A Journal Entry: When to Talk

let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
-Saint James

When to talk and when to listen

I have come to keep a journal. Reflections on the day and so on. This morning in my time set aside to blog, thoughts of reflection on a topic that has gone unanswered too long and an idea of resolution consumed me to journal instead. So this week I will share this entry. Names removed, adding in verses for and some of my thoughts that did not make their way to the entry for context, etc:

5.2.15

In the past I have not been sure as to the volume of my speech. In business settings, in the past I have felt like I, in general, have ideas I think will help. So I have always erred the side of sharing them. That said, I have been mindful of God’s word that encourages us not to speak hastefully and in great volume. It has been a point of uncertainty for me. The balance of volume my speech. Should I talk or should I remain silent? Is this a point of pride? That everyone must hear my idea because my idea is so good? Yesterday I had breakfast with one of my mentors. My struggle on the matter came up as we talked about James 1:18-20:

Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

I have come to believe this to mean that if we are going to be God’s firstfruits amongst His creatures, if we are going to serve and love our fellow; the formula to make that possible is to be swift to listen, slow to speak, slow to wrath. We need to listen to be positioned to love others well. It does not say “do not speak” it says to “be slow to speak.” This I think helps us focus on listening. The opposite thinking about what we are going to say and waiting for the first opportunity to speak, I do not think is slow to speak but rather quick for we have already spoke to ourselves and are just waiting to privy others our thoughts. The question I asked him was how does this work with the gift of speaking and teaching and sharing understanding. He looked at me and smiled. He gave no answer. No word left his tongue. Interesting. Perhaps now I think he may have been teaching me a lesson after all. After breakfast he and I went to visit an old friend of my fathers that was in town from the city on a case, he is a God fearing lawyer, his father was too. I asked him this same question after talking about James 1:19. He said that it was a tough question that he had no answer. He did however afford me a piece of advice his father gave him. ‘It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.’ That is, as I took it, when in doubt remain silent. Still my dilemma remains for my confidence soars in conversation that a particular idea should be shared for the service of those there. Not to my glory of course, that I rescue them with my idea or some nonsense, but instead, should what is shared help; glory be to our God who makes all things known, the Creator of all ideas. I was mowing the lawn last afternoon, preparing our home for a dinner with the families of two business partners where we planned to discuss how to help another in a new venture. As I was mowing the lawn reflecting on the day, I came to this bit of advice that my fathers friend passed to me from his father. ‘When in doubt remain in silence.’ Then a thought flashed in to my mind. 1 Peter 4:10-11:

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

In my estimation, if you are speaking for the LORD in service of your fellow, then speak as it is your duty. This, I think, is when the doubt is removed; that point of balance I had been searching for. When to talk. My father’s friend said something else that I think answers the ‘if’ of the qualifying question above. That is; discerning if you are speaking for the LORD in service of your fellow. I am doing my best to recall and paraphrase his comments, ‘I thrive in hardship.’ He said, ‘It is good for me. To be humbled and know I rely on God. I have no humble bone in my body. God brings me to my knees.’ This sort of revelation has been reoccurring to me as of late years. My complete reliance on God. On God’s Spirit to show me what to do. I think now, God willing, my dilemma in speech will draw me closer to God. Practicing the presence of God. God give me discernment and faith with wisdom, understanding, knowledge. I need Your help God. I depend on You moment by moment. Draw me near You God and draw near me. Show me what to do.

A quick programming note: I want to clarify something that was clear in my mind when writing in my journal but could be taken for granted here. And when I say clear in my mind I do not mean that I have figured this out, only that I have come to believe these things important. These things are things that if, should you believe you are to speak, I do not think should give way to manners and other proverbs addressing our speech. Things like talking in definitives or otherwise squaring off that you are in the right, interrupting and other forms inserting yourself when another is speaking, or dominating a conversation as to not let another contribute. 

 

-A journal entry on speech

  As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

Getting In

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
-C.S. Lewis

friendship in business

In business the desire for strategic partnerships often arises when trying to accomplish. As an entrepreneur I have found myself doing what I suppose many entrepreneurs do from time to time: dreaming about a future in which we have partnered with another who is already serving the masses. Dinner with the king and so on. But how does one broach the matter with the great? The bible gives Christian business people an understanding on exactly how this works. Let us have a look.

 First things first the bible shows us what the dynamics of the situation are in Proverbs 19:6a

 Many will entreat the favor of the prince…

 Entreat. Ask someone earnestly or anxiously to do something. So we know that the great are approached earnestly and or anxiously by many. What is an earnest approach like to the great? I am assuming it is not like getting a call from your cable provider on the benefits of latest bundle. It is more likely, I think, that these are more like the I have a dream speech. It is quite reasonable, I believe, to assume that the solicitors care deeply about the matter, that they have thought deeply about it for some time, perhaps even sacrificed to bring it to its current state for years. How are we to stand out?

Anxiously. In this context, I take this to mean that the solicitors’ sense of desire is great. Perhaps to the point of causing the solicited to be a bit put back, startled or even uneasy. When we think about it the two are in very different positions. One has just heard of this idea, proposition, or even this person; just now. The other is quite the opposite. This passion and sense of urgency and desire on the matter seems only separate them further.

The verse goes on to say:

Many will entreat the favor of the prince: and every man is a friend to him that giveth gifts.

So what is this mention of gifts doing here then? Interesting. Another verse in Proverbs mentions gifts and the great and even speaks to the topic of broaching the divide between ourselves and them. Proverbs 18:16 reads:

A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.

 So the bible is telling us that a gift will help us get our in so to speak. But what sort of gift is this? A new car? A fruit cake?

Gifts. The very best sort are focused on the other. Giving a gift that you like is one thing; I enjoyed this so I thought you might to. But then again your mother may not like so and so as much as you. But let us suppose this Mothers Day you found out a bit about where your mother would like to be and gave her a gift that helped her get there. In business this, I think, is of the very best sort. Not so easy of course, but all the same the best I think.

I have come to believe that these great business people are great because of their being focused on those they are serving. Again this speaks to how difficult it can be to present an idea to them. They are likely consumed with executing their specific plan for serving their customers and there may not be room for a new idea that is yours. It is highly probable that they have a plan and that you can learn about it. Perhaps the gift you bring could establish your friendship by coming alongside them in their journey of service. How much better if it was on their terms and not yours. If you were focused on joining them on their journey not inserting yours and trying to make it fit. Focused on them. The question, I believe, then becomes: how can you give a gift that helps them with their plan of helping their customers?

-A takeaway from an internrocket.com shareholder meeting

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

The Ten Commandments for Relating to Others

Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end. Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.

-Psalm 119:33-35

Sunrise at Mount Sinai in Egypt

When God gave Moses the ten commandments why did He give them by way of two tablets instead one? Rabbi Daniel Lapin suggests the ten commandments were given on two tablets instead one because the two tablets relate to one other.  He suggests the ten commandments are actually five principles, each principle with two applications to make ten. The first tablet, commandments one through five relate to our creator, which includes our parents. The second tablet, commandments six through ten speak to how we are to relate to our peers.  For example, commandments one and six speak to the first principle, where commandment one applies the first principle to our creator and commandment six applies to our peers.  Interesting.

 

The first principle, Rabbi Daniel Lapin suggests is:  Others have the right to exist.

First Tablet: Second Tablet:
1. I am the Lord your God 6. Thou shalt not murder

I am not the center of the universe.  There are others who exist.  Their right to exist is real as mine.  I am the LORD your God, is where their right to exist comes from.  Rabbi Daniel Lapin teaches that the source of power of the second tablets strength lies in the truth of the first tablet.

 

The second principle: Certain relationships are sacred.

First Tablet: Second Tablet:
2. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Throughout the old testament, when God’s chosen people worshiped false idols it was referred to, by Him, as prostitution.  God wants us to have special relationships that are different from others and we are to uphold these relationships.  It is not good for man to be alone.

 

The third principle: Others, not you, have a right to their possessions.

First Tablet: Second Tablet:
3. Thou shalt not take my name in vain 8. Thou shalt not steal

Property is a good thing.  People own things that are theirs and you can not take them. God’s name is his just as your neighbors news paper is theirs.

 

The fourth principle: Others property includes their reputation.

First Tablet: Second Tablet:
4. Remember the Sabbath, to keep it holy 9. Thou shalt not bear false witness

Just as we are called to uphold our peers reputation by not lying about them we are called to uphold God’s reputation as the Creator by keeping the Sabbath day holy.  It does not say ‘remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.’ It says ‘to keep it holy.’ The act of keeping the Sabbath is how we uphold God’s reputation. This is what keeps the Sabbath holy. This is a signal to the world that we belong to God and that God is the Creator.  God created the world in six days and rested on the seventh.

 

The fifth principle: Our rights have limits

First Tablet: Second Tablet:
5. Honor your father and mother 10.  Thou shalt not covet

Covet is like envy.  I do not want you to have it.  I do not want you to be better than me.  I do not want you to be above me.  Coveting is stepping out of our boundaries with our peers and not honoring our parents is stepping out of our boundaries with those placed above us by God.  Others will be above us in our life and we need to respect that, more we need to see its beauty, and flourish in their protection and love for us.

 

In summary, Rabbi Daniel Lapin teaches that the ten commandments are actually five principles with two examples each. One for how we relate to those above us and one for how we relate to those beside us:

  1. I am not the center of the universe, others exist and have a right to,
  2. among those others there is one other that has a unique and special relationship with me,
  3. all other people have a right to their property, and I am not to violate it,
  4. these other people also have reputations which are a most important form of their property not to be overlooked, and
  5. we are to accept and have joy in the place God has us.

 

 

-A takeaway from The Ten Commandments by Rabbi Daniel Lapin

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

The Law of Receptivity

It is better to give than to receive.  

-Jesus Christ

receiving

What is in it for me?  You first, then we will see.  I have come to believe that thinking of this sort is not the way of the successful.  Perhaps that is why the authors suggest it is only after we give, and give to many, and put first, and are true — that it is then time for us to consider getting.  Their fifth and last law of success:

The Law of Receptivity:

The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.

An interesting idea on getting: how it allows another to give. It is more blessed to give than to receive. And receiving allows the blessed phenomenon to go round. Receiving. Being sensitive to others desires to give and letting in. Much different than taking. Much different than positioning to lay hold. “Fancy meeting you here again Bob, on your route.  Why those look scrumptious. And they smell wonderful too. It is probably because I have yet to eat this week…” Not so much.

 

-A takeaway from The Go Giver by Mann and Burg

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

The Law of Authenticity

The most exhausting thing in life is being insincere.

-Anne Marie Lindbergh

The Roman sculpture of Menelaus supporting the body of Patroclus

Sincerely. At the bottom of a note. “Trust me” we say. The note, not calculated, arrives bonafide. I am being authentic. I am not hiding anything. I am not playing politics. The word derived from the latin sin: without, cera: wax, comes to our sincerely. Without wax. As it were sculptors in ancient Greece who had something to hide, and were not above it, used wax to deceive. The wax used to fill in imperfections would of course eventually melt away. Sculptors then became expected to deliver to the buyer a note stating the product was indeed without wax.

What wax we use to cover and fill in what we wish were this or that in us? Always afraid of the wax melting away to reveal the truth. What an uncertain exhausting way. Complexes abound. Hindering relationships and progress. Search deep for wax and be without. Everyone has things they would prefer be filled in or unnoticed. That very desire is however what should concern. We are who we have been created to be.  Imperfectly beautiful. Live without wax and go in peace.

The Law of Authenticity:

The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself

-A takeaway from The Go Giver by Mann and Burg

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

Entreleaders Are Powerful – part 2

“Entreleaders understand that ultimately the only power they can use to grow a quality team is the power of persuasion.”  

-Dave Ramsey   

If you have never read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, it is one of the best books I have ever read on how to relate to people and serve them well.  In this classic, Dale Carnegie suggests the best way to persuade is to arise in the person an eager want.  Taking his instruction further leads us to working to put ourselves in their shoes and do the best we can to see things from their point of view.  To do this he suggests that we will need to get to know them.  The better we know them the easier it will be to see things from their point of view and and help them get something they want.  What goes without saying here is that we are not going to get someone to do something that is not in their best interest.  This is all about alignment.  Learning about people, working to see things from their point of view, and helping them see how they can get what they want.  It is all about serving people.  Entreprenuers who understand this are powerful.

 

 A takeaway from Entreleadership by Dave Ramsey.

Comments re: good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned would be the coolest but anything is cool.