Evan, my co-worker at our multi-billion-dollar consumer products company, stopped me in the parking lot. “Have you noticed how execution’s gotten sloppy over the past year?”
He looked down. “Not too long ago, this was one of the best-executing markets. I’m very disappointed. What’s happened?”
I paused. I did know what had happened, but if I told Evan the truth, I knew there’d be consequences. Maybe even for Evan himself. But integrity is a word that means something to me, so I mustered up my courage and told him what I knew. “Did you know the local management team is running a side business out of the office?”
Shocked, he just said, “No.”
“The local team is focused on building their side business, and they’re using company assets for personal gain. They’re violating our Code of Business Conduct, and they’ve lost focus on their primary job responsibilities. That’s the reason execution is so sloppy.”
I could tell that Evan didn’t quite believe me, so I walked him over to a manager’s company vehicle in the parking lot.
“See that?” I pointed to a window decal on the manager’s windshield. “That’s the logo for their side business.”
He shook his head.
“That’s just the tip of the iceberg, too. If you poke around, you’ll probably find out what’s going on.”
“I will, Preston. I will.”
True to his word, Evan poked. He discovered that the local management team had invented a new sports gadget and were leveraging the company’s people, tools, and supplies to build their side business. Over time, they’d become so consumed with growing their business that they neglected their primary responsibility: marketplace execution.
If questioned about negative business results, the team deflected the inquiries and pointed to factors “outside of their control.” They disguised their side interest by saying all of the right things to upper management. Consequently, the team was left alone to work on their own business on our company’s dime. Eventually, their audio and video didn’t match. Without accountability, the team had abandoned their integrity and slowly moved into corruption.
After my conversation with Evan, I knew that the circumstances and potential consequences would escalate. I called my manager and told him about the conversation. My manager told Human Resources and other leaders about the potential Code of Business Conduct violation.
Following an investigation, several local market leaders were fired for leveraging company assets and personally gaining from their efforts.
Looking back, I’m glad I made the right decision even though it was tough and even though I was saddened that a number of employees lost their jobs. But the experience reminded me of the necessity of integrity—with others and with myself.
I learned that when you become a person of integrity, you can become a leader, others will follow because of your honesty.
Unfortunately, one more potential consequence came to pass as a result of that side-business hustle operation going on right under my nose. The investigation also revealed that Evan might have seen the signals but had turned his head and ignored them. Regardless, he was found to be complicit and was forced to retire.
It was a bittersweet moment. I’d worked with the team for years and didn’t want any harm to come to them. At the same time, I knew I needed to expose the wrong I saw. For years after these displacements, I worked in fear of retribution, thinking that someone would take revenge for my standing up for what was right.
Gratefully, that never happened, and I remained true to my value of integrity. Now, anytime I’m tempted to skirt the truth in my words or actions, I think about that side-business logo that ultimately cost multiple people their jobs.
It doesn’t take much for a house of cards to fall.
That’s why it’s essential for leaders to lead with integrity. If you’re the one responsible for building a strong team or a strong company, your peers and employees need to know they can trust you.
Being integrous is hard but worth the cost because it will be your best friend and help you achieve your goals. So, how does one measure his or her integrity? In John C. Maxwell’s book, Becoming a Person of Influence, he offers ten questions to evaluate your integrity[i]. As you read the questions, rate yourself from 1 to 10, with ten being fully integrous and 1 with no integrity:
#1 How well do I treat people from whom I can gain nothing?
#2 Am I transparent with others?
#3 Do I role-play based on the person(s) I’m with?
#4 Am I the same person when I’m in the spotlight as I am when I’m alone?
#5 Do I quickly admit wrongdoing without being pressed to do so?
#6 Do I put other people ahead of my personal agenda?
#7 Do I have an unchanging standard for moral decisions, or do circumstances determine my choices?
#8 Do I make difficult decisions, even when they have a personal cost attached to them?
#9 When I have something to say about people, do I talk to them or about them?
#10 Am I accountable to at least one other person for what I think, say, and do?
Did any of those hit home? Take some time to reflect and choose your three areas that need the most improvement. Then, pick your top area of needed improvement. Ask yourself, why is it essential for me to improve in this area? How will I become a better person and a better leader? Why will it be important to others? What actions will I take to grow, when will I start and who will hold me accountable?
Take time to write down your answers to the above questions. Let the words from my lips move to your fingertips. If you do, you’ll know what you think by reading what you write. Also, share what you’ve written down with someone you trust and ask them to hold you accountable. Real change begins when you are vulnerable and transparent with someone and ask for their support.
I’ll end with a quote from Thomas Jefferson, “God grant that men (and women) of principle be our principal men (and women).”[ii]May you be integrous in all of your ways and be a man or woman of principle.
[i]Excerpt From: John C. Maxwell & Jim Dornan. “Becoming a Person of Influence.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/becoming-a-person-of-influence/id607555354
[ii]Excerpt From: John C. Maxwell & Jim Dornan. “Becoming a Person of Influence.” Apple Books. https://books.apple.com/us/book/becoming-a-person-of-influence/id607555354
Excerpt from The Disciple Leader: Develop Christlike Character, Influence Your Culture, Change Your World. . .
Changing your culture begins by changing yourself. Changing yourself begins by personally connecting with God on a daily basis. If God is going to mature, equip, and use you to have a ripple effect on the world, it’s essential that you’re in his Word daily, seeking his wisdom and listening to his voice. This simple act is commonly referred to as a “quiet time.”
Time alone with God is at the very heart of the Christian walk. It is your appointment with God Almighty. It’s more than a routine; it’s about a relationship. God desires fellowship with you and wants you to get to know him better. A quiet time is an invitation to be with him, to hear him speak through his Word, to say sorry when you’ve wronged him, to be thankful, to lay your burdens on him, to gain wisdom, to renew your strength, and to receive hope. God loves you and wants to be near you. If you draw near to him, he will draw near to you.
Your challenge is that the devil does not want you to be alone with God. He does not want you to be intimate with God. Our enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy us (John 10:10). He wants to ruin us. The devil doesn’t want you to be transformed so you can transform your culture. He will distract you and give you every excuse available not to meet with God, read the Bible, or pray. And when you do have a quiet time, your enemy will throw everything at you to prevent you from applying what you’ve learned from God.
The devil will also cause you to doubt and ask, “Did God really say that?” Christian, be alert! If you struggle with your daily quiet time, you need to recognize that God is bigger than the devil. Ask for the Holy Spirit’s help to give you the desire to have a quiet time, thirst for God’s Word, and seek him in prayer.
“Equipped to Fight”
As God grows you, he will also equipyou to do good works. This is why it is so important to read and study God’s Word. The better you know it, the more you grow and the more you are able to live and work for God. If you don’t know it, you will be like a soldier who has great equipment but doesn’t know how to use it. “No matter how great the equipment is, if the soldiers are not trained, they will be easily defeated. . . . The better we know our Bible, the better we are equipped to fight the battle.”
This is where application comes into play. The Bible shapes your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. It permeates to the core of your inner being, changing your life and how you relate to others. It develops your worldview. As your worldview is molded, God will work through you to be salt and light in a godless culture. You will be “salt” because, through you, the Holy Spirit can give others a thirst for God’s Word and preserve and heal our culture. You will be “light” because the Word enlightens your path. You can point the way toward Jesus and reveal what is covered in darkness.
All of this starts by personally connecting with God on a daily basis. If God is going to mature, equip, and use you to have a ripple effect on the world, it is absolutely essential that you are in his Word daily, seeking him and listening to him. This is what is commonly referred to as a “quiet time.”
Eight Guiding Principles for Quiet Times
To ensure that I daily stay tuned in to God, I try to incorporate these eight principles for a productive and effective quiet time:
1 – Place: Find somewhere private without distractions. Don’t allow your phone, TV, the internet, or any other thing to keep you from focusing on your time with God. My regular spot is sitting in our family-room recliner. Why? I can control the environment and I’m able to concentrate.
2 – Time: I am a morning person and find that I am better able to concentrate at the start of the day. I have fewer troubles on my mind than at the end of the day. Consequently, I have more energy in the mornings. This might be the opposite for many. Choose a time that works best for you. Also, plan for ten to twenty minutes each day, and make your quiet time a priority.
3 – Prayer: This is the critical way to start your daily quiet time. I confess my sins and then ask the Holy Spirit to guide me and grant me wisdom as I read his Word.
4 – Reading: I typically use a daily devotional to guide my scripture selection (e.g., Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest). I read the context around the Scripture and then go to the commentary. Please note that it is important to be in the Bible and not use the devotional guide as “spiritual fast food.” The true power is in the Bible, not the devotion or commentary. At other times, I read a chapter of Proverbs depending on the date. Proverbs has thirty-one chapters, which works out to one chapter each day for a month. For example, I read Proverbs 7 on June 7. I will also choose a book of the Bible and read a chapter per day. If you take this route, I recommend starting with the Gospel of John.
5 – Memorization: Choose a few scriptures that have special meaning to you and commit them to memory. This will allow you to recall them and think about them at any time.
6 – Meditation: J. I. Packer describes meditation as “an activity of holy thought, consciously performed in the presence of God, under the eye of God, by the help of God, as a means of communication with God. Its purpose is to clear one’s mental and spiritual vision of God and let his truth make its full and proper impact on one’s mind and heart.”In contrast to Eastern meditation, which seeks to empty the mind, Christian meditation seeks to focus and fill the mind with the truth of God.
7 – Write: Author Joan Didion once said, “I don’t know what I think until I write it down.”Similarly, an adage goes, “There is no impression without expression, and there is no expression without impression.” It is vitally important to journal your thoughts. What do you see in God’s Word? How will you apply what you’ve learned? Articulating these thoughts will help them stick. Another benefit is that you can look back over your entries and see how God is working in your life.
8 – Prayer: At the end of my quiet time, I thank God for his Word, tell him what I’ve learned, and seek his help to apply it to my life.
These elements are not necessarily a method but rather practices I’ve developed during my almost forty-year walk with the Lord. My daily quiet time is a foundational discipline. Whether in times of trouble or bounty, I can set my eyes on the Lord. I gain wisdom, encouragement, and hope. I value this time more than any other. Honestly, sometimes it is drudgery, but most times it is the most wonderful part of my day! The key is to build a habit. If you do this, God will use his Word to shape your thoughts, beliefs, and actions. He will change you. And in changing you, he will change the world!
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Thanks for reading!
Wiersbe, W. W. Be Obedient(Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991) p. 34.
J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1973), 56.
Eyre, S. D. Drawing Close to God: The Essentials of a Dynamic Quiet Time: A Lifeguide Resource. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995.
“Joan Didion Quotes,” GoodReads, https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/264509-i-don-t-know-what-i-think-until-i-write-it> Read More
A couple of years ago, I enrolled in a Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park, CO. Since the conference was held in May, I decided to commute back and forth to the YMCA from my parent’s home in Fort Collins. My typical route to Estes Park was closed due to flooding and road construction. The detour to Estes Park was through Hwy 36, a winding and scenic 90-minute drive.
May is a beautiful time of year in Colorado. But sometimes the weather can be very unpredictable. That’s when I met Valarie – Winter Storm Valarie that is…On May 18, 2017, Estes Park and the surrounding area received over 30 inches of snow. To get a feel for the road conditions, view the following videl: https://youtu.be/28L1CAQqZ8M?t=5
The snowstorm limited my attendance at the writer’s conference. I was very frustrated by the circumstances I’d encountered and here’s what I recorded in my journal:
Bummed…I came to Colorado to attend a Christian Writers Conference with the goal of connecting with publishers and agents and learning how to market my book, “The Discipled Leader.” I attended the first day but missed the rest of the confrence. You see, I made some bad decisions and circumstances beyond my control prevented me from going. I planned to commute back and forth to Mom and Dad’s house during the conference. The weather forecast predicted heavy snowfall in Estes Park beginning Wednesday night. I thought that I could commute on Wednesday and then travel back up to Estes Park on Thursday morning, stay at the YMCA through Friday night and come back on Saturday.
It was snowing hard when I woke up Thursday morning. The night before, I dreamed about my journey up Hwy 36 into Estes Park and the snow storm. I stressed out during my dream and felt like I heard “don’t go.” But I did. I felt confident that I was going to make it up the pass because the road would be plowed and sanded. Heck, I grew up in Colorado and knew I could handle the conditions. Or so I thought. . .
Things began to deteriorate as I drove up the canyon. Rounding a bend, I saw a line of cars and police lights on top of the mountain in front of me. It was snowing hard, and the road was becoming more treacherous. I stopped a van that’d turned around and was coming back down the mountain. The driver told me that the police closed the road and weren’t letting anyone through. After experiencing the conditions and hearing what the driver said, I had no choice, I had to turn around and go back home before the storm worsened.
Timing – one other circumstance…When I drove home Wednesday night, the low-pressure tire sensor came on. Dad and I took it to a local dealership to have them check it first thing Thursday morning. The mechanic filled the tire with air but wouldn’t fix the leak because we didn’t have an appointment. So, I went to another tire place. The good news is that they took me right away. The helpful mechanic found a nail in the tire, plugged the hole and finished in 15 minutes. And, I guess because of the troubled look on my face, they didn’t charge me. But my tire escapade delayed my morning departure.
So, I left later than I planned. Had I left 30 to 45 minutes earlier, I may have made it to Estes Park, but I didn’t. Because of the Winter Storm Valarie, I wrote the conference lead to tell her that I wasn’t going to be able to make the rest of the conference and requested a refund. The whole thing was a missed opportunity.
I don’t know why this happened. I don’t understand. Maybe I never will. I’m very frustrated with God…I’m trying to “love him and develop people,” to disciple others. But I seem to be thwarted, resisted at every turn. It seems that all paths are going nowhere and all of the opportunities are drying up. Staying with Dad through Sunday morning and heading home.
Maybe you hear the frustration in my voice. At the time, I couldn’t understand why the circumstances turned out the way they appeared. But here’s the rest of the story…
Because of the snow storm and my returning to my parent’s house, I was able to invest the rest of the weekend with my Dad. My Mom was traveling, and Dad was at home alone for a few weeks. We hung out together and talked about life. Toward the end of the weekend, I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with Dad. He later gave his life to the Lord, but that’s a whole different story.
Lastly, my enrollment in the writer’s conference afforded me the opportunity for paid agent or publisher 1:1s and was the main reason I enrolled in the conference. The goal of meeting with the agents and publishers was to pitch my book and receive feedback hoping all along that an agent would sign me. You can imagine the disappointment of not getting the chance to network with agents and publishers when you’ve been working on a manuscript for seven years.
But God was good. After the conference, I contacted some of the agents and told them my circumstances. Several of them agreed to meet with me over the phone. One of the agents I spoke with encouraged me to keep writing with the help of an editor. A year and lots of hard work later, I signed a contract with Credo Communications literary agency to represent my book to publishers.
I didn’t see it, but God was working out my circumstances even though I couldn’t see it at the time. If I’d attended all of the conference, I’d missed the opportunity to invest time with my Dad and share the Gospel with him. And, God made a way to sign with an agent even though it appeared my efforts were fruitless.
Three verses come to mind:
#1 – “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps” (Proverbs 16:9 NIV) – God governs our world and engineers all circumstances. I had a plan, and in the midst of what seemed like a fruitless of string events, God worked things out.
#2 – “That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (Romans 8:28 MSG) – For the Christian, the events in our lives are worked into good. We may not see it right away or ever. In the midst of my circumstances, I couldn’t see what good could come from striking out. But what I saw as striking out turned into an opportunity for something more significant.
#3 – “Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track” (Proverbs 3:5-6) – Trusting God and that’s he’s got your back will make a big difference in how you see events in your life unfold.
What about you? What happens when you encounter circumstances that don’t work out the way you planned? Do you trust that God engineers all circumstances and works every detail into something good? Friend, I encourage you to trust God with all of your plans, and if you do, you’ll become a God-confident leader.
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Our manager, Kevin suddenly charged into the room and sat down at the conference table.
“Okay, let’s see what you’ve got!” he exclaimed.
“Hi, Kevin. How are you today?” I said with a smile trying to lighten his mood and begin our meeting on a positive note.
Kevin replied, “I don’t have time today for small talk. Let’s go through your presentation and determine next steps.”
Over the next 15 minutes, Peter, my teammate, and I presented three different promotional displays to Kevin. We discussed the construction, benefits and potential cost of each display. Kevin seemed to like the options and asked how we could gain national customer team feedback.
The conversation came up once before, and I recommended that we use an internet survey. Kevin turned it down the first time. During this discussion, I thought I’d revisit the survey option. After I mentioned it, Kevin shook his head and said, “Nope, already rejected.”
I gently pushed back and asked him to reconsider. I began my response with, “I don’t mean to challenge you but….”
Not good. As soon as the words left my mouth, Kevin’s face turned red, he slammed his computer shut and shouted: “But you are challenging me, and I don’t appreciate it!” Throwing a tantrum, he got up and began to walk out of the room. Wanting to solve the issue, I followed him out the door. I asked Kevin to wait a moment and told him that I was just trying to make a suggestion. I told him I didn’t appreciate being treated that way, especially in front of a team member.
Kevin said, “Are you going to confront me in the hallway right now?”
“No,” I said staring at the floor. He told me we’d talk later and walked away. I went home deflated.
The next morning, Kevin called me into his office. When I arrived, he asked me to sit down. Then he said, “I am going to tell you some things, and you cannot respond.”
I looked at him inquisitively and thought, “I’m in for it; this can’t be good.” He was about to give me feedback. He told me that he wanted me to think about it and then we’d talk again. So, I sat in silence ready to listen.
“Preston, I was relatively easy on you yesterday. Other executives would have torn you to shreds.”
“Really?” I thought to myself.
“You’re not helping me, you’re not being a team player and you don’t listen well. You’ve got to change or you’ll be out of a job.” I held my tongue honoring his request and thanked him for the feedback.
I walked away from the conversation madder than a hornet. I was highly offended. I’d worked very hard, accomplished so much but Kevin always marginalized me. Kevin retaliated by implying my job was in jeopardy. A molehill was made into a mountain, and I resented Kevin for it. As a matter of fact, I resented Kevin and his management style for the two years I worked on his team. My constant feelings of bitterness were taking their toll. What was I going to do?
All leaders experience resentment from time to time. What is resentment? It’s an emotion that wells up inside when you feel like you’ve been mistreated or offended. Hard feelings, frustration or anger, can come from any number of sources including not gaining someone’s respect, not receiving appreciation for a job well done, not being assigned to a special project, being passed over for a promotion, an unspoken apology or rejection. Resentment is the most toxic of all emotions because it can lead to anger, hate, discord, divorce, aggressive driving, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, bankruptcy, and even violence.
If you hold a grudge against someone, the bitterness will fester inside and eventually destroy you. It begins as an emotional trigger and if harbored will become a mood impacting behavior. Resentment is a heavy burden you carry affecting your relationships and health. As the adage goes, “Bitterness is the poison one swallows as he or she hopes the other person dies.”
If resentment is so dangerous, what is the antidote? Forgiveness. If you forgive someone, you stop blaming him or her for the offense. You let go and move on. The Bible says, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NIV)
How do you forgive someone? Employ the four steps to forgiveness:
- Acknowledge your anger, then drop it and move on – It’s okay to be angry but don’t allow it to last. Let go of the anger when offended or wronged by someone. Don’t harbor it. Anger can lead to hate and violence. Resentment will break you unless you break it first. Put down the poison and move on
- Stand in their shoes – Realize that everyone is perfectly imperfect. The Christian leader remembers God forgave him or her and that same mercy should be shown to others
- Respond with good not revenge – Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. Ask God to change your heart and enable you to return the offense with a positive reaction. Practice the Golden Rule – do to others as you’d have them do to you. Remember, love is patient, kind and doesn’t seek its own way
- Pray – Ask God to forgive you and enable you to forgive the one who offended you
Admittedly, I’ve struggled with resentment for years. I often dwell on circumstances and people when I feel disenfranchised, demoralized or undignified. In the above story, I let my manager get the best of me. I should have taken responsibility for my words and actions. I didn’t need to challenge Kevin after he’d made a decision or chase him into the hallway to confront him. I needed to exercise more self-control and give him space. It would have been better if I’d approached him later, apologized and asked how I could help; personal leadership lessons learned that I applied to future situations.
The good news is that I recognized the impact bitterness was having on me and those around me. I discovered that the best antidote to resentment is forgiveness. I let go of my grudge, and my well-being improved tremendously; I no longer felt the weight of bitterness. I found that my mental outlook improved, relationships healed and I felt much better.
How about you? Do you resent someone? Are you holding a grudge? If so, how is it impacting you? What will happen if you continue holding on to the resentment? Are you willing to forgive the individual? Why not forgive that someone today? If you do, your well-being will improve, your relationships will heal, and you’ll be a more successful leader.> Read More
I’m a disciple of Christ and an executive at a Fortune 500 Company. In my blog, The Discipled Leader, I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work.
As a certified coach, speaker, and trainer with the John Maxwell Team, I help others grow their relationship with Christ, develop their leadership skills, and understand how they can make a positive difference in today’s chaotic world.
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I draw on my diverse business experience to help Christians connect their secular and spiritual lives at work. I invite you to subscribe to my blog and learn how to develop Christlike character, influence your culture and change your world.