#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 a gnat. Scratch that. Gnats 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

 

 

 

#165: Do you respond to God like Lydia?

Lessons from the Lessor Known

I believe there is something important we can and should learn from every person God presents to us in His Word.

Lydia

We meet one such person in the book of Acts. She is referred to as Lydia though we don’t know for sure if this is her real name or the name of her native city. We don’t know anything about her background other than she was from Thyatira and Paul met her in Philippi which was a Roman colony.

Luke writes that he and Paul, along with Timothy and Silas arrived in Philippi and stayed there for several days. On the Sabbath, they went outside the city gate by the river where the Jews of the city gathered to pray. They sat down and spoke to the women gathered there.

“One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us” (Acts 16:14-15).

It is only two verses but in them we learn four important things about Lydia.

A Business Woman

Lydia was from Thyatira where some of the best purple cloth in the world was made. Living in Philippi, Lydia had become a prominent business woman who sold purple cloth which was much sought after throughout the Roman empire.

Her acumen as a businesswoman provided a large house and servants to care for her and her family. Her house itself must have been large enough to accommodate her family, their servants, and eventually, Paul and his three travelling companions as guests.

Her success as a businesswoman is especially noteworthy given the paternal dominance of Roman society.

A Spiritual Woman

The Jewish population in Philippi must have been small because there was no synagogue there (10 Jewish men were required to start a synagogue). Lydia, a proselyte to Judaism, joined with other women daily by the river outside the city to worship God.

As Paul spoke that Sabbath day, Lydia listened attentively and the Lord opened her heart to receive the message spoken by Paul.

A Christian Woman

Lydia responded immediately to Paul’s preaching and was baptized as a believer in Christ. She evidently carried the news back to her household. Because of her faith and witness, her entire household became believers and were baptized.

A Hospitable Woman

Immediately after her baptism, Lydia insisted Paul and his three travelling companions come and stay at her house as her guests. Later, when Paul and Silas were released from prison Lydia welcomed them back into her home (Acts 16:38-40).

Lessons from Lydia for Us

I see two especially important lessons from Lydia for us today:

  • Lydia responded to God. Most important, Lydia was a devout, spiritually open, and discerning woman who worshipped God. She went to the river and met with other believers daily to pray and worship God. She responded immediately to Paul’s message about Christ. Her enthusiasm for her new faith allowed her to evangelize the rest of her household.
  • Lydia used her talents and gifts for the kingdom. First, she was a successful businesswoman. She continued her business in a Gentile-dominated world after accepting Christ. She did not leave her business to enter “ministry” but continued to run her business as a ministry. Second, Lydia cared for the saints. Lydia was a woman with the gift of hospitality who opened her home to Paul and his friends even after they bore the stigma of having been thrown into prison.

I can think of nothing more important to us a Christians today than to be diligent in our worship of God and to be open to His leading in our lives. And then, to respond to the Lord’s leading by using our gifts and talents to further the Kingdom of God.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked with or do you know a “Lydia?” Have you responded to God’s call on your life? Are you using the gifts and talents He gave you to further the Kingdom?

 

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

 

 

 

#164: Are you a fig tree leader or a thornbush leader?

When I was only 7 or 8 years old I learned two important lessons from my grandparents though I didn’t fully understand them at the time.

Fig tree leader

In eastern Washington where I grew up, there were a lot of fruit trees, especially apples, cherries, and peaches. When the fruit was in season we would go to the you-pick farms and get bushel loads of fresh fruit that grandma would can and put in the cellar to enjoy all year long.

The first lesson was if you want apples, you need an apple tree. If you want peaches, you need a peach tree. I know, pretty deep, huh? A tree is known by its fruit!

It turns out, and this is what I learned later in life, the same principle applies to people!

Jesus, teaching the disciples said, “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers” (Luke 6:43-44).

A fig tree produces delicious figs. A thornbush produces, well, nothing but thorns.

Jesus is telling the disciples they need to be good trees who bear good fruit. They need to be like fig trees who produce delicious fruit.

But Jesus is also teaching the disciples the way to tell if someone is good or bad is to examine their fruit. In the long run, good people bear good fruit and bad people bear bad fruit.

Throughout my career, I found Jesus’ teaching to be true. Good people produce good fruit, and bad people produce bad fruit. You can tell whether a person is good or bad by the fruit they produce.

Jesus went on to say that a good man brings good things out of the good stored in his heart while an evil man brings out the evil stored in his heart (Luke 6:45).

The distinction Jesus is making is the good that a good man produces comes from deep inside. Their goodness comes from the good that is in their hearts. A person’s goodness or badness is a reflection of the condition of their heart.

If our hearts are pure and focused on the things of God, then we will produce good fruit. If, however, our hearts are focused on selfish things, things of the world, then we will produce bad fruit.

A second lesson I learned picking fruit as a young lad was every once in a while I would reach up to pick an apple and find it was bad. Occasionally that good looking peach was all mush on the inside.

The tree was good, but once in a while, it produced a piece of bad fruit.

It turns out, people are like that as well. We may be good trees, but even the best of us will produce a piece of bad fruit. We are, after all, living in a fallen world and last time I looked, none of us is perfect.

So when you look at a tree, you judge the whole tree, not a single piece of fruit. A good person will produce good fruit. Sure we mess up once in a while, but the test of our character, of our hearts, is the good fruit we produce over time.

As leaders, we are known by our fruit. Our employees, our co-workers, and our customers will judge us by the fruit we produce. We will either be known, like Jesus said, as fig trees producing good fruit, or as thornbushes, producing bad fruit.

Are you a fig tree leader, or a thornbush leader?

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked for fig tree leaders? Have you worked for thornbush leaders? What impact did each have on you? 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 | Character

 

 

#163: Is Integrity the Most Important Building Block of Personal Development?

One only needs to flip through the business section of the newspaper to see that integrity in business is lacking. It seems that on a daily basis there are stories about Wall Street, real estate and precious metals swindles, bankruptcies caused by corrupt management, and worst of all, religious leaders who abandon biblical principles in the quest for power and fame.

Integrity walks securely

This kind of behavior is an insidious growth like cancer; by the time you discover it, it is very difficult to cut out of an organization. An organization with integrity is nothing more than the sum of the individuals who have integrity. Like yeast that leavens the whole lump, one individual without integrity has the power to destroy an otherwise sound organization.

Reviewing the state of society one can only conclude that there is a definite lack of moral principle, that the principles that do exist are not sound, or both.

The first biblical breach of integrity comes in Genesis 3:6 when Eve took the first bite of the apple, despite the fact that she knew God’s commandment not to eat from the tree. Ever since that fateful day, sinful man has lived with lapses of integrity. Only Jesus lived a life of complete integrity.  Every one of the rest of us has to struggle with it every day. One would hope that since we have the Bible, which provides many accounts of the results of man’s lapses with integrity, that we would have learned something.

A 1987 Gallup poll reported that 42% of Americans doubt the honesty of some, if not most, appeals for religious donations. In another Gallup poll, 43% of those who don’t attend religious services say they have taken home supplies from work. Sadly, so do 37% of churchgoers. Thirty-four percent of the unchurched report calling in to work sick when they weren’t, as opposed to 27% of the churched. Gallup goes on in situation after situation concluding that “These findings…show little difference in the ethical behavior of the churched and the unchurched.”

If the churched are only marginally more ethical in daily life than the unchurched, then we need to put on the breastplate of righteousness (Ephesians 6:14) and start living the life of integrity for which we have been set apart! According to Webster’s dictionary, integrity is “soundness of and adherence to moral principle and character; uprightness, honesty.” The message is clear. Not only must there be adherence to moral principles, but the principles themselves must be sound.

Of the sixteen times that the word integrity is used in the Old Testament, we find a number of references to the heart, judgment that comes with a lack of integrity, uprightness, our walk with God, and the blessing that comes with a life of integrity.

Integral Integrity

The Old Testament refers to “the integrity of heart” three times (Gen 20:5, Gen 20:6, and 1 Kings 9:4). The principle in each of these references is that integrity is something that lives in our hearts, it is not something to be put on and taken off at will. Integrity of heart is something you either have or do not have.

A man with integrity holds it deep within his heart and as God said to Satan regarding Job “…he still holds fast his integrity” (Job 2:3). The implication from the Hebrew is that Job’s integrity is fastened to him and that it strengthens him. If a man has integrity, you can see it in his very nature. It is a part of the man that cannot be separated from him because he “holds fast his integrity.”

The Benefits of Integrity

In his book Disciplines of a Godly Man, Richard Hughes notes five benefits of integrity: character, conscience, intimacy, elevation, and evangelism.

Character. Integrity builds character. Paul writing to the Philippians said, “Finally brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is anything of excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these” (4:8 NAS). By focusing on thinking and doing what is right you will build character.

Conscience. “He who walks with integrity walks securely, But he who perverts his ways will be found out” (Proverbs 10:9). There is enough stress in life without adding the stress that comes from wondering whether we will ever get “caught.” A man with integrity will boldly hold to his principles despite the deceitful actions of those around him.

Intimacy. Integrity creates an opportunity for a growing, intimate relationship with God: “Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being” (Psalm 51:6 NAS). Having the desire to have a clean heart is a big step toward building an intimate relationship with God.

Elevation. A lack of integrity is like yeast that leavens the lump; it will eventually effect the entire organization. Likewise, a leader who is an outspoken proponent of integrity tends to build up those around him by developing their honesty and character. Psalm 78:72 speaks of Jacob as Israel’s shepherd, “So he shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands.”

Solomon wrote in Proverbs 20:7, “A righteous man walks in his integrity. How blessed are his sons after him.” Your example of integrity will not only elevate your peers but will provide an example for those who will follow after you!

Evangelism. We are examples to the world. It is a sad commentary indeed that churchgoers are only slightly more honest than the unchurched. We have little hope of convincing others that there is something special about an intimate relationship with God if it doesn’t show in the way we lead our lives!

One Final Thought

Ask yourself the question, “Where can I find people who are examples of a life of integrity?” Take a look at politicians, sports figures, musicians, entertainers, and business leaders. It’s hard isn’t it?

While there are many exceptional people in all of these fields that live their lives with integrity, it is easier for us to recall the politicians sleeping in the wrong beds or taking payoffs, sports figures convicted of illegal gambling or going through drug rehab programs, talented musicians who lost their lives to drugs, entertainers who tell big lies to gain publicity, and business leaders who manufacture products that they know are unsafe in plants that they know are hazardous to the health of workers.

Think for a moment about why these people compromised their integrity.

Was it for money, for power, for fame? If you want your organization to have integrity, then you must demonstrate integrity in your actions first. The organization will follow.

Every day is an opportunity to succeed or fail in your goal to live with integrity. Perhaps it will be of some encouragement to consider Job, who after losing his family, his possessions, his great wealth, and being stricken with painful disease said to his accusers “…till I die I shall not put my integrity away from me” (Job 27:5).

Bonus WhitePaper

If you would like a broader discussion on this topic, download the free 5-page whitepaper, “Is Integrity the Most Important Building Block of Personal Development?” It includes a bonus discussion of  eight powerful ideas will help you build integrity in yourself and your organization:

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you had to deal with coworkers or bosses who struggled to maintain their integrity? If so, what effect did that have on you? 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 | Character

 

#162: How Distrust, Conjecture, and Hasty Actions Lead to Disaster

It seems like every day reading my news feed I see a story about some executive who acted impulsively and their actions led to disaster.

Distrust

You know the type. They are the “Ready, Fire, Aim” guys. The “Shoot first and ask questions later guys.”

It turns out this is not a new phenomenon among leaders.

While reading Joshua 22, I noticed how some “Ready, Fire, Aim” leaders combined with the unholy trinity of distrust, conjecture, and hasty action nearly led to civil war between the Israelites.

The Israelites had driven out the inhabitants of the Promised land over a period of several years. When they were done, the eastern tribes left the western tribes to journey back across the Jordan River to occupy their land.

The eastern tribes built a large altar after they crossed the Jordan and when the western tribes heard about it, they all assembled to go to war against their eastern tribe brothers.

They assumed that the eastern tribes were planning on making sacrifices at the altar. This was in direct violation of God’s command to only offer sacrifices at the Tabernacle.

We’re not told who, but someone decided to assemble a delegation of leaders from the ten western tribes and go talk to the leaders of the eastern tribes.

They immediately accused eastern tribes saying the altar they built was a sign of their rebellion against God. They assumed the altar was built to offer sacrifices in violation of God’s command. They concluded that God would be angry and judge the entire nation of Israel because of their rebellion.

The eastern tribes explained the assumptions and conclusion reached by the leaders of the western tribes were all false. They built the altar, not for sacrifices, but as a witness between their people of their special relationship to God. It was to serve as a reminder to future generations how they shared in the great blessings of God.

The situation between the western and eastern tribes of Israel reveals the deadly nature of distrust, conjecture, and hasty actions, and how a decision to ask questions and listen avoided disaster:

  1. No one sought God’s counsel. The western tribes were greatly concerned when they thought the eastern tribes were rebelling against God. Nowhere though do we see that they sought God’s counsel.
  2. Distrust and conjecture are a dangerous combination. The western tribes had been fighting alongside their eastern brothers for several years, yet they immediately distrusted them when they heard about the altar and assumed the worst.
  3. Based on incomplete information they hastily prepared for war. Having concluded the eastern tribes were rebelling against God, the western tribes prepared to go to war against their eastern brothers.
  4. Cooler heads prevailed. A summit between the western and eastern leaders was held.
  5. Someone finally listened. The western tribes immediately made their accusations. As the eastern tribes explained their reasoning behind building the altar, the western tribe leaders finally understood and returned home in peace.

A civil war was nearly fought between brothers all because of a lack of trust, wild conjecture that led to false assumptions and conclusions, followed by a hasty decision to act.

The wisdom of Proverbs 18:13 comes to mind, He who answers before listening– that is his folly and his shame.”

As Christians who bear the responsibility of leading, we should never assume we have all the facts in a given situation. Basing actions on incomplete information, assumptions, and conjecture will almost always be to our folly and shame.

Mr. Covey was right when he said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you encountered situations in which leaders made hasty decisions based on inaccurate or incomplete information? What impact did it 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: Skills | Communication Skills

 

 

 

 

#161: Our Passionate Response to Passion Week

Passion Week (also known as Holy Week) is the week between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. It is the period of time between Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem and His resurrection.

Risen Passion

As Christians, it is important for us to understand the events of Passion Week and our response to it.

Sunday

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Matthew 21:1-11, Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:29-44, John 12:12-19)).

As He approaches the city, Jesus weeps over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44).

Jesus visits the Temple (mark 11:11).

Jesus goes to Bethany and spends the night there (Matthew 21:17).

Monday

Jesus leaves Bethany early in the morning to return to Jerusalem. On his way, He curses the fig tree and teaches the disciples about faith (Matthew 21:18-22, Mark 11:12-14).

Jesus cleanses the Temple by driving out the moneychangers (Matthew 21:12-16, Mark 11:15-17, Luke 19:45-46).

Jesus returns to Bethany with the Disciples (Mark 11:19).

Tuesday

Jesus leaves Bethany early in the morning and notes the fig tree he cursed the day before is withered (Matthew 21:20-22, Mark 11:20-26).

As Jesus enters the Temple, His authority is questioned by the chief priests and elders (Matthew 21:23-27, Mark 11:27-33, Luke 20:1-8).

Jesus delivers the Olivet discourse as He is leaving the Temple (Matthew 24:1-25:46, Mark 13:1-37, Luke 21:5-36)

Wednesday

No activity regarding Jesus is recorded in the Gospels. He spends the day and night in Bethany.

The chief priests and elders plot to kill Jesus (Matthew 26:1-5, Mark 14:1-2, Luke 22:1-2, John 11:47-53).

Judas agrees to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-11, Luke 22:3-6, John 13:2, 27).

Thursday

Preparations are made for the Passover (Matthew 26:17-20, Mark 14:12-17, Luke 22:7-14).

Jesus washes the disciple’s feet and foretells His betrayal during the Last Supper (Matthew 26:20-35, Mark 14:17-26, Luke 22:14-30).

Jesus left with the disciples and went to the Garden of Gethsemane. He left the disciples and going a little further He prayed to the Father (Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 14:32-42, Luke 22:39-46).

Jesus is betrayed by Judas and arrested (Matthew 26:47-56, Mark 14:43-52, Luke 22:47-53, John 18:2-12).

Friday

Jesus endures three Jewish trials before Annas, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin (Matthew 26:57-27:2, Mark 14:53-15:1, Luke 22:54-71, John 18:13-24).

Jesus endures three Roman trials before Pilate, Herod, and Pilate a second time (Matthew 27:2-26, Mark 15:2-15, Luke 23:1-25, John 18:28-19:16).

Jesus is condemned, tortured, and crucified (sometime between 9:00 am and 12 noon) (Matthew 27:27-54, Mark 15:16-39, Luke 23:26-49, John 19:16-37). Darkness came over the land from noon to 3:00 pm. About 3:00 pm Jesus cried out to God and gave up His spirit.

Jesus’ death is confirmed by Pilate. Pilate gives permission to Joseph of Arimathea to bury Jesus. Jesus is buried in the evening. The stone is rolled in front of Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 27:57-66, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-54, John 19:38-42).

Saturday

Jesus’ tomb is sealed and Jewish leaders request guards be stationed in front of Jesus’ tomb (Matthew 27:62-66).

Sunday

At dawn, Mary Magdalene and Mary went to Jesus’ tomb. An angel of the Lord descended from heaven and rolled the stone away and was sitting on it when the women arrived. The angel told them Jesus had been resurrected and to go and tell the disciples (Matthew 28:1-8, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 24:1-12, John 20:1-13).

As they were going, Jesus appeared to the women (Matthew 28:9-10, Luke 24:10-11, John 20:14-18).

Jesus appears to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34), to two disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), to the disciples including Thomas (Luke 24:36-43, John 20:19-29).

Our Passionate Response

Passion Week is so named because of the passion Jesus demonstrated throughout His final week on earth. He cared so much for us that, despite knowing what lay ahead, He committed Himself to doing the will of the Father.

Jesus submitted to humiliation, torture, crucifixion, and having the weight of the sins of the world placed upon Him. Through His sacrifice as the sinless Lamb of God, we are able to stand before the Lord sinless, adopted into the Father’s family as His children.

How can we be anything less than passionate in our worship of our Lord and Savior?!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome.

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?

The timing and exact order of some events of Passion Week are difficult to determine with certainty so you may have seen events arranged in a slightly different order. Also, I have not attempted to include everything that occurred during Passion Week – only the major events that pertain to the Lord’s eventual capture and crucifixion.

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God