#261: Can You Separate Private Integrity from Public Actions?

We need to apply the concept of caveat emptor, let the buyer beware, to leaders and followers. In this case, let the follower beware.

Integrity

It seems like every week I hear about some leader whose moral lapses have resulted in detrimental public actions. But for some reason, the public, that’s you and me, excuse their actions.

For example, back in 1992 when Bill Clinton was running for president, the scandal about his marital infidelities surfaced. Bill and Hillary went on national TV denying the affairs.

I told my wife if he will lie about his marriage he will lie about anything.

People didn’t seem to care about his affairs; they elected him president.

Fast forward six years to when the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. Bill and Hillary denied again until of course, the blue dress with proof came to light. Oddly enough, despite proof of his lies, Clinton’s popularity actually rose according to a Gallup poll.

Gallup postulated the most likely explanation for people dismissing Clinton’s behavior is the economy was doing well, individuals expressed confidence in the future, and the president’s moral lapses didn’t affect them personally. So, who cares?!

Lapses in Integrity Go Public

The same kind of moral lapses occurred back in Biblical times.

Remember David? He had an affair with Bathsheba, and she got pregnant. David ordered her husband, Uriah, deployed in a battle where their enemies killed him. David didn’t repent until confronted by Nathan the prophet (2 Samuel 12).

Solomon, David’s son, didn’t fare much better. Solomon took numerous wives from foreign nations and eventually started worshipping their gods (1 Kings 11). He even built worship sites and made sacrifices on altars to these gods.

God warned Solomon to repent, but Solomon continued to walk away from God. Eventually, God raised up enemies against Solomon. Internal strife resulted in the nation of Israel being divided and ultimately conquered.

Solomon should have taken his own advice. He warned, The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity” (Proverbs 11:3).

Private issues of integrity tend to have public consequences.

Who Are You When No One is Looking?

Clinton thought what he did in private didn’t matter. So, did David. So, did Solomon. And so, did so many other leaders whose lapses in integrity destroyed their reputation and legacy.

Moses warned the Israelites if they failed to do as instructed in obeying God, “you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).

Private sin has a way of coming to public light.

So, leaders, we need to be mindful of the fact that we are, as Paul told the Corinthians, “ambassadors for Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:20). That means our integrity, our character, reflects on Christ. If we are to be a light to the world, we must be known by our Godly character (Matthew 5:14-16).

And followers, we need to hold our leaders to a higher standard. I’m not saying only perfect men and women are suited for leadership. I know everyone has fallen short. But why do we continue to turn a blind eye to leaders with obvious ongoing moral lapses and issues of integrity?

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you worked for or with someone whose private moral lapses or issues of integrity had public repercussions? How were you or the organization affected?

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 | Integrity

#260: What Qualities Should a Godly Leader Have?

And What Qualities Should They Rid Themselves of?!

Godly leaders live at the intersection of faith and practice. On one side of the street is our faith. We desire to be men and women whose faith reflects our transformation into Christlikeness (2 Corinthians 3:18).

Qualities Leader

On the other side of the street is the real world where we live out our lives. Here is the dirty, gritty, and oftentimes difficult task of being Christlike in a fallen world, surrounded by unbelievers.

We want to be good. We want to be Christlike. But then the real world raises its ugly head testing our resolve with attacks on our principles, our faith, and even on God Himself.

Every Christian lives at this intersection of faith and practice.

Christian leaders must be prepared to withstand the assault of the world, or their leadership will falter.

The Apostle Peter gave some excellent advice to young believers that every Christian leader should take to heart. His advice consisted of qualities important for the Christian and came in two forms. First, he told them what to do to clean up their lives. Then, he gave them direction for how to live out their lives in a way that would bring honor to God.

Clean Up Our Lives

Peter instructed believers to clean up their lives by getting rid of certain qualities.  In 1 Peter 2:1, Peter said they should “…rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander.”

  • Malice. Wicked ill-will toward others.
  • Deceit. Deliberate dishonesty or concealment of the truth.
  • Hypocrisy. Claiming moral standards not evident in your own behavior.
  • Envy. Resentful discontentment toward someone else’s qualities, property, or possessions.
  • Slander. False statements, lies, damaging to a person’s reputation.

As leaders, the greatest damage to our testimony among non-believers is our inability to live out our lives in a Christlike fashion. We hypocritically claim a moral standard while bearing malice, being deceitful, envious, or even slandering others.

We need to put our own house in order first. Only then will our testimony to non-believers bring glory to God.

Once he addressed the negative aspects of our behavior, Peter addressed how to live our lives, so our example will be a positive one.

Live Out Our Faith

Peter continued urging the young believers to live holy lives among the non-believers wherever they live and do good works so others will see their example and be drawn to God (1 Peter 2:11-17).

Peter provided four specific instructions:

  • Avoid the fleshly desires that war against you (v. 11). This is more than the lustful desires. It includes all the sinful desires of the world.
  • Conduct yourselves honorably (v. 12). Not just with believers, but with non-believers, so despite their slanderous accusations against you, everyone will see that Christians are honorable.
  • Submit to human authority; obey the law (vv. 13-14). God ordained government, so Christians should obey man’s laws as long as they do not violate God’s law (Acts 4:19).
  • Show proper respect to everyone (v. 17). This includes loving the brotherhood of believers, fearing God, and honoring the king.

Peter’s instructions came at a time when Christians were living as strangers in a world that was hostile to the Gospel. Christians were slandered, falsely accused, and in many cases, suffered intense persecution.

In light of this adversarial environment, Peter’s instruction was for Christians to live their lives in a way that made them stand out from the world of non-believers. Through their good deeds, people would ultimately glorify God.

Leaders, it is said that the only view of God most non-believers see is that of Christians. Let’s make sure that what we reflect to the world in our lives is behavior that brings glory to God. In so doing we will fulfill Matthew 5:16, which says, “…let your light shine before men, so that they [non-believers] may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of Peter’s instructions for leading a good Christian life do you think is most difficult?

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 | Leader Qualifications

 

 

#259: Two Obscure Women Whose Courage Saved a Nation

Leadership Lessons from The Lesser Known

Whenever I see a list of important women in the Bible these two women’s names are never listed. Their near anonymity is not surprising since their names are listed only once in the Bible, and their entire story takes up only six verses in Exodus (Exodus 1:15-20).

Women Courage

But the nation of Israel owes them a great debt.

Israelites in Egypt

Back when the Israelites were in Egypt they enjoyed relative prosperity while Joseph was alive. But after Joseph died, a new Pharaoh came along who didn’t know Joseph, and he was intimidated by the size of the Israelite community.

To solve the problem of the growing Israelite population, Pharaoh enslaved the Israelites committing them to hard labor. But their population continued to swell.

Frustrated by his failed attempt to control the Israelite population, Pharaoh called in the two head Israelite midwives, Shiphrah and Puah. He ordered them to kill the Hebrew baby boys as they were born (Exodus 1:16).

But Shiphrah and Puah feared God and did not do what Pharaoh had ordered them to do (Exodus 1:17).

Shiphrah and Puah were probably not the only two midwives serving the entire Israelite nation. I think they were the leaders of the midwives’ union and used their influence to convince the other midwives to go along with their plan to disobey Pharaoh and allow the Hebrew boys to live.

When Pharaoh called Shiphrah and Puah in to explain why the Hebrew boys were allowed to live they explained that the Hebrew women gave birth before the midwives could arrive (Exodus 1:19).

God approved of the action of Shiphrah and Puah. He caused the Israelite population to grow even more, and because Shiphrah and Puah feared God, He gave them families of their own (Exodus 1:20-21).

Courage and Conviction

Shiphrah and Puah feared God more than Pharaoh. As a result, they had the courage and conviction to do what was right no matter the cost.

They understood that in this specific case, God’s law superseded man’s law. They knew that killing innocent Hebrew babies was a sin against God. Pharaoh could have easily ordered their execution, but Shiphrah and Puah preferred to be right with God.

Peter encountered a similar situation when the apostles were brought before the Sanhedrin and accused of violating the order not to preach about Jesus. Peter and the other apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

Peter and the apostles also displayed courage and conviction in refusing to obey man’s law when it violated God’s law.

Must We Obey Man’s Law Regardless?

Paul, writing to the Romans, said: “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established” (Romans 13:1).

So, as Christians, are we to submit to authority, as Paul directed, or are we to observe the example of Shiphrah, Puah, Peter, and the Apostles?

The answer, it seems, is to submit to man’s law as long as it does not conflict with God’s law.

Killing innocent babies is a sin against God. Regardless of what Pharaoh commanded, it was wrong. So, Shiphrah and Puah defied man’s law to be obedient to God’s law.

Christian leaders, we need to be guided in our actions by the Holy Spirit. We need to be filled with courage and conviction and follow the example of two obscure Hebrew midwives to obey God no matter the cost.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you encountered situations when you had to decide between following man’s law or God’s law? Do you think Christians should follow man’s law even if it conflicts with God’s law?

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

 

Category: Personal Development | Courage/Risk-Taking

#258: Is Your Ability to Manage Change All That Important?

Plus Bonus Whitepaper

Man’s base of knowledge is increasing at a logarithmic rate; in the 1900’s it doubled every five years, and after the year 2000 man’s total knowledge will double every 20 months!

Manage Change - Buggy

As man’s base of knowledge grows, the pace of change also increases. A recent survey showed that the average worker processes 24 times more information now than just 10 years ago!

The person who is expert at managing change will have a distinct advantage in the 21st century. If you manage change and lead others to manage change, then you have the tools necessary to be a leader in your industry. If, however, you have a high “RC” factor (resistance to change) and are incapable of inspiring others to change you will be left at the side of the road as others speed past you.

If you don’t believe the pace of change is increasing, consider the following:

From the beginning of time until the early 1900’s man’s primary mode of transportation was on foot, or astride a burro or horse. Suddenly, the horseless carriage burst onto the scene, and man all but gave up walking, and his favorite steed was put out to pasture. Automobiles have become interactive computers with their passengers capable of covering in minutes the distance covered in a day by the horse.

But automobiles are nothing compared to the history of flight. Man went from the historic flight of the Wright brothers in 1903 to supersonic flight by 1947 to space probes in 1959 to the first manned space flight in 1961 to manned shuttle flights by 1981.

Think for a moment about these few changes and how the majority of change has occurred in the last 50 years. Entire industries no longer exist that had been major players in the world economy for hundreds of years. Entire new industries have developed in their place.

Increasing knowledge increases the rate of change. The life cycle of industries is compressing at a rate that is inversely proportional to the rate of change. That is, the faster the rate of change the shorter the industry’s life becomes. Dinosaurs are extinct because they failed to adapt. Is your company a dinosaur? Are you?

Moses & Change

Imagine, Moses is out there tending his sheep, and suddenly he sees a bush burning that isn’t consumed by the fire. A few minutes later God is explaining to Moses how Moses is to lead Israel out of Egypt after 400 years of slavery.

Sometimes leaders initiate change; sometimes it is thrust upon them.

After a lot of negotiating (plagues, famine, pestilence) with Pharaoh, Moses finally secures the release of the nation Israel. So, Moses set out as the former slave sheepherder leading a nation of 600,000 men plus women and children to the Promised Land.

Despite all the miracles they have just seen, the Israelites waste no time complaining to Moses about the conditions in the desert. They would rather go back to slavery than risk their lives getting to their own land!

Sometimes people undergoing change can see the benefit of the change, but they don’t want to endure the pain and suffering that may be required to achieve the end result. They would rather go back to the “old way” of doing things than work through the change in order to have a better future.

Over the next two weeks, the people complained about the food and the water. They kept thinking about all the meat and vegetables they had back in Egypt.

Even in the midst of change people will complain bitterly that the “old way” was better.

Moses, at his father-in-law’s suggestion, set up judges to hear the complaints and settle the disputes among the people. Only the most difficult cases were to be brought to Moses.

Leaders who are managing change must not get so involved in the details that they lose sight of the vision. On the other hand, leaders need to stay in touch with employees so that they understand what the people are going through.

Moses then receives instructions from God about the way the Israelites are to live (their laws). Moses gives the word of the law to the people and goes back up the mountain. As soon as he leaves them, they begin to make golden calves to worship. Despite the miracles of the parting of the Red Sea, their provision of food and water, and their military victories these people left unsupervised started worshipping false gods.

Change, especially significant change, requires constant supervision. Monitoring the organization’s progress on an on-going basis is the only way you can be sure to stay on track. Don’t initiate a major change with an announcement and then walk away from the people and expect them to manage the change on their own, they need leadership!

It took 40 years for the Israelites to make it to the Promised Land. Most of the changes you initiate will not take so long to complete. But you should be prepared to go the distance to implement your changes. When Moses set out from Egypt, he probably figured the journey would take 2-3 weeks, not 40 years. A leader who initiates significant change will have to deal with bitterness, complaining, unforeseen obstacles, and a myriad of other problems, but if the vision is clear, change can be achieved.

One Final Thought

Change is implemented in groups, but it occurs one person at a time. Remember that change creates stress because of the perceived change to the individual. A change that creates little perceived change will be met openly, a change that is significant will likely be met with high resistance. A perceptive manager understands that change happens to individuals and will adapt to help individuals see and accept the need for change.

Bonus Whitepaper

This week’s post is excerpted from a 7-page whitepaper entitled, Managing Change—Your Key to Success in the 21st Century!

This whitepaper includes a broader discussion on managing change, including:

  • Examples of rapid change in industry,
  • 7 elements of the anatomy of change, and
  • 11 Steps to promote acceptance of change in your organization.

You can download the whitepaper here: Managing Change—Your Key to Success in the 21st Century!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you experienced organizational change in your career? What went well? What went poorly??

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

 

Category: Skills | Change

 

 

#257: How My Faith Walk Was Like My First Car Experience

I bought my first car in 1968. It was a 1964 Ford Galaxy 500, 2-door fastback. It was silver with a black interior and bucket seats. Under the hood was a 390-cubic inch powerhouse of an engine (gas was $0.19/gallon back then). With a fresh coat of paint and chrome wheels, it was stunning.

Faith Walk, Car

I loved that car. I spent hours cleaning every square inch. Then hours more polishing every bit of chrome and waxing it until it gleamed in the sun. I loved that car.

After a year or so I got tired of cleaning and polishing it all the time and allowed it to get dirty without giving it much of a second thought.

Then one day a red 2-door 1968 Ford Galaxy 500 caught my eye. In the space of 4 years, I had gone from excited, to indifferent, to blasé about the  ’64. I sold my ’64 to my mom and started cleaning and polishing the ’68.

My Faith Walk Was Like My Car Experience

Sad to say, but sometimes my walk with Christ is a little like my experience with my first car. When I was a baby Christian, I was so excited. I read my Bible as much as I could. I joined Bible studies. I change my life to live out my new faith.

Then, my Bible reading habits slipped. I tried to live well but didn’t think about it all that much. I didn’t feel especially close to Jesus.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I continued to drift away from my faith. I even said, “no” when I felt God calling me to do something.

Peter’s Example Restored Me

I don’t remember when it was. I don’t even remember if it was when I was reading, or something said during a sermon. But Peter’s story caught my attention. His walk with Jesus included a time of dedication, a distancing, and finally, denial.

Dedicated

Jesus interrupted Peter while Peter was fishing and said, “Come follow me.” And Peter immediately left his nets and went and followed Jesus (Matthew 4:19-20).

Later, as one of Jesus’ disciples, Peter saw Jesus walking on water. Peter had so much faith in Jesus he asked Jesus to call to him to walk on water with Jesus (Matthew 14:28-29).

Peter dedicated himself to Jesus.

Distancing

Close to the end of Jesus’ ministry, Jesus was arrested and taken before the high priest. Peter, no longer the bold, assertive disciple, continued to follow Jesus, but at a distance (Luke 22:54).

Peter distanced himself from Jesus.

Denial

That evening as Jesus was being tried by the high priest, Peter waited in the high priest’s courtyard. Three times people recognized Peter and accused him of being a follower of Jesus, and three times Peter emphatically denied he was a disciple of Jesus.

Peter denied knowing Jesus.

We’re All Like Peter

We are all like Peter in our faith walk. There are times when we feel especially close to Jesus. Times when problems loom and our faith slips. There are even times when we may hear ourselves saying no to God’s call on our lives.

Just like Peter, there are times in our faith walk when we may be dedicated, when we may distance ourselves, and sadly, when we may even deny Jesus.

But also like Peter, we can come back to Jesus.

When Peter realized what he had done in denying Jesus, he wept bitterly (Luke 22:62). He repented of his sin. Imagine the agony of the next days as Peter saw Jesus flogged, crucified, and laid in the tomb. When word came that Jesus had risen from the dead, Peter was the first disciple to rush to the tomb to see for himself (Luke 24:12).

The first disciple the Lord showed himself to after His resurrection was Peter (Luke 24:34). Jesus was right there for Peter, despite Peter’s distancing and denial.

Two Important Questions for Us

Given Peter’s experience, there are two important questions every Christian should consider:

1) Where are you in your faith walk right now? Are you dedicated, distanced, or denying? And,

2) What are you going to do about whatever stage you are in?

If you are distant from Jesus or even if you have denied Him, remember Jesus will meet you right where you are! All you need to do, like Peter, is to repent and get headed in the right direction.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Where are you in your faith walk and what are you doing about it this year?

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

 

 

 

#256: What to Do When You Have to Say, “You’re Fired!” (Part II)

What to do when you have to say, “You’re Fired!!” Last week we looked at whether a Christian should always forgive and never fire, or if there were circumstances that demand terminating an employee.

Fire, Terimnate

If you missed last week’s discussion, you can read it here.

Before making the termination decision, the Christian manager needs to have taken appropriate measures to bring an underperformer’s results up to acceptable levels. In the case of suspected fraud or other deception, the Christian manager needs to confirm the offense to a certainty.

This week we’ll look at the decision to terminate and how to handle that dreaded discussion that precedes the words, “You’re Fired!”

1) Know the law.

There are federal, state, and often, local statutes governing the dismissal of an employee. A Christian leader respects man’s law (Romans 13:1-5). In the U.S., under “employment at will” statutes, employers have the right to dismiss employees for any reason except when in violation of anti-discrimination or contract law.

2) Fire early.

My preference is to conduct the termination discussion early in the day and early in the week. The reason is simply so the employee can get busy moving on. I know some managers who prefer to fire employees on a Friday, but I think this just gives the employee a whole weekend to stew and stress-out before they can begin to move on with a job search.

3) Fire in private.

Conduct termination meetings in private. There is no need to embarrass an employee with a public dismissal. Jesus told the disciples to deal with people’s sin in private whenever possible (Matthew 18:15-17).

4) Keep it short.

Get all your facts together beforehand and be prepared to deliver a concise description of the issues.  Getting into a long discussion can turn into a debate that ultimately leads to frustration. Solomon said a wise man limits his words and restrains his lips (Proverbs 10:19).

5) Avoid arguing.

Some employees will try to fend off what they know is coming by shifting blame to others, blaming management, or even denying the issues. Avoid arguing with the employee. Arguing only serves to escalate the situation. Remember, Solomon’s advice about a gentle answer turning away wrath (Proverbs 15:1).

6) Offer an option.

In some cases, it may be appropriate to offer an employee the opportunity to resign rather than being fired. The option to resign allows the employee to save face and is most appropriate when the cause of the dismissal is performance related. I am less inclined to make the offer to resign when the termination is “for cause” (theft, falsifying records, etc.).

7) Be prepared.

Know the benefits that are due the employee. Is there accrued vacation time? Carry-over health benefits? Severance pay? Have all the facts and figures readily available to conclude the termination discussion.

8) Be humble and full of grace.

Regardless of the cause of the termination, Christian leaders need to approach an employee termination with humble hearts full of grace. We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8-9) and need to consider how we would want to be treated if the shoe was ever on the other foot (Luke 6:31).

Every manager with employees will eventually face the decision to fire an employee We are commanded to be good stewards, and that includes our businesses as well as our ministries. We are not being good stewards of people’s God-given talents if we allow them to languish in a position that does not fit them well. We are not being good stewards if we allow a deceitful person to squander the resources of the organization.

Being a good steward requires that we be prepared to terminate employees, but when the need arises, we need to reflect a balance between God’s law and God’s grace.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What experiences good or bad do you have with terminating employees?

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

 

 

 

#255: What to Do When You Have to Say, “You’re Fired!”

I think any manager with a beating heart will tell you one of the hardest (if not the hardest) things they have ever had to do was to fire an employee. All the HR training in the world doesn’t prepare you for the flood of emotions that come along with the words, “You’re fired!”

Fired
Many thanks to Cody L. for asking this question about the Biblical principles surrounding the termination of employees.

Harold

Just a few days before Christmas I drove to Harold’s house early in the morning. I had to pick up his company car, and all his company supplies and records. Harold had falsified his sales results saying he had been making sales calls when he was relaxing at home. I had fired Harold the day before.

As a young manager, firing Harold was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do. He was married. He had children. It was just before Christmas.  But he admitted falsifying records, so a “for cause” termination was my only course of action.

Kahlani

I picked up my boss long before the sun came up and we drove 150 miles north to meet Kahlani. Kahlani’s previous boss noted her lagging sales performance and tried to get her results up to par. She talked a good game—she said she wanted to do well—but she didn’t improve.

When I took over as her manager, I had no choice but to put her on formal probation. For three months, I worked with her regularly to help improve her sales skills. But she just didn’t improve.

As I drove north with my boss, I knew this would be a tough meeting. I had to tell Kahlani she had not met the requirements of her probation. As a result, I was terminating her employment.

As expected, the meeting with Kahlani was difficult. As my boss and I talked through her history of poor results, she finally confessed she didn’t like sales all that much. As we left her, she thanked us for the opportunity to work for a good company, for the time we had invested in helping her, and mostly, for freeing her to move on. It turns out she had wanted to quit for some time but didn’t have the courage.

Whether it is for cause, as it was with Harold, or because of poor performance, as it was with Kahlani, terminating an employee is tough.

Is There a Biblical Basis for Firing?

Christian leaders seem to have an especially hard time terminating an employee. They wonder, “How can I reconcile terminating an employee with God’s call to forgive?” There are many verses, from both the Old and New Testament, that support the call to forgiveness. Here are two examples:

“A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense” (Proverbs 19:11).

“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times” (Matthew 18:21-22).

So, if we are to forgive, how can we justify terminating an employee?

While the Scripture does not specifically mention terminating an employee, there are a number of verses that speak to the issue of removing certain individuals because of their behavior.

For example,

Proverbs 22:10 tells us to Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended.”

And,

Proverbs 25:5 advises we remove the wicked from the king’s presence, and his throne will be established through righteousness.”

Finally, in 1 Corinthians 5, Paul chastises the Corinthians for boasting about allowing a sexually immoral man to remain in the church. He warned them that such immorality could spread and needs to be dealt with immediately.

“Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast–as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:6-7).

Resolving the Tension

There is tension between these Biblical teachings. On the one hand, we are called to be forgiving. On the other hand, we also have a responsibility to discipline bad behavior up to and including firing the offender.

How do we resolve the tension between these Biblical teachings?

We must balance law and grace.

We must reflect God’s grace as we help those who are struggling to perform at acceptable levels.

We must also protect the organization by taking immediate action with those whose behavior brings harm to the organization.

Next week we’ll examine more specifics on handling the termination interview in “What to Do When You Have to Say, “You’re Fired!” (Part II)

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What experiences good or bad do you have with terminating employees?

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

 

 

 

#254: The Most Important Goal You Forgot to Set

Happy New Year! 2017 is in our rear-view mirror. 2018 lies ahead, all shiny and new, ready to be explored.

Goal Rest

It is the time of year when many of us obsessive-compulsives set new goals for ourselves. Our goals have us reaching higher, climbing faster, and going where no man has gone before. We set goals for our careers, our relationships, our physical fitness, and a plethora of other things.

But most of us forget to set one important goal. And this goal is critical. Because failing at this goal almost always causes us to fail at the career goals, the relationship goals, the fitness goals, and all the others.

Here’s How Things Usually Go

We spend a few minutes reflecting on the year just past. We determine to make the next year the best year ever by setting new goals that represent all our dreams and aspirations. Once the goals are memorialized in our new productivity planners, we put our heads down and get to work. We charge ahead. We give every goal 110% effort.

We reach higher. Climb faster. And go where no man has gone before.

And then suddenly, without warning, we’re lost. We’re exhausted and completed stressed out. Amidst a forest of competing demands, we can no longer see the goal off in the distance. We may not even remember why we set the goal in the first place!

We give up and commit to doing better with our goals next year! And all this happens by the end of January!

What happened?

We forgot to set the most important goal!

The Most Important Goal

When God finished the work of creation what did He do? He rested! This theme of rest occurs throughout the Scripture. God ordained special celebrations when His people were to abstain from all work to rest and worship Him. Even the land was allowed to rest a full year every seven years!

As we jump to the New Testament Jesus continues to underscore the importance of rest. Preaching to the crowds, Jesus said,

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29).

Who, these days, is not weary and burdened? Jesus invited all us who are weary and burdened to come to Him, and in Him, He promised rest for our souls.

Easy to say, quite a bit harder to live out in our daily lives. We don’t have rest training in school, and our employers certainly don’t offer weekend seminars on resting!

But if we want to be the people God designed us to be, we need to do what He has designed us to do.

I love the way author Gwen Smith defines the acronym R.E.S.T. in her article, “God’s Best Requires Rest.”

  • Reflect
  • Engage
  • Surrender
  • Trust

Reflect

Gwen says, “When you reflect on God, you better reflect God.” The truth of the matter is, most of us are so busy we don’t spend much time outside of church reflecting on the magnificence of our Creator!

Engage

Engage with God on a personal level. Pray. Meditate on God’s Word. Paul said if we tell God about everything, then He will give us peace (Philippians 4:6-7).

Surrender

Surrender your will to God’s will. Remember what Jesus said as He prayed in the Garden of Eden? He said, “…not my will but thy will be done (Luke 22:42)! On His way to the cross, Jesus remained completely surrendered to the Father’s will.

Trust

Trust God. Life can be messy, dangerous, disappointing, and terrifying. But we must trust God’s promise, “…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

Establish Your R.E.S.T. Goal

Get out your planner, or wherever you have your goals written down, and add a R.E.S.T. goal.

And just to get you pointed in the right direction consider the following:

  • Daily: 30 minutes of rest. I know this one is hard. You’re not used to doing it. You tell yourself you don’t have time. But you need to make time! Take 30 minutes every day to rest. Go for a walk in a park or at the beach. Spend some time thinking about God’s grace in your life. Decompress from all the other stress in your life!
  • Weekly: Sabbath of rest. I checked, and Commandment number 4 is still in the Bible (Exodus 20:8). So, take one day a week and rest in the Lord. Keep the day Holy to the Lord. Don’t trade company email, major housework, or remodeling projects for rest. R.E.S.T. one day. It’s part of God’s plan for us.
  • Quarterly: Two days of rest. Plan a weekend away. No work. Shut off all your electronic devices. Take your Bible and maybe a notepad. Or maybe a good Christian book. Practice R.E.S.T.
  • Annually: A full week of rest. Schedule it. Make it happen. Go somewhere. Explore God’s magnificent creation. Go on walks. Get away from work and the stresses that surround you at home. Reflect. Engage. Surrender. Trust.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. How do you practice R.E.S.T.? What ideas can you share that have worked for you?

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

 

Category: Personal Development | Priorities

 

 

 

 

#253: Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

Those of you who have been with me for at least a year know I love Christmas hymns. Most years, Christmas music starts being played on the radio and in stores right after Thanksgiving. But this year, I heard my first Christmas music, a hymn no less, right after Halloween (how apropos!).

Angels Sing

One of my favorite hymns is Hark! The Herald Angels Sing. Charles Wesley wrote this beautiful, theologically rich hymn in 1739. George Whitfield made a change to the opening verse in 1753. Over the years, other changes included shortening the hymn from its original ten stanzas to the three we commonly see today.

Despite the changes, this hymn retains its beautiful, powerful message just as it was when it was proclaimed by Wesley some 278 years ago.

Our Savior is Born

In the first stanza, Wesley begins with a direct reference to the angels of God announcing the birth of our Savior from Luke 2:14 (note the quotation marks in the second and third lines). Our Savior will bring peace on earth and reconcile God and sinful man. All nations should be joyful as they proclaim Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Jesus is our Emanuel!

In the second stanza, Wesley proclaims Christ Jesus as our eternal, everlasting Lord. Born of a virgin, He is God incarnate in the flesh of a man.

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Praise the Prince of Peace

In the third stanza, Wesley offers praise for Christ, the righteous Savior of man, who lived and died and rose again. He was born to bring salvation to mankind through the glory of His sinless life.

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Let us be especially mindful of the great sacrifice that our Lord and Savior endured on our behalf so that we might have the assurance of eternal life.

No greater sacrifice has ever been made.

No greater gift has ever been given.

My Christmas prayer for you is that the love of God and His peace will be with you always.

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing! by the Celtic Women live at the Helix in Dublin

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What is your favorite Christmas hymn and what special meaning does it have for you?

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

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

#252: You Can Run, but You Cannot Really Hide

I was 7 or 8 years old when I was down on the farm for the summer helping my grandfather.

Run Hide

We had to move the cows into the barn to be fed. One of the young calves was being stubborn. Grandpa said to leave her in the pen while he took the rest of the cows up to the barn. But I decided I would be helpful and move the calf for him.

It’s surprising how strong a young calf can be! She got away from me running all over the barnyard. I knew I was in trouble for disobeying grandpa.

I left the calf and ran into the house, past my grandmother cooking dinner, into my bedroom and under the covers I went.

When Grandpa finished his chores, he came inside wondering where I was. I’m pretty sure he could see the lump under the covers and knew where I was.

He never said a word about that calf or my disobeying him.

He loved me, and I suspect he knew I had learned my lesson.

Sometimes we do the same thing with God. We disobey and run away thinking we can hide from God. But can we really?

Adam and Eve Hid

Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Remember the “don’t eat the apple” instruction (Genesis 3)? After they ate the apple, Adam and Eve were ashamed, and they tried to hide in the Garden of Eden. God called out to them, “Where are you.” Just like my Grandpa, God already knew where they were. He knew they were hiding because they were ashamed.

Jonah Hid

Trying to hide didn’t work out well for Jonah either (Jonah 1). God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach a message of repentance to the Ninevites. Jonah didn’t like the Ninevites, so he didn’t want to do what God told him to do. Instead, he ran the opposite direction and jumped on the nearest ship sailing as far away from Nineveh as he could get.

You know what happened to Jonah. Jonah had to spend three days in the belly of a fish before he finally repented and did what God asked him to do.

We Can Run but Can We Really Hide?

I thought I was hiding under the covers. Adam and Eve thought they were hiding in the Garden. Jonah thought he was hiding in the ship.

We think we are hiding but can we really hide from God? God is both omniscient (all-knowing) and omnipresent (present everywhere at the same time).

David wrote about our all-knowing, ever-present God in Psalm 139.

1 LORD, You have searched me and known me.
2  You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away.
3  You observe my travels and my rest; You are aware of all my ways.
4  Before a word is on my tongue, You know all about it, LORD.
5  You have encircled me; You have placed Your hand on me.
6  ⌊This⌋ extraordinary knowledge is beyond me. It is lofty; I am unable to ⌊reach⌋ it.
7  Where can I go to escape Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence?
8  If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there.
9  If I live at the eastern horizon ⌊or⌋ settle at the western limits,
10  even there Your hand will lead me; Your right hand will hold on to me.
11  If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”—
12  even the darkness is not dark to You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You.
13  For it was You who created my inward parts; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14  I will praise You because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, and I know ⌊this⌋ very well. Psalm 139:1-14 (HCSB)

God knows where we are. He knows our thoughts. He knows what we are going to say before we even say it. There is nowhere we can go that we can escape the spirit of God. From the heights of heaven to the depths of hell. God is there.

Where Are You Hiding?

You and I are too old to hide under the covers. The forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden is gone. No ships are sailing away from Nineveh.

But, there are still plenty of ways we try to hide from God today.

  • We try to hide at work. We avoid doing what God has called us to do because we are too busy advancing our careers.
  • We try to hide in our families. We use our families as an excuse not to make time for God.
  • We try to hide in our leisure time. We work hard, so we convince ourselves we deserve this extra leisure time. Surely God doesn’t want me to stress out and work ALL the time!
  • We try to hide doing ministry work. Yes, we are super busy doing ministry work, but are we doing the work God has called us to do?

Leaders, let’s examine our lives to ensure we are not hiding from God. God specifically called each and every one of us to do a specific work in the Kingdom. We might try to run, but we cannot really hide from God.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Are you hiding from God in some area of 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