May 19, 2018
What can you do with money, power and influence? I am sure much and much. But much of what? When you have much of everything that can be traded, what do you trade your time, skills and resources for? I believe one of the key answers lies in the question – when you go to work, who do you work for? This is one of the most critical queries in personal leadership.
I googled up ‘five extremely rich people who ended up poor’ and found a horrifyingly long list. They scanned those who made fortunes and lost them in their life-times through entering ill thought out ventures, and those whose fortunes were taken away through drugs, sickness and simply terrible events. Then there are those who inherited baffling wealth, industries, and assets but lost them through spending on mansions and jewelry while forgetting to be law abiding and so ended up in prison.
The Bible has its share of these ‘gain and loss’ horror stories. Adam who got thrown out of the paradise garden crafted for him, Saul the first king who died in ignominy, successful kings who ended up with leprosy like Hezekiah, and prosperous empires that were swallowed by others (Babylon, Persia, Greek and Roman empires). I think the most intriguing story of gain and loss is that of Solomon – allegedly the richest man to have ever lived.
The capital for the riches Solomon presided over had come from his soldier father David, who fought wars and took over many territories. Solomon started well by pleasing God with his wise heart, and God endowed him with much more amazing wisdom. That amazing wisdom was the inner resource that he used to create and obtain his incalculable wealth. By the way, wisdom comes from the root word ‘sophia’, which gives us the adjective ‘sophisticated’. Wisdom is therefore the sophisticated thinking that leads to creative and cunningly crafted and effective words, works, results and outcomes. Wisdom employs creativity, ethics, emotional intelligence and work to create more and more achievements.
Solomon had a son called Rehoboam, who took over the united kingdom of twelve tribes from Solomon, and the vast treasures and territories. Through a heart of callousness, bad decisions made from the counsel of a cohort of spoilt brat friends, lack of wisdom, as well as withdrawal of God’s favour, the kingdom broke up in Rehoboam’s hands. Within one generation after Solomon, Rehoboam had lost much of the vast wealth and territories bequeathed to him. Money, territory, power and influence disintegrated in Rehoboam’s hands. (That is why you should not be impressed by wealth creation without godliness and godly purpose). Solomon’s wealth was never recovered and Israel never recovered its status as a united kingdom. When Jesus came, Israel was still looking for a restoration of the kingdom!
Reading stories such as Rehoboam’s must lead each one of us to ask –How does it stay together as we put our shoulder to the wheel? How do we lead ourselves to make our work lives worth the while?
If your work revolves around serving yourself and your family (which sounds legitimate enough), the influence for your decision-making will not lie far afield though. Your reasoning will be myopic, shallow, and motivated by transient reasons. You will miss the eternal angle that provides the proper focus for true excellence at work. Excellence with integrity such as Samuel and Daniel had. The principal consideration when faced with making any troublesome decisions will be – does it please me and will it give me as much as I want? There will not be much thought about who gets hurt, and there will not be much thought about the long term effects of your decision on those who do not belong to your immediate circle.
Working for yourself and yours totally misses the mark for the first recorded direction given for why we should work. After the creation of the garden, God put man in in the garden to ‘work, and take care of it’ Genesis 2:15.
Take care of it. Use your time at work to take care – of people and of the environment. Be a care-giver in your work. The reason for our work is as important as the returns. When the focus of work is care giving, the journey to excellence at work has begun. The journey to excellence is the doorway to rewards and benefits from work. Rewards and benefits become the platform for influence and power. Influence and power stand as pillars to support people and the environment. And we are back to where we started.
Knowing that at work, we are called to leadership that nurtures, cares and gives reveals an understanding of the highest reason for work. Serving God and humanity at work will trigger the cycle that brings the results that we wanted in the first place – good returns. Work and take care of it.