A good reputation or a good name is hard to come by but can be lost very easily. Your success at work and I’d argue, in life, is critical to your reputation. Spend a moment and think of a leader or person in your life that you’d like to emulate or is someone that you really enjoy speaking with. Maybe it’s someone that has helped you in your career or trained you in something new. Now ask yourself, have I done any of these things for others? It’s difficult for us to know what our own reputation is; at least what people really think of us. Taking time to reflect on your own reputation and to answer these questions may help you measure how good your name really is.
Society has placed a lot of emphasis on being successful (riches) and we are often judged by the things we have. The good news today is that we can see that all changing. People are becoming more concerned with making a difference or experiencing what life has to offer than they are with amassing wealth. The “tiny house” movement is a great example. I have a friend who is asking leaders the question, are you being significant or successful? He suggests that being significant to someone or others is far more important than any material success you may achieve. I couldn’t agree more.
Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”
We all have the opportunity to demonstrate our faith everyday by being an example for living a Christian life. To create a good name, you can show others your compassion, caring, understanding and patience. Being aggressive in business has been rewarded with bonuses and perks but they all might be at the cost of your good name.
We learn from the message in Proverbs that it is better to be esteemed rather than rich. In today’s world, we are faced with a mountain of challenges but in the end, we should be striving to make a difference. God will provide great riches beyond this life and He will give you the most important good name – Saved One. Leadership is not about getting something; it is about giving yourself to others, to share what you know so that others can become significant. We are all leaders to someone in our lives – whether we know it or not. Jesus led the disciples and showed the way of Christian living. St. Paul lead the churches of the region through his letters and support. If God can use St. Paul, while in jail, to provide leadership that has lasted for more than 2000 years, how hard can it be for us to be significant to someone for just one day?
I’m sure that I’ve referenced the book by the late Charles Colson titled “How Now Shall We live” before but in case I haven’t, here is a short recap. The author was convicted of political crimes in the late 1970’s and sentenced to prison for his role in the infamous Watergate break-in under U.S. President Nixon. While in prison, he founded Prison Ministries. His book details the values that shape our Christian worldviews and begins to explain how our worldview points us in the directions that our lives can take. It is a great study of life and helps explain many of the teachings that most Christians hold true today using real life examples. It is a big book but worth reading if you need a little perspective or a detailed reminder of how we should be looking at the world around us.
So, how shall we live? Living a life of faith engages our ears, our hands and our hearts. It doesn’t mean we don’t use our other abilities but it also doesn’t mean that we simply watch our faith (eyes) or talk about faith (mouth), we really need to live it out. We use our ears to listen to the word of God and listen to the world around us. We can listen for the right time to witness or show compassion by listening to others as they share their troubles. We can learn about the messages of God through a number of mediums and bring it to use in our lives. Our hands can produce good work as a model for Christian living or to help others in need. Our hearts tell the rest of the story. As Matthew 6:21 says “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” When you finish the book by Colson, you will have been exposed to examples of how to live a life today that demonstrates your Christian values without ever having to quote the bible “to sinners” or preach on the street corners. Christian living is about doing, not sitting around talking about what the world needs.
“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22
Have you ever sat in a church service and felt like you were just going through the motions? Sure, you try and listen to the order of worship and maybe even lip synch the songs but your heart is just not in it. In today’s fast-paced world of short attention spans, it is becoming easier to just be physically present without being mentally engaged. I once had a conversation with a co-worker about what church meant to him and he described the services as being routine and an obligation. He wasn’t getting anything out them. I’d suggest that he was just listening the word. It is like walking in the rain with a raincoat on, you get a little damp but most of the water is repelled away.
The bible verse from James is telling us to not only walk in the rain but to do so without the raincoat; let the word soak you. Just listening to the word (going to services) is a means of deceiving ourselves. The only way we can do what it says is to become soaked by it. Understand the bible and its role in your life. Live your life in such a way that while you may not know the exact verse you are following, you do know that your behavior is a result of God’s word. Knowing the verses is important and will come later but the first step is recognizing that your understanding of the bible has formed your behavior. The word of God is like a warm shower, let it soak you and then enjoy the warmth it provides.
Do you start your workweek with a plan? How about the workday? Planning for some people is very easy while others struggle to get out the front door on time each day. We can plan for something as short-term as the morning or for the long-term when dealing with a strategic plan or long-range workplans. Whichever you are doing, a plan always starts with the end in mind. What is it you want to do or accomplish? Some call that the vision but the end is simply knowing what you are planning for. The best analogy is taking a car trip. We start by knowing where we want to go and then we look for routes to get us there. Along the way we look for cities or towns where we can stop for fuel or grab something to eat and for longer trips, we look for somewhere to stop for the night and make reservations. Whether you are doing long or short range planning, the process is virtually the same. Write down the goal or end and workout a route to get there. Whether you are doing some personal growth planning or directing the work of a team, route the course to get to the end. Write down your goal and the steps (course) to get there. Share it with members of your work-team or for those personal goals; share them with close friends to make it more meaningful and to get support from those who might help along the way. Consider them your “reservations” for points along the way. You will need support to achieve your goals and a good plan will make the path that you take a little more direct.
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” – Proverbs 16:3
I have written before about God’s plan for us. If we let God direct our lives, we cannot fail and we will glorify Him. It sounds like we’d be using God as our Google Maps and letting Him pick the path for us. While it sounds easier that way, its not what God wants for us. He wants us to enjoy our lives, love our neighbors and most of all, He wants us to be faithful to Him – Commit to the Lord. If we work with the goal of being faithful to God in Heaven, doing what He commands, sharing the good news of a savior in Jesus Christ, how can we go off course? God loves us and has rewarded our faithfulness by sending His Son to die for our sins so that we may live with Him in Glory for all of eternity. The irony in that is there is no end. Our lives here on earth will end, so we must make plans to Glorify God in whatever we do. At work, be honest, work hard, be obedient and support those around you. In your life you can bring Glory to God through regular worship, bible study, Christian fellowship and supporting your fellow man. When your walk in life is in step with God’s, your plans will succeed because your goals are the same – sharing eternity with each other.