Reliable

Reliability. I’ll bet that when you hear that word, the first thing that will pop into your mind is a product of some sort. It is either a car or an appliance that we generally associate with the word reliability. What about people, do we consider them reliable? We might use dependable but reliable? People will let us down and are flawed from conception; I’ve even heard others quip that “you can depend on people to let you down.” The difference is very subtle, being reliable means that you will be able to get the same result over and over and dependable means worthy of reliance or trust. How reliable are you? Do people seek you out for help or advice? If you are in a leadership position, you need to be both reliable and dependable. Being reliable can take a toll on your time management. You will find that when people seek you out for help, you spend a lot of time with them and your own “work” takes second place yet it still needs to get done.

When people seek you out, you are actually functioning as a coach for them. Good coaching can turn into mentorship, which is a great professional development tool for both parties not mention a huge source of personal satisfaction. Whom do you rely on? Do you have someone reliable in your work life? We are sometimes too proud to ask for someone to help us or give us advice. Finding someone who is reliable enough to be a coach is rare; be sure that they are willing to help at this level. If you are fortunate enough to be someone whom people consider reliable, consider sharing your gifts with them at this higher level.

“And everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” Acts 2:21

It’s ironic that when I hear the words reliable and dependable, I don’t immediately think of the Triune God. As I reflect on it, I have to assume that it’s because I never have to think twice about God’s reliability and just writing that, makes me smile. There are millions of people in this world that don’t see it that way. They will base their assessment of God’s reliability on the number of answered prayers they receive, the quality of their life or the types of works they perform – trying to gain God’s favor, so that He’ll be more reliable and dependable. Our LORD and Savior is Jesus Christ, He intervened on our behalf to gain God’s favor.

“Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be Saved” (Acts 2:21) means eternal life for everyone calling, no strings attached. God is reliable and dependable. He keeps His promises to His people; we just have a hard time seeing them because His time and our time are not the same. God always listens and comforts us; we simply don’t always recognize it. It’s the unexpected coffee that a co-worker brings to you when you need it or the refund check that arrives the week that your rent is due. Turning your life over to God and trusting in Him means that you never have to think twice about whether He’s reliable or not. After all, He did send His one and only Son to suffer for us so that we can share eternal life Him. It certainly sounds like He’s in it for the long haul, how about you?

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What’s in a Name?

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?

Win at All Costs

Win at all costs! An expression that we heard often in the 1990’s and it seems to be making a come back. Last week I wrote about what Millennials want in the workplace and we learned that their generation is looking at the big picture – corporate responsibility that is socially conscious. Yes, this is the generation where “everyone got a trophy” but they do 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, 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. The warning is 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?”

We need to be living according to God’s word. 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 like a good Christian; with truth, ethics, nobility and 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 under report my income and I’ll have enough money. 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!

Be an Example

“Walk the Talk” is just another way of saying, “Lead by Example”. People often think equate leading with leadership positions – supervisors, directors, Captains, Chiefs, 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 is a leader at some point during our day. Mothers and Fathers who lead their children to school or provide guidance and leadership to their families, 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, they 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 but they look to you for an example of customer service. We are always being watched, 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 Christ. 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.

The Good Shepherd

Some people call it micro-managing, some call it accountability while others will call it babysitting; but looking after our flock is an essential function of leadership. 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. How do you lead? The Shepherd concept of leadership is also important to how your people respond to you. Sheepherders use dogs to chase around the edges to keep the herd moving forward; if you find yourself chasing around the edges after your people, check your leadership style.

You should be looking after your people but you shouldn’t have to chase them down. Maintaining accountability of assignments without chasing them down can be a real challenge. Using a good coaching model combined with a strong vision will help you lead from the front. The concept of rescuing them means that you will put yourself at some risk to help them. The best strategy for performing a “rescue” is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Spend time in the beginning to give them the training and tools needed to execute their jobs.

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 wanted, 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.

The bible is a coaching tool that has eternal implications. Imagine Jesus as your supervisor, what kind of leadership would He provide? Jesus would be patient with us as made mistakes but He’d also hold us accountable as He did with the disciples. In the end, no matter how many mistakes we make, Jesus will rescue us (usually for 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 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.

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.