Condemnation or condemning someone is a pretty serious matter. The dictionary defines condemn as “express complete disapproval of, typically in public; censure”. Have you unknowingly condemned anyone lately? I’m sure you didn’t utter the words specifically but we often find ourselves saying something like “I’ll never work with them again” or “if she doesn’t get her act together, I’ll make sure she isn’t our team again”. These are statements of condemnation. Oftentimes, our condemnation is even a little more subtle “Oh him, he is always like [fill in the blank]. I call this “pigeon-holing” someone; putting him or her in an inescapable place that they can never get themselves turned around. Some people are put there after one big mistake while others simply “earn” their position in the pigeonhole over time. You might be asking yourself, “how many times do I need to get burned before I stop believing they will actually come through for me?” The better question is “have I told them how they’ve let me down and what affect it has had on my work?” We need to be honest with people and let them know how their actions effect how others perceive them. Right or wrong, perception is reality in the eye of the one who perceives the action. If you have found yourself pigeon-holing someone, give them a chance to get out and make amends. If you leave them in the hole, you are condemning them to that place for a career. Reach out and share how they make you feel; not how they make everyone feel but how they make you feel. It makes your comments about you which can be less threatening. They might have been clueless about how their behavior affected other people because no one ever took the time to talk with them.
“Whoever believes in Him is not condemned. But whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:18
We are not condemned! No matter what we’ve done, Christ took our weaknesses, our sins and our guilt with Him on the cross so we would share in God’s love and Grace. We are not condemned because we are forgiven! John tells us quite simply that those who do not believe already stand condemned. God’s inspired word, through John, sums up our salvation. We are not condemned! We are assured eternal life through our faith in Christ. We may make the same mistakes over and over; we may commit the same sins again and again but we have forgiveness through Jesus’ sacrifice for us. God’s grace and love, along with our confession and repentance is what keeps us out of the pigeonhole. God isn’t interested in keeping us locked up or put in the same place. He needs us to be free so that we can spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ. If you feel trapped, seek God and you will find that the door to the pigeonhole has been open this whole time. Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”. You can walk out of that pigeonhole anytime. God did not put you there, you have put yourself there. God wants to see you free and flying high, make Him proud!
Transformation is a process that doesn’t always have to be driven from the top down. It can be driven from inside the organization or from outside of it. We all react differently to change or transformation. Being willing to openly explore new ideas and to generate new possibilities is innovation. Transformation occurs differently for everyone but each employee must be part of any change process. Employees and leaders alike must be willing to accept more than one right answer and should be willing to ask “why not” instead of having to justify why. The workplace is rapidly changing and transforming, as is the workforce. A whole new generation of employees are entering our places of work each day and as they do, they are beginning to transform it. For long-time employees it’s disruptive, for some leaders it’s more work and for some organizations it’s an infusion of innovative ideas. Do you know where you fall in this spectrum and how you are reacting to it? Transformation can be scary and is definitely stressful. If we think of all the great things that we have access to today and remember that they were a result of a transformation, we can begin to see the possibilities of the future. Sure, a change to the process that you’ve been doing for years isn’t exciting but it’s part of a greater picture and that can be exciting. Change can be good; you never know where it can lead.
“7But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.” John 16:7
Jesus had to initiate change with His disciples in the days leading to His arrest. He was creating a vision of the future for them. He was giving direction and encouraging them to carry on the mission even if He was no longer with them. He told them what to look forward to and how important their work was. Imagine this group of men with no sense of what he was saying and not fully understanding that He knew what was about to happen. They kept asking for explanation after explanation when He finally said today’s verse. He was essentially telling them “trust me, this is a good thing”. They were scared, it was stressful and they all reacted differently. They even struggled to see the future – sound familiar? Jesus was telling them that after me, something even greater is coming – the advocate or Holy Spirit will come to them and make them even better than they can ever imagine. Sure, you’ll be persecuted he tells them later in John but your reward is in everlasting life. No amount of change or fear can prepare us for that but we can be assured that in the words of the Bible, God is telling us about the transformation we will see that is not of this world. Continue to read, re-read and study the Words given to us by God himself and you will continue to transform yourself as God is transforming the world around us.
Rejection is the worse! It happens to us pretty early in life with the rejection of a first date offer, high school romance breakup, marriages, car loans, mortgages and jobs just to name a few. String a few of these together and life becomes miserable. People begin to fall into despair and then nothing seems to go right. This is when hopelessness takes over and all is lost; someone without hope is in danger. A month or so ago, the City of Phoenix became the first metropolitan city in the US to end homelessness for veterans. They had identified 225 chronically homeless veterans in the city and worked them into a program called Project H3 – Health, Home and Hope. These men and women returned from active duty to find they either had job skills and no job or few transferrable skills and certainly no jobs. They were proud and wanted to work. One rejection after another and they started to lose hope. Once they became hopeless, nothing else mattered. Mayor Greg Stanton of the City of Phoenix was determined to see that this ended. He worked with a number of agencies to partner on the Project H3 program for veterans. It’s an awesome story of a community coming together to solve a problem but the issue hasn’t gone away. We have a big homeless veteran problem in our state, so the work continues. Many people today are rejected regularly. There isn’t a month that goes by that we don’t read about a young teen that takes their life because their peers who resorted to bullying them have rejected them. Do you know when you feel like you are losing hope? Can you recognize it in someone else? When you do, have you considered how you might react?
“He who listens to you listens to me; he who rejects you rejects me; but he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” Luke 10:16
We’ve all exclaimed at some point in our lives “This is hopeless!”. We usually rebound and find a solution to the problem or God puts someone in our life to help us through. What about being rejected? We experience rejection a lot in our youth but we learn from it and adapt. As adults, we typically experience it less and my guess is because we don’t put ourselves in situations to be rejected – we learned from our youth. We must learn to recognize when we are losing hope in our lives or when its happening to someone else. For some, losing hope turns into clinical depression but for most of us, it starts with the feeling of “being down”. Much like a frog in a pot of water on the stove that doesn’t feel it getting hotter until it boils, we too don’t know when our feelings are turning from being down to becoming depressed. Find your hope in God; through Him nothing is hopeless. Jesus is warning in this verse that He will not be rejected without consequences. If we reject Jesus, we reject the Father. No wiggle room in that! So, if our hope is in God we should have nothing to fear, right? God wants us to come to him and to come often in prayer. Know the word of God by reading the bible and you will be filled with hope regularly. Armed with this knowledge, you can be that person God puts into someone else’s life to bring them hope and acceptance rather than despair and rejection.
No more excuses, I need to do a little more explaining about my tardiness in posting. This week I’ve been in what I call the new “Sin City”, Washington DC. Every year, a couple of thousand local public officials invade DC for a few days of learning and to meet with their Congressional Delegations to discuss issues that affect us at the City level. Being from Arizona, this trip is a double-edged sword because half of our delegation is never there and the other half that is there, at times, is indifferent to local issues. Not to mention the gridlock currently underway. The flipside is that as we gather to exchange ideas and information, we become stronger community leaders. It was a good trip for me; I strengthened my understanding in a few areas and gained new perspectives in a couple of more. However, as far as my Monday morning commitment is concerned, I missed yet another deadline due in part to my schedule in DC. I have also been a graduate student in the Public Administration Program at Grand Canyon University since last October, which has challenged me in a number of ways including time management. This part of my website is very important to me. Someone asked me, “couldn’t you just write a bunch at one time and then schedule them to be posted?” The short answer is no. It is interesting how God works in this situation. I look at a bunch of bible verses searching for something relevant or current and let God do the rest. He has been inspiring each one of these so I don’t just “crank them out”. I think that is why this is so important to me, and hopefully, you are inspired too. I look at who is receiving or viewing these every week and have a truly worldwide audience; which is humbling in and of its self. I know that my readers forgive me but I wanted you to know what has been slowing me down. Thanks.
“Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips.” Ecclesiastes 10:12
I never started this website to share my opinion; I started it to share leadership principles and God’s word. Over time it has moved from leadership of the workplace to leadership of life. Once in a great while, I’ll share something about a project that I’ve worked on. Most of what I do in management consulting is pretty straightforward and not very glamorous. I meet great people and love working with municipal governments and once in a while, the US Military. Some say that I am wise but all I do is share what is already available and help municipal clients put it into order. A fool is consumed by his lips when he is just spewing opinion of which he has no real experience or education. A wise man however, one who is experienced and educated, is gracious. What kind of a disciple are you – a fool or a wise man? When we read the word and live by the word, we are both educated and experienced. We all make mistakes along the way but do we always learn from them? If we do, we remain wise. This time leading up to Easter that we call lent, is a time for us to reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. It is also a time for us to reflect on the grace of God who sent us a Savior so that we could spend eternal life with our Father in heaven. This is a great time to become wise and help the fools to see that their focus is misplaced.
The impending veto by Governor Brewer made it a little crazy in Arizona last week. There was confusion around what HB 1062 intended to accomplish. Perhaps it was clearer to some but as with all poorly written legislation, it was at best confusing and at worst it was discriminatory. The whole issue however was a great opportunity to discuss the love of God and sin with people who you might not ever have had the chance to. I missed my usual Monday morning posting again this week, which makes me feel like I missed a commitment. I had opportunities to write this last week but did other things instead; perhaps even wasted time. Some would argue that I sinned in both regards, but what else is new? I know that not a day goes by that I don’t sin and most of the time I’m completely unaware of it. Someone last week asked the question, are there degrees of sin? It was a great question because some people have a hard time accepting “big sins” but easily overlook the “small” ones; but sin is sin. I will argue that all of the discussions, arguments and debates were focused on the wrong part of the equation; we focused on the sin. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” was the big take away many people had. While it’s a good one, we kept the focus on the sin. I looked at a number of passages for this week that focused on God’s love, living in peace and some on sin but remembered to focus on why this whole dialog started – fear.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:28
The other side of the equation that no one discussed was forgiveness. There is not a day that goes by that we all don’t sin. We can’t avoid it no matter what we do, thanks to Adam and Eve. Sin came into this world to destroy it but God had other plans. God loves us despite our sins. 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. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:16-18) We are forgiven, period. No amount of sin, no degrees of sin, no amount of guilt or fear can change that we are forgiven through faith in Jesus. Yes, we should love our neighbor as ourselves and yes, we should hate the sin, not the sinner but we should never be afraid because we are forgiven.