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It is common practice for a struggling company to call in a consultant – someone that can help the management team identify underlying problems and make improvement recommendations. While Senior Managers tend to focus on the standard financial reports (e.g., the balance sheet and income statement), the wise consultant knows that financial “struggling” is most often a symptom of poorly managed and measured activities further up the production lifecycle.

And so, they go looking. What they usually find are areas of the company that are trying to manage themselves using production and performance measurements that no longer match the vision and values of the company.

Take the church for example. I mean the church that Jesus Christ is building. That church has come upon hard times – particularly in North America and Europe. We have gotten to the point where measurements are no longer needed to recognize our struggles. The end product is certainly not up to the Master’s standards.

There are at least two reasons the Western church is struggling. First, we are measuring the wrong things. Secondly, we are not doing things God’s way. Put those together and we can say that the Western church is failing to measure itself in the way God has prescribed.

So, where do we start measuring in the right way? Scripture makes it clear that the shepherds will be held responsible for the health of their flocks (Hebrews 13:17). If I was the Master’s consultant, that is where I would begin.

Sometimes it is hard to point out the right way to do something without first identifying what’s being done wrong. In this case, I am relieved that such an approach is not necessary. Why is this? Because whatever way is not God’s way is the wrong way – and get this – no matter how successful that way may appear.

But who am I to judge? Exactly! Judgment is not my intent, nor is it my responsibility. I’m just the consultant. We are called to judge ourselves… and for good reasons.

For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. 1Corinthians 11:31-32

If we will not judge ourselves, the Lord will judge us. In either case, the chastening and correction are for our good and the good of our ministries. No one is perfect. The wise leader makes an assessment on a regular basis. Read the rest of this entry »

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Multi-ethnic pile of handsBut we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2Corinthians 3:18

God is the Great Orchestrator of our lives. If He has placed you in a position of leadership, it is highly likely that you have been through at least one season of transformation; where He used the trial, affliction and/or tribulation in your life to transform you more into the image of the glory of Jesus Christ.

Most of us look back on these seasons with mixed emotions. We would rather not go through it again, but we are grateful for the work the Holy Spirit accomplished though the tough season. He did not waste our pain.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

It encourages us to know that God works all things to the good of those that love Him. He uses our seasons of transformation to make us more like His Son. Incredibly, it doesn’t stop there.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.  For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.  Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.  And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation. 2Corinthians 1:3-7

God uses our seasons of transformation to equip us as disciple makers, to help others prosper through the trials in their life. As we disciple others, they in turn are prepared to do the same.

Beware: The world will say, “Don’t get involved in your employees’ lives.” This is the way of man, not God. There are no coincidences with His children. We must trust Him if we are to become transformational leaders.

Workplace Ministry Tip: It is an honor to suffer for the kingdom of God. God trusts us to use that season as preparation for helping others. This is true disciple making. To maximize our pain, in our positions of leadership, we much help others become more of the image of the glory of our Lord. It is the gift that keeps on giving.

Let me know how I can help you in this regard; and let me know what you are hearing from the LORD. You can reach me at rob@inlightconsulting.com.

Humbly yours and forever His,

Doubled chaos by PokornyI have been thinking about Change Theory quite a bit lately. Surprisingly, it has a lot to do with our spiritual state – our relationship with the LORD. I learned Change Theory as an Enterprise Architect. Since beginning this ministry, God has used it to help me understand and communicate the spiritual concepts of transformation and disciple making. I believe He would have me share a part of that theory with you.

As a management philosophy, Change Theory seeks to explain how systems, individuals and groups are motivated and managed from one state to another. In my vocation, that included the implementation of new technology, new technology development processes and new business processes (all in the banking industry). In a more general sense, Change Theory applies to every part of our lives: Adding quality controls in manufacturing, moving to a new town, changing church fellowships, becoming a married person, etc.

It shouldn’t surprise you that Change Theory also applies to our spiritual lives. Read 2Corinthians 3:18 and you will understand what I mean. The normal Christian life is a life filled with change; at least it should be. Moving from one state of “the glory of the Lord” to the next is God’s way for our maturing in Jesus Christ. Read the rest of this entry »

CompassThis is the first of six lessons designed to encourage, edify and equip a Leadership Team in the formation of a Workplace Ministry group. It has been written with the local church setting in mind. However, it should serve the same function in many different settings. Two examples come immediately to mind:

  1. A business owner training a group of employees, peers or partners.
  2. A community leader training a group in his/her town or neighborhood.

The delivery of this material should be adapted to the trainer and the audience. My encouragement is to provide the material ahead of the training, expecting everyone to prepare for discussion by completing the assignment. Some time should be reserved for members to share Workplace Ministry goals and prayer requests.

Opening Encouragement

If there is an executive sponsor, have them answer the question, “What is the desire of your heart for this ministry?” If there is no executive sponsor, then the teacher should share his/her heart for the team.

Spiritual Exercise

For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. John 18:20

Gathering together “in My name” means we are here for His agenda and His concerns. Take a moment to lay down your expectations for this time of study, and turn your attention to Him. Not only will He be in our midst, but He will have something to say. Our surrender positions us to hear and recognize His voice.

Prayer

Father God, we have gathered together to hear from Your Son. We proclaim that we are here for Him and His agenda. We recognize that the One through Whom all things were made is in our midst. We bow before You and Him. We give our full attention to being together in His name – Jesus, the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Guide us in our discussion and open our hearts to Your desires. In Christ’s name. Amen.

God’s Desire for the Workplace

Most people spend most of their waking hours in the workplace. It is the place where we engage people in commerce and conversation, and where we find community and cooperation. The Workplace is the place where ideas, philosophies and worldviews are expressed, discussed and debated. The workplace is where we live.

There is Another that lives there. He created the workplace; and He intends to abide and reign there. Where God’s people go, there also goes God. It is inaccurate to call the workplace “secular”, unless the workplace is “void of God”.

Ah, but that might be our problem. Perhaps we – even Christians – have decided that God does not desire to be a positive force in the workplace. The time has come for us to realign ourselves with His desires for the Workplace.

Furthermore, the desire of God’s heart for ministry in the workplace is about Him. After all, it is His desire. We are blessed that He would invite us to join him. Our participation in His work is predicated on our discovering His purpose, plan and power for the calling we have been given. That is the intention of this teaching series; to answer three important questions:

  1. Why are we here?
  2. How do we do this?
  3. What can we expect?

In this first module, we will explore God’s desire for the workplace. We will learn that He has given influence and authority to Christians in the workplace for this critical season. We will discover a model for Workplace Ministry created to encourage, edify and equip Christian Leaders to become disciple-making transformation agents in their spheres of influence. Read the rest of this entry »

CompassIn Starting a Ministry to Marketplace Leaders, I promised to provide the curriculum for discipling the Workplace Ministry Leadership Team. What follows will make more sense if you read that article first.

Now that the lesson outlines have been completed, I can offer you the Curriculum Overview. The lessons will soon follow.  NOTE:  While the following is written with the local church setting in mind, this curriculum is also impactful for ministry leadership development in the workplace and community.

Introduction

God is moving in the Workplace. There are hundreds of Workplace Ministries moving with Him. Regrettably, the vast majority of these are operating outside the local church (e.g., peer-to-peer groups, business chaplains). A few are attempting to minister in the local church setting, but success has been elusive.

It is our conviction that, while the reasons for our lack of success are many, the solution is quite simple. To successfully launch a Workplace Ministry in the local church setting, the local church must establish and maintain a Ministry Leadership Team with the same intentionality it would have for any other ministry. It must provide its leaders with the spiritual and practical tools necessary to be successful.

No serious local church would try to start a Children’s Ministry by purchasing a bunch of Children’s Ministry programs. They would first select and inculcate the leadership team with the church leadership’s vision and mission for Children’s Ministry. Then they would send them to ministry leadership training. The same is true for every ministry in a local church; including the Workplace Ministry.

With this critical success factor in mind (i.e., preparing the Workplace Ministry Leadership Team), we offer the following curriculum. As you will discover, this curriculum (and any follow-up coaching we provide) is based on a very simple premise: Whenever possible, establish and maintain the Ministry with God’s purposes at the forefront, in the way God prescribes, and with God’s power. Read the rest of this entry »

CompassIf the Lord has encouraged you to start a ministry to the Marketplace Leaders in your fellowship, workplace or community, then the following letter is for you. It was sent to Felipe Bernal, a business owner and leader of Marketplace Ministry at his church in Bogota, Colombia. Felipe is using The Map Maker to encourage, edify and equip the church staff and a core group of business leaders in disciple making and community transformation.

My hope is that you will use the following to explore, with God, the plan He has for you to lead leaders into a great adventure. I can assure you that the end of the journey is joyful, Spirit-filled ministry. Please let me know if you desire my help; and please allow me a few clarifying points before you begin the letter:

  1. Marketplace Ministry is more than ministry in the business arena. The Marketplace is defined as the place where people work;
  2. Leaders in the Marketplace include everyone that has a sphere of influence: From School Superintendents to Teachers, from Business Owners to Frontline Managers, from Sheriffs to Deputies, etc.
  3. There are a number of different approaches to Marketplace Ministry. Let the Lord lead you to the right one; let me know if I can help.

Now for the letter.

Read the rest of this entry »

The LORD's FoundationThe church in America is in a mess. I don’t mean to judge. I am not qualified. But I know I am not the only one that feels this way. It’s very frustrating. Honestly, I feel like a victim. However, having been positioned by God to lead (some), I have stronger feelings about my responsibility to be His instrument for transformation.

Admittedly, the church in America is doing a lot of good things: Establishing houses of prayer; addressing slave trafficking; writing great books; creating wonderful videos; running effective ministries and churches; etc. It is easy to hold these things up as evidence of health and growth. For those walking in God’s good works, I am sure joyful, Spirit-filled ministry is a regular experience.

So why am I, and many I know, frustrated and concerned about the health of the church in America? The Scriptures are clear that few will find the narrow way, and few of those will enter in. Few of the few; how many is that? How many in my spheres of influence will endure to the end? How many will fall away? What am I to do for those whom I have been given some responsibility; that they would strive to enter through the narrow gate  (Luke 13:24)? Read the rest of this entry »

Doubled chaos by PokornyBusiness is built and sustain on relationships. Good hires, synergistic partnerships, mutually beneficial deals/sales. Discernment is needed – from two perspectives. The most commonly understood is our discernment of the other person’s façade. We all have them – consciously or subconsciously. Few are totally transparent.

Less understood is affect of our own paradigms: The way we view the world and the people in it. Upbringing, fears (real and false), preferences, personality and a dozen other factors affect our initial impressions of other people. Failure to correct faults in our filter make understanding the value (or danger) of someone else more difficult.

Here’s a good place to start:

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting. Psalms 139:23-24

Marketplace Ministry Tip: The end of the year is a good time to assess your business plan, your resources, etc. How about your relationship filter? Could you use a little adjustment in the way to view other people? Ask God for an in depth yearend review.

Share the truth; it will make someone free.

Humbly yours and forever His,

bulb-in-handWell, here we are again; the end of another year – and time to plan for the next. Hopefully, you have been working this year’s plan (and not the other way around), and it has brought success to your business and the spheres you influence. Remember, God has positioned you to make an impact for His kingdom. This is a privilege that should not be taken lightly.

One way to get serious about your role as a Marketplace Leader is to plan for positive outcomes. This may mean something different than you initially think; particularly if you are a follower of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Do not worry about tomorrow?” While this does not mean “don’t plan”, it does indicate that we should plan in a particular way.

Proverbs 16:9 tells us, “A man’s heart plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.” This does not mean the LORD follows our plan; for we are also admonished, “A man’s steps are of the Lord; how then can a man understand his own way?” (Proverbs 20:24) As you can see, this leaves us in a somewhat vulnerable position.

As Marketplace Leaders, we are responsible to make the most of the resources and spheres of influence we have been given to steward. The consequences of not doing so are quite severe. As humans, we have a propensity to mess up this planning thing. Consequently, fear drives many into the avoidance trap; an incredibly tragic place to be (Matthew 25:14-30).

With all this in mind, I want to suggest you fight off fear and procrastination, and begin planning for next year with the following context:

  1. Planning is a process of communication. The owner of your company wants you to succeed and He has the wisdom and resources to make that happen, even in the worst environments. He enjoys conversations with His children. Come to Him with expectation; come to Him often. Check out James 4:13-16 for some greater understanding of this.
  2. Transformation is the primary goal. Moving your company and spheres of influence from one state to another is the prime objective. This is both a practical and a spiritual endeavor; and it begins with you. Consider 2Corinthians 3:18 and Matthew 5:16 as guiding truth.
  3. Plan with a broad perspective. This has a double meaning. First, start with God’s eternal purpose. How will He use you to accomplish His kingdom objectives? Subjugate you plans to His. Second, do not forget the rest of your life. Why would you plan for your business, and not spend the same time and effort planning for the success of your family and other relationships. Hebrews 10:24-25 speaks to the importance of our relationships in these challenging days.

Marketplace Ministry Tip: Block off the necessary time to plan for next year in a way that involves and pleases God. Commit your way to the LORD, and He shall bring it to pass. Let me know how I can help you (rob@inlightconsulting.com).

Humbly yours and forever His,

Man Lifting Arms to SunsetToday begins a very important year in the life of the Jewish people. From www.chabad.org:

Like the seventh day of the week, every seventh year is holy. The Shemittah (Sabbatical) year is a year devoted to strengthening our bond with God — specifically, honing our faith in His omnipotence and our trust in His kindness. This year, 5775 since creation (Sept. 25, 2014–Sept. 13, 2015), is a Shemittah year.

Keep this in mind as we search out the matter of the Shemittah and its importance for the church today – particularly the church in America. Read the rest of this entry »

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