Recently, during our Friday morning breakfast Book Club, a few friends and I got to talking about how much time we have left to make a difference with our lives. Our ages range from the late 50’s to mid 60’s. We wondered what the average life expectancy for a male was, and we were sobered to find out that in the U.S. it is 76.1 years.
Similarly, a woman in our small group who had recently retired wondered about what she should be doing with her time to live with purpose for God. For women, the life expectancy n the U.S. is 81.1 years. These are averages of course. None of us know how much more time we have, and we know that not one more minute is guaranteed to us.
Several years ago, when my wife Tammy was volunteering at a soup kitchen, a much older friend told her that it seems that time moves much more quickly the older we get. That certainly seems to be the case with me. One morning, I had a wonderful time at breakfast with my Dad. But when I ordered off of the “Senior Menu”, he was taken aback. His son ordering off of the “Senior Menu”? Where had the time gone? Continue reading
The job of a leader is a busy one, and we continually strive to be working on the most important work we have “on our plate”. One way I tried to assure that I was working on the most important work was to develop a daily “Priorities” list (think “Things to Do” list). At the end of the workday, I would review what I had gotten done that day, what new issues had arisen, and then rank my priorities for the following day. I would keep that list on my desk so that I was focused on it throughout the day. At the end of each workday, one way I would evaluate my effectiveness that day was to see how many of those top priorities I had gotten completed.
In a perfect world, all leaders would need to do is focus on their priorities. But we know that never happens. Throughout each day, issues will arise from your team members, business partners/customers, and your leaders. Thus, a leader has to effectively manage these “interruptions” that will occur throughout the day, so that they can assure that they are working on the most important work.
In this article, I’ll focus on those situations where a team member will stop by your office and ask if you have a minute for a discussion. When this occurs, leaders have the option to address the issue at the time, or, depending on the issue and what the leader is currently working on, ask their team member if they would set up a short meeting, hopefully later that day, to discuss. How a leader handles those interruptions will tell you a lot about how effective they are. Continue reading
Awhile back I went to our weekly Friday morning Book Club. This is something some friends and I started a few years ago at work, and have continued now that we are retired. At the time we were reading John Maxwell’s excellent book Leadershift: The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace.
During one point in our discussion we were talking about moving out of our comfort zones, and we started talking about what is required to improve a particular skill. For example, one person is currently taking both piano and golf lessons to improve their mastery of those skills. Another person is a painter, and talked about getting feedback from his wife on his paintings. At times, when the feedback on a painting has not been positive, he has completely painted over what he has created, and started from scratch, working to improve. I can relate with my writing. I’ll write an article or movie review and then send to my wife (and editor) for review. In both instances, it’s humbling to ask for feedback but it usually results in raising the bar. I have a friend who is writing a book, not only does she ask to meet with me and my wife regarding her progress, but she also puts herself on a timeline in order to accomplish her goals. Anytime we look to improve a skill or task, we will need to possess and demonstrate personal discipline. Continue reading
I’ve been retired for three years. When I was first retired, I somehow felt I was doing something wrong. After nearly 38 years, I was no longer going to work each morning to the employer I worked at all of those years. My wife Tammy and I had agreed that we would take it easy, and not make any big commitments for a while. So, I spoke at a local church conference, and did a few teaching assignments at church, but didn’t commit to any more than that. What we were doing, though we didn’t know it at the time, was what Jeff Haanen writes about when he states that “the early years of retirement provide the perfect time to take a much-needed sabbatical”, in his excellent book An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life.
Tammy was worried about how I would adapt to retirement. She knew that I had loved being a leader in a Fortune 50 organization, working with some wonderful people over the years. Would I be left without my identity as a leader? Fortunately, I made a very good transition into retirement, with a new found love of writing and additional time to pour into relationships. But that’s not the case with everyone. Many people, after enjoying the first months of retirement, and perhaps a few trips, find themselves feeling lost in this new season of life. After looking forward to no longer having to work, having more time to travel and play golf, they find themselves singing the old Peggy Lee song, wondering “Is that all there is?” That’s why I highly recommend that you go into retirement with your eyes wide open. You need to prepare yourself for what God has next for you.
Keep your eyes wide open in these three key areas: Continue reading
I was never one of those leaders who was able to get my work done in the
standard work hours that our organization had. I found myself coming in early, staying late, and working weekends. That became more of a problem when you could work from home with laptop computers, and even more so when you could access your work email on your smart phone. If fact, years ago, the leader of our large IT department told me that we don’t have any standard work hours any longer. By that time, the work day had expanded and became part of our non-work life.
What are you to do when you want to be more productive and demonstrate better time management so that you will have more time for family, ministry, friends and hobbies? Continue reading
The issue of border walls is certainly an ongoing political topic in our country these days. Some are in favor of a border wall along our southern border, while others see such a wall as immoral. Some politicians are wanting to build many more miles of a wall, while others to tear down the walls that have already been constructed. No matter which side of this debate you are on, you might be interested to know that opposition to building or rebuilding a wall is nothing new. In the first six chapters of the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, we read about the reconstruction of a wall that has been damaged.
We are introduced to Nehemiah in 444 B.C. when he was serving in the Persian royal court as the personal cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. I’ve always enjoyed the story of Nehemiah. One of the first books I read as a new believer in the early 1980’s was Charles Swindoll’s Hand Me Another Brick, which was about Nehemiah’s leadership.
After 70 years in exile, some of the Jews had returned home and rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem, as we read about in the book of Ezra. They were able to worship God in their own land, but the city still lay in ruins. In Nehemiah 1:3, Nehemiah is told that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates destroyed by fire more than a half-century after the completion of the rebuilding of the temple. Upon hearing this news, Nehemiah mourns and prays to God. He then asks permission of King Artaxerxes to go to Judah to rebuild the walls, which the king grants. When Nehemiah arrives, he inspects the walls around Jerusalem, devises a plan to rebuild, and rallies the people of Judah to do the work. He tells the jeering Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab that the God of heaven will make them prosper in the work (Nehemiah 2:20). Continue reading
Is it true that Christians should be the best workers? It depends.
I remember one of our pastors telling me years ago about a comment that one of their seminary professors had made in class. They said that if the married students were consistently getting straight “A’s” in class, they were obviously not spending enough time with their families. I think I know what the professor was getting at. If we apply it to our work, we could ask that if we consistently excel at work, could we be giving a lesser effort (time, energy, engagement) to our families, ministry and our relationship with God. Excelling at work includes more than just the effort and results you achieve during the regular workday. It also includes taking job-related classes and studying for exams, be they industry designations or certification or a Master’s Degree.
Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert address the balance that is needed in their book The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs. They write that we should never be idle in our work, nor should we make work an idol. In other words, we should not be idle at work, but instead do excellent work. On the other hand, we should not make work an idol by being a workaholic, placing work above our family and church responsibilities. Continue reading
Work is commended in the Bible as a good thing. It is both a privilege and a blessing. But many of those we work with, and perhaps some of us, view it as a necessary evil. Most don’t look at their work as a vocation, a calling or even a career. No, it’s just a job. Many feel that there is “sacred” or “religious” work and everything else is “secular work”, and that secular work is a necessary evil, just to pay the bills, support your family, and have the resources to support God’s mission. Others may see the workplace as a mission field, and they use their position to evangelize non-believing co-workers.
Is it right to share your faith at work? That depends. If you work at Chick Fil-A or Hobby Lobby, organizations that are open about honoring and glorifying God, it may not be a problem. However, at the organization I worked at, and perhaps at yours as well, sharing your faith at work could have serious negative consequences for you.
The most challenging time of my nearly 38-year career was a result of my speaking openly about my faith. Without going into details, a comment I made landed me in Human Resources, and among other disciplinary action I was required to complete diversity training. Continue reading
My pastor preached on Genesis 11: 1-9 about the Tower of Babel. If you are not familiar with that passage, it is about people who in their self-sufficiency apart from God, wanted to build a city and a tower with its top in the heavens and to make a name for themselves. They believed that they had no need for God.
Although this story took place many years ago, how much is this like many in our culture today who get their significance from their achievements – their position, title, success, status or salary? Or perhaps as having the perfect marriage, being the perfect parent, having the perfect children or the perfect home, as displayed in their Instagram posts. In his sermon however, my pastor taught that contrary to this, our true significance is in God alone.
Early in my career at a Fortune 50 organization, one of my leaders told me that I needed to make a name for myself. He intended this advice for my good. He wanted me to get my career off to a good start and to build a good reputation for myself. But the advice was not from a Christian perspective, but very man-centered, much like the people who wanted to build a city, tower and a name for themselves. Continue reading
My mentor told me early in my career that if you are going to have just one relationship with a team member it needed to be a professional one, not a personal one. He went on to state that it would be hard to be out bowling with the group one night and then have to call one of them in to address a performance issue the next day. That would be complicated. I can appreciate that, and that is the way I operated for most of my career. However, as I continued to grow in my calling as a leader, I began to understand servant leadership and changed my approach in this area. I began to treat my work team like family. Continue reading