Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for January, 2007

Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Now thats a challenge, is it not? Either we are regretting the past, or frantically racing toward the future, with little time or inclination of savoring the glorious now. We cant.  Theres too much to do. So we squander the moment for the illusive tomorrow that never arrives.

Jesus instructed us, "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.  (Matt. 6:34 Msg.)

But what does that look like? How do I do it? A prayerful look at Lina Sandells lovely hymn Day By Day may give us insight into how this is doable:

Day by day and with each passing moment, strength I find to meet my trials here;

Trusting in my Fathers wise bestowment, Ive no cause for worry or for fear.

He whose heart is kind beyond all measure gives unto each day what He deems best.

Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.

Every day the Lord Himself is near me with a special mercy for each hour;

All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me, He whose name is Counselor and Power.

The protection of His child and treasure is a charge that on Himself He laid;

As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure, this the pledge to me He made.

Help me then in every tribulation so to trust Thy promises, O Lord,

That I lose not faiths sweet consolation offered me within Thy holy word. 

Help me Lord, when toil and trouble meeting, eer to take, as from a fathers hand,

One by one, the days, the moments fleeting, till I reach the promised land.

Richard of Chichesters prayer may also assist us here: Day by day, O Lord, three things I pray:

To see Thee more clearly:  Lord, it is your supreme desire to reveal your glory to me. Is there any attitude or action I am taking that is clouding my vision of you?  Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, then the veil is taken away. Now, the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, he gives freedom. And all of us have had that veil removed so that we can be mirrors that brightly reflect the glory of the Lord. And as the Spirit of the Lord works within us, we become more and more like him and reflect his glory even more.  (II Cor. 3:16-18 NLT)

To love Thee more dearly:  Lord, loving you is the product of unrestrained surrender and obedience to your word and will. Is there any area of my life where I am refusing to relinquish control?  Those who obey my commandments are the ones who love me   (Jn. 14:21a)

To follow Thee more nearly: Lord, am I like Peter who lingered at a distance when he denied you?  Have I allowed any compromise to dampen my fervor to follow you?  "I remember the devotion of your youth, how as a bride you loved me and followed me through the desertYet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. (Jer. 2:2b; Rev. 2:4)

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


  The ability to readily see potential in a person

Several years ago a businessman, who had recently found Christ, attached himself to me and to the men I was mentoring.  I was, to be honest, a bit embarrassed by this brash non-conformist who went against the grain of almost every man with whom I was working.  But as I got to know this maverick, I discovered a beautiful tender heart for God. In his struggle with secret sin, he shared from his depths. Well, today he is being used of God in a manner I could not have imagined.

Paul took a young half-breed teen age lad and invested in him for the better part of two decades.  Tender in spirit, strongly influenced by two women in his youth, with a bent toward melancholy, Timothy was eons apart temperament wise from Paul, the warrior, pioneer. Yet Paul saw in this young man a future leader, which of course he became.

  Tolerance of mistakes, brashness, abrasiveness, and the like in order to see that potential develop

In my wild and high spirited youth, two Christian leaders responded to me differently. George, confused by my exuberance and non-conformist style, wrote me off as hopeless, while Rick loved me and invested deeply in my life, touching me at my very core.

David, while fleeing King Saul attracted around him a band the losers: All those who were in distress or in debt or discontented gathered around him, and he became their leader. About four hundred men were with him.  (1 Sam. 22:2)

Over the years, he was able to develop these unlikely men into mighty warriors, who became the very stronghold of his kingdom.  (See 2 Sam. 23:8-39)

  Flexibility in responding to people in circumstances

The tendency in mentoring is to clone others into our likeness as we run them down our track and interpret the will of God for them along the lines He has led us.  Secure mentors flex with circumstances.  They are not in a hurry. Nor do they force conformity. The reality is that people struggle with their marriages, get into debt, and simply have to learn some lessons in life the hard way.  In a word, your mentoree probably is not on your timetable as it relates to his development.  Secure mentors keep their cool and are willing to wait, flex and intercede, as God does His work in their lives. He sins who hastens with his feet. (Pro. 19:2b NKJ)

  Patience:  knowing that time and experience are needed for development

God, in choosing men, never seems to be in a rush.  Before commissioning Moses, the Lord orchestrated 40 years of tempering in the desert. He dealt similarly with newly converted Paul. From personal experience in mentoring men, I have found that almost always when I rush, I regret it later. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. (1 Tim. 5:22) (See 1 Tim. 3:6,10)

  Perspective:  having vision and ability to see down the road, and suggesting the next steps a mentoree needs to take

A few years ago, I attended a series of training seminars where I was a couple of decades older than most of the participants.  During the first lunch break I intrepidly asked one of the men who was considerably my junior, age-wise, if he cared to join me for lunch.  To my surprise he eagerly responded.  This pattern of keen response repeated itself throughout the seminars.  What I discovered is that many younger adults are starved for exposure to people their senior in order to glean from their wisdom and experience. Believe it or not, you have great wisdom, understanding and knowledge to impart to younger generations in helping them make the right decisions on the road ahead.

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers. (Prov. 24:3-6)

1  Adapted from Connecting Paul Stanley and Robert Clinton, 1992 NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Passionate people are endowed with intense feelings, deep seated emotions and ardent affections. Against all odds they drive toward the goal, and get things done by transforming obstacles into opportunities. They are the people who got us to the moon and Mars. Discovered penicillin. Completed the gnome project. Dreamed up robotics, and laser surgery. They delivered on their belief that you could get a package to anyone, anywhere in the U. S. within 24 hours. Passionate people created Disneyland, and built the Golden Gate Bridge.  And they are the unsung heroes who run orphanages in Cambodia, and dig out earthquake victims. And through their passion they one day will unlock the answer to cancer, world hunger and expediential global population growth. 

In your professional world of high achievers, the heroes are those can-do types who, against daunting odds figure out how to get the job done, and do it.  They solve the problem where others falter.  They create the opportunity where others see none. They visualize the future and passionately bring others along with them in turning dreams into reality. Passionate people are wonderfully endowed with fervor, obsession, excitement, enthusiasm, and zeal. Perhaps even a touch of eccentricity!

God loves passionate people!  But He has a problem. This rare slice of humanity is more often than not wrapped in intense personal pride.  They are good and they know it. Peter, that passionate wild ox of a man belonged this uncommon breed.  His unbridled passion evidenced itself, for example when he,

  • Challenged Jesus warning that he (Jesus) must go to the cross, "Heaven forbid, Lordthis will never happen to you!"  (Matt. 16:22)
  • Announced to the Savior, Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.  (Matt. 26:33) (See Mk. 14:31; Lk. 22:33)
  • Cut off the ear of Malchus, during Judas betrayal of Christ, One of the men with Jesus pulled out a sword and slashed off an ear of the high priest’s servant. (Matt. 26:51)

Passionate people who are driven by self-assured pride gain no currency in the economy of God. That is because God is looking for broken vessels whom He can fill with himself and use for His glory. Passionate, proud Peter had to experience crushing defeat and humiliation to qualify as Gods instrument in the expansion of the Gospel.

"Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to have all of you, to sift you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up your brothers." (Lk. 22:31, 32)

In a wealthy home some utensils are made of gold and silver, and some are made of wood and clay. The expensive utensils are used for special occasions, and the cheap ones are for everyday use. If you keep yourself pure, you will be a utensil God can use for his purpose. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.  (2 Tim. 2:20,21 NLT)

QUESTION:  How about you, my gifted friend? Are you still driven by your passion for success? Your will to make things happen? Your reputation that you jealously guard? The hallmarks of a broken person are humility, gentleness, and patience. You sense in them one who is waiting on the Holy Spirit for timing and strategy.  Passionate, broken people possesses a fundamental concern for the welfare of Gods people over and above the accomplishment of the mission.  So, tell me, has your will ever been broken?  If not, I wonder what great things for God might have been accomplished through you for His glory? The good news is that it is never too late to start.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007



#1 The Top Down Attitude     #5 Dictatorship in Decision-making 

#2 Putting Paperwork Before People Work   #6 Dirty Delegation

#3 Absence of Affirmation   #7  Communicating Chaos 

#4 No Room for Mavericks   #8  Missing the Clues of Corporate Culture 

#9  Success Without Successors: Instructs us that of all the leadership transition mistakes, two occur most frequently: (1) Leaders tend to stay too long in a position rather than not long enough.  (2) Leaders who stay too long do much more damage than those who dont stay long enough.  (Lyle Schaller) Heres why:

  Job security What will I do and where will I go?

  Fear of retirement The fear of eventual uselessness.

  Resistance to change Someone has said that a rut is a grave with the ends kicked out.

  Self worth To tamper with my job is to destroy my identity and confidence.

  Lack of confidence in a successor Can anyone do the job as well as I have done it?  Is anyone ready?

  Love for the people and the job Why retire to boredom and loneliness when I can hang on with the people I love to be with?

  Loss of investment Like letting go of children when they leave the nest.

Biblical examples of mentoring successors abound: Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, Jesus and the Eleven, Paul and Timothy, etc.  (Joshua: Ex. 24:13; Num. 27:15-23; Deut 31:14,14; 31:23; 34:9.  Elisha: I Ki. 22:1; 2 Ki. 1:17. The Eleven:  Jn. 17. Timothy: 2 Tim. 3:10,11; 2 Tim. 2:2)

Question: Are you today already planning your departure by mentoring your replacement?  When the time is right, are you willing to humbly step aside and pass the torch? Hans Finzel reminds us that organizations live and die on the basis of their flow of new leadership talent.2 In choosing your replacement you need to ask yourself two questions:  What do you value most, and whom do you trust most to carry on for you?  The odds are that as leaders, most of us will simply stay too long. 

#10 Failure to Focus on the Future: I am a dreamer.  Some men see things as they are, and ask why; I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?  – George Bernard Shaw


A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others do.   2

Leaders are pioneers. They are people who venture into unexplored territory.  They guide us to new and often unfamiliar destinations.  People who take the lead are the foot soldiers in the campaigns for changethe unique reason for having leaders their differentiating function is to move us forward. Leaders get us going someplace. 3


There is no more powerful engine driving an organization toward excellence and long-range success than an attractive, worthwhile, achievable vision for the future, widely shared.  4

Question:  Are you visualizing the future and taking your people there?  Or are you simply maintaining todays dull, predictable norm?

  • 1 Much of this material is derived from Ten Top Mistakes Leaders Make by Hans Finzel – Victor Books, 1977

  • 2 Ten Top Mistakes Leaders Make by Hans Finzel – Victor Books, 1977

  • 3 Be the Leader You Were Meant to Be – LeRoy Eims 1975:55

  • 4 Visionary Leadership Burt Nanus 1992:3
Wednesday, January 3, 2007



#1 The Top Down Attitude   #4 No Room for Mavricks

#2 Putting Paperwork Before People Work   #5 Dictatorship in Decision-making

#3 Absence of Affirmation     #6 Dirty Delegation

#7 Communicating Chaos: Communication must be the passionate obsession of effective leadership.  Sidney J. Harris observes that the two worlds of information and communication are often used interchangeably, but they signify quite different things.  Information is giving out; communication is getting through

The reluctant prophet Jonah got through to the City of Nineveh, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned. The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust… Then he issued a proclamation in NinevehLet everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence.  (Jonah 3:4b- 7,8,9)

Max DePree: A corporations values are its lifes blood.  Without effective communication, actively practiced, without the art of scrutiny, those values will disappear in a sea of trivial memos and impertinent reports. There may be no single thing more important in our efforts to achieve meaningful work and fulfilling relationships than to learn and practice the art of communication.

Question: If I were to quarry your people, would they tell me you are getting through or simply giving out information?

#8 Missing the Clues of Corporate Culture: Simply stated, corporate culture is the way we do things around here. Traditionally, culture has been defined as simply the unique customs, values, and artifacts of a people. Thomas Peters and Robert Waterman, in their book, In Search of Excellence, helped corporate America realize that strong cultures contribute to organizational success when the culture supports the mission, goals and strategies of the organization. Certainly the pursuit of excellence is a Biblical concept:

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through himWork at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Col. 3:17, 23b, 24) (See I Cor. 10:31)

You may want to consider these four suggestions in shaping your corporate culture:

  Put your own culture down on paper.

  Come up with your groups list of corporate values.

  Develop a vision statement for your group.

  Communicate your culture clearly to insiders and outsiders.

Question: What drives your corporate culture? A proactive leadership approach that intentionally shapes the culture based on pre-determined values and mission? Or is your culture a happenstance affair that is shaped in a vacuum by default and neglect?

1 Much of this material is derived from Ten Top Mistakes Leaders Make  by Hans Finzel – Victor Books, 1977

Publishers-Hall Sundicate Sydney J. Hall

Leadership is an Art Max DePree 1989:108