Monthly Archives: August 2015

The Best Business Book

What’s your business library look like? How many books on leadership, business development, culture, strategic planning or other topics do you have on your shelves or on your electronic devices? I’m an avid reader and have over 100, mostly on bookshelves. There is one book that everyone, especially business owners, should be reading on a daily basis and that’s the Bible. When I had the opportunity in 2001 to become a business owner for the first time I bought a copy of Larry Burkett’s “Business by the Book”. Burkett wrote twenty one chapters on how to apply Biblical principles to running a business. It had a significant impact on how I ran my business and I continue to recommend it to business owners as a must read.

In addition to reading Burkett’s book though, you should go to his source material, the Bible. Why should business owners read the Bible? God uses the words of Paul to tell us one reason in 2nd Timothy, chapter 3, verses 16 and 17: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” It is filled with leadership examples, both good and bad versions. Did you know that the first example of delegation was described in Exodus chapter 18 when Jethro gave Moses instructions on how to select capable leaders from among the Israelites to assist Moses in resolving common disputes?  The book of Proverbs of course is commonly known to contain much wisdom, being written primarily by Solomon. Here are a few verses from chapter one, speaking to its purpose (verse 2 through 4):

“Their purpose is to teach people wisdom and discipline, to help them understand the insights of the wise. Their purpose is to teach people to live disciplined and successful lives, to help them do what is right, just, and fair. These proverbs will give insight to the simple, knowledge and discernment to the young.”

Solomon reminds us in Ecclesiastes 1:9-10, “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.  Sometimes people say, “Here is something new!” But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new.” How much of the material in current business books is truly new information? The book of Psalms can be inspiring, both when you are at a high and when you are at a low.

In the Gospels Jesus teaches us how to interact with people and how to be a servant leader. Everyone knows the Golden Rule right? “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.” (Matthew 7:12). Isn’t that the basis of all excellent customer service?

The best approach is to read the Bible start to finish at least once and continue to read Bible passages on a daily basis. You will gain a lot of wisdom and understanding, applicable in business and life. The Old Testament tells the story of God’s creation and relationship with mankind and contains the creation of the universe, the history of the patriarchs, the exodus from Egypt, the formation of Israel as a nation, the subsequent decline and fall of the nation, the Prophets (who spoke for God), and the Wisdom Books. The New Testament (the name refers to the new covenant between God and humanity through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ) chronicles the life and ministry of Jesus, the growth and impact of the early church, and instructive letters to Christ followers and finishes with the end of the story, that all who have not turned away will live with God and Jesus in a new heaven on a new earth.

R.C. Sproul provides a good reading plan for those who want an overview but aren’t quite ready to read the whole Bible. Here is his list and you can read his article here: http://www.ligonier.org/blog/get-basic-overview-bible/. I would add the book of Revelation to his list.

The Old Testament overview:

  • Genesis (the history of Creation, the fall, and God’s covenantal dealings with the patriarchs)
  • Exodus (the history of Israel’s liberation and formation as a nation)
  • Joshua (the history of the military conquest of the Promised Land)
  • Judges (Israel’s transition from a tribal federation to a monarchy)
  • 1 Samuel (Israel’s emerging monarchy under Saul and David)
  • 2 Samuel (David’s reign)
  • 1 Kings (Solomon and the divided kingdom)
  • 2 Kings (the fall of Israel)
  • Ezra (the Israelites’ return from exile)
  • Nehemiah (the restoration of Jerusalem)
  • Amos and Hosea (examples of minor prophets)
  • Jeremiah (an example of a major prophet)
  • Ecclesiastes (Wisdom Literature)
  • Psalms and Proverbs (Hebrew poetry)

The New Testament overview:

  • The Gospel of Luke (the life of Jesus)
  • Acts (the early church)
  • Ephesians (an introduction to the teaching of Paul)
  • 1 Corinthians (life in the church)
  • 1 Peter (an introduction to Peter)
  • 1 Timothy (an introduction to the Pastoral Epistles)
  • Hebrews (Christology)
  • Romans (Paul’s theology)

The New Zealand Bible Society has a great 13 minute video that provides a big picture overview of the Bible: http://www.biblesociety.org.nz/get-resources/for-churches/for-youth-leaders/the-big-pic-for-churches.

Twenty years ago as a new Christ follower I bought an NIV Study Bible and did my reading using it. In the last few years I have come to use the Bible app from YouVersion (www.bible.com) on my phone and iPad for my daily reading. There are numerous reading plans available on that platform, including topical, devotional, partial and whole Bible plans. If you prefer audio to reading, you can also listen to the Bible using the YouVersion apps.

Grow yourself as a leader, invest some time every day, morning or evening, in reading the best business book available and see the benefits lived out in your life, relationships and business.

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Are You a Christian in a Religion or a Relationship?

I usually try to avoid describing myself as a Christian, instead using the term Christ follower. Why the attempt to differentiate? Because the terms Christian and religion have such a broad application that they don’t truly represent what I have come to learn about God, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and our personal relationship with each element of this Trinity.

Merriam-Webster gives three definitions for the word “religion”:

  1. the belief in a god or in a group of gods
  2. an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a god or a group of gods
  3. an interest, a belief, or an activity that is very important to a person or group

This is what the public generally thinks of us who identify ourselves as Christians. Their view of us tends to be around their perception of the rules and ceremonies. The multitude of Christian denominations has not helped clarify this perception either, especially with some seemingly focused on the rules and ceremonies instead of Bible teaching.

These definitions don’t come very close to describing the true nature of a Christ follower. What does Merriam-Webster say about “Christian”? “A person who believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ”. That is certainly a true statement in a broad sense, but leaves out many elements of the relationship between a Christ follower and Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit. The key elements beyond believing in the teachings of Jesus are the commitments that Jesus is my Savior and my Lord. Savior means that Jesus is the only way to be with God in Heaven after we die. Lord means that we are in continual submission to Jesus everyday of our lives. My relationship with God is that He is my Father. The Holy Spirit is my guide and advocate, helping me to make wise choices and helping me communicate with a God who is truly beyond full understanding.

So what does it look like to be in a relationship instead of a religion? It starts with purposefully spending time in the relationship. The communication elements of a spiritual relationship include reading the Bible, which is how God talks to us (revealing who He is and His plan for humanity, as well as how we should conduct ourselves), praying, which is how we talk to God (with the help of the Holy Spirit when we don’t have the words) and worship, both alone and together with other Christ followers. Submission happens when what I want contradicts what Jesus wants for me and from me.

These are daily elements of the relationship, not once a week for an hour or two on Sunday morning. They should be elements you are participating in throughout your day. In addition to my daily habits of Bible reading and prayer in the morning I regularly get wisdom and guidance from online Bibles and prayers when confronted with a decision or request for help or advice from someone. With the easy access to Christian radio and podcasts I am able to worship in my car and at home, as well as listen to Bible teaching from a number of qualified pastors. Sundays I am able to worship with other Christ followers at Bible teaching churches in my town or other towns when traveling. Every choice and decision, including business ones, that I make is rooted in these elements of this relationship I began 20 years ago.

How about you? Are you in a relationship with Jesus, reflected by your daily choices and activities? Or, are you in a religion, practicing ceremonies without a true understanding of what they mean? Are you participating in a religious ceremony on Sunday morning, then leaving every other aspect of following Christ at the door as you leave? Read Matthew chapters 24 and 25 and think about your life and your relationship with Jesus Christ, Savior and Lord.

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