Chapter OneJANUARY 1ACTION
In the beginning God created. GENESIS 1:1
The first sentence of the Bible introduces us to one
of God's notable characteristics. In the beginning,
God did something.
He didn't think, study, see, feel, or plan. He created.
He didn't wait for the heavens and the earth to fall
into place. He didn't assume they would feel empowered
to create themselves. He didn't delegate the task
to his assistant. The text is very clear-God created.
God took action and did things on his timeline in
the way he wanted them done.
Sometimes you and I need to step up to the plate
and swing the bat. There's a time for waiting and a
time for doing. In our desire to strike a balance, we
often fail to act in a timely manner. We wait for one
more opinion or one last focus group when we know
that we should move, now!
Perhaps you're facing something today that just
needs to be tackled. Look to Genesis 1:1 for encouragement.
* When the time was right, God stepped
through the front door of time and did
JANUARY 2 COMMUNICATION
When the people saw how long it was taking
Moses to come back down the mountain, they
gathered around Aaron. "Come on," they said,
"make us some gods who can lead us. We don't
know what happened to this fellow Moses, who
brought us here from the land of Egypt."EXODUS 32:1
You embody your organization's vision. When the
staff sees you, they see the vision. When you're away,
they begin to lose sight of where they are headed.
This can happen very quickly.
Make it a practice to keep your staff updated from
wherever you are. If you are attending a conference
or convention, send an e-mail every evening to the
entire staff, giving them a glimpse of what you are
Don't manage from the road. You have subordinates
at the office who can do that. Instead, learn
as much as you can at the conference or convention.
When you return, you can use the opportunity to
tell your staff how the things you learned fit with
your mission statement and share your thoughts
about how new ideas might be applied.
* Be out of sight, but not out of mind.
What do you benefit if you gain the whole world
but are yourself lost or destroyed? LUKE 9:25
God made you. He knit you together in your
mother's womb, and before time began, he had a
plan for you. He designed your personality and gave
you your talents. You were created with a specific
purpose in God's mind.
God created the self that you are.
I am happiest when I'm living the life God planned
for me, using the personality and talents he gave me.
In other words, I'm happiest when I am being myself.
Conversely, I am most miserable when I barter a
portion of my God-given self for short-term earthly
This question from Jesus-"What do you benefit
if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or
destroyed?"-is quite often used in a spiritual context,
but you can use it to evaluate career decisions
Are you living the life God intended for you? Are
you using the talents and personality he gave you?
Are you being yourself?
* Self-regard is not always a bad thing, especially
if you're protecting the self God gave you.
They refuse to understand, break their promises,
are heartless, and have no mercy Worse
yet, they encourage others to do [these things],
too. ROMANS 1:31-32
"God shows his anger from heaven against all sinful,
wicked people," writes Paul in Romans 1:18.
He describes all sorts of vile conduct-wickedness,
murder, sexual perversion-that you'd expect to see
under the heading of "Stuff God Hates." Then he
concludes with four types of behavior that are common
in the business world:
* Refusal to understand: My mind is made up. It's my
way or the highway.
* Breaking of promises: I know you were counting on
it, but we gave Bob the promotion.
* Heartlessness: It's not personal; it's business. We need
to make a profit.
* Lack of mercy: Nothing short of perfection is good
Profit earned at the expense of someone's family is
Promises that can never be fulfilled are lies.
Stubborn refusal to consider new ideas is pride.
* As a leader, treat your team as God would if
he were their boss.
Don't Waste Time
When Saul returned to his home . a group of
men whose hearts God had touched went with
him. But there were some scoundrels who complained,
"How can this man save us?" And they
scorned him and refused to bring him gifts. But
Saul ignored them. 1 SAMUEL 10:26-27
Some people in your circle of influence are draining
your organization of its vitality.
They are wasting your time and casting doubt on
They are scoundrels and complainers who constantly
question your motives and hamper your
ability to lead.
Here's some good news: You have God's permission
to ignore them.
At this point in his life, Saul was walking with
God. He had a group of godly advisors as he began
his reign as Israel's first king.
There is no evidence that God was upset with Saul
for ignoring the people who scorned him and refused
to honor his leadership. Paying attention to such
people eventually caused him a lot of grief.
You know who these people are, so steer clear of
* Not every voice is worth listening to. Don't
let scoundrels waste your time.
Plant Your Crop
Does a farmer always plow and never sow? Is he
forever cultivating the soil and never planting? ISAIAH 28:24
My wife is from a family of farmers in Nebraska. My
father-in-law, Ken, spends a lot of time each spring
working the soil. The fields look great when he's
You could put everything I know about farming
into a very small bucket, but I have figured out one
thing: You have to plant seeds if you expect to harvest
anything in the fall.
If all Ken did was plow the dirt, he'd have some
really great-looking dirt.
Nothing is certain for farmers, but the yield is
related to the amount and quality of the seeds they
Have your harvests been less than you expected
lately? Could you be spending too much time get-
ting things ready? Is it time to put away the plow and
start sowing seeds?
In Isaiah 28:26, the prophet concludes, "The
farmer knows just what to do." I'm sure you do too.
* If you want a harvest, you must put some
good seeds in the ground.
Play It Straight
Even my prophets and priests are like that
They give assurances of peace when there is no
peace. JEREMIAH 8:10-11
I was managing a small business for absentee owners
who had made some unwise financial decisions. Cash
flow had dried up. Sales were on the rise, but we
couldn't meet our obligations.
My bosses wanted me to keep a happy face and lie
about our dire straits as they tried to finagle their way
out of the mess they had created, but I couldn't lie to
I called them together and laid it out in plain English.
Paychecks might be late. Benefits such as coffee
and free sodas were over. It wasn't pretty.
I also told them that we could work hard and pull
off a miracle despite the albatross around our necks.
And they agreed.
Since I was up-front with them and didn't give
"assurances of peace when there [was] no peace," the
staff was willing to go the extra miles needed to get
the business back on track-and we did it.
* Always give it to them straight.
Keep Moving Forward
Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the
Red Sea. EXODUS 15:22
Here's a sad paradox:
Success breeds failure.
The company had enjoyed a few years of stellar
growth. An aggressive public relations campaign had
positioned them as their industry's dominant player.
To cut costs, the executive team decided to scale
back and allow the firm's reputation to speak for itself.
Within two years, the company was the subject of
some very damaging rumors about their motives for
a controversial new product line. Longtime customers
were leaving, staff morale hit rock bottom, and
the company's leaders were forced into crisis communication
The new product was actually quite good, but
an anemic PR effort had left too many unanswered
questions, and negative perceptions had filled the
Moses knew that crossing the Red Sea wasn't an
end in itself, and he quickly directed the people's
attention toward the future.
* Incremental success is not the ultimate
objective. Once you successfully cross the Red
Sea, take a moment to mark the occasion, then
fix your sights on your destination and keep
Ask for What You Need
The leaders of the tribe of Levi came to consult
with Eleazar the priest, Joshua son of Nun, and the
leaders of the other tribes of Israel. They came to
them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan and said, "The
LORD commanded Moses to give us towns to live in
and pasturelands for our livestock." JOSHUA 21:1-2
I was mentoring a bright young man in his first
organizational-leadership role. He became frustrated
when his board of directors allocated staff increases
to every department but his.
I asked what the board had said when he requested
the increase. He said, "I never actually asked. I just figured
they knew how important this was. I mean, they're
always talking about how much we need to grow."
It was common knowledge that the Levites would
be given property within each of the other tribes'
regional land grants.
Joshua, the Levites, and all the people knew this,
but the Levites didn't just assume that Joshua would
do what was right. They made their request.
My student had committed a common leadership
error: He presumed and was not proactive with
his requests. The board had committed to a growth
strategy that included his department, but he had not
* Never presume. Always ask.
Trust God's Plan
Let us not become conceited, or provoke one
another, or be jealous of one another.GALATIANS 5:26
Why do we cheer for the underdogs?
They struggle to reach the next rung on the ladder
and constantly feel the pressure of being a step
behind. These perennial holders of honorable-mention
trophies have chronic jealousy over other
It is easy to criticize those who brag about their
accomplishments. We frown on bullies who inflame
unhealthy situations, but we tend to condone feelings
of jealousy because we have an intrinsic desire
to see the underdog come out on top.
Paul ties these three traits together because God
has uniquely created each of us for a specific purpose.
If everything you have comes from God, you have no
right to be conceited, no warrant for being a bully,
and no reason to crave what you don't have.
* Do your best for God, and be satisfied that
he has a plan chosen especially for you, even if
you're an underdog.