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

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