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Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for February, 2016

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

SEVEN CREATIVE TENSIONS BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONALS FACE IN THE MARKET PLACE (Part #5) 1

Tension 5 : Family and work:

Here’s the quandary : How do I fulfill the Scriptural responsibilities of family life and still succeed in my professional life when the sum of the demands and responsibilities in both arenas often appears to be humanly impossible? Something has to give.

Jesus cautioned us, What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul…” (Matt. 16:26a)?

After interviewing innumerable business executives, author Laura Nash (“Believers in Business”) concluded, “When it comes down to the work-family balance, family has been terminally put on hold by the successful executive devoted to his business. 2

My father was the CEO of a global shipping company which dominated his life 24/7. Tragically, he burned through two marriages. My sister and mother died prematurely – probably suicide. The damage to my sister’s offspring was incalculable.

Harvard psychiatrist Armand Nicholi has gathered data suggesting that the absence of the father is particularly damaging to sons, who may not display any ill effect until late in their teen years. 3 Certainly as a boy, I acutely felt the adverse effects of Dad’s preoccupation with business.

In my mid-40’s I was in a leadership position in my work that required a great deal of time away from home. Returning home from a trip one day, it occurred to me that I was repeating my father’s patterns. Shortly thereafter I resigned my job and took a position with immeasurably less status. Today, by God’s grace my two children and their spouses are all walking with God. From my vantage point in these senior years, I am convinced that choosing family values over prestige was indeed the wise choice.

We have to ask the question as to what is right in light of eternity. If being top banana comes at the price of a strained marriage, or running the risk of losing our kids, is it worth it? Obviously not.

As followers of Christ we are compelled to make choices that do not violate biblical directives on parenting, marriage, and provision for the family. (See Deu. 6:1-3; Eph. 5:21-33; 6:1-4; I Tim. 5:8; Col. 3:18-21; Tit. 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1-11)

Pat Morley offers, “Why not prioritize everything we do on the basis of who’s going to cry at our funeral?” 4 I would ask the question, “In light of eternity, what is really important?” Personally I am sobered by the truth in I Corinthians 3:10-14 as a measuring stick of what God deems important and how we will be judged accordingly.

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

R. Dwight Hill

1In this series, we are drawing heavily from Dr. Laura Nash’s book, Believers in Business,”Thomas Nelson, Publishers 1982, 2. Ibid 194,3ibid 213, 4ibid 212 –

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

SEVEN CREATIVE TENSIONS BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONALS FACE IN THE MARKET PLACE (Part #4) 1

Tension 4 : Humility and the Ego of success:

Here’s the conundrum : “How can a person who is so good at ‘winning’ not see himself as superior to others? Isn’t it hypocritical for a man who makes over a million dollars a year, spending the vast majority of his time on business matters that affects hundreds of thousands of lives, to claim that all of what he does is ‘nothing?’”2

“On the one hand, self-reliance, like power, is a plus in that it helps CEOs to set and accomplish their economic objectives, to be innovative, and to channel the commitment of others to a common purpose in the organization…Self-reliance can also tempt CEOs to be too confident of their own judgment. They can fail to consult others, or they can be reluctant to admit their own mistakes. In seeing themselves as separate from the crowd, self-reliant CEOs can also see themselves as being above it.” 3

Tom Jones, former CEO of Epsilon, stated, “Everything is built to reinforce the ego of the CEO. The wallet full of platinum cards, the ‘other’ entrance to the building. Everything implies you’re more important than everyone else. You get to believe it.4 It might prove useful for top executives to remind themselves that they are made in the image of God, but are not confuse themselves with being God. 5

When pride raises its ugly head, we would do well to consider the example of Jesus: “… You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich ” (2 Cor. 8:9). (See Isa. 53:2; Matt. 8:20; 20:28; Lk. 9:56; Phil. 2:5-8)

Other key Scriptures that drive home the importance of practicing humility in the face of success:

If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else ” (Gal. 6:3, 4).

… Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you “ (Rom. 12:3b). (See Deut 8:11-14, 18; 2 Chron. 26:1-16; Isa. 66:2; Matt. 20:16; I Cor. 1:26-30)

Business executive Jack Willome states, “The only safeguard for trusting any one of us to hold power is for that person to grant permission to be held accountable. To the extent that I avoid accountability, I’m going to get zapped, because I will inevitably abuse whatever power is given to me if left to my own devices.” 6 Chuck Swindoll tartly reminds us that we all need someone in our lives who loves us, but is not impressed with us. The inference is that such a person will care enough to confront us when pride is getting the upper hand.

CHALLENGE : God promises us, “This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word…I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite” (Isa. 66:2b; 57:15b). Take a few minutes to ask God…and your spouse, if your life reflects the humility described in these passages. If the answer is “no,” carve out sometime soon to spend with God in soul searching and repentance. Why? Because “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Jms. 4:6).

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

R. Dwight Hill

1In this series, we are drawing heavily from Dr. Laura Nash’s book, Believers in Business,”Thomas Nelson, Publishers 1982. 2ibid 164, 3ibid173, 4ibid175, 5ibid 165, 6ibid 174.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

SEVEN CREATIVE TENSIONS BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONALS FACE IN THE MARKET PLACE (Part #3) 1

Tension 3: People Needs and Profit Obligations :

A close friend of mine with a bleeding heart for the down and out almost sank his company by hiring highly needy, incompetent people. Painfully, he had to decide whether he was called to run a rescue mission or a for profit company.

“The tensions in carrying out a philosophy of employment empowerment are clear: Christianity requires unconditional and redemptive love. Fiduciary obligations and the needs of the corporations’ internal society require a disciplined view to the bottom line as well…It is the paradoxical nature of Christian thought itself that intervenes and helps the seeker walk a tight course between serving employees and being subservient to financial necessities.” 2

Pat Morley seems to have found a balance between these two tensions in his corporate mission statement: (1) Create a customer by solving client problems, (2) Earn a profit, (3) Provide our people – our associates – with an opportunity to fully express their potential.” 3

Clearly the Scriptures guide us on the treatment of others: “… In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you… And masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Do not threaten them, since you know that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him ” (Matt. 7:12b; Eph. 6:9). (See Deut. 24:15, 16; Job 31:13-15; Jer. 22:1; Col. 4:1)

Here is how several business leaders addressed the idea of serving the needs of their employees:

Numerous CEO’s interviewed by Dr. Laura Nash 1 stressed the importance of “empowerment , dignity, and the actualization of human potential [that] validates CEO’s application of the parable of the good steward from the Gospel of Luke: Changing from the stewardship of things to the stewardship of lives.” 4 (See Lk. 16:1 – 12; 19:15-19; 1 Cor. 4:2; Tit. 1:7; 1 Pet. 4:10) Others felt the need “to personally treat employees as human beings rather than as cogs in a money machine (the attitude), and to dignify employees by providing them opportunities to develop skills to accomplish meaningful jobs (the action)”. 5

Jack Turpin, former chairman of Hall-Mark Electronics: “ We have a responsibility as heads of companies to make sure people grow. I hope not just in their career, but in their relationship with God, hopefully in their relationship with Christ, and in their career and their family .” 6

CHALLENGE :To manage the two tensions, and to satisfy biblical imperatives, I would suggest business leaders follow James’ sage advice: “ If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (Jms. 1:5). He will know he is on track, wisdom wise, when the culture in his company mirrors the values found in James 3:17.

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

R. Dwight Hill

1In this series, we will be drawing heavily from Dr. Laura Nash’s book, Believers in Business,”Thomas Nelson, Publishers 1982 – 2Ibid, p.133; 3Ibid p. 127; 4Ibid p. 132; 5Ibid p. 131; 6Ibid p. 136 –

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

SEVEN CREATIVE TENSIONS BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONALS FACE IN THE MARKET PLACE (Part #2) 1

Tension 2: Love and the Competitive Drive :

“In many markets, my increase in share is another’s loss. My contract or product introduction depends on getting there before the other person, whose own welfare declines as a result. In fact, many managers believe that the only way to motivate business victory is to promote an enemy attitude rather than feelings of benevolence.” 2

So, how do Christian business leaders who are admonished to love their neighbors as themselves and turn the other cheek, deal with the bloodthirsty ambition necessary to reach the top? Many who were interviewed by Laura Nash (“Believers in Business”) “ asserted that if that is what it takes to compete, they’d rather fail. Several were cited for their notable lack of shark like qualities” such as Raytheon’s Tom Phillips, as described by Allan Emery:

“He’s not a self-promoter…He’s a modest, humble, competent man. He’s gotten where he has through performance rather than through politics.” 3 (See Matt. 5:38-42; Lk. 10:29-37; Rom. 13:10; 15:2; Gal. 6:10)

Senior Chicago executive Jack Feldballe’s dilemma and resolution, “ I know what the legal obligation is, but what’s the ethical obligation from my set of ethics…We believe God works in a providential manner and is not at a distance. There is a sovereign God, so you have no choice but to be ethical.” Feldballe determined to go beyond his self-interest and take into account his competitors’ interests and welfare in terms of what was right for them and their business. 4 (See Phil. 2:3, 4; Gal. 5:15, 26; Jms. 3:14 – 16)

According to Ken Wessner, former chairman of Service Master, “ Here are two realities. One finger is the secular, rationalistic approach to the world, the other is Christian. One is orientated on self-interested motives. The other is oriented on love and service to God. You’re either here or there. You can’t be in both places. And depending on where you are, you approach things differently.” 5 Service Master’s statement of business philosophy is: (1) “to honor God,” (2) ”to help people develop,” (3) “to pursue excellence,” and (4) “to grow profitably.” 6

CONCLUSION : Aren’t the bottom line questions, (1) Who really owns the business, you or God? And (2), who truly is your provider, you or God? If God is the answer to these two questions, the pressure is off. As Peter Drucker stated, “You lose the anxiety of ownership and take on the responsibility of stewardship.”

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

R. Dwight Hill

1In this series, we will be drawing heavily from Dr. Laura Nash’s book, Believers in Business,”Thomas Nelson, Publishers 1982 2Ibid. 87,3Ibid p 113, 4Ibid, pgs 88 – 90, 5Ibid p 93, 6Ibid p 103 –