#220: It Turns Out You Can Teach an Old Dog New Tricks!

It turns out old dogs like me can learn a lot from the young crop of Gen Z students emerging from our college campuses.

Old Dog New Tricks

This was my fourth year teaching a class in Sales and Sales Management at Azusa Pacific University. This year’s class of 40 dwarfed last year’s class of 20 students and was equally divided between juniors and seniors.

Feedback from the students last year made it clear they wanted a diverse mix of teaching methods. Given their short attention span, hour-long lectures in a three-hour class just didn’t cut it. Variety is not only the spice of life; it is absolutely necessary for a classroom of Gen Z’s!

My goal this year was to really mix it up by making the class far more experiential and less dependent on lecture:

  • To create a simulated workplace team environment, I divided the class into eight teams of five students each based on their Strengthfinders results. Students were assigned to groups so that each of the four Strengthfinder Leadership Domains (Executing, Influencing, Relationship, and Strategic Thinking) were represented in each group.
  • The teams worked together on two major assignments: creating a sales training manual for a company of their choosing and teaching their fellow students by presenting the contents of one chapter of our text.
  • Role play exercises in six of our 13 sessions were designed to give the students an opportunity to practice selling skills in the classroom.
  • In one class session, students were required to present key learnings to the class gleaned from a published article on sales.
  • Three sales training videos demonstrating elements of the sales process were used to show how selling skills discussed in class came to life in a selling situation.
  • Short quizzes were given covering the material in each chapter every week. Scheduling quizzes as we covered material ensured that students stayed up to date and eliminated the need to “cram” for a midterm or a final exam.
  • Students were each required to write six short case study papers over the course of the semester.

Overall, the objective of this mix of group and independent work assignments was to give students an opportunity to learn while also developing their presentation skills with the support of their peers.

What I Learned from Their Feedback

I give my students a feedback form during our last class session asking three questions 1) What was helpful that we should keep doing, 2) What was unhelpful that we should stop doing, and 3) What would you do differently?

1) What should we keep doing? The interactive exercises, especially the role plays, were a hit with the majority of the students. Students also liked having the weekly quizzes following the lecture because it helped reinforce what they learned that week.

2) What should we stop doing? Long (45-60 minute) lectures were mentioned several times as pushing the limits of their attention span. Allowing student groups to teach a chapter was not as effective as I’d hoped because other students felt they didn’t learn as much. Finally, the training videos were somewhat dated and failed to impress this YouTube generation.

3) What would you do differently? The class had a number of excellent suggestions for improving the learning environment in the class. Several students thought a guest speaker who was currently in a sales role would be a great addition to the learning experience. Doing even more role plays and doing them in small groups rather than as a whole class was suggested to allow more people to get more practice. Finally, several students suggested in-class discussions of the case studies as a way of reinforcing what was taught in the text.

What I’ll Do as a Result

As always, the student’s feedback is a valuable tool for me to improve as a teacher and to develop a learning framework that will be beneficial for the majority of the students. My plans for next semester include:

  • Reducing the lecture time even more to allow more time for interactive role plays and class discussion.
  • Maintain the weekly quiz schedule and the requirement to write case studies.
  • Devote time during the class to discussion of the weekly case study.
  • Bring in a sales representative one week to teach the class and talk about their personal experiences.
  • Abandon the dated videos. I’ll look for something that is relevant to the material in the class with a higher production value.
  • Rethink the way the team projects are completed. Although it was intended to get them to work together, this group did most of their “teamwork” independently and then just assembled the results.

Lesson for Leaders

Peter exhorted believers to “…use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (1 Peter 4:10).

Leaders, to be effective, we need to learn and adapt to the changing environment. We need to stay on top of our game by using the gifts God has given us to serve others.

Perhaps my biggest takeaway from this year’s class is that every class is different. What worked well last year may not work well at all this year. Building relationships and engaging with the people in our organizations is the very best way to ensure that we are serving them well.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What lessons about developing and leading people have you learned from others?

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

#219: Can Feedback Really Help Drive Growth in My Business?

If you want to see the effect of feedback, look at a child. Imagine the excited four-year-old who runs to her father to show off her most recent artistic achievement.

Feedback in Business

If you speak harshly, discussing the need to color within the lines and use the correct colors, you will see a child’s smile fade, enthusiasm will wane, and she will not be as likely to come running to show off her work in the future.

If, however, you tell her what a beautiful picture she has made and show her how if she colors slowly she can stay in the lines you will see a smile broaden as she runs off to create an even more beautiful masterpiece for her father.

Feedback with employees has the same effect; it will either build an employee up or decimate their spirit.

Constructive Feedback

All feedback should be constructive. It should be done in such a way that the employee is motivated to improve performance or continue to do excellent work.

Paul emphasized this point in Romans 15:1, “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbor for his good, to build him up.”

Getting Started

Here are eight guidelines to help you develop and use your feedback skills more effectively:

1) Use Common Definitions and Simple Language

Make sure that you are using common definitions. Even the simplest words in our vocabulary have multiple meanings.

The more complicated your vocabulary, the more likely misunderstandings will occur. Be specific, be concise, and use simple terms to increase the effectiveness of your communication.

2) Avoid the Use of Garbage Words and Slang

Use of garbage words can add confusion to a conversation. Words like “hmm,” “uh-huh,” and grunts and groans convey different meanings depending on your tone of voice, your facial expressions, and your body language.

3) Be Observant

People usually use a fairly consistent set of verbal and non-verbal cues. I had one boss who was so tuned in to me that he could see the wheels turning in my head, and knew when I didn’t agree or when I had an idea. He said he could tell when I was thinking something over by my facial expressions, and when I had something to say because my posture changed. He was rarely wrong.

4) Behavior Versus the Person

The purpose of feedback is to improve employee productivity. Feedback for behavior that needs correction should be focused on the behavior, not the individual.

Jesus gives us an excellent example of providing feedback for the behavior rather than the individual in Matthew 26. The Roman soldiers came to arrest Jesus when Peter boldly stepped forward and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. Jesus said, “Put your sword back in its place for all who draw the sword will die by the sword (Matthew 26:52).”

5) Feedback Timing

Feedback to reinforce or correct employee behavior is best when given as soon as possible.

Luke 19 provides an example of prompt feedback. The day after Jesus re-entered Jerusalem he went to the temple and found men selling. He did not put the matter on the agenda for the next disciples meeting. He immediately overturned the money changers tables and drove them out of the temple. As they departed, he said, “My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a ‘den of robbers’ (Luke 19:46).”

6) Spoken Versus Written

If the feedback you are giving is corrective, it should be verbal and in private. To make sure that future expectations of performance are very clear you should follow-up in writing.

Verbal praise for a job well done is nice, but the feeling usually fades after a few days. Written praise is more concrete, and it gives you the opportunity to publicize the employees’ success. Copy the written praise to the peer group and upper management. There’s nothing quite like getting a personal note from a senior manager who expresses appreciation for good work as a motivational tool.

7) Don’t Assume Understanding

Do you remember the phrase, “I know you think you understand what I said, but I’m not so sure that what you heard I what I meant?” People often nod agreement or say “I know exactly how you feel,” without really knowing how the other person feels, what frame of reference they’re coming from, etc.

Use your communications skills to ensure that what you think you heard is what the other person meant to say! At any point in a conversation asking questions is the best way to make sure that you heard correctly.

8) Sincerity

Contrary to popular belief flattery will not get you everywhere. People quickly see through insincere remarks. Always provide feedback that is sincere. Praise earned for hard work will always motivate more than the hollow flattery of praise for work that the employee knows is not up to standard.

One Final Thought

Feedback is like a powerful sports car, it is a pleasure to drive, but in the hands of a drunk, it is a lethal weapon.

Before you fire off that next missile chastising an employee, before you bring him or her into your office for a thorough tongue lashing, remember the purpose of feedback is to motivate the employee to improve performance. Employees will want to learn how to do a better job and will be motivated to do better if the feedback they receive from you is always timely, balanced, and constructive.

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled, Motivate with Feedback—Build Your Business by Building Up Your Employees.”

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion of using feedback to motivate and build up your employees:

  • A definition of feedback appropriate for the business environment,
  • Types of feedback, and
  • Feedback as a motivational tool.

You can download the whitepaper here: Motivate with Feedback—Build Your Business by Building Up Your Employees.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What kinds of feedback have you received? Have there been times when you received feedback that was motivating or disheartening?

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| Management of Human Resources

 

 

 

 

#218: Is What You Desperately Need in Your Hand?

Is what you desperately need already in your hand and you don’t realize it?

Hand

I can’t begin to count the number of times someone has told me they can’t accomplish an objective because they don’t have (fill in the blank). The excuses are often some variation of:

  • “I don’t have enough funding.”
  • “I don’t have enough people.”
  • “I don’t have enough time.”

I’m not surprised by these excuses. I know I’ve used each of them myself at some stage in my career.

When we confronted with an enormous obstacle we can’t see our way around; we often give up mentally never realizing we already have everything we need.

This is not a new phenomenon. Moses was confronted with an enormous obstacle and didn’t realize all he needed was already in his hand.

Moses, What’s in Your Hand?

God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3). Moses offered up excuse after excuse to God why selecting him was a bad choice. God reassured Moses saying, “I will be with you.”

As Moses continued to make excuses, God said to Moses, “What is that in your hand?” “A staff,” replied Moses. God used this simple shepherd’s staff to perform miracles before the Egyptians and the Israelites. This ultimately led to the Israelite’s deliverance from the Egyptians.

Moses wasn’t the only example of a “what’s in your hand” miracle. Jesus performed a similar miracle in the feeding of the 5,000.

Jesus asked, “What do You Have?”

At the end of a long day, a crowd of some 5,000 men (probably 15,000 or more including women and children) surrounded Jesus and the disciples. The disciples expressed concern that the people did not have anything to eat, so they suggested Jesus send them away. Instead, Jesus told the disciples, “You give them something to eat” (Matthew 14:13-21, Mark 6:30-44, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-15).

The disciples started with their excuses:

  • “This is a remote place.”
  • “We don’t have enough food to feed them all.”
  • “It would take a year’s wages to buy them all food.”

Jesus asked them, “What do you have?” The disciples said, “We have only five loaves of bread and two small fish.”

Then Jesus took the bread and the fish and looking up to heaven He gave thanks. He directed the disciples to distribute the bread and fish to everyone. When they finished, they picked up 12 baskets full of leftovers, one for each disciple!

Jesus’ lesson for the disciples was that you could trust that whatever you have if you place it in God’s hands, it will be enough. In fact, it will be MORE than enough!

What is in Our Hand?

Moses learned that even the simple shepherd’s staff in his hand was mighty when submitted to the Lord.

Jesus demonstrated to the disciples how God would bless and multiply what they had not just to meet their needs but to exceed their needs.

The key for Moses was to surrender his will and submit to God’s calling. The key for the disciples was to place their trust and faith in God to meet their every need.

Leaders, the next time you face with what seems like an insurmountable obstacle look to see what is in your hand. Remember to submit and surrender to God’s will while trusting in faith that He can and will meet all your needs.

As Paul said, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have there been times in your life where you resisted God’s call on your life, or offered excuses to God, only to experience God’s miraculous provision?

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 | Dependence on God

#217: What a Tangled Web We Weave When First We Practice to Deceive

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Shakespeare was right. What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. Not only do we get caught up in the web of deceit but so do innocent bystanders.

Web Deceive

In this month’s, Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known we’ll examine the story of a man named Achan (Joshua7).

The Backstory

Moses had just transferred responsibility for leading the people of Israel over to Joshua. The Lord commanded Joshua to circumcise all the people, renewing His covenant to take them into the Promised Land if they would only obey Him.

The first city in the Promised Land they were to conquer was the city of Jericho. The Lord commanded the people of Israel saying all the silver, gold, articles of bronze and iron were to be brought to the Lord’s treasury, and everything else in the entire city itself was devoted to destruction.

The Deception

When the Israelites advanced on Jericho, Achan helped himself to a cloak, 200 shekels of silver, and a gold bar weighing 50 shekels and hid them in his tent.

Achan thought he got away with stealing the things that were to be given to the Lord’s treasury, but God knew what Achan had done. He may have deceived everyone else, but he hadn’t deceived God.

The Repercussions

Achan’s stupid mistake had repercussions far beyond his own decision to steal from God.

The very next battle Joshua sent the Israelites into they were driven back and 36 men died because God was not with them.

When Joshua cried out to God, he learned that someone had violated the covenant to obey God already by stealing things devoted to the Lord’s treasury. The people were brought before the Lord to be judged, and the judgment fell against Achan.

Achan finally admitted his deception saying he did it because the cloak was beautiful and he coveted the silver and gold.

Achan, his family, and all his animals were stoned to death as punishment, and they were all burned along with everything else he owned.

The Lessons

There are four important leadership lessons we learn from Achan’s story of disobedience and deceit.

1) Temptation to Sin. Even in the midst of victory, we can be tempted to sin. In Achan’s case, he valued the treasures of man more than he valued obedience to God.

2) Sin Impacts Others. We think our decisions have no consequences or perhaps only affect us but most often others are also affected. Achan’s sin cost the lives of fellow Israelites in battle and the lives of his family.

3) Sin Brings Defeat. Achan knew what was right, but he deliberately disobeyed. His disobedience cause the army to be defeated, it brought disgrace to God, and Joshua, their commander, was disheartened.

4) Sin Cannot Be Hidden. Regardless of how well we might hide our sin from man, nothing is hidden from God. He knows our every sin. Achan managed to steal the cloak, the silver, and the gold and get it all the way back to his tent. Then he hid it in his tent thinking he had gotten away with his theft. But nothing is hidden from God.

As leaders, we are susceptible to the very same kind of temptations as Achan. We are tempted to sin; valuing man’s treasure over God even when we are winning. We deceive ourselves thinking our actions affect no one else. Ultimately, our sin against God brings judgment because no sin against God remains hidden.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of the four leadership lessons from Achan’s story resonates most with you? Which do you think is most common in the business world today?

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 | Obedience to God

 

 

#216: What Does It Take to Live the Greatest Life?

It May Not be What You Think!

I asked a few people this past week if they thought they were living the greatest life possible. Most said, “No.” A few said, “Yes.” I followed up by asking, “What does it take to live the greatest life possible?”

Greatest Life

The answers I got were mostly a variation of the happiness theme. From the “no’s” it was:

  • I am unhappy with my job.
  • I am unhappy with my income.
  • I am unhappy with my spouse/family.

From the “yes’s” it was:

  • I am happy with my job.
  • I am happy with my income.
  • I am happy with my spouse/family.

You get the idea.

These answers are flat-out wrong! If you think for a minute that the greatest life possible derives from some measure of happiness brought on by a good job, a nice income, or even great in-laws you are in for a massive disappointment in life.

Good jobs can disappear overnight. And that great income? Poof! An unfaithful spouse? There goes your happiness and your great life.

The reality is, all these things can be taken away or disappear in your next breath. If you are relying on anyone or anything in this world for your happiness you will be disappointed.

The one and only way you can live the greatest life possible is to build your life on God and His Word.

Why? Because God designed us, He created us, He knows what is best for us, and He has promised that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:35-39).

The Greatest Life Possible

So, if happiness is not a measure of a great life, what then, is the secret to living the greatest life possible?

Jesus told us exactly what it takes when he gave the disciples two commandments:

Jesus answered, “The most important [commandment] is…you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these” (Mark 12:29-31).

Love God

The first and most important element of living the greatest life possible is to love the Lord your God. This is what we are commanded to do.

But how do we do it?

Jesus told us how when He said, with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength.

  • Our heart is the center of our emotional control center.
  • Our soul is our will, our self-conscious life.
  • Our mind is our thoughts and the way we think.
  • Our strength is our bodily strength.

I don’t know about you, but whenever I think about whether I love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I feel ashamed because I could do so much better.

Love Your Neighbor

The second element for living the greatest life possible is to love our neighbors as ourselves.

Who is Jesus referring to when He says to love our neighbors? We know from Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:33-34) that everyone is our neighbor. We also learn from this parable that we limit our love because people are different than us or because of our fears.

Jesus taught how we are to love our neighbors when He said, “…love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).

Jesus loves everyone, and He loves us unconditionally. In this commandment, Jesus is telling us to love everyone, unconditionally just as He loves us. That includes people of the other political party, people who have a different worldview, even people who disagree with us and would do us harm. We are to love them all.

Nothing, said Jesus, is more important than to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves. That, folks, is how we can live the greatest life possible!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. On a scale of 1-10 are you living the greatest life possible? If not, what do you need to change in your life?

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 | Obedience to God

 

 

#215: So You Want to Fight!

Handling Arguments in the Workplace

A four-year old fighting with a sibling over the use of a particular toy is expected. When an argument breaks out in the office over the use of equipment, who gets which sales territories, what business strategies are right, or any of the many other things that occur every day in the workplace the enlightened leader needs to know how to handle conflict.

Fight

Sources of Organizational Conflict

When emotions take control over reason hostility increases and hostility is the breeding ground for arguments.

James writes, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that do battle within you? You want something but cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight” (James 4:12).

The word “desires” comes from the root word for hedonism; the idea that pleasure is the chief goal of life. Our natural inner desires are focused mostly on ourselves; my ideas, my feelings, etc. According to James this inward focus on pleasing ourselves is what causes fights and quarrels.

Conflict Resolution

Here are four Biblical principles for dealing with workplace arguments:

  • Diffuse the bomb. Proverbs 29:22 says, “An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins.” You cannot begin to resolve an argument until tempers are cooled. To begin with, never tell an angry person not to be angry. Don’t lecture or talk down to the person. Ask questions, and listen. Empathize by repeating what has been said. Emotions run very high and are likely to rise at any point in the resolution process.
  • Get the facts. Don’t ever try to resolve an argument based on hearsay, opinion, or gossip. Deuteronomy reminds us, “One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Deuteronomy 15:19). Take the time to gather the facts of the situation directly from the individuals involved before making any judgments in the matter.
  • Confront in private. Praise in public, criticize in private. Whenever you are attempting to resolve a conflict the matter should be dealt with in private. Never, ever begin what looks like an “interrogation” on the factory floor in front of other workers. “Discuss the matter with him privately. Don’t tell anyone else, lest he accuse you of slander” (Proverbs 25:9-10). Jesus also offered instruction in this matter, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over” (Matthew 18:15).
  • Negotiate a resolution. There will be times when someone is clearly right and another wrong. But more often there will be shades of gray where there is some “rightness” on both sides. When this is the case, it is important to come to a negotiated resolution. Both sides need to agree on the outcome. In cases where someone has been emotionally hurt there needs to be confession and for­giveness.

When Negotiations Fail

Despite your best efforts, there will be situations and people with whom no settlement agreement can be reached. The Bible gives us clear direction for dealing with these situations:

Jesus said, “But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses’” (Matthew 18:­16). The use of neutral outside parties to deal with conflict resolution can be a very important part of your ability to reach resolution.

If the use of neutral parties fails to bring about a resolution to the conflict, then the relationship may need to be broken off. “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:17).

In the workplace, this does not necessarily mean firing someone. It may mean that the person is taken off a work team, or receive some other sanction as is appropriate. While this may seem harsh, it can be the best thing for all concerned. If the individual finally recants, there may be an opportunity for true confession and forgiveness. This can lead to full restoration.

One Final thought

James continued his discussion on fights and quarrels saying, “You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures” (James 4:2-3).

Consider James’ admonition the next time you feel your temperature rising. Ask yourself, “Where is my focus right now? Is it on God and what He wants for my life? Or is my focus on me and what I want?” If you don’t have what you want perhaps it is because your focus is not on God.

Conflict in organizations may be inevitable. But decide today that no conflict will begin with you because you pushed God out of your life so you could focus on your selfish desires.

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 6-page whitepaper entitled, So You Want to Fight–Handling Arguments in the Workplace.”

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion of how to deal with arguments in the workplace plus:

  • 14 common reasons constructive discussions turn into destructive arguments, and
  • An example of conflict resolution from the life of Paul.

You can download the whitepaper here: So You Want to Fight–Handling Arguments in the Workplace.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you had to deal with arguments in your workplace? What did you find was the most effective way to deal with them and bring resolution to the situation?

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 | Management of Human Resources

 

#214: Seizing Victory from the Agony of Defeat

Have you ever been so discouraged you felt like giving up? You saw the light at the end of the tunnel and realized it was just another train about to mow you down.

Victory Defeat

It seems there is an epidemic of discouragement and uncertainty in our world today. We live in most uncertain times. Economies around the world are experiencing turmoil. More people live in poverty than ever before. Millions and millions of people have become refugees fleeing their ancestral homes to avoid war.

On a more individual level, a decline in spiritual maturity has been met with moral decay. Marriages are failing at record rates. More children are being born into single-parent homes than ever before. Crime in our inner cities is out of control.

How are we to make sense of it all? How can we avoid the spirit of discouragement or defeat that has surrounded so many?

The answer lies in our faith. Let’s look at a few Bible characters whose faith allowed them to seize victory from the agony of defeat, who were down but not defeated.

Joseph Endured Difficulties

Joseph was his father’s favorite. He had a bright future, but his jealous brothers pretended he was dead and sold him into slavery. Things were looking up a little when he became the house manager for a powerful man but then he was falsely accused of rape and thrown into prison.

Job Experienced Adversity

Job was successful and wealthy with a large family. In a period of days his flocks, his herds, and even his family were all taken from him. In the midst of his despair, he was struck with painful boils all over his body.

Naaman was Ostracized

Naaman was a revered military commander. At some point in his life, he contracted leprosy and became a complete outcast from society and even his own family.

Daniel Faced Governmental Oppression

As a teenager, Daniel was taken prisoner by a conquering army. He was ripped away from his family and taken to a foreign land. He was ordered to worship the king, but Daniel refused, vowing to worship only the Lord God, even if it meant death.

Esther Faced Racism

Esther was a Jewish virgin who was taken to be part of the harem of the king of Persia. She found favor with the king who made her his queen. But Haman, a high-ranking official in the Persian government, hated Jews and hatched a plan to annihilate the entire Jewish population throughout the Persian empire.

Ruth was a Refugee

Ruth was a Moabite widow who left her homeland with Naomi, her mother-in-law to travel back to Naomi’s homeland. She had no possessions and no money. She was forced to pick grain at the edge of the fields to survive.

Great Faith was Rewarded with Victory

Joseph, Job, Naaman, Daniel, Esther, and Ruth were all down but never defeated. Because of their great faith, they all rose above their persecution.

  • Joseph got out of prison and rose to second in command of the Egyptian empire. This put him in a position to save his father and brothers from starvation during a seven-year famine.
  • Job maintained his faith in God throughout all his trials. Because of his faith, God restored Job’s wealth and granted him more children. He lived 140 more years and saw four more generations born to his children.
  • Naaman believed his Jewish servant girl who told him if he had faith the prophet of God could cure his leprosy. Naaman had faith, sought out Elisha the prophet, and was cured of his leprosy.
  • Daniel survived certain death in the lion’s den because God protected him. The king was so happy that God had protected Daniel from the lions that the king wrote a letter declaring Daniel’s God to be the living God who endures forever.
  • Esther became aware of Haman’s plan to kill all the Jews, so she hatched her own plan to trap Haman. Her plan worked. Haman was hung, and the king issued an edict allowing the Jews to take revenge on all those who had threatened them.
  • Ruth followed the advice of Naomi her mother-in-law to seek out Boaz, her nearest relative. Boaz redeemed Ruth and became her husband. Their great-great grandchild was David, the king of Israel.

Paul said it well as he wrote to the Philippians when he proclaimed, I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. We can experience victory. But we must have faith, and we must trust God when He says that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever experienced difficulties persecution like Joseph, Job, Naaman, Daniel, Esther or Ruth? Has there ever been a time when God enabled you to seize victory from the jaws of defeat?  What happened?

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 | Dependence on God

 

 

#212: Have You Worked for Either of These Kinds of Bad Bosses?

There are two kinds of bad bosses, and I have worked for both kinds. There is the boss who doesn’t know they are bad, and then there is the boss that is bad, he knows it, and he doesn’t care!

Bad Bosses

Looking back over the 36-years of my business career I can only think of a couple of bad bosses (maybe my memory is shot, but that’s all I can remember).

The Unwitting Bad Boss

This boss came along later in my career. He was someone I had known for years and even worked with on several occasions. He was a pleasant enough fellow when I worked with him on projects, but when he became my boss, I saw a whole other side of him.

He took credit for the good work my team did even when he didn’t have anything to do with it. But, when something went wrong, he was the first one to throw my team and me under the bus.

I tried hard to work with him and even talked to him about how his behavior was impacting the morale of the organization. He didn’t seem to realize that his behavior was causing his people to pull away from him.

Even after being confronted with what was going on he never changed. Before long complaints about his behavior reached the ears of upper management, then human resources got involved. Eventually, he was demoted and transferred where he had the chance to start over with another division of the company.

The Bad, Bad Boss

I was a sales manager responsible for three states, and our team had just gone through a particularly tough quarter. Right after the close of the quarter, the mailman brought a large package and inside was what we lovingly referred to as the “Boot Trophy.”

Our boss had taken one of his old hiking books and had it mounted on an oak plaque. This became the Boot Trophy. It was to be held in the office of the worst performing manager for the entire quarter. It would then be sent on to the next manager who had the worst quarter’s performance.

I am sure the boss thought me having to stare at the Boot Trophy all quarter would remind me of the unit’s shameful performance and motivate my team to work harder and do better.

It didn’t.

I threw the stupid thing into the back of a closet. I didn’t look at it or tell my people about it. And then when it was time to forward to another manager, I “lost it.”

The Boot Trophy was just one of the examples of this manager’s abysmal leadership. He would rig sales contests to favor people he liked. He manufactured reasons to transfer or fire employees he didn’t like.

Eventually, he butted heads with his boss. My bad boss was given what I like to call, “alternate employment options” (an office and 30 days to find a new job and resign or get fired).

Dealing with Your Bad Boss

The Bible has a a lot to say about dealing with difficult people. My favorite passage comes from Jesus who gives instructions to the disciples regarding discipline among church members.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:15-17).

If we apply these instructions to our organizations, there are four steps we should take in dealing with bad bosses:

  • Address the issues privately with him/her, one-on-one. If this does not resolve the situation then,
  • Take one or two others with you and discuss the issues in private once again. If this does not resolve the issue then,
  • Take the issue either to higher ups or the human resources department depending on your organization. If the situation is resolved, great. If not then,
  • Break off relationship with the bad boss. This can be tricky in an organization. You may need to ask for a transfer, or you may need to start looking for a new job.

Regardless of how the situation is resolved, we need to practice forgiveness. As Jesus continued teaching the disciples in Matthew 18:21-22 he told them they were to forgive the person who had sinned against them seventy-seven times.

We must forgive also. As hard as it may be, we must forgive those who have sinned against us for our sakes, for the sakes of our employees, and for the sake of the organization.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked with an unwittingly bad boss or the boss who was bad and knew it? How did their leadership affect the organization? How did you handle the bad boss?

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 | Conflict Management

 

 

#211: 13 Traits of Remarkable Biblical Leaders You Should Have

Plus a Bonus Whitepaper

What does it take to be a remarkable leader? The Bible provides many examples of both strong and weak leaders.

Biblical Leaders

Characteristics of remarkable Biblical leaders capable of meeting the needs of the people include loyalty, courage, desire, emotional stability, empathy, decisiveness, risk-takers, a sense of timing, competitiveness, confidence, accountability, trustworthiness, and a servant’s heart.

Loyalty

Loyalty between master and servant, and between servant and master is a reciprocal relationship common among strong leaders.

Elisha was loyal to Elijah to the extent that even though Elijah encouraged Elisha not to follow him, Elisha refused (2 Kings 2:1-12). On three separate occasions, Elisha restated his desire to stay with his master until the very end. His reward for this loyalty was to inherit Elijah’s powers and responsibilities.

Courage

Leaders must have courage. The job of leadership is often a lonely one, confronted with obstacles and adversity. A good leader must have the courage to bear up under these difficulties.

One of the most powerful pictures of courage in the Bible is the young boy David who steps onto the battlefield to face Goliath (1 Samuel 17). David was a shepherd whose only weapon was a sling. He faced Goliath, a giant over nine feet tall, who was a professional soldier.

Desire

Strong leaders have a desire to lead that is inescapable. They would rather lead others, affect the outcomes of events, and change processes than anything else.

Consider the example of Paul, who by his own account was shipwrecked, flogged, and thrown into prison for years. Paul endured this because of his intense desire to see the job he was commissioned to do completed.

Emotional Stability

Ever increasing levels of responsibility bring more and more stress. Good leaders have the ability to maintain composure in the face of adversity. They can recover quickly from the disappointment of failure with their perspectives clearly in focus. This kind of emotional stability and resilience are marks of a strong leader.

Job provides a wonderful example of a man, who in the face of adversity, maintained his emotional stability through his faith in God.

Empathy

Leaders must be able to appreciate the differences between people’s values and other cultures. Empathy brings about a unique understanding that is required to be able to meet people’s needs.

Jesus is the greatest example of a man who understood and valued the differences between people. In the selection of the apostles he chose a wide variety of people; a Pharisee, a tax collector, Jews, Greeks, young, old, well-educated, and those with no education. He chose them all with a complete understanding of how they would work to complete the missions assigned to them.

Decisiveness

Leaders must be able to make decisions. Wishy-washy procrastinators confuse and discourage subordinates.

Jesus never had any trouble making decisions. When He encountered the moneychangers at the temple, He immediately overthrew their tables saying, “My house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers” (Mat 21:13).

Risk-Takers

Leaders are willing to step out and take risks when others retreat to the comfort of stable security.

Paul’s life during his three missionary journeys, conducted over a twelve-year period, are a testimony to a man willing to take risks. He willingly placed himself in circumstances of great risk to fulfill his commission to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 13-28).

A Sense of Timing

A leader must develop a sense of timing. The ability to know how and when to make a decision, when to make announcements, when to make changes, etcetera.

Jesus provides many examples of a perfect sense of timing. He always knew the right word or the right lesson, and the perfect time to deliver them.

Competitiveness

Leaders have an intense desire to win. Second place is not good enough. Although no one wins all the time, strong leaders know which races are the most important to win.

In his letter to the Corinthians Paul writes, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize” (1 Cor 9:24). Paul encourages the Corinthians to understand which races are important and not settle for second best.

Confidence

Strong leaders exude confidence. Despite personal doubts, they appear confident of their ability to succeed at all times, and this confidence carries over to subordinates.

Moses provides an example of outward confidence and inner doubt as he said, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue” (Exodus 4:10).

Accountability

Leaders understand the need to praise others for their work and take responsibility for failure. Strong leaders not only give credit where credit is due but take responsibility for the failures of their subordinates.

Remember the parable of the talents that Jesus taught the disciples (Matthew 25)? The master gave three servants five, two, and one talent of money to invest on his behalf while he was away. When the master returned, he rewarded the men who invested well. The master held the man who did not invest well accountable for his actions.

Trust

A leader has the trust of friend and foe alike. His word is his bond. His yes means yes and his no means no.

Jesus provides an important lesson about trust saying, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10).

Servant

Above all else, a leader knows that it is his or her job to serve. There is no need for a shepherd if there is no flock.

Certainly, no one can be seen as more of a master and a servant in the Bible than Jesus himself. Among the dozens of examples of how He cared for His flock is a simple but dramatic example of when He abruptly stopped eating dinner to wash the disciples’ feet. He did this to provide an example of how He wanted them to serve and care for others (John 13).

One Final Thought

In his book, Leadership Is an Art, author Max Dupree notes, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between the two, the leader must become a servant and a debtor. That sums up the progress of an artful leader.”

If we are not the quintessential leader that we might hope to be, we can study great leaders, understand their strengths, and try to emulate them. Eventually, with experience and dedication, you can develop the leadership skills you desire!

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 5-page whitepaper entitled, 13 Traits of Remarkable Leaders You Should Have.”

This whitepaper includes an expanded discussion of each of the 13 Biblical leadership traits and three lessons about leaders from the life and experiences of Ezekiel.

You can download the whitepaper here: 13 Traits of Remarkable Leaders You Should Have.”

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Which of the 13 traits of Biblical Leaders are your strengths and which are areas where you want to improve?

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

 

#210: Are Ordinary People Made Extraordinary by Following God’s Purpose?

Is it true that ordinary people are made extraordinary by following God’s purpose? The Bible is full of examples of God calling ordinary people who accomplished great things for the Kingdom.

Gideon, Ordinary

Take Gideon for example.

Gideon, the Poor Farmer

When God called Gideon, he was threshing wheat for his father. The Lord told Gideon to conquer the Midianites, but Gideon protested saying his family was the weakest in the entire land of Manasseh and he was the youngest in his family.

In faith, Gideon sent messengers throughout the land calling all the Israelites to battle, and 32,000 men showed up to fight. God reduced the size of Gideon’s army to only 300 men. Those 300 men plus God defeated the Midianite army of 135,000 soldiers.

The Israelites enjoyed 40 years of peace during the lifetime of Gideon.

Gideon was an ordinary young man, the son of an ordinary man, with an ordinary family.

Ordinary Family

Gideon described his family as the weakest in the tribe of Manasseh. His parents had turned away from God and worshipped the idols Baal and Asherah. There were no nobles or powerful leaders in his family to show him the way.

Ordinary Trials

The first action the Lord demanded of Gideon was to tear down his parent’s altar to Baal and their Asherah pole. He was to replace them with an altar to the Lord. Gideon did exactly as the Lord commanded.

Ordinary Fears

Gideon was so afraid of what his father and the men of the city would do when they found the altar to Baal destroyed, and the Asherah pole cut down; he did it at night. Gideon was afraid to attack the Midianite army, so God arranged for Gideon to overhear a Midianite’s dream of being conquered.

Ordinary Difficulties

The Israelites had no army to wage war. Gideon sent messengers throughout the land calling Israelites from the tribes of Manasseh, Asher, Naphtali, and Zebulun, to join him in the battle.

Ordinary Doubts

To say Gideon had doubts about God’s call on his life is putting it mildly. He asked God to confirm His call to attack the Midianites not once, but twice.

Ordinary People are made Extraordinary

There is a little bit of Gideon in all of us isn’t there?

We view ourselves as ordinary. We come from quite ordinary families and are leading quite ordinary lives. Perhaps even the weakest, least qualified person we know to be called by God.

Yet God calls us to serve the Kingdom.

Perhaps the initial call on our life is a small step, like Gideon removing the altar of Baal and the Asherah pole.

Even so, we experience fear. What might happen if I step out in faith? Will I fail? Will I look foolish? What will others think of me?

Then we imagine the difficulties that may lie ahead if we follow God’s call. The task seems insurmountable to us. We cannot possibly do what God is asking us to do. We forget that one plus God is always a majority.

Even with God’s assurances, we doubt we can do what God has called us to do.

This is Why God Calls the Ordinary

It is because we are ordinary that God calls us to do the extraordinary. It is when we act in faith despite our insecurities, our fears, and our doubts that we demonstrate God’s strength and His glory.

So, the next time you feel God’s call on your life consider young Gideon, the youngest and weakest of his tribe. Who, despite his insecurities, fear, and doubts followed God’s call on his life and became an extraordinary man of God.

Our world needs ordinary men and women to say “yes” to God and become extraordinary in the process!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you ready to move from ordinary to extraordinary as you heed God’s call on your life? If not, what is holding you back?

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 | Obedience to God