The Next Faithful Step

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Eagles Leadership Conference 
Singapore (2013) 
Scott Cormode 
leadership.fuller.edu/eagles


I. Introduction
   A. Seminary Professor: Fuller Theological Seminary (quote Bible)
   B. Business School Professor: Peter Drucker School of Management (quote Harvard Business Review)
   C. Conference is composed of 60% Business leaders; 40% pastors – something today for each one

II. Story: Michael Yuen (35 years old; already an elected elder in his church)
   A. Store Manager of Long’s Drug Store: large store with many departments
      His store is located next to a large retirement community (hundreds of people)
   B. Michael sees his job as a calling from God
         1. Serves elderly people
         2. Teaches 19 year olds how to be responsible (work hard; care for others; show up on time)
         3. Embodies compassion and integrity
         4. Praised by his superiors and promoted to bigger and bigger stores
   C. Company expanded too quickly; has to cut costs in order to satisfy Wall Street
         1. Eliminate Assistant Manager and four department managers
            (Michael is now doing the work of five other people)
         2. Eliminate benefits and cut employee hours
            (company hopes experienced (and expensive) employees will quit)
   D. Dilemma: how can Michael work for a company that no longer has compassion or integrity?
   E. Michael visits his pastor to ask what he should do
         1. Pastor tells him that to keep his integrity he must leave his job
         2. Pastor recommends that Michael become a minister
   F. Problem: The business world was not designed to be Christian;
            so how does a believer act like a Christian in the business world?
   G. Goal: Show how Michael could have stayed in his job and kept his integrity – indeed, how he could have kept his job and represented Jesus in the world

III. Typical Ways to deal with the Problem (Neither of these work)
   A. Pastors tend to tell people to ESCAPE e.g. “quit your job and become a minister”
         1. They believe that the business world taints Christians
         2. This is bad theology
         3. Martin Luther (500 years ago)
               a. In the Middle Ages, holy people joined monasteries to escape the world
               b. Reformation: God works through people when they work in the world
                          • You are called to love your neighbor, wherever God plants you
                          - behind a desk, on a farm, cooking a meal, selling insurance
   B. Business leaders tend of COMPARTMENTALIZE
         1. Tend to say there are different rules for different parts of life
               at work, follow the rules of business
               at church, follow the rules of the Bible
               at home, follow the obligations of the family
         2. This too fails;
               a. it is bad business and it is bad theology (we will explain more in a moment)
         3. But you know this will not work; that is why you are here today
   C. Plan:
         1. Three Insights from Management (sound like a Business School Professor)
         2. Three Insights from the Bible (sound like a Seminary Professor)
         3. At the end, return to Michael’s example
               a. Lessons for Pastors
               b. Lessons for Business Leaders
IV. Insights
   A. Biblical Insight #1: Work is both a blessing and a curse
         1. Genesis 2: Work as Blessing (God gave man work to do as a way of blessing the world)
         2. Genesis 3: Work as Curse (God cursed man to labor by the “sweat of his brow”)
         3. ESCAPE: Work is only a curse COMPARMENTALIZATION: Work is only a blessing
   B. Biblical Insight #2: We are God’s Ambassadors in the world
         1. Second Corinthians 5: God was in the world “reconciling the world to Himself in Jesus Christ and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation. We are therefore God’s ambassadors, as if God Himself were making his appeal through us.”
         2. Ambassadors live between two worlds
                     They represent one kingdom while living in the midst of another
         3. Examples: Apostle Paul living in Roman society; Abraham: “blessed to be a blessing”
         4. You and I live between two worlds: between God’s Kingdom and this world we see around us
                a. What is wrong with ESCAPE? Pretend we only live in God’s world
                b. What is wrong with COMPARTMENTALIZATION? We pretend we do not represent God

   C. Management Insight #1: Mixed Messages create chaos and prevent learning (Chris Argyris) (see Article 1 and Article 2)
         1. Mixed messages happen when we believe we cannot tell the whole truth
                      e.g. “You did a good job; and I am overruling you.”
                a. We do this to preserve someone’s dignity; and so we we don’t want to have to explain ourselves
                b. Say one thing to someone’s face; practice something else behind their back
                c. Assume people cannot hear truth without embarrassment or conflict (no conflict; no honesty)
         2. Argyris has shown that this is bad management practice
                     cf. “Good Communication that Blocks Learning” Harvard Business Review (July 1994)
         3. Solution: Make the situation discussable
                             Discussable: open for honest conversation
                             e.g. “I am over-ruling you; I think you are right because I have to make the client happy”

   D. Management Insight #2: Make Public Promises (Max De Pree -- the CEO of Herman Miller)
         1. A factory worker named Valerie came with a petition
         2. A company VP fired a manager without following company procedures
         3. Most presidents think it is important to preserve the authority of the VP (even if VP wrong)
         4. Max said it is more important for the company to keep its promises
         5. The best leaders make public promises and invite their people to hold them to those promises.

   E. Management Insight #3: What has been “entrusted to your care”? (De Pree and Peter Drucker)
        1. Drucker Questions: Who is your customer? And what does he consider value?
        2. De Pree Question: What has been entrusted to your care?
               a. A CEO named Uli Chi (owns a software company)
               b. Entrusted with People, Mission (Products), and Values
        3. I no longer talk about employees, clients, and direct reports: People entrusted to my care
   F. Biblical Insight #3: Psalm 139 as Model
        1. Famous Psalm: “You have searched me and know me..Search me O God and know my heart.”
        2. Most important line usually left out: “Oh that you would slay the wicked, Oh Lord”
        3. Psalm of Lament (even Jesus on the Cross used the lament of Psalm 22)
                a. Cry out in anger to God about the evil, selfishness, and pain in the world
                b. God can handle your honesty, even and especially when you are angry with God
        4. Make it discussable (God knew it would be hard for us; so God gave us models in the Bible)
                a. We live between a blessing and a curse: God help me
                b. It is hard to be an ambassador: God help me

V. Michael Yuen: God’s Ambassador (click here for more)
                Lament: cry out to God about the problem; help his workers express their anger
                Discussable: talk about it with the workers entrusted his care; and with his regional manager
                Public Promises: Proclaim Compassion & Integrity; and invite workers to hold him to it

VI. Lessons
      A. For Pastors: Listen; Teach about Lament; Prepare people to be Ambassadors
      B. For Business Leaders: Don’t COMPARTMENTALIZE;
                 Instead: love your neighbor wherever God plants you
                         make public promises (without mixed messages)
                         See workers, clients, and even shareholder value as “entrusted to your care”
                 And cry out to God in anger when it is difficult (God can handle your honesty)

 

Key Terms to help the Translators

COMPARTMENTALIZE your life: This means to separate different parts of your life as if they were each in separate boxes or compartments. Each part has its own rules. This means particularly that a person’s faith is separated from that person’s work. So a person might be a kind and loving person at church and a mean and unfair boss at work --- and because that person has separated his life into boxes or compartments, he does not see a contradiction between being kind at church and mean at work.

Mixed Message: this is a message that contains two parts, with the two parts contradicting themselves. If I say, “I enjoy spending time with you but I don’t want to see you anymore” or “You did a good job; and I am going to overrule you” or “I agree with you; but you are wrong”

Discussable: Topics that people are allowed to discuss are called discussable. And topics that people are not allowed to discuss are called undiscussable. In my talk, I will say that the only way that people can get away with sending a mixed message is by making it undiscussable to talk about the ways that the message contradicts itself.

Lament: A term in the Bible to describe when someone cries out to God. It is considered a “righteous complaint” because attached to it is a statement of trust in God. It can be contrasted with the biblical term “grumbling,” which is an “unrighteous complaint” because it implies distrust. For example, there are many Psalms of Lament that cry out to God and include statements of trust. But when the Hebrew people were fleeing from Egypt they “grumbled against God” and were punished with forty years of wandering in the wilderness. That grumbling did not include a statement of trust.