True Ethics

The laborer is worthy of his hire. Jesus

When I was going back to school, I had to take a course in business ethics. My instructor was an old "hippy" that just never matured. He had a ponytail, spoke "cool" and flirted with the young ladies. He began the class with the question, "What is truth?" The question seemed strangely familiar and then I realized that this was the exact question that Pilate had asked Jesus just before he had Him crucified. The class turned out to be more of a course in philosophy than a study of business ethics... and we wonder why there are so few ethics in the business world.

As a real estate appraiser for more than a dozen years, I had to take a number of short courses on ethics. This aggravated me because I not only had to pay for these silly classes, but I also had to take a week off with no income to do so. It wouldn't have been so bad had they truly taught ethics, but these classes primarily focused on how not to get sued... and we wonder why there are housing crises.

Now, my point is not that there are no ethics in the business and academic worlds; rather, it's that they are going about it all wrong. Ethics is not a philosophy nor is it a strategy: It's a way of life - specifically, a Christian way of life. It is the Christian work ethic that proclaims "an honest day's work for an honest day's pay" and there is simply no viable substitute for this standard. No amount of cool professors with ponytails or sharp business men with lawyerly advice will ever be able to come close to producing ethics in business (or in life) the way that an honest application of the Christian work ethic will.

More importantly, we have work to do for our Lord during these few years that we have on earth. Will we seek to "philosophize" away that duty? Will we seek to determine with legal precision the bare minimum effort that service to God requires? Or, will we give an honest day's effort for a reward that is far in excess of an honest day's pay. It would be wrong to close without mentioning one of the main dividends of the Christian work ethic: There is something quite satisfying about coming to the end of your workday tired but content in the knowledge that you have earned your check that day. While we can never "earn" our salvation, we can at least put in an honest life's effort for a Savior Who is worthy of our effort.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Colossians 3:23-24, NIV


True Genius

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.  

Thomas Edison

When Edison invented the light bulb, his work was only just beginning. He had discovered that the placement of a platinum wire in a sealed glass tube would glow and give off light when connected to an electric current. Edison had 3,000 theories on the invention of this light bulb, and each theory seemed reasonable and promising, but only two of these theories actually worked. But work they did and he had a light bulb.

It was in his search for a filament that could be economically mass produced that would prove to be his biggest hurdle. The platinum filament was too expensive and rare to be commercially viable, so Edison went back to the drawing board. His search for a cheaper and more readily available filament led Edison to carbonize and test over 6,000 different substances before he found one that would work: A type of bamboo that grew in abundance in Japan. Then, Edison had to invent a system that would produce and deliver electricity - so he did.

As you sit reading this, you may be wondering why I am giving a history lesson. The reason is simple: It is when we see what others have accomplished through perseverance and hard work that we begin to understand the capacity for great achievement that God has placed within each one of us. Few people would deny that Edison was a true genius, but I wonder how many people realize the full extent of the effort that he put forth to make that genius of value to others. Do you think that anyone would have ever heard of Thomas Edison, regardless of his genius, had he not been so willing to put  forth quality effort?

One of the vital lessons that we all need to learn is that God has given each of His creations a unique set of abilities and talents to be used in His service. While we all have this "genius", we will find that it is only useful when combined with hard work and perseverance. People always envy the great men and women of history, but rarely recognize the fact that God has blessed them with similar potential. It is when we act on that potential that we find that we can truly do great things in this life of service that God has entrusted to us all.

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked. 

Jesus, as recorded in Luke 12:48, NIV


Trials By Fire

God brings men into deep waters, not to drown them, but to cleanse them. 


The Lodgepole Pine is a common sight in my old home state of Wyoming. The Lodgepole Pine has a lifespan of about a hundred years - after that, they just stop growing and begin to die. These trees then literally become lightning rods and many spectacular fires have taken place within these forests of pine trees. Now, you might be wondering why God created a species of tree that grow for only so many years and then die out to become little more than fuel for fire.

Oddly enough, the answer to this question reveals something great about God's intelligent design. It is when these trees burn that their cones open up and drop their seeds. In certain climates, these pine cones will not open up to anything short of a fire. The seeds then fall to the newly enriched soil, sprout, and then grow like there is no tomorrow. In a few years you have a fresh new stand of healthy, thriving Lodgepole Pines... and the cycle starts anew.

There is an important lesson to be learned from a tree that only becomes productive after it has been through the fire. People are like that, when you think about it. When conditions are perfect, we thrive and grow, Then one day, though the conditions remain perfect, we just stop growing - and then we start to die. Many people never recover from such perfect conditions. This, I believe, is why you see so few children of privilege succeed: They didn't struggle to get their wealth or position or status, so they die after a while. This shouldn't come as a surprise because very few people thrive without challenges for very long.

But, let a little adversity come into these same lives and something wonderful happens: They wake up! They struggle! They begin to live again! Only then do they start to produce those seeds that are capable of producing something great that will last for generations - long after they themselves have departed this world. So, if you are experiencing a bit of adversity, thank your loving Father - it is a great gift! Adversity will not kill you - in fact, it just may renew your entire life. Have you had any adversity of late... have you been through the fire? If so, will you wallow in your misfortune, or will you use this fantastic opportunity to begin anew?

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.

II Corinthians 4:16-17, NIV


Training Up a Child

The best way to make children good is to make them happy.    


When I first looked at this quote, I was struck that something was out of place. After looking at it a while I realized that something was out of order. With no disrespect to Mr. Wilde, a more accurate statement would be: "The best way to make children happy is to make them good".

I know that this is true from 30 years of working with youth groups. When I first started I thought along the same lines as Mr. Wilde and tried to make all the youth gatherings as fun and exciting as possible. This worked for a while but after a period of time I noticed that the teens needed more and more excitement or they would become bored.

Then we tried something different. Our youth group began meeting one night each week during the summer to mow lawns for our widows at church. At first, the response was about what you might expect. The kids who were so used to being entertained were a bit put out about having to work instead of being entertained. Some shirked their work, while others simply chose not to show up at all.

But, as the summer moved along, an amazing transformation took place. When the kids saw how much their efforts were needed (and appreciated), they began to attack their work with a greater enthusiasm that soon turned to joy. The widows enjoyed the relief of a big burden and the entire church appreciated the fact that their kids were becoming servants. Many from within the community also took notice and responded in a very positive way. Some began to attend just to get their kids involved with this simple act of loving-kindness.

But the most impressive thing of all was that these young men and women became happy because they first began to do good.

Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old he will not depart from it.   

Proverbs 22:6, KJV


Think of These Things

Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely,  whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think of such things. 

Philippians 4:8, NIV

Try this - it really works! Instead of allowing yourself to focus on the negative things that the world seems to insist that we give our undivided attention to, think of the things that God wants you to think about.

Think about the truths that you know: That God is in heaven... that He has given us unlimited blessings... that, though we have sinned, Jesus has already paid the penalty for those sins... that someday, we will be in heaven - if we will only slow down enough to do God's things in God's ways.

Saturate your day with pleasant thoughts and consider the noble things that God has provided. Think about the decent people that God has placed in your life and the privilege that is yours for knowing them. Think about what is right, for a change, instead of everything that is wrong. This type of mindset will change your outlook on everything from the job to the team to the family to the nation to the church.

Then think about the lovely. This means it's okay to deeply appreciate the beauty that God has placed right in front of you each day - you can start with the sunrise in the morning and enjoy every bit of God's beauty right up to that sunset in the evening. 

And then, God would have us think on the admirable. When was the last time that you paused to admire anything? It's out there, you know, if we will just take our eyes off of the inconsequential long enough to contemplate the big things.

When you think about it, there are things of excellence and things worthy of praise just about everywhere you turn. It's true that there are ugly and unpleasant and evil and worthless things in this world, and sometimes they really do demand our attention. The trick to life is to think just long enough about the bad things to handle them and then get on... to those things that are right and pure and lovely and true and noble and excellent and praiseworthy, for it is these things that God has put us here for. It's something to think about, isn't it?

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 

Colossians 3:2, NIV