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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for September, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

MEEKNESS IN THE MARKETPLACE – IS IT POSSIBLE?

Jesus stated, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5). How is it possible to even consider meekness in a highly competitive environment where a crucial leadership/management skill for success is the ability to motivate people to get things done? How is meekness possible in an atmosphere where gentleness is viewed as an inconsequential irritant that has no place in the hyper-competitive work place; where meekness is perceived as weak, groveling, passive-aggressive behavior; where the hard charger type A personality is held in high esteem?

It is instructive that three of the most powerful leaders in history were meek in spirit:

  • Jesus : “…I am meek and lowly in heart…Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:5b; 11:29b – NIV).
  • Moses : “…Moses himself was by far the meekest man on the face of the earth” (Num. 12:3 – NAB).
  • Paul , who viewed himself as the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15), admonished believers to, “… Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience…Let your gentleness be evident to all…” (Col. 3:12b; Phil. 4:5b). (See Psa. 18:35; 37:11; Isa. 40:11; Zech. 9:9; I Cor. 4:23; 2 Cor. 10:31; Gal. 5:22, 23; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:12; 1 Thess. 2:7; 1 Tim. 3:3; 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:25; Tit. 3:2; Heb. 5:2; Jms. 3:13, 17; 1 Pet. 5:6)

“Meekness” comes from the Greek word, praus and conveys the following meanings and suggests the following applications. The meek:

Own a quiet, humble, and gentle nature, coupled with a firm disposition in dealing with people.

Are free of arrogance and pushiness, resting in their knowledge of who they are in Christ.

Possess a blend of spiritual poise and strength (like a powerful animal that has learned to accept discipline).

Are people of great power who have learned to restrain themselves for the good of those who are weaker.

Acknowledge the weakness and vulnerability of others, empathizing with their struggles and failings.

Have profound respect for the dignity of others that refrains them from exercising coercive tactics.

Do not cave in to external pressures, especially when ethical issues are at stake.

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

TEN CHARACTERISTICS OF A DISCIPLE MAKER (Part #10 of 10)

#10 He is a skilled, disciplined and empathetic listener:

A common pattern in discipling is to run people through established curriculum, get them started in Scripture memory and a daily time alone with God. Before long they help them to systematically study the Bible and share their faith. The assumption is that these disciplines and the strength derived from them will facilitate their spiritual growth.

Well enough. But we need to keep in mind that we are not assembling cars on a conveyor belt, but dealing with wonderfully complex human beings with needs as varied as the all outdoors. We cannot begin to understand and help them at their deepest level of need without clear leading and insight from the Holy Spirit, and without skilled, disciplined, and empathetic listening. Note from the Scriptures:

  • He who answers before listening– that is his folly and his shame” (Prov. 18:13).
  • …Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires” (Jms. 1:19b, 20).
  • Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue” (Prov. 17:28).

The following three paragraphs encapsulate some of Steven Covey’s thoughts on the art and discipline of effective listening, gleaned from his bestseller, “ The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.” 1

We have a tendency to rush in and want to fix things for people. Thus, we err by not taking the time to really hear what is at the heart of their problem. It is imperative that we seek first to understand and then to be understood. People are slow to divulge their inner issues unless they feel we understand and care for them. This is a prerequisite to their divulging their secrets with us.

Empathetic listening is listening to understand and get inside another person’s frame of reference so that you see the world through their lens. The key to good judgment is understanding. By judging first, a person will never fully understand.

Most people do not listen with the intent to understand but to reply. They are either speaking or preparing to speak. They are filtering everything through their own paradigm, reading their autobiography into other people’s lives.

In a nutshell , skilled, disciplined and empathetic listeners Relax. Restrain their talking. Demonstrate their desire to listen with empathy. Ask questions. Analyze what the person is saying (and not saying). Pay attention to their body language. Remain objective. Put themselves in the other person’s shoes. Acknowledge the person’s feelings . Help them discover what they need to do.

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

1“The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”– Stephen R. Covey – Free Press, Pgs 235 – 260 –

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

TEN CHARACTERISTICS OF A DISCIPLE MAKER (Part #9 of 10)

#9 He manages his life and family well:

First he must manage himself like an Olympic contender who is operating on the world stage. Sloppy thinking, procrastination, half-heartedness, excuse-making, and a mediocre work ethic do not exist for the fruitful spiritual laborer. In a word, he is highly disciplined in mind and body:

“… We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ…I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (II Cor. 10:5b; I Cor. 9:28 – NLT).

Most business and professionals work in a culture hyped on a plethora of multiple choices in every direction that are moving at an increasingly accelerated pace. Germane to the market place culture are long hours, shifting market conditions, and incessant personnel problems. With globalization have come intensified worldwide competition, increased complexity and financial instability. Just to stay competitive demands herculean effort.

If he or she is to sustain their walk with God in this spiritually toxic environment, he or she will choose – with intense inner disciple – to heed St. Paul’s admonition to “make it [our] ambition to lead a quiet life…” (I Thess. 4:11a). Only in a sustained effort to focus and simplify one’s life will one be able to even think about carving out time to (1) cultivate and sustain a vital pattern of prayer and Bible intake, and (2) win the lost and disciple the saved.

Little wonder, is it not that Jesus cautioned us against being seduced by the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things [that] come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful” (Mk. 4:19b).

Second, he (husbands and fathers) must manage his household well . This is the primary proving ground for his qualification for ministry. If he does not know how to manage (lead, preside, have authority over) his home in a biblical fashion, he is unqualified to lead members of Christ’s body. (See Tit. 1:6; 1 Tim. 3:4, 5) The proof of his “success” is in his children: Are they under control “with all dignity?” His ability to produce children of this caliber testifies to the fact that his family is ordered, disciplined, and not in rebellion. His success at home prepares and validates him for a broader ministry. After all, his family is the first circle of the Great Commission (See Act. 1:8; Matt. 28:18-20).

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

TEN CHARACTERISTICS OF A DISCIPLE MAKER (Part #8 of 10)

#8 He is willing to suffer and persevere for Christ:

The day you choose to become proactively engaged in winning the lost and discipling the saved, the war with the Enemy heats up. Go ahead, attend church, sing in the choir; attend religious programs. No problem, because you are of little if any threat to the Enemy. He’s more than happy to keep you busy with religious activities. As an evangelist and discipler, you are entering a spiritual battle with the arch enemy of your soul. So brace yourself for his vicious attacks.

In studying the life of Paul, as it relates to his efforts to win the lost and disciple the saved, two broad ideas emerge:

#1 Paul understood from experience that suffering was generic to being a laborer for Christ :

  • “…We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death…” (2 Cor. 1:8b, 9a).
  • Are they servants of Christ? I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again ” (2 Cor. 11:23a, c.). (Jn. 15:18-20; Matt. 5:12, 13; See 2 Cor. 11:24-30; Phil. 1:28, 29; 2 Tim. 3:12)

  • Then some Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him outside the city, thinking he was dead. But after the disciples had gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city…Then they returned to Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. ‘We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,’ they said” (Act. 14:19, 20a 21, 22).

#2 Paul persevered through his suffering in bearing fruit, and challenged others to do the same:

No doubt Paul understood Jesus’ teaching, “… The seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop” (Lk. 8:15b). Clearly, Paul modeled and preached perseverance: We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (II Cor. 4:8-10; I Cor. 15:58). (See 2 Cor. 6:3-10; 12:15; 2 Tim. 4:6-8; Jms. 1:3, 4).

The marketplace is hostile to the values of the Lord Jesus. Little wonder that Jesus reminded us that “you cannot serve both God and Money” (Matt. 6:24b). So, when you choose to identify yourself with the Lord Jesus in the Machiavellian world of commerce, and you seek to evoke change in the people in that environment, expect the fulfillment of Jesus’ statement, All men will hate you because of me…” (Matt. 10:22). (See 2 Tim. 3:12)

QUESTION : Are you up to the challenge?

This week, may you experience His grace, peace, and protection.

R. Dwight Hill