Course Corrections

No one likes to be corrected, especially when it’s done in front of other people. I have a debate with my son constantly about it; he likes to say “technically…” which drives me crazy. Have you thought about how you correct others? The old saying of “praise in public and punish in private” is usually the guiding principle that most supervisors follow. However, correcting someone is not the same as punishing them. Granted, there are some people who view being corrected as punishment. When we correct someone, we are engaged in using the situation as a “teachable moment”. If others are around and correction is warranted, we should take the opportunity to “teach” everyone or improve their understanding when someone mis-speaks. As with all communication, the key is in the delivery. When correcting someone, you can start by asking an open-ended question about the subject and then asking if there are any other options. Ask them to describe what they intended or meant and then describe your “other way to look at the situation”. As if they had considered it. The point is to make it more of a discussion and less about them being “wrong and in need of correcting”. When you are dealing with misinformation, start by asking where they obtained their information. This will prevent you for needing to be corrected if you are the one not up to speed on the topic. If they do not have the current information, start your sentence with “according to…” then give the corrected information. Be sure to be mindful of everyone’s feelings and the situation. If you do not correct misinformation immediately, it will become fact and as a leader, you cannot afford to have bad information in your workplace.

“Blessed is the man whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty.” Job 5:17

I can think of thousands of ways that God “corrects” me. It is hard to argue with Job about being corrected by God and what we should do in response to it. In the beginning, God was constantly trying to “correct” His people. He sent signs and angels and prophets and the Holy Spirit even appeared to a selected few to provide corrective action. It was to no avail, we still wouldn’t listen or follow God’s laws. Job tells us not to “despise the discipline of the Almighty.” God, like all good fathers, was disciplining us for our own good. We didn’t pay attention though and yet he still tried to help us. He could have turned His back on us but He loves us too much. So, despite our behavior and continued disregard for His law, He still offered us a chance to be saved and share eternal life with Him, and He did this through His son Jesus Christ. As John 3:16-17 tells us 16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” We are saved! So despite what you think that you’re being punished for, God loves you and is making you stronger with each challenge; stronger for what? It might be for today or 20 years from now, but He is working through you for something great.

True Friends

We have a sign in our home office under a photo collection that reads “A good friend will come and bail you out of jail…But a true friend will be sitting next to you saying ‘Damn that was fun!’” The photo collection that it sits under is of friends that we have traveled with and watching each others kids grow up; they are our life long friends that we have known for 15 years but we live 2800 miles apart. We have always been able to pick up the phone and call one another just to hear a friendly voice when we get down, to share troubles with a sympathetic listener or to celebrate exciting news. They are True Friends. To have such a blessing is unusual – I think, and I am grateful for their friendship. Who stands by you when you need it? For us married men, it’s usually our wives at the top of that list (if you’re smart anyway). Lisa and I will be celebrating our 27th wedding anniversary this week and she has stood by me every day(9855+ days). We joke about what a great team we are when it comes to getting things done around the house or dealing with the kids but the real teamwork we share is working to be True Friends for each other. No matter what, we support and love each other every day, not because we have to but because we want to. I have had a number of professional opportunities come my way throughout the past 27 years, and she has supported every one of them. She’s changed states twice, we’ve lived in four apartments and five houses over the years and she continues to support me today as my number one cheerleader and encourager. While it’s highly unlikely, I know that if I found myself in jail, she would be sitting right next to me and we’d be laughing at the fun we had. To my True Friend, Happy Anniversary!

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you…”

We have all heard people say or we have said ourselves “God has a plan for you”. Some believe that the circumstances in their lives are merely chance happenings and that God doesn’t get into those details of their life or worse yet, that there isn’t a God doing anything. God does have a plan but as I’ve said before, it’s on His timeline not ours. A day or a year in God’s eye is not the same as an earthly one. Many of you will agree that “this life” is complicated and filled with all kinds of problems and trials. Can this really be part of God’s plan? It sure can be! God will only give us what we can handle and He wants us to grow in our faith and in our lives. We cannot grow if we are not challenged. The baby who first learns to walk is then challenged by climbing stairs, and again climbing down them before walking down. These are all challenges (ups and downs) and they exist in our lives but on a different scale. God wants us to grow! Like parents who help their baby take those first steps, He is there with us holding our hands for balance. As things get harder and the waters of our lives turn into rivers, He will be there so you are not swept away. God’s grace and love are with you everyday, sometimes you need to simply stop and realize it. Like the friend sitting with you laughing, God is always there – a True Friend. Thank Him for His care and presence in your life.

Tempting, isn’t it?

Temptation is everywhere; don’t we all know it? Sometimes it shows itself at Costco when we see a “deal that we can’t pass up” or it shows up at work when we don’t need to “tell the whole story” or we agree to get “creative with the accounting” because our boss told us to. I’m talking about the temptations that shape us as people, not those that tempt our waistlines or will power like a donut or one more glass of wine. The people in our lives, the experiences that we’ve had and what we’ve been taught all shape our morals and values. Values are the inner judgments that determine how we will behave and morals are about how we execute those judgments. While some people interchange those definitions, it is clear that they both influence how we behave. When we experience no negative consequences from “deceiving or cheating” our brain stamps it “okay for future use”. We will continue to deceive ourselves until there are consequences and we “re-learn” to do it another way. The best way to continue to train our brains is to keep doing the right thing, even when no one is looking, be people of integrity. If we give in, we are only deceiving ourselves and that will have life-long implications.

Romans 13:12 – “…let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

An armor of light sounds awesome, doesn’t it? I envision a brilliant white, shining armor chest plate and a matching shield. What can’t you defeat with such protection? We know, of course, that the white armor is the protection given to us from our savior, Jesus Christ. He has clothed us in white as we go through our lives “not guilty” of sin because of what He did for us. We must guard that our light does not dim and we remain true to our Father, God in Heaven and to His Son, our savior. We dim every time we submit to darkness. When we do not live, as God wants us to, we dim our light. The good news however, is that our confession of those sins and our faith in Jesus Christ allows our light to shine brightly once more. We all know people who have fallen into darkness. We have a responsibility to shine our light on their lives and show them the way. Reassure them that they too, can put on an armor of light by turning their lives back toward God and then “get fitted for their suit” through Jesus Christ. We do not have to live in darkness; Jesus is our light and He is always ready to keep our light shining bright.

Crisis

The Chinese word for crisis has two symbols grouped together that mean “a time of opportunity” and “a time for danger”. I use this phrase when I teach Change Management to symbolize that change can sometimes viewed by employees as a time of crisis. We all loose something during “change”, sometimes its as significant as losing position, while other times it may be less dramatic and simply be a feeling of loss that disturbs people the most. Whatever the case, as people, we all deal with loss in a variety of ways. During a time of change, we will go through the 5 stages of grieving: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. Many times these stages result in significant resistance to change. The status quo is very comfortable for us – we’ve gotten used to what we do and how we do it. Good managers will recognize that people will grieve their losses (perceived or real) and take steps to help their staff move through the grieving process. Managing change is an art and a science; change leaders must understand that and work through the issues. Major change requires patience. Change management is more about “keeping the peace” than it is about issuing orders that people simply accept the change or leave. Employees must also recognize that change is both an opportunity and dangerous time. It’s dangerous for them as they navigate the grieving process and overcome their resistance. It is a time for opportunity because they can show that they are a team player and may even become a change agent.

1 Corinthians 14:33 – “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…”

God does not want us to live in disorder and chaos but He does want us to grow. Growth only comes with change. In the beginning, God kept forcing changes on us, He challenged everything that people knew and believed. He gave us opportunity after opportunity to change our hearts and minds. Finally, God sent us His son, Jesus Christ, known as the Prince of Peace. Jesus was a great reconciler for us; bringing us to peace with God our Father. There are some that still are not willing to change from doing things their way, they fail to believe in God and His son and continue to do what they think is best based on earthly desires. Talk about resistance! There is no need to grieve; we have been given everlasting life with God through our faith in Jesus Christ. This is cause for celebration and not a moment of crisis. There is noting but opportunity in this good news. Continue to share your faith, keep up your devotions and listen to God as he speaks to you; He is speaking to you in a number of ways, one of which is through the change agents in your life. You may, in fact, be the change agent for someone else. Are you ready or are you resisting?

Do good anyway

There is a book by Kent Keith titled “Anyway, The Paradoxical Commandments” which lays out 10 paradoxical commandments of life. My favorite is #10 which states: “Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway”. As a leader, I have learned that no good deed will go unpunished. I have gone out of my way for someone to only have them do something that has caused me more aggravation later. My daughter is working on homework late tonight because her classmate or “partner” failed to complete their part of a project. This kind of thing happens all of the time to people. They do their best and give others the benefit of the doubt only to later regret it. Leaders must continue to give their best despite what might happen. I’ve seen organizational leaders lose faith in their people because they’ve been “kicked in the teeth” and now think that everyone in the organization is just a bunch of “winey babies”. They have no trust in anyone, they no longer involve the employees in decision-making and they have created a hostile work environment for their employees and themselves. Leaders must stand tall and continue to do what is right, at the right time and for everyone they lead because it’s their responsibility. Sure, leaders will “get kicked in the teeth” but that’s why it’s lonely at the top. People don’t understand our roles but we know that in the end, we will make a difference and that is why we “give the world our best anyway”.

9Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”  Galatians 6:9-10

This verse had a couple of options for things to talk about – doing good and not giving up. While I focused the first part on doing good, I’d like to add the “not giving up part here. It is tiring always doing good, our sinful nature says “when will someone do good for me?” We seem to be able to justify it in our minds. We go around doing things for others, for little recognition I might add, and all we ask in return is a little good coming our way; that’s not too much to ask. The end of verse 8 gives us the answer “the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” The “good” coming to you will come from the Holy Spirit. We are encouraged to “do good to all people” but “especially those who belong to the family of believers”. There are no options to be good only to those that are good to us or who won’t make our lives harder. Whether you are a leader, a follower or a loner, do not become weary doing good. No one said it was easy to be a disciple of Jesus Christ but the rewards are eternal. Go and do good – Anyway.