#175: Responding to the Rabshakeh Who Tries to Destroy You or Your Organization

Last week we looked at six different tactics someone might use to destroy you as a leader or your organization (Click here to read):

Rabeshakeh Organization
  • He will tell you you’re not good enough.
  • He will try to convince you the Lord doesn’t care about you.
  • He will try to convince you he is acting on behalf of God.
  • He will try to bring enmity between you and your organization.
  • He will spread lies about you.
  • He will try to convince your organization things will be better if they will just follow him.

We illustrated each of these tactics through the story of King Hezekiah of Judah (2 Kings 18-19).

The Rabshakeh came to Jerusalem and stood outside the city gates and gave a long speech to all the leaders and others who could hear. He said they could never withstand an attack. God would not protect them, and in fact, he claimed the Lord had sent him to destroy them. Then he tried to pit the people against their leaders. He claimed Hezekiah was deceiving them. And finally, he promised great rewards and comfort if they would just surrender.

Let’s look back now at King Hezekiah to see how he dealt with the Rabshakeh.

Hezekiah Refused to Be Intimidated

Three top officers of the Assyrian government along with a large army positioned themselves just a few miles from Jerusalem.  The Assyrians had first demanded a large ransom payment in return for not attacking and now they were preparing to attack When the three officials showed up outside the city gates, Hezekiah refused to meet with them. He had no reason to believe anything they said.

Hezekiah’s First Response

Hezekiah’s first command, before the Rabshakeh even started his speech, was to the leaders and people. He commanded them to say nothing in response to the Rabshakeh but to simply listen and report to him.

When the Rabshakeh’s speech was reported to Hezekiah, Hezekiah went into the Lord’s temple. He then sent two officials to tell the prophet Isaiah about the threats from the Assyrians and asked Isaiah to pray to the Lord to save the people of Jerusalem.

Hezekiah’s Second Response

The Rabshakeh then sent a letter to Hezekiah restating his threats against the people of Jerusalem. He listed all the countries they had conquered as examples of how hopeless it would be to rely on God to save them.

Hezekiah took the letter and went into the Lord’s temple and spread it out before the Lord. Hezekiah prayed over the letter to the Lord asking the Lord to destroy the Assyrians so that all the nations would know that the Lord was the one true God.

God responded to Hezekiah’s prayer through the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah reported the Lord’s answer to Hezekiah saying the Lord himself would do battle against the Assyrians, defeating them.

That night the Lord did indeed decimate the Assyrian army and they returned home to Nineveh in defeat.

Three Important Lessons for Us

There are three important lessons for today’s leaders that we can draw from the example of Hezekiah:

  • Discernment. Hezekiah showed great discernment in not meeting with the Assyrian officials. They had lied about their intentions already. There was no reason to believe they would suddenly start speaking the truth. And as it turns out, Hezekiah was right! The minute they started to speak they spread vicious lies, slandered Hezekiah, and impugned God’s righteousness.
  • Humbled Himself and Asked God to Save Them. After hearing the Rabshakeh’s threats, Hezekiah humbled himself (tore his clothes and put on sackcloth as a sign of mourning) and asked Isaiah the prophet to intercede on behalf of the people and ask God to save them. Hezekiah knew without God’s intervention the people of Jerusalem could not stand against the Assyrians.
  • Prayed Once Again. When Hezekiah received the threatening letter he immediately went into the temple and spread the letter out before the Lord. Hezekiah personally prayed for God to hear his plea and deliver the people from the Assyrians so everyone would know that the Lord was the one true God.

In the face of an insurmountable enemy, Hezekiah refused to be intimidated, showed great discernment as a leader, humbled himself before the Lord, sought the Lord’s wisdom, and prayed for the Lord to intervene, not for his sake but for the glory of the Lord.

The world could use a few more leaders like Hezekiah today!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. How have you dealt with a modern-day Rabshakeh who tried to attack you or your organization?

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Category: Personal | Dependence on God

 

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#174: A Modern Day Rabshakeh Will Try to Destroy You and Your Organization

Lessons from the Lesser Known

Every leader I have ever talked to has a story of someone who came along and tried to ruin them as a leader and/or destroy their organizations.

Rabshakeh

These organization killers come in all shapes and sizes. They can be inside your organization or attack from the outside. They may try to distract the organization from their work. They may try to divide the workers pitting them against their leaders. They may even try to take control of the organization itself.

King Hezekiah was just such a leader who had to deal with someone who tried to destroy the people of Judah. Hezekiah was trying to keep the people of Judah following the Lord and safe from the aggressive king of Assyria who had already conquered Israel. You’ll find Hezekiah’s story recounted in 2 Kings 18-19, and Isaiah 36-37.

When the king of Assyria threatened to invade Judah, Hezekiah tried to buy-off the Assyrians by giving them gold from the temple of the Lord. That wasn’t enough and soon the king of Assyria sent his military commander, someone known only by his title of “the Rabshakeh,” to convince king Hezekiah and the people of Judah to surrender (2 Kings 18).

The Rabshakeh tried six different tactics to convince the leaders and people of Judah there was no hope in trying to defend their country; the only smart choice was to surrender.

  • He tried to shake their confidence (vv. 19-21). The Rabshakeh belittled their military strength claiming not only could the people of Judah not defend themselves, even their allies could not help them withstand an attack.
  • He belittled their faith (v. 22). The Rabshakeh belittled their faith in the Lord and their commitment to worship before the altar of the Lord.
  • He claimed the Lord had sent him (v. 25). The Rabshakeh claimed the Lord himself had told him to come conquer Judah and destroy it.
  • He divided the people against the leaders (vv. 26-30). The Rabshakeh spoke to the leaders of Judah knowing the people could hear him. He tried to frighten the people by claiming the leaders would cause the people great suffering if they did not surrender.
  • He claimed Hezekiah was deceiving them (vv. 31 & 32b). The Rabshakeh said the people should not trust Hezekiah because he was deceiving them when he said the Lord would protect them.
  • He promised great rewards if they surrendered (vv. 31b-32a). The Rabshakeh promised if they would surrender the king of Assyria would provide for them by giving them their own gardens for food and wine, a land of bread, olives, and honey. But they must surrender, otherwise, they would be killed.

Lessons for us from The Rabshakeh

You don’t have to be the leader of a country to have someone come against you.

Here are six tactics a modern day Rabshakeh will use to try to destroy you and your organization:

  • You’re not good enough. The modern day Rabshakeh will say no matter how good you are, you are not good enough, you are not strong enough, you’ll never be successful, or this will never work.
  • The Lord doesn’t care about you. The modern day Rabshakeh person will try to tell you the Lord doesn’t really care about you and that you are foolish for putting your faith in Him.
  • The Lord told me to tell you. The modern day Rabshakeh will claim to have been told by God to bring a message to you to give up and do what they tell you.
  • Divide and conquer. The modern day Rabshakeh will try to shake the confidence of the organization in the leader; pitting them against each other. He will try to convince the organization the leader is only going to bring them great harm.
  • Your leader is lying to you. The modern day Rabshakeh will tell the organization the leader is not only wrong but is untrustworthy.
  • It will all be better if you do what I say. The modern day Rabshakeh will make all kinds of promises of wealth and security, if only you do what they say. They threaten if you do not follow them, you will most certainly suffer great harm.

The world is full of modern day Rabshakeh’s. It takes great wisdom and faith to persevere against them. But remember the words of John the apostle as he encouraged those who faced false prophets “…you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

The same is true for us today, He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world, and that includes any modern day Rabshakeh!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you dealt with a modern day Rabshakeh in your role as a leader? What impact did they have on the organization?

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 | Wisdom

 

 

 

 

#173: What Unique Trait Should Christians Share with Redwood Trees?

When I was a young lad, perhaps 13-years old, I along with 30 other members of Boy Scout Troop 193, boarded a rented school bus and set off on a 6-week adventure.

Trees, Unique, Redwood, Trait

We left Spokane, Washington and camped our way down through Oregon, into southern California, up through Nevada, and back home.

Along the way, in northern California, we stopped in the Redwood State Park to see the Giant Redwood trees. They are the oldest and tallest trees in the world.

These redwoods are truly amazing. Some of them are over 2,200 years’ old. They were already pretty good sized trees when Jesus was born! Now, however, they tower over 300 feet tall. Many are over 360 feet tall and 20 feet in diameter!

Despite their enormous girth and height, their roots are remarkably shallow reaching only 6-12 feet deep into the soil. What holds these majestic specimens up in the harsh winds of the coastal climate? Two things. Their roots stretch out fifty feet in all directions to give them stability. And they grow together in groves so their roots intertwine and support each other.

I’ve always thought this was an incredible picture of what it means to be in unity as a body of Christian believers. We are stronger together when our “roots” are spread out and intertwined. We are stronger together when we are united and support each other.

There are many Bible verses that speak to the importance of unity among the body of believers.

For example:

King David wrote how good and pleasant it was to God for believers to dwell together in unity:

“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).

The apostle Paul wrote extensively on the subject of unity among believers. Writing to the Ephesians and referring to the church, Paul said there is one body united by one Holy Spirit:

“There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6).

Paul, again writing to the Ephesian believers compared the church to a body with every ligament supporting the rest:

“From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16).

Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers stressing their need to put aside divisions among them, to be united in mind and thought.

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought” (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Writing to the Galatians, Paul taught we are all one in Christ. In the body of believers, there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, male and female, or slave and free. We are all one in Christ!

“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28).

And finally, writing to the Colossians Paul exhorted them to let Christ rule in their hearts, united in one body of believers.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful” (Colossians 3:15).

These are just a handful of verses that deal with the subject of unity among Christian believers. There is little doubt that the Lord’s hope for us is that we, as a body of believers, will be united in our faith.

What concerns me is there is often more disunity among believers than there is unity. We argue over minor points of theology. We publically cast dispersions on other denominations because they hold to a different liturgy or sing different kinds of worship songs.

No wonder the outside world looks on Christians with confusion and downright skepticism!

I do not believe this is disunity and division among the body of believers is pleasing to the Lord. As a body, we should be like the giant redwood trees of northern California whose roots intertwine providing strength and unity to all.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What is your view of unity in the body of Christians believers? Is it important?

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 | Interpersonal Relationships

 

#172: Situational Ethics and the Art of Dishonesty, Cheating, and Lying

The cover of a Success magazine some years ago shouted out its lead story, “The Art of Deceit.”

172 Situational Ethics 750 x 521

The story touted a new book leading the best-seller list in Asia (in Asia it’s called American Thick Black Theory, in America it’s called Thick Face, Black Heart). The young author had assembled witticisms from ancient Chinese military commanders into a manual for business people. Her book focused on how to create deceptive strategies to win in the marketplace.

Summing up her ideas, author Chin-Ning Chu says, “I talk about the positive aspect of the Taoist philosophy … and apply it to success. My book shows how winning is about self-conquering … You bring forth this divinely ordained power within you.”

People are paying $1,000 a head to hear her stories; to learn how to win by deception. In fact, the list of her corporate clients looks like a Who’s Who of the Fortune 500.

I’m ashamed that she can make a dollar in the United States. I wish there was such a lack of interest in her methods that she would take a cue from our marketplace and peddle her wares elsewhere. But wishing will not make it so. If it isn’t this author it would be another. It seems there is always someone willing to compromise principals in order to make a buck, and when they find out how easy it is, they offer to teach their success formulas to others (for a fee of course).

Having learned the techniques of deception to win in the marketplace, is it a very big jump of faith to think that these people will turn their skills inward to their peers climbing the corporate ladder or their bosses? Not to me. I see back-stabbing deceptive practices in the workplace all the time. One wonders why there is even a need for training in this skill.

“New Age” Management

Madame Chu, Shirley MacLaine, and others like them are trying to tell us that we are all gods. There are no absolute rights and wrongs. Our values are whatever we want them to be. This message is New Age through and through.

Chu’s own words condemn her. In the article, she referred to these methods as simply the application of Taoist philosophies. Taoism is a 4th century B.C. religious work ascribed to Lao-Tzu. The philosophy is outlined in the Tao-Te-Ching. It focuses on mythology, spirit possessions, and the quest to become one with Tao (a metaphysical absolute derived from a personal god). Does this sound like the philosophy you want to run your business?

Chu’s comment about how winning is about self-conquering and bringing forth a divinely ordained power within you is more Eastern religion packaged for New Age believers. Nowhere in God’s word do you find a reference to you and I becoming a god. Regardless of the amount of self-conquering, the only divine nature in us comes from the Holy Spirit.

Situational Ethics

Situational ethics is when people rationalize their behavior until they believe that what they are doing is right.

The first Biblical example comes in Genesis 3. Eve is lounging around the garden on a nice warm day when this crafty fellow comes along and asks her if she’s sure she shouldn’t eat from that tree in the middle of the garden. Eve says, “God says I’ll die if I eat or touch that fruit.” The crafty fellow says, “Oh you won’t die, but if you eat it you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Eve swallowed this rationale hook, line, and sinker. She talked herself into believing that it would be OK to disobey God. She wanted to be wise like God so she ate the condemned fruit and talked Adam into trying it. Thus, Adam and Eve became the first recorded case of the end justifying the means or situational ethics.

Another example of situational ethics is described in Proverbs 7. A father is teaching his son through a story of another young man. He described the scene, “For at the window of my house I looked through my lattice, and I saw among the naïve, I discerned amongst the youths, a young man lacking sense” (Proverbs 7:6-7). The father is describing a man young not only in years but also in spiritual maturity. A man who has not yet made up his mind about the values he will hold in his life. It is clear from the story that the danger to the young man is his not having made up his mind about his values. Without his values to guide him he is open to compromise, and compromise is the first step to a situational ethic.

More recent examples of situational ethics in world history include men like Mussolini and Hitler, or the kids on the street who think it’s alright to kill someone wearing the wrong color jacket who strays into their neighborhood.

Factory workers, managers, and executives are all prone to situational ethics. The factory worker teaches his child that it is wrong to lie, but when the boss says, “Did you forget to grease this machine?” he lies and says “No, not me boss!” because he doesn’t want to get fired. An executive tells his child it is wrong to steal but brings home pencils and pens from the office.

Results of Situational Ethics

Situational ethics; dishonesty, cheating, and lying because the ends justify the means occur in every company every day.

A company, a division, a work group, or even a single individual can be affected by a situational ethic. Whole companies are known for their results at any cost philosophies. Otherwise, good companies may have a division executive who puts so much pressure on his people to perform that they bend the rules and he looks the other way. Individuals may risk breaking rules just to get ahead.

In all these cases, people think that the end justifies the means. They think the situation allows them to make up new rules.

Allowed to continue, situational ethics will result in destructive behavior, poor performance, distrust, disloyalty, low levels of motivation, low productivity, and ultimately, poor profits.

Biblical Ethics

Deception is being dishonest, it is purposely misleading people, and it is willfully cheating in the attempt to win. The Bible is exceptionally clear on the subject of deception. God was giving Moses laws to give to the people of Israel when He said, “Do not steal. Do not lie. Do not deceive one another” (Lev 19:11). You cannot get much clearer than this. For those that chose to ignore His Laws, God promised wasting diseases, fevers, famine, and slavery to foreign nations. The reward God promised to those that followed His laws included bountiful harvests, peace in the land, success in battle, and fruitful families (Lev. 26).

Peter, writing to Christians said, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you his holy, so be holy in all you do…” (I Peter 1:14-15). Peter is encouraging us to be set apart to God, to be morally pure.

In simple terms, a Biblical ethic is integrity. The root of the word integrity is integer, meaning “Intact, untouched, whole.” Leopold Kronecker said, “God made integers, all else is the work of man.” In his book The Integrity Crisis, author Warren Wiersbe wrote, “God wants to make integers; Satan wants to make fractions.” God wants us to be whole, Satan wants us to be divided.

Biblical ethics provide reliable standards that promote consistent ethical behavior, increasing productivity, trust, loyalty, high levels of motivation, and ultimately, higher profits.

One Final Thought

I doubt any of us would say that we want to be deceptive or that we want to lie and cheat. But deception, lying, and cheating are an everyday occurrence in business. We have become so desensitized that, too many, certain levels of deceit are acceptable. White lies are OK as long as the end justifies the means.

Not too long ago a young man was accused of dodging the draft, smoking pot, and cheating on his wife. He was elected President of the United States. There’s no way around it; ethics are not as important as they used to be.

Jesus tells us, “You are the salt of the earth … You are the light of the world … Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16 NAS).

When it is dark, turn on a small flashlight. See how even a small flashlight penetrates the darkness? You are a small light penetrating the darkness. Let your light shine before men!

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled Situational Ethics and the Art of Dishonesty, Cheating, and Lying.”

This whitepaper is a broader discussion of situational ethics versus Biblical ethics including:

  • Total Integrity Management and Biblical Ethics.
  • Six steps to establishing a Biblical ethic in your life.

You can download the free 6-page whitepaper here: Situational Ethics and the Art of Dishonesty, Cheating, and Lying.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you had to deal with people who had a situational ethic; the ends justifies the means attitude? How did it effect the organization?

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 | Integrity

 

 

#171: Me and My Extraordinarily Big Mouth!

I am pretty sure Solomon had me in mind when he said, A fool’s mouth is his undoing, and his lips are a snare to his soul” (Proverbs 18:7).

Big, Mouth, Speech

Early in my management career, but far enough into it that I should have known better, I made a huge mistake because I failed to keep my mouth shut!

I discovered a younger manager was mishandling company funds. I mentioned my concerns and the need to terminate the younger manager to a peer, ostensibly for his advice in handling the situation.

That evening my peer mentioned the situation to a peer of his who was a good friend of the younger manager about to get fired. The younger manager called my boss, irate that people were discussing his termination. All this transpired over a period of just three hours.

Needless to say, the next morning I endured a rather unpleasant meeting with my boss, who informed me of the potential issues caused by my breach of confidence.

Stupid, stupid, stupid!

I had no business discussing this employee’s situation with anyone outside HR or my boss, but I just couldn’t keep my extraordinarily big mouth shut.

That situation occurred over 30 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday!

What is it that makes it so hard to control what we say?

James, the half-brother of Jesus, said any man who can control what he says is a perfect man (James 3:2). He uses three illustrations to make his point about how influential the small tongue can be (James 3:3-6):

  • He compares the tongue to a bit placed in a horse’s mouth. A small bit placed in a horse’s mouth is used to control the direction of the entire animal.
  • He likens the tongue to a rudder on a ship. The rudder is small but it directs the course of even the largest of ships. Similarly, the tongue is small but directs the whole man.
  • He also says the tongue is like a spark that sets a whole forest on fire. It corrupts the whole person and sets his life on fire.

Any questions? The tongue, yours and mine, are out of control. What can we do?

  • Recognize our speech can get us into trouble. King David exhorted the people to, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit” (Proverbs 34:13).
  • Focus on Godly speech. Paul writing to the Colossians instructed them to, “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person” (Colossians 4:6).
  • Rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul, this time writing to the Galatians said, “…walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
  • Pray for the Lord to guide your speech. King David prayed to the Lord, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” Proverbs 19:14).

If we recognize that our speech can get us into trouble and that we have difficulty saying the right thing at the right time, then we know we need to shift our focus to Godly speech. But we will never be successful on our own. We must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to direct us, and pray for the Lord to guide us!

Do these four things and you won’t be the person Solomon referred to when he said, “A fool’s mouth will be his undoing!”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever gotten yourself in trouble by something you said? What tips will you share that help you control what you say?

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 | Self-Discipline

 

 

 

 

#170: 7 Surprising Things I learned from My Gen Z Students

Stand aside Millennials, the Gen Z’s are coming! This year’s college graduating class marks the beginning of the wave of Gen Z students entering the workforce that will continue for the next fifteen years.

Gen Z Class of 2016

Gen Z kids grew up post 9/11 and lived through a recession that saw a quarter of American kids living in poverty. At the same time, mobile technology continued to expand. These and other factors contribute to the Gen Z’s being different in many ways from their Millennial predecessors.

As a result, leaders will need to be prepared. Forewarned is forearmed!

7 Surprising Things I learned from my Gen Z Students

I was invited to teach a class in sales and sales management at a local university this spring. Three years and they keep asking me back! Go figure!

My class this year was composed of 21 students; about half juniors and the rest seniors. All Gen Z’s! While outwardly they look a lot like prior classes of Millennials, I found there are a number differences.

  • They are screen-obsessed. Millennials grew up with chips in their cribs and got used to using three screens. Gen Z’s are even more screen dependent using an average of five screens: smartphone, TV, laptop, desktop, and an i-Pad. A full 79% of Gen Z’s suffer distress when kept from their electronic devices!
  • They have the attention span of an excited puppy. Scratch that. Puppies have a longer attention span! Studies show the average attention span of a Gen Z is about 8 seconds!
  • They are socially aware and engaged. Gen Z’s are aware of social issues and even more focused than Millennials on having jobs that impact the world.
  • They expect their careers to span several companies. Like Millennials, Gen Z’s expect to work for an average of 4 companies over the course of their careers.
  • They have an entrepreneurial mindset. Nearly three-fourths of Gen Z’s want to own their businesses.
  • They like to self-educate. Ask a question and Gen Z’s will dive for their favorite device and Google the requested information in seconds. If they need to learn something they have no qualms about using internet resources to teach themselves.
  • They are aspirational but skeptical. They know they will have to work hard to succeed and about one-third would like to retire by the time they are 60-years old. But, less than 20% think that is achievable.

I saw and experienced all these characteristics play out in my class:

  • I think the average student carried two screen devices with them at all times. Their smartphone was the go-to device for convenience but they would break out the iPad or laptop for serious research.
  • I expected the short attention span issue because I saw it last semester. I tried to break up my three-hour class into shorter chunks that included a mix of lecture, role-plays, Q & A, quizzes with discussion, and a break. Even so, I could sense I was stretching their ability to focus. I thought about taking the class outside on the campus lawn, but figured I’d lose them even faster!
  • I noted that several of the students were already involved as volunteers in a variety of social causes. As I discussed potential companies for careers with several students it was clear they were most interested in companies who had a strong social responsibility presence.
  • The entrepreneurial versus the big company career question did not seem to cause a concern. Several of the students expressed an interest in working for a large company or two to learn certain skills and then strike out on their own. Whether as leaders in big companies or as owners of their own smaller businesses, it was clear these folks want to be in a position to influence others!
  • I split the class into small groups and asked questions for a case study that required internet research. Within minutes, these folks had divided up the task, visited a variety of relevant websites, gathered information, and synthesized it so that it could be reported back to the rest of the class.
  • The one somewhat somber point that arose during the semester with some students is the fact that they see themselves as having to work harder to be successful than their predecessors, with a low likelihood of being able to enjoy a long retirement.

Lessons for Leaders

Some of the lessons important for leading Gen Z’s are similar to those I noted last year for the Millennials:

  • Short attention spans mean leaders need to be careful to design work for Gen Z’s that will keep them engaged and productive.
  • Given Gen Z’s fondness for any electronic device with a screen, it makes sense to leverage this skill set for research and learning tasks.
  • Large companies need to offer a variety of career paths to keep the Gen Z’s happy. Convince them they can get all the experience they need right where they are or pretty soon you’ll be looking for their replacement.
  • Large companies also need to integrate social responsibility efforts where it makes sense and give their employees a chance to contribute as volunteers.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Which of these seven insights resonates with you? What advice do you have for leaders of Gen Z’s??

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 | Human Resource Development

 

 

 

 

 

 

#169: Ambition, Avarice and Lot’s Lost Life in the World

Lessons from the Lesser Known

Benjamin Franklin, speaking in 1787 before the Continental Congress said there were two passions which had the most powerful influence over men; ambition and avarice.

Ambition Avarice Lot

“[T]here are two passions which have a powerful influence in the affairs of men. These are ambition and avarice—the love of power and the love of money. Separately, each of these has great force in prompting men to action; but, when united in view of the same object, they have, in many minds, the most violent effects. Place before the eyes of such men a post of honor, that shall, at the same time, be a place of profit, and they will move heaven and earth to obtain it.”

Franklin was speaking from experience with the British government in which men spent their lives in pursuit of power and money.

Mankind has been struggling with the twin demons of the love of power and the love of money throughout our history. Beginning in Genesis 13 we see what happened to Abraham’s nephew, Lot who spent much of his life in the pursuit of power and money and in the end, lost it all. Lot’s story provides lessons for all of us today.

The Seeds of Ambition and Avarice

Abraham was a man of God. Lot was his nephew. Abraham had become a wealthy, powerful man because he obeyed God and was blessed by God. Lot, who travelled with his uncle, had also become wealthy.

I’m guessing here, but I suspect Lot envied his uncle’s position of power and his relationship with God.

When they arrived in the land of Canaan, Lot’s people argued with Abraham’s people over the care of their herds. To avoid quarreling between the families, Abraham suggested they separate and gave his nephew first choice over the land. Rather than deferring to his uncle, Lot looked at the land and selfishly selected the best portion of the Jordan Valley for himself.

Lot moved his herds and settled in the city of Sodom, despite the fact that Sodom was well known for their sins against God.

Sodom was attacked by neighboring kings and Lot and all his possessions were carried off. When Abraham heard about it, he rallied his men and rescued Lot and all of his possessions. Rather than moving, Lot settled right back where he had been in Sodom.

The sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were so evil the Lord decided to bring judgement upon them. God sent two angels to Sodom who met Lot sitting in a place of honor at the city gates. Lot invited the angels to stay with him and the angels warned Lot of God’s plan to destroy the city the next day.

Lot went through the city to warn his sons-in-law and daughters of the impending judgement of God, but the sons-in-law did not believe him. The next day the angels escorted Lot, his wife, and his two daughters out of the city. When they were away from the city, God reigned down judgement upon Sodom and Gomorrah destroying them both.

Lot escaped the city with the clothes on his back and lost everything else. His wife was dead. His daughter’s husbands died in the city. All the wealth and all the power were gone in the span of a single day. He lived out his days hiding in a cave in the mountains.

Lessons for Us

Lot’s slide into a worldly life driven by ambition and avarice apart from God occurred over time:

  1. Lot separated himself from God. Lot allowed strife to separate him from his godly uncle, Abraham. Rather than seeking God’s wisdom or deferring to his uncle, Lot separated himself from the one godly influence in his life.
  2. Lot allowed selfish desires to control his choices. Lot looked around and selfishly chose the best land for himself. He wanted more wealth for himself and he needed the best land to obtain it.
  3. Lot rejected his second chance. Even after Lot was taken captive and nearly lost everything, only to be rescued by his uncle, he stubbornly resumed his quest for power and wealth by settling back in Sodom.
  4. Lot chose to live surrounded by sin. Lot knowingly chose to live in a sinful city because it allowed him a place of honor at the city gates. He allowed his daughters to marry men who did not know or believe in God.
  5. Lot never turned to God. Despite the warnings of the judgement of God from the angels, Lot never turned to God to repent of his actions.

On the plus side,

  1. Lot believed the angels. He tried to convince his son-in-law of the impending judgement, but they didn’t believe him.
  2. Lot obeyed the angels. When the angels said it was time to go or face God’s wrath, Lot hesitated but followed the angels out of the city.

Mr. Franklin was right wasn’t he? Ambition and avarice, the love of power and money, cause us to make some really bad decisions.

It is so easy to allow the quest for power and money to separate us from God. We make selfish decisions. We even ignore warnings from God and reject our second chances thinking we are on the path to power and money we so richly deserve. We even put ourselves in sinful situations and justify what we are doing. Sadly, and all too often, we fail to see the signs of God’s impending judgement until it is too late. We lose it all. All the worldly wealth and power is gone in the blink of an eye.

Don’t miss this one point. When Lot hesitated in leaving Sodom, God held back the destruction of Sodom because he cared for Lot. Despite all of Lot’s poor decisions over a period of years, God still cared so much for him that he waited for Lot to get away safely.

Yes, Lot suffered the loss of all the worldly possessions, his power, and prestige, but he never stopped being a child of God. Neither do we!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Do you know men or women like Lot, whose love of power and money caused them to make poor decisions? What happened in their lives as a result?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#168: Why Are More Professional Relationships Crashing Every Day?

The state of our professional and personal relationships is in decline. And that has me worried.

Relationships Plane Crash

I see two factors contributing to the decline.

The first is technology. We have email, instant messenger, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and a host of other technologies that allow us to communicate without actually connecting.

The second cause is an outgrowth of the first, and that is the increasing trend to work remotely, away from the office. The 2010 American Cities Survey completed by the Census bureau states that just under 10 million workers work from home full-time and another 4 million work from home at least part-time. The total of 14 million people working at home is an increase of 35% over the prior decade. Imagine what the number is today, six years later!?

What is missing from relationships built on this technology is the depth that comes from actual contact with our fellow man. We check in with someone via a two-sentence email, an instant message or a Tweet, and then we are on to the next thing. We cannot establish a meaningful connection with anyone this way.

I liken this technologically driven relational contact to what pilots call a “touch and go.” Touch and goes are when you come in for a landing, the wheels touch the runway, then you power up and take off again.

Many of our relationships today are built on touch and goes. Email, instant messenger, Twitter and all the rest allow us to execute touch and goes. We can connect frequently and with ease and still not build a relationship.

Building Relationships

Real relationships, the kind that can stand the test of time, are built on solid a foundation. The foundation of strong relationships is on display throughout the Scripture. As Christians, we should set an example for everyone to see. Here are five ways we can build relationships on a solid foundation:

  • Love one another. Jesus, teaching the disciples said, Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
  • Encourage one another. Paul, writing to the Ephesians said, “No foul language is to come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29).
  • Respect one another. Peter, writing a series of instructions to believers living among Gentiles said, “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king” (1 Peter 2:17).
  • Invest in one another. Paul writing to the Romans said, We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully” (Romans 12:6-8).
  • Pray for one another. Paul, this time writing to Timothy said, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone” (1 Timothy 2:1).

Let me be clear. I am not against the use of technology. I am, in fact, a closet geek. I use email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and others. But here’s the thing. As great as these tools are, they are just tools. The communication they support is not a substitute for deep relationships built one-on-one, face-to-face.

So use the tools that are right for you, but remember too that God made us as relational beings. We need to be in relation with one another. We need to love one another, to encourage one another, to respect one another, to invest in one another, and to pray for one another. When we do these five things we will build strong relationships that will be a light to the world.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What is your reaction to the premise that the use of technology is weakening our ability to build strong relationships?

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 | Interpersonal Relationships

#167: 6 Keys to Making Important Changes in Your Life Stick

Most of us realize that we are not perfect. In this imperfect state we recognize the need to change; to refine ourselves in some way to become better. But what is better? And how do we make changes in ourselves that will stick over time? While the answers to these questions aren’t hard to get, making the changes stick is hard.

Rowboat, Changes

6 Keys to Making Important Changes in Your Life Stick

1. Looking Backward to See Ahead

There is a Japanese proverb that may be roughly paraphrased, “A man in a rowboat looks behind to see where he is going.” If you’ve ever tried to maneuver a rowboat you know it is a constant exercise in turning around to see where you’re going and turning back around you to see where you’ve been. By picking out a point in front and behind you can draw an imaginary line between the two that helps keep the boat on course.

The first step in making positive, lasting change in your life is to understand where you have been. Like rowing the boat, it is important to look back at where you’ve been to help understand where you are going.

2. Behavior Reflects Values

Another thing we can learn from our past is what our values are (not what we would like to think they are). Our values are reflected in our behavior. For example, you may say you value persistence but you frequently quit projects before they are completed. So your behavior reflects your true values. If you don’t like what you see in the values mirror, there is a behavior you need to change.

Values that are important in the world are not values that are important to God. Men value power, possessions, and prestige. But these are not God’s values, “For everything in the world – the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does – comes not from the Father but from the world” (I John 2:16).

3. Develop A Values Based Vision

One author described vision as what you hope would be said at your funeral: “He was a man of great integrity” versus “He was an inconsiderate, self-centered jerk.”

A vision is a picture of what you want to achieve by the end of your life. Paul writing again to the Romans said, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2). Our personal vision should be based on the values that we have established for ourselves.

When we have a values-based vision firmly in mind we can put into place the changes we want to make in our lives. As the change is enacted we gain strength from our relationship with God, “But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it – he will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).

4. Surround Yourself with the Right People

Making change stick is tough, but you can enhance your chances significantly if you surround yourself with the right people. Solomon wrote, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (Prov. 27:17).

We need to surround ourselves with people who understand what we are trying to do, who will challenge us, hold us accountable, and encourage us. These people may be part of our work team, peers, mentors, or members of a more formal accountability group. Whoever they are and whatever role they play in our lives, we need to enroll people who can aid our change process.

5. Prepare Yourself for Adversity

The change will not come without difficulty. Work habits and social habits are learned over a long period of time so don’t expect to change without struggling. We should not avoid trying to change because of worry, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Phil. 4:6). So in the midst of your struggle to change, keep God involved through prayer.

When the time comes that you suffer a setback, remember that even in our difficulties God will bring some good, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Rom 8:28).

6. Trust in God

Here is the most difficult step in making a lasting change. Trusting in God. Especially at work, we want to believe that we can control everything and don’t think about needing God’s help, but nothing could be further from the truth. God wants us to trust in Him to help make these changes, “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil. 2:13).

God is not, as some people fear, a cosmic killjoy. He wants us to lead good lives that honor Him, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11).

One Final Thought

Deciding what to change may be laborious but it is not particularly difficult. Making the changes in our lives and making them last is the really hard part.

There is one over-riding principle that we must keep in mind throughout the whole analysis and change process, and that is we need to make changes that honor God. Don’t worry about making changes in your life that make you more acceptable to the “world.” Rather, focus on making changes that make you more acceptable to God.

Paul writing to the Galatians said, “So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want (Gal 5:16-17). If you struggle with the change that you know is from God, then recognize that it is your sinful nature. Keep your attention focused on God and His plan for your life. When you do, you will have God’s power to help you, and who could possibly be a better mentor than God?

Bonus WhitePaper

This week’s post is excerpted from an 11-page whitepaper entitled “Under Construction–How to make Changes in Your Life.”

This whitepaper is a broader discussion of how to make important changes in your life, including:

  • 6 practical things to focus on as you begin to make important changes in your life.
  • 3 steps to help clarify your values.
  • a case study.
  • meeting notes to help employees identify what they want to change.
  • 10 tips to help you determine what and how to get started.
  • some great quotes to keep you motivated.

You can download the free 11-page whitepaper here: “Under Construction–How to make Changes in Your Life.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What barriers have you have struggled with to make important changes in your life stick?

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

#166: What does it mean to live intentionally?

Picture a beautiful river flowing lazily through a mountain valley. Standing on the bank, you throw a stick into the middle of the river and watch as it floats away downstream.

Intentionally, Canoe

Now imagine you are in a canoe. On the banks of the river are the most picturesque sites imaginable. You have two options. You can float along downstream looking at the sites as you go. Or, you can paddle up close and explore a site before continuing your journey down the river.

That river is like the time in our lives. It has as beginning and an end, just like our lives. And it moves steadily along whether we like it or not! Each of us is on a journey down the river of life.

It is a unique journey, created by God just for us. Your journey is different than mine. My journey is different than yours. Each of us is on a journey God made just for us.

The sites along the way are opportunities.

Here’s the thing, though. There are different kinds of opportunities.

Some of the opportunities are bad. They will take you away from the journey God designed for you.

Some of the opportunities aren’t bad in and of themselves, but they will distract you and keep you busy so you don’t have time for the opportunities God made just for you.

Some of the opportunities are the ones God made just for you. These are the ones that, if pursued, will enable you to live the kind of intentional, purpose-driven life God intends.

To live intentionally, you must be willing to paddle to the side and take a closer look.

You must consider each opportunity and decide: Is this an opportunity that will take me away from God’s best for me? Is this an opportunity that will distract me from being able to pursue God’s best for me? Or is this one of those precious opportunities God has given me to live the intentional life He designed just for me?

Paul, writing to the Ephesians, exhorted them to be careful to live their lives as wise men who make the most of every opportunity.

“Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil (Ephesians 5:15-16).

Then Paul admonished them not to live foolishly, but to live according to the Lord’s will.

“Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Ephesians 5:17).

Paul’s point is the wise man is discerning, not foolish. The wise man will seize the opportunities God brings to live the powerful, intentional life He intends for us.

The question is, are you floating down the river in your canoe passing by the opportunities of life? Are you letting the river carry you wherever it will?

Or are you living intentionally as God intended by paddling over to explore the opportunities?

As you consider each opportunity, do you reject those that take you away from God’s best?

Do you avoid those that are distractions that keep you from God’s best?

Do you take full advantage of every opportunity to live the intentional life God intended for you?

Are you making the most of your journey down the river of life?

Moses realized that even if we live 70 or 80 years our time in this life is short and we need God’s wisdom in our hearts to live the kind of life God intended for us (Psalm 90:10, 12).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How do you feel when you are living intentionally, on the journey God designed just 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 | Time Management