Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The 3 E's

Expectations, Empowerment & Excellence

How do you know when your business practices, your products and/or services, your relationships, and your life style are acceptable to the Lord? What do you think God expects from you?
Many times I have heard a businessperson say, “my business, or my company, or my employees.” Well the truth is they are not yours, they are God’s. In Deuteronomy 10:14 (NIV) it is written: Look around you: Everything you see is God’s – the heavens above and beyond, the Earth and everything on it.” No, it is not yours, but you are God’s steward. How is your stewardship lately? Are you fulfilling God’s expectations for you?
Let’s begin in the Book of Micah. In Micah 6:6-8 (The Message) it is written: “How can I stand up before God and show proper respect to the high God? Should I bring an armload of offerings topped off with yearling calves? Would God be impressed with thousands of rams, with buckets and barrels of olive oil? Would he be moved if I sacrificed my first born child? But, he’s already made it plain how to live, what to do, what God is looking for in men and women. It’s quite simple: Do what is fair and just to your neighbor, be compassionate and loyal in your love, and don’t take yourself too seriously – take God seriously.”
In the NIV Bible, Micah 6:8: “And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
As stated in The Message, “It’s quite simple.”
First, let’s take a look at three key topics for business people who want to serve the Lord. They are: Expectations, Empowerment, Excellence.
The Lord makes and keeps covenants. In doing this he has always been consistent and clear with his expectations. If I were to speak with your associates and ask them what your expectations are, what would they tell me? Have you made the effort and taken the time to clearly spell out your expectations for them? In Deuteronomy 7: 9-11, God made a covenant with Israel and it included expectations.
It is written in Deuteronomy 7: 9-1l (NIV): “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. But those who hate him will repay to their face by destruction; he will not be slow to repay to their face those who hate him. Therefore, take care to follow the commands, decrees and laws, I give you today.”
If I worked in your organization, would I know my expectations, including the rewards and punishments? Would I know what excellent performance looked like in the organization? Have you been consistent in application? Have you been faithful and followed through when necessary? When you have not, what have been the results? Tough questions. But, as God’s steward you must be in a position to answer these questions.
As a Christian business leader, you have available to you several models, such as the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. Both of these are examples of clear expectations. In fact, within the Sermon on the Mount just might be the best business book every written. Or, read again in the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 10: 12-13 (The Message): “So now Israel, what do you think God expects from you? Just this. Live in his presence in holy reverence, follow the road he sets out for you, love him, serve God, your God, with everything you have in you, obey the commandments and regulations of God that I’m commanding you today – live a good life.” And in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (NIV) it is written: Hear O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.”
You and the members of your organization need to have clear expectations for everyone. What are your core values? Have you taken time to identify them? Did you involve your stakeholders? Are they written? Do people in the organization know them, accept them and live them? Do have basic operating principles in writing for your leadership team? Do other teams have clear and written operating principles? As a Christian business leader, how can you not have these? What does your savior expect from you?
The Lord requires you to act justly. I am not sure how you can do that if you do not have clear expectations. Your Lord is just and merciful. You too must balance your justice and mercy in dealing with others. But, you cannot do that if you do not have clear expectations.
I hesitate to use the word empowerment since I believe it has been abused and over-used. However, as Christian leaders it is your responsibility to empower others. In John 14: 12-13 (NIV) it is written: “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.”
Jesus left and put the disciples in charge. Unlike some business leaders I know, he did not abdicate, he practiced effective delegation through giving them the tools they needed and a direct link to the Father through him. For three years he coached, mentored, and taught them. That’s empowerment! Too many business leaders fear having associates with more talent or skill than they possess. They withhold information, do not coach and mentor. How small must be their minds. If you want to be a Christian leader, then lead like Jesus! You should be rejoicing in the growth and development of your associates.
I have a stack of books in my office all on the topics of quality and excellence in the work place. Most of the books address quality not only as a way to profitability, but also to just staying in business. As a Christian, I always wondered why it took books on quality for us to do what is expected of us. Just take a look at what is written in Proverbs 29: 22 (NIV): “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before Kings, he will not serve before obscure men.” Or as written in The Message; “Observe people who are good at their work – skilled workers are always in demand and admired, they don’t take a back seat to anyone.”
As a Christian you are compelled to do your best. Your behavior is observed by your associates. As a follower of Christ, you must always perform your tasks joyfully and fully. It is your responsibility to set an example for others.
It is written in Ephesians 6: 5-8 (The Message): “Servants, respectfully obey your earthly masters but always with an eye to obeying the real master, Christ. Don’t just do what you have to do to get by, but work heartedly, as Christ’s servants doing what God wants you to do. And work with a smile on your face, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving orders, you’re really serving God. Good work will get you good pay from the Master, regardless of whether you are slave or free.” As a Christian business person how can you read these words from scripture and not always be focused on excellence? And, if you read further, in verse 9 it is written: “Masters, it is the same with you. No abuse, please, and no threats. You and your servants are both under the same Master in heaven. He makes no distinction between you and them.” Read that again, and think about it. No distinction.
As a business leader you are expected by God to act justly, love mercy and walk in humility with your God. And as it is written in Colossians 4: 23-25 (The Message): “And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being Christian doesn’t cover up bad work.”
If you want to have excellence and empowered associates, you must give them clear expectations and you must set the example. You have to become a servant leader, not one who expects to be served by others.

Bob Spence

Friday, November 26, 2010

When Will Jesus Return?

When I was a small boy I asked my mother, “when will Jesus return?” She smiled and said, “no one knows. You best be ready. He can return any time that God chooses for him to return.”
Now, for a small boy that is not enough.
“You mean just any time?” I asked my mother, pressing the issue. The smile on her face faded into a solemn stare. “Yes, any time. Perhaps, when you least expect him, or are doing something you should not be doing.”
Now she was getting serious.
“You mean he will return without any announcements?” I asked hoping to hear I was wrong. “Yes, dear, without any announcements he will return.” She said firmly. “And if I were you, I would sure stop and think before I did anything or went any where.” “You mean he’s just going to show up some day?” I asked her. “That’s right Bobby,” she said, “some day when the world least expects him, Jesus will return.” Gulp, I swallowed hard. “What if I’m asleep? “Oh, then Jesus will gently wake you,” she responded and patted me on the head.
That sounded okay to me.
“What if I’m in school?” I asked, hoping she would suggest I might want to drop out of school so I would not be there when Jesus returns Mother laughed. “If you are in school, and studying hard, he will be so proud of you and he will wrap his arms around you and give you a big hug.”
Well, that sounded okay, too. “I guess it’s okay for him to return when he wants, then,” I said to my mother.
She gave me one of those looks you never forget. “Bobby, Jesus does not need your okay for him to return. He will be back when God chooses. So, if you are not asleep, or studying hard in school, you might want to be doing something that would please him.”
If Jesus had returned last evening, where would he have found you? Watching Monday Night Football? Watching a reality program on television? Reading a book to a child? Spending time with family and/or friends? Studying your Bible? Helping someone?Having an illicit affair? Watching a porno movie? Or just sitting in a local bar getting smashed?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Give Thanks!

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that through his poverty you become rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV Bible)

This design has the colors traditionally associated with our annual Thanksgiving Day, and the colors are bright, flowing, and uplifting. Yes, this is a Thanksgiving design, but it is not only for the Thanksgiving holiday season, but for all year long; giving thanks to the Lord each and everyday of the year!

I really like to sing the song, “Give Thanks.” In fact, as I prepared this design, I found myself singing the song! Written originally by Henry Smith, and published in 1986 by Integrity Music, and recorded on the album, Heal Our Land in 1989, it has since been recorded and played many times around the world. The words of the song are so appropriate for our Thanksgiving time. “Give thanks with a grateful heart; give thanks to the holy one; give thanks for he’s given Jesus Christ, His son. And now, let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich, because of what the Lord has done for us. Give thanks!” Suggestion. You just might want to hold hands around your Thanksgiving table and sing this song followed by a prayer of thanks to your Lord and Savior. Just a thought.

Want some good reading material over the holiday? Read the Psalms. And since it is Thanksgiving, start with Psalm 100:4-5; “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” I’m thankful that we have a national day of thanksgiving, but I surely hope that we take time to give thanks more than just this one day each year. And, I pray that we place our focus on giving thanks to the Lord more than we do on all the food placed on the table. In fact, why not, before eating, have each person at the table share what he/she is most thankful for this year? And one more idea. After the meal is complete, and you offer a closing prayer, why not have each person carry their plates to the kitchen and all pitch in and help with the clean up? Oh, one last thing. In the marketplace, when someone says, “Happy Thanksgiving,” why not respond to them with this: “Thanks Be To God!” Just a thought.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


“Meaningless. Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NIV Bible)

This design is just a design. Nothing more. Nothing less. It has shapes. It has colors. It flows. It has style. It is pleasing to the eye. But, it is meaningless. As I did this design I really felt nothing. I remember drawing the shapes and using the pens to apply the colors, but I felt just plain empty. Meaningless. Ever have one of those times? I wondered why did I even pick up the pens! I actually did not feel the inspiration I feel when I draw. It was as if I was alone, very alone and meaningless. Now, in hindsight, I know what I was to share. This design illustrates a life without God. Without God our lives are hollow and without any purpose. Hollow. Empty. Meaningless.

In Matthew 16:26 it is written, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Consider the man or woman who devotes their life to accumulating power. They find their meaning and purpose in this control over the lives of others. When they die, what happens to all the power and influence they have accumulated? What happens to all their earthly treasures? In essence, their lives have been totally meaningless. I have to confess that when I watch these folks at first I mock them, and then this mocking changes to pity, which then results in praying for them. It would do them well to read Philippians 2:1-11 about the attitudes of our Lord, Christ Jesus. (You should put this article aside now and read that Scripture.) You want to talk about meaning and purpose? It’s right there in the Bible!

It is written in 1 Chronicles 29:11-12; Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Want meaning in your life? Turn to God. Put your trust in Him. Draw your purpose from His Word. Then go out into the Marketplace and live like Jesus!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Fun With Colors

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

Remember as a child singing, “This Little Light of Mine?” Some of the words are; This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine; Hide it under a bushel? No! Let it shine; Don’t let Satan blow it out; All around my neighborhood I’m gonna let it shine; Let it shine till Jesus comes. In that simple song is a powerful message. Where is your light?

When I did this design, I kept humming “this little light of mine.” It prompted me to use a lot of colors - bright colors. This design is all about colors. The various shapes all reflect different color combinations. I like to sit back, put my feet up, relax and just look at this design and let my imagination go wild! In our everyday lives we tend to get so wrapped up in stuff we miss the important things. Look at the design and let your mind just wander around and enjoy the colors and the shapes. Then, as you go through each day, take time to pause and enjoy the wonders of God's creation, for it is written in Genesis 1:3, And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” All of the colors in this design are to the glory of the Lord and the light of His creation.

Are you letting your light shine in the marketplace? Are you seeking His kingdom first? Regi Campbell, in his book, About My Father’s Business, wrote, “It’s about being on purpose with every person that God points you to in your work life.” During the week in the marketplace the Lord will place people in your path. You must be vigilant and keep focused so that you can respond and introduce them to Jesus. As a Christian you have a powerful message to share. You have a great responsibility. You are to live like Jesus. And as he told us, we are to go out and make disciples. The best way to introduce people to Jesus is to act like Jesus. Treat others just like Jesus treated people. It really works!