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

Tear Down this Wall: A Note for Pastors and Laity

 (Originally published in the Lausanne World Pulse monthly newsletter,  April, 2010)

 
Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan stood at the wall in Eastern Europe in June 1987. Following are excerpts from that historic speech:

Behind me stands a wall…a barrier that divides the entire continent of Europe. … armed guards and checkpoints… This scar of a wall …There is one sign that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity… if you seek liberalization: Come here to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!

The 12-foot concrete wall extended for one hundred miles and stood as a stark symbol of the decades-old Cold War. Two years later, East Germans issued a decree for the wall to be opened. Families that had been separated for decades were finally reunited.

When I attended Lausanne II in Manila in 1989, my friend, Lee Yih, delivered his memorable “Frogs and Lizards” speech. In it, he compared the ministry of the clergy to frogs, whose food comes to them. He continued by comparing the ministry of the laity to lizards, who go hunting in the nooks and crevices of their world to find their food. It grabbed the imaginations of the attendees, many of whom realized for the first time the significance of the differences between the two groups, and the importance of each.

I again thought of walls, and prayed that the wall of misperception and misunderstanding that existed between the “professional minister” and the “ordinary believer” would finally begin to come down.

This wall was erected within a few hundred years of Christ’s ascension, and still affects us today. Lausanne is about the “whole Church” presenting the whole gospel to the whole world, but the “whole Church” does not feel the primary responsibility to accomplish this. Although there has been progress made over the last twenty years, there is still much to be done. The workplace movement of the late 1990s and this present decade has caused the creation of hundreds of workplace organizations around the world.

During a recent trip to China to visit with pastors and workplace leaders, I saw many of these forming in the major cities. In China, key pastors are helping lead the efforts. But can we identify the restraints that are holding back progress that the Holy Spirit wants to see in us as we come together to minister? Since I have been a business leader involved in this issue for over thirty years, and have led both a parachurch ministry and several businesses, I feel qualified to address some of the issues.

Please understand that a small minority (perhaps one to five percent of the “professional vocational ministers”) do understand the problem and are modeling the biblical paradigm. Another fifteen to twenty percent may think they understand (and may even preach it), but they do not model it. I am convinced that a full eighty percent of “ordinary” believers do not understand their calling as full-time ambassadors of Christ.

Obstacles for Pastors and Christian Leaders
Let us first address some of the reasons why pastors and leaders of Christian groups are hesitant to build bridges and let the walls come down.

  • They believe in the “priesthood of every believer,” but have not seen a biblical model of it.
  • They do not see the wall they have created that separates the “professional” and the “ordinary” believer.
  • They have confused teaching with equipping and modeling.
  • They have elevated programs and buildings over relationships, and growing their local church over building God’s kingdom.
  • They have allowed walls to exist so that they will not have to be vulnerable to a small group or other individuals.
  • They hate to give up control and are intimidated by strong lay leaders.
  • They do not understand the difference between leading followers and equipping leaders.
  • They enjoy the platform and attention of the crowds.
  • They have elevated the teaching of the mind over the changing of the heart.
  • They are afraid of partnerships with other churches, other denominations, and even other strong leaders in their own churches.

But these walls would not exist if the “laity” were to exercise their position, go to their pastors, and work together to tear the walls down. However, most “ordinary” believers are quite content to pay and let the “professionals” do the job.

Obstacles for the Laity
Let us now address some of the reasons laity have chosen to let the walls remain.

  • They have little or no idea of the biblical teaching of the “priesthood of every believer.”
  • They think the “professional” has a “special” call, and that they are very ordinary.
  • They have no understanding of the principle of biblical “calling.”
  • They do not understand the biblical model of the equipping ministry of the saints.
  • They do not see their responsibility to be doing the ministry where they live, work, and play.
  • They have bought into the fact that they are to help the pastor and the professional church staff to do their ministry.
  • They would rather pay hired “professionals” to do it than to have to do it themselves.
  • They would rather tell the pastor what to do and have him take care of them, pray for them, preach for them, entertain them, and make them feel good.
  • They like creating heroes and putting pastors on pedestals as celebrities, then they love to take them down when they fall.
  • They do not feel qualified, trained, or gifted.
  • They do not want to be full-time ambassadors for Christ and on call twenty-four hours a day.
  • They want the freedom to do their own thing.
  • They are afraid God might call them to be missionaries to some far-off land.

Suggestions for Pastors in Equipping the Laity
What can a pastor do to break down the walls? Let me share a few suggestions I give in my book, Shepherding Horses.1

  • Instead of trying to build your church or create programs, try to build bridges of long-term relationships and concentrate upon a few at a time. Do not worry about what others will think or about losing your job. Follow the model of Jesus.
  • Seek to understand the issues those in your church are having, particularly in the workplace. Go and visit them in their workplace. In fact, volunteer to be a chaplain in the workplace one day a week. It will change your ministry and how you preach.
  • Affirm each of your people in his or her calling.
  • Equip them to minister where they live, work, and play.
  • Commission them as ministers formally in front of the entire church.
  • Release them to serve God where they are.

Suggestions for Workplace Leaders to Build Bridges with the Pastor
Below are suggestions to help workplace leaders build bridges with their pastor.

  • Invite your pastor out to lunch. It may take months for him to be vulnerable and open up, but take the first step. Share with him a struggle you are facing. Ask him how you can pray for him. Promise total confidentiality.
  • Share with him some of the ways God is using your workplace position to impact others for Christ. Give him real examples and he will be greatly encouraged.
  • Invite him to be a part of your small group of workplace leaders that may meet weekly or monthly. Eighty percent of your pastor’s issues are the same as yours. He is the CEO of a church, a volunteer organization. It has some unique challenges of its own.
  • You and your spouse could take your pastor and spouse out to dinner. Try to keep the conversation on family and hobbies, instead of just church business. The walls will begin to come down.
  • Get together and dream of ways that both of you as leaders can encourage your congregation to get “outside the walls” of the church into the city, nation, and world. Use your unique gifts and learn to work together.

As you begin to build bridges, you will be energized in your work and ministry and the Holy Spirit will bless your efforts. May God give you the courage to make the first small step.

Building Bridges,

Kent Humphreys

1. Humphreys, Kent. 2008. Shepherding Horses: God’s Plan for Transforming Leaders.  Lifestyle Impact Publishing, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Truthfully Communicating – Jacks Value #4

(Originally written March 2005)

Value #4  – “Honest and truthful communication” – We will strive to be genuine, open, and aboveboard in all relationships. We will honestly and accurately report the facts.

Today we are able to instantly communicate across the nation or around the word. We have unlimited choices of what we see and hear. Yet, we seem more interested in fantasy than in reality, in appearance than substance, and in being entertained than being informed. Few of us are interested in seeking the truth, much less in speaking it. While many of us don’t want to lie outright, we constantly bend, stretch, embellish, distort, and twist the truth. It is common to hide poor performance, misrepresent the facts, exaggerate results, and misquote others.

William Bennett in his “Book of Virtues” reminds us of the classics on honesty: Pinocchio’s nose, George Washington’s cherry tree, and Honest Abe. Don’t we realize that sooner or later the facts will come out? People are longing to find someone who is genuine. I want to be remembered as an honest salesman, a truthful employer, leading an authentic firm. We want to train our children to speak the truth whatever it costs in money or position and to stand for the truth regardless of how few stand with us.

I must be perfectly honest with you that all of the above is so easy to proclaim but hard to do. Why do I lack the courage to challenge a co-worker or friend, why do I seek to hide my failures, when they are so obvious anyway, and why am I willing to give up my values to be accepted? The only thing that keeps me pursuing truth is the one man who never lied. Jesus said that He was the truth.

Sadly in 1992 Gallup poll, 69% of the people said they believe there are no moral absolutes. In a Barna poll, 71% of the American people said there was no such thing as absolute truth. Colson concludes, “American society is awash in relativism. The inevitable result is tyranny, drawn into the vacuum of moral chaos. When truth retreats, tyranny advance.”

Our family charitable foundation is named for John 8:32, “and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”. Truth brings freedom, not captivity. The only sources of truth in our world are the person of Jesus Christ and His biography – “The Bible”. In them alone we find the reality of truth and the power to communicate it.

Seeking the Truth,

Kent

Transforming Leaders

(Originally written, April 2004)

Humility (Deuteronomy 8:2)

I have been working as a business leader in the distribution industry for over 30 years.  Currently I am involved in a medical distribution business.  During the last six years, I have also been active in a small manufacturing firm.  For over thirty years our family has used real estate as an investment vehicle.  These businesses are very different but the principles are much the same.  As a follower of Jesus Christ in the marketplace, I am involved in the transformation business.  My personal vision is “transforming the world through Christ…one company leader at a time.”  We are all to be in the transformation business; that is to be our bottom line.  As leaders we must continually focus on leaders.  Transformed leaders change families, companies, institutions, cities, and nations.  They become agents of divine change.  If we help leaders become transformed by the living Christ, then they spark change in the society around them.  This change occurs when God mixes the factors of His Word, His Spirit, His children, and the divine circumstances of daily life.

We understand, of course, that leaders which have not been personally changed by the living God can be change agents for evil.  In I Kings 21 we see King Ahab, Queen Jezebel, and a landowner named Naboth.  Naboth was falsely accused because the “elders and leaders” of the city followed evil leadership and became part of a plot of deception, murder, and stealing.  Throughout history such leaders have lacked integrity and courage, and they are plentiful in our businesses, governments, and cities today.

Deuteronomy 8:2 shares with us four characteristics of the kind of leader for which God is looking.  These characteristics are humility, proven character (tested and tried), a heart for God, and obedience to God’s commands.  Courageous leaders such as Nathan, Elijah, Esther, Daniel, and John the Baptist exhibited these characteristics, as did Moses, Gideon, David, Solomon, Mary, Isaiah, and innumerable others.  God is looking for men and women who will not sell out for money, pleasure, or power.  The world will only be transformed as leaders are changed by the Holy Spirit when they surrender their will to God’s will.

My daily professional life is about leaders…is about companies…is about transformation…is about the power of the risen Christ being shown in and through the leader to those around them.  I have found in my experience that this process cannot take place without the Word of God (solid Biblical teaching), the accountability of peers (small groups), a vital daily relationship with Christ, and a life of prayer and humble dependence upon Him.  Christ is at work in and through us as leaders in order to use each of us as one tool to transform the society.  As Paul writes in Colossians 1:27 “Christ lives in you!”

The mission is fairly simple.  The vision is clear.  The difficulty is in surrendering our will to His will and keeping focused on the objective.  As we seek Him (Matthew 6:33) and delight ourselves in Him (Psalms 37:5), He empowers us to be transformed and see that same transformation in others.  As our peers and younger leaders in our business, industry, community, and nation, see us being transformed through the difficulties of our workplace circumstances, they are drawn to Christ.  Whatever business that we are in is only a tool for God to use in our life to impact our sphere of influence for Him.  By operating our business by biblical principles and by providing excellent service to our customers, we become a unique transformation agent in our marketplace.  I am continuing to be on the look out for that leader that God wants me to encourage to be transformed by Him.  Are we in the transformation business or not?

God Has Moved – An Allegorical Look “Back” at Cape Town 2010

By Kent Humphreys 

(Originally published in January 2009,  Lausanne World Pulse monthly newsletter)

Cape Town, South Africa, 17 October 2010. The first evening of the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization concluded with an astounding revelation: “God has moved!” Church leaders from around the globe reported that over the last twelve months there has been convincing evidence that the Spirit of the living God has moved outside of the walls of local churches and into the workplace.

Noticing the Movement of God
In keeping with the model of his son Jesus while he was on the earth, it appears that God the Father began moving sometime in late 2008 or early 2009 outside of the confines of religious institutions. It took several months to realize that God was moving. For nearly a year many churches continued with their normal activities and services with not much of a drop in attendance. However, by the fall of 2009, it was obvious God had moved his center of operation to where the majority of the lost population was located—in the workplaces of the villages, towns, and cities around the world. Lausanne’s purpose of the whole Church…with the whole gospel…to the whole world was coming alive. The leaders reported that this move of God was similar to the experience of the children of Israel as they traveled in the wilderness. God showed himself as a cloud by day and fire by night.

The leaders admitted they had been so busy in their committees and conferences that they had taken their eyes off of the Lord for just a short time. They certainly meant well in all of their sacrificial efforts, but God had literally placed his presence into the hearts of ordinary believers out in the workplace.

Ramifications of the Movement of God
This move of God has caused church leaders to make drastic renovations of their facilities and programs in order to keep up with what God has been doing. Worship centers have become less like entertainment venues and now look more like staging zones for a large army. While worship has been even more vibrant, the primary focus has shifted away from the large gathering to small group equipping.

As various churches have taken seriously the Great Commission, they have experienced lower attendance. However, since the retooling has been in place and working, churches have begun to see true followers of Jesus flocking to join them.

These changes have been accompanied by times of deep repentance and prayer. Leaders from the marketplace, education, government, the media, and the arts have joined hands with church leaders to concentrate on the lost in their everyday world.

Some pastors have confessed that they had taken their eyes off of their high calling. They have admitted that the pressures to build their churches had been so intense that they had neglected God’s kingdom and had been measuring success by the size of their buildings, budget, and attendance. They had focused on bringing people into their facility instead of sending them out. As this process worked its way into the fabric of many churches, the talented professionals had taken center stage, and the paid staff had grown rapidly. The ordinary Christians in the pew became demanding consumers wanting to be entertained and willing to pay for the professionals to do the work of the ministry.

New Flexibility Results from the Movement of God
Now, in 2010, we are seeing Christian institutions being flexible as never before to change quickly in response to a move of God. Local churches are equipping centers, since the primary focus is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry out where the lost are located in the workplace. Pastors are asking the question, “How may we help YOU in the ministry that God has given YOU where he has sovereignty placed YOU in your workplace?”

These passionate followers of Jesus have been meeting in small groups, in homes, in office complexes, and in factories. They are learning how to recognize the open doors of crises and are building relationships and sharing the good news of the gospel of Christ. Some workplace chaplains are leading more people to Christ than their entire church did last year. Here is a snapshot of what’s happening:

  • Baptisms are taking place in factories in China.
  • Prayer meetings are now allowed in government offices in the United States.
  • Biblically-based seminars are being presented in companies in South Africa.
  • Young believers are leading house churches in Iran.
  • Business leaders in Europe are modeling their values and beliefs in the secular culture.
  • Latin American marketplaces are being transformed by the Holy Spirit as the leaders have chosen to be led by him alone.

Leaders expect this Lausanne Congress to be the most strategic meeting in centuries. The whole Church is focusing outward in kingdom unity, replacing methods with relationships, institutions with community, and human efforts with the transformation of God’s Spirit. It is exciting to report the movement of God instead of the plans of men and women. There is a spirit of expectancy not seen since Jesus Christ walked on this earth. May we say together, “Come, Lord Jesus, and work among us!”

The Devaluing of America

(Originally written, September 1994)

The emotions were running high as we gathered around the conference table to discuss wage scales, production standards, and pay incentives. The meeting was an emotional roller coaster until someone finally said, “I do believe in your value system, and if you apply it in this situation, then I trust you to treat us fairly.” With disagreements, pressures, and a changing marketplace, solutions can only be found after honest and open communication and mutual trust. We may not always understand another’s opinion or actions, but we can arrive at a workable plan if we can trust their heart and motives. For the last twelve months, I have been challenged because I have come to believe that every action that I take as a C.E.O in business must be based on my value system. What I believe should determine my thought patterns, my words, and my actions. If these do not match up, then I’m living a “lie”. If I have no belief or value system, then I become adrift in an unstable society.

Bill Bennett in his book “The Devaluing of America” points to the erosion of traditional values such as work, frugality, sexual restraint, family, community, freedom, and self-control. This reveals a deficit of moral resources far deeper than our more noted budget or trade deficits. Bad music, art, and books eventually degrade a society. Governments can pass laws, but families, churches, schools, and individuals are the primary agents in the development of a people’s moral disposition.

Chuck Colson, the convicted Watergate presidential counsel and founder of the Prison Fellowship Ministry, discussed this value crisis, in a recent radio interview. He shared that when the intermediate structures of the church, the schools, and the community begin to fail they lose their viability. The government becomes more powerful, leaving the individual helpless. This invites tyranny, and the loss of liberty becomes inevitable when fear becomes pervasive as the result of moral chaos. People protect their economic interest to the detriment of their moral and social freedom. Colson says that history points out that, given the choice, people will always choose “order” over liberty and protect their pocketbook before their rights. As a result of our greed as a nation, we are having our religious freedoms restricted, our families are deteriorating, crime is rampant, and public fear is overwhelming.

Where does business fit into this scene? We see the church retreating, families under great pressure, and schools unable to educate our youth after we foolishly removed our values. For those of us who share the belief that life must be lived under a set of unshakable truths and values, we have no choice but to stand courageously in the tough business world and shine our lights upon the mountain of common values. We must live out our beliefs and encourage others to incorporate them into their families, schools, and communities. Next month we’ll look at values in business and in coming months we will examine ten values that we hope will shape the future of our firm.

Looking for Gems of Value

Kent

Leaving a Legacy – Role Models

(Originally written March, 2007)

What are you doing today to leave a legacy for tomorrow?  Marnie and Agnes are business leaders that are answering that question.  They left the Philippines in 1980 and immigrated to the United States.  Landing in San Diego, they eventually moved to Los Angeles.  There they became followers of Jesus Christ.  After a few years they started a business to care for Senior Citizens.  They started with one house with six beds.  A few months later, after it was filled, they opened another one.  Then every year or so they added another house and six more beds.  Eventually they had seven houses and forty two beds.  Finally, these houses were consolidated into a larger sixty bed facility.

During these years of rapid expansion in their business, they were also growing in their spiritual lives.  As new believers they had joined a strong church that taught the Bible; they also joined a Bible Study Fellowship group.  A few years later they began meeting with other business owners in a Christ@ Work group.  Each week they looked at the Bible and their business activities and to see how they lined up.  As they learned that God was the real owner of their business, they begin to look at it differently.  They sought to do business with excellence in serving their clients.  Marnie and Agnes were constantly looking for new ways to serve their employees and business associates.  God continued to teach them what it meant to run a business for Jesus Christ.  Because they ran a good business, it continued to expand.  After nearly twenty years in business, they found themselves running two facilities of over 160 beds.

A couple of years ago their excellent business was noticed by national firms.  Within a few months they received four unsolicited offers for their business.  After months of prayer, counsel, and negotiation, they sold their business in the fall of 2006.  Many couples would have begun to enjoy the “good life” and the fruit of their labor.  I met Marnie at our FCCI Conference last fall shortly after they had sold their firm.  He stated that they wanted to become active Legacy Leaders and give these years to mentoring other business owners.  They were particularly interested in returning to the Philippines and helping us develop our ministry there, a ministry which we had just opened up weeks before.  I told them that we might be returning to the Philippines early this year to hold some seminars.  They eagerly waited for the opportunity.  Marnie went through our Small Group Leader Training even though he was a veteran of over ten years as a small group attendee.

In the Philippines, Marnie and Agnes gave their testimony at seminars, met with men’s and women’s groups at the local churches, met individually with countless business leaders, and taught the Small Group Leader Training in two cities.  Their experience, training, real life examples, and maturity in their walk with Christ was an encouragement to the team and everyone that they encountered.  Less than six months after they had sold the business, they were half way around the world, traveling at their own expense, impacting numerous business leaders in their native land.  I do not know what was more encouraging, the hunger of the business leaders that they were serving or the satisfaction that they received from investing so deeply in so many lives.  At every dinner or meeting you could see Agnes sharing privately with a group of women and Marnie having a one on one conversation with another leader.  They were investing their golden years into the lives of business leaders that wanted to take Christ to their marketplace.  Yes, Agnes had to leave the grandkids for a few weeks, but she was ministering to spiritual children in the Philippines that will yield fruit for years to come.

There will still be time for the family, friends, travel, and leisure.  However, Marnie and Agnes will probably be returning many times to the Philippines to invest into the next generation of leaders.  The hunger and receptivity of the Philippine business leaders is amazing.  They want to learn how to run their businesses well and represent Christ while doing it.  When Marnie and Agnes return to Los Angeles, they will have more opportunities to serve the next generation of leaders in “one on one” mentoring.  They may travel to other cities and nations.  They are definitely hooked and have found joy in sharing what they have learned with the next generation of leaders.  God has blessed their family and business and they want to pass that blessing on to countless others.  Will you go into a normal retirement or will you get prepared now to leave a Legacy to the next generation of leaders?

Investing for eternity,

Kent Humphreys