#227: Shall I Do the Good I Know To Do?

There are days when I wake up thinking, “Good morning, God.” But there are days; I hate to admit it when I am more likely to wake up thinking, “Good God, it’s morning!”

Good Evil

Some days I just don’t “feel” like being a good Christian.

Now, this is a problem. The rest of the world could care less how I feel when I wake up. People are going to look at me and decide, “Is this a reflection of Jesus I see?” or “Is this a reflection of the spawn of Satan?”

A perfect example is when I get behind the wheel of my car. If I have plenty of time to get to my destination, and the freeway is flowing along, then I am pretty likely to wave and let you in when you are merging into my lane.

BUT, if I am late. If the freeway is not flowing freely. If you didn’t signal before you cut in front of me. Then I will likely offer you words of encouragement to improve your driving. If you cut in front of me and then slow down, then I will likely suggest locations for you to park your car until you learn how to drive.

I know it’s just me. I know these thoughts have never crossed your mind when you are driving.

The conversations I have are just between the other driver and me. Oh, and my passengers. And of course, God.

Here’s the point. Every day should be a “Good morning, God” kind of day. After-all, it is only by God’s grace that He gave me another day to live and to love.

Every day is an opportunity for me to reflect God’s love and grace to the world. The trouble is, I am weak and full of corruptible sin.

I Fail to Do the Good I know to Do

There are times I know the good I should do, and I fail to do it.

  • I know I should be relaxed and patient when I am behind the wheel of my car.
  • I know I should respond to that email request today because I promised I would.
  • I know I should work on that project at work because I committed to finishing it by tomorrow.
  • I know I shouldn’t listen to the gossip in the office.
  • I know I should help out that homeless guy who is looking for some food.

Yes, I know the good I should do, but sometimes I just don’t do it.

Jesus’ Lessons from the Parables

Jesus frequently taught the disciples this lesson about discerning what should be done and not fail to do what we should.

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25: 14-30), there is the man who received one talent of gold with instructions to invest it until his master returned. Instead of investing the gold, the man hid it in the ground. He knew what he should do, but he failed to do it.

In the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) a priest and a Levite purposely avoid helping a badly beaten man left at the side of the road. They knew what they should do, but they failed to do it.

In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), the rich man didn’t care about people while he was alive. Then wanted special treatment after he died. He knew what he should have done while he was alive, but he failed to do it.

There are a lot of other examples. In fact, much of Jesus’ teaching touches on this topic of knowing what we should do and fail to do it.

James’ Drives the Point Home

It is no wonder that at the beginning of his book, James admonished believers to be “doers of the Word and not hearers only” (James 1:22). Then, summarizing his instructions, he concludes saying, “Therefore, it is sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn’t do it.” (James 4:17.

These are sins of omission. Sins of omission are those that accrue to us because we fail to do something we knew we should do.

Our Christian experience is expressed every day. Not just through avoiding the obvious commission of sin but also the sins of omission.

Christians should always be doers of the Word; people who know the good to do and do it!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you struggled at times knowing the good that needs to be done, but not doing it?

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Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#226: Remaining True to Your Principles in a Spiritual Battle

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

I imagine most of you are familiar with the adulterous story of David and Bathsheba. This tragedy is usually told from King David’s perspective. But what about Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband?

David hgnds letter to Uriah. Principles

This month in our Lessons from the Lesser Known I want us to shift our focus to see what we can learn from Uriah the Hittite.

Uriah’s Backstory

Uriah was a soldier in Kings David’s army. Some scholars suggest he carried the rank of a general. Uriah was honored as one of David’s 37 mighty men by David himself (2 Samuel 23:39).

Uriah’s home was just down the hill from King David’s palace which suggests that he was a man of means and social standing (2 Samuel 11:2).

David’s Treachery

While his army was out fighting against the Ammonites, King David was sitting back in his palace. He saw Bathsheba bathing on her rooftop. He inquired about her, and despite knowing she was Uriah’s wife, he had her brought to him. David slept with her, and she became pregnant.

Hoping to conceal his act, David called for Uriah to be brought back from the battle under the guise of giving David a status report. David’s plan was that Uriah would go home and get his wife pregnant before returning to battle.

Uriah stayed at the palace with David’s servants that night rather than going home. The next day, David got Uriah drunk and tried a second time to get him to sleep with Bathsheba. But Uriah spent the night with David’s servants again.

Because David’ attempts to get Uriah to sleep with Bathsheba failed, David sent orders to Joab, his commander, to send Uriah into the battle where the fighting was the fiercest. Uriah died in battle, and his death was reported to David.

Uriah’s Principles

When David confronted Uriah about why he had not gone home and slept with Bathsheba, Uriah offered a principled explanation. Uriah said,

“The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!” (2 Samuel 11:11).

Uriah put God first (the ark of God). He put God’s people (Judah and Israel) second. Then Uriah put God’s servants (Joab and the men of David’s army) next.

God first. God’s people second. God’s servants third. They were in the midst of a battle, camped in tents and open fields. Uriah could not see himself enjoying the comforts of home while his fellow warriors were not.

Uriah’s principles stand in stark contrast to David’s behavior. David should have been out leading his army. Instead, he stayed in the comfort of his palace while his men fought against God’s enemies for him.

This is bad enough, but he compounds his error by succumbing to lusts of the flesh when he inquired about a married woman, has her brought to him, and has sex with her.

David later married Bathsheba, but God considered the whole matter evil (2 Samuel 11:27).

Uriah, fighting a physical battle, remained true to his principles and faithful to God. David, fighting a spiritual battle, put his principles aside for his selfish interest.

Leaders, in this fallen world we are certain to face some combination of physical and spiritual battles. Let us strive to keep our eyes upon God the Father who has promised to give us the strength we need to stay true to Him (Philippians 4:13).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Has adhering to your principles ever put you in a difficult or even dangerous situation? How did you respond?

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

 

#225: The Insidious Gap Between What We Say and What We Do

Gandhi reportedly said, “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

Gap

An agnostic coworker once said to me, “I’d be more interested in Christianity except I’ve met some Christians.”

Ouch! What’s wrong with this picture?

Is it possible Christians are not living out their faith on a daily basis? Is it possible this happens often enough that people are actually turned away from following Christ?

It certainly seems so. A recent Barna Research study found only 17% of professing Christians have a Biblical worldview.

For the purpose of this study a Biblical worldview was defined as believing:

1) there is absolute moral truth;

2) the Bible is accurate in all that it teaches;

3) Satan is real, not just symbolic;

4) good works are not sufficient for salvation;

5) Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; and

6) God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the universe.

No wonder those outside the Christian faith look inside and doubt us!

It turns out the vast majority of professing Christians either don’t know what the Bible teaches or they don’t accept the basics of the faith. Either way, it follows they won’t live out their faith according to Biblical teaching!

No wonder Gandhi said, “your Christians are unlike your Christ.”

Yet, being like Christ is exactly what we are commanded to be.

  • Paul, writing to the Ephesians said, “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1)
  • And writing to the Corinthians, Paul said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1)

There is no wiggle room here. As Christians, we are commanded to be imitators of Christ.

Clearly, there is a gap between what we as Christians are supposed to be like, and the way the way we live. That gap is what the world sees. It is how the world evaluates our faith life. It is why they say Christians are hypocrites.

We Are to be Salt and Light

Jesus commanded us to be salt and light to the world.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16)

Salt is a preservative, but if it becomes impure, it loses its ability to preserve. We are to be like pure salt that preserves the Lord’s teaching. If we become impure by accepting a secular worldview our teaching is of no value to the Kingdom.

A light provides direction and enables you to walk securely without stumbling. If the light is hidden under a basket, it is of no use. A Christian who hides their faith is of no use in bringing light to others.

One kind of Christian has an impure faith, one corrupted by the world’s values, so it is useless.

The other kind of Christian has a solid understanding of their faith but they hide their faith from others, so it is useless.

Jesus’ command is that we be like pure salt and a bright light. If we are like pure salt, we will preserve the faith. If we are a light that shines before others, they will see our good works, and be drawn to the Father.

Leaders, It Must Start with Us

Leaders, it must start with us. Our pastors cannot do it all by themselves.

It was never God’s plan to spread the Gospel just through our pastors. God’s plan for spreading the Good News doesn’t just include us; it depends on us.

We are called, every one of us as children of God, to be salt and light to the world. So, let’s get out there and live our lives in such a way that others see Christ reflected in us, and because of Him living in us, others are drawn to the Father in Heaven!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How are you living your life to be a salt and light leader?

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 | Purpose/Passion

 

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#224: Effective Leadership: Employ, Equip, Empower, and Get Out Of The Way!

As the Bob Dylan song goes, “the times they are a changin.” Managing a business in today’s world is an exercise in managing change. What worked phenomenally well in 2010 won’t work in 2020.

Effective Leadership

To meet the challenges that lay before us, leaders must learn new, more effective ways of managing rapidly changing, diverse groups of employees.

Way back in 1966 Peter F. Drucker wrote The Effective Executive, in which he makes the point that to be effective executives must learn how to harness worker resources like intelligence, imagination, and knowledge, and convert them into results.

The Effective Leader

So, what can you do to develop the future-oriented effective leadership style? You need to learn how to employ the right people, put them in the right jobs, give them the right training, empower them to get the work done, and most important of all, get out of their way so they can work!

1. Employ

The first step of the effective leader is to learn how to hire the right kind of people. In companies where employees are empowered, the employees are often responsible for the first one or two interviews. Team interviews that include employees and managers are becoming more common. After all, who knows the work better than the people doing it every day? Employees can be a valuable resource in hiring people who will fit the corporate culture and strategy.

Companies that are still relying on just the Human Resources manager for all hiring decisions are not utilizing the employee assets within the company. A real disaster is set-up when upper management takes control of hiring decisions at entry levels, to the exclusion of input from employees and first level managers. Hard as it may be to believe, this is still being practiced by some Fortune 500 companies today!

2. Equip

The second in becoming an effective leader is to get the right people in the right jobs. Paul wrote to the Romans, “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).

Clearly, we need to be sensitive to people’s gifts and skills and do our best to match them to jobs that use their skills.

Once you have your people in the right jobs and you are focusing their talents on their jobs, you need to train them to do the best job possible.

In a recent survey of training costs, it was found that companies had budgets for training that ranged from $50 per employee per year to $4,000 per employee. Whose employees do you think are the best prepared to meet the challenges of the future?

Training your employees is a two-step process. First, there is the industrial training that keeps the employee up to date on your industry. Second, there is skill improvement training. Neither one of these is a one-time investment. Rather, it is a continual process that must be kept up over the life of the employee.

Ecclesiastes gives us an excellent view of the importance of training, “If the axe is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed but skill will bring success” (Eccl. 10:10). If you have ever chopped wood with a dull axe, you know how much work it is. You work harder, it takes longer, and it requires much more determination to get the job done. Training will keep your employees like sharpened axes; capable of doing more, in less time than your competition.

3. Empower

Companies are getting the word; teams can be more productive than individuals. The rebirth of America’s large corporations has upper managers talking about making their employees intrapreneurs; people empowered to make decisions without approval from five levels of higher managers.

In America’s small companies we are hearing about “virtual corporations” where a handful of employees run big businesses by outsourcing talent, subcontracting, and making decisions without the safety net of expensive layers of higher managers.

The crucial steps in empowering your employees include;

  • hiring the right people, to begin with,
  • making sure that they are in jobs that best utilize their talents,
  • training them until they are the best they can be (and keeping them well trained), and finally,
  • making them accountable for decisions that affect their work.

Employees who are responsible for the productivity of their work group are more likely to take an interest in the output of other employees. If they understand that all sink or swim together, as a team, they will fight to survive.

4. Get Out of The Way

The biggest single reason that efforts to empower employees fail are that managers do not get out of the employee’s way and let them get the work done!

The manager “mother-hens” the employees, second guesses them, and sets-up their decision making so it comes out the way he wanted all along.

According to Mr. Webster, empowerment means to give someone authority. The definition does not suggest that a manager is to abdicate responsibility. And it is between giving authority and maintaining responsibility that most managers fail.

You must start by giving employees the right information, giving them the time and the resources to analyze potential decisions, and the support of management to carry out plans.

What constitutes the right information? For every company and every situation, the answer is different. Think about what information you would need to analyze a problem and decide. If you are managing a factory, giving workers production and profitability numbers for their department would be a good start.

One caveat from companies who have tried this. Break into employee empowerment gradually if you can. This is a new skill area for most employees, and they will need some practice to get good at it. Let them work on a few focused issues to build their confidence.

One Last Thought

Effective leaders of the future have difficult shoes to fill. The world is a complex place, and the rules of the game are changing all the time.

As difficult as this work is, remember Paul’s instruction to the Philippians, “I can do everything through him who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13).

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled, Effective Leadership: Employ, Equip, Empower, and Get Out of the Way!

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion of how to develop as an effective leader of the future:

  • 9 points of contrast between the past and the current/future work environment.
  • Two steps managers need to take to meet the challenge of the changing environment.
  • A broader description of the four elements of being an effective leader in the future.

You can download the whitepaper here: Effective Leadership: Employ, Equip, Empower, and Get Out of the Way!.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. How has the work environment changed in your industry over the past few years? How has your own leadership changed to meet the needs of the changing work environment?

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 | Leadership Development