“Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.”

Matthew 9:22

SHOULD WOMEN BE IN POLITICS?

In the last election a record number of women won seats in the House of Representatives. As a result of this, a friend of mine asked me how many woman do I think should be in the house of representatives. My simple answer, “Two hundred-seventeen and a half.” Jokingly my friend said, “Who is going to be the half?” Then knowing my background in ministry, relayed to me that he had heard that Jesus didn’t want women in charge? And further he stated it says so in the Bible! How could I support women in politics?

My first answer, stating two hundred-seventeen and a half, was more of a reflection of what is fair. Surely every gender, race and walk in life should be fairly represented in our House of Representatives. For us to live into spirit of our wonderful constitution, no group should be denied unequal access to the bounty of freedom our great democracy provides. No one group should gain, while another is left behind. Certainly, I know there is no one half of a person, my answer was a little tongue in cheek to make a point.

In regards to answering the second about the equality of women in politics as not being Biblical. I told my friend I couldn’t agree that the Bible says women shouldn’t be in politics. Sure we can find isolated verses that might imply that women should not be in politics, but when these verses are taken out of context of the entire paragraph that surrounds them, their meanings change. My professors, while I was getting my Doctorate degree, would call this selective verse taking to make an argument, “Versification.” Simply It is a failure in creating a position on a subject based on one verse in a fourteen hundred page book. Simply finding a verse to support our life’s opinion is in error and potentially dangerous. Verse’s must be studied and put in the proper context. Each verse must be thought of in the entire context of the Bible and with God’s wishes.

Before we cast women out of politics,  we should consider the following:

  • The first gender to visit the tomb after the resurrection, was female.
  • The first mass evangelist in the Gospels was the Woman at the Well.
  • One of Jesus’ most famous statements is, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother.”
  • Jesus ate with both women and men.

What is remarkable about these actions by Jesus, is how revolutionary they were in the first century. In that society, men ruled everything and women were never used as examples to look up to. For Jesus, he represented, both genders, in his stories, remarks and parables. This very act of including women in his stories in the first century was an extraordinarily radical change in direction.

Jesus’ most important healing lesson was with the bleeding woman, who had barged in amidst a man only event to touch Jesus’ cloak. Instead of being rebuked by Jesus, the woman was told, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well. In the first century, it was a male dominated society, but Jesus spoke about women equally.

But what is far more important about Jesus’ treatment of gender, was not that he favored either gender. His service was for all humankind. Women should not be denied access because men should come first. Likewise, men should not be denied access because women should come first. Jesus saw all people as children of God

Jesus would support the attitude of let the best candidate win. In our current age it has become fashionable to assume all men are ill behaved. It has become fashionable to say all men oppress women. This is a very dangerous line of thinking as well, most men are not naturally bad or poorly behaved. To achieve gains at the expense with global assumptions about any group is not sustainable. We should not make enemies while we rise up in life, we should make allies. No gender, race or orientation has a corner or monopoly on bad behavior. All people are endemically good and born with the inheritance of being made in the image of God. Both men and women! When we think otherwise, we unfairly take rights away from a particular group.

I still think two hundred-seventeen and half is the right number of women to serve. Perhaps in one congressional district we could have a woman serve six months and a man serve the other six months each year.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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TAKING THE YOKE OF JESUS

Jesus tells us, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29) A simple request to turn away from those things that distract us and turn to accepting the lessons and wisdom of Jesus. To have faith in Jesus rights our path, not only because he is with us, but because we pick up his ways.

My friend Mel, who had left the corporate world to help the poor for the Catholic Church in the northwest part of the United States but now returned, called me in distress. He had walked away from a well-paying job for two years to help those less fortunate. Upon his return to the corporate world he was finding it hard to find a new job. Many interviewers did not understand why he left, and many were put off by the fact that he was sixty. He kept meeting dead ends in his job search. Confusion about doing good in the world and then being rebuffed in the job market had created a crisis in his life. He did not need a job for the money; he just wanted to belong again.

“His self-esteem plummeted, and he began to feel worthless. His searching kept leading him to disappointment.”

Over the next two years, he searched for a place to work. He prayed on a regular basis. He even went away for a week to a retreat center looking for his answer. He wanted desperately to belong again. His self-esteem plummeted, and he began to feel worthless. His searching kept leading him to disappointment.

We talked on a weekly basis, at an appointed time, and during these sessions, I would often probe him about why a job in his old world was so important. He would reply, “Because it is my identity.” For years he had worked hard to provide for his family and build a wonderful résumé, but now he had lost that ability.

“He kept waiting for Jesus to answer his prayer to find him a job.”

During these two years, Mel would still help others. In fact, he helped a group of nuns create a shelter for homeless pregnant women. Many days he put in long hours painting and fixing the shelter. Within this community he found acceptance, but not what he wanted. He wanted to go back to his old life. Oftentimes, I would tell him how much I admired his caring and giving efforts for others. I would relay to him that when I told his story to other people, they were amazed at his giving nature and life. For two years, this was not enough for Mel. He kept searching and not finding. Eventually, he decided to go back to school and become an EMT, while he waited for a more ideal new job. He kept waiting for Jesus to answer his prayer of finding him a job.

Typical of Mel, he was one of the best students in the EMT training. Despite some physical limitations he was able to keep up with the younger people in his class. He began to thrive. Many times, I would get a text from him saying something like “I can’t talk tonight, I am going out with my classmates.” I was used to this, as many of the people I help eventually find their answer and move on to their new life. It is a very familiar process. I miss these people and often wonder how they are doing, but my job was done.

“Jesus had been answering his prayers; he just had not paid attention.”

Later, in one of our final conversations, Mel relayed to me that he had prayed for an answer many times, but he kept looking in the wrong spots. The answer to what was his identity did not lie in the old spot of the corporate world, but in helping make the world a better place. Jesus had been answering his prayers; he just had not paid attention.

Jesus asks us to take his yoke. Jesus reminds us that he is “gentle and humble of heart,” and that his “yoke is light.” How many times do we all pray for something that we want, but Jesus gives us something different? He gives us a life plan that soothes our soul and gives us meaning. Many times, it is about following a new path, away from the familiar. A path of uncertainty on which we take his yoke and are guided by his “gentle and humble” heart.

Mel is peaceful now and I miss my weekly calls, but I am happy that Mel’s new identity is on a path of giving. When we ask ourselves about Jesus and wonder “What sort of man is this?” Jesus’ answer is also, that he is “gentle and humble of heart.”

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Parting Thoughts

  • In seven words describe your life goals?
  • Are you on this path or another?
  • Where should you be looking?

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“As you enter the house, greet it. If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.”

Matthew 10-12-13

TODAY’S LOSSES ARE CHEAPER THAN TOMORROWS

I remember sitting at a conference room table with Bob Macaleer, a top banker for a large Boston bank, and the owner of a small struggling business. The owner had broken his covenant with the bank and was now looking for more money. As a very young financial advisor for the struggling company I was very unsure where this meeting would end up. The company had failed to hit its sales plans for a number of months and was now out of cash. In the previous months it had avoided letting the bank know it was struggling. It viewed the bank as an adversary, even though it had lent them money in good faith. Now the business had only place to look for new cash, the bank.

The owner of the company sitting with his attorney made a bold statement, “If you don’t lend me more money I will file for bankruptcy and you will get little in return.” I had heard about this being the strategy before I went into the meeting and had my doubts. But I was young and unsure of my footing. While I personally wouldn’t lend the company more money, I was assured that this tactic would work by both the owner and attorney.

It didn’t! The banker said to the owner and the attorney, “Today’s losses are cheaper than tomorrow’s. I don’t use good money to chase bad.” The company did file bankruptcy and the bank did get pennies on the dollar. But the bank had spared itself future losses. I was fortunate to hear and see this lesson very early in my career. A lesson I would remember many times throughout my career and pass on to those younger than me to learn.

Jesus passes on a similar lesson to the twelve apostles to prepare them for their journey of creating believers throughout Judea. A simple message that their time and the gifts of God were valuable. A simple reminder to examine if what they were giving would be properly accepted. A reminder to not spend time where they weren’t wanted. A reminder that their gifts from God were valuable and to not get caught up trying to convince the unconvinceables. Seems a little harsh from Jesus’ point of view, but considering the sacredness of God’s gifts, wise words.

Like the banker, we have limited resources and must be wise with how we parcel them out. Our focus should be on making a positive impact with all our resources. Whether it be money, our time and our energy. There were other places for the bank to lend money, growing businesses that respected the bank. For Jesus, he was searching for helpers that valued God and treated the words of God with a sacred intent. For us it is the same.

Be wary of those who gossip. Be wary of those who mislead. Watch carefully for those who only like us for our money. We should stay strong to avoid being liked at the expense of morality. Avoid going along to get along. Our lives and resources are precious and so is the word of God. We should be careful with whom we become partners.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Parting Thoughts

  • Who are the most important people in our lives and why?
  • Do we spend enough time with the people we need to?
  • How do we avoid getting trapped in tough situations?
  • How should we create our daily to do list?

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They answered, “The emperor’s.” Then he said to them, “Give therefore to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Matthew 22:21

WHAT DO WE DO WHEN OUR CANDIDATE LOSES?

I recently had a discussion with a close friend that drifted into her dismay over the candidate who had won the most recent election. She was angry and in a state of disbelief that such a despicable candidate could win. Her main question was, “How could these people who voted not see his weakness.” From her perspective she was right. I pointed out that from other perspectives she might not understand why this person won. I suggested that she try to sort through why the other candidate won to discover their point of view.

What could she do? For this moment very little, except emotionally accept the result. But for the future, there is a lot. First, she had to accept the result as the voice of her nation. Accept what others had said. Perhaps the candidate was immoral with a poorly directed life compass. More importantly it is the understanding of why the voters chose a different candidate then hers. Perhaps they chose this candidate because they were angry they weren’t being listened to and desired a change at any cost. Perhaps they were tired of paying taxes and seeing a bloated government. Perhaps they felt their candidate was one that could resolve their fear of not being represented in the halls of our government.

Whatever the reason, it is not always about the candidate but about the strength of the voices that voted. Knowing why they voted the way they did is more important than the candidate that won. This is the voice of the people and the way our democracy has been set up. We live in a country that has the longest continuous democracy in the world, because we allow voices to be heard. It has survived when many others have faltered. It survives because the voices of the people have the right to choose who leads. Maybe in error the voices have spoken, but the system works.

We are left with two directions we can take, when our candidate loses. The first is to understand how we can help our voice be better heard the next time. Perhaps this includes helping the candidate of our choice. Perhaps this means helping with forums or marches to state our position more strongly. Perhaps it means changing individual minds about our position. Perhaps even being a candidate ourselves. This choice is one of civil change.

The second direction is one of despondency. One of civil discord. A direction we should not take. Letting our anger overrule our intellect. We see this when we hear about pipe bombs being delivered to those who disagree. We see this when people are forced out of a restaurant because of who they support. We see this with calls that encourage violence against opponents.

The second direction doesn’t work and will only lead to greater harm. We cannot put out a fire with gasoline! Jesus himself told those in the first century to respect the voices of the government. Jesus didn’t preach or ask for violence, but for peaceful demonstrations. Jesus would ask that we give to the emperor what was the emperor’s. But at the same time to give to God what is God’s. This last statement limits the power of the secular when we act on our disappointment through the ways of God.

There are many examples of civil protest that works. Certainly, that of Martin Luther King and the peaceful, but assertive demonstration that led to desegregation. Or perhaps we can look to the efforts at the turn of the 20th century to enable women the right to vote. They made progress in two obvious errors of society.

Discord that leaves our neighbor injured or left behind is not what Jesus would want. Jesus would want wrongs righted. He would want justice served. But not through civil discord. But through those positive steps we can take to change the world.

Perhaps our candidate lost and we feel unheard. The first step we should take is to change the future, by respecting our democracy and enacting the freedom our democracy gives us through our voice. A voice that sees what should be and acts to peacefully make our country better.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Parting Thoughts

  • What did we hear about the direction of our country through the election results?
  • What steps should we take to help get our voices heard in the next election?
  • How can Jesus and prayer help our country?

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“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”

1 Peter 2:9

WAS JESUS A DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN?

I was recently on a radio show and was asked by a panel member was Jesus a Republican or Democrat. My response was Jesus’ political party was one of God and for all humankind. Certainly Jesus would be saddened by the deep and angry divide between our two political parties today. He would ask that they put away their pre-recorded narratives and focus on civility and love for each other. If Jesus were to vote he wouldn’t vote along party lines, but for the individual that best represented the Kingdom of God and the candidate who loved his neighbor.

Politics today have never been more rancorous or unlistening. Neither side listens to learn, but shouts to drown out their opponent. Many candidates receive money from outside influencers that have their own agenda, that the candidate must back. Politics today have created a divided nation. To which Jesus would be dismayed.

Jesus’ politics would be focused of bringing God’s words to all people, regardless of color, religious affiliation, gender or age. Jesus would listen to fully hear and understand his constituents point of view. If he disagreed, in a civil and loving way Jesus would explain why he disagreed.

Jesus sees all humankind as a powerful nation. Jesus wants us to be a Holy nation. Not one that is motivated by money or power. A nation that cares first and acts second. Jesus wants us to see the sacred nature of our earthly existence and be pointed to doing good and not harm. Jesus would not support violence against those who disagree with our views. He certainly wouldn’t approve of pipe bombs in the mail or promoting violence against those that disagree or the slaughter of people from another religious point of view. He wants our nation to lead with love.

Jesus platform is quite simple, “Love thy God and Love thy neighbor.” He would encourage us to feed the poor, heal the sick. He would want all nations to see other nations as composed of God’s children. He would disapprove of war. He would want us to protect God’s creation. He would believe in a judicial system of second chances for those who repent.

I am sure he wouldn’t become entangled with those who seek power through money. He would know that dealing with those who try to manipulate others is a dead-end street. He would not give into the lure of money that comes from powerful political organizations.

He cautioned us in the famous Sermon in the Mount by saying, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.”(Matthew 7:15) He would know that these wolves exist not to do good, but promote an agenda that is self- serving. He would know that there are those who will try to do good, but would have to cater to their political leaders. He would not espouse that we should “Go along to get along.” He would want each of us to evaluate each candidate and issue independently and not be influenced by money, fame or outside influencers.

No, I don’t think Jesus would either be Democrat or Republican. On Tuesday he would support our right to vote and ask us to ignore the rancor and anger we see every day, when we vote.  He would ask us to vote with our Christian conscience for the candidate we feel lives into his platform of “Love thy God and Love thy neighbor.”

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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“For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:45

BEING THIRD BEHIND GOD AND OUR NEIGHBOR

Gale Sayers, the hall of fame running back and the author of the book I Am Third, believed he was third in his list of life priorities. First God, then his family and neighbors, and finally himself. Gale lives this life even today. A famous person who is well known and any act of being a servant is for all to see.

“Rusty doesn’t serve to garner favor, but he genuinely likes to help others.”

But there are other people that are not famous and serve without the recognition that fame can bring. I know a person like this, Rusty. Rusty serves because he wants to serve others first. Rusty doesn’t serve to garner favor, but he genuinely likes to help others.

Recently, when I was in Asheville North Carolina, Rusty called to see if he could take my wife out for dinner. The problem was we were just sitting down at a local restaurant and getting ready to order. I told Rusty where we were and he came right over. He had been visiting Asheville on a sales call and thought it would be nice to eat dinner with us.

“I have had a great day and wanted to share it with you.”

Rusty, as he always does, entered the restaurant full of his good humor and a happy voice. He sat down and ordered his meal, and informed us it was on him tonight. When we acquired why, he simply said, “I have had a great day and wanted to share it with you.” No other motive, but just to share his joy.

In the past Rusty has always been helpful beyond what anyone could expect. If we told him we had a problem, he had an answer or fixed it for us. He shared his immense knowledge of the woods and the back country of North Carolina with us. There is no problem Rusty can’t fix.

Recently, I heard a story about Rusty from another neighbor, John. John had a statue that was missing a small part. While staying with his neighbor John,  Rusty noticed the broken statue.

The next morning when John got up the statue was fixed. During the night, Rusty had rummaged through some things he found in the house and spent a good part of the evening fixing the statue. This is how Rusty is, he fixes things, he gives great advice and is the first to lend a hand.

My wife, Connie, wanted to learn how to fly fish. I was not a fly fisherman, I cast to reach the hidden pools of the mountain streams. I mentioned this to Rusty, and of course he was going to help my wife learn to fly fish.

“I hear a voice that is in love with God and thankful for whatever he has.”

Over the years, I have gotten to know Rusty. Beyond his always present smile and deep love to serve, he is a very deep and spiritual man. We have had many theological conversations. In everyone I learn something new. But mostly, I hear a voice that is in love with God and thankful for whatever he has.

Rusty views his life of serving others as his duty, a duty he loves and relishes. Rusty will never be famous outside his circle of friends. He will never be on TV. He will never receive global praise. He serves without needing fame.

When I mentioned to Rusty, Gale Sayers view on being third, Rusty replied, “Of course.” I am envious of Rusty because he serves innately through a deeply embedded desire to help. I wonder what a magical world it would be, if we all sought to serve instinctively like Rusty.

“But fame isn’t his chase. He just wants to serve God and his neighbor.”

On the surface, Rusty appears to be just a fun loving good ole boy from North Carolina, but beneath this well-crafted veneer is the soul of a very religious man. His outward charm belies a deeper and faithful view of how to live. We his friends get to experience both. I only wish many others could experience this man. But fame isn’t his chase. He just wants to serve God and his neighbor.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Parting Thoughts

  • Is there a neighbor we can help today?
  • Why does serving our neighbor bring joy into our lives?
  • When we serve others, why do we serve?

Photo by Samuel Zeller

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“Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and prosper for us the work of our hands—
O prosper the work of our hands!”

Psalm 90:17

THE CHINESE BAMBOO TREE

In Asia there is a bamboo tree that grows in a very surprising way. After planting its small seed, the tree takes five years to grow, before it springs forth through the soil. For five long years it spreads out its roots and creates the foundation for a surprisingly and remarkable quick growth spurt. During its sixth year the tree begins to emerge through the soil and grows to almost one hundred feet in six weeks! That’s ten to fifteen feet a week or almost two feet a day. The reason for this extraordinary growth is a well-established root system that has been burrowing in the ground for five long years. No short cuts, just five years of laying a good foundation.

“Success isn’t driven through wanting, but through working hard.”

In my work with clients I often see a reluctance to wait. I see people who want to be successful now. Success isn’t driven through wanting, but through working hard. Sure, there are stories of over-night success, but for most of us it requires a long period of making mistakes and learning what works. The key to success is laying a sustainable foundation.

“Successful people learn that failure is a lesson in how to be successful.”

For those that put in the time, they learn how to get better. Most of their time is fixing what didn’t work. A vast amount of time is spent with failing. Successful people learn that failure is a lesson in how to be successful. They learn the value of quality in all that they do.

“The successful common denominator for those that succeed was they never gave up.”

During the time of incubation in our careers or businesses we will be confronted with dismay and a need to work harder. Henry Ford failed five times before his business took off. Colonel Sanders didn’t become successful until the age of sixty-five. Abraham Lincoln lost most of his runs for political office. The successful common denominator for those that succeed was they never gave up. Successful people know to keep trying.

“Seldom will we know which root of our hard work is the one that springs forth our success.”

Around every corner there is the opportunity to try a little harder. There is a moment when we have to dig deeper. Seldom will we know which root of our hard work is the one that springs forth our success. Like the Bamboo tree it may take many years for us to be successful.

“Through God we receive insight and providential help.”

In today’s verse the Psalmist prays for the Lord to find favor with the work of his hands. Besides working hard to achieve our success, this simple prayer found in Psalm 90 brings God into our work. Through God we receive insight and providential help. A consistent and faithful relationship with God opens our eyes and teaches us how God wants us to succeed.

Never give up on our dreams. If they are honest and faithful dreams, there will be success. Like the Chinese Bamboo tree we have to create strong roots in our work and with God, to succeed. We will never know which extra effort caused our success, but we will know God helped us try harder.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Parting Thoughts

  • What is your dream?
  • What disappointments have you encountered achieving this dream?
  • What have you learned?
  • What are the next steps?

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“And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.”

Psalm 9:10

THREE VITAL CHARACTERISTICS OF A GREAT BUSINESS PERSON

During my business career as a CFO in organizations such as, Footlocker and Yankee Candle, we seldom used resumes to identify great employees. Instead we used three other determinants to decide who was going to be hired or promoted. We looked for people that were positive, trustworthy and desired competence in their work. Sure it is an unorthodox and counter intuitive approach, but it worked. We put people in jobs that didn’t indicate they could do the job, frequently. We relied exclusively on these three traits. In the end it always worked out. There is also a fourth component to our success and it is relying on God, especially in tough times. Faithful people know how to  maintain these skills during moments of stress. During tough times these people worked with God to gain insight and to steady themselves.

Always Maintain a Positive Attitude

People migrate to others who are upbeat, energetic and happy. These are the people that always seem to have things go their way. These people can make otherwise resistant people want to help. They get things done because their paths are clear and straight. Drama is what they avoid and camaraderie is what they seek. Maintaining a positive attitude opens more doors than grumbling.

Be Trustworthy in Everything

Trustworthy people are the ones we turn to when we have a difficult problem. They are trustworthy in everything; their conversations, work and social interactions. When they say they can do something, we know they will. They don’t let momentary obstacles delay their tasks. They figure out how to meet their commitments. These people treasure being honest and always provide clear facts despite being in a difficult situation. Every conversation with these people leaves us assured we have the facts and answers.

Desire to be Competent in Everything

Competence isn’t created because we are good talkers, but good doers. There may be times we don’t know the technical aspects of our jobs; great employees seek to understand how to improve and spend their days listening to learn. They thirst for knowledge and are careful with ill-informed opinions. While these people may be slow at first, their unquenchable desire to be the best raises them up over time. Competency does come on a resume, but comes through learning and listening openly to others.

Learn to Rely on God

While all these traits are easy to do when things are running smoothly, it is much harder in times of duress. During difficult times it is hard to stay upbeat. When confronted with difficult tasks it is hard to stay assured and confident. It can be hard when pressed to give a different answer then what the facts say. But we have one resource available to help us through the times. Prayers and a close relationship with God will certainly buoy us during these storms. Adhering to the values of God in our responses to duress we protect us and tell us what path to follow. Through God we will receive the right answers to life’s difficult times to help us stay positive, trustworthy and competent.

Why not try these four values out today and don’t forget to pray for guidance.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

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“And seeing a fig tree by the side of the road, he went to it and found nothing at all on it but leaves. Then he said to it, ‘May no fruit ever come from you again!’ And the fig tree withered at once.”

— Matthew 21:19

DO THE FRUITS OF OUR EFFORTS PRODUCE GREAT CUSTOMER SERVICE?

I was talking with the business manager of a large automobile dealership and asked him, “How many cars a month does your best salesman sell?” He replied, “Thirty a month, month in and month out.” I was stunned. That was almost one and a half each day he worked. Considering the immense amount of paperwork and government forms that had to be filled out for each car, it was even more impressive. The salesman’s name was Steve, and not only did he sell a lot of cars, but he always achieved very high customer service scores. I queried the business manager about how and why Steve was so consistent. His reply was that Steve’s steady business came almost entirely from past customers’ referrals. He had gotten to a point where he only had to provide good customer service and no longer needed to  make cold calls.

“The fruit of his efforts was a steady stream of loyal customers.”

Steve sent out birthday cards to all his customers. He advocated for them when there was a problem. He would take their cars and get gas for them. He knew everyone by first name. In short, he put his customers first. The fruit of his efforts was a steady stream of loyal customers. His fig tree bore fruit because he cared. Customer first and himself second was the only way to accomplish this amazing feat.

How many times have we felt like a salesperson just wanted to sell something to us to make his or her goals? How many times have we felt cheated because of an extra add-on charge? How many times have our interests been put last? We are left feeling used and just there for people to get our cash. Many of us walk away silently and never do business with that person or company again. The salesperson may have won that day, but lost a future customer and many referrals. For a short-term gain there is a long-term loss.

“Do we really listen to the customer or are we only interested in the sale?”

In today’s verse Jesus condemns the fig tree because it bore no fruit. It provided only leaves. Its purpose was to produce fruit, but it bore none. Many of us are guilty of this as well. We strive for that big sale. It makes our numbers good and our bosses happy. But silently we ignore the customer and in turn choke off our future. Our withered fruits become our reputation. Do we really listen to the customer or are we only interested in the sale? Would we continue buying something from someone like that, knowing we don’t come first? Jesus knew that good business is great customer service.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

Do we listen to our customers or do we push our goals?

How many repeat sales do we get?

How do we show value to our customers?

“Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.”

—John 17:17

COLORING OURSELVES WITH TRUTH

I met Bishop Earnest Lyght at Drew University. He was the resident bishop for Drew and was frequently available to the students. When you talked with Bishop Lyght, you could feel his truth. Whatever he said, he meant. When he talked, he talked without agenda. What he believed came from his heart. Not varnished, just a humble recitation of what he believed. He said what he believed with the knowledge that he needed to know more. A conversation with Bishop Lyght was a mutual dialogue. I am sure in silent moments of prayer, he searched his heart and desired only to tell God what was right.

Bishop Lyght was one of the early black bishops of the Methodist Church. He grew up at a time when the Methodist Church was segregated. It wasn’t until 1968 that these separate entities of race were dissolved and black pastors were welcome throughout the church. In spite of this obvious racism, Bishop Lyght continued his ministry with grace and truth. He commonly spoke out for the denied. He worked hard for equal rights of women and the poor. He wrote four books. But when you sat with him, you were with him. He listened and replied. His “thank-you’s” and “good days” were sincere. If something had to be fixed, regardless of the cost, he fixed it. His heart was always centered on the truth.

“Jesus says that our word is the truth.”

Jesus says that our word is the truth. That all we do should be centered on a sanctifying truth. A truth that courses through us to be the only thing we speak and do. In today’s world of fake news,  quick thank-yous that are said as an obligation and sleight of hand, Jesus’s ancient statement still applies. When we meet someone, we should be glad to meet that person. Our thanks in our emails should be sincere. When we tell a story, we should tell the whole story. What comes from us should always be the truth.

“When we do embody the truth, we set ourselves apart. We create a tapestry of ourselves that reflects the color of truth.”

It is sometimes hard to tell the truth. It can compromise our lives. We worry and fret about the consequences. When we do embody the truth, we set ourselves apart. We create a tapestry of ourselves that reflects the color of truth. We need to be always on guard about where our stories are leading us. Is it to gain favor? Is it to get something? When we say thank you, are we sincere? When we leave out facts, what is our purpose? Each day we struggle to be sincere. Each day we struggle to say what we mean. Each day we desire to be truthful. Some days we accomplish our tasks. Some days we don’t.

I am glad to have met Bishop Lyght. He is, in fact, a beacon of light. He is one of those people we aspire to be. His truth guides us.

Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman

What is truth in conversation?

What is truth in action?

How do we feel after we have been sincere?