“But I say to you, do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.”

– Matthew 5:39-41

PERSPECTIVE

How many of us have been cut off in traffic and replied in anger? Is there a person at work who is constantly irritating us? How often have we started our day and been sidetracked by someone else? These moments test our Christian beliefs. These are the moments in life when Jesus asks us to consider a different response than our natural instincts. In today’s verse Jesus says to reward our offenders. Jesus wants us to show love not hate. In these moments, Jesus wants us to elevate our Christian beliefs. He wants us to have a perspective of being positive and helping the world.

“The moments in life when Jesus asks us to consider a different response than our natural instincts.”

For every negative reaction we get, perhaps we should add a moment of grace to someone else’s life. What if we tried to go to bed every night having done more good than bad that happened to us? What if we went to bed having returned every act of kindness to us with one more to someone else? Today, Jesus is asking us to not engage with retaliation, but with the spirit of God. By doing this we stopping a cycle that can only spin downward.

When we are wronged, there might be an underlying reason that needs our compassion. Perhaps the person who cut us off is late for work or has already had a bad start to his or her day. Perhaps the person who irritates us is in need of affirmation of his or her being. We can never know the real reason for bad behavior, but if we are empathetic we can see the possibilities.

“Jesus wants us to index to the positive and remember all are made in the image of God.”

Jesus is asking us to change our perspective. Jesus wants us to index to the positive and remember all are made in the image of God. Life diverts us from this image. It causes us to move away from our intended purpose. Remembering that we are all made in the image of God changes our perspective. We assign more respect and sympathy to those who are struggling. We become helpers. As Christians, this is perhaps our hardest task. To rise above feeling victimized and slighted. To put on our suit of Christian armor in the face of anger.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

With whom do we need to be more charitable?

Do we see the image of God in people?

How do we find the good in people?

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.”

– Colossians 4:6

THE POWER OF WORDS

At an introductory meeting with a potential business contact to exchange ideas, I was confronted with a request that revealed the true intent of the meeting. After the normal exchange of introductions and pleasantries, I was asked by the other person if he could be my mentor for a fee of two hundred dollars an hour. I recoiled in my mind and wondered why someone would go into sell mode in the first five minutes. It revealed to me the man’s true purpose: not to exchange ideas as he had originally stated, but to harvest money. Because of that one question, I checked out of the meeting, having pleasantly continued just long enough to not offend him.

“When we talk long enough, our words reveal who we are.”

Over time, we learn to discover who is sincere and who isn’t. By listening carefully, we get the clues. It’s in what people ask and their level of interest in us. If it is sincere, the words will be in the form of questions to get to know us. We will know people’s level of interest in us by their use of the word “I” or “me.” Used too often these words indicate self-focus. Do the other person’s words suggest partnership? Is the language appropriate for the meeting? Is the context of his or her comments designed to explore or tell? Are the words gracious or are they demeaning? These are the clues we can derive from the words people use. When we talk long enough, our words reveal who we are.

“The Bible tells us the power words have and calls us to be cautious in what we say and how we say it.”

I was always amazed by Peter Brown, the treasurer of Foot Locker. He would come out of a meeting and tell me exactly what actually just got said. He deciphered this not only by the words that were used, but also by their timing and context. Peter himself was always interested in others. His words were almost always gracious, and people liked and trusted him. He was unfailingly polite and courteous. His words revealed a genuine interest in the other person. Words mattered to Peter, both in what he said and what he heard.

The Bible talks about the power of words and calls us to be cautious in what we say and how we say it. It asks us to be gracious and seasoned with salt. Salt symbolizing integrity and wisdom. People will hear this in our words. Not just in the words we say, but in when we use them. When our hearts are oriented toward being gracious and mutual, our words will flow in the same vein.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

How do we prepare for an important meeting?

Do we think of the other person when we ask questions?

Do we seek our agenda or a mutual agenda?

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

– Luke 12:34

WHERE IS OUR TREASURE

Roger is a very successful dentist. Over a thirty-year period, his practice grew to be one of the largest and most respected in his local market, and he has sat on the state board of dentistry. He is a wonderfully protective father and a model husband. Roger’s practice didn’t grow because it was his goal to grow it. It grew because he strived to be the best dentist he was capable of being. As with all things in his life, his focus was on being the best at whatever he was involved in. His intention is always what is right.

“Jesus says that our heart follows our treasure.”

Many times in Roger’s practice he had to take financial losses to advance his professional ability to care for his patients. Each year he went to conferences to learn how to be a better dentist. Each time I went to his office, a new technique or machine was there to better serve my needs. Questions I would raise were always thoughtfully answered in an unhurried manner. I got to witness the professional development of his business over two decades. Many of the other dentists in the area started out strong, but only some, like Roger, grew. Many stayed in place. The trade-off of taking a larger paycheck instead of adding new technology constrained their practice. Over time it diminished their business.

Jesus says that our heart follows our treasure. For a successful business this gets to the root of why they are in business. The simple truth is that a choice must sometimes be made between making more money and being the best at what you do. Many companies, like Yankee Candle, focus on being the best. Yankee Candle has the highest customer likeability of all products sold in America. Like Roger, their focus is on providing the best product. The irony is that being the best costs money at first, but overtime provides long-term financial gains, while the pursuit of money produces a larger amount of money in the short term, a diminished revenue stream over the long term.

“When our treasure is to provide quality service, be responsive and a good follower of Christ, our customers see this in our business.”

Our customers see who we are and where our hearts are, when they are in our businesses. They silently approve or disapprove. When our treasure is to provide quality service, be responsive and a good follower of Christ, our customers see this in our business. When our focus is on money, we distort ourselves. In the short term it may pay off, but our customers see and our community sees. We know when we are following the right treasure, because we are excited about the morning. We enjoy our customers. we want to complete our tasks to the best of our ability. We feel secure.

Eventually, we all have to make this choice of where our real treasure lies.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

What are examples of good customer service?

Why do we work?

Do we wake up every morning excited to go to work?