Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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How I Spent the Majority of My Time as a Leader

As a leader, I never bought into the philosophy of treating everyone the same. I tried to treat each person on my teams as an individual, according to their specific needs and personality. I didn’t treat everyone the same, but I did treat all with equity.
On my teams I found that there are some team members who are consistently solid. They aren’t looking for any advancement and just love what they are doing. In fact, if they could, they would stay in their positions for a long time. In my experience, there were two categories of employees that I spent the most time with.

  1. High potential employees who wanted to continue to grow and advance within their role or the organization. The individuals in this category were highly motivated and demonstrated excellent attitudes. Many were interested in advancing to a leadership position, while some were working toward a promotion in their current role. I would help them to find stretch assignments to continue to grow, as well as suggest some mentors for them. Also, in this category were those I was mentoring. I always enjoyed working with mentees, and never turned anyone down who asked to be in a mentoring relationship with me. I always saw it as giving back to others, just as my career mentor did for me.
  2. Those with performance problems. The individuals in this category were struggling with their performance for one reason or another. It could be that they were in a position that was not a good fit for their skills, they may have been struggling with attendance issues and thus not able to consistently produce for their teams, or they were not be fully engaged or had a poor attitude. The goal of working with these team members was always to help restore them to being solid performers. Many times, that was the result, but unfortunately there were some times when that was the not result, and those were some of my most difficult times as a leader.

I love a good redemption story. Someone who fell into this second category turned out to be one of the most pleasant stories in my career. For whatever reason, she had a year in which she did not perform up to expectations. Her leaders knew it and she knew it. Prior to that year she had been a solid performer. When she came to my team, she told me that level of performance wasn’t her, and she would show me just that, which she did. She immediately re-established herself not only as a solid performer, but as a top performer. Within a few years she was in a leadership development assignment, capping off the most significant turnaround I saw in my career.
I would encourage you to treat each person on your team according to their own talents and needs.  As a leader, who did you tend to spend the most time with on your teams?


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles 

  • Called to Lead. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace is now available in both paperback and Kindle editions. Read a free sample (Introduction through Chapter 2).
  • Help! I Feel Like a Failure. In addressing a question from a reader who feels like a failure, Greg Phelan writes “We can find hope in our failure because God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness.”
  • 5 Things I Learned About Work from Working Remote. Daniel Darling writes that since working at home during the pandemic God has helped him see work in new ways.
  • Five Foundational Ideas About Work Taught in the Bible. Hugh Whelchel shares five foundational ideas about work taught in the Bible. Understanding these five ideas will help us build a solid, Biblical view of work, vocation, and calling.
  • Good Work and the Gift of a Hobby. Steve Lindsey writes “Hobbies can be a great option for many reasons, not the least of which is their overlooked ability to enhance our regular daily jobs.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Master of One: Find and Focus on the Work You Were Created to Do by Jordan Raynor
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

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The Most Painful Time of My Career and What I Learned from It


The most difficult period in my nearly 38-year career at a Fortune 50 organization came about 25 years into it. I touched on this period briefly a few years ago in my article “Looking Back at Life Through the Lens of Romans 8:28”. It started with a regular monthly meeting with a team member, a team member who was not a good performer (and later terminated by another manager). The team member was a homosexual, a detail that is important to this story. But I always love to see people turn their performance around. That is one of the most satisfying aspects of being a leader.
During the course of the meeting, I remember him pointing out a small George W. Bush bumper sticker that I had placed near the bottom of a bookcase in the corner of the office, out of the sight of most. I’m sure he had put me in a mental box as being a conservative in all things, which was probably not an inaccurate assessment. But then he said “I bet I wouldn’t even be welcome in your church”. I was taken aback by his jumping to this, but I knew fully what he meant. I replied, “Yes, you would be welcome…..but, we would want you to change”. As I recall, we shortly got back to discussing business and the meeting ended fine. But within a day or two, I was called to my leader’s office and told that the employee had filed a complaint against me. Continue reading


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The Biggest Risk I Took in My Career


Are you a risk taker? Some people are, but I’ve never been one to take big risks without looking at an issue from all sides, getting input on it, and praying about it. I remember one IT department leader telling us (about implementing changes into our infrastructure) that if we do our homework (testing, etc.) and something went wrong, he would be right there to support us. However, if we had not been diligent, and something went wrong (the change took the system down, for example), we would be dangling in the wind without his support (as he slowly waved a piece of paper back and forth).
One time, about a third of the way into my career, a mentor suggested a consultant position to me that if I was chosen, would have resulted in a promotion. However, the position would have resulted in a significant amount of travel. After my wife and I discussed this, we decided that the downside offset the advantage of the position, and thus I did not pursue it.
One of the risks I did take was when I applied for a leadership position that was a step up from the one that I was in. The position would be a challenge for me, and I would have to take a lot of difficult classes. On top of that, I loved the position I currently had (leading a group of Planners). I remember praying about this decision, and not getting any clear answer one way or the other. I decided to make the move and it was one of the best decisions I made in my nearly 38-year career.
But the biggest risk I took was changing departments exactly halfway into my career. Continue reading


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The Privilege of Prayer


Have you ever heard someone say something like this, or perhaps you have said it yourself, “I don’t know what else to do, I guess I can pray for you”?  Rather than being something you have to settle for, praying for someone is actually the best gift that you could ever give them.
Have you ever considered just what a privilege it is to come before a Holy God in prayer? I think sometimes we take the ability to bring our requests before God, and Him bending down to listen, for granted.   Psalm 116:1-2 says:
I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live. Continue reading


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Why I Love John MacArthur

In John Piper’s book entitled Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons he tells us about the profound impact the Apostle Paul has had on his life and ministry. In this article, I would like to do the same for John MacArthur, who has served 51 years at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California. Imagine that – having the same pastor for 51 years! One of his accomplishments at Grace Community Church was in preaching through the entire New Testament, which he completed in 2011.  He is currently in the news because Los Angeles County is attempting to evict Pastor MacArthur’s Grace Community Church (GCC) from a parking lot it has leased since 1975—the latest in an ongoing battle between Grace and government authorities concerning GCC’s decision to defy coronavirus restrictions.
I first saw MacArthur speak at the Ligonier Ministries’ National Conference in 1997 when the theme was “Essential Truths of the Christian Faith”, and have seen him speak at that conference many times since. In addition, I have seen him speak at the Sing! 2018 Conference and on a book tour for his book A Tale of Two Sons (later retitled The Prodigal Son), one of my favorite books. I’ve read most of his books and often listen to his popular Grace to You radio program.
Whereas Piper provided 30 reasons for his love of the Apostle Paul, I’ll just list one for my love of John MacArthur. And that is simply because of his stand for the truth. MacArthur consistently lives out Romans 1:16:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
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Bible Translations: What Are They and Which Ones To Use?

There are so many versions of the Bible available to us today. How are you to determine which one is right for you?
When I first became a Christian, I read translations that were easier for me to understand. My wife Tammy grew up reading the King James Version (KJV), a version that I had difficulty understanding. So, I started out reading a Good News Bible (GNB) and The Living Bible (TLB). Those versions were just fine for me at that time in my life. In one church we attended they used the New American Standard Version (NASB), so I started using that translation. Eventually, I began reading the New International Version (NIV) until the English Standard Version (ESV) was released in 2001.
In this survey I read from January, 2017, the King James Version was the most read version of the Bible in America, with the New International Version and English Standard Version trailing far behind in second and third place.
With so many versions of the bible available to us, how are we to choose which one to read? The translation philosophy used may be important to know. Tim Challies gives this helpful breakdown of the main categories of translations “On the one side of the spectrum, we have what we might call word-for-word translations. On the other side, we have what we might call paraphrases, and somewhere in the middle, we would have thought-for-thought. Okay, so, word-for-word, thought-for-thought and paraphrases.”
Word-for-word translations, also known as formal equivalence, attempt to match the original language words with the closest English language counterpart. Thought-for-thought translations, also known as dynamic equivalence, attempt to pair the ideas behind each phrase or sentence with a similar idea in the English language. Paraphrased translations use modern language and idioms to try to capture the thought and essence behind the original text. Below are translations that fall into each of these categories: Continue reading


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Why Not Start a Book Club?


Forming a book club is a great way to enhance the pleasure you get out of reading a good book. I’ve previously written about why you might want to consider starting a Faith and Work Book Club, which I participated in at work the last few years of my career. A Faith and Work Book Club is an excellent way to discuss a book and how to integrate your faith and work and be a positive influence and representative of Christ in your workplace. A few members of our Faith and Work Book Club who left the workplace at the same time I did have continued in a new book club. More about that shortly. Continue reading


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How to Live a Life of Productivity Through Effective Planning

Usually when I talk to people, they tell me that they are busy, very busy.  But it’s the rare person that will tell you that they are happy with how much they get done each day or week. How can we be more effective in getting our work done, no matter what that work is? In other words, how can we be more productive? To do so, we often work more hours. I know that’s what I used to do. I would often be the one turning on the lights on my floor at work in the morning. I worked more than 55 hours a week for years. But working longer or harder doesn’t necessarily mean that we are more productive. We end up getting tired and our productivity actually falls. Activity doesn’t always translate into results.

Over the past few years, I’ve read three excellent books on the subject of productivity. Below are my reviews of these books along with some helpful quotes. I hope that these are a benefit to you.

What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms The Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman and a link to 25 quotes.

How to Get Unstuck: Breaking Free From Barriers to Your Productivity by Matt Perman

Do More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies and 20 quotes that I found helpful.

Looking back, my busiest time took place when I was going to seminary while working full-time as a manager in a Fortune 50 organization, and serving as a leader in my church. Seminary took about 20 hours a week, work 50+, and I often handled special assignments in my role as a leader at church. I had so many commitments and due dates, I really needed to stay on top of things effectively. There are many ways of doing this. For example, Tim Challies recommends using a tool such as Evernote. I’ve found that a simple “To Do” or “Priorities” list in a Word document worked best for me. My Dad is a list maker, and perhaps that’s where I picked up this habit.

Here are a few thoughts on my major areas of responsibility during those busy times and how I tried to stay on top of things: Continue reading


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My Favorite “Business” Book

Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite business authors and this is one of the most helpful books that I continually go back to time and again. I would say it is my favorite “business book”, but it is actually helpful in any setting in which you work with a team – business, church, non-profit, sports, etc.
In this book Lencioni follows his usual practice of using a fictional account (fable) to make his points in an interesting manner, and then summarizing those points in the final portion (last 33 pages) of the book.
In the fable, Kathryn Peterson is a newly appointed CEO of Decision Tech, a technology company which has much potential. In fact, Kathryn will tell her staff multiple times:
“We have a more experienced and talented executive team than any of our competitors. We have more cash than they do. Thanks to Martin and his team, we have better core technology. And we have a more powerful board of directors. Yet in spite of all that, we are behind two of our competitors in terms of both revenue and customer growth.”
The problem with Decision Tech is that their executive staff is not displaying teamwork. In a series of off-site meetings, Kathryn leads the staff through the five dysfunctions of a team. She, as well as Lencioni in the final portion of the book, recommend ways for overcoming the dysfunctions.
This is an excellent book on team dynamics and teamwork. Being written as a fable allows the reader to get a vivid picture of how a team interacts and what it feels like to be part of a successful team. This is a quick read; the author’s model is simple and the book is full of practical advice which leaders can use in building good teams. I’ve included some helpful concepts Lencioni teaches in the book below: Continue reading