BETA

Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women

Archive for February, 1997

Wednesday, February 26, 1997

ON MAINTAINING AN “I M A G E”

Good Morning!

For the past year I have been personally meeting one-on-one with a man who has a reputation in the Christian community as a “SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIAN BUSINESSMAN.” 

I can remember on many occasions leaving our times together feeling God was wonderfully changing our lives, only to learn recently from outside sources that his marriage is in crisis, and his business practices are notoriously unethical and exploitative of others.

I have also become aware that sincere Christian friends have attempted to approach him over these issues only to be rebuffed by acrimonious, self-justification.

Yet in certain Christian circles this “SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIAN BUSINESSMAN” is known to be generous with his time and resources for the cause of Christ.

What is going on here? Why the contradictions? 

The issue is “IMAGE”: Here is a man who desperately wants to be viewed around town as a “SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIAN BUSINESSMAN”. Therefore:

maintaining a certain public image is more important than any serious quest for  holiness

By his actions, it has become obvious that he loves the “praise of man more than the praise of God.”  (Jn. 12:43)

In retrospect, what was lacking in our times together was:

  • BROKENNESS over sin:  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart…” (Psa. 51:17)
  • TRANSPARENCY over failings: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed…” (Jms. 5:16a)
  • SURRENDER of the mind and will to the Lordship of Christ and His word: “…We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ…Listen to the word, and...do what it says.”  (II Cor. 10:5; Jms. 1:22)

The fact is that God despises our efforts to impress others in order to garner their approval, since “that which is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” (Lk. 16:15b)

So, what motivates you: The pursuit of holiness or maintaining your public image?

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 19, 1997

OUR VALUES DETERMINE OUR PRIORITIES

Good Morning!

The other day I was interacting with a businessman in an attempt to motivate him to spend regular time with Christ.  In response, he proceeded to lament over how little time he had for  himself…that the pressures of  business were overwhelming, etc.etc.

Finally, I asked him, “Mel, if I were to give you $100 for every  morning you spent 10 minutes with God, would you find the time to  do it?

“No.” 
“Would you find the time if I gave you $200?”  
“No.”
$300?”
“Yes.”

“Mel…I think you have just illustrated the fact that OUR VALUES DETERMINE OUR PRIORITIES.” 

I then asked, “Mel, if  you had a serious  kidney disease where your very survival depended upon being on a dialysis machine every morning from 2:00 – 3:00 A. M., would you find the time to do it?”

“Yes.”

“Hmm…It sure sounds to me like OUR VALUES DETERMINE OUR  PRIORITIES!”

Mel, like the rest of us, need from time to time to be reminded that the purpose of the Cross was not to furnish us with a spiritual fire insurance policy, but to usher us into precious and intimate fellowship with Christ:

“God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.”  (ICor. 1:9)

Therefore, regular, time with Him — call it a “Quiet Time” if you please, is a must if we are to know Him intimately.

So can we say that if we are not spending consistent time with God, it is simply because we do not value it badly enough; that it is not a priority with us? After all, we now understand  that

OUR VALUES  DETERMINE OUR  PRIORITIES!

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 12, 1997

GOD’S RESPONSE TO PRIDE AND HUMILITY:

Good Morning!

From the 14th floor of my apartment I am looking out over the City of Singapore on an early morning as the sun peaks its way through the clouds.

Across the heavily trafficked road beneath me lies  a mud-soaked lot a city block in size that is under preparation for the building of a massive apartment complex.

Boxcar-type housing of clapboard construction dot the edges of the property where imported laborers live.  Like ants below, I can observe 2 or 3 of them as they pick their way through the mud while moving from one wood-framed living structure to the next. 

In juxtaposition to this mired lot lie high rise apartments 25 stories in height that are architecturally modern, and possessing a breathtaking view of the harbor.  The expensive cars parked below give evidence of easy affluence.

In my reading this morning from Isaiah 40, I was struck with the fact that God has great contempt for anything that smacks of man’s pride, while possessing limitless compassion for the weak and downtrodden of this earth:

  • He brings princes to nothing and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing…(He) sweeps them away like chaff.” (verses 23, 24)
  • He gathers the lambs in His arms, and carries them close to His heart; He gently leads those that have young…He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” (verses 11,29)

Appearances of course can be deceiving and only God knows the condition of the heart, as people of every station in life represent both the proud and the humble.

But one must admit that humility does not come easily when one possesses what the world esteems as status and success.

So, if you happen to be among the so-called ”successful” or “privileged” of this world, you may want to keep in mind God’s admonition:

“Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.” (Jer. 9:23, 24)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!

Wednesday, February 5, 1997

SUCCESS…BUT AT WHAT PRICE?

Good Morning!

During World War II, a friend’s father held office in London, returning occasionally to the United States to visit his family

During one of his  brief stays, his father noticed that he was  playing sandlot baseball without a mitt. So he promptly went out and purchased one. The only problem was that the mitt was right handed and his son was a lefty.

You guessed it:  A close bond did not exactly exist  between this father and his eight year old son. Imagine: A father not knowing whether his son was right or left handed!

In the business world, this dad was respected and recognized as a “success.” At home however, he was an abysmal failure, having sacrificed his family for his career.

Last night my wife and I dined with a couple whose twenty three year old daughter is being held by the authorities on felony charges. 

During the course of the meal, the father  (also a “successful” businessman) related  how he had sacrificed his children during their formative years for his career. To compensate for his failings, he and his wife routinely indulged  their offspring by catering to their slightest whimsical desires, while continually rescuing them from the consequences of any deviant behavior. 

The results? Agonized parents whose daughter views them with great disdain, while facing the strong  probability of  spending several years in jail.

SUCCESS…BUT AT WHAT PRICE?

May I ask you some questions?

  • Does your spouse feel you are spending adequate time with the children?
  • Are you aware that “quality” time with your  offspring rarely occurs without  the requisite “quantity” time?
  • Judging by the quality of your present emotional bond with your children, are you developing in them a healthy sense of self-worth, or do they feel by your emotional or physical absence that they are not worthy of your time?
  • If you are  blowing it with your kids, what  is the  core issue you are choosing to not deal with: Pride? Fear of failure? Greed? Or what?

Discipline (Literally: Instruct, correct, reform and reprove) your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death…A foolish son brings grief to his father and bitterness to the one who bore him.”  (Prov. 19:18;17:25)

 

My prayer is that you are having a great week!