Mentoring

Whether you say counselor, teacher, mentor or instructor they all mean the same for someone who is a supervisor/leader. If you are a leader, you have a responsibility to develop the skills and knowledge your personnel. People want to progress in their positions and are generally interested in learning; regardless of their position. As a leader, people look to you for help with problems or seek your input as they try new things. Your responsibility is to help them problem solve; not solve their problems but help them work out a solution. It might be easier to simply do it but you will not allow them to learn; you must be the teacher or counselor.

Teaching requires great patience and a commitment to helping others achieve success. Think back to your favorite teacher/mentor, what made them great? Chances are good that they were: caring, interested in you, passionate about the subject, inspiring or willing to share their knowledge. Do you do that for your people? They will appreciate it and you’ll see benefits from improved morale, higher productivity, improved creativity and generally a problem free workplace.

“But the counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”        John 14:26

The great counselor, called teacher by many was, of course, Jesus Christ. John the Baptist was telling everyone of “one greater than I” whom the Father would send to continue teaching and ultimately pay for our sins with His life. Despite the teachings of Jesus, people still remained doubtful. Even after his crucifixion and resurrection, people remained doubtful.

Since the beginning of time, God has been teaching by using man as an instrument of delivery; a living power point presentation if you will. God has inspired men to do great things; Noah, Moses, John and Paul all did God’s work through His inspiration. God has put great teachers in our lives – some show us what to do while others show us what not to do. God has put you in a place to do great things so He can help others. Honor God by following Jesus’ example in your life, be the “teacher” for others to understand the hope that you have in Him.

God’s Grace

Every once in a while, I like to post verses that stand on their own. We have too many people talking these days and I don’t want to be just another voice on the internet. Last week I talked about the law and our freedom from sin. This week explains the whole concept in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Verse 20 is key for our understanding of our relationship to the law. We see again in these verses how we are free from sin and that it is nothing but God’s grace and our faith in Jesus that frees us from our sin. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world right now, but we can be absolutely sure of God’s love for us and our freedom from sin. I’d like to suggest that you read the verses that follow and reflect on what they mean to you. Hopefully, they mean something more meaningful or insightful than the last time you read them.

Romans 3:19-31

19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Righteousness Through Faith

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

We are Free!

Reading today’s verse got me thinking about all of the things in my life that pull me in multiple directions or control my time and energy. When you stop and think your daily activities – well, maybe not these days but in general. I know that using the term “slave” isn’t the most appropriate term since it is a reflection of a period when humanity was it worst but, it does describe how something, or someone can have complete control over you. As human beings we like to be in control of the things in our lives and the path that we take. When we have little or no say, we feel enslaved. Right now, is a good example of having no control in your life.

At my peak, I function in at least four different capacities in my life. As a local government consultant, an elected official, a military contractor and a husband/father. These are all awesome roles that I play and are hopefully meaningful to those that I serve. The challenge is that they are usually more in control of me than I am of them. What things are controlling your life? Often, they are things that we simply can’t do without – our job, our family or our parents. Sometimes we can actually effect change that will free us; like spending less time with a friend who taking an emotional toll on us or a hobby that has started to consume ALL of our free time. One of the keys to happiness is to spend time on things that are meaningful to you and that bring joy into your life. Figure out what those things are and break the chains on everything else.

34Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:34-36

We are a slave to sin. This is one of those things that we cannot control. We can’t control or manage it and no matter what we do; we will sin. Jesus said a number of times that we are in Him and He is in us. We also know that what was given to Jesus has also been given to us. This verse reminds us that we are free from sin because Jesus took all of our sins with Him on the cross. He set us free from sin! It’s amazing to me the number of people who feel that they are not worthy to even go into a church because of their sin. “I have to get right with God, first” they say.

We are all “right with God” because of Jesus! The Son has set us free from sin. We are no longer under the law but we have been made right with the law thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus for our salvation. It is pretty clear in the Bible that God has granted our salvation and eternal life in heaven through our faith in Jesus Christ. I am in awe of that! Despite my daily sins, God continues to forgive me. When we hear about grace and mercy, this is the first thing that should come to our minds. We are free indeed! Consume your time with things that are pleasing to God, spend time in the Bible reading God’s word and give your talents freely to those who need it. Let others know what freedom is all about.

I’ve Got Mine!

Win at all costs! An expression that we heard often in the 1990’s and it seems to be making a comeback as we start to struggle with recovering from the effects of the pandemic. “I’ve got mine, sorry you don’t.” I wrote last week about people wanting more from corporations and that the workforce is starting to look at the bigger picture – corporate responsibility that is socially conscious. Today, more than ever, we need to understand that together we conquer, divided we fall. What happens when we give up everything to “win”?

How aggressive do you play to win? Do nice guys really finish last? If we all look into our pasts, chances are good that we will see times when it appears that or perhaps, we actually did; forfeit our souls to get ahead. What is worth trading your soul for? The riches of the world are very appealing: new cars, bigger houses, a boat, jewelry and the like. These are the material things of this world that we are reminded about throughout the bible, not to pay attention to but to keep our focus on God. Be careful of the circumstances that don’t feel right, but you can’t understand why. They are from your soul telling you not to give part of it away.

Matthew 16:26 “What good will it be for a man if he gains the world yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

As the days and months ahead drag on, we need to be living according to God’s word more than ever before. What can a man give in exchange for his soul? We may gain much in this life but if we do little with it, we will be very disappointed with our results. We are assured by John in the second part of verse 3:16 “for whoever believes in him will have eternal life”. We can rest assured that God will keep his promises to us.

What obligation do you have to God? We should be willing to be faithful servants to Him and we can do that by putting our beliefs into action. Leading by example in your everyday life, like a good Christian, with truth, ethics, nobility, compassion and with God as your guiding force is a good place to start. Oftentimes, it is always “just one more time” for us – one more time to bend the numbers and I’ll have the next promotion or one more time to gossip about a co-worker and I’ll get the best assignment or one more time to take care of myself before I care about others or simply, I’ve got mine and no one else deserves it because I worked hard for it. There are now and there will certainly be people who will need our help – homeless, unemployed, uninsured and the hungry. What can you offer? Today, if you’re still focused on the gains of this world, turn away from what you’re doing, turn away from what you’ve done and live your life as if your soul depends on it, it just might!

Temptation

I want to take a break from the real issues of today and get back to why I started writing these in the first place; let’s talk about leadership. We see changing profiles in leadership that guide those “in charge”. In the early 20th Century it was the autocrat and today we’re seeing a workforce drawn to those with “personality and charisma”. Some today even believe that businesses should have a bigger impact on society. We are witnessing that in many of the commercials we see in this time of social distancing. The workforce today values employee growth, making a positive contribution to society and their own well being.

One thing that has not changed: Leaders have a responsibility to challenge their people to grow. Employee growth, personally and professionally, help improve their creativity and morale. It is possible to push people too far or into a direction that they are not interested in or prepared to perform. A good leader will determine their people’s limits and their personal desires through employee coaching. Good coaches will listen to an employee more than they talk, paraphrasing the employee’s desires to ensure that they understand what the employee wants and will set goals with (not for) the employee. This ensures that they are part of their own destiny. Once an employee knows what they want to achieve, a leader can help them reach and achieve more.

 “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear…”        1 Corinthians 10:13

God also is concerned about our personal growth and as a good coach, He will be faithful to us; God keeps His promises to be faithful. The struggle between God and Satan remains strong and the old Adam in us can be tempted quite easily. We know God loves us and that despite our free will to choose, He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. Our sin and our inability to follow the Ten Commandments is why God had to send His only Son to be our savior; with Jesus Christ we are free from the bondage of our sin.

God is active in our lives, providing options for us to choose from in how we live. He is working His plan in our lives despite our free will choices. God wants us close to Him and, through the bible, has given us the best plan to live this life. Our faith in Jesus and in God’s grace, is what allows us to be tempted and fail at times but to still have forgiveness of our sins. God is faithful! He kept His promise of salvation for us all by sending His Son to die for our sins. We all sin and may at times feel unworthy; God’s grace and the sacrifice that Jesus made for us on the cross makes us all worthy regardless of our own actions.

Leading by Example

“Walk the Talk” is just another way of saying, “Lead by Example”. People often equate leading with leadership positions – supervisors, directors, Governors, CEOs, Presidents, or some other given title that is supposed to lead people. Regardless of your title, do you think of yourself as a leader? Every one of us holds a leadership position at some point during our day. Mothers and Fathers who lead their families by providing guidance and leadership to navigate the world we live in, business professionals who set the example for others to follow (good or bad), Pastors leading their churches, housekeepers setting the standard in hotels and so on. Walking the talk every minute of every day and not letting down even for a moment is actually easier than it sounds.

Regardless of your position, be aware that people are watching you. When we don’t do as we say, those around us will start asking, “Why should I trust this person? The military has a very good model for us to consider following when leading the way. The Generals running operations in the Middle East could certainly receive their reports and briefings from field units from the comfort of their offices in the Pentagon just as easily as they do from a forward command post in Afghanistan. They are in country just like the men and women they lead because setting the right example is important. They wear the same uniform, follow the same protocols and lead by example all of the time, not just when someone is looking. You may not always know it but someone is looking up to you every day. It might be the very customer that you are serving; they are looking to you as an example of good customer service. We are always being watched, let’s set the best example possible. 

Deuteronomy 5:33 – “Walk in all the way that the Lord your God has commanded you, so that you may live and prosper and prolong your days…”

Jesus left us a great example to follow and that’s exactly what God wants from us. God knows we’ll struggle, only Jesus was perfect; that’s why it’s called following and not duplicating. God wants us to walk in the way, do as Jesus did by loving each other, being compassionate and caring for others, forgiving others and ourselves and learning the word of God. God’s grace has given us eternal life – to live, prosper and prolong our days.

He asks that we follow the example provided by His son Jesus. Spend time learning the examples given to us in the bible and then put those examples in front of you everyday. Practice daily what you learn and imagine Jesus saying to you “do as I do”. Whether you are a designated leader or dedicated employee, people are watching you every day. Learning the lessons given to us by Jesus, we will not only lead people in our businesses but we will provide everyone around us with a great Christian example to follow. Walking in the way of the Lord will be easier than you think.

Imitate God’s Love

I’d imagine that this year’s Easter celebrations were different; some might say weird. While gathering in fellowship and worship are the usual ways we celebrate the most important day of the year, we all found that it isn’t the only way. Easter is the day we are shown God’s love and the love of Jesus Christ who suffered for us but rose in celebration of the victory over sin so that we might have eternal life with Him and God our Father. We all need a little more love these days!

I’d like to suggest that we bring Christ’s example of love into our lives even more today. We know Jesus as compassionate, caring, understanding, patient and overflowing with love. We all need to show compassion for each other, those we know and those we don’t know. During these tough times and bombardment of information we are under, one thing that is missing from it all is common sense and an acknowledgement of human behavior. People are going to make mistakes, or they’ll act in ways that we don’t understand. We need to show understanding and patience to each other; every “gathering” of two or three people is not an afront to social distancing guidelines. Be patient with those around you, be slow to anger and disappointment, it shows that you care. All of these things combined show your love towards others, just as Christ loves us.

 Ephesians 5:1,2 – “Be imitators of God… as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us…”

We are so blessed that God loves us. When God handed down the Law contained in the Ten Commandments, the Israelites were afraid because they had seen God’s wrath firsthand. As they continued to live according to their own ways, God spoke to them through the prophets giving the promise of a Savior. God wanted to be close to His children, but sin was preventing that. God sent His only Son into this world to take upon the cross all of our sins on that Good Friday.

Jesus suffered for us because of our sin, but He knew that it would bring reconciliation with God. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.” The ultimate sign of love just for us – even if we didn’t deserve it. God knows what we need. We cannot live without sin as Christ did, but we can live a life of love as Christ showed us to. Be an imitator, show others your love and when they ask you why or how you can do it, don’t hesitate to tell them where your strength comes from.

Leadership through Humility

Humility is defined as a modest or low view of one’s own importance and is a very rare trait to find in people these days. An entire generation of people have been raised in an era in which “everyone gets a trophy” and they never learned about being humble because everyone was equal. Being humble is something that we all can use a little more of and put into practice a little more often. We should strive to care more about others than we do ourselves. During this time of worldwide crisis, coming together to help one another is more important than ever.

Just once, I’d love to hear a politician praise the work of our healthcare providers or anyone else who is sacrificing their own health in service to others. We are seeing people volunteering to shop for the senior citizens in their neighborhoods, or people sharing supplies that are not readily available anymore or just simply staying connected to those that are in isolation. Whatever the case, people are rising up in a number of amazing ways. Stay healthy and strong during this time in our lives and maybe, just maybe, we will emerge a better mankind.

“Therefore, whoever humbles himself like a child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:4

Being humble isn’t limited to those in leadership positions; it applies to all of us. When we start thinking that we are better than our neighbors or our co-workers, we have veered off track. Matthew is, of course, quoting Jesus here who is speaking to His disciples and then follows this verse with, 5“Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.” Jesus is telling us not to take ourselves too seriously and to be humble. Small children have not developed the “skill” of being boastful or full of themselves until later in development. Children are compassionate, listen to their parents, don’t think or speak poorly of others and often don’t knowingly sin. We can learn a lot from them.

Jesus is telling us that we are not the most important thing in this world – to stop being so full of ourselves that we think we are the center of attention. We should humble ourselves, set our focus on God and accept more people rather than judge them. When we receive the most humble, we receive Jesus. It isn’t a competition for things and accomplishments; it’s about being good children of God. Humility doesn’t mean you can’t be proud of what you’ve done but it does mean that it doesn’t define you. No one will care what you did here on earth if all you did was serve your own needs.

Shepherds

This verse is generally perfect when discussing accountability at work or as a bridge to a “take care of your people” writing. Given today’s emotional climate, I’d like to simply focus on shepherding. Looking after the flock is an essential function of leadership, no matter what position we’re talking about. The real issue is how you do it; as a herder you can walk behind them as they walk along the path and keep the strays in line or you can walk in front leading the way knowing that you’ll still have them when you turn around as a Shepherd does. We’re seeing various forms of the shepherd concept of leadership in these trying times, crisis leadership is crucial in getting people to follow. Sheep herders use dogs to chase around the edges to keep the herd moving forward; if you see someone using others to “chase around the edges”, check the leadership style of the one you’re following.

We need leaders who are looking after us and our needs and who aren’t sending others or themselves out to chase the edges. In a time of crisis, we are ALL leaders and can shepherd people toward calm by being reassuring, direct, honest and accountable. As a greater society, we owe each other a little bit of personal accountability – stay home if you are sick and commit to helping those in need. When we return to a state of equilibrium, the world around us will look much different. Everyone will need to work together so that we can all rise up from the new normal. You could be the next shepherd; will you lead from the back or boldly from the front?

Ezekiel 34:12 “As a Shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all places where they were scattered…”

We are God’s sheep and it is great to have a Shepherd that cares about us as much as He does. He gave up His son for our salvation and ever lasting life. God is always present in our lives and will come to our rescue, even when we’ve put distance between us. God’s “rescue” does not mean that we will get what we want, it may mean that we get just enough because the real rescue happened on Easter Sunday. We need to do our best and prevent the need for a rescue in the first place. We should be spending time with God, praying, reading the word and spreading the good news.

Today, more than ever, we need a strong leader. God gave us the perfect one, Jesus. He is patient with us as we make mistakes, He’d hold us accountable as He did with the disciples but, in the end, no matter how many mistakes we make, Jesus will rescue us (usually from ourselves) as the Shepherd does with His flock. On Easter, we were given the grace of God in the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. While you are focusing on being a good Shepherd in your daily life or in your vocation, focus also on being a good sheep (follower). Rejoice that your Father cares so deeply that He will risk a lot to rescue you from all of the places that you can scatter to or from all the trials that this world can throw at you.

With all your heart

Why does work have to be so hard? The hint in this question is the word “work” and, another word for work is labor. The dictionary defines labor as hard physical work. I can’t speak to it with any level of experience but I’m sure that if you ask any mother whether labor was hard work, she can give you a unique perspective on “labor”. Sometimes what we do, day in and day out, isn’t what we’d like to be doing. It’s not that it’s too hard; it simply isn’t satisfying. When we lose our job satisfaction, we loose sight of our purpose and whom we’re serving.

At times, we struggle to remain positive, to work hard and meet the mission or vision that is before us; complacency takes over and the “I don’t care’s” start to fly. Leaders, no matter what they’re faced with, must keep their focus on the mission or the work before them. Are you are a front line leader whose actions will have a direct impact on your customers or are you a support team leader that works to serve those impacting the customers? Complacency is where customer service starts to break down and in some professions; it can become deadly. Think of the nurse who is treating you in the emergency room for a heart attack, do you want the one who doesn’t care? We all have a responsibility to keep complacency out of our workplace.

“What ever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men… It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24

In the times when we’re locked in a battle against complacency, we can be comforted in knowing that when we do our best work, with all of our heart, it is pleasing to God. God is with us all of the time, even when we don’t feel like he’s there. When times get harder you should be focusing more on your relationship with God, not less.

Our human instinct is to focus everything on the work before us and let the rest of our life take the back seat for a while. Nothing can do more harm than putting God in the back seat! Bring God closer; he will help you through the struggles of work or overcoming complacency. You are serving Him, doing his work as a faithful disciple. God cares about the work that you do and how well you do it. When you are feeling down about work, imagine God smiling at you because He knows what is in your heart. Look to him to get you through, He’ll light the way.