For generations the marketplace has been blessed with many great leaders who have inspired us and provided a model to emulate. In recent decades, icons like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates blazed new trails as innovators. Warren Buffett has been the gold standard for investors. Starbucks pioneer, Howard Shultz, is a compelling example of creating new markets by providing consumer experiences.
I began my career as an aspiring real estate developer in Houston, Texas, and had the benefit of watching an industry giant-in-the-making named Gerald Hines. I only observed him from a distance, but his reputation for excellence and quality was a huge inspiration for me. Recently, a managing director of Hines (now one of the largest real estate development firms in the world), told me that ninety-one-year-old Mr. Hines no longer runs the company yet remains actively engaged in the business.
As a follower of Christ, I search for men and women of faith who display integrity and authenticity as well as excellence in their business ventures. Many point to titans like the late R.G. LeTourneau, James C. Penney and Truett Cathy; and I’m glad to see a growing band of current leaders that carry themselves with Christ-like courage, honesty and humility.
However, I would most like to draw your attention to Nehemiah, who demonstrated some great leadership qualities while navigating some very sensitive circumstances in a highly demanding political environment. His management skills served him well as the “executive director” and “general contractor” over a huge government rehabilitation project (through his initiative). He overcame sabotage and international materials acquisition nightmares, an inadequate labor force, then resisted profiteering and under the table deals in order to bring the project in ahead of schedule and on budget!
That might not be the exact way you have read or heard Nehemiah’s story told, but he is worth taking a closer look at. God Himself gave us Nehemiah’s remarkable story in the Bible. Over the next several Reflections I will share some lessons that will help each of us travel through our own “marketplace mazes”. Meanwhile, I leave you to consider two simple questions: Who are you watching? It really does matter who you take your cues from. “Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) and Who is watching you? It is likely that someone you are not aware of, is paying attention to the way you live and work today. “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” (Hebrews 13:7)
Serving Him with you in the marketplace,
Lord, I am thankful for those You have raised up as faithful examples of what it means to walk by faith, live with integrity and work with excellence. Open my eyes to look closer at biblical examples like Joseph, Nehemiah and Lydia so I can learn from people whose stories you purposely preserved. You worked in their lives and occupations. Help me to develop a lifestyle and work style that would points others to our greatest example, Jesus Christ.
“Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”
Paul, an Apostle of Jesus Christ