#127: What Liberal Cancer is Killing Leadership around the World?

There is a cancer epidemic spreading around the world. This cancer is not the kind an oncologist can treat. No amount of radiation or poisonous chemotherapy will stop it.

Matthew 10:22, cancer

What is this cancer you ask? It is the cancer of moral relativism. Moral relativism has been spreading around the world for hundreds of years. It spread like wildfire throughout Europe during the Enlightenment Era of the 1600 and 1700’s, crossed the pond, and came to America where by the 1800 and 1900’s it was known as ‘Modernism.’

Regardless of the era or the philosophical name, the idea was to focus more on man becoming the source of knowledge to guide behavior in society. For that to happen, God had to take a back seat. That is when the cancer of moral relativism reared its ugly head.

God, through His Word, set the standard for morality. For man to establish a moral standard, he had to reject God’s standard. The trouble with man’s standard of morality is that different people, from different cultures, have different cultural norms, and they all think they are right. The moral relativist says no one standard of morality is right for all people, at all times, and in all places.

The impact of moral relativism is easily seen among our political leaders. For many, their primary objective is to keep their jobs by being re-elected. They will do or say anything to broaden their appeal to their constituents.

That’s why a legislative leader who was against abortion a few years ago has suddenly had his/her position ‘evolve’ to now be accepting of abortion under the guise of being ‘tolerant.’  God’s standard of morality was cast aside to make room for the moral standard of some activists.

The exact same thing is happening with the recent U.S. Supreme Court opinion in support of homosexual marriage. God’s standard of morality was cast aside to make room for the moral standard of some activists.

Lest you think that moral relativism affects only our political leaders take a look at the business world.  In the last few years, quite a few big companies have been in the news as a result of moral relativism: Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, ImClone, Global Crossing, Adelphia, AOL Time Warner, Quest, and Charter Communications to name just a few. These executives all thought their actions were morally justified.

That’s what happens when God’s standard of morality is replaced by man’s standard.

What Can Christian Leaders Do?

There is good news. There is one cure, and one cure only for the cancer of moral relativism and that is to return to God’s standard of morality. Christian leaders, millions of us around the world, through the power of the Holy Spirit, can stop the spread of moral relativism.

  • We must stand firm in our faith. Paul writes that we must be united in our faith with the fullness of Christ, and that then we will, “no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Ephesians 4:12-14).
  • We must be a light unto the world. Jesus said our lives must be like a light that brightens a whole room, “in the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).
  • We must be prepared for ridicule. Jesus warned the disciples that their message would bring derision, hatred, and persecution, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:21-23).

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Has moral relativism impacted you in your business? If so, in what way?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

#126: The Single Most Important Thing You Need To Know About Potential Employees

I was only a few months into my first management assignment when I was teamed up with one of P&G’s recruiting managers for training on how to interview and hire prospective employees.

Mountain Character

I remember it like it was yesterday (or maybe like the day before yesterday). It was a beautiful day in Seattle, and we were interviewing graduates from the University of Washington for positions as sales representatives.

I listened intently as the recruiter breezed through the interview questions with a couple of prospects, asking probing questions along the way to determine if they were candidates for a second interview.

Suddenly it was my turn, and the full weight of making a decision hit me. In a few minutes I had to assess someone’s fit for a career in sales. To accept someone who was not a good fit would cost the company a ton of money and time. Pass up someone truly talented and the company would miss out on their potential contributions.

The interview questions explored what the candidates had done, their problem solving ability, and their ability to influence others. These were all important skills for a prospective salesperson.

What I realize now is that these interview questions missed the most important aspect of a person’s qualifications to work for the company; their character!

Over the course of my career I worked with several managers who had great skills sets; they were achievers, they were problem solvers, and they had the ability to influence others, but they were less than desirable as leaders because of issues with their character.

Character is important because character drives behavior, but what character traits are important in business?

What Character Traits Are Important?

King David had some lapses in character (the whole Bathsheba incident comes to mind). But in Psalm 15 David wondered what kind of person might be permitted to live with God, because he wanted to be that kind of person.

His conclusions provide us with excellent guidelines for the kind of Godly character traits that will serve us well in business:

1) A person of character speaks the truth

A person of character has truth deep in their hearts, they do not slander, nor do they discredit others.

…Who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, (Psalm 15:2-3)

2) A person of character despises the morally wicked

A person of character despises the morally wicked, offensive people, but has great respect for those who seek the Lord.

…Who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD (Psalm 15:4)

3) A person of character keep his word

A person of character keeps his word even when it is inconvenient.

…Who keeps his oath even when it hurts (Psalm 15:4)

4) A person of character does not take advantage of others

A person of character does not take advantage of someone in their time of need.

…Who lends his money without usury (Psalm 15:5)

5) A person of character cannot be bribed

A person of character champions the cause of the innocent they do not take bribes against them.

…[Who] does not accept a bribe against the innocent. (Psalm 15:5)

 

David believed that a person who demonstrated these character traits in their lives would be solid, not one who would be led astray, but remain true to their core beliefs.

He who does these things will never be shaken. Psalm 15:5 (NIV)

 

Now really, think about it. What kind of people do you want to surround yourself with in your organization? Certainly not liars, people who are morally deficient, someone who does not keep their word, someone who takes advantage of others, and surely you don’t want someone who can be bribed.

You want someone with character. Someone who cannot be shaken!

The challenge obviously is finding these kinds of people. The usual interview questions don’t get at issues of character so you’ll have to do your best to assess character another way, which is why my mantra now is “hire slow, and fire fast.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you been ‘stung’ by someone with character deficiencies in your workplace? How did you deal with it?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

#125: 5 Truths Esther Taught Me about Leadership in the Face of Death

I loathe confrontation, and that has led to a number of terrible decisions in my career. As a people pleaser, there have been times when I would much rather smile and endure, than muster the courage required to deal with a problem face-to-face.

Esther truth

There are tire track impressions on my back—stark reminders of several situations when I allowed someone to run right over me rather than stand my ground. (If it hadn’t been for my wife’s encouragement and support there would have been many more examples).

The problem is that ignoring a crisis does not make it go away, and refusing to stand up and confront an issue is not the definition of a strong, courageous leader.

Happily, the Bible gives us many examples of courageous people that God called on to do a great work, and one of my favorites is a little orphan girl named Esther.

Esther parents had died and she was raised by her cousin Mordecai. Through a series of remarkable circumstances Esther, a Jewess became queen of Persia, the greatest superpower the world had ever seen.

Haman, the prime minister of Persia, hated the Jews, and through a series of lies convinced the king that the Jews must be exterminated. Mordecai heard about the king’s edict to kill all the Jews, and he secretly got word to his cousin Esther.

Esther’s actions teach us five very important truths about leadership in the face of death:

Truth #1: We Need to Understand the Situation (Esther 4:1-8).

Mordecai got a copy of the king’s edict to Esther in the palace so she would understand what was at stake. At the same time, he told her she was the one person whom God had placed in a unique situation to do something to save her people.

Lesson for Us. Esther took her time to read through the king’s edict. She understood the implications of the edict, and her unique position to act on behalf of her people. Always take the time to really understand the situation before you agree to engage.

Truth #2: We Must Count the Cost (Esther 4:9-10).

Esther realized that coming before the king without being summoned might result in her execution unless the king granted her permission to come forward.

Lesson for Us. Most of the leadership situations you and I are faced with are not life and death, but regardless, it is a wise man or woman who counts the cost before proceeding.

Truth #3: We Must Always Seek God’s Wisdom (Esther 4:15-17).

Esther sent word to Mordecai that she and her servants, and Mordecai and all the Jews should pray and fast for three days to seek God’s wisdom.

Lesson for Us. Esther didn’t just pray for wisdom herself, she engaged her staff and all the Jews throughout the land to pray and fast with her. This is an oft-neglected step in the leadership action plan. Ask God! We tend to run ahead of God working on our own power. Let’s remember to stop and seek God’s will.

Truth #4: We Must Plan a Course of Action.

Esther carefully planned out her approach to the king, and how she would make a request to the king to save her people.

Lesson for Us. We’re not told explicitly in the story, but sometime during the three days of prayer and fasting, Esther devised a detailed plan of action for approaching the king and making her request known. Never act against a major initiative without a well-developed plan!

Truth #5: We Must Execute Our Plan (Esther 5:1-8, 7:1-10).

Esther got all dressed up in her royal robes and approached the king, who allowed her to enter. When the king asked what she wanted, she asked only that the king and Haman join her for dinner that evening. At the dinner, the king asked what she wanted, and she said only for the king and Haman to join her the next evening for dinner and she would tell him. The next evening, she asked the king to spare her people because they had been sold into destruction by none other than Haman.

Lesson for Us. There is a time for prayer and a time for action. Once the time for prayer was completed Esther took action the very next day. We need to be just as decisive and courageous knowing that whatever happens God is with us.

The role of a leader places us in tenuous situations where we are going to have to stand courageously because God may have placed you in this position for just a time as this (Esther 4:14).

The next time you are confronted with a leadership crisis make sure you understand the situation, count the cost, seek God’s wisdom, plan a course of action, and then and only then, execute your plan!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you struggled to deal with difficult situations in your role as a leader? Which of these lessons is most difficult for you?

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Category: Personal Development | Courage/Risk Taking

#124: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

Transforming Fears in your Life

Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?  The three little pigs were, and they had good reason.

Fear Wolf

In the story of the three little pigs that Walt Disney popularized in 1936, the wolf huffs and puffs and blows down one little pig’s perfectly good house made of straw.  Determined to stand their ground two little pigs hid out in the house made of sticks.  When the house made of sticks came apart the two little pigs ran to the house of their brother.  All the huffing and puffing from the wolf didn’t matter, they were safe once inside the brick house.  Eventually, the three little pigs had the wolf for dinner.  There is a lot of wisdom in this story about how fear affects us in our lives.

The First Fear

The word “fear” is found throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  Adam is the first to express fear when God confronts him in the Garden of Eden after he and Eve ate the forbidden fruit;  “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” (Genesis 3:10 NAS).

Given the circumstances, Adam and Eve’s fear of being naked was justified.  God banished them from the Garden, condemned mankind to a life of toil, and increased the pain of childbirth (Genesis 3:16-17).  Fear is like a two-edged sword; in some cases it motivates people to achieve, and in other cases it cripples.  Seasoned actors who give legendary performances confess to having stage fright.  Executives who manage large companies fail to discipline their children for fear of losing their love.  What is it about fear that motivates some and cripples others?

What is Fear?

Mr. Webster defines fear as, “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger, a profound reverence and awe especially toward God.”  The Bible uses the same word, yare, to express both the fear of danger and reverence for God.  The Israelites provide an example of the fear of anticipated danger.

Recall in Numbers 13, Moses sends 12 spies into the land of Canaan to find out if their cities are fortified, if the people are strong or weak, and whether the people are few or many (Numbers 13:18-19).  The spies returned after a month and ten of them said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us” (Numbers 13:31).

The result of this report was that the entire nation of Israel was afraid to go in and take the land that God had promised them, so they ended up wandering in the desert for 40 years before they got a second chance.

The irony of this example is that after wandering for 40 years Joshua sent two spies into the city of Jericho where they spoke to Rahab, the harlot.  Rahab tells them, “I know that the Lord has given you the land, and that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land have melted away before you.  For we have heard how the Lord dried up the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt…And when we heard it our hearts melted and no courage remained in any man any longer because of you; for the Lord your God, He is in heaven above and on the earth beneath” (Joshua 2:9-11).

Fear kept the nation of Israel from taking their land when God first wanted them to so they wandered in the desert for 40 years.  All the while the Canaanites who had only heard stories about the Israelites had their hearts melt away with fear.

The Effects of Fear

Dr. Rick Warren (Senior Pastor, Saddleback Valley Community Church) identifies the effect of fear on us.

1) Fear paralyzes our potential

Fear kept the entire nation of Israel from entering into the Promised Land.  If they had not been afraid of the Canaanites they would have saved 40 years of wandering in the desert.  The Israelites told Moses, “Have you brought us out here to die in the desert because there were not enough graves for us in Egypt? … We said it would be better to be slaves to the Egyptians than dead in the wilderness” (Exodus 14:11-12).  The Israelites would rather have been slaves in Egypt than face their fears.  Have you even been so afraid of a situation that you retreated instead of charging forward?  Do you know anyone who is so afraid of their personal computer that they refuse to learn how to tap into its amazing power?  Instead, they dictate memos, hand write presentations, and use a calculator on long columns of numbers.

2) Fear ruins our relationships

Because Moses exhorted the Israelites to take the Promised Land, the people fearing failure wanted to kill Moses, “But all the congregation said to stone them with stones” (Numbers 14:10).  They also wanted to appoint other leaders and go back to slavery in Egypt (Numbers 14:4)!  Fear also hurt their relationship with God.  If Moses had not intervened on their behalf God would have judged them right then, “I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you (Moses) into a nation greater and mightier than they” (Numbers 14:12).  Have you ever been afraid of a customer or a boss?  Perhaps a very important customer threatened to discontinue your product.  You feared the loss of sales and profit, of having to lay off employees, and perhaps even the loss of the business.  Have you ever had a boss threaten you?  “If you don’t fix this business you’re fired.”  “If you don’t increase widget production in your unit up I’ll get someone who can.”  What happens with relationships when fear enters in?  Chances are your level of trust declines, you keep things to yourself, you blame others for your trouble, and you may even look for ways to hurt the other person.  Not exactly the best conditions for building strong relationships!

3) Fear hinders our happiness

Fear kept the Israelites from finding happiness.  They did not get into the Promised Land, and in fact, they wanted to go back to being slaves.  They weren’t happy being slaves either, but they thought that was preferable to facing the Canaanites.  Think about a business situation when you were afraid.  What were you like?  Were you a happy, encouraging manager?  Or were you sullen and short-sighted like the Israelites?  There’s a saying, “Don’t worry, be happy.”  Perhaps a little flip but the point is happiness and fear do not go together.  It’s hard to be happy when your heart is full of fear.  If you want to be happy you need to learn to control your worries and fears.

4) Fear sabotages our success

Job said, “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me” (Job 3:25).  Job feared, past tense, and his fears became manifest.  The Israelites feared the Canaanites so the entire generation wandered in the desert, never having the chance to see the Promised Land.  What fears have kept you from success?  Has the fear of expanding your business kept you small?  Has the fear of new technology kept your business in the dark ages?  Fear often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  What Job feared most became true.  Do you want what you fear most to come true?

One Final Thought

Once safely ensconced in the brick house the three little pigs were not afraid of the big bad wolf.  They had the confidence of knowing that the brick house could stand up to all the huffing and puffing the wolf could muster.  We can have this confidence if we build our own brick house.  But rather than a real brick house, we must build ours from a knowledge of God’s Word.  There are 366 “fear-nots” in the Bible.  That’s one for every day of the year including leap years.  Memorize verses of the Bible that give you strength.  Each verse is like a brick in your house that will protect you from the fears in your life.  Remember those fears are not from God, and the devil cannot blow down a house made from God’s Word!

Bonus Whitepaper

If you would like a broader discussion on this topic, including seven steps for overcoming fear, download the Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?  whitepaper.

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Has fear kept you from doing something you felt called to do?

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 | Courage