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Ruthless Priorities

Sep 24, 2018

PROGRAM D-8191

A friend gave me a book by a business woman named Patty Azzarello. The book is called Rise, and she says it gives three practical steps for advancing your career, standing out as a leader, and liking your life. That’s a pretty tall order for a book to deliver, but even though it’s not written from a biblical perspective, some of her thoughts are helpful. So, I want to explore with you the idea of ruthless priorities, which she defines as “overachieving where it counts.”

Years ago, God taught me that I can’t do everything—I can’t even do everything I could do or would like to do. I have to make choices and those choices determine whether what I do counts in the Kingdom or not. Truly, in order to do God’s will, we need ruthless priorities—priorities that are clearly established in our minds and to which we ruthlessly hold. Otherwise, we will be pulled in a hundred different directions, and accomplish very little that truly counts for eternity.

One of the chapters in this book is entitled “Be Less Busy,” which doesn’t sound like the way to advance your career, does it? But truthfully, we have to begin by getting rid of our preconceived idea that busyness means productivity. When I first began my career years ago, I noticed that many people in the company worked very long hours and took great pride in it. They seemed to think that putting in lots of extra hours meant they were demonstrating a higher commitment to the job, and they were doing a better job than the rest of us. Patty says in her book, “Many people feel that if they are not fully consumed with work and always appearing to be super busy, people will question their commitment and their value.” (p. 15)

I truly believe in working hard, but equally important is working smart. Getting great results with less work is the sign of a very smart person. As Patty puts it, “Just because you can work tirelessly doesn’t mean you should.” (p. 17)

Do you have a ruthless priority for your life that you will slow down, that you will truly “be still and know that God is God”? There’s an African proverb that says, “Hurry, hurry has no blessing”—and truly it doesn’t. Slowing down so we have time to know God has to be our highest priority. When it is, you’ll get more done in less time, and you won’t be so frayed around the edges.

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Integrity at Work

Sep 7, 2018

PROGRAM D-8180

As you are aware, the world around us has lowered its standards of honesty and integrity to the point that lack of integrity has become acceptable behavior in many respects. Yet this lack of integrity is costing American businesses millions of dollars every year, and even non-believers are waking up to the fact that integrity on the job is a bottom line issue.

This certainly is a bottom line issue with the Lord and, as Christ-followers, we must be so careful that we do not compromise biblical standards of integrity as workers in today’s marketplace. Access to the internet has become a major issue in many organizations—employees surfing the internet, playing games during company time, and worst of all, watching pornography during work hours.

Most companies have rules to govern this issue and have put controls on their system to block certain websites. But, of course, many have learned how to skirt those rules and controls. If you’re thinking that using a little company time for personal things is no big deal, I’d warn you that you’re starting down a dangerous road.

You see, our enemy will find very subtle ways to get us sidetracked and cause us to damage our witness for Jesus Christ. He’ll start with something like wasting some company time on personal interests or business, and then when we’ve lowered our standard that little bit, we’re vulnerable to further temptation.

Peter wrote this:  “Live such good lives among the pagans that. . . they may see your good deeds and glorify God. . .” (I Peter 2:12).

Remember that it is wrong to use company time for your own personal benefit or business. Don’t forget that your best way to represent Jesus on your job is to live such a good life among your co-workers that they will see the difference in you and that will bring glory to God. Make sure you’re not damaging your testimony for the Lord through lack of attention to these issues of honesty.

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Integrity at Work

Sep 6, 2018

PROGRAM D-8179

Frequently in the workplace we run into situations where we’re not sure what is the right thing for us to do. Here’s one such situation: A woman worked in a sales office where there was a rule that personal business was not to be conducted on company time or using company resources. She worked with a man who continually broke that rule and spent at least an hour each day on personal calls and taking care of outside business. She knew this was wrong but was it her responsibility to tell her supervisor, or should she keep quiet?

The question gets right to the core of a very common problem in American business today: employee theft. There is a staggering amount of stealing from employers among people who would never consider themselves thieves or dishonest. Certainly, Christians in the marketplace need to set the highest standards of integrity for their own lives in this regard.

Most employers understand that it is sometimes necessary for employees to make a quick personal call on company time. However, many violate those privileges and use company equipment and time for excessive personal purposes, which could and should be done after-hours and at their own expense.

In this situation, the company has established guidelines concerning this, and it is their responsibility to monitor it. Many times, management makes a rule and then fails to enforce it—or chooses to ignore it. However, it is the management’s job to enforce rules, so as long as this person does not report personally to you, it’s not your job to report their infraction of the rules. If you were directly asked, you would, of course, have to be honest.

Depending on your relationship with that co-worker, you might look for an appropriate opportunity to broach the subject with him. But otherwise, this is management’s job, not yours. Any action to right this wrong could be perceived as “tattling” on co-workers.

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Integrity at Work

Sep 5, 2018

PROGRAM D-8178

Here’s a real-life business issue that some of you have faced: You’re in sales and your manager has asked you to talk only about the good aspects of a product while ignoring, or seriously downplaying, the negatives. You feel uncomfortable because this seems so close to lying. What do you do?

My career began in sales, so I understand the dilemma. One thing to remember is that all products have their strengths and weaknesses. The sales job is to emphasize the benefits of the strengths and overcome the objections to the weaknesses. That is marketing and, done correctly, it is not dishonest.

Hopefully you have a product which you believe in and which you can honestly sell as a benefit to your customers. If that is not the case and instead you feel you have an inferior product which is misleading and/or faulty, then you have to decide if you’re working for the right company. A prerequisite for a Christian in sales, in my opinion, is to have a product or service that brings benefits to your customers.

While your sales pitch does not have to include the negatives, you must be prepared—as a good sales person and, more importantly, as an honest one—to discuss your product’s deficiencies. If the prospect asks questions that expose those deficiencies, you should be very honest about it. In no way would it be right for you to deny or cover-up the weaknesses of your product deliberately.

Of course, you should be prepared to offset the deficiency with a benefit. This is the skill of selling: it’s called “handling objections,” and good sales people learn how to do that. However, as a Christian, you should never do that at the cost of honesty.

If you feel that you are being asked to do something which is dishonest and this bothers your conscience, then you need to take action. Romans 14:14 tells us that if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. Verse 23 says the person who partakes of something which he thinks is wrong is condemned, because he is not acting in faith.

Give it prayer. If it continues to bother you, God will show you what action to take. Don’t go against your conscience. You’ll be miserable, and you won’t be able to sell very well, either.

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Integrity at Work

Sep 4, 2018

PROGRAM D-8177

I thought I’d share a situation that one of our listeners is facing, since I imagine there are many who have similar questions.

This listener’s company is very production oriented and has strict guidelines about working quickly, taking many calls, handling questions rapidly, and getting off the phone as soon as possible to take more calls. The number and length of their calls are monitored and reported, and much pressure is applied to work very quickly.

She felt that in doing this, she was forced to treat callers somewhat abruptly—not really helping them like she should—and this was quite frustrating to her. Unfortunately, her management was not impressed with her desire to answer each call completely and thoroughly; their only interest was productivity.

I think there are many situations where we feel our company is not running the business in the most customer-oriented way and we’d like to do it better. . .but the guidelines get in our way. What should be a Christian’s response? Do it the way we think it should be done, or follow the instructions?

I think that as long as the instructions you’re given are not dishonest or illegal, your responsibility is to obey those in authority. After all, management has the right to run the company as they please, even if they choose to run it into the ground. Unfortunately, many companies operate without a real customer orientation.

I believe strongly that every organization reflects the attitudes and philosophy of the person at the top. If the person at the top of your company chooses productivity over quality, that’s the way it’s going to be. Obviously, that is symptomatic of not only a lack of human care and concern, but also a lack of good business sense. Eventually poor quality and inadequate customer service will ruin a business.

As Christians in the marketplace, we should try to treat all people, including customers, with care. Not only is your customer the person who pays your salary, they are also people created and loved by God—individuals who are important. For those reasons, it’s imperative that we do our best to give them good service. When quality service is in conflict with company policy, you should look for opportunities to try to change the system, if possible. But I recognize this isn’t always easy to do.

No one said it would be easy, but living for Jesus in the marketplace gives us incredible opportunities to show the world his love and care. So don’t get discouraged! Keep praying for guidance and God will give you strength.

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Laughing at the Days Ahead

Sep 3, 2018

PROGRAM D-8176

Proverbs 31:25 says that the virtuous woman is “clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” What does it mean to be able to laugh at the days to come?

For me, it means that as I look at my personal future, I know that regardless of what happens to me, my future destiny is secure. I’ve got eternal life right now because I’ve accepted Jesus as my Savior. Regardless of what the days hold for me, I’m not beset with the fears and worries of those who don’t know Jesus as their Savior; I can laugh at the days to come.

It means that I can face an uncertain financial future—and laugh at it. I can’t be certain that I’ll have an income next week, next month, or even next year. But because my safety net is Jesus Christ, I can laugh at that prospect and say, “Never fear! God has promised to supply all my needs. Laugh at the days to come!”

As I look at the trouble in the Middle East and see how tenuous things are in this world, I realize that it would only take a small spark to put us on the brink of another awful war. While that certainly isn’t a laughing matter, I can laugh at the fear and the oppression of those thoughts because my God is sovereign—nothing is going to happen in this world without his purpose being served.

Psalm 20:7 says, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” You may be facing many uncertainties and you don’t know what the future will bring. However, if your trust is in God—not in people, not in money, not in possessions or position—then you can laugh at the days ahead.

Paul put it another way: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6). A great way to avoid anxiety and worry is to laugh at the days ahead—those days are in God’s hands, and he is perfectly capable of taking you through whatever they may hold.

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