One Leader with God

 (Originally written August, 2003)

Can one person really make a difference? Is only one leader able to change an entire city or nation? I believe that the Bible tells us that this is possible. Our powerful heavenly Father can do anything, but normally He chooses to do it through people. On a recent trip to Europe, I met such a leader.

“Joe” had a heart for God at an early age. While he was still in his twenties, he looked around his country and saw that the churches were empty and that the pulpits were weak. So he met with other young leaders and decided to take a group of pastors to the U.S. to meet with great men of God. A friend helped with some contacts. When Joe called a famous pastor for an interview, he would have never been allowed in the door, but when he explained that he had a group of forty pastors who wanted to learn, the doors flew open.   Halverson, Hybels, Young, Schuller, Warren, and others have met with the groups over the years. After a ten day trip, the pastors would return to their pulpits with fire in their sermons.

Joe kept taking such groups for over twenty-five years. Soon he decided it was necessary to start a magazine to encourage the pastors. Then Joe helped start a Christian television station for his country. Joe did all of this and more while continuing to run his business and start several others. A few years ago, Joe’s company received the quality award as the best in his country. This has given him many opportunities to share spiritual principals with other business leaders. Joe felt that God was moving in the workplace so he helped start an organization for Christian business leaders in his nation. He reads hundreds of books during his “spare time” and writes one or two books a year for church leaders and business leaders.

With all of the progress that has been made in the churches, Joe believes that the greatest opportunity to impact his nation for Christ is in the workplace and particularly through business owners and leaders. He wants to give the major part of the rest of his life to impacting leaders in the marketplace.  Our ministry is constantly learning from Joe and sharing with Joe things that we have learned on our journey. Joe represents one business owner and just one leader in the global movement of God, but he probably has had as much of a spiritual impact as any religious leader in his nation. One leader with God has no limit on what can be done to influence a company, a city, or even an entire nation.

Will you join me in asking God to continue to give the global workplace movement more women and men who are leaders with a heart for God just like Joe?  You may know “Joe” by his real name, Jorg Knoblauch of Germany. He is looking for partners to join him in impacting nations and workplaces around the world. With a few leaders like “Joe”, God will transform your marketplace.

Watching God at Work,

Kent Humphreys

“No longer shall your name be called Abram, But your name shall be Abraham; For I have made you the father of a multitude of nations.”   Genesis 17:5 (NASU)

 

Successful at What?

(Originally written November 1993)

Every one of us will be a “success” at something. Some of the more talented will be “successful” in several areas over a lifetime. Normally we will achieve whatever our goal is, if we are willing to trade our life for it. Normally we will achieve whatever our goal is, if we are willing to trade our life for it. For what goal are you giving your life? Are you exchanging your precious life for “good times” (pleasures that only last a moment), for “nice things” (which are exposed to rust, decay, and thieves), for power and prestige (which may only last for a very “short” time), or for something more lasting? Why is it so easy for me to give all my energies for a business “deal” which may only last a few months, for a bank account which evaporates overnight, for a building or an organization which may not be around for ten years much less the next generation, for an activity which only lasts for a few hours or at most a weekend? Do we step on, step over, step around the very people that love us the most? Don’t we realize that the human soul will live for eternity?

Why does the following quote bother us as busy fathers? “Not every successful man is a father – but every good father is a successful man”. We could survey the people who have become our role models, who have survived life and gained our respect. They would probably tell us about a Mom who held them every night and was always there when they were afraid, excited, uncertain, or just needed someone to listen to them. Or which of us does not have a special friend who seems to always show up and be there at the crucial times of life?

Yes, our world does not need another outstanding busy successful celebrity, politician, athlete, business person, educator, or scientist. What our world yearns for are those unique “unknown”, unassuming, and quietly capable mothers, fathers, and friends who are daily giving their lives in loving service for those around them. If I must give my life in exchange for something, let it be something that will last. Let me be a loving father, husband, and friend. That sounds like “success” to me.

Changing my focus,

Kent

The Worth of the Individual

 (Originally written January, 1995)

For what are you exchanging your life? If it is not for people, then you are paying too high a price. When we give ourselves to invest in other people, then we are investing for eternity, but if we give our lives for an organization, a job, an institution, a cause, or a program, then we are only focusing on the temporal. I have always loved my job, my church, and many fine organizations with which I have served. But, when I put the success of the cause or activity above people, then I am misguided.

We must work so that we can eat, but we must not give ourselves only for that job, that paycheck, or that bonus. If we give our lives sacrificially for a co-worker, a person working with a customer, or another who works with a vendor, then we are exchanging our life for people. Always put people first, and the profits will usually take care of themselves. Others may say that they won’t give themselves just for a job, but they sacrifice for a church or a charitable institution. Their focus may even be a school, a ball team, or a political cause. Whatever our focus is on, if it is not on people, then the results will eventually fade away.

Governments, companies, educational institutions, and even religious organizations will all eventually end. But the experiences that we have with the people in those organizations will live forever. Therefore, although I greatly enjoy the business world, my church involvement, my community concerns and my own personal activities, I should never put these worthy causes above people. My wife, Davidene, has always had a much better focus in this area than I. She will always put the individuals need above a scheduled meeting or activity. Her choice is already made, while I wonder about my previous commitment or what people will think.

So, choose to invest eternally. We as business leaders are always trying to focus on the important instead of the urgent.  That is a huge daily challenge.  But, the eternal is even more of a priority than the most profitable business deal.  Spend time and focus your energies on that spouse, parent, child, grandchild, brother, or sister. Make that phone call or plan that meal together. Pay attention to that co-worker, friend, widow, or young child that lacks attention. Don’t put all your eggs in the one basket of an institution-even a good one-but spread your life and your attention to people around you.

There are many examples of heroes who have given their lives in service for others—Mother Teresa, a favorite teacher, that neighbor who is always serving everyone else, or that co-worker who always has a smile and a listening ear. The greatest example of all was the Son of God. Jesus Christ came not to establish a Kingdom on earth or to build a religious institution, but He came to sacrifice His life for you and me. He knew that the only things that last for eternity are the souls of people, the word of God, and God Himself. He knew the worth of the individual, do you?

Focusing on People,

Kent Humphreys

 

Success II

(Originally written, May 1992)

I would like to share with you the Seven Secrets to Business Success that were presented to our sales force at our Spring meeting in Dallas.

1)       Successful people overcome the problems of life.

“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that on has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” – Booker T. Washington

2)       Successful people persevere no matter how long it takes.

“In most things success depends on knowing how long it takes to succeed.” – Montesquieu

“Success is not a matter of desire, but a product of hard work.” – Barringer

3)       Successful people are people of character.

“To succeed, one must possess an effective combination of ability, ambition, courage, drive, hard work, integrity, and loyalty.” – Harry F. Banks

4)       Successful people believe in themselves.

“You will never succeed if you don’t believe in yourself.” – Boeteker

“Our success or our failure is the result of our mental condition – our thoughts – our attitudes towards people and toward ourselves.” – Custer

“The worst bankrupt man in the world is the man who lost his enthusiasm.” – Arnold

5)       Successful people believe in and work well with their teammates.

“Choose a career you love…give it the best there is in you…seize your opportunities…and be a member of the team.” – Fairless

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
– Henry Ford

6)       Successful people believe in and enjoy what they are doing.

“To find a career to which you are adapted by nature, and then to work hard at it, is about as near to a formula for success and happiness as the world provides.” – Sullivan

“No student ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him; it is the amount of excellence of what is over and above the required, that determines the greatness of the ultimate distinction.” – Adams

7)       Successful people continue to succeed!

“Success is a ruthless competitor…we lose the spirit of humility.” – Tilden

“The toughest thing about success is that you’ve got to keep on being a success.” – Irving Berlin

Success is not found primarily in the position you hold, the possessions you obtain, or the prestige you are granted…rather, success is the person you are.

In conclusion, it should be noted that true success is not just professional, financial, social, religious, or even family success. We must look at the Spiritual side of life.

The Bible warns that Spiritual Success is not accumulation, acclaim, or appeased appetites. Success is a journey, not a destination…a process, not a product. Spiritual Success is knowing God’s Word, Worshipping God, and Walking with God in His perfect Will for our lives. The ultimate Spiritual Success is becoming mature, being conformed to the image of God. May you seek the right kind of success.

Enjoy the Journey,

Kent

Success

(Originally written, April 1992)

This week I’m preparing a talk on “Success” for a business and professional group in Denver. Hopefully, I’ll also share my research with our sales force during our April meeting in Dallas. I took some thoughts from famous successful people and have matched them up with the real life experiences of my favorite Bible characters.

  • “An executive cannot gradually dismiss details. Success is the sum of detail. It might perhaps be pleasing to imagine oneself beyond detail and engaged only in great things, but as I have often observed if one attends only to great things and lets the little things pass the great things become little; that is, the business shrinks. No business can be called safe until it has been forced to learn economy and rigidly to measure values of men and materials.” – Harvey S. Firestone

Nehemiah built the wall under tremendous opposition while calculating every detail.

  • “The first law of success in this day, when so many things are clamoring for attention, is concentration – to bend all the energies to one point, and to go directly to that point, looking neither to the right nor to the left.” – William Matthews

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal.” – Paul

  • “Men who have attained things worth having in this world have worked while other idled, have persevered when others gave up in despair, have practiced early in life the valuable habits of self-denial, industry, and singleness of purpose. As a result, they enjoy in later life the success so often erroneously attributed to good luck.” – Grenville Kleiser

Daniel and his three friends were taken into captivity in Babylon at about 14 years of age. They denied themselves the luxuries of royalty, remained focused, and history records that 70 years later Daniel was serving as Vice President under his fourth King while still in the foreign land.

  • “There isn’t much thrill in success unless one has first been close to failure.” – William Feather

Success is never final and failure never fatal. It’s courage that counts.” – George F. Tilton

All of us can identify with Peter who after proclaiming his loyalty to Jesus denied Him three times. Yet, we find Peter preaching his sermon in power to 3000 people having triumphed over his earlier failure. The immature impetuous fisherman became the leader of the early church.

  • “No pleasure philosophy, no sensuality, no place nor power, no material success can for a moment live such inner satisfaction as the sense of living for good purposes, for maintenance of integrity, for the preservation of self-approval.” – Minot Simons

Joseph rejected the sensual offering of Potiphar’s wife and his integrity was rewarded as he ruled as the number two man in Egypt during the famine.

  • “Vacillating people seldom succeed. Successful men and women are very careful in reaching decisions and very persistent and determined in action thereafter.” – L.G. Elliott

James writes “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature…because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea blown and tossed by the wind…a double minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

  • “Possessions, outward success, publicity, luxury…to me these have always been contemptible. I believe that simply and unassuming manner of life is best for everyone, best both for the body and the mind.” – Albert Einstein

Proverbs – “Give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread, otherwise I have too much and disown you…or become poor and steal.”

  • “The vital force in business life is the honest desire to serve. Business, it is said, is the science of service. He profits most who serves best. At the very bottom of the wish to render service must be honesty of purpose, and as I go along through life, I see more and more that honesty in words, thought, and work means success. It spells a life worth living and in business, clean success.”
    – George Eberhard

Jesus – “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant.”

  • “Success consists of being and doing, not simply accumulating.” – B.C. Forbes

Jesus – “For what good is it if a man gains the whole world but loses his own self?”

Finally a favorite definition of success can be found on my son’s bedroom wall:

  • “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you lived. This is to have succeeded.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Next month I’ll share a couple more quotes along with my conclusions on Success.

Seeking to Serve Successfully,

Kent

Fall

(Originally written, September 1991)

What comes to your mind when you think of “fall”? For many of us we don’t want to see the fun and warmth of summer going away. Fall is a time of changing colors, falling leaves, crisp cool mornings, warm afternoons, and earlier evenings. Fall brings football, classes, sweaters, fireplaces, preparation for the holidays, and the knowledge that winter with its cold weather and special activities is right around the corner.

But isn’t fall a lot more than this? Fall brings us to the reality of the seasons of the year and better yet, the seasons of life. Fall even more than January is a time of new beginnings in schedule, work, education, and stability. All of us love the excitement of summer, but the “things” and “activities” what we plant in our lives in the fall determine our futures. Our company has always had an October 21st yearend. It is a time of inventory, analysis, meetings, and harvest. We thank God for the trials and blessings of the last year and begin to work on the next.

Springtime presents us with new life, sunshine, fresh outdoor air, and hope after a long winter. Summer allows us to work, play, travel, and enjoy life to the fullest. Winter would be much longer without the fireplaces, family, holidays, and OU basketball. But I’ll take Fall! As an organized person I can try to reschedule my life again. I can reprioritize my life. I enjoy the gentle rains and the new routines. My life seems to gain balance, stability, and purpose. The energy of Springtime and the exhaustion of Summer are set aside for the reflection of the Fall. It prepares for the Winter ahead.

Your children are in their Springtime, and many of you in your 20’s, 30’s, and early 40’s are in the prime of Summertime of life. But at 45 years old, I’ll take the Autumn season of life and enjoy it to the fullest. Because one day all of us will face the harsh realities of Winter. So whether we talk of the seasons of the year, or the seasons of life, let’s not overlook perhaps the best season of them all!

Enjoy the reflection of this Fall!

Solving Our Problems

(Originally written, April 1994)

As we entered the auditorium the crowd was eagerly awaiting the famous American. Because of the kindness of our bank, Davidene and I were able to sit on the third row of a full house. I guess that I was just curious to see and hear the guy who had made all the T.V. commercials. Was he simply rich and powerful, or did he really have something significant to say? It took two educators and two politicians just to introduce him; then Lee Iacocca took the podium. Seldom do we have the opportunity to see dynamic personalities up close. Some special memories for me are entertainer Wayne Newton, golfer Jack Nicklaus, comedian Bill Cosby, and song writers Bill and Gloria Gaither. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to meet Mr. Iacocca, it reminded me of previous meetings with such magnetic personalities as General Norman Schwarzkopf, retailer Sam Walton, evangelist Billy Graham and Watergate’s reformer Chuck Colson. As Mr. Iacocca began to speak, I quickly started to take notes.

He talked about solving our problems in government and business. We were informed that politicians don’t solve problems, they just “manage” them and try to keep them from becoming a lot worse. We are successfully handing them over our kids to deal with in the next century. The problems of the federal debt (multiplying five times in fifteen years), the $60 billion annual trade deficit with Japan, our energy dependence (his solution is a 50 cent / gallon gasoline tax), declining education (he supports choice), gun control, and health care (someone has to pay for the uncovered 20%) are not being solved but worsening.

Iacocca stated that Clinton is right about our need to create new jobs. But 85% of new jobs are created by small business which is being hit with increased payroll taxes, workmen’s compensation claims, OSHA requirements, training costs, legal fees, and health care costs. In addition, in 1994 small business is being asked to pay the largest tax increase in decades, so it is not adding jobs, but using temporaries. In order to solve our problems we must undergo pain. We as a nation are not willing to do that, so we are passing the pain on to our children.

Chrysler was able to pay back their government guaranteed loan early. But their first repayment of $1.2 billion was delayed 60 days because the government had no provision to receive the money; they were not used to being repaid! Chrysler solved their problems by firing 11,000 people, getting lean, communicating and breaking down walls, establishing true vendor partnerships, and empowering their people. He encourages talking out problems “face to face”, and in one span, he held 200 town meetings. Iacocca encourages young adults today to work hard, be a team player, find a mentor, and “never give up”. He attributes his cusses to persistence, never dwelling on the failures, but continuing to push ahead and solve the problem.

I left the Civic Center with a great respect for Lee Iacocca. His wisdom, insights, courage, and drive were challenges to me. I’m greatly concerned with him about our country and the difficult business environment. But I was encouraged to persist and solve each day’s problems, so that we can face tomorrow. The greatest problem solver that ever lived was Jesus Christ. He solved a problem bigger than business, government, and world economics. It is the problem of the human heart. The real answer to our problems of crime, education, drugs, international strife, credit, and deteriorating families lies in Him alone. He has faced our problems, and accepted the pain that they have caused. Will we as a nation and as individuals face up to reality? The decision is ours.

Seeking the Solution,

Kent