BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for March, 2005

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

LEARNING TEAMWORK FROM A FLOCK OF GEESE

As strange as it may seem, we can learn from a flock of geese how a team can work together in accomplishing the same objectives as an individual, but with more efficiency. Consider:

Each member is responsible for getting itself to wherever the flock is going: Each member looks to itself not the leader to determine what to do.

"The price of greatness is responsibility."

Winston Churchill

Every member knows the direction of the flock. Sharing the common direction makes assuming the leadership role easier.

"Also in Judah the hand of God was on the people to give them unity of mind to carry out what the king and his officials had ordered, following the word of the Lord

." (2 Chron. 30:12)

Every member is willing to assume leadership when the flock needs it. When the lead goose gets tired, a more energetic goose from back in the pack assumes the leadership position. This allows the flock to maintain the fastest pace possible.

"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things."

Niccolo Machiavelli

Followers encourage leaders. Members honk from the rear to encourage leaders to maintain a fast pace.

"Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you"

(Heb. 13:17)

Members look after each other, helping all members achieve the goal. If a wounded goose goes down, two geese follow it and protect and feed it until it either recovers or dies.

"Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ."

(Gal. 6:2)

When the nature of the work changes, the geese reorganize themselves for the best results. They fly in a "V," land in waves and feed in fours.

"Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest."

(Pro. 6:6-8)

+ Adapted from The Will to Lead: Managing with Courage and Conviction in the Age of Uncertainty, by Neil H. Snyder and Angela P. Clontz (Irwin Professional Publishing); Scripture and quotes added.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

REKINDLING YOUR CAREER

There are times when the passion for our work and the accomplishment of our dreams turn into tired warmed over potatoes.

Warm Coke without fizz. This is not Gods idea of how we are to experience our work: "A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This is from the hand of God." (Ecc. 2:24 – selected) When the career deteriorates into a job its time to step back and re-evaluate. Its time to take stock.

Below are a few steps you might find helpful in rethinking and rekindling your career

:+

Reflect on the Past

: God intends for us to return to our past as we recall his hand on our lives: "[Joshua] said to them. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever." (Jos. 4:5-7 – selected) (See Deut. 6:10-12 )

Therefore, go back in your memory from childhood on and recall the high points that brought you great joy. Bring to mind the victories and the proud moments of achievement. Recollect the transitions of your past; the times when things fundamentally changed for you. What were the reoccurring themes? What values remained constant throughout? Where have you seen the hand of God on your life? How did he demonstrate his faithfulness to you?

Now ask what has changed at work? Or in your life? Are you in fact living out your values? Are your values and that of your company congruent or at variance with each other? Are you still energized by the vision you once had relative to your future? If not, what has changed? And what needs to change?

Define Your Principles for Life

: What are your core values as it relates to your walk with God, family, relationships, work, physical health, etc? What do you believe God intends for you to do? List the several principles that guide you in your life. Do you indeed live by them or just verbalize them? If there is a gap between your ideals and reality, what needs to change? "Be wise: make the most of every opportunity you have for doing good. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to find out and do whatever the Lord wants you to." (Eph. 5:15-17 Living – Selected)

Extend Your Horizons

: As you look ahead, understanding Gods mandate on your life, what would you like to realize in the future? You might consider listing a dozen or so things you would like to accomplish or experience in the future. In making the list think about what you would like to achieve before you die. Do you have crippling fears that could thwart you? Ask what is significant and eternal? Paul mentioned the fact that God has given us all things to enjoy (along with a few qualifiers. See 1 Tim. 6:17-19) What would you like to enjoy?

Envision the Future

: Picture yourself 15 years from now. What would you like to be doing? What significant accomplishments are yet to be realized? Whom would you like to be around? Whom would you like to influence? Be sure to make your vision, dreams, or desires big enough to excite and energize you!

+Key ideas drawn from "Tools for Reflection", Harvard Business Review, April 2002, pages 92,93

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

ENEMIES OF INTIMACY WITH CHRIST

Your Enemy, Satan, is perfectly happy to have you busily engaged in "Christian" activity as long as it keeps you from sustaining an intimate relationship with Christ. You see, he knows that you and I can confuse activity with fruitfulness. He is also aware that the condition of fruitfulness is intimacy with Christ: Jesus: "It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful. For the plain facts is that apart from me you can do nothing." (Jn. 15:5 Phillips Trans.)

Sowhat are some of the enemies of intimacy with Christ

? What will keep you from developing a fruitful ministry that will stand the test of Gods consuming fire of evaluation on that Day? (I Cor. 3:10-15). (See Rom 2:1,16; 2 Thes. 1:7-10; 2 Tim. 18; 2 Pet. 3:10; Rev. 20:4)

Complacency

: Cultivating a kind of know it all, "been there, done that" attitude. The wonder of God and his mysterious working dry up into a stale familiarity. Surely the root of complacency is pride: Assuming we have climbed the mountain and there are no more peaks to surmount. Jesus: "You have forsaken your first loveSo, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth." God: "I hate pride and arrogance" (Rev. 2:4b; 3:16; Prov. 8:13a) (See Jer. 2:2; Mt. 24:12)

Professionalism

: Allowing preparation for ministry responsibilities to take precedent over my quest to spend time with God. The accomplishment of the mission has usurped priority over intimacy with the Captain of the mission. "Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ " (Matt. 7:22,23) (See Psa. 5:5; 6:8; Matt. 25:41; Luke 13:25,27; Rev. 22:15)

Rationalization

: Loosing ones radical commitment to the word of God and sensitivity to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Expecting a higher standard of others than I demand of myself, (which, by the way, usually degenerates into secretly pandering myself with comfort, the love of money, and sensuality). Jesus: "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them." (Lk. 11:46b)

Ministry demands

: Allowing the good to become the enemy of the best. Lets admit it: There is a certain addiction to the ministry. People need us. We are put on a pedestal. We have the answers. We love the rush of it all. The subtitle tendency is to allow the ministry to serve as an escape from facing the true inner problem of spiritual dry rot. "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean". (Matt. 23:27)

Success/pride

: Success always runs the risk of dulling us into a jaded sense of reality because we become blinded by our messaged pride. How many truly successful people do you know who are genuinely humble? Very few I suspect. Paul stated, "God forbid that I boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Gal. 6:14)

QUESTION:

Is it time for you to stop? To reevaluate? And then determine once again that your main mission in life is to intimately know Jesus Christ? Perhaps it is time to ask God which activities are really sanctioned by Him, and then have the courage to axe the ones that are not, so that you can get back to your first priority of intimacy with Christ.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

JUST HOW TEACHABLE ARE YOU?

To determine the answer, ask yourself these questions:

1. Do I normally think my ideas concerning issues are the best?

2. What am I doing to improve the accuracy of my self-image? For example, do I actively seek objective feedback or evaluation by people I respect spiritually? People who are willing to risk telling me what I need to hear.

3. Do I seek counsel (and honestly evaluate it) before making significant decisions?

4. Is my Bible study application-orientated or information-orientated?

5. Do I have a questioning mind? Do I seek to learn better ways of doing things?

6. Am I reading quality material that challenges, enriches and expands my life?

7. When was the last time someone made a personal observation about my life which resulted in a corrective change? Did I express to him my appreciation for his observation? Or did I harbor resentment, or seek to justify myself?

8. Am I a good listener or do I normally spend the "listening" time thinking of what Im going to say next?

9. Am I a careful observer of life, seeking to learn from the lives of others? Do I "connect the dots" as to the causes and effects in peoples lives? Or do I just go along, never asking the question, "why?"

10. Do I look to people who are in a position to realistically evaluate my walk with God for spiritual counseling and mentoring?

By definition, a disciple of Christ is a learner, or a pupil. "A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher." (Lk. 6:40) It is impossible to be a disciple of Christ and possess an unteachable spirit!

The Psalmist cried out, "Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths," and King Solomon reminded us that " a poor, yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction." (Psa. 25:4, Ecc. 4:13 NASB)

QUESTION:

Into which category do you fall? That of an old foolish king? Or of a wise kid?

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

DELIVERANCE FROM THE LIFE OF SELF

Most of our lives are consumed with grasping for something that will satisfy our inner longings. God understands that cry of the human breast and offers to fill the vacancy with Himselfif we will but let him:

"[God] satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’sYou would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy youBlessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts!We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple."

(Psa. 103:5; 81:16b; 65:4)

We are only delivered from the prison of self when God in fact becomes our satisfaction. It is then that we are on the path toward giving our lives away for others. One prayer we might utter is "Jesus, deliver me from

the desire of being loved;

the desire of being honored;

the desire of being praised;

the desire of being preferred to others;

the desire of being consulted;

the desire of being approved;

the fear of being humiliated;

the fear of being despised;

the fear of suffering rebuke;

the fear of being forgotten;

the fear of being wrong;

the fear of being suspected.

"And Jesus, grant me the grace to desire that

others might be loved more than I;

others might be esteemed more than I;

in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I decrease;

others may be chosen and I set aside;

others may be praised and I unnoticed;

others may be preferred to me in everything;

others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should."+

"Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them notDo nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselvesEach of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others"

(Jer. 45:5a; Phil. 2:3,4)

+Author unknown