slowing down and enjoying God’s world.

    After Jesus was crucified, He rose from the dead on the first day of the week. Because of that, the first Christians began to meet together on the first day of the week to celebrate His resurrection. Over the centuries, the idea of the Sabbath for Christians has shifted from the seventh day to the first day of the week. This has always been a source of conflict and confusion for me. Should we rest on the seventh day, Saturday, or the first day, Sunday? Or maybe our calendars are just labeled wrong.

    Recently I have begun to realize that both days are right. We need to honor the seventh day of the week as a day of rest. My wife calls it a REAL Saturday, meaning a day to rest, reflect, restore, spend time with friends, have a relaxing meal, and simply enjoy being alive. Sunday then becomes the day to honor Jesus Christ and remember the resurrection. It is time to begin each week by giving the first few hours to God, sort of the first fruits of our time at the start of our week.

    Saturday, the seventh day of the week, becomes the day of rest. Sunday, the first day of the week, becomes a time to worship God and get a good start on the week. People in vocational ministry, or those engaged in any kind of volunteer position at their church, understand that Sunday is often the most stressful day of the week, not at all a day for resting. Even those without official responsibilities know just getting the family ready for church and arriving there on time can be a hassle.

    With this in mind, I often start my actual work week on Sunday afternoon or evening, planning my weekly schedule and getting a few things in order. This makes sense for me, realizing I have rested on Saturday and have already given the first few hours of the week to the Lord. Now it is time to work until the next Saturday, the true Sabbath – a real day for resting – knowing I am mentally, physically, and spiritually ready for a new week.

    I am not suggesting this practice my wife and I follow should be normative for everyone, but it works for me. We take time for actual rest, as well as designate time for formal worship. It is how we apply what Jesus said: The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

    The key is that we do make certain to experience the proper rest, a time for physical, mental, emotional – and spiritual – recharging. Perhaps the best-known psalm tells us about the Shepherd (our Lord) and the care He provides for His sheep (us). The first two verses of Psalm 23 tell us, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul.” God wants us fully rested, eager and prepared for whatever He calls us to do, and for any challenges coming our way.

    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. When you think of “the Sabbath,” what comes to your mind?

     

    1. The tradition of observing a formal day for Sabbath rest has been forgotten or abandoned by many. Do you consciously observe a Sabbath day of rest? If so, what does it look like for you? If not, do you have a specific reason for not doing so?

     

    1. Some people view the command to “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy” (the fourth of the Ten Commandments) as a legalistic practice that no longer applies to us in the 21st How do you feel about that?

     

    1. What are some of the consequences of not intentionally observing a day for rest? What do you think of designating one day – perhaps a Saturday – for actual rest, and then following that with a time for worshiping God to start Sunday morning, before resuming work?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Psalm 37:7,25,34; 46:10, 116:7, 127:2; Proverbs 10:29, 14:26; Ezekiel 34:15; Hebrews 4:8-11

  7. The Untried But True Path To Failure

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    April 16, 2018 — Robert J. Tamasy  Have you ever chosen not to attempt things because of fear you might fail? Maybe it was assuming greater responsibility at work, trying to change careers, or even attempting to begin an ambitious self-improvement program? I have to admit having been guilty of that several times. This is ironic, because if we decide not try to do something, there is 100 percent certainty we will not accomplish it.

    Not long ago I came across a quote from an unknown source that states, “Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try.” Sounds like a no-brainer, because it seems like common sense. But when we confront a challenge and determine it is not worth the effort – or the risk of failure – to attempt, we affirm this “sense” is not so common after all.

    Most of us are familiar with the classic case of Thomas Edison, inventor of the incandescent light bulb, who had to make hundreds of attempts before he finally succeeded in producing an electrical light as he had imagined. Scanning the pages of history, we could find countless other examples. But my intent here is not to celebrate the successes of those to tried and persisted. Rather, it is to mourn all of those who have conceived great ideas, but failed because they were unwilling to try.

    A Chinese philosopher named Mencius many centuries ago expressed it in other terms: “The difference between enthusiasm and indifference is filled with failures.” My friend, Mike, comes to mind. Years ago he chose to leave a secure, well-compensated job to start a software consulting company from scratch. His “office” was in the basement of his house, his makeshift desk consisting of a door stretched across two file cabinets. He knew it was risky, having a small family and leaving the certainty of a steady paycheck, along with corporate benefits such as health insurance.

    As bills began to mount and he was briefly hospitalized with a serious illness, Mike was tempted to give up on his dream. “What was I thinking?” he asked himself more than once. But he determined to continue pursuing his vision and found a much-needed client “just in the nick of time.” Over time he and a small staff built the business into a successful international company. Mike experienced the fulfillment of realizing his entrepreneurial vision; his faith also grew greatly through in the process.

    If we have a vision – or a lifetime dream – but find our resolve to pursue it wavering, what should we do? The Scriptures give us some insight:

    Place your trust in the right place. Even the most talented and experienced people have times when their resolve is tested by adversity. However, if we believe God is leading to take a step of faith, not taking that step would be an act of disobedience. 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” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

    Make God – and His will – your priority. Before making any major decision, first commit the matter to God in prayer, sincerely seeking His wisdom and direction. Once we are confident of how He is leading, we can be assured He is with us in what we are trying to do. Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun(Psalm 37:4-5).

    © 2018. Robert J. Tamasy has written Business at Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace; Tufting Legacies; coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring, and edited numerous other books, including Advancing Through Adversity by Mike Landry. Bob’s website is www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com, and his biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Can you think of a time when you were reluctant to try something new, fearful that you would fail? If so, what was that – and is it still on your “to do someday” list?

     

    1. How inclined are you to venture into the unknown, to try a new task, confront a new challenge, or even make a major lifestyle or career change?

     

    1. What can we learn when attempting something we have never done before, even if it were to result in failure?

     

    1.  Do you turn to God, seeking wisdom and guidance, before making a major decision? If you do, give an example of how that has affected your decision-making process. Has that made it easier for you to try the unfamiliar or unknown, even if you have no certainty of the ultimate outcome?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Proverbs 12:11,24; Isaiah 26:3, 41:10; Jeremiah 29:11; Matthew 28:20; 1 John 4:18

  8. Do You Worship Your Work?

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    April 9, 2018 — Jim Langley  Work is what we do, but is it really who we are? There is a common tendency to derive much of our sense of identity and worth from our vocations. Often in meeting someone, one of the first questions we ask (or they ask us) is, “What kind of work do you do?” This is a valid question in many instances, but not if used to define who we are – or how we perceive others. It can be too easy to confuse work with worship.

    The word “worship” in part comes from “worth-ship” – what is worthy of our attention and adoration, what holds the greatest worth in our eyes. Work is important, but is it worth devoting all our time, energy and resources to it at the expense of everything else?

    Being a recovering workaholic myself, I can understand this dilemma. Earlier in my life I would become consumed with what I was doing and lose balance in life. I still need to guard against this temptation; I have learned to ask others to hold me accountable for keeping my life in proper balance.

    In Genesis 3, we learn that starting with Adam, everyone must work for their livelihood. Some people see this as a curse, thinking life would be much better without having to work. However, I believe this sets a pattern for experiencing a meaningful life. I have always found work to be good, invigorating and fulfilling. In Genesis 3:19, God states, “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” This might not be the message we would prefer to hear, but that is our everyday reality.

    Just as the work of our hands can be fulfilling, it can also be consuming – a trap to guard against. The Bible teaches there is a time for work and a time for rest. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 tells us, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to tear down and a time to build…a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them…a time to search and a time to give up….”

    Even God has a time to work and a time to rest. Genesis 2:2-3 states, “By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all the work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.”

    God’s handiwork in all He has created is amazing. In our own way, we also want to create something of value that will last. Once we complete a task well-done, we can look back and see it is good, just as God did. In Ecclesiastes 5:18-20, Solomon concluded that work is a “gift of God” and it gives us a “gladness of heart.” Because of this, he said in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.” There is a certain urgency here; we should consider the work God has assigned to us while there is still time to do it.

    At the same time, we must confront the potential challenge of worshipping the work we do. We can become so focused on the work itself that it can become our god. This is one reason God gave His first commandment in Exodus 20:3. He declared, “You shall have no other gods before me.” This includes our work.

    One of my favorite Bible passages is Colossians 3:23-24, which reminds us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Work is what we do, but not who we are. God is most concerned with who we are and His relationship with us.

    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. How much is your work a part of how you think of yourself, of who you are in your own eyes – and the eyes of others?

     

    1. Do you worship your work, at least at times? If not now, has there ever been a time when you have struggled with a temptation to worship the work you do at the expense of everything else?

     

    1. Why do you think it can be easy to turn work into a god? How often have you observed this happening, whether in your life or in the lives of others?

     

    1. In what ways do you think we can establish and maintain a proper balance between our work, other areas of our lives – and especially our worship and service to God?

     

    NOTE: If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following passages: Proverbs 16:1-3; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 10:31; Ephesians 4:15-16; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-14

  9. Values Minus Behavior = Zero

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    April 2, 2018 – Rick Boxx  My friend, Roger, recently returned from a six-week Graduate program at a major business college. A comment by one of his professors caused Roger to rethink his personal views on how to shape the culture in his business.

    A strong believer in having specific, written values for his business, Roger’s thinking began to change after his professor’s comment that “values are not the solution.” This reminded Roger that if values are not lived out, these unpracticed values can potentially damage the business more than not having verbalized values at all.

    As Roger pondered the simple statement, he realized that values must be translated into behaviors, they are meaningless, not worth the paper on which they are written. Sadly, we see this type of dualistic thinking manifested too much in contemporary society. People boldly profess certain values with their words, but their actions show little evidence that they truly believe the ideals they claim to embrace.

    A passage in the Bible addresses this: James 2:17 teaches, “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” This does not necessarily deny the existence of one’s faith – or values. It does say that apart from being lived out and demonstrated by how we conduct ourselves in every area of life, including our work, values we express will have little if any impact in our companies or those with whom we interact every day.

    Many businesses have written mission or purpose statements, but some companies have also produced values statements that they display in prominent areas and discuss periodically. This serves to remind everyone, from the CEO to part-time workers, of the values that serve as a foundation for how the organization operates and how each individual is expected to represent it. In the process, this establishes a corporate culture for guiding decisions and behavior.

    Often we can trace corporate values to practices established from the time the business was created. Such values, however, may change or be lost over time unless leaders affirm them consistently, express them in written form, and then practice them consistently. For followers of Christ, values we embrace and demonstrate should be rooted in the teachings of the Bible.

    For instance, “in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). Is this a value that remains in the forefront of everyone’s mind in the company, or is it practiced only when it benefits the company’s goals? Does everyone emphasize honesty and integrity in all business dealings, even when doing so could jeopardize closing a sale or finalizing a deal? Here is an example of what the Scriptures say about that: “The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful” (Proverbs 12:22).

    We must remember the adage, “talk is cheap.” What enables us to stand out as genuine, fruitful ambassadors of Jesus Christ is living and conducting business in a manner consistent with what we claim to believe. A familiar motto warns us, “Unless you talk lines up with your walk, the less said the better.”

    As Roger learned, values are important in business, but not nearly as important as encouraging – and teaching – your team to behave according to those values.

    Copyright 2018, Unconventional Business Network (formerly Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about their ministry or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.unconventionalbusiness.org. His latest book and inspiration for their new ministry name, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. If someone were to ask you to define or describe your company’s values, what would you say? Are these values articulated in some manner so that every person affiliated with the organization clearly understands what those values are – and what they mean in a practical sense?

     

    1. Would you say that your business or organization operates consistently with the values it claims to believe in? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Do you think a company can establish a culture of thought and action without communicating its values in a consistent, intentional manner? Why or why not?

     

    1. What about your personal values? What things would you say are most important to you – and how consistent are you in living by them? If you recognize a gap between what you believe and how you behave or perform your work, how might you go about changing that?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages:  Proverbs 10:9, 13:6, 16:2,7,11, 18:9, 22:29, 24:30-34, 25:13, 26:24-26, 29:4

  10. Finding Good People – And Not Meddling

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    March 26, 2018 – Robert J. Tamasy  There are different types of workers; some need close supervision while others do not. Some need very specific instructions on how to proceed with a task or project, others are content to receive general guidelines about what is expected and the latitude to determine how to proceed from there.

    The challenge for the effective leader is to understand what each employee requires to be able to perform most productively, provide what is needed, and understand how closely to supervise the work. Many years ago, then U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt stated, “The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good people to do what needs to be done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”

    This is because there are also different types of leaders. Some prefer rolling up their sleeves and getting directly involved; others like to offer close supervision; and still others delegate work assignments and trust their staff to get the job done, checking back only if they have questions or need further instruction.

    My own working style has always leaned toward minimum of structure and freedom to determine the best way to approach my work. I have had supervisors who demonstrated confidence, giving assignments and letting me do them my own way. Other bosses, however, chose to keep close tabs on what I was doing. Some even micromanaged my work, which I found annoying, even disconcerting. I observed that other people, however, needed closer management. Clearly, we cannot lead everyone exactly the same way.

    So, as Roosevelt said, good leaders understand how to choose the right people and then discern how much direction they need, without being meddlesome. The Scriptures address this important balance:

    Know the ones you lead. Leaders know what they want to accomplish. They also should strive to know and understand those through whom those goals will be accomplished. Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds…. the lambs will provide you with clothing, and the goats with the price of a field. You will have plenty of goats’ milk to feed your family(Proverbs 27:23-27).

    Demonstrate concern and interest in those you lead. Jesus used the metaphor of the shepherd to explain His commitment to His followers. Good leaders are wise to observe His example. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away…. I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep(John 10:11-15).

    Recognize the uniqueness of everyone you lead. Everyone on a team has different gifts, talents and experience. Recognizing their unique contributions enables the leader to entrust each of them with responsibility – and authority – commensurate with what they have to offer. Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body…(1 Corinthians 12:12-26).

    © 2018. 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. Bob’s website is www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com, and his biweekly blog is: www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com.

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What kind of worker are you? Do you prefer a lot of freedom in how you pursue your tasks, or do you like ongoing direction and support from those to whom you report?

     

    1. How does a good leader go about selecting the right people for what needs to be done, as Roosevelt suggested? Once those individuals are chosen and brought to the team, how can the leader avoid meddling in what they are doing?

     

    1. Do you think it is easy to discern what people need to perform their jobs most effectively, as the passage from Proverbs says we should do? Why or why not?

     

    1.  Why is it important for people to sense their leaders genuinely care for them and have their best interests at heart? Do you agree this is even necessary? Explain your answer.

     

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

     Proverbs 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 3:9; Ephesians 2:10