How to Live Intentionally in Today’s World

Proverbs11:28

What and who are you putting your trust in? Do you trust in your own abilities? Maybe you are putting your trust in the company or people that you work for. Maybe you are putting your trust in that pay raise or promotion you’re expecting to get at the end of the year.

This post is personally a challenge for me. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced society we live in without stopping to take a step back and think about what we are actually doing. I’ve written about this before in past posts but I believe that God has planted a dream in each and every person. And it’s our calling to pursue that dream. With that dream comes God’s purpose and plan for our lives.

When we don’t put our trust in God enough to pursue that calling, we are missing out on the potential impact we could otherwise be making. That calling is where we thrive.

Pastor and author Francis Chan said “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” I’ve never forgotten that quote because it has challenged me to change my thinking from what do I want to what does God want? I don’t know about you but the thought of getting to the end of life and realizing I’ve succeeded at things that in the end don’t really matter (and weren’t my calling) is terrifying.

It’s can be difficult sometimes to trust that God has a plan and that His plan is best. However, the following Proverbs offer encouragement to hold on to:

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end. (Proverbs 16:3,4a)

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5,6)

Francis Chan also said, “It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.”

God has you in the place you currently are for a reason. If you feel like you are where God has called you to be, then there is a good chance you are thriving. Continue to do so and make an impact until God calls you elsewhere.

It’s also possible you don’t like where you are at all. Well here is the good news: God has a plan for your life. Proverbs 16:3 says that if we commit everything we do to the Lord, he will establish our plans. God has you there for this season of your life and until he moves you elsewhere, be creative. Make it a game. Figure out ways to make an impact.

Finally, maybe you don’t know where God wants you right now. My advice is to prayerfully search for your calling. But just like those above, look for ways to make an impact where you are. God has you intentionally where you are.

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Pride Goes Before the Fall

Proverbs16:18

G.K. Chesterton once said, “If I had only one sermon to preach it would be a sermon against pride.” In my opinion, pride is a major problem in today’s world.

Leadership author, John Maxwell, wrote a great article about this proverb a few years back, titled Pride Comes Before the FallIn it, he discusses how we are able to point to famous athletes, actors and businesspeople who are living examples of this proverb while others seem to thrive professionally in the midst of having big egos and pride:

Muhammad Ali’s brash egotism did not prevent him from triumphing in the boxing ring. Charlie Sheen’s sickening smugness may have burned relationships at CBS, but he has never been more popular, selling out several nationwide tour dates in a matter of minutes. The conceit of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has been noted by competitors, colleagues, and friends alike, yet he ranks among the world’s wealthiest men.

What can be said, then, about pride? Is arrogance really as dangerous to leadership as some people would insist? On the surface, it seems that pride does not necessarily hinder success. However, I maintain that pride is every bit as destructive to the welfare of a leader as the ancient proverb forewarns.

Along with the propensity to see themselves as superior to others, Muhammad Ali, Charlie Sheen, and Larry Ellison share in common the attainment of enormous success. However, each also appears to have left a wake of destruction relationally. While their pride may not have cost them professionally, privately it seems to have taken a toll.

In its truest sense, success involves more than material wealth and career accomplishments. When considering the implications of pride, we must remember to see the whole picture. An individual may be standing atop the world with respect to a career, yet still fall to the deepest depths.

The opposite of pride is humility. Albert Einstein once said, “A true genius admits that he/she knows nothing.” I know there have been situations in my life where I thought I knew everything only to find out very abruptly that I did not. And most of those times, I learned something new once I made the decision to humble myself and change my attitude.

We learn the most when we have an attitude of curiosity and openness and miss out on important lessons when we are too busy pretending to be know-it-alls. C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity, “A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”

Pride puts the focus on “me” instead of others. If you want to be a leader, you need to be a servant. True leadership starts with being willing to humble one’s self and serve other people.

The Supreme Quality for Leadership

Proverbs

According to Webster’s dictionary, duplicity is defined as “dishonest behavior that is meant to trick someone; the belying of one’s true intentions by deceptive words or action.”

Honesty and integrity should be the foundations for each and every aspect of our lives. A word that comes to mind when I think of integrity is consistency. The American writer, John D. MacDonald, once said, “Integrity is not a conditional word. It doesn’t blow in the wind or change with the weather.”

Are you consistent in every aspect of your life? Do you act the same way no matter where you are? Whether you are with co-workers, friends, family or by yourself behind closed doors, are your actions consistent?

Albert Einstein said, “Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.” I think that we all would hope to have the opportunity to one day be in leadership in regards to “important matters”. It’s the handling of small matters that lead to greater responsibility. I encourage you to see the small matters as opportunities.

Remember that your actions and words are seeds. What you do now will manifest itself later. While shortcuts and cutting corners may lead to short term gratification, it never lasts.

The famous architect and inventory, R. Buckminster Fuller, said “Integrity is the essence of everything successful.” True success is not possible without integrity. I came across an article in Forbes recently written by a contributor and entrepreneur named Amy Rees Anderson. She had these impactful words on the importance of integrity in life:

If I could teach only one value to live by, it would be this: Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be. Building a reputation of integrity takes years, but it takes only a second to lose, so never allow yourself to ever do anything that would damage your integrity.

That last sentence is so true. If you need proof, just turn on the TV. Unfortunately, it seems that daily we hear stories of celebrities, athletes, politicians, etc. falling out of favor with the public due to missteps.

The 34th President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, said “the supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”

I’ll leave you with this. Whether you are currently in a position of leadership or strive to one day be, when people think of you, do they consider you to be someone with unquestionable integrity?

This post is also live at http://www.brandonhelderop.com.

6 Ways To Develop Your Business Skills

Editor’s Note: Brandon is the founder and author of Proverbs and Business. He is currently in the process of moving Proverbs and Business to his new website, www.brandonhelderop.com. Brandon enjoys writing about Leadership, Social Media and Politics. You can follow him on Twitter at @b_helderop or contact him at brandon@brandonhelderop.com.

In today’s fast-paced business world, information is moving quicker than ever and it’s never been more important for us to be on top of things and constantly learning and developing our business skills. Abraham Lincoln said, “I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” If we aren’t growing personally and professionally then we run the risk of falling behind our competition who I guarantee is. In order for each of us to become experts in our respective fields, we need to make learning a daily habit. As a result, the following are six low-cost resources available to you in order to hone and develop your business skills:

1. Books
There are an endless amount of books out there for you to read. Unfortunately, it seems like I run into a lot of people today that give me the excuse that they aren’t readers. Well guess what? While it may be cliche, leaders are readers. If you aren’t daily taking in new information and learning, you aren’t growing. My advice is that you just start somewhere. Find a good book by a reputable author. If you are looking to save some money, I’d suggest going to your local library to see if they have the book you are looking for. If not, look at purchasing it on Amazon. I purchase almost all my books on Amazon. You can get a book for cheap and have it shipped fairly quickly to your doorstep. I’ve even found some books in great condition on Amazon for as little as $0.99 and around $3.00 for shipping. It’s worth it.

As far as suggestions for books to get started with, I have some favorites that I recommend. However, it all depends on what you are doing and what you are looking to learn. If you have any questions or are looking for recommendations, drop me an e-mail and I can offer you a few suggestions.

2. Online Courses
Online courses are a great resource and there are several offered by organizations online. For example, right now I am in the middle of a course that is offered through the website, Udacity. The course I am taking, titled How To Build a Startup, is taught by Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur and professor who teaches entrepreneurship at Stanford, Columbia and Caltech among others. So I’m learning from one of the best professors and the best part is that the courses offered through Udacity are free. Also, did you know that Stanford is offering 16 free online courses for the Fall quarter?

3. Podcasts
iTunes has an endless amount of podcasts for you to subscribe to. One, in particular, that I subscribe to is a leadership podcast by Andy Stanley, the popular leadership author and speaker who is also the Senior Pastor of the mega church, North Point Community Church in Atlanta. Sometimes I’ll listen to his podcast while I am running. Podcasts are a great way to get some education time in while doing other things. Another great time to listen to podcasts is while you are in the car. If you are able to play your phone over the car speakers, you can get some education time in while driving.

4. Websites
There are a lot of websites available to you. The best part is that the only investment websites require are your time. I spend about an hour each day reading new articles. Here is a list of websites that I visit regularly:

For Business and Leadership:
Inc
Entrepreneur
Young Entrepreneur
Fast Company

For Social Media:
Mashable
Social Media Today

5. Seminars and Events
Seminars and events are great resources available to you. These events allow you the opportunity to hear the experts speak. I try to attend at least one event every month. Some of these events include topics such as start-ups, leadership and social media among others. For example, I will be attending TEDxDetroit on October 26. This event will allow me the opportunity to hear the Metro Detroit’s leading thinkers and creators. It will also be a great chance to do some valuable networking.

I’d recommend looking up some local organizations and finding out their event schedule. For example, if you are interested in social media, there are social media clubs and groups available to you no matter what city you are in that hold monthly events and seminars.

6. Mentorship
Do you currently have a mentor? If not, you are taking a big risk. I’d recommend pursuing mentorship in your field. You can do this by finding 2-3 experts in your field and seeking them out. Take them out for coffee and use that time to ask them questions and pick their brain. I’ve recently been doing this as I am looking to improve my social media knowledge. In the past month, I’ve gone out for coffee with 2 social media experts and had a conference call with another who happened to be in a different state.

It’s unwise to tackle a goal without any mentorship to keep you going in the right direction. John Crosby said, “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” Find a mentor and begin picking their brain for knowledge. There is a reason they are where they are and you are where you are. They have already made the mistakes that you would most likely make along the way. Wouldn’t it be ideal to piggy-back their wisdom and save some time, sweat and tears?

What other resources would you suggest?

Three Questions To Take a Step Back and Ask Yourself

Proverbs 10:6,9

MSG- “Blessings accrue on a good and honest life, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse. Honesty lives confident and carefree, but Shifty is sure to be exposed.”

In doing research for this post, I came across a quote I felt was applicable to this passage:

”Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.” Thomas Jefferson

I love that quote by Thomas Jefferson and it is so applicable when discussing the book of Proverbs. Honesty and integrity need to be the basic building blocks and the foundation for anyone conducting business. Nobody wants to be affiliated with a person who lies, cheats, tricks people, etc.

Recently, I was chatting with someone who was sharing with me their frustrations regarding a competitor that they know is not conducting business morally. This particular business owner has inherited a reputation within the industry for lying, cheating and, essentially, stealing from his customers. However, his customers haven’t picked up on that reputation yet. And as a result, to make things worse, he has had some short-term success as a result of these deceiving actions. And to add even more to the person’s frustrations that I was talking to, this gentleman is attempting to bring his competitors down by spreading lies about them in order to make himself appear better.

I was getting fired up just listening to that story. Definitely felt for the guy. Sometimes as someone who is striving to conduct business morally, it can seem flat-out unfair, especially when it seems like you are getting beat by the person acting without integrity. It may even be tempting to move to the other side since it seems to be working. My suggestion is to remember the passage above during these times. Unfortunately, there are always going to be people in the business world who are willing to strive for success by bypassing honesty and integrity. The Bible talks about how you reap the seeds you sow. If you sow negative actions, you’ll eventually reap negative results. Likewise, if you steadfastly remain firm, sowing good seeds, God promises blessings.

Business Ethics vs. Honesty and Integrity

We hear the phrase business ethics. Every organization seems to have something about it in their mission, vision or value statements. Conducting business with honesty and integrity goes way deeper than simply acting “ethical”, though. In my opinion, practicing business ethics doesn’t go far enough. There is way too much grey area. In my eyes, there is right and there is wrong. If God’s Word is your foundation (like mine is), then the difference between right and wrong should more times than not be black and white. There is no grey area with God.

As we are conducting business, my advice is that we take a step back and ask ourselves these three questions:

1. Am I treating my clients and employees the way I would like to be treated?

We all learned the golden rule when we were kids: treat others as you yourself would want to be treated. You wouldn’t want to be lied to or cheated against. We expect others to be honest in working with us. We should do the same to others.

2. Do I have to rationalize business decisions?

If we have to convince ourselves that doing something is okay, then it probably isn’t okay. God blessed each of us with a conscience that helps us decide between right and wrong. If we are struggling with a decision because our conscience is leading us in one direction but we want to go in the other direction, we may be rationalizing.

3. Do I do what I say I am going to do?

Our word is our bond. One of my favorite quotes is this:

“If you lose your money, you’ve lost nothing. If you lose a friend, you’ve lost something. If you lose your word, you’ve lost everything.”

Say what you mean and mean what you say. Simple as that.

Bonus question: Next time you are in a “sticky” situation and struggling with what to do, ask yourself this: Will I be able to sleep well tonight as a result of my decision?

Remember, one day we will have to answer to someone higher. In addition, the message above in verse 6 is that God’s blessings accrue on a good and honest life. There are a lot of people out there in the business world who claim to be practicing honesty and integrity but not enough living it out. My hope is that we can all aim to make honesty and integrity core principles in our business practices. Talk is cheap. Let’s strive to live them out.

Can you think of any more questions we should ask ourselves to make sure we are acting with honesty and integrity?

Sloth: What Is It and Why You Need to Avoid It

Proverbs 3: 11-12

RSV: “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”

Photo: “Prodigal Son” by Rembrandt,  1665

I have been somewhat alarmed at writing this post. Over on twitter, I have been expressing regularly how God has written more on my heart in writing this post than I have written down on paper (or screen). I have been alarmed because the same topic kept coming to mind: the sin of sloth. Let me explain.

In Proverbs 3. 11-12 , the author writes, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”

In writing about the Word of God, I often find that I write the things I do because those are the things that are normally going on in my own life. You can see why, then, that the writing of this post has been of concern to me.

Sloth is one of those deadly sins and topics that is misunderstood and frankly, hardly talked about. That is because most people don’t know what it actually means.

Sloth does not mean laziness or sleeping in too late for church: it’s much more spiritual and deep than that. Sloth is despair in striving for God and His ways. It’s a spiritual laziness or sadness in wanting to be holy; at it’s core, a mistaken belief that God’s ways are less-than, and not more-than.

It is one of the most dangerous sins, and it is why history has labeled it a deadly sin.

Unfortunately we live in a culture which believes that the least important things are the most important things, and the most important things are the least important things. It’s not difficult to see: more money is spent in the porn industry than in any other industry. To them, lust is first and love is last. 

As Christians who are still on the journey home, we must ever be vigilant to stay on the path to the promised land, lest we get distracted in the desert and mistakenly desire to bow down to Pharaoh and his false promises of freedom. 

Now that we have defined what sloth is, the question begs, “So what do we do now as business owners, entrepreneurs, and young professionals?” I would suggest three things in the context of the rest of Proverbs 3.

First, as entrepreneurs, professionals, and even just as people who desire wisdom, we should always look outside of ourselves for the right answers. The author in verse 5 writes, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight.” We should find people to learn from, but not just any people. Find people that we want to be like. In this case, holy people: people who have persevered in running the race after God, who have loved others sacrificially, who have given their opportunities back to God to serve Him and people.

Second, just like in business, we need to build our spiritual house on solid rock. Interestingly, one of the best ways to do this is to start confessing your sins out loud to another person, somebody you trust. Verse 11 states, “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” Because I am Catholic, I can testify from experience that verbal confession is one of the best experiences of living the Christian life. Yes, it is God alone who forgives sins, but there is a real freedom in letting it out and hearing that even for this terrible sin that I just confessed, I am forgiven and set free anew. The second part to confession is the counsel that is shared by the other. It is critical to find somebody who will help you through the valley: somebody who will love you enough to tell you where you are wrong and what steps you need to take to grow.

Third, I think sloth can be avoided and conquered if we ask for more faith. With the eyes of faith, we will realize that being a disciple of Jesus is more, not less, unlike what the culture wants us to believe. We can run our businesses with integrity, with honesty, not taking advantage of our employees or our clients, and we can still win. In fact, we will win more by aligning our hearts with the servant heart of the Lord because we will experience the joy of sacrificial giving. But notice- it first requires us to take actions to align our hearts with His before we can understand such riches. 

With these three things in mind, let us hope that we can experience the joys of discipleship and steer clear of sloth, for wisdom is “a tree of life to those who lay hold of her, those who hold her fast are called happy.”

Ryan Eggenberger is a writer, blogger, and social media consultant for political, religious, and business organizations. He teaches people how to come up with creative ways to make money doing what they love. He blogs regularly at
RyanEggenberger.com. Follow Ryan on Twitter!

What We Can Learn from Insanity

Proverbs 26:11

ESV- “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”

I was taught at the beginning of my business career that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I later found out that it was Einstein who said that quote.

What practices are you holding onto that aren’t producing the right results yet you continue to do them in hope that your fortunes will change? I wrote on a similar topic in my post on Proverbs 29:1. In that post, I wrote this:

“There is a difference, however, between being stubborn and refusing to quit. When we face challenges, there are those who truly believe in what they are doing. Then there are the people that the NIV translation calls “stiff-necked”. Anthony J. D’Angelo said, “Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance.” People like this hold onto ideas or practices that haven’t worked in the past and continue not to work in the present. They stand in denial of a problem refusing to accept a need for change. This stubbornness is not only stiff-necked but also foolish. Furthermore, the end result is never positive and can usually be summed up in one word: regret.”

What are some things that you can think of off the top of your head that you are doing over and over yet not getting the results you’ve been hoping for? As the verse says, fools repeat their folly. So the question I want to answer is this: how do we not continue to repeat folly? Here are 4 check-marks that we should review when things aren’t going the way we’d like:

1) Listen to the Holy Spirit

First of all, I’ve written from day one on this blog that we need to pursue God and offer up everything we do so He can lead us. We need to be in tune with what God’s plan is for our lives. He has a plan for each and every one of us and it is our purpose to figure out what that is. If you don’t feel God’s calling on what you are doing, then it may not be right. However, if you do feel God’s call on whatever venture/project you are pursuing, then run forward.

2) Personal Growth

Have you grown through the process of pursuit? If a venture/project isn’t going to stretch you and/or force you to experience personal growth through it, then it isn’t worth it. In that case, you might want to take a step back and analyze what you are doing. On the other hand, if it has stretched you, then you are probably on the right path. Keep stretching and growing yourself.

3) External Impact

Are you impacting others through the process of pursuit? External impact is similar to personal growth. If a venture/project isn’t benefiting others around you then what’s the point? It’s very difficult to get any type of satisfaction out of a venture if you are having zero impact on others. But if you are impacting others positively, then keep doing what you are doing.

4) Making Some Progress

This one is a tough one. There are going to be times when you feel like you aren’t making any progress. That can be a very discouraging feeling. If you truly believe that you are doing what God has called you to do, then make it a goal to take baby steps. Don’t go for the home run. Just do a little bit everyday to move yourself and your venture/business/job forward. On the other hand, if you are going backwards with little hope, then you might want to rethink what you are doing. It may be foolish to keep going.

The definition of a fool (according to the dictionary) is someone who “acts unwisely or imprudently”. The French writer, Simone de Beauvoir said, “In the face of an obstacle which is impossible to overcome, stubbornness is stupid.” It’s imperative we understand when it is okay to be stubborn and when it is not.

Next time you hit an obstacle, analyze your expectations and use the 4 check-marks above to help you figure out if you are moving in the right direction. Are you doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? If so, make some adjustments. Maybe even try something new. You’ll be happy you did.