【Sermon】 Management is God's Will for Us (2022-02-27)
Note: This is a shortened translation of the same sermon in Chinese (link).
Today, the topic I'm going to share with you is: Management is God's will for us.
When you hear this topic, you may be wondering: Why is management related to God's will? I thought management is only for companies or businesses!
In fact, management is important in every aspect of our life. If you observe carefully, you will find that all good results come from proper management.
I used to travel a lot and have been to many airports. My experience at some airports was quite satisfactory: fast checking-in process, various facilities, clear signboards for direction, and reasonable walking distance to boarding gates. Even if it was the first time I went there, I could quickly find out where I should be going. Where do these all come from? From proper management.
I once met a businessman. He started his own company together with his brothers, and through the years, his company grew into a big corporation with subsidiaries in many countries. When I asked him about how he thought about his company's future, he said: "If one day my company is going to die, it must not be due to external competitions. The reason must be from within our company. It only means the management of our company got big problems long ago."
It is the same for managing a country. In this age, if you see there are more and more problems in a country: declining economy, widening rich-poor gap, higher crime rates so and so forth, it means the management of the government went wrong long ago. They cannot blame any other countries or anybody. The cause of the problems can only be found in the management.
For any organization, if you want to see how well they can manage, you can see how they do customer service. Customer service reflects the management level of the leaders of an organization. Among all the churches, I could say that we might have the best customer service.
Many years ago, a sister was suffering from very serious depression. She kept on thinking of suicide and was desperately trying to find a church that could help her. She had a whole list of phone numbers of churches, and she called one by one. But almost no one answered her call. Those few churches who answered her call told her to come on Sunday. But how could she survive until Sunday? Finally, she called me. I picked up her call immediately, and after I learned how she was suffering, I told her that she could come to my church at any time.
There was another sister, who was also suffering from depression, but she was in China. Someone just gave her my email address, then she wrote a long long email to me, at 3 am in the night. I was not sleeping yet, so I received and read her email. I replied to her at about 4 am after that. Since then, this sister has been joining our church for almost eight years already.
This is an example of how we manage our church. Customer service reflects the management level of an organization. Nowadays, many churches seldom care about how they receive people who are approaching them. Once I was trying to talk to a pastor from a local church. I called him seven or eight times and he never answered, even without calling back to check who I am. I was looking for him to discuss ministry work. In the end, I called him for the last time, and he answered. But when I said hello, what I could hear was only his talking with his kid. It turned out that he didn't answer my call but just hit the 'Answer' button accidentally! What job could be like this? Working, or taking care of the child? This is definitely without any management.
If you read about world history, you will find that for a country, with the same group of citizens, if they are under the management of capable and responsible leaders, the country will prosper and be well-organized. But when put under poor management, the whole country will suffer.
Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew, China's Mao Ze Dong, Deng Xiao Ping, and the current government, are all good examples. Their countries used to be in poverty and economic backwardness, but they led their countries to develop into rich and advanced countries. Even though they are not Christians, they demonstrated a superb level of management. We should learn how to do management from these people.
Management is God's will for us. When God created mankind, God gave us the responsibility to manage everything on earth. This is God's will for us. As Christians, if we don't know how to do management, that is a big problem!
Some brothers and sisters are keen in hearing God's voice. But can we find in the Bible that Jesus told us to do so? No! Never. Our faith should be built upon the foundation of understanding God's words, not listening. The funniest part is what if two people hear different "voices"? This can only cause trouble.
Without management, the result would be chaos, disarray, and deliberate decisions. Everyone does as they see fit. Don't be like this. Think about Micah in our last sermon. What did he bring to himself and his household by his deliberate decisions? Nothing but troubles!
Do you know how well you are managing? Have a look at the folders and files in your computer! A sister hates to see her computer because the files and folders are in a mess! How did it become like this? She never managed her folders and files in time. If you cannot manage your computer files, how can you manage other people? How can you do shepherding in the Church?
What is management? Management is a science. It stemmed from the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century. The focus at that time was manufacturing and production. The result of management is a huge increase in production efficiency.
When it comes to modern society, the focus of management science has shifted to manage intellectual works and its goal is to unleash the brainpower of people.
Management has its own underlying principles. I have found my own management principle: What is management? Management is to help people reach their full potential, add their value and live out God's image on them. This is God's will! God wanted us to turn chaos into orders! If you are walking with God, then you must be a person who can manage very well.
I have a dream that every one of us could be trained to become a successful manager of everything he or she has the responsibility for. Everyone could add value to themselves. Don't be doubtful when you hear me say this. Some of us may say: "How can I?" You can absolutely become a successful manager, as long as you are willing to. Although we might not have the knowledge or skills, God will surely help us along the way. God has been waiting for us to do so for a long time!
The Bible verses for today is from Genesis Chapter 1, Verses 26-28. Let's read together:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Now let's pray to God:
Oh God, we long to live out the image you created us. Please let your spirit work within us, speak to us, and restore our faith to you, so that we could know by your grace, we can restore the glorious image of you on us; so that we could do as your words and be able to manage everything on the ground! In Jesus' name. Amen!
The fourth point of my sermon is "The Background And The Theme of The Bible Verses". My sermons always follow this pattern: Point 1, introduction; Point 2, the Bible Verse; Point 3, prayer; and in Point 4, the background of the selected Bible verses. In my sermons, I like to organize each part according to the theme of the Bible verses. I'm trying very hard to figure out what is God's will and what we need to do to follow God's will.
Today's the Bible verses are from Genesis Chapter 1. The author of Genesis is Moses. Why did Moses write down how God created mankind? Have you ever wondered about this point? Moses wrote this because this information is very important to us: We need to know that we are created by God's image, and we should live out God's image in our life. But sadly, most people don't know this. They are merely living according to what they like, and their life are full of troubles and worries. Is that God's image? Definitely no!
If a man or woman has God's image, how is he or she like? One thing, I'm sure, that he or she must be a person who know how to manage. God's will for us to manage everything on the earth. If you say: "No, no, that's not me! I don't have the knowledge or ability to manage!" Don't worry. It doesn't matter! Management if God's will for us. Even if we don't have the knowledge or ability, God can strengthen us and give us the knowledge and ability to do management!
But if you look around, you can see that not every one has the image of God. Why is that so? Because we keep on eating the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil! Ever since Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, we have lost the image of God! We have lot the ability to create and manage! But God has prepared his salvation, so that we can restore God's image on us and recover our ability to create and manage. Salvation is not about going to heaven after we die. Salvation is about living out God's image when we are still living on the earth! Brothers and sisters, today we all need to be very clear about God's salvation. Don't wait until we die! That's too late!
Let me emphasis this once again: God created mankind on the earth, and gave us the responsibility to manage everything on the earth. So, what is our work? It is our responsibility and we should learn how to manage our work. One of our sisters works as a cleaner in a building. One day, her boss assigned her to clean two other floors. She said: "Ok! But can I ask for more salary?" Her boss didn't increase her salary. This sister got very angry, so she told her pastoral leader: "Oh, my boss is so unfair! I really want to get back at him!" Can you see what this sister is thinking? She thought she was short changed by her boss. But isn't that her responsibility? Her work is her responsibility. If you think your work is just a job, you will be very calculative. You can never manage your work well. But if you treat your work as the responsibility given by God, your attitude will be different.
God give blessings to those who are willing to take up the responsibility to manage. If you read Genesis Chapter 1, you will find these words are repeated many times: "and it was so", "God saw that it was good", "according to its kind". This is how God does things, how God manages. So today it's very easy for us to manage: We just need to follow God's example. When you are in a "formless and empty" state, with "darkness over the surface of the deep", and you don't know how to manage, you just need to invite God's spirit to fill you, and open your mouth to declare God's promise, and many things will be done! How great it is that we can rely on God's power! This is the way we do management.
The theme of today's Bible verses is that management is God's will for us. If you don't take the responsibility to manage, you can never live out God's glorious image.
What should we manage? What do we have responsibility for? The first thing is about ourselves: our emotions. Our emotions can be easily affected by our opinions or our values. For example, what is your reaction when your boss gives you more works to do? If you think you are going to suffer, like the sister who works as a cleaner, then you will surely feel very bad.
If you feel bad, or under pressure, it's not because of the circumstance you are in, but because of your opinions and values. You don't understand God's intention and you are judging according to your own values. This is the root cause of our emotion problems. A sister has been having a hard time with her husband ever since she got married. She always hopes her husband will change and meet her expectation. So every day she feels so upset and angry with her husband, until one day, she was diagnosed with cancer. She prayed with us for a long time, and was healed. But her opinions are not changed much, so her cancer came back!
How terrible it is! This is no joke. We should be very careful about our own opinions! We are way better off if we can change our opinions to God's opinions, our values to God's values. That is the first thing we need to manage: our own emotions and opinions. Then, you can live out God's image! Let's think about it: if you have lived out God's image, will you live in poverty? The answer is no! You will live in abundance! Will you be full of sorrows? No! You will be full of joy! Will you lack of creative ideas? No! You will find inspirations in your work! Will you live under pressure? No! You will become a highly effective person!
The second thing we need to manage, is our time. If you are wondering how well you are managing your life, think about how you spend your time. Spend your time wisely. This is what the Bible said: "make the most of every opportunity".
Opportunity usually implies new responsibilities to do, new requirements to meet, new knowledge to learn and new skills to pick up. When facing new problems, people often feel very blur. They are trying to accomplish the work, but they are often not satisfied with the outcomes of their work. Many may struggle between the two seemingly opposite goals: to accomplish the work, and to ensure the quality of the work. If you don't know how to manage in this situation, you will always find yourself stop doing the work halfway and restart the work over and over again, trying to ensure you get everything correct. Some call this perfectionism. But it's a waste of time. If the work worth only 5 dollars, and the time you spend doing and redoing the work worth 500 dollars, how do you think? Is this a wise way? No! So we need to develop the habit of spending our time wisely.
I have my own strategy for this situation: when I am given a new work, I will always try to finish the work very fast, and then I will review and adjust my methodology a little bit, and do the work again. I will repeat the whole process for many times, until I can somewhat find the underlying principle of how to do the work. I am not easily affected by the feeling of dissatisfaction, because I know once I find the underlying principle, my skills and knowledge will definitely grow and I can do this work much better than I started.
I call it the “momentum” strategy. You need to gather the momentum when you are doing the work in order to see the improvement. This is how I manage my time. I try to make sure that my time is spent wisely and I can see the effect of my time. Our Korean ministry is handled by only one sister. When we just started, her speed was very slow. She spent hours and hours trying to translate word by word, but could only translate one article every week. I pushed her to adopt the momentum strategy: just finish the translation as fast as she can, even if she can only translate 10% of the content. She listened to me and did accordingly. Guess what happened after that? She became more and more productive, from one article per week, to two articles, three articles. Now she becomes so fast, that she can finish the translation and recording within only several hours after I publish my sermons and bible study! This is amazing!
Manage your time by the momentum strategy. Only through this way can you find the pattern of the work you are doing, and discover the underlying principles. Don't waste your potential in perfecting unimportant details. If you try the momentum strategy, you will always find ways to improve yourself through the process of doing your work.
The third thing we need to manage is our methodology. That is, the method we use to do the work. It doesn't matter if you don't have the knowledge and ability. What matters is that you keep on improving your methodology.
When I was working as the CIO, one day, one of my staff came to my office. He was very angry, and asked me: "Why didn't you increase my salary? If I'm working under you, I can never get a pay increase, right?" That's a very good question. You think I would be afraid at his question? No. Actually I was very happy that he came to me. I asked him back: "You have been working on this position for five years. What improvements did you do? How much did you improve the way you work?" He became speechless. Then I said: "Now, I give you five minutes. You can think where you can improve." He spent less than five minutes to give me the answers. Was improvement so hard? Apparently No. Then why didn't you improve over the years? After that, this staff did implement the improvements he said, and of course, I increased his salary!
So we mush keep on thinking where we can improve. Even if you are housewives, you can also find out where you can improve. Many people are just busy with cooking meals. They think they are so busy that they don't have time to do anything else. But they are unhappy. This is because they never improved their methodology.
I'm a very productive person. Compared to many others doing the same job as me, I can say that I do more things than most of them. Why can I do so many things? I also just have 24 hours every day. The answer is I keep on improving my methods, so I can do faster and faster. That's why I can do more things than others.
No matter where you started, no matter your methods were good or bad in the beginning, you need to invent new methods of doing your work. Then you will become more and more productive. Will you have a lot pressure in your work then? No! Trust me, You won't have any pressure.
Interpersonal relationship is very important. In order to manage your interpersonal relationship, you need first learn how to talk. In our church, we designed courses to train our brothers and sisters to talk effectively. We also have interpersonal relationship courses in our shepherding training. If you only care about yourself, without caring for others, how can you build up relationships with others? That's impossible. Without relationships, you will have a lot of troubles with the people around you.
A healthy relationship can only be built upon the foundation that you really cares about this person, and you really want to see his or her growth. That is our motivation to manage that person by helping him or her manage what he or she cares. If you can talk effectively and you know how to manage works, then you can become a help to other people. Good interpersonal relationship then comes.
Do you want to become a person who can manage well? Then you need to know how to train people, motivate people and inspire people. This is most crucial part in human resource management.
The worst incentive is money. The best motivation is one's own growth. In our church, we have a transcription ministry. Many brothers and sisters are working voluntarily to transcript the audio of my sermon, bible study, prayer and courses into texts. They put in hours and hours to do the work. So now you can see the contents of our websites are very rich. A pastor from another church also wanted to do the same thing as us, so he hired the brothers and sisters of his church to do the transcription. But even with payment, very few people are willing to do the work? Why? Let's think about this, if you use money as incentives, how much can you afford? The price you can afford are too low for people who you try to recruit, but a good price are too expensive for you to afford. Then what could you do?
The secret of our success is that we are not hiring people to work, but we are giving them the opportunity to be trained, to grow in skills and understanding. If you don't know how to type, we train you to learn how to type. If you don't know how to do summarization, we train you to summarize articles. If you have difficulties to understand the contents of the article you are working on, we help you to clarify your doubts. Even if you have attitude problems, we also train you to change your attitude. It's not about doing the work. It's all about helping our brothers and sisters to grow up. Then do you still need money as incentives? Definitely no! All of our brothers and sisters are willing to join the ministry and get trained. They will in turn train the other brothers and sisters to do the transcription when they pick up the skills.
This is how we manage our team. We focus on people's growth, and we train and motivate people to grow. This is the centerpiece of our management philosophy.
In Luke Chapter 19, Jesus told a parable: The master gave his servants 10 minas of silver and left for another country. When he came back, one servant made 10 minas more; a second servant made 5 minas more. The master rewarded them and assigned them to manage 10 and 5 cities each. Another servant didn't do anything, and he just give back the silver to his master. The master scolded him and give his silver to the servant who made 10 minas more. There were some other people, who didn't want the master to be king over them. The master then killed those people.
We should know that management is God's will for us. We ourselves are the silver. If we manage ourselves well, manage everything we are responsible for well, then we will become 10 minas more, 5 minas more. Only then can we give our account to Jesus. Jesus will assign us to manage 10 cities or 5 cities. This is God's will for us. We don't love money, but it's our responsibility to do management. If we can manage well, money will not be a problem to us at all!
Let's be very clear about our salvation. Salvation is that we will restore God's image on us, walk with God, and manage everything on the earth. God's glory will manifest through us!
This is the responsibility of the church: to train people so that they know how to manage and then live out the glorious image of God. How can we become blessing for other people? Through management. We help people to become more valuable through management, from one mina of silver to 10 minas of silver. We are not training people to become daydreamers, but we are training people to become managers of their life. Their life will definitely become prosperous!