Friday, December 11, 2009

Good news from the Heartland

This morning I drove downtown to Tampa's Waterside Marriott, where I enjoyed breakfast with a new friend who shares some of my passion for living day to day as if faith actually makes a difference in the real world.

Arlin is a farmer from the Heartland and he also runs a networking resource business. Several years ago he realized the struggles his technology operation was experiencing were
nowhere near unique, so he started a business-to-business support group to share ideas, encourage one-another and move forward - without having to constantly re-invent the wheel. The idea flourished until there were a dozen participants in the group.

The next step was a formalized peer-mentoring network. Today, my friend's network - HTG Peer Groups - facilitates mutually beneficial connections with over 20 "Peer Groups". Here's the definition from their website: An HTG peer group is a group of 6-12 like-minded IT company leaders who meet quarterly in a non-competitive environment to network and discuss issues specific to each member’s concerns as a company owner, president or manager..."

What's especially cool is the way Arlin naturally brings the principles of faith into the mix. It's impossible to be successful in business, he argues, without having balance in life across the board. It's impossible to experience the optimal in balance, it logically follows, without reconciling the fundamentals of a relationship with the Creator who designed us in the first place.

No proselytizing here, simply a living testimony to the fact of lives revolutionized and restored in response to the foundational and life-affirming veracity of the Gospel message. As we talked
over breakfast, along with our mutual friend, Santo, it became obvious that we have the same gut-level reaction to so much of the misinformation that's circulating about following Jesus in a consumption dominated culture. The "prosperity-gospel" folk like to tell people that God wants to reward followers with material goods because, "God promises to fulfill the desires of our hearts..." But Arlin's theology - and mine - informs him that:
  • people who lead balanced lives are simply more productive;
  • people who are faithful disciples are more in contact with the needs of people around them;
  • people who follow Jesus with integrity are likely better bosses and more adept at making decisions that benefit all concerned;
  • faithful witnesses to God's redeeming love are going to make their families a priority and not become so lost in their work or dedicated to the almighty dollar that relationships are expendable;
  • ..... We could go on.
Bottom line here: Men and women who follow Jesus instead of pushing self-gratification and "happiness" as defined by the lie of "escalating acquisition" will - in all likelihood - experience success in business because of what they bring to the table. Consequently, my friend's peer-group network necessarily involves some attention to the fact that we are also spiritual beings. And - ergo - that our response to God really does not work as a "part-time" commitment, but that we are people of faith no matter what we're up to.

It's an approach that, it turns out, is not only family friendly, and Creator friendly - it's also good for business. Love and blessings - DEREK

Don't store up treasures on earth! Moths and rust can destroy them, and thieves can break in and steal them. Instead, store up your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy them, and thieves cannot break in and steal them. Your heart will always be where your treasure is. - Matthew 6:19-21

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