“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

– Matthew 5:4


Loss is a part of life, and sadly, the older we get, the more loss we have to endure. Whether through the death of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or the loss of a job, the process of grieving and recovering is difficult and very personal. Psychologists have identified that mourning individuals experience grief in five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. A person must pass through each stage in his or her own time on the road to recovery.

But Jesus wants us to remember his promise that all who grieve will be comforted. Through both our physical and spiritual baptisms, we become part of this blessing. He walks beside us in our grief, and through his promise, he gives us reason to hope we will recover.

In addition to loss due to death, many of us also feel a profound sense of loss when faced with disability or severe illness. An elderly woman in the early stages of Alzheimer’s may grieve the loss of her fading memory, and her spouse may later mourn the loss of the woman he married, even when she’s still physically present.

Loss can have far-reaching repercussions. Individuals facing illness, disability, or even the loss of a job may also suffer from intense anxiety and fear about whether they will continue to be able to provide for themselves and their families. And many who have lost a spouse may likewise struggle with how to provide for their families and parent their grieving children while they mourn. No matter the type of loss, the experience can be intensely painful, complicated, and difficult to navigate.

“Jesus wants us to remember his promise that all who grieve will be comforted…He walks beside us in our grief, and through his promise, he gives us reason to hope we will recover.”

I have counseled many individuals who have lost a job, and as I guide them through their losses, I can see the process of grief at work. During the journey to recovery, individuals work through anxiety and fear as well as feelings of inadequacy and defeat. My assurances that there is a light at the end of the tunnel are no more than a temporary salve. Each person simply has to work through the emotional process of mourning. It can’t be hurried or prescriptive—it is a very personal process. During therapy, those in mourning will come upon roads they have to walk down in order to continue on their journeys. They will make discoveries and connections that are important and sometimes very surprising.

As we engage with those who have endured loss or are dealing with the process of grief, it’s important to be empathetic. We should avoid offering platitudes, such as “It will be okay,” or “Just keep a stiff upper lip,” as these can feel dismissive. Acknowledge and validate the feelings of those in mourning, and allow them to share their thoughts and express their emotions. They are traveling difficult and unfamiliar roads, and their emotions will fluctuate often throughout each day and week. As they proceed through the five stages, we can become their biggest allies simply by loving them and listening to them. This journey can be incredibly difficult, and for those who are in this process, time grinds on slowly.

In today’s verse, Jesus says that mourners will be comforted. The word “will” gives us hope for the future. Through baptism, we belong to a faith that gives us the assurance that the valleys of life are temporary. While our losses will never be recovered, we never lose the love of God. The gift of God’s love doesn’t just occur because of our physical baptism; it occurs through our spiritual acceptance of God’s promises. The promise in today’s verse encourages us to keep our faith, even during the darkest moments in our lives. Jesus promises us we will be comforted.
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. HartmanDo we always accept that through our baptism we belong to a loving God, and thus will be comforted?

Can we listen to those in mourning?

Are we willing to go through the valley?

How do we affirm others?

“Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Other seeds fell on the ground, where it did not have much soil, and it sprang up quickly. And when the sun rose, it was scorched; and since it had no root, it withered away. Other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no grain. Other seed fell into good soil and brought forth grain, growing up and increasing and yielding thirty and sixty and a hundredfold.”

– Mark 4:3-8


Those of us who work in the marketplace often have annual performance reviews, during which our superiors tell us how we did. Some years we do very well, and others, not so well. Some review recommendations we listen to; others we don’t. In the parable of the sower, Jesus gives us a performance review template to help us assess where we are with our faith. The seed that fell on the path is one that never really gave faith a chance. The seed on the rock is one that wants faith, but does little to nurture its faith. The one in the thorns, while faithful, allows the worries of the day to strangle its faith. The seed in the good soil nurtures and is patient with its faith, and allows worries to disappear.

“Our life’s goal is to continue to work at being present and mindful, so we can stay in the good soil.”

But are we just one of these seeds, or a mixture of all of these types of seeds? We are all affected by our circumstances and by situations we encounter. Our reactions to these circumstances affect our faith. Bad financial situations may cause us to worry. Our experiences with difficult people may cause us to give up our Christian values. When we reach a mental state where we feel we are in the good soil, situations inevitably arise that test our faith.

We all want to be the seed in the good soil, but in tough times we worry, become angered, or otherwise lose our composure. In doing so, we end up on the path, in the rocks, or among the thorns. Our life’s goal is to continue to work at being present and mindful, so we can stay in the good soil.

Donna, a successful business owner I know, told me once that she was prone to anger when confronted with a difficult person or situation. Over time, she learned to identify the triggers that affected her mood and her spirit. When this happened, she would mentally distance herself from the situation and tell herself to simply observe her surroundings, to take in information passively, while letting time and distance quiet her impulsive reactivity.

Peter, a former colleague, would pull me aside during difficult, high-stress situations and suggest the two of us go for a walk. We would head out to grab a snack while we talked about football. This was our way of creating space to prevent us from becoming reactive, which would ultimately move us farther from our goals.

We all want to be in the good soil, and we become frustrated that we aren’t there all the time. Learning to identify and deal with our triggers helps us stay on course. None of us is just one “seed” all the time, and when we find ourselves on the path, in the rocks, or among the thorns, Jesus can help us find our way back to the good soil.Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. HartmanWhat situations move us from good soil?

How do we react to life’s difficult circumstances?

“Do you want to be made well?” John 5:6 “Stand up, take your mat and walk”

John 5:8 (NRSV)


In my coaching business, I often wonder, do they really want to move forward? Do they really want to get a new job, fix their business or change their lives? Many times, I hear, “I had a bad week.” Or I will see a lack of follow through with the assigned goals from the previous week. This is the point where I can either be judgmental or help reframe the individuals vision of how to move forward. Being judgmental fails to recognize that the lethargy in solving their problem is part of the solution. Reframing and changing our behavior expands the solution required to help us move forward.

“The solution to our problems many times is looking at the problem differently and being committed to a different path.”

Many of us get stuck in a rut and can’t seem to make our way out. We skip over, that part of our problem is our habitual behavior.  We keep failing and feel inadequate when we can’t seem to move forward. We judge ourselves in a bad light. We know we should do something different, but can’t seem to rise up on a consistent basis to solve our problems. The solution, isn’t to just promise to ourselves we want to be better. The solution to our problems many times is looking at the problem differently and being committed to a different path. Instead of trying the same old way, try a different way. By doing this we set up a new course that changes the way we solve  problems.

“Jesus says, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.”

In Today’s verse, Jesus approaches a man at a healing pool. The man had been going to the pool for thirty-eight years. For thirty-eight years the man had failed to make it into the pool to be healed. For thirty-eight years he thought his solution was the healing pool. For thirty-eight years, he waited for someone to help him into the pool. For thirty-eight years, no one helped him. Jesus says, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” The man picks up his mat and began to walk. Did Jesus cure him supernaturally or did Jesus give him good advice? Both could be true. What is certainly true, the man recognized the power of Jesus’ word. At the moment of healing he recognized that Jesus was providing a different solution, which didn’t include going to the pool that he had been trying for thirty-eight years.

When we listen to Jesus, perhaps he heals us supernaturally. Or perhaps his life lessons heal us. Both can be true. Sometimes the solution is as simple as asking ourselves, “what would Jesus do?” It may seem trite to say this is all we have to do. It is perhaps too simple. It is an overused platitude. But this question is immensely  valid, “what would Jesus do?’ Part of the value of the Gospels is that they lay out for us the lessons of Jesus. When we are stuck in trying to solve a problem and our method of solving isn’t working. We have to change the method of solving our problems. Many times our solutions don’t happen, because we habitually use the same method to solve our problems. If we want to be healed, we have to change our methods.

Changing our life habits and working with Jesus is our best solution to life’s problems.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

What problems can’t we seem to shake?

Is there a different way to solve our problems?

“Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Matthew 26:28


One of my clients, whom we will call Bill, lost his job and expressed to me his frustration that he felt he once again had let Jesus down. He felt that Jesus had put him in a spot to get the job he lost and in losing it he had failed. His self esteem took a big hit and he wondered why he kept failing Jesus. He had done nothing wrong other than try to help his company, but became a victim of circumstance and was released. Over and over in his mind he wondered, what if I had done this? Perhaps I should have done that. His feeling that he had failed Jesus was the darkest part of his remorse. His sense of failure was complete and deep.

“Jesus is the essence of love.”

He wondered if Jesus would forgive him. He promised to himself he would do better next time. He prayed for a second chance. I reminded him of the covenant he had with Jesus. I reminded him that Jesus is the essence of love. Greater than the love of parent for a child. All these things he knew as a lifelong believer. But this was personal. Alone with his thoughts he couldn’t shake the sense of failure.

We can look no further than Apostle Peter to see this attitude of forgiveness and love that Jesus has for humankind. Peter, after being taught to walk on water with faith, failed. Peter, was usually the voice for the other twelve when they failed to understand the messages of Jesus. In a complete act of failure Peter denied Jesus three times on the fateful night before the crucifixion. Peter had a long history of failure. Jesus held firm in commitment and called Peter, “The rock upon which I will build my church.” As we know, after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, Peter became the leader of the group that carried forward the messages of Jesus.

Bill had called me on a Monday after he found out the bad news and we talked for a long time. He went back and forth between despair and hope. Intellectually he knew Jesus was with him. But emotionally he couldn’t shake the sense of failure. He prayed constantly that day.

The following morning, after a difficult night of sleep, he rose to find a message on his phone. A company wanted to hire him. A job that would pay him more. A job that was better suited for who he was. A job that reminded him that Jesus was with him.

“With Jesus, when we have a repentant heart, we have a life of second chances.”

With Jesus, when we have a repentant heart, we have a life of second chances. A life that unfurls Jesus’ majesty. A life, when approached with Jesus at our center, reveals Jesus’s love and forgiveness. A life of completeness.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

How often during times of stress do we remember the covenant made by Jesus?

What prevents us from accepting the covenant?

How important is prayer and repentance to accepting the covenant?

Five Traits of Great people:
• Gets things done
• Warmly Assertive
• Listens to learn
• Analyze Effectively
• Develops others


When I first got to Foot Locker, I needed to find friends quickly who had these same five characteristics. But I had to be careful in my approach. It’s easy to come into a tough situation and announce you’re going to change everything; easy to be disparaging of the past, your employees, and your predecessors; easy to think you know the answers without the full set of facts at your disposal. But that’s the wrong approach.

I discovered it was easier to find out what was already working and look for current employees who could help, on the theory that it’s easier to make progress with allies than with enemies. Joe Bongiorno, Peter Brown, Peter Cupps, and Mike Zawosky had all had consider-able careers at Foot Locker before I arrived, but all had been largely overlooked by their superiors. When I talked to them, I found they had the five qualities of good employees. I merged them with people I knew from my own past, like Lauren, Kevin, and Marc, and we developed a team that promoted the message of the company and avoided self-interest. When we found employees who exhibited these shared traits, we labeled them with a term we developed, “profile employee,” meaning they had the requisite five characteristics. They worked for the company, not themselves. Everyone we thought of hiring or bringing into our circle was evaluated. If the candidate was a “profile employee,” we brought that person in. If a candidate didn’t possess the five traits, he or she was ruled out.

Our circle soon expanded to form a powerful group that could work on its own, for our values became the culture. The culture worked because we weren’t trapped by tradition or hemmed in by our personal status or power. For Foot Locker this group became the team that held the goal line when things looked the bleakest. We survived because of these common values.

Jesus knew that in building teams, success depended not only on hiring the right people, but on training those people to live up to their God-given talents.

He recognized that all people have blind spots to go along with their gifts. Jesus concentrated on maximizing people’s strengths, while minimizing their weaknesses. Sometimes the effort was simple, other times intense. The aim was always to help the team become more effective and live into their mission.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman


“Rise up, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.”

(Genesis 13:17)


On a recent hike on the Appalachian trail in Massachusetts, a friend of mine, exclaimed, “This is boring! Aren’t there any sights to see?” We were on a stretch of this famous route, which stretches from Springer mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine. Encompassing well over two thousand miles. This stretch had no waterfalls or great vistas or flowing streams. A seven-mile stretch, that flowed over small rises and descended into valleys filled with ferns. Nothing existed on this silent path except the large green trees, rocks to avoid and a brown path. That’s all there was. A place to wander to get to the next segment.

“During our walk through life we will meet ordinary people and walk by ordinary places. In these ordinary people and places exist extraordinary stories.”

It took me back to my own professional career and reminded me of the many days and months where all I had to do was my job. Ambition always pushed me to want the next great step in my life. Just doing my job wasn’t enough. What was next for me would ramble in my mind, luring me to put my focus on the excitement of a new promotion and accomplishment. But most of my days were spent walking through these stretches of my career that were no more than just doing my job, being a faithful employee and helping my company. When we are young we are told of the great things that lie at the end of the segment of the trail we are on. We look expectedly to that future. Along the way we hope that our efforts lead to an extraordinary life. During our walk through life we will meet ordinary people and walk by ordinary places. In these ordinary people and places exist extraordinary stories. We only have to stop and observe to find them. They frame our lives, values and friendships. It is in these moments we find extraordinary things.

“Surely, Abraham would see great vistas, running streams and waterfalls. But most of his journey would be with the ordinary.”

Today’s verse is about God’s promise to Abraham. God was about to give him a land that would be the source of our great faith. But first, Abraham had to walk its entire breadth. To see the ordinary and learn about its ways. A walk where observing was more important than the finish. Surely, Abraham would see great vistas, running streams and waterfalls. But most of his journey would be with the ordinary. Jesus himself, wandered thousands of mile in his great mission to reveal God’s values to humanity. We read about his miracles and those he helped, but most of his time was walking the trails of life.

“God’s promise is an extraordinary life, when we have walked the length and breadth of His land.”

Surely, when we walk with faith and an eye towards the values of Jesus, we will see great things. But most of our walk will be in everyday life. Our careers will have those days of great success, but most days will be spent doing ordinary things. Just doing our jobs, raising our children and living a life. God’s promise is an extraordinary life, when we have walked the length and breadth of His land. Not in just what we see in the end, but in what we see along the way.

Enjoy the walk and observe all you can!

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

How often do we reflect on where we are?

How often do we wonder about the ordinary things of life and see a deeper story?

How often do we take the time to go beyond a quick hello and discover an extraordinary person?

For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not to harm, to give you a future with hope.

(Jer. 29:11)


In my current business, Gideon Partners, I have clients who have lost their job and have come to me for advice. The most common thing I hear that connects all these individuals together is a sense of worthlessness. They all have suffered a loss and wonder how did they allow themselves to get into this situation. What could they have done differently? Many times the answer doesn’t lie with them, but with circumstances out of their control. Perhaps their company had to downsize, they had a conflict with their boss or their job wasn’t a good fit. Regardless of the reason they all have a sense of worthlessness that is overstated in their minds.

“This sense of worthlessness comes from a loss of identity.”

This sense of worthlessness comes from a loss of identity. Many times they are alone all day, while their friends go to work. They often are alone with their thoughts and take too much of the blame. They will hear things like, “It was probably for the best.” Or “Take advantage of the time off.” These statements will bring a momentary smile, but they still have bills to pay and worry about their future. They miss the camaraderie of the work place. They are alone.

“Like many of life’s problems, the only way out is to move forward and not stay behind.”

It is a terrible place to be, yet the vast majority of people will spend some portion of their life without a job. This sense of worthlessness is also debilitating. The very thing they want and need is finding a job, yet this worthlessness makes them lethargic in their search. The hardest thing to do is to stay positive and move forward in spite of this feeling of worthlessness. Like many of life’s problems, the only way out is to move forward and not stay behind.

“To claim our future, we must work with God.”

In today’s verse, God states He has plans for us and not to harm us. Plans that move us from worthlessness to hope. While this is an encouraging verse for those who believe, there are conditions to having a future with hope. There are things we must do in conjunction with God’s plans for us. Perhaps it is some soul searching of what we could have done better. Perhaps it is a very careful evaluation of what we should do next. For those without a job it means enthusiastically embracing the task of finding a new job. To claim our future, we must work with God.

Most new jobs are found through your personal network. Seventy to eighty percent of new jobs are obtained by using our networks. While difficult and sometimes embarrassing to ask for help and insight, our networks, many times are the source of a regained identity. They will know you and will mention you to other people, who might have a job. When we contact these people our goals should be to stay positive and demonstrate trustworthiness. While this seems obvious, becoming “riveted” on these two traits is paramount to finding a new job. We all have networks and when we approach them with a positive sense of mutuality, they will help.

Applying for jobs on-line can and will be frustrating. Many times there will be no reply back or rejection. In spite of this we all must continue to apply. While not as effective as our networks, we still must apply and ignore the repetition of negative feedback. Our goal is always to press forward when we work with God. To keep searching and pray. He will answer.

God does have plans for us, but God works “with” us and not for us. To claim the “future with hope,” we have to work hard. We have to rise up and even on the tough days. Smile when we are interviewing. To claim our future, we have to be honest with ourselves and others. God is there and will answer. God will give us this answer through our efforts of searching and personal reflection.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

What are the biggest obstacles to staying positive in the face of adversity?

In tough times, do we believe in ourselves or doubt ourselves?

How does God help us?

“Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

-Luke 6:31


How we treat customers in our businesses is the single most important aspect of maintaining a thriving enterprise. How we view our customers is the start of developing a successful customer first mindset. Recently as I was starting up my business, I needed some work done to create a successful platform for my work. The contractor did his job as described. I noticed something in how they worked to complete the job. Subtle extra things would appear. “We thought you might need this addition,” they would reply when we noticed these additions. Comments we would make in our planning discussions were taken seriously and if even if they had to work extra they would complete the task. When the job was completed it was far better than we had imagined and at the price they had quoted.

“At the end we told them that their work far exceeded our expectations, they humbly said, “thank you.”

They had created a raving fan of their business. They knew what we didn’t and carefully guided us to what we needed and not what we asked for. They listened to learn and got the job done. Needless to say we gave them references and posted great reviews. Later as I thought about this experience I realized that this was the model for great customer service. They didn’t tell me, “That isn’t what you asked for and it will cost more.” They didn’t treat me like an annuity that would only generate cash for their business. They didn’t dismiss our ideas. They politely pushed us where we needed to go. At the end we told them that their work far exceeded our expectations, they humbly said, “thank you.”

“Simply, we should treat others the way we want to be treated. In business, holding this tenet is the cornerstone of great customer service.”

Today’s verse is from Luke and we recognize it as the “Golden Rule.” The Golden Rule is also found in the Gospel of Matthew, as part of the Sermon on the Mount. The words are similar, but contain the same message. Like most of Jesus’ messages it is simple to understand and powerful in its point of view. Simply, we should treat others the way we want to be treated. In business, holding this tenet is the cornerstone of great customer service.

Countless trees have been cut down to produce the volumes of books about how to create great customer service. Many hours have been spent in debate reflecting on the subject of customer service. But here it is, in a short phrase that contains only eleven words, a thesis by Jesus on what great customer service is. As is typical of Jesus, short to the point and aptly spoken. We don’t need rules and overly bureaucratic systems to determine how to treat customers. We need a heart that has the intent on satisfying our customers. A desire and willingness to treat our customers the way we would want to be treated.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

What holds us back from creating “raving fans” of our business?

Can we look past our desire to make money from our customers to providing great service?

How would Jesus handle customers?

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”

(Matthew 16:18)


When Jesus delegated, he also picked great leaders, like the apostle Peter. After the Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit fell on the disciples and Jesus ascended to heaven, Peter assumed the leadership of the growing sect, called “the Way.” In Peter’s inaugural speech he reinforced Jesus’s purpose, a message that both enthralled and comforted the crowd. After this message was delivered to a large crowd on his first day as leader, three thousand people converted to the Way. Each day more and more people joined, and Peter did a tremendous job recruiting and training this rapidly growing flock.

But wasn’t this the same Peter who abandoned Jesus numerous times? the same man who seemed never able to grasp Jesus’s message when Jesus walked the earth? the apostle who cowered in fear with the others during the dark three days of the Passion? In fact, as Jesus had predicted, Peter denied knowing him three times before the cock crowed in the early morning on the day of the Crucifixion.

Jesus saw this greatness in Peter when it wasn’t obvious.

Now Peter was the leader, the person convincing the masses of the rightness of Jesus’s way. A new way to live. A new way to thrive in the marketplace. Jesus saw this greatness in Peter when it wasn’t obvious.

A few years earlier, Jesus has said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18) Now Peter finally understood why Jesus had called him “the Rock.”

Jesus had seen something in Peter. He changed his name from Simon to Peter. He announced that Peter would be the man to carry on his message. Yes, Jesus correctly predicted that Peter would deny him three times. He knew this, and still selected him.

“Jesus knew that Peter was human like the rest of us, but special like few.”

Jesus spent time teaching Peter in spite of a multitude of missteps on Peter’s part. He showed him how to move about the countryside. Peter learned that he could walk on water with faith. He learned that a few loaves of bread could feed thousands. Even though Peter failed many times, when it was his time, Jesus knew that Peter would be there. Jesus knew that Peter was human like the rest of us, but special like few. Jesus had delegated the mission of God to the right person.

*From page 108 and 109 in Jesus & CO.  Available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

“His name will be called Wonderful Counselor”

-Isaiah 9:6


Even at college I sought out people who were wiser than me. I always admired how they could get to the point and deliver their messages with frankness. People who had a high sense of what was right and how to succeed became constant companions.

“Over time I developed a human library of great people.”

Later in my business career, I continued this behavior of searching for wise people. Over time, they became invaluable. When many tough decisions had to be made and I would rely on their wisdom, whether in person or knowing what they would say I should do. The higher their personal standards the more I searched them out. I especially, liked people who were smart and frank, but also those who cared about other people. Over time I developed a human library of great people.

Later in life, as I pursued my new career as a Christian/Business ethics writer, I discovered John Robinson. A former IBM executive, who built and successfully ran a number of businesses. He was considered the pioneer in bringing computer automation to a vast number of universities. Many, still use his tools today. John is highly regarded and well known in his community.

“John doesn’t give me the answer I want to hear, but the answer I need to hear.”

When I first met John, I very much wanted to know him better. Immediately, I could see his wisdom. He has three great qualities; kindness, wisdom and most importantly, frankness. We often engage in long hours of strategic discussions. Whenever, I am off course, John will furrow his brow and put me back on course. He states his point of view simply and seriously. Inevitably, after every discussion I had a new way to approach a problem. John doesn’t give me the answer I want to hear, but the answer I need to hear.

“There are many reasons to follow Jesus, relying on the ways of Jesus will straighten any path.”

Today’s verse, is from Isaiah 9. This verse is most well known as the verse in the Old Testament that foretells the arrival of Jesus. But it also tells us about the value of Jesus, as a “wonderful counselor.” When life gets hard or complicated we need counselors to unwind our thoughts. There are many reasons to follow Jesus, relying on the ways of Jesus will straighten any path.

Now I am not saying that John is Jesus, but God puts people in our lives to listen to and hear. John Robinson, for me, is one of those people. People that have high standards and care. In a small sentence they can unravel the most difficult problem. They think from a sense of what is right and not of self-interest.

We all need Jesus in our lives, but we should also seek out those who are wise. God gives them to us.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Who in our lives will tell us what we need to hear?

How do we find these people?

How well do we listen?