Biblical Leadership

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Posted 12/14/10 at 8:10 AM | Tom Harper

Counteract Burnout by Returning to Job #1

“Passion and purpose go hand in hand. When you discover your purpose, you will normally find it’s something you’re tremendously passionate about.”   – Steve Pavlina

A few thousand years ago, the prophet Jeremiah suffered burnout. Decades of pronouncing judgment on an unrepentant Israel wore him down. In the book named after him, he begs for release from this horrible work, but God forbids him to leave it.

Jeremiah’s battle against burnout reveals who he really is as a leader – a mixture of character traits and weaknesses we can all appreciate.

Even when the job stinks, Jeremiah never quits.  Like the Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” reality show, no one wants to do Jeremiah’s job. Other prophets get to speak of magnificent future events but Jeremiah pronounces only destruction. Because the Israelites never change their ways, he never changes his message.

He is publicly fearless and faithful, privately weak and doubtful.  Jeremiah stands strong against the kings and leaders who threaten him. But inside, the proud prophet crumbles under depression and resentment. He accuses God of abandoning him: “You truly have become like a mirage to me – water that is not reliable” (Jer. 15:18). FULL POST

Posted 10/22/10 at 5:14 PM | Tom Harper

Learn the Secret of Loving Your Work

“The man who does not work for the love of work but only for money is not likely to make money nor find much fun in life.”
 – Charles Schwab

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon established the enjoyment of our work as one of the secrets to happiness. In Song of Songs, he reveals the secret of how to love our work, not just have fun at it.

To illustrate God’s definition of love, Solomon stages a poetic drama between a pair of newlyweds. The bride tells a group of unmarried girls the secret of her delight: “Do not stir up or awaken love until the appropriate time” (SS 2:7; 3:5; 8:4). Ray Steadman writes, “She means, do not prematurely stimulate love…. It is like trying to open the bud before it is ready to open; you simply destroy it.” Not forcing love before its time is just as important in our work.

When I entered the work force after college, I was infatuated with the radio business. I expected a career hob-knobbing with rock stars, ad agencies and deejays, but I quickly learned the sales job only looked good from the outside. The commission potential and glitzy lifestyle lost their allure after the first year. When I switched to a different station, I thought that would change my view. But the affair with my job disintegrated there, too. Now in Internet publishing, I now realize it wasn’t radio I loved – it was the world of media. FULL POST

Posted 10/5/10 at 8:20 AM | Tom Harper

The 4 uncontrollable forces that plague every leader

“[O]ne can make money in the financial markets totally out of randomness.”
– Nassim Nicholas Taleb

“Why” questions confound every leader at some point in his or her career. In The Halo Effect, author Rosenzweig pinpoints the irrationality of the “why” fallacy: “We like to believe that … the business world [is] a just and predictable place, ruled by precise laws…. [But] the most important questions in the business world don’t lend themselves to the predictability or replicability of physics.” (p. 126)

When I read the story of Esther, I am struck by the ironies, apparent luck and providence at play.

Questions pop up at every turn in the story. Why does King Xerxes choose Esther, a young Jewish girl, to be his new queen? What makes one of his officials, Haman, hate the Jewish people so vehemently that he plans to annihilate them in a mini holocaust? What causes King Xerxes to suddenly soften toward his queen and her family? And how in the world does Esther get away with finally revealing her Jewish heritage, then force Haman to condemn himself in front of the king? FULL POST

Posted 9/23/10 at 8:17 AM | Tom Harper

Try this to combat depression

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –
It gives a lovely light!
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "First Fig" from A Few Figs from Thistles (1920)

A friend of mine thought he could conquer the business world by throwing his body and soul at it.

When the challenges increased, he burned his flame hotter, until there was nothing left. He lost his job as well as his marriage. He realized he had been addicted to more than just work, and needed help. It took him a year to recover and find another job.

The book of Job provides the right perspective on suffering. Job is a selfless man, highly respected and greatly honored. One day, Satan complains that Job is only serving God because of the power and popularity it affords him. The Lord invites Satan to prove his point, and he stirs up a tornado that kills all 10 of Job’s sons and daughters.

Finally, he receives permission to afflict the grieving man with excruciating sores. Job is reduced to the level of a helpless baby. “Naked I came from my mother’s womb,” he says, “and naked I will leave this life” (Job 1:21). He feels like a fraud. His past dignity rivaled that of a king, and now he grovels in the dirt with sores from head to foot. Friends try to offer him consolation, but in the end they blame him for his circumstances. No one knows the real reason for his suffering. FULL POST

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