You Are the Beloved

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love… I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:9,11)

Some thoughts from Henri J.M. Nouwen provide this week’s devotional thought on what it means to be the ‘beloved of God.’

Don’t you often hope: “May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.”  But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go on running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always on edge and angry, never fully satisfied.  You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run.  This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out.  This is the way to spiritual death.

Well, you and I don’t have to kill ourselves.  We are the Beloved.  We are intimately loved long before our teachers, spouses, children and friends loved or wounded us.  That’s the truth of our lives.  That’s the truth I want you to claim for yourself.  That’s the truth spoken by the voice that says, “You are my Beloved.”

Listening to that voice with great inner attentiveness, I hear at my center words that say: “I have called you by name, from the very beginning.  You are mine and I am yours.  You are my Beloved, on you, my favor rests.  I have moulded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb.  I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace.  I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child.  I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step.  Where you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch.  I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst.  I will not hide my face from you.  You know me as your own as I know you as my own.  You belong to me.  I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover and your spouse…yes, even your child… wherever you are I will be.  Nothing will ever separate us.   “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.”

From ‘Life of the Beloved’ by Henri J.M. Nouwen

REFLECT:

  • Is some of your compulsive busyness driven by an uncertainty that you are worthy of love?
  • How will you begin to accept the deep truth that you are God’s Beloved?

John Wiseman –  Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca
[This devotional may be freely shared with others.  We ask that you include the above attribution and website address when sending to others.]

Bread and Water

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” ‘Sir,’ they said, “from now on give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”  (John 6:32-35 NIV)

Most of us are familiar with the story that when God’s people miraculously escaped slavery in Egypt they spent 40 years wandering in the Sinai during which God provided sustenance by providing ‘manna’ bread, and streams of flowing water in the desert.  But are we familiar with the deeper truth that these historical events also have metaphorical meanings and lessons for us today?  At several points, Paul and Jesus, in referring to the exodus experience, state explicitly that these events were meant to act as lessons for God’s people for future generations.

The lessons are both negative and positive.   In I Corinthians 10:6ff, Paul refers to the post-exodus events as warnings from Israel’s history and states, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.”  But in our passage above from the gospel of John, Jesus reveals the positive lesson.  Just as God provided physical sustenance for His people in the Sinai so long ago, Jesus and God the Father will provide spiritual bread and water for all our needs today.

The ultimate example of God’s promise to continue to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of his followers is given in Christ’s assurance toward the end of his ministry, “Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time” (Matt. 28:20).  Brennan Manning in his book, Abba’s Child comments, “We should expect that Christ will be actively present in our lives.  If our faith is alive… we will be alert to moments, events and occasions when the power of resurrection is brought to bear on our lives.  Self-absorbed and inattentive, we fail to notice the subtle ways in which Jesus is snagging our attention.”

As the fall launch is upon us, as we come out of the slower rhythms of summer, this is a message that I commend to you.  There is a risk that the activity of returning kids to school schedules, the demands of business activity, the relentless pull of social media may cause us to become self-absorbed or inattentive.  There is a risk that a return to busier schedules may cause us to miss the still small voice of God nudging us to make time for kingdom priorities of worship, giving back, spiritual transformation, and stewardship of time and resources that God is calling us to.  These priorities are usually at odds with what the world is calling us to.

There is another powerful metaphor in the Exodus story.  The manna that God provided to his people could not be stored up for later use.  If more than a day’s supply was stored away for later use, it rotted.  The spiritual message is clear.  We must re-establish our reliance upon God’s provision daily!  We must not think that a meaningful spiritual retreat or a good worship experience on a weekend will eliminate the need for continuing to seek God’s provision daily.  Provision from God is not something to be stored up and drawn upon later.

I encourage you to make time in your schedule, during your monthly Forum meetings, to recognize, talk about and pray over those moments, events and occasions where the power of the resurrection is brought to bear on your life.

REFLECT:

  • What causes self-absorption and inattentiveness to spiritual priorities in your life?
  • How will you pick up your spiritual ‘manna’ from God each day?

John Wiseman –  Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca
[This devotional may be freely shared with others.  We ask that you include the above attribution and website address when sending to others.]

Spiritual Fruit, Foundation and Effort

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Galatians 5:22,23)

Last summer I shared a meditation upon Spiritual Fruit and Character.  This week, I would like to revisit that topic to provide some clarity on how Spiritual Fruit relates to our life Foundation, and our life Effort.

FOUNDATION

A number of years ago as I reflected upon the Fruits of the Spirit passage in Galatians 5 I realized I had been using the passage to tell myself to be more loving, more kind – to have more self-control, etc.  These are all good goals, but they are not the intent of the passage.  I came to the realization that the Fruits of the Spirit list is not a series of attributes for us to achieve by Effort – rather, they are a description of the nature of our new character which will result in a new Foundation for our life once we are a new creation in Christ – (2 Cor. 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!)

This brought relief to two common struggles that I had, and I believe most Christians struggle with.

  1. How do I produce the fruits of the spirit if I notice they are not evidenced in my life and character?
  2. I know the Bible says I cannot earn my salvation, so where does my effort come into play in my spiritual walk with God.

So, if I cannot earn my Spiritual foundation of Spiritual fruits through effort, how do I produce the Fruits of the Spirit?  As I reflected on my changed thinking on this struggle, I thought of a cherry tree my family had in our backyard while growing up in Ohio.  As a young child, I would put my ear to the trunk wanting to hear the deep voice of the tree groaning with the effort of producing those cherries – but I never did hear it – Why?  Because for a cherry tree, producing cherries is an effortless joy.  A cherry tree does not create cherries by an energy-draining effort – producing cherries is not a burdensome effort for it.  Rather – it produces cherries effortlessly by virtue of its foundational nature as a cherry tree.

In similar fashion, as Christians – we should not labor under the misconception that we need to screw up our faces and be about the great effort of being more loving, joyful, peaceful, patient etc. – rather, we are invited to be transformed by staying connected to the life-giving force of Christ and abiding in Him through the Holy Spirit.  Once this becomes our focus – we naturally produce the Fruits of the Spirit over time effortlessly as part of our new nature in Christ. This is the Foundation of the Christian Life that caused Martin Luther to upend the Church of his day which had fallen into the error of salvation by works or by obtaining or purchasing things to earn merit.

EFFORT

So if effort has no place in obtaining my new identity in Christ and his salvation, what does it mean when Paul says in Philippians 2:12 “…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling”?  The answer, I believe, revolves around understanding the difference between ‘earning’ and ‘effort’.

Trying to earn your salvation is clearly condemned in scripture, especially in the Ephesians 2:8,9 clarification that salvation is by grace, NOT by works.

But producing effort to build upon your freely gifted salvation as a way of “working out” your gratitude for that foundational gift is what Paul is talking about.  As Dallas Willard put it in his book, Spirit of the Disciplines, “God is against earning, but he is very supportive of effort.”

Therefore, when I begin to notice that I am sliding into agitation rather than peace, to abruptness rather than kindness, to unhealthy impulsiveness rather than self-control (which happens to me more often than I would like to admit) – I no longer ramp up my effort to be better at love, joy, peace, kindness and self-control etc.  Instead, I remember my true character is found in my Foundation in Christ.  Jesus compared this process to a branch staying connected and drawing its life from the vine. (John 15:5).  Jesus promises me that if I remain in Him, I will bear much fruit, including the Fruits of the Spirit.

Therefore, my singular reaction to the consistent pull to return to my old nature, the way of the world – is to reconnect to my Foundation in Christ, REMAIN in Him, and the Spiritual Fruits show up in my life as sure as a cherry tree produces cherries.

 REFLECT:

  • Does the challenge to reconnect to Christ instead of trying to change your character resonate with you?
  • In your EFFORTS to work out the calling of your Christianity, do you sometimes fall into the false mindset that you are somehow EARNING merit with God?

John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca 

Authentic Leadership – The Strength of Your Presence Means Being Present to Life

” Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10 NIV)

This week we have a timely message for the summer months from David Irvine:

A participant who attended one of my leadership programs earlier in the spring has been traveling with her daughter in Europe and sent me an email with a line that has not left me: “…while traveling I’ve had time to not think at all, just wonder and be amazed…”

This put me into a reflective mode and I contemplated how, in a world filled with so many demands and expectations, we don’t have time even to think, much less “just wonder and be amazed.”

  • When was the last time you slowed down long enough to watch the sun go down?
  • When have you taken time recently to meditate, notice your breathing, and fully relax?

We are clever people, efficient and high-powered, but in our zeal to get things done we are forgetting the simple art of living. And I might add, the art of leading.

Since my schedule has tapered off for the summer, I am reminded how important stillness is in life; time to get away from the demands of the world and simply be. There is wisdom that can surface when we stop thinking, stop planning, stop doing, and make room for even a few minutes of stillness and attention to breathing. Whenever an answer, a solution, or a creative idea is needed, stop thinking for a moment by focusing your attention on what is going on inside of you. Momentarily get away from the burden of “thinking,” and become aware of the stillness. This may only take a minute or two, or it may require a walk outdoors. When you resume thinking, it will be fresh and creative. In any thought activity, make it a habit to go back and forth every few minutes between thinking and an inner kind of listening, an inner stillness.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life,” wrote Socrates over twenty-four hundred years ago. While an overbooked schedule is exhausting, I wonder if he was also referring to the nature of the active mind, the human tendency toward busyness inside our heads. Whether it’s an over-extended timetable or a harried mind or a combination of both, be sure to take time, not just over the summer but in your daily living, to pause and be present to life. It not only improves your leadership; it makes life worth living.

If we don’t make time to befriend the present moment, to connect ourselves with the world around us and with the people who matter most to us, what is the purpose for doing anything else?

© 2018 by David Irvine. Permission to reprint and circulate is granted.

david@davidirvine.com, or 1-866-621-7008 (toll-free).


Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca   

Change Your Leadership Posture

This week’s Meditation comes to us from the Arrow Program.  Arrow has been training Christian leaders in Canada for decades.

Confession: I have struggled with bad posture my entire life, and I believe it is getting worse as I age. My chiropractor reminds me often that not paying attention to my posture will affect many areas of my life. It will impact my running, my sleep, my ability to breathe deeply and ultimately my overall health. The crazy thing about it all is that one’s posture can be corrected!

As we age, our posture can become an issue, and I believe the same is true for us as Christian leaders. There are three healthy postures I believe we need to have as leaders that will help us “age” and “mature” well.

  1. Posture of Submission – Philippians 2:6 I like being right. I like being in charge. I like being the final word. I like leading because, in most circumstances, the org chart reveals that most are in submission to me. Dear leader, please be careful. Jesus reminds us that our submission must be first to God (John 8:28), but I will go a step further and say that submission to God and man is good for the soul. Find space and situations where your word is not the final one. Force yourself to listen to an outside voice or wise counsel that pushes you into areas you would not naturally go. Allow your board or supervisor to lead you even when you don’t fully agree with the decision.
  2. Posture of Service – Philippians 2:7 As we age, it is easy to forget that our first call is to serve. Jesus, our leader, reminds us that just like him we are not called to be served but to serve. It is easy to forget this posture and to begin thinking our people, our staff or our community exist to serve us. A little secret I learned years ago was to find a practice of serving those that my job description did not require. I also learned it is good to show up within the church or organization in places that you are not required to be and just be there to serve.
  3. Posture of Sacrifice – Philippians 2:8 A posture of service is impossible without a proper posture of sacrifice. Remember leader, we have been crucified with Christ and we no longer even live, Christ now lives in us (Gal. 2:20). A posture of sacrifice reminds us that our leadership is not about us. We gave up our salaries, our retirement, our positions and titles when we said “Yes” to following Jesus. Sacrifice means just that, letting go of what we believe is ours for the sake of others. Sacrifice can hurt, and that is OK. Don’t take the credit for something, be audaciously generous and don’t let anyone know it was you. Let go of something that you want to provide for someone in need.

These three postures are vital to leadership health. Here is the reality, you must seek to be healthy in all three; you can’t cheat! There have been seasons of my leadership where I was healthy in one area but not the others. Healthy postures do not work like that, it takes focus on each.

My Chiropractor often reminds me of the formula to healthy body posture:

Awareness – You must look in the mirror and see for yourself. You must ask others to remind you when you are out of line.

Attitude – You must want to change, or you never will. You must believe for yourself in the importance of right posture, or it won’t change.

Actions – Now that you are aware, and your attitude is ready, it is time to put into action some steps to fix the problem.

How about you? Are you aware of your leadership posture? Are you willing to ask others how are you doing in those areas? How is your attitude as you read this article; are you open to change? Are you willing to take action?

Here is one final encouragement:

Don’t get overwhelmed! Change in posture is a process that must continually be reviewed. Sometimes we may need some simple tweaks, while other times we may need a complete overhaul. You can do it! I believe you want to be a leader worth following, and you want to be like Jesus in your leadership. Here is the amazing mystery about postures, you are in control. The health of your posture is not determined by anyone else but you. You can change. You can be healthy. You don’t have to ask permission or seek board approval. Change can start right now, today, and will begin to impact your leadership, personal life and family for a lifetime!

Dr. Taylor Williams

Director of Leader Engagement – Arrow Leadership Program

http://www.arrowleadership.org/

We All Need a Rest!

“You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today…” (Deuteronomy 8:17,18 NIV)

“but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work,” (Exodus 20:10)

As I interact with Corpath members, there is often a theme of busyness and tiredness that comes up.  My concern when I hear this is that one of the fundamental truths of Christian spirituality is to rest one day in seven.  Scriptures teach, “remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.”  So why do so many of us in business struggle to protect one day, why do so many of us struggle to practice a sabbatical rest?

There are many reasons I am sure, but I suspect one core reason is captured in the Deuteronomy text above.  We may say to ourselves, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”  Many leaders in business have a Type A Personality.  Many business owners know that to be successful you must log long hours.  I have no problem with that, and I am in awe of the strong work ethic of many of our members.

But there is a very small distance from having a good work ethic to build a business and slipping into a conscious, or unconsciously held belief that our businesses will not be successful unless we work 24/7.  We must examine our assumptions.  Do we really believe that it is God who partners with us to give us the ability to produce wealth?  Or do we act as if it is all up to us, regardless of what we say we believe?

A subtler danger is captured in the phrase, “this is just a temporary crunch time which will soon be over…”.  This is where we buy into the myth that in 6 months or a year or two, the crunch will be over and we will be able to return to spending time with family, caring for ourselves, keeping balance, honouring the Sabbath, etc.  But, while the temporary crunch is on, I must launch this business or I will not be successful.  After all, you may say to yourself,  “…once I have achieved the wealth I seek I will be giving a portion to God’s Kingdom.”  This may end with the sudden realization, three years later, that what started out as a temporary ‘crunch time’ has become a lifestyle with some dark consequences!

This week’s scripture reminds us that our personal efforts and strengths are not the formula for wealth creation in God’s economy.  Conversely, it is through relying upon His strength and obedience to His Word that will bring success.  This is not to say that prolonged effort and pursuing excellence in our business skill sets are not required.  Rather, it is to say that exclusive reliance upon our own strength and skill sets is not the biblical formula for success.

At Corpath, we believe that true success is a balance between business life, personal-family life, and spiritual life.  To stay spiritually healthy, we must retreat from being ‘on’ all the time to having solitude with God for at least a day a week.  If you believe that the route to business success lies in sacrificing imbalance for ‘a time’, you are buying into a secular driven culture laying a foundation for a destructive and unsustainable lifestyle – because, “…it is God who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”  Honour His command to protect a Sabbath day to spend with Him in rest and trust that the rhythm of resting one day in seven is part of the formula for success.

REFLECT:

  • What does “keep the Sabbath” mean in the context of your work schedule?

John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

The Ongoing Nature of Salvation

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

The theme of the Corpath Devotional Green Guide this past week is Conversion.  I recall in my early Christian experience that some in the Christian community were concerned that I identify a particular day or even an hour when I was converted.  However, that was not my experience.  Rather, I went through a few weeks of a growing realization that God was present in Christ and was calling me to accept the message of Jesus Christ and allow him to mold me to His purposes.  This process continues in me today, as I continue to experience conversion to new realizations of God’s presence in my life.  For some, the conversion experience is an intense, discrete experience.  For others, it is a growing realization and life change.  Reuben Job expresses it well in his essay below:

“Conversion is going on all the time within us and within the world. The radical change of Christian conversion is also going on within us at all times.  While the change of turning toward God may seem like a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it is in reality a continual process. We may think that we have turned fully toward God; then we discover another dimension of God, and we know immediately that more conversion is possible and necessary if we are to move Godward in all of life.

Conversion is a lifelong process of turning more and more fully toward God in all that we are, possess, and do. There may be earthshaking moments when we are being formed in the image of Christ at incredible speed and in remarkable ways. But such moments are not the end; there is more to come as we give ourselves to the transforming power of God.

While conversion requires our decision and action, the grace and strength to be changed—to become more than we are – is the gift of God.  Conversion is a partnership project.   We cannot transform ourselves, and God does not transform us against our wishes. However, once we invite God’s transforming presence into our lives, the necessary power to change comes with the transforming presence.

It is wise not to try to dictate what our conversion will be like. We cannot know what God has in store for us until we begin to live in harmony and companionship with God.  As our understanding of and relationship to God grow, we may begin to see where God is leading us in our conversion. On the other hand, we may experience surprises throughout our lives as God seeks to shape us.  It is also wise not to assume that our conversion will look like, feel like, or keep pace with any other person’s conversion.  Since we are unique and God is infinite, our conversion experiences will be unique as well. The important thing is inviting God to be the master potter in our lives. We may not know what the end product will be, but we do know that it will be good when we permit God to be the potter and we agree to be the malleable clay,” [Reuben Job, A Guide to Prayer for all who seek God. Pp. 249,250]

As you reflect upon your conversion AND the ongoing process of sanctification that God is doing in you, regardless of the nature of your conversion be comforted that his end goal is to bless you as you allow yourself to be molded to his purposes in your Business, Family life and Personal life.

God’s Promise

“I will come to you and fulfill my good promise…  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:10-11 NIV).


John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

THE SEASONS OF LIFE – The Art of the Long View

Today’s meditation comes from Calgary consultant David Irvine:

Inspired by my late mentor, Jim Rohn, below are five lessons I’ve learned about living and leading through the seasons of life.

Lesson #1. Don’t judge a person by a season. It is good practice to suspend the assumptions we hold of ourselves and others, and instead, view life beyond a single season. You don’t want to judge a tree or a person or a life by only one time of year. The essence of who we are – and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life – can only be measured when all the seasons have been lived. Life and business are like the changing seasons. You can’t change the seasons, but you can change yourself.

Lesson #2. Learn how to handle the winters. After the fulfillment of the harvest, winter befalls us. Some winters are long, some are short, some are difficult, some are easy, but they always come. There are all kinds of winters – the winter of confusion, the winter of grief and loss, the winter of hibernation, the winter of failure. There are economic winters, social winters, and personal winters when your heart is broken. Winter can bring disappointment, and disappointment is common to all of us. Winter, whether it lasts for days or months, is a time for reflection, renewal, and learning.

You learn to face the demands of winter when you learn to handle difficulty. Problems always arise after opportunity. You must learn to handle recessions; they come right after expansions. That isn’t going to change. You can’t get rid of January simply by tearing it off the calendar. But what you can do is get stronger, get wiser, and get better. Make a note of that trio of words: strongerwiserbetter. The winters won’t change, but you can. Jim Rohn said that when things get difficult, don’t wish for things to be easy. Instead, wish you were better. Don’t wish for fewer problems; wish for more capacity. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom. If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, and the fulfillment of your fall.

Lesson #3. Learn how to take advantage of the spring. As night follows day, winter will inevitably give way to spring. Spring is opportunity. Opportunity follows difficulty. Expansion follows recession. And you can count on it. However, the mere arrival of spring doesn’t mean that things are going to look good in the fall. According to Mr. Rohn, everyone has to get good at one of two things: planting in the spring or begging in the fall. So, learn how to take advantage of the spring, your opportunities. There aren’t many springs in life. Life is brief, even at its longest. Whatever you are going to do with your life, get at it. Don’t just let the seasons pass by.

Lesson #4. Be present to life. Summer teaches us not to be so busy building toward the future of the fall harvest that you miss being present to the beauty that surrounds you now. It is in the present where life is lived, not once we achieve some future goal that will propel us into yet another objective down the road. A gardener will tell you that as soon as you’ve planted, the busy bugs and noxious weeds are out to take things over. Planting in the spring is followed by preparing for the summer’s insects and drought or flood or even late frost if you live in Canada. Every garden must be tended all summer to realize the fall’s harvest. What’s important is to not miss the beauty and joy of the present moment, the only time when these can be realized.

Lesson #5. Learn how to reap in the fall with gratitude. Take full responsibility for what happens to you. One of the highest forms of human maturity is accepting full responsibility. Learn how to reap in the fall without apology if you have done well, and without complaint, if you have not. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and the joy and fulfillment of your harvest. Be present to and grateful for the abundance that life brings through your efforts. I’m not saying it’s the easy way. I’m saying is it’s the better way.

The seasons don’t work for you or against you. They just are what they are. They are guaranteed to come every year, bringing both the challenges and the opportunities. Remember the five lessons in life, whether you cycle through the seasons in a matter of days or a matter of months. Prepare for them and make the most of everything that each season offers.

The Aroma of Leadership

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:25-28)

A while ago I heard a phrase that stuck in my mind.  ‘Christian leaders should have an aroma about them that attracts people to them as bees are attracted by honey.’

As I write this on Friday, June 8, 2018, the G7 conference of the leaders of the world’s biggest economies is gathering in Eastern Canada to talk.  Because of the recent economic tariffs imposed and the attitudes of US President Donald Trump towards other G7 leaders – some are calling the meeting, the G6 +1.  Regardless of your political views about President Trump, and without digressing to itemize all the effects of his leadership style on foreign relations within the G7 – it is safe to say the aroma of his leadership style is not attracting other world leaders to him!

So, what are the two main attributes of a leadership style that creates a sweet aroma and will draw people to your leadership, your business and yourself personally?

FIRST, a spirit of Servanthood.  This is the key attribute that Jesus held out to his disciples in our text above.  If you desire to have influence, if you desire to enhance your leadership, you must seek to serve, just as Jesus came to serve even to the extent of giving his life.  How this works itself out and evidences itself in your business is very contextual.

The spirit of Jesus’ teaching here does not lend itself to 4 Steps or a formula to follow to become a Servanthood leader.  Rather, it is a result that comes from allowing yourself to be transformed by Christ over time as you make decisions on a day to day basis.   Some guiding questions to ask would be:

  • “Am I working toward win-win relationships in business, rather than win-lose?”
  • “Do my employees trust one another and trust that I want the best for them?
  • “Do I have a way of expressing appreciation for my customers?”

SECOND, a set of Values.  Recently, due to multiple ethical failures amongst the business leadership community, many business schools have been adding ethics classes to their curriculum.  Although teaching a basic framework of ethics is always helpful, I do not believe it is the solution to the effects of greed, pride and all the temptations that exist when a leader is given authority over people and a mandate to produce a profit.

Rather, identifying and following an internally held set of ethical values is the best predictor of successful business leadership.  I would suggest starting with the 10 Commandments and the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5) is the foundation for a set of biblically based values that can guide your leadership.  Furthermore, I would argue that following a set of values requires regular consultation with a trusted community of peers.  To answer questions of what vulnerability and humility looks like in a corporate setting on a day to day basis requires regular discussions with peers who struggle with the same questions.  This is where having access to your Corpath Forum gives a competitive advantage in business.  The issue of staying true to Christian values in the marketplace is not always an easy black and white choice, many times it involves choosing from various shades of gray so good counsel is crucial.

The community aspect of keeping and respecting a set of values that guide you and your business and the competitive advantage is well recorded in Patrick Lencioni’s recent bestseller, The Advantage.

FINALLY, in 1992 Billy Graham became the first American leader to penetrate North Korea’s secretive state and meet with the late President Kim Il Sung.  Graham took a simple gift, a Bible.  Interesting that Kim Il Sung invited Billy to go fishing with him.  The aroma of his Christian leadership style of humility, kindness and as a peacemaker proceeded Billy and resulted in a historic invitation to meet with President Sung and established an important relational connection.  As North Korea was in economic shambles after the collapse of the Soviet Union, facing famine and with a possible war with the south on the horizon – the meeting with Billy Graham was generally credited with calming the North Korean fears and helping to establish the foreign aid that North Korea desperately needed.

On June 12, 2018, Donald Trump will meet current North Korean President Kim Jong-un in the Philippines.   He will be only the second American leader to meet with a North Korean President in decades.  Trump also has a leadership ‘aroma’ which precedes him.  It will be interesting to compare the results of his meeting and leadership style, with the results of Billy Graham’s meetings in the 1990’s.

REFLECTION

  • What is the ‘Aroma’ of your leadership style?
  • Are you bringing the challenge of living out your values in the marketplace to your Forum for insight?

John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

Constant Craving

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  (John 4:13, NIV)

Years ago, I was struck by the compelling lyrics of the song, “Constant Craving” by Edmonton Singer k.d. lang.  Using her amazing, plaintive voice, she sings of the fundamental human fact that we all suffer because ” constant craving has always been…”

 

Even through the darkest phase, be it thick or thin,

Always someone marches brave, here beneath my skin

Constant craving has always been.

 

This craving is all of our desires both good and bad.  Be they lust, greed, self-worth, acceptance, impact, excitement, meaning, connection with God – our desires are all-encompassing, universal and mostly go unsatisfied.

We observe this state in ourselves, our loved ones, employees, suppliers, and colleagues.  Who has not walked with someone who has suffered the destructive effect of having given in to the constant craving we all feel?  We have all observed broken marriages, uncontrolled addictions, low self-worth and unfulfilled dreams.  The un-slaked thirst that these cravings bring can affect employment or even derail careers.

The 19th-century preacher Charles Spurgeon put it well:

“People are in a restless pursuit after satisfaction in earthly things. They will exhaust themselves in the deceitful delights of sin, and, finding them all to be vanity and emptiness, they will become very perplexed and disappointed. But they will continue their fruitless search…  They have no forethought for their eternal state; the present hour absorbs them. They turn to another and another of earth’s broken cisterns, hoping to find water, where not a drop was ever discovered yet.”

But the situation is not hopeless – the gospel holds a solution to the human condition.

So, what is the solution to the dilemma we see in ourselves, this ‘spiritual madness’ in our employees, our friends, ourselves?  The same solution that Jesus offered the woman at the well:

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  (John 4:13)

Sometimes in our desire to have discretion, or to ‘not offend’ we can hold back from sharing our faith in the workplace.  But who among us would not offer a drink to a parched, thirsty co-worker?  Yet, that is what we do when we are not eagerly sharing our hope and fulfillment in Christ with those who do not yet know Him.  Peter encourages us to, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (I Peter 3:15).

All around you are people staggering forward turning to the earth’s broken cisterns of entertainment, diversion, and materialism.  They have no forethought of their eternal state, yet they stagger forward, thirsting for fulfillment.  If you know Christ, you have had your thirst for meaning, fulfillment, and purpose quenched by the living water that only Christ can provide.

If you know someone caught up in constant craving, would you prayerfully consider how you might play a part in guiding that person to discover Christ?


John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca