#188: Your Values Aren’t Your Values Unless They Cost You Something

Your values aren’t your values unless they cost you something.

Values

Consider this list of company values: Communication, Respect, Integrity, Excellence. Sounds pretty lofty, right? Any decent company would like to have these values. These “values” were listed in the Enron annual report from 2000. Based on their behavior, their stated values weren’t their real values at all.

By contrast, in a letter to shareholders, Larry Merlo, CVS Caremark CEO, said, “CVS Caremark is committed to reinventing pharmacy to help people on their path to better health.” Their tagline is “Health is Everything.”

CVS put their money where their values were by suspending the sale of all tobacco products in 2014. That decision cost them an estimated $2B in tobacco product sales. Following the announcement, the public rewarded them by driving their stock price to a 34-year high.

CVS’s decision to suspend tobacco sales was costly but the decision supported their stated values and it resonated with consumers. Their stated values were aligned with their behavior. On the other hand, how would it look if they said they valued better health for their customer when they still sold tobacco products?

In the best companies, a company’s values reflect the core values of the leaders and employees in the company.

King David’s 11 Core Values

King David was described as a man “after God’s own heart” in Acts 13. David, like most of us, certainly had his shortcomings as a leader, but David wanted to be a man who honored God. At one point, he wondered what kind of values would a person have who would be allowed to worship the Lord in His sanctuary. His answer is recorded in Psalm 15:

1  LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill?
2  He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart
3  and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman,
4  who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts,
5  who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken.
Psalm 15:1-5 (NIV)

 

David begins by describing two general values (v. 2):

  • His walk is blameless. He is a man of integrity.
  • He does what is righteous. He has a clear conscience because he lives a righteous life.

David then details an additional nine values (vv. 3-5):

  • He speaks the truth. He speaks the truth in love from his heart.
  • He does not slander others. He does not tell lies or gossip about others.
  • He treats his neighbors well. He cares for, helps, and encourages his neighbor.
  • He does not speak ill of others. He does not say mean or spiteful things about others.
  • He despises evil men. He does not condone evil but stands up against evil men.
  • He honors those who fear God. He gives honor to those who are part of God’s kingdom.
  • He always keeps his word. He is trustworthy. He will keep his word even if it costs him.
  • He lends money fairly. He does not take advantage of those he lends money to.
  • He does not accept bribes. He is a just man who will not take a bribe.

The result of these values, says David, is the man who lives this way will never be shaken!

When David refers to the person’s “walk” he is referring to a pattern of behavior over time. A leader’s effectiveness is directly related to their ability to demonstrate their core values over time.

It’s easy to say you espouse certain values but unless they are demonstrated by the way you live they are meaningless words

As leaders, we are called to be salt and light to the world. We are to live in such a way that our example draws others to Christ. We can only do that if we are living out our core values every day—despite the cost.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What Are Your Core Values? Has maintaining your core values cost you economically or relationally?

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

 

 

Category: Personal Development | Values

#187: The Principled Patriot Who Refused to Kneel

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

There are times in life when a matter of principle is at stake. You have to decide; will I stand, or will I kneel?

Patriot, Kneel, Principles

Standing up for our principles requires us to muster our courage and set aside our fear of retribution or disapproval.  It requires that we stand up for what is right against what is wrong even when it is not convenient—especially when it is not convenient!

Joshua and Caleb stood up for their principles against the majority when they encouraged the Israelites to believe God’s promise and to push on into the Promised Land (Numbers 14).

Elijah courageously stood up for his principles against 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah (1 Kings 18). Elijah stood alone against 850 men but secured victory because of his faith in God’s promise.

Daniel refused to obey the law forbidding worship of any entity other than the king (Daniel 3). Daniel stood up for his principles. He continued to openly worship God despite knowing it could cost him his life.

Peter and John preached about Jesus and were jailed by the Temple leaders (Acts 4). They stood up for their principles. Refusing to be silenced, they said, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20).

Mordecai, the Principled Patriot

Mordecai is another example of a man who stood up for his principles. His story is usually overshadowed by the story of Esther, his adopted daughter, and cousin.

Mordecai was a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin living in Suza under the rule of King Xerxes. Xerxes was the most powerful man in the world at that time. Mordecai had probably achieved a position of rank in the Persian court because he was allowed to sit at the King’s Gate (Esther 2:21). Mordecai overheard a plot to assassinate Xerxes. He was able to warn the King by passing a message through Queen Esther.

After this, Xerxes appointed a man named Haman to a high position in the royal court and ordered that everyone must bow down to Haman. Haman was an Amalekite.

The Amalekites had stood against the nation of Israel during their exodus from Egypt. God had cursed the Amalekites and told Moses that He would utterly blot them out. Years later (1 Samuel 5), God ordered Saul to wipe out the Amalekites but Saul spared the Amalekite king and for that, Saul, who was also a Benjamite, lost his kingship.

There had been enmity between the Amalekites and the Israelites for hundreds of years. Mordecai viewed Haman as a representative of the nation who had stood against and opposed God’s people so he refused to bow down and pay honor to a man of the people whom God had cursed.

Mordecai stood up for his principles knowing it might cost him his life if word got back to Haman or Xerxes. Sure enough, that is exactly what happened. Haman was told of Mordecai’s refusal to bow to him and he hatched his plot to destroy all the Jews living throughout the empire.

We know the end of the story. Queen Esther, Mordecai’s cousin, set a trap for Haman with King Xerxes. Haman fell for the trap. Xerxes discovered Haman’s treachery and Xerxes had Haman hanged on the very gallows Haman had just built where he had planned to hang Mordecai.

God had miraculously protected the entire nation of Israel through the wisdom of Queen Esther, and Mordecai who refused to bow down to a man opposed to God’s people.

God honored Joshua and Caleb. God gave the victory to Elijah. God protected Daniel. God saved Peter and John. And God saved Mordecai. Each one stood up for their principles to honor God and His commands.

As leaders today, do we honor God by standing up for our principles in every sphere of our lives? Do we stand against those who stand against God and His principles, or do we acquiesce and kneel to popular opinion?

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are there times when you have had to take a stand, perhaps against popular opinion, to maintain your principles?

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

 

 

Category: Personal Development | Values

 

 

#182: Pride and Arrogance Lead to Demotion and Obscurity

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Leaders must remain faithful to God or suffer the consequences of their unfaithfulness. That was certainly true of Shebna. God gives us the story of Shebna as an example of someone who held great power but because of his pride and arrogance was demoted and ultimately resigned to obscurity in the history of Judah.

Pride Arrogance

Chronologically, we first meet Shebna in the book of Isaiah. Around 725 B.C., Isaiah issued a stern prophetic warning to Shebna who was second in command and in charge of King Hezekiah’s palace.

In Isaiah 25:15-19 Isaiah proclaims the prophetic word from God saying Shebna will be removed from his position and replaced by Eliakim, his wealth will be destroyed, and he will die in a distant land. The reason for this prophecy against Shebna is that at some point in his career he began to use his authority to advance himself rather than serve the people.

Isaiah called out two specific things Shebna had done to bring about this judgment from God. He was making a display of his wealth and power by driving around in “glorious horse-driven chariots” in violation of God’s command (Deuteronomy 17:16). He had also gone so far as to have an enormous tomb cut out of the rock on a high hill, elevating himself above even the kings of Judah.

Isaiah warns Shebna that the Lord is about to bring this judgment (Isaiah 22:17), suggesting there was time for Shebna to repent and avoid God’s wrath. But Shebna doesn’t repent.

The next time we encounter Shebna some 24-years later (701 B.C., 2 Kings 18:18) he had been demoted to court secretary. Court secretary was still an important job but a big step down from being second in command to the king. Shebna’s replacement, Eliakim son of Hilkiah, was exactly who Isaiah had prophesied.

Lessons for Leaders

The mantle of leadership in God’s kingdom is not to be taken lightly. Shebna had the great responsibility of serving the people of God under King Hezekiah in Judah. Rather than serving the people faithfully, he used his position and power to enrich himself and elevate his status in society.

When confronted with the prospect of God’s judgment, Shebna’s stubborn pride kept him from repenting. Even after he was demoted exactly as prophesied he still didn’t repent.

The Bible warns leaders over and over about the dangers of being a prideful leader.

  • Solomon wrote, A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor” (Proverbs 29:23).
  • Jesus warned his followers not to be like the Scribes and Pharisees who make a show of their power and position, “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12).

If you find yourself taking pride in your position as a leader, if you use your position for your own benefit rather than the people you are supposed to serve, stop! Reject pride. Reject arrogance. Humble yourself before the Lord and return to serving the people. If, in your stubborn pride, you refuse to humble yourself, rest assured there will come a time when your pride will cause you to be brought low.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you known and worked with someone like Shebna whose stubborn pride and arrogance cost them their jobs? How did their behavior impact the organization or you personally?

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

 

Category: Personal Development | Values

#123: Are There People God Really Hates in Your Organization?

Or, Does God Hate the Sin in People's Lives?

We like to think about God as this wonderful teddy bear who loves everything. But is that true? Does God love everything or are there some things God hates?

Sin, Hate

Several places in the Bible God says what He hates.

  • God hates idols (Deuteronomy 16:22).
  • God hates wickedness (Psalm 45:7).
  • God hates the deeds of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6).

But the more complete list of what God hates is found in Proverbs 6:16-19:

There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers. (Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV)

Note that everything God hates is an act of sin. God loves the person but hates the sin. Do you have ‘sinners’ like this in your organization?

Let’s look at these seven things God hates one at a time:

 

1) Haughty Eyes

God hates the pride in a person because prideful people have a high view of themselves, which is easy because they look down on everyone else.

Lesson for Us. Beware the prideful people in our organizations. Pride caused Lucifer to fall and was at the root of the first sin in the Garden of Eden. Prideful people tend to do several other things God hates.

2) A Lying Tongue

God hates lies because people who lie cannot be trusted. They are quite happy distorting or disregarding the truth altogether.

Lesson for Us. Liars are most often trying to protect themselves from their mistakes or to take someone else down. Either way, they are a danger to your organization.

3) Hands that shed innocent blood

God hates injustice in the form taking an innocent life or even acts of violence against an innocent person.

Lesson for Us. Obviously, we don’t want murderers in our organizations, but the idea of shedding innocent blood includes acts of workplace violence.

4) A Heart that devises wicked schemes

God hates the devious schemes of those who plot against others.

Lesson for Us. Schemers that plot evil against others have no place in our organizations. At the least they destroy moral, at worst they destroy the organization.

5) Feet that are quick to rush into evil

God hates the desires that cause some to fulfill their fleshly desires to harm others.

Lesson for Us. Some people rush into trouble. They relish the opportunity to bring harm to others.

6) A false witness who pours out lies

God hates false testimony. The Hebrew word for ‘false’ here is the same word used previously for ‘lying’. These people manufacture completely false stories about others. The idea of testimony conjures up the image of a courtroom, and that is certainly correct, but the term used here is broader and includes any false testimony against someone else.

Lesson for Us. How many corporations have been brought down by someone who provided false information to the board, to the company auditors, or to federal investigators? You don’t need anyone who falsifies information or reports at any level in your organization.

7) A man who stirs up dissension among brothers

God hates dissension and discord. It was Satan’s rebellion that created division in God’s kingdom.

Lesson for Us. Some people love to get into the middle of issues, it doesn’t matter what and split people apart. They are like arsonists who light a fire, and then stand in the crowd to watch the fire burn.

Haman, a Biblical Example of the Sins God Hates

If you would like to study a Biblical example of the sins God hates, read the story of Esther and Mordecai in the book of Esther and pay attention to Haman.

  • Haman was puffed up and full of pride, especially after he got promoted.
  • Haman lied about the Jews as a people to the king in order to get back at one man.
  • Haman’s plan was to annihilate the entire Jewish population of Persia; men, women, and children.
  • Haman’s schemed against the Jews and convinced the king his kingdom was at risk.
  • Haman was so furious with Mordecai that he hatched a plan to have gallows built overnight so that Mordecai could be hanged the next day.
  • Haman lied to the king and to the people making up completely false stories about Mordecai and the Jewish people.
  • Haman’s lies and falsehood divided the people in such a way that the entire nation was given permission to kill and plunder any Jews they found throughout the nation.

You probably (hopefully) don’t have any Haman’s in your organization. You probably don’t have those who would shed innocent blood, but given the amount of workplace violence you can’t assume you don’t.

Aside from a pretty low likelihood that a murderer is in the office next to you, there are absolutely, positively, people in your organization who are prideful, lie, scheme, dive into trouble, report falsehoods, and generally stir up trouble and strife in the organization.

That is the sad fact of the fallen human condition. All have fallen short of the glory of God! Everyone at some time or another probably commits one or more of these sins. If you tried to clean house there wouldn’t be anyone left to run the organization.

Your task as a leader is to weed out the habitual offenders while being an example of what God loves (see the Beatitudes in Matthew 5).

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you had to deal with people who display attributes God hates in your organization? What was the impact 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 | Values

#098: 8 Critical Attributes for Leaders You Didn’t Learn About in Business School

The establishment of resolutions often marks the beginning of the year. For some, New Year’s resolutions are the result of serious introspection. It is perhaps the one time in the year when an individual sits down to take stock of him or herself and ponder such serious subjects as the meaning and purpose of life.

Attributes, Light

Whether your resolutions are light-hearted or serious, or perhaps nonexistent, the New Year seems a fitting time to review our lives as business people. We spend an average of 52 hours a week at work, some more, some less. What we do and how we act during those hours is a reflection on us and makes a tremendous impression on the people with whom we share our lives.

 We Are A Light To The World

Jesus, teaching the disciples said, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:14-16).

Let’s take a look at this passage a little bit at a time. “You are the light of the world” Jesus’ declaration is simple and direct: if you are His disciple you are a light to the world. As a disciple, you represent His teaching to others.

A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.” Both of these statements get at the purpose of being a light to the world. You can’t hide a city, especially one perched on top of a hill. The purpose of lighting a lamp is not to hide its light but to use it to light up a room: “Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.”

As disciples who are a light to the world we should not attempt to hide our light but, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Not only are we not to hide our light but we are to make sure it shines before men.

This is very important. Non-believers will see the light, realize that God is working our lives, and want to develop a personal relationship with Him also.

What is this “light” we are to let shine forth? Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). The light in our hearts is the knowledge of Jesus Christ: he lived his life as an example to us, he died for our sins, and he rose from the grave to take His place at the right hand of God. So if the light in our life is Jesus and we are to let this light shine forth then we must try to live our lives like Jesus did his.

8 Critical Attributes for Leaders

Let’s look at some standards of behavior found in the Bible that applies to our business lives.

Matthew recorded Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in which He taught the essence of the Christian life, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3-10).

We do not have to guess what the blessing will bring since in each case the blessing is followed by a second clause that defines the result of the blessing. The Wycliffe Bible Commentary defines the word blessed as, “A description of a believer’s inner condition.” Thus the Beatitudes do not describe how to become saved but rather the characteristics of one who is saved. It would be wrong to think that having three or four of these characteristics would be sufficient. We should make every effort to obtain all of these blessings as a group.

1. Poor In Spirit

Poor in spirit describes an attitude of the heart. It is the opposite of being proud in spirit. To be poor in spirit means that we recognize our spiritual bankruptcy apart from Christ and depend on Him for spiritual fulfillment.

A control addict would be an example of someone who is not poor in spirit. They try through their own power to control events and the world around them. It seldom occurs to a control addict to put problems in God’s hands, they prefer to work things out for themselves.

2. Mourn

“Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted,” is not to suggest that we should walk around with sad faces all the time. However, we should mourn the sin in the world that separates man from God. While we believers have the comfort of knowing that Christ died for our sins there are many in the world whose sin is what keeps them from knowing God.

3. Meek

The “meek will inherit the earth” is a direct reference to Psalm 37 where the characteristics of the meek are contrasted with the wicked.

In this case the meek, who have submitted themselves to the will of God, will receive His blessings while the wicked will be cut off.

For us, to be meek means that we need to submit to the will of God. Peter and James refer to meekness in our relationships and in these cases it is clear that meekness suggests gentleness and the ability to exercise self-control.

4. Hunger & Thirst for Righteousness

We should be driven to lead a life of personal righteousness. A simple way to think about personal righteousness is to ask yourself in any situation, “What would Jesus do?”

A story was written by Charles Sheldon, In His Steps, that tells the story of several children who encounter many difficult times and the wise old man who counsels them by always asking the question, “What would Jesus do?”

Often, in the rush of completing an assignment, or while under the pressure of taking care of an emergency, business people rush in with answers and never ask, “Is this the right thing?”, or “Is this what Jesus would do?”

5. Merciful

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary says, “Mercy embraces both forgiveness for the guilty and compassion for the suffering and the needy.”

Forgiveness does not mean that we fail to punish or train those who make mistakes. These are two completely separate things. Compassion for the suffering and the needy does not mean that we should rush in to take care of everyone’s hurts. Sometimes the most compassionate thing is to teach someone how to avoid making the same mistake again in the future.

For example, you forgive the person who makes a mistake that costs you a sale, or damages inventory. Once forgiven you should still discipline the employee who made the mistake. How else will they learn?

You may feel compassion for the starving people in a poor country and you may take action to help feed them. But true compassion goes on to teach them how to become self-sufficient. It’s like the old line, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for life.”

6. Pure in Heart

Double-minded people are constantly in a struggle. That is why Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matt 6:24). To be pure in heart means to have a single focus on God and in doing His will.

A contemporary example of a double-minded businessman is someone who knows that it is wrong to lie about what his product will do, but he does it anyway to make the sale.

Another example is the CEO who will let his or her employees do whatever is necessary to be successful, even if that means being deceptive or dishonest.

7. Peacemakers

The peacemakers are not the pacifists you may remember from the 1960’s. Peacemakers are those who take delight in reconciliation rather than division, or strife. Some consider the Bible to portray anything but peace, especially as they read about the wars between the nations. But Jesus came as the ultimate peacemaker; to reconcile man with God, and to each other.

The desire for peace does not give way to principle, however. Remember that Jesus stormed into the temple and turned over the tables of the moneychangers and called them a den of robbers (Matt 21:13). The principle was at stake and on this principle, there was no room for compromise.

8. Persecuted

Those that follow Christ can expect persecution for their beliefs. Similarly, business people who hold to Biblical standards of behavior can expect persecution. I read a comment in a performance review file that said, “His integrity sometimes gets in the way of getting the job done.” If you hold to high standards there will be those that will try to bring you down.

Bonus Whitepaper

8 Critical attributes for Christian business people that you didn’t learn in business school is also available in the form of a bonus whitepaper. This 10-page bonus whitepaper includes more in-depth content covering the example we are to set, some great quotes, 10 virtues of a Godly executive, and a key points summary. You can download it here:

8 Critical Attributes for Business People You Didn’t Learn in Business School 

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome! How are you doing living out these attributes? Are there any in particular that you struggle with? Is there an attribute in which you feel particularly blessed?

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

Category: Personal Development | Values