My topic for the day is wisdom at workplace. I will discuss Biblical principles and some practical applications based on my experiences in the corporate world. I will share a few examples from my life as well.
There are two important constants when we think about career and they need to be actively managed. Time is a constant as far as each individual is concerned. And in today’s world, Change has become a constant too. When these two are not managed properly, or mismanaged, you end up with Stress and get burned out . To keep stress in check , we ought to manage time and change wisely with God’s help and power . According to Bible, the god of the world is Satan (II Cor 4:4). As believers in God we are always at odds with the devil. Not recognizing this is a major cause of stress at workplace. And we need God’s wisdom to overcome workplace temptations and to conduct morally and ethically acceptable to God. Luke 2:52 – Jesus grew in wisdom (and in favor with God and men). I Kg 3:12 – wise and discerning heart granted to Solomon Job 28:28 – fear of the Lord is wisdom and to shun evil is understanding We read in James 4:4 that friendship with the world is enmity with God. Someone who wants to please God , the struggle at workplace is not only secular but spiritual as well. That is, our workplace decisions challenge our beliefs and convictions , and are not exempt from moral and ethical values we hold.
Everyone has 24 hours in a day, and we all need to learn to manage our time well along with managing change. Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to number our days so that we may gain a heart of wisdom ” – PRAYER . Eph 5:15, 16 encourages us to walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise , redeeming the time , because the days are evil. We are encouraged to redeem the time by being wise and not by cutting down sleep - ACTION . Psalm 27:4 says, “One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life , to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple” – STATE OF BEING . Three things I would consider critical for managing time : Hard work, Long hours, Smart work. When it comes to time management, there is no justification for laziness. God has ordained hard work (Gen 3:17, Pro 18:9, 21:25, Pro 14:23 – In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty) and hard work has no substitute. Working long hours as and when needed has become a necessity because in today’s knowledge based society , work loading is not a steady stream unlike the labor based society of the past. Ecc 2:22-26 talks about the long day-in and day-out toil that we encounter but concludes that pleasing God is the only way to find satisfaction at work. The opposite of laziness, according to Bible, is diligence (Pro 10:4, 12:24,27; 13:4; 21:5). But diligence implies , in today’s terminology, working smart , the only best way to success when you are competing with others who may not be ethical in their ways. And success is nothing but reaching one’s dreams/ desires (Ecc 10:10 says, “But wisdom brings success”). However, our dreams have to be drenched in divinely intensions and desires (Ecc 5:7). And your first dream should be to please God in all your ways . A simple everyday example of working smart is when you use a milk cooker instead of a kettle to boil the milk. Formula : Desire to Please God -> Dream -> Diligent working -> Success
How does one work smart in the workplace? Ecc 8:5,6 says, “A wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment or procedure ”. Planning ahead with a discerning heart is the first step to working smart (Pro 16:1,3,9; 19:21; 21:30). That means Prioritizing, making a Commitment, and staying Accountable. Daniel 1:8 is a good illustration. Here is a slave boy selected for royal services. It says, Daniel purposed in his heart (planned ahead purposefully), that he will not defile himself with King’s food (clear Priority) and sought permission from the commander of the officials (Committed to the goal) and in verse 12 he provided a means of accountability to check if the execution was acceptable. Nehemiah 1:4 Wept, Mourned, Fasted, Prayed 2:2,4 God first, then the King (Acts 4:19; 5:29,39) 2:5 Communicated the goal rather boldly 4:9,16 Held everyone accountable to each other Apostles (Acts 1:14; 2:14; 2:28; 2:47), and Stephen (Acts 6:10, 7:2; 7:51,52; 7:60) also followed a similar approach. I have found this technique of planning ahead (PCA) to work very well in the work place. Man has to trust and obey ( PROCESS ), but God orchestrates the results. Trust factor is very critical . Pro 29:25 says the fear of man becomes a snare, whereas trust in God is safe.
One way to personalize planning ahead at workplace is to have a career plan (Pro 21:5, 16:9). Lk 14:28-32 – A good steward is a faithful and wise manager You will be surprised that you reach your goals sooner than planned because you tend to be pessimistic while planning but focused while execution. Your plan should be based on your competency, commitment/ interest and cultural/ personality fit. It does not really matter whether your competency is in engineering, arts or science. As long as you align your skills and interests with the business/ commercial needs of the environment. It is your passion and not your profession that often drives your performance. Cultural fit is critical because you have to thrive in your environment not just survive it . You spend a lot of your waking hours in your career – so it cannot be drudgery! Ecc 9:11, 12 say, “The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the men of understanding, nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all”.) What is viewed as chance can be viewed as God at work at those cross-roads if you trust and obey! When you believe in God, the result does not justify the means, BUT rather the means that justify the results because God is orchestrating from behind the scene . In other words, no matter what we plan and what we do, sometimes the results need not necessarily be the implications of our efforts considering God’s sovereignty. And there is more to life than work. Therefore, learn to maintain a healthy balance between work and life. I have only talked about the planning phase of time management and have no time to discuss the execution phase . Some of the concepts that work well in the execution phase are: Multi-tasking, 80/20 principles, managing your manager’s expectations closely, win-win resolutions, unambiguous “yes” and “no”, pushing the boundary in faith taking one step beyond sight, not turning good reasons into defendable excuses, and such things. They all contribute to working smart, while forcing you all the while to trust and obey God (Acts 4:19; 5:29,39) and not merely men. Daniel proved God in the process. Remember that is paramount. Practical Christianity warrants we stay faithful to God and not man . If someone were to ask God about the process you follow, will God narrate favorable stories?! God’s Story : ONE OF MY EXPERIENCES THAT BEST ILLUSTRATES HOW TIME AND CHANCE PLAY A ROLE IN MANDATING OUR TRUST AND OBEY IS OUR DECISION TO MOVE BACK TO INDIA AFTER 22 YEARS IN THE U.S. I HAD AN OFFER IN HAWAII AND HAD PURCHASED THE PLANE TICKETS AND HAD FIXED THE MOVERS TO COME ON MONDAY TO MOVE OUR THINGS. CYPRESS HAD DIFFICULTY IN GENERATING THE FORMAL OFFER ALTHOUGH THEY HAD EXPRESSED THEIR INTENT TO ME. WE HAD ARBITRARILY SET THURSDAY 5:00PM AS THE DEADLINE AND PROCEEDED WITH OUR PLANS TO MOVE TO HAWAII. THE OFFER FROM CYPRESS WAS DELIVERED AT 4:00PM WITH A LOWER SALARY THAN WHAT WAS NEGOTIATED BEFORE. WE DECIDED TO TAKE THE OFFER AND MOVE BACK TO INDIA. IT IS NOT FOR US TO COUNT THE FRUITS, BUT TO MIND THE PROCESS. John 15:16 SAYS THAT HE HAS CHOSEN US TO BEAR FRUIT AND THAT OUR FRUIT WILL ENDURE. OUR DUTY IS TO ABIDE IN HIM. IT IS THE PROCESS THAT MATTERS, GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF THE RESULTS. Will God have a story about you if someone were to ask him about your trust factor?
Once you have a clear plan and purpose, progress in the corporate world is determined by your performance in the changing environment. A good start does not guarantee a good finish OR a bad start does not necessarily mean a bad finish. That is, it is never too late to start doing the right thing! Four things I would consider critical for managing change: Fundamentals are foundational . Pro 22:29 says it this way, ”Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings”. Learning and understanding fundamentals well. It is your fundamentals that will help you meet the new demands. So, it is important to keep building your fundamentals. Being impact focused , and not necessarily results, solutions or goals focused. It is also about how we interpret and understand the results while on our way to reach our goal. Keep an eternity perspective not just temporal (II Cor 4:16-18). Pro 20:4 says a sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing. Pro 30:24-28 illustrates four creatures which are wise and what wisdom can accomplish in spite of lack of power or position. I have an anagram for IMPACT: I – Important actions. Don’t get distracted by the urgent. Know the tyranny of the urgent. It is the important actions that produce the greatest impact. M – Marketable solutions. Make sure the value you bring is marketable. P – Precious few key goals/ indicators. It is hard to keep track of many milestones. So, keep it to a key critical few items that you can manage well. A – Actual data. Only actual data make a good appeal, and not projected data or assumptions. Learn to present your data effectively and efficiently. Ex: Resume C – Customer focus. Keep the focus on the customer interests/ impacts. And remember you are the first customer to yourself. Unless you take care of your interests well, it will be difficult to take care of the interests of others. T – Timed appropriately. Impact is felt the most when the delivery happens in the window of opportunity. Once again, time management becomes important even for making an impact. Continuous learning is the only way to stay in the race and succeed in the ever changing environment. Pro 16:23 – The heart of the wise teaches his mouth and adds learning to his lips. Pro 2 is a chapter that encourages us to pursue wisdom, understanding, knowledge and discernment all the time. Lastly, resort to coaching (Pro 15:22; 19:20; 20:5,18; 24:6,21) whenever possible since others have traveled the path before you and know the key factors. Your alumni group is a good place to start for getting coaching support, but you will also find other role models who will be willing to coach. Pro 24:21 Need to be careful about picking a good coach - not one given to change. Remember, feedback is usually free but very powerful. Ask for feedback often. ASK is nothing but actively seeking knowledge. God’s Story : CONFRONTED MY BOSS ABOUT A DECISION TO DISCONTINUE A PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. WAS ASKED TO DELIVER ON MY CHALLENGE TO TRY MY HANDS FOR TWO WEEKS TO TURN THE PROGRAM AROUND. Pro 16:14 TALKS ABOUT TURNING KING’S WRATH THROUGH WISDOM. PRAYED HEAVILY AND WORKED POSITIVELY FOCUSING ON THE IMPACT PRINCIPLES. DELIVERED THE RESULT WITH A TEAM OF 26. ONE OF THE GUYS WONDERED HOW I MANAGED TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM WITHOUT GETTING BEATEN UP BY SOMEONE SINCE I WAS VERY FOCUSED ON GETTING TO THE FUNDAMENTALS AND MAKING AN IMPACT. I HAVE A PATENT IN THAT PRODUCT AND WON A BIG CONTRACT FOR THE COMPANY WITH AN ITALIAN FIRM.
Stress Management is the last one I want to touch upon today. As we go through our career, there will be ups and downs, but you need to make sure you are on an upward trend in the long run. I have lost my job many times, but that does not mean I have not continued to grow in my career. The values you have developed over the years will be tested, but beware of losing control. Know the difference between pressure and stress . In my definition, pressure is what is placed on you and stress is your response to it. Pressure can be self-imposed or external; but stress is only of the self. You need to watch out for the peer pressure the society places on you. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked. Strive to please God and not your peers. Paul expressed his experience in II Cor 4:8-18 and 6:4-10, indicating clearly that he was under a lot of pressure but was managing the stress well with God’s help. Four things I would consider critical for managing stress: Stay in control . Do not worry too much about the things outside your control. Matt 6:25-33, Rom 12:1,2; 13:14; I Cor 2:4,5. Overcome your worry with God’s power . Stay within your conscience (or conviction). Don’t sear your conscience but rather steer it (I Tim 1:5; 4:2). Figure out ways to resolve your conflicts, and never compromise personal values for business reasons. Someone asked Gandhi if he would use the same principles against Hitler. Here is my paraphrase of his response: “Truth has to be followed no matter what. There are pains and defeats in every battle, but truth will win and their defeat will come for sure at the end. It is a question of when and how.” Be at peace with your conscience, avoiding hypocrisy . Stay the course by updating your skills, talents, knowledge… Be a perennial student. Remember, Gandhi stayed on the freedom fight for more than 30 years before seeing the ultimate result, and his wife was not as fortunate as him although she fought along with him all the way. John 8:29; 16:33; Heb 12:1-4. Keep the focus on Christ, the author and finisher of our faith. Last but not least, learn to “ relax and rejoice ”. I say “relax and enjoy” to my team members when they take time off. Once, while I was typing such a note, my 8-year old son stopped me and asked me, why not “ enjoy and relax ”. I am not sure of the order anymore, but I know it is a good combination. After all, we work to make a living and not the other way. Paul and Silas were doing just that in the Philippi prison (Acts 16:25). God’s story : JOBLESS, HOUSELESS, THINGS IN STORAGE, FAMILY SENT TO INDIA, GOD LINED UP A JOB IN 1 MONTH DURING THE 2003 RECESSION. HELPED A NURSING STUDENT WHILE JOB HUNTING. HAD ATTENDED AN INTERVIEW ON FRIDAY AND DROVE A HARD BARGAIN SINCE I WAS ALREADY EMPLOYED LOST MY JOB THE FOLLOWING MONDAY. THE VP HAD KNOWN THE DECISION THE PREVIOUS WEDNESDAY. WAITED UNTIL FRIDAY WITHOUT RE-BARGAINING AND DID NOT GET THE JOB WENT AHEAD WITH THE HOUSE SALE IN TWO WEEKS SINCE THE BUYER HAD TOLD US ABOUT HIS TWO PREVIOUS MIS-OFFERS – SELLERS BACKING OUT AT THE LAST MINUTE. THE NURSING STUDENT HAS SINCE THEN GRADUATED AND HAS EVEN EARNED HER MASTERS.
Summary Please God and find wisdom, knowledge and happiness (Ecc 2:26). Pro 21:3 says that to do right and just is more acceptable or pleasing to God than sacrifice. Forsake empty words and dreams and stand in awe of God (Ecc 5:7). According to Pro 17:27,28, even a fool is considered wise when silent. We have to be careful with our words and also our desires need to be aligned with God’s will. Ecc 12:13,14 really sums up what it means to display wisdom at workplace – Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil. MIND THE PROCESS WISELY , GOD IS FAITHFUL Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom: 3:14 – God’s design is for men to fear Him (START) 5:3,7 – Forsaking empty words and dreams - (MAINTAIN) 8:12 – It will be well with those who fear Him - (MAINTAIN) 12:13 – Because He will bring every act to judgment. - (END)
Wisdom at workplace
Wisdom at Workplace Thirukumar Vethanayagam August 29, 2009
Important Constants <ul><li>Time Change </li></ul>Stress Luke 2:52 Jesus grew in wisdom I King 3:12 Solomon’s wise and discerning heart Job 28:28 Fear of the Lord is beginning of wisdom Jam 4:4 Friendship with world is enmity with God Mismanaged Manage Time and Change Wisely
Time Management <ul><li>Working Hard a must (Gen 3:17) </li></ul><ul><li>Long Hours an option (Ecc 2:22-26) </li></ul>Psalm 90:12 Heart of wisdom Eph 5:15,16 Redeem the time Psalm 27:4 Dwell in His presence Diligent Work is the key to success Proverbs 10:4; 12:24,; 13:4; 21:5
How to work diligently? <ul><li>Discern Time and Judgment (Ecc 8:5,6) </li></ul><ul><li>Plan ahead with a Discerning Heart (Pro 16:1,3,9; 19:21) </li></ul>Daniel 1:8 Planned ahead (Purposed in his heart) 1:8 Prioritized God over King (Not defile himself) 1:8 Committed to the Goal (Requested the chief) 1:12 Accountable in Execution (Put himself to test) Trust Factor is Critical (Pro 29:25)
..contd <ul><li>Career Plan is a Means to Success ( Pro 21:5; Lk 14:28-32 ) </li></ul><ul><li>Competence </li></ul><ul><li>Commitment/ Interest </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural/ Personality Fit </li></ul><ul><li>Multi-tasking 80/20 Manager-managing </li></ul><ul><li>Win-win Yes and No Reason/ Excuse Push the boundary Trust and Obey … </li></ul>Time and Chance happen to all (Ecc 9:11,12 ) “ Pleasing God” is a good driving force (Ecc 2:22-26) Does GOD have a STORY?
Change Management <ul><li>Fundamentals are Foundational (Pro 22:29) </li></ul><ul><li>Impact Focused (Pro 20:4; 30:24-28) </li></ul><ul><li>I – Important Actions </li></ul><ul><li>M – Marketable Solutions </li></ul><ul><li>P – Precious Few Goals </li></ul><ul><li>A – Actual Data </li></ul><ul><li>C – Customer Focused </li></ul><ul><li>T – Timed Appropriately </li></ul><ul><li>Continuous Learning (Pro 16:23; 2:1-22) </li></ul><ul><li>Coaching (Pro 15:22; 19:20; 20:5,18; 24:6) </li></ul>
Stress Management <ul><li>Stay in Control (Rom 12:1,2; I Cor 2:4,5) </li></ul><ul><li>Stay within Conscience (I Tim 1:5; 4:2) </li></ul><ul><li>Stay the Course (John 8:29,16:33; Heb 12:1-4) </li></ul>Relax and Rejoice / Rejoice and Relax (Acts 16:25) Pressure versus Stress (II Cor 4:8-18; 6:4-10)
Summary <ul><li>Mind the Process, God is Faithful </li></ul>Forsake empty words and dreams Ecc 5:7 God will bring every act to judgment Ecc 12:14 Fear God and keep His commandments Ecc 12:13 Please God, and find wisdom, knowledge, and happiness Ecc 2:26