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Tightrope

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We’ve been reading Loving Monday: Succeeding in Business without Selling Your Soul by John D. Beckett. This week, we discuss the final applications that Beckett recommends to assist in successfully integrating our work and faith lives. These final applications are: balance, prayer, vision, and values.

The Balancing Act

Maintaining balance between work and family is one of the most challenging tasks for a person in business.

While I agree with this opening statement in chapter eighteen, I would change it ever so slightly to improve its accuracy. Maintaining balance between work and family is one of the most challenging tasks for a person. Period. John D. Beckett describes several family-friendly policies his company has implemented to help with this balance. But, let’s face it: there are few employers out there like John D. Beckett. In most cases, it’s up to the individual workers to set the boundaries and priorities. It’s a tightrope. I think most people agree with Beckett that the family should take priority over work. But how? Beckett offers several suggestions to help achieve a healthy balance. He recommends activities that prioritize family and maximize time spent with family. His suggestions include day-to-day activities, such as eating together and special activities, such as vacationing together.

The Corporate Counselor

In this chapter, Beckett describes the impact that incorporating prayer into his business has had on individuals, the business, and himself.

For God to have greater access, we must open spiritual doors--doors that invite and encourage his presence. We open those doors through personal faith and prayer.

Beckett believes that prayer has been a significant factor in the ongoing success of his business. I think prayer is the most important application that Beckett discusses. However, we must be very careful here. While I applaud Beckett’s prayer ethic, we should be cautious about indicating prayer equals business success. I don’t think this is Beckett’s overall message; in previous chapters he has discussed several struggles in his corporate life. The key is in the definition of success. Monetary success is not guaranteed through prayer. Rather, it seems that by incorporating prayer into his business, Beckett has been successful in promoting a strong spiritual community among his employees. Workers who feel a part of a secure spiritual community may indeed work harder to ensure the company is successful. But this is not a guarantee in any business person’s life.

Business Direction: Vision

Vision, says Beckett, is the big picture…it is the direction or overall sense of purpose a company possesses.

Gaining and articulating clarity of vision is the foremost responsibility of corporate leadership. From vision comes direction, helping build the values base that shapes corporate character.

In this chapter, Beckett describes how the Bible has helped his business form a clear sense of direction. Beckett is quick to acknowledge that this may not work for all corporations, as his is privately held. So what happens if your company is a secular company that promotes a vision very different from a Biblical perspective? The thought occurred to me as read this chapter that we can have individual vision statements too. This can help a Christian move in a direction consistent with his beliefs in his work life.

Business Direction: Values

Beckett’s company identified three core values that set them apart from current culture. They are integrity, excellence, and a profound respect for the individual. All three of these values are Biblically based concepts that reflect the character of Jesus. The enduring quality of these values can transform the business world, Beckett maintains. We have finished the applications section of our book club discussion. One thing I've learned in this section is that it's all a balancing act. Applying our faith to our work life can be like walking a tightrope. Next week, we’ll discuss our final chapters as we wrap up. Are you Loving Monday yet?

Discussion Questions:
Share with us some ways you balance your work and family life.
What role does prayer play in your vocation?
Do you have a personal vision statement? If not, try your hand at writing one. Care to share?
List two or three of your company’s core values. Now list two or three of your personal core values.
Are they similar? If not, how do you reconcile the two?
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