Category Archive: Monday Manna

  1. The Enduring Value Of Wisdom

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    January 8, 2018 – Rudolfs Dainis Smits   “Aristotle says that the aim of education is to make the pupil like and dislike what he ought.” – C.S. Lewis. According to this quote, values we need are taught to prepare us for life, business and professional careers. Sadly, in many instances this is no longer true.

    Harvard University (originally New College), founded in 1636, is America’s oldest corporation. It was renamed in 1638 after the Rev. John Harvard, who started the college for training clergy. Facades of Harvard’s historic buildings contain a chiseled stone shield including three symbolic books (two arranged facing up and one facing down) with the inscription, “VERITAS,” which means “truth.” John Amos Comenius, considered the father of modern education, developed an education methodology there that systemized the pursuit of truth as revealed through the Scriptures, nature (science), and reason. The third book in this shield is respectfully turned face down representing the limits of man’s reason. (This is described in The Harvard Wall by Gary Brumbelow.)

    Harvard University has since abandoned this tradition and become a secular institution that no longer adheres to these ideas. The shield has been redesigned; that third book now faces upward, and the inscription, “for Christ and the church” has been removed. Harvard’s historic building facades, however, remain unchanged, testifying to this lost heritage – the value of wisdom and the pursuit of truth in God: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).

    Proverbs 1:1-7 declares that to know wisdom and instruction, to understand and gain insight, and to receive instruction in wise dealings and righteousness, justice and equity must begin with the fear of God. Scripture teaches that the pursuit of all learning, knowledge and gained wisdom is revealed through the knowledge of God (Scripture); nature (study of science and God’s creation), and through Reason (the instrument of logic).

    Values are essential for defining who we are and foundational to culture and society. Business and commerce are controlled by accepted standards and values. If these principles are ignored, they will lead to our demise. As C.S. Lewis stated, “A dogmatic belief in objective values is necessary to the very idea of a rule which is not tyranny or an obedience which is not slavery.”

    Wisdom that values truth found in Scripture. A successful business or organization must maintain vision, mission and a value system for its employees to follow and to benefit its clients and customers. Our work and professional practice will be valued and remain relevant if we operate within the framework of biblical principles that protect the rights, relationships and well-being of our partners, employees, colleagues and customers.

    Wisdom that values truth in science (nature). Successful businesses uphold common law and best practices that include justice of exchange, fair prices, and value character and integrity in relationships and professional dealings. “A just balance and scales are the Lord’s; all the weights in the bag are his work” (Proverbs 16:11).

    Wisdom that values reason that yields to God. The Bible tells the famous story of King Solomon who, when offered riches and power, chose wisdom instead. Later in life Solomon diverged from the path of truth. He ceased to cherish wisdom over wealth. He compromised truth, wisdom and knowledge in his pursuit of riches, horses and women, and eventually violated the very principles that made him a wise king and leader. He lost the fear of God and the kingdom with it. The lessons shown in 1 Kings 11:10-12 are important ones we should heed.

    © 2018. Rudolfs Dainis Smits, an architect & business owner. He currently is design & technical manager for Hill International, a pProject and construction risk management company. He is former chairmen and board member of CBMC Latvia; founding member of Reformed Baltic Theological Seminary, Riga, Latvia, and a former Europartners board member.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Why do you think the book of Proverbs in the Bible equates wisdom with the fear of God? What is the meaning of “fear” in this case – and how is this a prerequisite to wisdom, knowledge and understanding?

     

    1. Have you ever compromised – or felt tempted to compromise – your values at work or with a client in fear of what someone might think or say about you? If so, what was the result?

     

    1. Our outward practices reflect internal decisions about what we believe. If we do not practice and protect those values, our lives become a meaningless façade. What is the basis for the value system that guides your personal and professional life? How do your actions contribute to protecting these values?

     

    1. S. Lewis said, “No justification of virtue will enable a man to be virtuous…. I had sooner play cards against a man who was quite skeptical about ethics, but bred to believe that ‘a gentleman does not cheat,’ than against an irreproachable moral philosopher who had been brought up among [card sharks].” What is Lewis saying about merely espousing principles (or values) versus what someone actually lives them out in practice?

     

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

    Proverbs 9:9, 16:11; Ecclesiastes 12:13, Micah 6:8, Luke 11:42, Romans 11:33, James 3:13,17

  2. Building A Values-Based Business

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    January 1, 2018 – Rick Boxx   One of the most underestimated tools for any successful business enterprise is the foundation of values upon which it has been built. If a company’s goal is simply to make high profits, to close a lot of any sales, or even to deliver huge quantities of products or services, it can lead to problems with the end serving to justify the means.

    For instance, if the objective is to finalize sales, one might be tempted to make whatever promises are needed to accomplish that – even if the promises cannot be met. Or if maximizing profits is the ultimate goal, it could become easy to justify cutting costs, even if that means compromising the quality of the product or services provided.

    However, when a company starts with a clear, well-considered framework of values to guide and govern its operations, chances of both survival and success are increased dramatically. These values essentially define “what we do,” “why we do it,” and “how we do it.”

    Many CEOs that are followers of Jesus Christ share a desire to influence their organization with principles from the Bible – which they understand to be the Word of God – while also being sensitive to those team members who may not embrace the same faith. One of the best ways to shape a company culture in an effective, non-offensive manner is to focus on values, principles of conduct and practice that everyone in the organization can be asked to embrace.

    For instance, a value of placing high priority on customer service is one that few can argue with; we don’t even have to explain this value is based on “doing to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). We might embrace the value of doing the best we can at all times, without having to insist that our staff “work at it with al your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:23).

    Since many of the values we commonly endorse come right out of the Bible, formulating our core beliefs can serve as a non-threatening way for communicating God’s standards and values. Developing these foundational values and holding your team accountable to them can give you the opportunity to lead the way to doing business God’s way.

    As the psalmist expressed in Psalms 119:130, “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” To achieve success – and then to sustain it – it is important for every key member of the team to be able to understand and explain what the organization stands for. What are the basic values and principles that serve as guideposts for how it conducts business on a day to day basis?

    If you desire to shape the culture of your organization in God’s way, try determining and articulating your core values. Next, model them, and then communicate them consistently to your team. As the apostle Paul wrote, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice” (Philippians 4:9).

    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. Would you consider your company to be a values-based business? Explain your answer.

     

    1. If you do believe your organization is values-based, what are those values? Are they articulated and presented in some way so that everyone has the opportunity to review and understand them as guidelines for everyday operations and practices?

     

    1. Understanding that not everyone in a business may hold to the same spiritual beliefs, would it still be appropriate for them to understand the source of the organization’s values if those are drawn from the Bible? Why or why not?

     

    1. What if an organization has not established a system of values by which to govern its operations – how do you think they could begin to work toward becoming a values-based business? Or do you think that if it has been operating without an agreed-upon statement of values, there is no need at this point to change that?

     

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

     Proverbs 11:1, 14:5, 15:33, 20:14, 29:4; Philippians 4:8, 2 Timothy 2:2

  3. A Toast To The New Year – And The Old One

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    December 25, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   Congratulations! In less than a week, you will have made it through another calendar year. Are you ready for 2018 to begin? What are your thoughts about the year that is about to conclude? Was it one of your better years, perhaps even the very best year you have ever experienced? Or was it a year you would rather forget, and are feeing glad it is about over?

    Realistically, the move from Dec. 31 to Jan. 1 is simply the passing of another 24 hours. Yet for many of us it means much more than that. For some, there is hope the positive momentum of the past year will continue and build into the new calendar year. For others, it represents a time for a fresh start, new beginnings, maybe even a “do-over.” In any case, watching the last numeral in the calendar year increase by one typically offers renewed hope, along with expectations for good things in the future.

    For many, this transition means both a time for reassessing what transpired over the past 365 days and a time for anticipating what opportunities, challenges and surprises might lie ahead over the next 365. I ask questions like: What went well? What could I have done better? How can I learn from the past for better results in the future?

    Sadly, in many cases moving from one year to the next demands a lot more than flipping the page on a calendar. It sometimes involves feelings of regret, even remorse. Some would agree with author William Faulkner, who said, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” So, as we are hoping for good things to come, how do we deal with deeds or circumstances we wish we could undo, or at least remove from our memories? The Bible offers some helpful principles to consider:

    Refuse to let the past be in control. Realizing we have not yet “arrived,” that we still have dreams to pursue and goals to achieve, we cannot move forward by continuing to concentrate on the past. The apostle Paul wrote, Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus(Philippians 3:12-14). 

    Recognize the future does not need to duplicate the past. We can gain valuable lessons from the past, including our failures, but then we must avoid getting “stuck” by giving them undue focus. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19).

    Remember God has power to transform. “New and improved” is a popular promise for many products. Sometimes that is what we desire for ourselves, not just a minor touch-up or small adjustments, but being able to dispense with the old self and become a totally new, remarkably transformed “me.” For followers of Jesus Christ, this is the promise God offers: Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come(2 Corinthians 5:17). “…just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

    © 2017. 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. What are the memories you will carry forward from the past year? What were your happiest, or most rewarding, moments? Which would you like to forget, or do over?

     

    1. Looking to the new year, what expectations and hopes do you have?

     

    1. How easy is it for you to follow the example of the apostle Paul, who wrote of “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead”?

     

    1. In the Bible, God promises to make things new, to transform His people into “new creations.” What, if anything, does that mean to you – especially in an everyday, practical sense?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages: Isaiah 65:17; Ezekiel 36:26; John 3:3; Romans 12:1-2; Galatians 2:20

  4. Christmas And The ‘Undercover Boss’

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    December 18, 2017 – Luis Cervino   Have you seen the TV reality show called “Undercover Boss”? In it, owners or CEOs of large companies go undercover as rank and file workers for a week or two, working alongside employees to discover firsthand how they perform their jobs and meet their personal needs. These bosses learn about the inner workings of their enterprises – such as pizza businesses, large hotel groups, maintenance companies, and convenience stores.

    At the end of each program, the bosses shed their disguises, revealing themselves to their workers, and enact positive change in the workplace. They often reward employees with extra benefits such as scholarships for their children, paid leaves of absence if needed, or donations of medical care. In some instances, negligent workers have been identified and dismissed. The key concept is the top executives take the time to personally review what is transpiring in their companies, interact with staff, and institute necessary adjustments.

    Interestingly, this concept is not new; it happened 2,000 years ago when God decided to come “undercover” to live with His creation. He began His stay not at a palace or with great ceremony. Instead, as Jesus Christ, He chose to come simply, living among working people with a humble, non-assuming family. His birth received little notice except for a few witnesses – a handful of country people and His earthly parents. For Jesus’ arrival, He chose an unusual site for an important person: a stable – an animal shelter.

    About two years later, some learned individuals – commonly known as “wise men” – came to give Jesus proper homage, along with some gifts. Then they returned to their distant homes. Jesus spent the succeeding years growing into adulthood, learning the carpentry trade from Joseph, His earthly father, living with and meeting people and experiencing the challenges and problems of everyday life.

    In four books of the Bible, the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, we find accounts of His adventures and how He used examples from everyday life to teach eternal truths those who followed Him, sometimes very specifically and directly, other times in story form (parables), addressing people individually and in groups.

    Living among the people, like an “undercover boss,” Jesus learned firsthand the pressures of work, family and society. He understood the underlying needs and struggles of a wide range of people – adulterers and prostitutes, tax collectors, humble fishermen, the sick and the poor, arrogant religious and civic authorities.

    He experienced the human feelings of being betrayed, having His kindnesses refused because of unbelief, and being falsely accused without any evidence of an alleged crime. And, similar to the undercover bosses on TV, Jesus offered unearned gifts and benefits. In this case, it was His unconditional love, acceptance, forgiveness, reconciliation, transformation, and ultimately, eternal life with His heavenly Father.

    His name is Jesus Christ, and this month we remember His appearance on earth with an event called Christmas. In many instances, the central meaning of this day has been distorted. Some refuse to say, “Merry Christmas,” replacing it with a more politically correct, “Happy Holidays,” not to offend those who do not believe in Jesus.

    For followers of Jesus, however, we are not afraid to say, “Merry Christmas.” Because we know, For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).

    Luis Cervino is a maxillofacial surgeon in Torreon, Coahuila, Mexico, where he resides with his wife, Rocio, and their two sons. He has been a CBMC/CPEC member in Mexico since 1997, and has been translating Monday Manna from English into Spanish since 1999. His translations reach readers in Mexico and many other parts of the world.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. If you have seen the TV reality show, “Undercover Boss,” what has been your impression of it – or at least its general concept?

     

    1. What do you think would be your conclusions if you were to serve as an “undercover boss” at your workplace? Would there be value in such a “covert” activity?

     

    1. Jesus Christ, coming to earth as an “undercover boss.” What do you think of that perspective of God taking on human form, and living among His creation, as John 1:14 states: “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us”?

     

    1. Why do you think this “undercover approach” was necessary for God? Could He have accomplished what He did in some other way? Explain your answer.

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Luke 2:4-20; John 1:1-5; Colossians 1:15-20; Hebrews 1:1-3

  5. The Workplace – And The Sabbath

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    December 11, 2017 – Jim Mathis   Many of us struggle with not having enough time to get things done at work. Some employers expect us to be on call 24 hours a day. Self-employed people have an even greater challenge in being able to get away from their work for a few days, or even a few hours. We must put in the time that is needed, we reason. But at what cost?

    Studies have shown productivity drops dramatically if we do not take time to rest, to “sharpen our axe.” There is a very practical adage that the fastest way to cut wood is to first set aside time to make certain the axe is sharp. This principle holds true even if you are not in the wood-cutting business. Nearly every new idea I have gotten for my businesses has come while I am on a vacation or away from work, where I had time to gain a new perspective or discover fresh thinking from a totally random, even unrelated source.

    This necessity to take time to step away from our work, our vocations, is so important it is even given as a divine directive in the Bible.

    In the biblical creation account, God created the world in six days and then rested on the seventh day. The idea of resting on the seventh day was codified when the Ten Commandments were handed down to Moses: “Remember the Sabbath day by keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work…. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day….” (Exodus 20:8-11).

    Jesus later clarified this Sabbath commandment, teaching that honoring the Sabbath is not about following a set of rules, but that the day was established for man – a time of rest, reflection and recuperation, a time to slow down and enjoy the world God has created. Then he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath’(Mark 2:27).

    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 been a source of conflict and confusion for me. Should we rest on the seventh day, Saturday, or the first day, Sunday? I thought maybe our calendars are just labeled wrong. Recently, however, I have begun to realize 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, recuperate, spend time with friends, have a relaxing meal, and just enjoy being alive. Sunday then becomes the day to honor Christ and remember His resurrection. It becomes a time to start the week by giving the first few hours of the week to God, sort of the first fruits of our time – of our week.

    Saturday, the seventh day of the week, becomes my day of rest. Sunday, the first day of the week, becomes a time to worship God and start the week right. This idea might sound radical for some, but it can serve as a test of our trust in the Lord and His provision. As Psalm 127:2 assures us, It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.”

    Practically speaking, I often start my work week on Sunday afternoon or evening, planning the week and getting a few things ready for Monday morning. That makes sense for me, realizing I have rested on Saturday and devoted the first few hours of the week to the Lord. Then it becomes time to work until the next Saturday, the true Sabbath in terms of getting rest, preparing mentally, physically, and spiritually for a new week.

    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. Do you normally manage to get enough rest despite the many workplace demands you encounter? What steps do you take to avoid having your work control your attention and schedule seven days a week?

     

    1. How do you respond to the concept of observing and maintaining a true Sabbath within the context of your work week?

     

    1. Do you agree with the idea that God instituted the Sabbath observance not as an arbitrary, rigid regulation, but rather as a practical way to ensure we receive the rest we need? Explain your answer.

     

    1. What if you have a job – such as a medical practitioner, a law enforcement officer, or a restaurant worker – when you would be required to work on a Saturday or a Sunday, or both? How could you still ensure that you receive the Sabbath rest you require?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about this subject, consider the following passages: Exodus 23:10-12, 31:14-16; Proverbs 3:24; Ecclesiastes 2:23, 5:12; Hebrews 4:4-11

  6. The Gift Of A Teachable Spirit

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    December 4, 2017 – Rick Boxx   My friend, Larry, was being interviewed for a position to run the operations of a large, privately held, family business. The owners said they also wanted him to mentor the CEO’s son, with the intent that the young man would one day preside over the corporation.

    During the interview, the executive’s son pointedly asked Larry, “Can you train me to eventually lead this organization?” Larry responded honestly, “That is up to you. If you have a teachable spirit, I can train you to run this business.” Apparently, the company ownership liked the response, because Larry got the job.

    The world of business is littered with the failures of men and women that had great potential – possessing the intelligence and skill sets to perform well in their jobs, yet lacking one important quality: Teachability. When someone is unwilling to learn, assuming they already know everything there is to know, or acting obstinate and refusing to receive much-needed, well-intended instruction, predictably their likelihood of success is very low.

    This applies to mentoring relationships as well. A mentor can only help the person he or she is mentoring if that individual is receptive to the insights and experience the mentor wishes to offer. Someone that is unwilling to learn, even if it means humbling oneself enough to be corrected as well as instructed, is poor leadership material.

    The Bible speaks about this often, especially in the book of Proverbs. For instance, Proverbs 9:8 says, “Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you, reprove a wise man and he will love you.” Many people, for whatever reason, become “stiff-necked” when someone attempts to teach them. Someone that is teachable, however, remains receptive to what they can learn from others, even their peers.

    Another passage states, “He who heeds discipline shows the way to life, but whoever ignores correction leads others astray” (Proverbs 10:17). A teachable person appreciates learning about how to improve and overcome weaknesses. Yet another verse points out a desire to learn reflects growing wisdom: “Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin” (Proverbs 10:15).

    Being teachable is a characteristic of established leaders, as well younger people striving to advance in their careers. One familiar verse describes requirements for leadership: “Now the overseer is to be above reproach, faithful to his wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach” (1 Timothy 3:2). However, a different translation of the same passage expresses it this way: “Therefore, an elder must be blameless…stable, sensible, respectable, hospitable to strangers, and teachable.”

    One more passage offers a similar sentiment: Which of you is a wise and well-instructed man? Let him prove it by a right life with conduct guided by a wisely teachable spirit” (James 3:13).

    When looking for younger leaders in whom to invest your time, or to cultivate for future leadership, first look for those with a teachable spirit. Your investment of time and energy will prove to be far more fruitful. At the same time, we should never lose sight of the importance of remaining teachable ourselves. We are never too old, or too accomplished, to learn.

    Copyright 2017, 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 new book, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. How would you describe someone with a teachable spirit?

     

    1. Give an example of someone you consider to be very teachable? Can you think of any leaders you are associated with who possess that trait? What about yourself – are you a teachable person?

     

    1. In this discussion of teachability, some related traits are mentioned, including wisdom and humility. Why do you think these would be significant for maintaining a teachable spirit?

     

    1. The idea also is presented that someone who is not teachable is a fool. Do you agree, or do you think such a judgment is too harsh? 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, 3:13-15, 9:9-10, 14:6,8, 15:31, 16:21, 19:8;
    Colossians 1:28-29, 3:16

  7. Working With People When It Is Difficult

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    November 27, 2017 – Mike Reading   Most of us spend more time at work than we do any other place. There we must interact with people to get tasks done, support coworkers, satisfy customers, and make contributions toward reaching organizational goals. Not all people, however, are easy to work with.

    Yet Jesus Christ tells us that to love God necessarily also means to love our neighbor — even those we would consider more like enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). And the quality of love He calls us to extend to our neighbor is radical: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). To love someone the way we love ourselves essentially means our attempt to address the needs of others with the same sense of urgency and tenacity with which we seek to meet our own needs.

    Jesus modeled this love for us throughout His ministry, and ultimately on the cross. He understood more than anybody the cost He was asking us to pay in order to love people to the degree with which we love ourselves: “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour?’ No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour” (John 12:27).

    So how can we practice loving people, especially when it is difficult? Consider these two practices the next time you find yourself in such a challenging position:

    Look Inward First. It takes courage to look within ourselves first when faced with conflict. In high-pressure situations, many people look outward. They find reasons outside of themselves for their problems. They blame others or the situation, and look for excuses. However, the Lord asks us to look inward. We are to take personal responsibility for what is happening and what needs to be done, even when circumstances or other people clearly play a definitive role.

    When faced with difficult situations and people, routinely ask yourself, “What is my part in creating the situation, and what do I, personally, need to do about it?” The apostle Paul modeled such behavior when dealing with conflicts within the Church. Early in Paul’s writings, he said he considered himself, “the least of the apostles and [I] do not even deserve to be called an apostle …” (1 Corinthians 15:19). Later in his writings, Paul referred to himself as the chief of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15). The apostle had keen self-awareness. Knowing ourselves enables us to make conscious, intentional choices about how we respond to people and situations.

    Work with Compassion. Compassion can be defined as “empathy in action.” Being open to others enables us to face tough times with creativity and resilience. Empathy enables us to connect with people. It helps us get things done, and to deal with stress and the sacrifices inherent in leadership in powerful, effective ways. We are called to care enough to want to learn about other people, feel what they feel, see the world the way they do, and then do something with what we have learned.

    The most challenging part about working with compassion is that we cannot assume or expect an equal exchange of compassion to be given to us. Compassion means giving selflessly. We find the capacity for compassion in Jesus, who said on the cross, while looking at the people who were crucifying Him, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). What an amazing request!

    Copyright 2017, Workmatters. Mike Reading is Director of Workmatters Institute, a marketplace ministry that equips young professionals to develop a Christ-centric passion for work. He holds a BS degree from Ouachita Baptist University, an MA in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a DTL (Doctorate of Transformational Leadership) from Bakke Graduate University. To learn more about Workmatters, visit workmatters.org.

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Who are those people in your workplace you find most difficult to love?

     

    1. What would it look like if you strived to meet their needs this week with the same energy you use to meet your own?

     

    1. Think back to a recent conflict. Look inward and ask yourself, “What was my part in creating the situation? What do I need to do about it now?”

     

    1. If you were to empathize and seek to understand the other person’s experience with that conflict, what would you have done differently to show compassion?

     

    NOTE: If you have a Bible and would like to read more about principles it presents, consider the following passages:    Luke 10:25-37; Matthew 5:43-48, 25:31-46

  8. Motivation – And Thankfulness

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    November 20, 2017 – Robert J. Tamasy   When was the last time you heard a motivational talk? How did you react to it? Did it fill you with enthusiasm and inspiration? Did you find yourself filled with adrenalin, ready to take on the world?

    Years ago, I was invited to attend a multi-level sales meeting when several men and women took the stage, speaking glowingly about their product and declaring how successful they had become. Looking around the room, I saw many of the attendees becoming fired up. They were so excited, I think some of them didn’t use the doors to leave – they seemed ready to run through walls.

    I was not among them, but could understand the reaction. The stories they heard sounded convincing, and very motivating. The problem is, that kind of motivation rarely lasts. The emotional peaks it produces quickly fade as people return to the “valley” of the everyday workplace and its challenges.

    How, then, can we find the motivation we need to not only establish and start pursuing worthwhile goals, but also to sustain the effort, persevering in the face of obstacles, setbacks and discouragement? A sad reality is that many people have the capacity to start well, whether embarking on a new career, starting a business, or taking on higher levels of responsibility and authority. But relatively few are able to stick with it to bring into fulfillment their lofty objectives. Where can we find the much-needed motivation?

    Soon Americans and people in some other parts of the world will hold an annual observance called Thanksgiving Day. I would suggest, at least for those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ, part of our motivation should be thankfulness. Thankfulness for God’s love, for what He has done for us, and for the privilege of being participants in the work He is doing around the world.

    Here are some of the sources of thankful motivation we find recorded in the Bible:

    Motivated by thankfulness for God’s love. The Scriptures teach we have been chosen to become members of God’s eternal family by His unconditional love. It also says the Spirit of Jesus Christ lives in every believer, empowering us to love others as He has loved us. As the apostle Paul wrote, “For Christ’s love compels us” (2 Corinthians 5:14).

    Motivated by being thankful for God’s calling. One of the amazing statements in the Bible is God wants us to serve as “instruments of righteousness” (Romans 6:13), people He uses to demonstrate and express His truths. “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

    Motivated to share it with others. Once we comprehend what God has done for us, and what a genuine relationship with Him offers, we should find ourselves motivated to share what the Bible calls the “good news of Jesus Christ” with others. “If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you…because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” (2 Corinthians 5:13-15). 

    © 2017. 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. Have you ever heard a motivational speech, listened to a recorded motivational message or read a motivational book? How long did the inspiration you received from that last? Why does external motivation often disappear after a short period of time?

     

    1. Do you agree that thankfulness can be a source of enduring motivation? Explain your answer.

     

    1. Whether you are preparing to celebrate a formal Thanksgiving Day or not, what are some of the things you are thankful for today?

     

    1. How should thankfulness to God – for what He has done in your life and continues to do – serve as motivation as you approach every day in the workplace? What are some of the challenges in maintaining this kind of motivation?

     

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

    Psalm 100:1-5; Colossians 2:7, 3:16-17; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Hebrews 12:28-29

  9. The Challenge Of Knowing When To Evacuate

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    November 13, 2017 – Jim Mathis   It is hard not to be moved emotionally when hearing and seeing reports of catastrophic flooding, whether it be on the Texas Gulf coast or Florida in the United States, as we have seen in recent months, in Italy, Indonesia, or India. Images we see of homes destroyed and families torn apart by devastation leave us feeling sad and helpless.

    After Hurricane Harvey struck the low-lying region of Houston, Texas, I talked with a friend living there who said he and his family were dry, but the property their house was sitting on had turned into an island. They were surrounded by feet of water. When disasters like these occur, I wonder about my response, as well as what my level of preparedness would be for myself and family, should a similar calamity occur in our area. At what point does a person determine to stay and persevere, and when do they make the decision to evacuate and seek safety elsewhere?

    This question is both practical and metaphorical. It can apply to natural calamities, or the adversities we encounter in everyday life and work. Our society puts emphasis on perseverance, of being steadfast and strong in the face of disaster. However, there is not a lot of talk about recognizing when to flee, close a business, or evacuate the area.

    One definition of wisdom borrows from the old card-playing adage: “Know when to hold them, and know when to fold them.” In other words, when to keep playing – and when to quit. The history of business is littered with the names of companies that held onto a losing hand too long. Eastman Kodak, Montgomery Ward department stores and Borders Books are just a few. All stood firm, clinging to their cultures and practices, even as the tides of change arose around them. Eventually they succumbed to this “flood.”

    Whether we are leading a company, or trying to build a successful career, we should take such high-profile failures as warnings. In the face of a severe storm, whether natural threats – hurricanes, tornados, floods, or forest fires – or metaphorical ones such as a job that is not working out, an unprofitable product line, or living in an economically depressed area, do we know the trigger point? Are we able to recognize when we should decide, “It is time to go. I cannot wait any longer. I am out of here”?

    Knowing when to act in a way that leads to the best outcome is a sign of wisdom. Here are principles from the Bible on how to find the necessary wisdom:

    Know where to put your confidence. Sometimes a storm is a test to reveal where your trust is – in your own ability, or in God. He can guide us through adversities that we think are insurmountable. “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).

    Do not fear trying something new. The Scriptures offer numerous accounts of people who were led by God to leave their comfort zones and do drastically new things. Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Ruth and Daniel are just some of the Old Testament examples. Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland(Isaiah 43:18-19).

    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 facing any “storms” in your life today, whether in relation to your work, or perhaps something in your personal life? How are you dealing with it?

     

    1. Have you encountered times when you struggled with whether to persevere and work through a complex dilemma or to “evacuate,” realizing that to remain would leave your future in jeopardy? Explain how you addressed the situation – and what was the outcome.

     

    1. Reading business reports, almost every day we see examples of companies trying to survive in a continually changing marketplace. What can we learn from the failures of once-highly successful enterprises like Eastman Kodak, Montgomery Ward, or others?

     

    1. What is your first reaction when you confront adversity, when an unexpected “storm” arises? Where are you placing your trust? And do you find the idea of leaving and trying a new thing too intimidating to consider? Explain your answer.

     

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

     Psalm 37:4-5; Ecclesiastes 1:9-10; Isaiah 41:10; Mark 2:21-22; 1 Peter 4:12

  10. Restrain Your Lips – You Might Be Rewarded

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    November 6, 2017 – Rick Boxx  There is an old American saying, “Loose lips sink ships.” A British equivalent, “Careless talk costs lives,” carried the same meaning – to beware of unguarded talk. These slogans during World War II were used to warn against discussing ship movements or unintentionally leaking vital information to spies. No sense letting the enemy know your plans.

    In the business and professional world, we do not typically regard ourselves as engaging in “war,” but the principle still applies: Careless, poorly considered words can be very damaging. “Loose lips” can ruin friendships, destroy customer relationships, and transform near-success into failure.

    Take Don, for example. He had formed a partnership with a close friend. Unfortunately, these two men had a serious dispute, and Don left the business angry, hurt, and suffered a substantial financial loss through no fault of his own.

    He considered suing his former partner, and wrestled with the temptation to disparage him when the right occasion presented itself. After all, Don had been wronged and he felt justice should be served. However, after much prayer – and the counsel of trusted friends – rather than seeking his own revenge, Don chose to honor God. He maintained contact with the former partner and demonstrated to him, in both word and deed, the unconditional love of Jesus Christ every time an opportunity arose.

    Don also chose to restrain himself from speaking poorly about his one-time business associate to others. About a year later, God restored the friendship, along with the partnership. Because he had refrained from speaking negatively about his partner, there was no need for damage control, no unnecessary wounds to heal.

    This is why Bible passages like Proverbs 10:19 are so powerful and useful. It teaches, “When there are many words, transgression is unavoidable, but he who restrains his lips is wise.” One way of applying this admonition is that if someone has hurt us, it would be good to take a long-term view and restrain our lips. We never know what the future brings. Here are some other Scripture passages to consider:

    The tongue, tough to tame. Just as a small bit controls a horse, or a rudder guides a large ship, how we use our tongue affects the course of our lives. “…the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue is also a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body…” (James 3:5-6).

    An instrument for either good or evil. Whether in a business meeting, a private conversation, or at a podium before many people, the tongue can serve as a tool for healing or a weapon for destruction. “The lips of the righteous know what is fitting, but the mouth of the wicked only what is perverse” (10:32). “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).

    Our use of words can be to our benefit, or for our harm. If cautious about what we say and how we say it, a day can go smoothly. If we speak unwisely and impulsively, a good day can quickly be ruined. “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3). 

    Copyright 2017, 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 new book, Unconventional Business, provides “Five Keys to Growing a Business God’s Way.”

     

    Reflection/Discussion Questions

    1. Have you ever heard the phrase, “Loose lips sink ships,” “Careless talk costs lives,” or something similar? What does it mean to you?

     

    1. What do you think of the example of Don, who overcame the temptation to demean his former partner, even though he could have justified what he was saying because of the wrongs he had suffered?

     

    1. How difficult is it to avoid lashing out toward others when we feel they have caused us harm or we have been treated unfairly?

     

    1. In the example of Don and his partner, the friendship and business relationship eventually were restored. What if we suffer unjustly, but do not experience such a “happy ending” – does this mean our determination not to strike back in vengeance, not to speak ill of the offending person(s), was ill-advised? Why or why not?

     

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

    Proverbs 4:24, 10:20-21, 11:12, 12:13-14, 13:13, 15:2,7,28; James 3:3-12