Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. Taking Advantage of Proprietary Knowledge

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    In the 1970s the photo processing and printing company my wife and I owned was one of the first to buy a Kodak Royalprint print processor. Since copying and restoring old photos was a big part of our business even then, I quickly figured out how to sepia-tone (brown-tinted) photos using the processor.

    A few years later I was at a Kodak seminar when somebody asked about sepia toning using the Royalprint machine. The Kodak technical representative apologized and said that was not possible. 

    Then I had somewhat of a dilemma. Did I tell the Kodak people they were wrong, or should I proceed knowing I knew something that nobody else knew? I chose the latter, aware I had no legal or ethical obligation to inform Kodak about capabilities they did not know their processor had. As a result, I was able to earn thousands of dollars doing something the then- Fortune 500 company said was impossible.

    I had uncovered “proprietary knowledge” that no one at Kodak realized they possessed. Since I was not an employee of Kodak or in any way affiliated with the company other than being a customer, it was not my responsibility to inform them of something they should have discovered on their own.

    This brings up a couple of questions. Did Kodak not try it, and why did not the people in the audience experiment with the machine on their own? The lessons I learned were that the “experts” are often wrong, and you can’t believe everything you hear or read. Sometimes it pays off to check things out on your own. 

    I now know that many small businesses become successful simply because they are doing something that a large company cannot or will not do.

    That old processor has since been junked with the advancement of technology, and Kodak has gone into bankruptcy, for a variety of reasons declining into an afterthought in the photographic industry. But in my current photography business I am still restoring old and damaged photographs. Eastman Kodak was once my biggest supplier; now the only Kodak products I have are in an antiques display case. Life and work sometimes take strange and unexpected twists and turns.

    I think there is a simple but profound moral of this story. It applies to anyone in business, no matter which field of endeavor you happen to be working n: Keep trying new things, new directions, and do not believe the naysayers that say something cannot be done or the people who are afraid to step out, take a risk and follow their passion.

    Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” If I had not experimented and discovered the additional capabilities of the photographic print processor, I might not have “perished.” However, I would have missed out on significant income – along with the satisfaction of knowing I had learned to do something even the manufacturer was not aware could be done. That in itself is part of the satisfaction of being engaged in an entrepreneurial venture.

    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. Jim is the author of High Performance Cameras for Ordinary People, a book on digital 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.  Are you the type of person that likes to explore, to experiment to discover new things about a machine, a process, or even business philosophy? Explain your answer.

    2.  How open are you to people that are always offering different perspectives or approaches to a problem? If someone came to you and proposed a revolutionary or radically different way of doing something, would you be willing to give it serious consideration? Why or why not?

    3.  How do you relate to Mr. Mathis’s statement that he had no obligation to inform Kodak that their machine could do more than they realized it could?

    4.  What do you believe is the importance of “vision” in the success of an enterprise, or simply for the fulfillment of one’s personal and professional calling?

    If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages:

    Genesis 1:1,26-27; Proverbs 20:24, 24:5; Jeremiah 33:3; Matthew 7:7; Ephesians 3:20


  2. Dividends of Employee Happiness

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    An organization called “Delivering Happiness at Work” had some great insights that were outlined in a Wall Street Journal article about happy employees. A study it conducted has discovered happy, content employees have 31% higher productivity, 37% higher sales, and are three times more creative.

    Although the research did not make this conclusion, employee attendance levels likely would also be higher and absentee levels lower when they feel happy and fulfilled in the work they perform. 

    This survey identified three major factors involved in having happy employees within an organization:

    1)    People need to enjoy the tasks required of them.

    2)    They need to be able to focus on the things they do best.

    3)    They need to be proud of their employer.

    Based on this research, it would seem that if you want to foster higher productivity, it would be advisable to know and care about your employee’s strengths and passions. A passage from the Bible, although it seems directed to an agrarian context, applies well in this regard: Be sure you know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds” (Proverbs 27:23). 

    Trying to implement the three factors cited above would be a good first step. We could learn more specifically how to fulfill these needs by soliciting suggestions from them, or conducting small group meetings where their ideas are welcomed and thoughtfully considered. 

    But employee happiness and contentment should involve more than a desire to improve the company’s bottom line. Striving to establish a work environment that is conducive to happy workers is also the right thing to do.

    Consider if roles were reversed – that your employees, or the people who report to you, were instead the employer and you were reporting to them. How would you want to be treated? What kind of working environment would you desire to have provided for you? In what is often referred to as his “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus told his followers, So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). 

    Often we presume workers are motivated primarily by financial compensation and other tangible benefits. However, employees that prove to be the most valuable, the ones most likely to remain high contributors to the company, are those that also derive intangible benefits such as feeling happy, fulfilled and appreciated for the work they do.

    Thousands of years ago, King Solomon of Israel made this observation in Ecclesiastes 5:19 – “When God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work – this is a gift of God.” 

    Copyright 2013, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His book, How to Prosper in Business Without Sacrificing Integrity, gives a biblical approach for doing business with integrity. 

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1.  How would be your definition of a “happy employee”?

    2.  What are specific factors that determine or affect your own level of happiness where you work? Do you feel you enjoy most of the tasks you are asked to do, and are empowered to focus on the things you do best? Explain your answer.

    3.  Do you believe your company or organization is intentionally concerned about the happiness and emotional well-being of its employees? What is the basis for your response?

    4.   Do you agree with the quotation from King Solomon, that for someone being able to accept their lot in life and enjoy their work is a gift from God? Why or why not?

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

    Proverbs 21:5, 22:29, 27:18, 28:19; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:17,23


  3. Of Fool and Foolishness

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    When was the last time you did something foolish at work? We have all dabbled in foolish behavior at one time or another, perhaps more than once. But let me ask a different question: Have you ever worked with someone you considered to be a fool, not just a person prone to an occasional foolish act or decision? 

    It is interesting that many cultures have seen fit to formally recognize fools and foolishness. April 1, in the United States and many other nations, is known as “April Fools’ Day.” In some countries they call it “All Fools Day.” For some this provides an excuse for pulling a harmless prank or practical joke on someone, or fooling them by trying to convince them of information that is erroneous.

    There are various theories about the origin of April Fools’ Day, including Chaucer’s 1392 literary classic, The Canterbury Tales, and observances in Europe and the Middle East that trace as far back as the sixth century. But one thing is certain: Fools – and foolishness – have existed since the beginning of time. 

    There is the saying that “a fool and his money are soon parted.” Another states, “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.” Most of us have been guilty of forming bad relationships, making questionable investments or poor decisions that left us wondering, “What was I thinking?” But there is a difference between occasional foolishness and habitually being a fool, professionally or personally. 

    It is not surprising that the timeless collection of writings called the Bible speaks about foolishness – and fools. Much of it applies to the 21st century workplace. Here is a sampling from the book of Proverbs: 

    The high cost of foolishness. We can labor years to build up something worthwhile – a business, a career, a marriage or family – that can be destroyed with a single act of irresponsibility. “The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears it down” (Proverbs 14:1).

    The mindless habits of being a fool. A wise person refuses to make hasty decisions, evaluating alternatives and weighing possible consequences. But a fool acts on impulse without worrying about negative outcomes. “The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception” (Proverbs 14:8). 

    The short-sightedness of the foolish. Wisdom prompts people to remain focused on worthwhile goals, but foolish people can be easily sidetracked and lose sight of their objectives. “Folly delights a man who lacks judgment, but a man of understanding keeps a straight course” (Proverbs 15:21). 

    The undisciplined, reckless speech of a fool. Wisdom guides people in what is appropriate to say – and what not to say. Foolish people are quick to speak without considering the aftermath of their words. “A fool’s lips bring him strife, and his mouth invites a beating. A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul ” (Proverbs 18:6-7). 

    The irresponsible stewardship of the fool. A wise person strives to utilize resources properly and carefully, but fools are wasteful and rarely plan for future needs. “In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has” (Proverbs 21:20).

    Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran journalist, he has written Tufting Legacies (iUniverse); Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace (River City Press); and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring (NavPress). For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or his blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.comand www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. 

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1.  Think of a time when you committed a foolish act or made a foolish decision that you feel comfortable sharing with others. What was that – and what were the consequences, if any?

    2.  How would you distinguish between people that sometimes do foolish things and people who consistently act like fools? Give an example or two.

    3.  What do you think would be some practical ways to avoid foolish actions or choices?

    4.  Of the principles cited about foolishness and being a fool, which seem most significant to you – or have provoked your thinking? Explain your answer.

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

    Proverbs 1:7, 10:14-15, 15:7,20, 16:22, 17:12,16, 18:13, 19:3, 24:7, 26:4-5,11-12, 29:11


  4. Tension Between Working And Waiting

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    Although I have never met a mystic, that seems like a good job to have. Sitting around all day, just thinking, occasionally coming up with something that sounds wise or profound. People around you speaking in hushed tones, fearful of disrupting your deep thought process. “Quiet, he’s contemplating.”

    In the 21st century business and professional world, of course, there is little place for mystics. We are action-oriented, determined to produce results quickly and in quantity. And you cannot do that by just sitting around and thinking about things. “Don’t just sit there – do something!” No time to contemplate.

    Is that right? Is the “Do something, anything, even if it’s wrong” approach to deadlines, projects and goals always the best approach? 

    For many so-called “Type A” leaders, the answer would be yes. Filled with ideas, energy and resolve, they insist on keeping the wheels in motion, and the faster the better. But experience teaches that waiting often is a wiser course of “action” than working. A former colleague often used to offer this insight: “Why is it that we did not have time to do this (assignment) right the first time, but we have time to do it over again?” Another friend had a sign posted in his office that stated, “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” In other words, if we would be willing to slow down long enough to think things through, we might enjoy more successes – and suffer fewer mistakes.

    But there is another side to this question. Sometimes, despite our desires and efforts, waiting is our only option. Not being a patient person by nature, I find this difficult. But in retrospect I have often found the waiting was worthwhile. For instance, there were times when I believed a career change was in order and felt ready to move forward immediately. Instead, circumstances demanded that I wait. When the next job opportunity presented itself, to my surprise it was better than anything I could have imagined.

    Here are some of the things the Bible has taught me about waiting: 

    Trust in the One that knows the way. If you were making a trip through dangerous territory, would it help being guided by someone very familiar with the area? In life and work, we do not know what pitfalls lie ahead – but God does. At such times it helps to wait until He is ready to put us on the right course. “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).

    Recognize that waiting does not mean inaction. Sometimes situations require us to hold our ground, remaining where we are. Other times we can take steps that seem appropriate, but still must trust God to provide what we need. “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes…. Wait for the Lord and keep his way. He will exalt you to inherit the land; when the wicked are cut off, you will see it” (Psalm 37:7, 34).

    Understand that times of waiting teach us who is in control. We like to believe we are in control of our lives. However, often circumstances are far beyond our control, leaving us no choice but to wait. These times can teach us God is truly in control – and knows exactly what He is doing. “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).

    Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran journalist, he has written Tufting Legacies (iUniverse); Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace (River City Press); and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring (NavPress). For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or his blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.comand www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1.  Are you an action-oriented person, at work and in your personal life, or do you work with people that favor an “act now, wait later” approach? Explain what this looks like in your daily pursuits and responsibilities.

    2.  Why do you think waiting is such a difficult things for most of us to do?

    3.  Think of a situation in which you had no choice but to wait, and then were pleased to discover the outcome of the situation was definitely worth the wait. What was that experience like for you?

    4.  The Bible passages cited in this “Monday Manna” talk about waiting on God and trusting in His timing and direction. How do you respond to this? Do you truly believe God knows what He is doing, and that He deserves your willingness to wait for Him to do what is best?

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review additional passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses:

    Deuteronomy 31:6-8; 1 Chronicles 28:20; Joshua 1:9; Micah 7:7; Hebrews 13:5


  5. Tips For An Effective Life-Investing Checkup

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    In last week’s “Monday Manna” we considered the concept of viewing success in life and work from the perspective of an investor. One of the common goals of all good investors is the desire to maximize the return on their investments. But how can we accomplish that in terms of “life investing,” using to the fullest the skills, gifts, experience and other resources we have received?

    Let me suggest a “life-investing checkup” – an inventory of sorts to help in properly assess what we are doing, how we are doing, and why we are doing it. If we want to do a checkup and see if we are being good investors of our lives, what will we look at? Even more important, what will God look at – the One who has appointed us stewards of the resources available to us every day? 

    First, let me suggest that we look at the quality of our relationships with God and other people. Ask yourself, “Am I putting Jesus Christ first in my life? Am I spending time with Him on a daily basis, asking for direction, wisdom, strength, provision – and forgiveness, when I fail? Can I honestly demonstrate He is number one in my life?”

    The proof of whether I really value, love and obey God shows in how I treat my wife and daughter, other family members, friends, fellow believers, customers, vendors, and even the mail carrier, who in some respects is my most valuable business vendor. 

    Second, the proof is also revealed by looking at my checkbook and seeing where I am investing and spending money entrusted to me. Am I constantly looking for ways to invest God’s capital in His Kingdom as He puts opportunities in my path to help other people? Am I also saving an appropriate amount of money to help pay future expenses at a time in my life when I can no longer work? Am I making prudent financial investment decisions to eventually have money to leave to my children’s children, as it says to do in the Bible?

    Third, I have to look at my calendar. How many hours do I spend at work? Is that the amount of time I believe God wants me to invest on a particular day or week? Am I allowing God to be the CEO of my business and use it for His purposes, or do I view my career as a personal possession I use to earn money to spend on my own desires? Do I spend appropriate time with God in daily quiet time; developing relationships with my family members and friends; serving others in the community to help them improve their lives; exercising to keep my body healthy and fit, and enjoying some recreational activities?

    The choice of how we invest our lives is ours alone. We cannot pass that responsibility on to anyone else. When I take my last breath and stand before God, I want Him to say to me “Well done, good and faithful investor of the life I gave you. Enter into My heavenly kingdom and enjoy eternal rest and rewards in the place I have prepared for you!” 

    If you have not dedicated some time lately to consider how you are investing your life, I would urge you to spend a morning away from the office and do a careful review of your life investment decisions. You may discover a reallocation of life resources is in order – and you will be glad you did. Happy Life Investing!

    Lane Kramer is a Dallas, Texas business who founded The CEO Institute, a membership-based organization to help CEOs build world-class companies consistent with biblical principles and values. His website is www.ceoinst.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What do you think about the idea of doing a “life-investing checkup”? Have you ever done a personal inventory or assessment like that before?

    2. If you were to undertake such a personal checkup, what might you expect to discover? Do you believe you are being a good steward or manager of the various abilities, talents, experience, time and other resources that have been entrusted to your care?

    3. If someone were to examine your checkbook, or your calendar, what might they conclude about the things you regard of greatest importance in your life and business?

    4. Would you be willing to do a life-investing checkup, as Mr. Kramer has suggested? Why or why not? Consider scheduling it on your calendar – and asking someone to hold you accountable to follow through on that commitment.   

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review additional passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses:

    Proverbs 4:23, 16:2,9, 21:5, 28:20; Ecclesiastes 3:1-12,22, 12:13-14; Luke 14:28-29


  6. How Are You Investing Your Life?

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    Over the last 20 years I have been around some very successful CEOs from a purely business standpoint. Some of these people have taken very modest amounts of capital and have grown companies to a considerable size, and then sold them for millions of dollars. Others have been able to employ hundreds of people and lead very large companies. However, I wonder if these tangible business indicators alone mean they have truly been successful in life? 

    The answer to that, of course, depends on how a person defines success. How do you define success for your life? Do you measure success by how many dollars you earn, how big your company grows, or is it through a more relational approach, such as the quality of your relationships with God, friends and family members? How do you think God would measure success for your life?    

    For me, the answer to that last question is determined by whether I am fulfilling my God-given purpose and doing what God wants me to do in my business and my family, as well as my worship community, circle of friends, the marketplace as a whole, and the Dallas, Texas, U.S.A. community where I live.  

    One way I measure success is through the lens of an investor. Every day I have to determine where to maximize my investment of time, talents, treasure, relational capital, and physical energy. These are all gifts from God that He has entrusted to me. The investment choices of how and where to deploy them are not always easy, but they are important. As it says in 1 Corinthians 4:2-5, “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful…. (the Lord) will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men’s hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God.”

    For example, do I spend more time “after hours” at The CEO Institute trying to further grow my business, or do I invest that same hour at home having dinner with my wife? Do I spend regular time on Sunday afternoon talking with my elderly mother, or do I devote the time to investment research in the Wall Street Journal? Do I ride my bicycle on Sunday morning, or do I invest that time worshipping at my church and attending Sunday school? Do I participate in a prison ministry event, or do I play in the member-guest tournament at the country club? Decisions, decisions. They require wisdom from God.

    All investors try to maximize the return on investment of capital. That is precisely what I am trying to do in my life as a whole. As we are told in the passage from 1 Corinthians 4 and elsewhere in the Bible, I know one day God will review my life and ask for an accounting of how I invested the gifts He gave to me. So as a steward of those gifts, and not the owner, I have to think about how the Master (the true Owner) would have me invest what He has entrusted to me. 

    While we should primarily seek to be a good Steward/ Investor because we love God and want to serve Him, God as our Creator also understands our human nature.  He knows we all want to be recognized and rewarded for being good investors. And the Bible makes it clear that God will reward us for our faithfulness in investing/stewarding all His gifts both in this life and in Heaven. 

    In a future “Monday Manna,” I will present some specific ideas on how we can ensure being good investors of the resources God has entrusted to our care and use. In the meantime, take some time and consider how you are doing in “life investing.”

    Lane Kramer is a Dallas, Texas business who founded The CEO Institute, a membership-based organization to help CEOs build world-class companies consistent with biblical principles and values. His website is www.ceoinst.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. What is your personal definition of success? Based on your definition, how would you rate your progress to date?

    2. Mr. Kramer suggests viewing success in terms of being an investor of the time, talents and other resources we have. Do you agree? Why or why not?

    3. The passage from 1 Corinthians, chapter 4 talks about receiving a trust, or being made a steward, by God. How do you respond to this idea?

    4. In light of what you have read, what steps would you think could be helpful in becoming a more effective steward or investor of what you have at your disposal, including your time, abilities and other resources available to you in your workplace? 

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review additional passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses: 

    Proverbs 12:24, 14:23, 20:5-6, 28:20; Matthew 24:45, 25:14-30; Luke 16:10; Philemon 6 (NIV, Amplified)


  7. Bright Ideas – Sometimes From Unlikely Sources

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    Suggestion boxes at companies are being replaced by online idea-submission systems, according to the Wall Street Journal, a respected business periodical. These systems not only receive ideas for changes and new initiatives, but also allow employees the opportunity to comment and vote on suggestions from other staff members.

    PricewaterhouseCoopers launched an idea-management website that generated 3,300 new ideas. Although the consulting firm has implemented only 140 of those ideas to date, the ones they did put into use have saved the company hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

    The irony is that too often executives call upon outsiders to evaluate business practices, systems and a variety of other factors that affect revenues and expenses, but fail to consider the insiders that could have the greatest insight. Employees usually know company products and processes better than consultants, since they work with them every day, yet many organizations never ask their staffs for ideas.

    Years ago, manufacturers implemented “quality circles,” through which the employees most affected by production decisions would have input into actions taken and what conclusions were reached. In many cases employee advisory groups contributed significantly to greater efficiency and economy.

    It might not be necessary to create quality circles for your organization, but some purposeful way of soliciting and responding to staff input on important organizational and management strategies could pay great dividends. There is a saying that sometimes it is hard to distinguish the forest from the trees, but it might be wise to periodically consult with those that are most familiar with the “trees.”

    The Bible has much to say about this approach to business:

    Do not be too proud to consult with others. Some executives seem to take the attitude that since they are in leadership positions, they should be expected to have all the answers. There is no rule that says that, and wise leaders encourage staff people to offer their perspectives. Proverbs 12:15 teaches, “The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.” 

    Be receptive to views from a variety of reliable sources. There are many ways of soliciting valued counsel regarding business plans and key decisions, ranging from idea-submission systems to employee and team meetings. By taking full advantage of people and ideas available, the likelihood of success is multiplied. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed”(Proverbs 15:22).

    Value the resources available within your own staff. Often the thinking of consultants is given greater weight because of their presumed objective perspectives. However, good stewardship requires proper utilization of the personnel we have within our companies, including involving their insights in critical decisions and practices. … Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and in his own household(Matthew 13:57). 

    Do not overlook the wisdom of your staff. If you make the process easy and open for all, they may have ideas that save you thousands. 

    Copyright 2013, Integrity Resource Center, Inc. Adapted with permission from “Integrity Moments with Rick Boxx,” a commentary on issues of integrity in the workplace from a Christian perspective. To learn more about Integrity Resource Center or to sign up for Rick’s daily Integrity Moments, visit www.integrityresource.org. His book, How to Prosper in Business Without Sacrificing Integrity, gives a biblical approach for doing business with integrity. 

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1.  How are suggestions and ideas received at your company? Do you feel that your organization welcomes input from employees and staff members? Explain your answer.

    2.  What, in your opinion, is the greatest difference between soliciting advice and counsel from outside parties, such as consultants, and from people within the organization?

    3.  If you are in a position of authority, how receptive are you to the recommendations of those that report to you? Do you actively encourage their input? Why or why not?

    4.  Can you think of a good example of an innovation or change your company made that resulted from the wise insights of one or more employees? Describe the impact it had.

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

    Proverbs 10:17, 11:14, 19:20, 19:27, 20:18, 24:5-6, 27:17; Ecclesiastes 4:9-12


  8. How Good Are You At Worrying?

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    One of the great wonders of the workplace is the variety of talents and abilities we observe. Some people are natural leaders, others find it easier to follow and support those who lead. Some are especially gifted in administration, directing and delegating tasks, while others are adept at personally handling a multitude of details. Some have natural skills at sales and marketing – they could sell ice to polar bears in northern Canada. Others are talented speakers, while some do their best communicating through writing.

    But if there is one “skill” most of us possess in equal measure, it is the capacity for worrying. If we own a business or hold top executive responsibilities, we worry about matters ranging from how to plan for future uncertainties to how to meet next week’s payroll. We worry about deadlines, job promotions, finding a new job, or whether we will receive well-deserved (we believe) pay increases.

    If our business relies on a small number of key clients, we worry about losing them. We worry about how to find new customers. We worry about our competition making changes that could have a detrimental impact on our business. We worry about the weather; the local, national and world economy; the costs of fuel; or how to keep pace with ever-changing technology and market trends.

    We are so accomplished at worrying that we even worry when there is absolutely nothing to worry about. We start worrying that soon there will be something to worry about. Maybe this helps us to feel we will be better prepared for when (and if) it happens. 

    One of the reasons we worry is because it makes us feel like we are doing something when there is nothing else we can do. We feel good to be concerned about a situation – even if we are helpless to do anything about it. But what does worrying accomplish? Experts say at least 90% of the things that worry us never occur, so we have wasted considerable mental and emotional energy on nothing. 

    Including myself among those that find it easy to worry, I find it comforting and reassuring to regularly remind myself what the Bible has to say about worry:

    Instead of worrying, pray. Worrying deprives us of sleep, saps our energy, and disrupts all sense of inner peace. What if you could simply transfer those concerns to someone else with the unshakable assurance that they will be properly addressed? “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).

    Let God do the worrying. Have you ever tried to lift something heavy and felt relief when someone stronger than you volunteered to carry the weight? That is exactly what God offers to do for us when we commit our worries to Him. “Cast all your anxiety on him (God) because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

    God wants to carry the burden. Has anyone ever told you, “Do not worry. I have it under control”? This is exactly what God is telling us. We worry about things outside of our control, or things that probably will not happen. God tells us, “Relax. I will take care of it. Take a load off yourself.”Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). 

    Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran journalist, he has written Tufting Legacies (iUniverse); Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace (River City Press); and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring (NavPress). For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or his blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.comand www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1.  If you were to rate yourself on a “Worry Scale,” with 10 being “I worry much” and 1 being “ I worry very little,” how would you rate yourself? Explain your answer.

    2.  What kinds of things cause you to worry the most? How do you typically handle those concerns?

    3.  Have you ever prayed about the things that were worrying you? What benefit – if any – did that provide for you?

    4.  What do you think about the admonition to commit our worries and concerns to God? Why do you think it is so difficult to turn over to God the things that are causing anxiety for us – without wanting immediately to snatch them back?

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review additional passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses:

    Psalm 23:1-6; Proverbs 3:5-6; Isaiah 26:3, 41:10; Jeremiah 29:11; Matthew 11:29-30


  9. You Win Races Only When You Finish

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    Several few years ago we needed to have some carpet replaced in our home. My wife and I hired a company that came highly recommended, and we paid a premium price for the new carpet and the work. When the installers were done, my wife almost cried because the room looked so bad. 

    I assured her we could fix the problem, and quickly gathered the carpet scraps, ran the vacuum over the new floor covering, and redid the baseboards. I even added to my tool collection some carpet tools they had left behind. After the furniture was moved back, the room looked beautiful. 

    The installer simply had not cared enough to finish the job. Needless to say, we never called him again and would not have given a favorable recommendation to anyone if asked. 

    Recently I had a bad experience with an automotive tire shop. Among other things, the tires on my car wore out prematurely because they had not been balanced correctly. After some discussion, the shop owners agreed to give me a new set of tires at a huge discount. 

    They had an opportunity to win me back as a customer, but when I picked up my car, I found the alloy wheels were scuffed and covered with grease. I spent about thirty minutes cleaning and polishing the wheels, but they are still scuffed. Yes, I had new tires, but the work was totally unsatisfactory. 

    To use an analogy from competitive sports, both companies could have won the race but failed to even reach the finish line. They did not care about me, my wife, the appearance of our home or the condition of my car. In baseball terminology, they could have hit a home run, but failed to pass third base.

    I am a photographer, and one of my commitments is to offer my customers the assurance that I will be swinging for the fences and will not stop until they are not only satisfied, but also delighted with their results. Regardless of what kind of business you are in or what types of products or services you provide, this should be your goal as well. 

    This determination to provide the best service possible makes practical sense. In many cases the future of our businesses depend on having customers that use us again and again. Also, the best advertisement for any company is a satisfied customer. At the same time, dissatisfied customers can be disastrous. And the fact is, an unhappy customer is many times more likely to tell others about the experience. 

    But there is an even better reason for striving for excellence, for doing work to the best of our ability. In the Bible’s New Testament, it says, “whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him…. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:17,23).

    Each of us has received unique abilities, talents and experience that enable us to do the work that we do. One way of showing appreciation for what we have received is to use these to the best of our abilities.

    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. Jim is the author of High Performance Cameras for Ordinary People, a book on digital 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. Have you ever had a bad experience in working with a business, whether a product you received or services that were provided? What were your feelings about that – and how did you respond?

    2.  Why do you think some individuals and some businesses seem to be content with providing substandard work and services?

    3.  Have you ever realized that you failed to do your best work on a project or assignment, whether at your workplace or in serving a customer or client? If so, what – if anything – did you do about it?

    4.  Mr. Mathis points to the admonition from the Bible, which says that whatever we do, we should do our work “with all our heart, as working for the Lord” and “in the name of Jesus.” What are your thoughts about that?

    If you would like to look at or discuss other portions of the Bible that relate to this topic, consider the following brief sampling of passages:

    Proverbs 11:1, 16:11, 12:24, 14:23, 18:9, 22:29, 27:18; Ecclesiastes 3:9-12; Colossians 3:24-25


  10. Learning From the Mistakes of Others

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    “Why do you want to be mentored?” That was the question I asked the young man sitting across the table from me at a local restaurant. A mutual friend had suggested to Todd that he meet with me since he had expressed an interest in having someone mentor him in both his professional and personal life. 

    His answer surprised me: “I want to learn from your mistakes.” I smiled, thinking here was a man in his late 20s that already had the wisdom to recognize that you do not have to learn exclusively from your own errors and poor decisions. You can learn from people that have already traveled along the path you are following – and you can benefit from what they have learned through trial and error.

    As it turned out, he and I did not begin a one-to-one mentoring relationship because he already was meeting with several other men in various mentor-like capacities. With many younger men lacking even a single man to meet with, I concluded Todd already had enough help. But his comment caused me to reflect on the many times I have done the same thing – learned from the mistakes others have shared with me, along with their successes.

    I would not have the passion I have today for helping others learn how to effectively integrate their faith in the workplace if it had not been for others that showed me it could be done. And they honestly told me about times when they had failed, when they had yielded to the temptation to cut corners to achieve goals, even though they knew it would be a breach of their personal integrity. 

    It was through failures like these, however, that they learned the importance of setting boundaries, of affirming their commitments to excellence and honesty before they came to a moment of decision. Difficult decisions become easier, they taught me, when they are made long in advance of the crisis.

    Men like these also taught me about their trials, failures and successes in areas such as marriage, parenting, handling finances, dealing with anger and other troublesome emotions, and sexual temptation. I, too, have been privileged to learn from the mistakes of others.

    The Bible offers many character studies of men that strived to follow and served God, yet sometimes stumbled along the way. I have found these stories very encouraging, not only by learning specifics of their failures, but also realizing God does not demand perfection, only a sincere desire to follow Him, along with a willingness to repent in times of failure. The 10th chapter of 1 Corinthians offers great insight with only two verses:

    Recognize other people’s failures and take them to heart. There is a saying that if we fail to learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it. Colleagues and friends can only be bad influences when we allow ourselves to repeat their wrong actions. “All these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition” (1 Corinthians 10:11).

    Do not overestimate your own strength. One of the benefits of learning from the mistakes of others is realizing we could make the same errors. If we are wise, we will take preventative steps to avoid a repeat of those failures. As another saying tells us, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you do not fall!”  (1 Corinthians 10:12).

     

    Robert J. Tamasy is vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S.A. A veteran journalist, he has written Tufting Legacies (iUniverse); Business At Its Best: Timeless Wisdom from Proverbs for Today’s Workplace (River City Press); and has coauthored with David A. Stoddard, The Heart of Mentoring (NavPress). For more information, see www.leaderslegacy.com or his blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.comand www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1.  Have you ever taken the opportunity to learn from someone else’s mistakes? If so, give an example of when you did this – and what you learned.

    2.  Has anyone ever been given a similar opportunity to learn from your mistakes? Explain your answer.

    3.  Can you think about a time when you should have learned from hearing about or observing another person’s mistakes, but instead proceeded to replicate the error? What were the consequences for you?

    4.  This “Monday Manna” points out that numerous case studies are presented in the Bible of people who made serious mistakes, yet were forgiven and restored in their relationship with God. Can you think of any specific examples? Knowing that individuals like this failed, yet were not abandoned by God, does this encourage you in considering your own actions? Why or why not?

     NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to review additional passages that relate to this topic, consider the following verses:

     Psalm 119:9-11; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 4:7-10; James 1:12-15; 1 Peter 2:18-25