#243: What Kind of Leader Will Defend Their Principles?

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

The first time I stepped into an ocean I was probably 13-years old. I was only in the water up to my knees but as the tide went out the pull of the water nearly sucked my feet out from under me.

Leader Principles

I found to stand up I needed to dig my feet into the sand and anticipate the pull of the water. Otherwise, I could not stand against the pull of the tide.

Leaders often find themselves in a similar situation. The pull of popular opinion sucks at your feet threatening to pull you under unless you are firmly rooted in your principles.

How often in the last few years have you listened to a politician say one thing while he/she is running for office and then say something else once they are elected? How quickly do they change their tune when polling data goes against them? They excuse their changed minds and lack of principles while claiming their “thinking has matured.”

Their behavior begs the question, “Is there a point at which a leader must dig in and stand against the pull of popular opinion in defense of their principles?”

Yes, I believe there are times when leaders must be willing to stand against popular opinion. It is whenever men defy God’s principles.

One such example comes from a young prophet named Micaiah. His story is recorded in 1 Kings 22.

Micaiah Stands Firm

King Jehoshaphat of Judah had foolishly aligned himself with King Ahab of Israel against the king of Syria, King Aram. Before attacking Aram, Ahab called for 400 prophets to discern the will of God, and all of the prophets told him to go ahead and attack Aram.

Jehoshaphat asked for a real prophet of God, so Ahab reluctantly suggested they consult Micaiah.

Messengers sent to Micaiah told him all the other prophets had unanimously told the kings to attack Aram and suggested he should fall in line with the other prophets.

When Micaiah was brought before the two kings, he sarcastically told the two kings to attack Aram. But King Ahab told Micaiah to swear to tell the truth of what the Lord had told him.  Micaiah then told the two kings all the other prophets had lied to them; the Lord had revealed they would be defeated and their armies scattered.

As a result of opposing all 400 of the prophets and telling the truth of what the Lord had revealed, Micaiah was turned over to a jailor and put in prison where he was to remain until after the battle.

The two kings proceed to wage war against Aram. Just as Micaiah had prophesied Ahab was killed, and the armies of Israel and Judah were defeated.

Stand Firm Against the Tide

Imagine the pressure Micaiah felt as he stood before the kings of Israel and Judah surrounded by 400 prophets. Every eye is on him. It certainly would have been easier to say what they wanted to hear. Instead, Micaiah’s message opposed 400 prophets. He called them out as liars, and told God’s truth regardless of the consequences.

As leaders, we must be willing to stand firm for God’s principles. We must, as Micaiah was, be willing to oppose the wisdom of the world regardless of the consequences. This kind of courage is the mark of a real leader.

I wonder if Paul had this in mind when writing to the Ephesians. He told them, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens” (Ephesians 6:11-12).

Let us join together as leaders with our feet firmly planted in God’s Word. Let us put on the whole armor of God that we might stand against the tide of popular opinion that opposes God and His righteousness!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you the kind of leader who stands firm on your principles against those who oppose God regardless of the consequences?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Leader Qualifications

 

#242: An Instructive Letter from My Back-to-the-Future Self

In the Back to the Future trilogy, Marty McFly travels back in time and then into the future using a time-traveling DeLorean. I loved that DeLorean. It was a great looking car, but more importantly, it enabled Marty to go back in time. Marty could see where his younger self went wrong and helped him straighten out his life.

Back to the future

I don’t have a DeLorean, much less the specially equipped version that enables time travel. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get advice from my older self.

And you can as well—that is, get advice from your older self.

I just finished reading David Green’s (Hobby Lobby founder & CEO) book, Giving It All Away…And Getting It All Back Again. At the end of his book, Green suggests having your 80-year-old self, write your younger self an instructive, yet loving, letter explaining what it means to live a meaningful life.

What a great idea!

My Back to the Future Letter

It’s a bit like traveling back in time to advise your younger self. My 80-year-old self wrote an instructive letter to my 40-year old self. This letter included five key points that frame what I consider important elements of living a meaningful life:

1) To have a great marriage that honors God. Barb and I stood before God in 1980 and made a promise to each other. The older I get, the more precious she is to me, and the more important that promise has become.

2) To raise my daughter to use her gifts and talents to serve God. I can’t think of anything more important than raising a child who loves Christ and dedicates her life to serving Him.

3) To raise my special needs son in a way that helps him be all he can be. God entrusted this special boy’s care to me. It is incumbent on me to reflect Gods love to him and help him grow into a loving and considerate young man.

4) To use my gifts and talents to serve God wherever He places me. Who knows where God will lead me over the span of years He has allotted to me? Wherever God leads, I will use the gifts and talents He has given me to serve Him.

5) To be a faithful steward of the resources the Lord provides. The resources the Lord has placed at my disposal need to be invested carefully and faithfully to advance the Great Commission.

My younger self’s view of a meaningful life included different things like “be successful in business” and “save a lot of money to enjoy a comfortable retirement.”

Mind you; there is nothing wrong with being successful in business or saving money for retirement. The Bible supports both (Proverbs 12:11, Proverbs 6:6-8).

But my 80-year-old self realizes there are fewer years ahead of him than behind him. From this perspective, being successful in business and saving money for retirement is just not as important.

It is far more important to raise children who live lives that honor God and for my own life to be a Godly example to them.

My life journey has been a long way from perfect. Looking back on my 66 years, I realize I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. I wish my 40-year old self had gotten this letter sooner. But if I take the advice of my 80-year old self now and focus on these five things I will one day stand before the Lord having lived a meaningful life.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What advice would your older self give you? How would that advice change how you live your life today?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Values

 

#241: How to Prepare Your Organization to Recognize A Shifting Paradigm

Plus A Bonus Whitepaper

Horses as the primary mode of transportation, candles used for lighting, wood used for cooking and heating, windmills for pumping water, wind-up mechanical watches, and mimeograph machines, are all extinct. These were not bad products, but none the less they are gone.

Shifting Paradigm

What happened? Paradigm shifts occurred. Technology made new products possible, new products replaced old products, and in many cases, created whole new markets.

The ability of leaders to recognize these types of paradigm shifts in the future will make the difference between companies who are successful in the 21st century and those that are just hanging on.

What is a Paradigm Shift?

The greatest paradigm shift of all time came when Jesus preached the gospel. The impact of that simple message has been felt throughout the world. People changed, societies changed, and governments changed, all because of one man and His message.

The word paradigm comes from the Greek paradeigma which means “model, pattern, example.” In his book Future Edge, author Joel Barker provides his definition of a paradigm: “A paradigm is a set of rules and regulations (written or unwritten) that does two things: (1) it establishes clear boundaries; and (2) it tells you how to behave inside the boundaries in order to be successful.”

Think about some “minor” industry changes. What would you have done if you had known about the following technology paradigm shifts in advance?

  • FAX machines,
  • Personal computers,
  • VCR’s, Laser Disks, and DVDs,
  • Cable television,
  • Cellular phones, or
  • Streaming audio & video?

The list of industries created in the last ten years numbers in the hundreds! The list of industries that are gone also numbers in the hundreds. Companies that want to survive well into the 21st century had better be adept at managing change, and able to forecast paradigm shifts.

Don’t Trust the Experts!

Often, experts who develop technology don’t even understand the import of their actions. Simon Newcomb, a noted astronomer, said in 1902, “Flight by machines heavier than air is unpractical and insignificant, if not utterly impossible.” In 1913 the American Road Congress reported that “It is an idle dream to imagine that…automobiles will take the place of railways in the long-distance movement of…passengers.” Thomas Edison said in 1880 that, “The phonograph…is not of any commercial value.” If you want to recognize paradigm shifts you might want to look to someone other than the “experts” for answers.

Getting Started

If you are a manager and you want to develop an organization capable of forecasting, recognizing, and taking advantage of paradigm shifts then the following points will be helpful:

Forecasting

Get a group of individuals together and have them write “future” scenarios. What will this industry look like in 20 years, 50 years? These “future” scenarios will help you see major paradigm shifts. If you’re in the home building business, you may see the concern for the environment as a precursor to a major shift in home building technology; new heating systems, new building materials, new super insulation materials, etc.

Get another group to write about what problems exist in the industry today, and to forecast future problems and needs. For example, if you’re in the plastics business you might consider oil supplies as a future problem. You might see pollution control legislation as a problem. You might see a need for a new type of plastic that will meet certain consumer needs, etc.

Flexibility

As managers, we tend to focus on problem-solving. In the crush of our workloads, we tend to be very comfortable with current solutions to problems. What we don’t realize is that there are new ways of doing old things and that we must be willing to accept these new solutions, even while the old solution is still working.

Search and Reapply

Search and reapply is a big opportunity area for most businesses today. One department gets a good idea and uses it to solve a problem, but nobody else in the organization ever hears about it. We need to create systems for publicizing ideas throughout our organizations. Next, we need to teach people to constantly look at the way other people do things as fertile ground for ideas that will help them do their jobs better.

Listen

As a manager, you need to understand that the people who have the ability to spot paradigm shifts are probably working for you right now:

  • They are the young people who have not been so socialized by years of experience that they are capable of seeing things a different way.
  • They are the experienced people who just took on a new job.
  • They are the odd ducks who are always challenging the status quo, never content with the way things are; they are forever trying to change things.
  • They are the inventors who get ideas and build prototypes. They often don’t even realize how valuable their ideas are in terms of solving other problems.

Now that you know who is most likely to spot paradigm shifts, make it a point to listen to them, and record their ideas. You never know when what seemed like a silly idea for one project will turn out to be a brilliant solution to another project.

One Final Thought

Any organization that wants to be successful in the 21st century will need to be:

  • future oriented; capable of anticipating changes in technology and consumer needs,
  • innovative; not only in the way they apply technology, but in the way they approach it, and
  • focused on quality; total quality will be the bare minimum in the next century.

To be successful, you will need all three of these components; not one or two, but all three. Getting to the point where your organization has these attributes may represent a major paradigm shift, so you might as well start right now.

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled, Shifting Paradigms – Building an Organization that Leads Change.”

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion of shifting paradigms, including:

  • Understanding what a paradigm shift is,
  • The Swiss Blew their Opportunity,
  • The Fall of Books and Magazines, and
  • Forecasting Paradigm Shifts

You can download the whitepaper here: Shifting Paradigms – Building an Organization that Leads Change.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What are you doing to recognize and leverage a paradigm shift in your business?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Category: Skills | Change, Innovation

#240: Here’s Another Nice Mess You’ve Gotten Me Into!

Will God Still Use Me When I Mess Up?

“Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” is a catch phrase popularized by Laurel and Hardy in nearly 20 of their movies that released in the 1930’s and 40’s. Laurel was continually getting the hapless pair into some kind of trouble and Hardy’s response was always “Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!”

Mess Up

The times may have changed, but it seems we still manage to get ourselves and others into some kind of mess or another on a regular basis.

The question on the mind of many Christians, especially those in leadership positions, is, “Will God still use me even if I mess up?”

The apostle Paul wrestled with this very question. He said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:15, 19).

Will God Still Use Me?

Looking at some examples from the Old Testament it’s clear that God is a God of second chances, continuing to use those who mess up while following Him.

Adam & Eve. There’s that whole eating the apple issue against God’s command (Genesis 3). While there were consequences to their actions, God still used them to populate the world.

Jacob. Jacob deceived his father and took advantage of his brother, but God still used him (Genesis 25). God made a covenant with Jacob and Jacob became the father of the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 28).

Moses. Moses killed an Egyptian and buried him in the desert (Exodus 2). Then there is the issue of not following God’s command regarding speaking, not striking, the rock to get water (Numbers 20). Despite these transgressions, God used Moses to deliver His people out of Egypt to the Promised Land.

There are also several examples of God using people who messed up in the New Testament. Three of the most prominent examples are from Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ own disciples.

Peter #1. Peter rashly cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the High Priest (John 18). Jesus rebuked Peter telling him to put away his sword and then healed Malchus’ ear.

Peter #2. When Jesus warns the disciples they will all fall away from him that night; Peter declares that he will never deny Jesus. Peter goes so far as to say he will die with Jesus (Matthew 26). Then, as predicted, Peter denies Jesus three times before the next morning.

Peter #3, James & John. Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him into the Garden of Gethsemane and asked them to stay awake and keep watch while he prayed (Matthew 26). Three times Jesus checked on them, and three times they had failed to stay awake and keep watch.

These men were Jesus’ disciples. They had been with him for the three years of his earthly ministry. They had been personally discipled by Jesus. They had witnessed His miracles. They had performed miracles themselves in the power of His name.

Despite sitting at the feet of the Lord, they messed up. They made mistakes. Yet, the Lord continued to use them.

An Ongoing Struggle

We can sense Paul’s angst in the Romans 7 passage. He wants to do so much better, to be better as a follower of Christ. Yet, he struggled to do the good he knows he should do.

This same theme emerges again in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me (1 Corinthians 15:9-10).

Despite all he has accomplished in the furtherance of the Kingdom, Paul says he is unworthy because of his past actions.

Yet, and this is most important, Paul realizes what has been done was done by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit working through him.

Leaders, we will mess up. We will never be the powerful, inspired leaders God intends us to be until we come to grips with our weaknesses and failures. We must, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10, submit our weaknesses to God, then we are strong.

It is God’s will that we are made holy, conformed to His image (2 Corinthians 3:18b).

God does not condone our failures; He redeems them when we submit to Him. Because, as Paul said, God began a good work in us, and He will continue this work in us until we are united with Christ once again (Philippians 1:6).

So, no matter what mess you’ve gotten yourself into, submit your messiness to the Lord, and humbly ask Him to continue the process of making you into His glorious image.

There is much work left to be done, and you and I have a part to play in the Kingdom.

Many thanks to Pastor Doug Fields who gave me permission to adapt his wonderful sermon into this blog post. If you liked the post it’s because of him. If you didn’t like it, it’s all on me!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever questioned how God could use you after you made a mess of things? Do you see how God can continue to use you when you submit to Him?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#239: The Woman Who Overcame Evil with Good

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

On more than one occasion during my teenage years my mother, all 100-lbs of her, would have to step between my hot-headed father and me until cooler heads prevailed. Mom was always the level-headed, even-tempered one in our family.

Abigail

My mother’s actions that brought about peace in the family remind me of the Biblical account of Abigail recorded in 1 Samuel 25. There is much we can learn about leadership from mom and Abigail.

A Tense Confrontation

We are introduced to Abigail after a nasty confrontation between David’s men and her foolish husband, Nabal.

David and his army of 600 men had spent the year patrolling the area of Israel around where Nabal lived. They had protected Nabal’s servants, his sheep, and his crops. During harvest time, David sent 10-men off to Nabal to ask for an offering to help feed his men.

Nabal disrespected David’s men and arrogantly questioned their integrity as he refused their request and sent them away empty-handed.

David was furious when he learned of Nabal’s insults. He strapped on his sword, gathered his men, and headed off to kill all of Nabal’s household.

In the meantime, some of Nabal’s servants ran off to tell Abigail how Nabal had mistreated David’s men.

Abigail’s Wise Response

Without telling her husband, Abigail gathered up 200 loaves of bread, two skins of wine, five butchered sheep, a bushel of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 cakes of pressed figs, and loaded them on donkeys. She headed off with her servants to meet David.

When Abigail saw David, she knelt at his feet and took responsibility for her husband’s foolishness. She asked David to accept her gifts and forgive them for the offense.

Abigail went on to praise David, saying the Lord would give him victory in his battles and he would not have remorse over shedding Nabal’s blood needlessly.

Abigail’s Leadership Lessons

There are many leadership lessons we can take away from Abigail’s interaction with David. Here are my top five:

1) Discernment. Abigail demonstrated discernment. She realized her husband had insulted David’s men and this had the potential to cause a drastic reaction from David.

Leadership Lesson. Effective leaders need a keen sense of discernment. Solomon prayed to God to give him discernment to lead the people (1 Kings 3:9). We should do the same!

2) Immediate Action. Abigail responded immediately when the news reached her. She assembled her offering to David and set out to meet him.

Leadership Lesson. There’s a time for thinking, and there is a time for action. When a crisis looms, leaders need to take immediate action. Many times in the Bible we see leaders praying for God’s guidance then taking action!

3) Humble Nature. When Abigail met David, she got off her donkey and humbled herself by kneeling before him.

Leadership Lesson. People in tense situations tend to go on the offensive to defend their positions. A leader who is humble will diffuse most situations.

4) Soft Answer. Abigail understood the power of Proverbs 15:1, “A soft answer turns away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.” She asked David to accept her offering, and took responsibility for her husband’s bad behavior.

Leadership Lesson. The buck stops with you, the leader. Emotional responses are diffused when you take responsibility for the situation.

5) Wise Counsel. Abigail counseled David not to take harsh action against Nabal that he would regret later. She assured him the Lord would give him victory over his enemies and he would do great things for the people of Israel if he did not shed blood needlessly.

Leadership Lesson. Once tempers have cooled, people are more open to accepting wise counsel. Leaders, take this opportunity to give counsel that builds your people and strengthens your organization.

Not every crisis can be averted, but strong leaders practice these five leadership lessons. Rate yourself on your effectiveness in each area and pick one to work on over the next month.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of these five leadership lessons is most important to you? Why??

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Relationships | Healthy Alliances

#238: What Does It Take to be a Godly Leader or Follower?

Every leader I know deals with challenges to their leadership just about every day. These challenges come from the world around us, our own fleshly temptations, and the devil who would love to take us down!

Leader Follower

With so many forces coming against as leaders, it begs the question, “What does it take to be a Godly leader, or for that matter, a Godly follower?

The Apostle Peter warned of these very dangers in 1 Peter 5. Although Peter was addressing his fellow elders in the church, his warnings are equally valid for us as leaders in the workplace.

Be Shepherds

Peter began by admonishing leaders to be like shepherds caring for God’s flock. Being a shepherd doesn’t mean much to most of us in the business world, but it was perfectly clear to the people Peter was addressing. They all knew what the responsibilities of a shepherd entailed.

According to Psalm 23, there are five primary responsibilities of a shepherd,

1) to lead (Psalms 23:2),

2) to provide spiritual guidance and feeding (Psalm 23:3),

3) to offer comfort (Psalm 23:4),

4) to strengthen (Psalm 23:4), and

5) to correct (Psalm 23:5).

Based on the command to be a shepherd, leaders have a lot of big responsibilities! We are to lead, and that means we are out front making decisions based on what is best for the flock. We are to be spiritual leaders that feed the flock. We are to offer comfort when and where needed, and we are to strengthen the flock. And finally, when necessary we to are correct the flock.

Right Attitude

Next, Peter said leaders must have the right attitude about leading. We should lead, he said, not because we have to but because we are eager to serve the flock. We should not seek to lead for money or to have power over others.

Peter’s admonition about Christian leaders having the right attitude stands in stark contrast to the secular worldview in which leaders seek the position for the monetary rewards and for the power that comes with leadership.

Christians are to stand apart as leaders by having the attitude of a shepherd caring for their flock.

Be an Example

Third, Peter said Christian leaders are to be an example to those we lead. The example for a Christian leader is Jesus Christ, the chief shepherd. Just as Jesus is an example for Christian leaders, Christian leaders are to be an example to their flocks.

Advice for Everyone

Peter closed out his letter with instructions for everyone, leaders, and followers.

1) Be submissive to your leaders. Peter’s point about being submissive to leaders is directed to followers, but it’s important to note that everyone follows a leader. Everyone has a boss, and everyone is ultimately accountable to God.

2) Be humble toward one another. Both leaders and followers need to be humble toward one another, because as Peter reminds them, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Proverbs 3:34).

3) Be Self-controlled and alert. Every Christian needs to be self-controlled in their own behavior. We also need to recognize that the devil is real, like a roaring lion seeking to devour those who stand for Christ. Therefore, we must remain on alert and resist the temptations of the devil.

4) Cast your cares on God. Peter reminds both leaders and followers to cast all our cares on God because He cares for us. Whatever trials, tribulations, or suffering we endure in this world are nothing compared to God’s grace and mercy.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you struggled with any of the five elements of being a shepherd leader? Have you been a follower under a leader who was a poor example?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

Category: Relationships | Servant Leadership

 

#237: If You’re an Ox, Don’t Team Up with A Donkey!

The Danger of Yoked Relationships

The issue of yoked relationships in business is one of those Biblical principles that are easy to comprehend, but difficult to administer in real life.

Yoked Relationships Ox

This is especially true when a sure-fire opportunity to make an enormous amount of money comes via a partnership with a nonbeliever, and you must make a decision in the cold, hard dawn of reality: do you, or don’t you?

The verse that causes all this controversy is 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?”

So, what exactly does the phrase, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” mean? Let’s start back in Deuteronomy 22:10 where Moses instructed Israel, “Do not plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.”

The yoke was a heavy beam that was strapped across the upper shoulders and around the neck of the animals to tie them together. The yoke was then harnessed to a plow or wagon. As the animals walked, the weight of the wagon or plow pulled on the harness through the center of the yoke between the two animals.

The selection of animals to be yoked together was given a great deal of thought. For example, animals of the same type were paired together; oxen with oxen, donkeys with donkeys.

The animals also needed to be about the same size and strength. If one animal were taller than the other, the smaller animal would bear the greater load and soon become tired. If one animal were stronger than the other, it would pull ahead of the weaker animal.

And finally, the animals needed to have a similar temperament. You were asking for trouble if you tied two strong willed animals together. One needed to be a leader, the other needed to be willing to follow.

If all these conditions were not met, the animals would be “unequally” yoked, and would not be able to get as much work done as a better-matched pair of animals.

So, what do Moses’s instructions to farmers and Paul’s to the Corinthians have to do with us in today’s business? Plenty!

What Constitutes a Yoke?

Of the sixty-six times that the Bible refers to a yoke, it is only used eight times in conjunction with animals. The other 58 times the word “yoke” is used it is regarding a burden or relationship with people and God

A yoke then is any relationship that formally ties two people together where the actions of one can directly affect another.

We have three basic legal forms in today’s business; proprietorship, partnership, and corporation. In a proprietorship with employees, there is a relationship between employees and the employer. In the corporation, there are employee/employer relationships, as well as relationships with stockholders. In the partnership, there is a relationship between the partners and the employees.

Is Partnership a Yoke?

There are at least eight legal forms of partnership. Generally speaking, they can be divided into two classifications; general and limited.

In a general partnership, partners are active or have the right to be active in the partnership. In the limited form, a partner only has an investment interest, without any right or say in the operation of the business.

General partnerships, regardless of the legal form, constitute yoked relationships because there is a formal agreement between two or more parties regarding the operation of a business. Clearly then, general partnerships constitute a yoke. Believers should avoid general partnerships with nonbelievers.

Limited partnerships do not usually constitute a yoke because the limited partner has no say in the operation of the partnership.

Is Stock Ownership a Yoke?

For most of us the answer to the question, “Is stock ownership a yoke?” is “No.” A few shares of a company held as an investment do not constitute a yoke. You could, after all, dissolve the relationship with a simple call to your broker.

But what if you hold a majority stock interest in a company and are an employee? What about a closely held corporation where there are few owners who have equal shares?

The guiding principle is this; does the relationship bind you legally to the company or other shareholders? If you have a majority stock interest and are an employee, you probably have a legal fiduciary relationship.

If in a closely held corporation, the intent is to create a relationship between shareholders for the purpose of sharing responsibilities and profits, then you have a partnership whether the word partnership was used or not.

Is the Employee/Employer Relationship a Yoke?

The employee/employer relationship does not constitute a yoke. The employer has authority over the subordinate employee.

As an employee, you need to maintain your integrity in all business relationships. As Colossians 3:23 reminds us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” Your work should be your witness to the world.

The possible exception to the employer/employee relationship as being a yoke might exist when an employee is under a contract to the employer. For example, an actor, model, consultant, etc. If an employment contract is involved, you might find yourself in a yoked relationship. Be very careful with employment contracts, and remember the guiding principle; is the purpose of the relationship a partnership?

What About Existing Relationships?

The advice to not enter into a relationship in the future is easy to take, but what about relationships you’re in already? Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians gives us some insight as he discusses what to do in a marriage relationship (1 Cor. 7:12-13), “…If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him.”

The principle is if you are in a relationship with a nonbeliever you should stay in it unless the relationship threatens your spiritual values. Paul goes on to say, “But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances…” (1 Cor. 7:15). If a nonbelieving partner wants to leave the partnership, you should let him.

What do you do if the nonbelieving partner is a family member, perhaps a parent, or a child? The same principles apply. If you are in a relationship that does not compromise your spiritual values, you should try to make the relationship work, “…each one should retain the place in life that the Lord assigned to him and to which God has called him” (1 Cor. 7:18). Perhaps the relationship you’re in is just where the Lord wants you to be to accomplish His work!

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled, Yoked Relationships—If You’re an Ox, Don’t Team Up With A Donkey.”

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion of yoked relationships and five tips for creating a successful partnership.

You can download the whitepaper here: Yoked Relationships—If You’re an Ox, Don’t Team Up With A Donkey.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you been unequally yoked in a business relationship? If so, what made the relationship successful or what made it difficult for you?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Skills |Structure/Organization

#236: Are These Trials at Work Good for Me?

In the margin of my performance review, one boss wrote, “RRK’s sense of integrity sometimes gets in the way of getting things done.” He concluded the review saying if I didn’t quit he would find a way to fire me.

Trials at work

Another boss made grand promises and sweet-talked me into joining his organization, only to renege on all his promises within two years.

Everyone I know whose career has spanned a number of years have some kind of stories of workplace trials like these. Some, sad to say, are much worse.

Can these workplace trials possibly be good for me? For us?

According to James, yes! James says these workplace trials are good for us, and furthermore, he says, we should expect them!

James, writing to the people of Israel, said, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials” (James 1:2).

Was James on some form of ancient happy juice?

He says they should be joyful whenever they experience trials? And what kind of trials is he talking about? James says these are trials that will test our faith.

Well, the Israelites had been kicked out of their land and dispersed throughout the Roman empire. So, they lost all their land, their cities, and their ability to provide for their families. They had to start over with nothing in hostile territories.

Admittedly, the workplace isn’t exactly like what James is talking about when he says we should be joyful when we encounter trials. But some of our workplaces are becoming more and more hostile territories!

What kind of trials can we expect in the workplace that will test our faith?

Types of Workplace Trials

I see three broad categories of trials:

1) People openly hostile to our Christian beliefs. These trials range from simple prejudice to limitations on career growth, or even threats of physical violence.

2) Ethical trials. These trials include our own temptation to abandon our faith and compromise our beliefs to “succeed.” They may also be pressure from outsiders to compromise our beliefs.

3) Faith shaking events. Sometimes the workplace trials we face may come events that shake our faith. Promises made are broken. We are laid off. We question how God could let these events happen to us, His faithful servants.

Each of these types of trials can test our faith and they are the ones James says we should be joyful about enduring!

The Result of Enduring

Why in the world would James say that? Because, says James, of the result. If we can manage to withstand all types of trials and maintain our faith in God, the result is endurance. When we can look back on the trials of life and see that God was always with us, this endurance helps us become spiritually mature, complete children of God (James 1:3-4).

That boss that wrote my integrity got in the way of getting things done? An executive who heard about the situation (I still don’t know how he heard) offered me a better job in a better market.

That led to me living in a neighborhood where my wife and I were led to the Lord. It’s where we met people who helped us adopt our beautiful daughter, Rebekah. That boss may have meant to harm me, but looking back, I see God’s hand directing it all to the benefit of our family.

That boss that made promises and reneged on them led me to start writing this blog reaching out to Christians leaders around the world. It may be years before I see all of God’s plan with this ministry, but one thing is clear, His hand is in it. He is in control!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What workplace trials have you endured? And looking back, do you see God’s hand leading and protecting you?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#235: Will God Still Use Me If I Mess Up?

Have you ever encountered someone doing something dumb during a crisis and you thought to yourself, “What in the World Was He/She Thinking?”

Jonah Mess Up

Sadly, as I look back on my life I can remember too many situations where I didn’t do what I should, and afterward said to myself, “What in the world was I thinking?”

When I became a Christian at 33-years old, these “What in the world was I thinking?” situations took on even more meaning. I thought, “Boy, I really messed up this time! Will God still use me?”

It turns out there are quite a few people whose story of messing up is recorded in the Bible.

One of the big mess up’s is Jonah.

Jonah’s Big Mess Up

Jonah was a prophet of God. His job was to bring God’s messages to whomever God told him. God spoke directly to Jonah and directed him to go to Nineveh to preach a message of repentance to the Ninevites.

God said, “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because their wickedness has confronted Me” (Jonah 1:2). There is no ambiguity in this command. Jonah, get up and go preach to the Ninevites.

What does Jonah do? He thumbs his nose at God and jumps on the closest ship headed in the opposite direction. Jonah rebelled against God.

How often does God call us and we rebel, and head off in the opposite direction?

God caused a big storm on the sea that threatened to sink the ship. Jonah realized the storm was his fault, so the sailors on the ship ended up throwing Jonah overboard.

How often do storms come into our life after we rebel against God?

But here is the amazing thing. Despite his rebellion against God, God hasn’t abandoned Jonah. God is watching out for him. God has a large fish swallow Jonah, and Jonah has an uncomfortable three days in the belly of the fish to think about what his rebellion has cost him.

Jonah’s Redemption

Jonah finally prays to God asking to be saved and forgiven. He repents of his rebellion.

Immediately God forgives him and has the fish vomit Jonah up on the shore. Hopefully, Jonah grabs a shower somewhere and puts on a clean set of clothes because God is not done with Jonah yet!

God speaks to Jonah a second time saying,Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you” (Jonah 3:2).

With this command, God has restored Jonah to his previous mission, to go and preach to the people of Nineveh.

This time Jonah does what God has told him to do. Jonah puts on his big boy pants and heads off to preach against the dreaded Ninevites.

Jonah rebelled against God. He refused to do the one thing God had called him to do.

Jonah repented of his rebellion against God and prayed for a second chance.

God restored Jonah.

I have rebelled against God. At times, I have refused to do what I feel He has called me to do. But I take comfort knowing that if I repent of my rebellion, like Jonah, God in His mercy will restore me. He will give me a second chance to do His will.

I take great comfort knowing that those future “What in the world was I thinking?” mess ups don’t mean that God is done with me or that He won’t use me. It just means I need to get back to Him as quickly as I can!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you had, “What in the world was I thinking?” mess ups in your life? Have you repented of your rebellion and been restored by God?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

#234: The Young Leader Who Lived Through Peace, Prosperity, Reformation, and Disaster

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Imagine turning a large company over to an 8-year old to run. A third grader! You wouldn’t do it, would you?!

Josiah Leader

Now, imagine turning a whole nation over to an 8-year old king? Well, that’s exactly what happened to young Josiah. He was made king over Israel when he was 8-years old after his father, Amon, was assassinated.

Fortunately, Josiah had two Godly people who shaped his young life; his mother, Jedidah, and Hilkiah, the high priest.

There’s a lot we can learn from this young king that parallels many of the situations we face as leaders today. His story is recorded in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35.

Peace & Prosperity

Josiah’s 31-year rule as king occurred during an unusual period. The Assyrian empire was in decline, and the Babylonian empire had not yet become a world power. The ebb and flow of power between the Assyrians and the Babylonians meant the Israelites had a time of relative peace in which they could govern themselves and pursue their trades.

Reformation

When he was 16-years old, Josiah turned away from the evil ways of his father and turned to God. When he was 20-years old, he began a campaign to rid Judah and Jerusalem of foreign idols and altars.

When Josiah was 26-years old, he ordered the cleansing and repair of the Lord’s temple. A copy of the Book of the Law was found in the temple and read to Josiah. He realized how far the people had fallen away from God. Josiah assembled the leaders, and before the people, made a covenant with God to follow all of God’s commands. All the people of Judah entered into the covenant with Josiah to follow God.

Disaster

When Josiah was 39-years old, God instructed Neco, Pharaoh of Egypt, to march to the Euphrates to help the Assyrians in Battle against the Babylonians. Josiah went out with his army to confront Neco. Neco warned Josiah not to oppose God by engaging in a battle with him. Instead of heeding Neco’s warning, Josiah went into battle and was killed. Josiah’s death ended Judah’s 31-year period of peace and self-rule. They were conquered and ruled by the Egyptians, then the Babylonians.

The people of Judah endured four bad kings in a row for nearly 23 years until Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians and the people of Jerusalem were exiled.

Leadership Lessons for Us

Among the many lessons we might learn from the life and reign of King Josiah, here are my top five:

1) Godly Advisors. Josiah was indeed fortunate that he had two Godly advisors who helped shaped his young life. The important thing here is that Josiah listened to them and became a man after God’s own heart.

Leader Lesson. Surround yourself with Godly men and women who can give you sound counsel and listen to them!

2) Seek the Lord. Josiah made a personal decision to follow the Lord.

Leader Lesson. It is not enough to have Godly men and women speak into our lives. We must each make a personal decision to follow God.

3) Courage. Josiah was only a young man, but he had the courage to rid the country of the foreign idols and altars that had been allowed by his father and grandfather.

Leader Lesson. There will be times in each of our lives when we must have the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion when it is contrary to God’s will for us.

4) Humbled Himself. When Josiah heard the words of the Lord read from the Book of the Law, he humbled himself and vowed to follow all the Lord’s decrees.

Leader Lesson. A position of power or prestige often brings out our prideful nature, but true Godly leaders will humble themselves and always be ready to follow as God leads.

5) Keep Seeking the Lord. Josiah’s reforms brought the people of Judah back to the Lord. But at some point, he stopped seeking the Lord in every matter. Ignoring the Lord in the matter of Pharaoh Neco, brought about his death and the enslavement of the people of Judah.

Leader Lesson. There is never a good time in the life of a Christian leader to stop trusting and seeking the Lord.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of these leadership lessons do you think is most important in your life right now?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God