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118 Right Priorities

118 Right Priorities

June 29, 2020

Stephen R. Covey said, “Effective leadership is putting first things first. Effective management is discipline, carrying it out.” In this edition of By Your Life, we talk about the rewards of establishing the right priorities and being disciplined to carry them out.

117 Fear, Faith, and The Amazing Race

117 Fear, Faith, and The Amazing Race

June 29, 2020

Fear can be a great motivator and it can also be an obstacle. It can keep us from becoming our best selves or it can drive us to accomplish things we never thought we could. In this edition of By Your Life, we talk about dealing with fear by never giving up.

116 Transformative Power of Words

116 Transformative Power of Words

June 15, 2020

The children’s expression “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”, is not true. Words have the power to build up or tear down if you let them. In this episode of By Your Life, we talk about the transformational power of words.

115 Correct, Not Condemn

115 Correct, Not Condemn

June 15, 2020

Have you ever worked with that person who doesn’t pull their weight? The person who neither does right by themselves nor the organization because they are unwilling to do what others want? They are proud, stubborn, and in other words, they are stiff-necked. In this edition of By Your Life, we discuss what to do and how we are called to correct, not condemn.

114 Mission and Strategy

114 Mission and Strategy

June 15, 2020

As SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule was transmitting breathtakingly beautiful live shots of the face of the earth this week, what was hidden miles below in cities across America was the ugliness of human hatred, anger, and greed. In this week’s episode of By Your Life, we discuss a three-part strategy to address these events and renew the face of the earth.

113 Get to Work

113 Get to Work

May 26, 2020

We are all living in a dark time right now. Wouldn’t it be great to fast-forward to the point where we can look back on the blessings that this time will bring? Wouldn’t that make it easier to deal with all the challenges this pandemic has brought into our lives? Well, for people of faith, we are already there. In this episode of By Your Life, we talk about how we are called to share our faith and be a blessing to others.

Ascension of the Lord – May 24, 2020

Happy Easter, a blessed Memorial Day, and welcome to the one hundred and thirteenth episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and I know that you have a hundred different things you could be doing right now, so I thank you for choosing By Your Life.

My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular business world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in the marketplace. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.

Big dreams

In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for the Ascension of the Lord. In the first reading from the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, before Jesus was taken up, the disciples asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) This question implies that their belief in Jesus as the Christ meant they expected him to be a political leader who would restore self-rule to Israel. Because that hadn’t happened before he died, they wondered if this was the time?

They still didn’t get it. After being with him for three years, eating and drinking with him, learning from him, and participating in his ministry, they still thought the Messiah’s purpose was to win political freedom from Rome. How disappointed they must have been when “he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.” (Acts 1:9) Their hopes for the restoration of Israel were crushed. The Messiah had come and was now gone and not only was Rome still occupying Israel, they feared persecution from the Jews who had Jesus killed. They must have been devastated.

Shattered dreams

We all have experienced similar disappointments or periods of darkness when what we planned for is taken from us and we realize what we hoped for will never be. As I was reflecting on this, I thought about Shawn Munn. Shawn is the President of Logos Imaging, a provider of portable digital x-ray solutions, and I wrote an article about him for TwoTen Magazine.

As a teen, Shawn was gifted academically and on track to become valedictorian of his high school class. He was also an athlete who played football, basketball and, just to “be a little lazy,” picked up golf. His identity was wrapped up in sports, and he thought he was headed for success.

But that wasn’t God’s plan. God had dreams for Shawn and to fulfill them he needed to give him a nudge. The summer before his senior year in high school when he was working at a grain elevator during the wheat harvest, his foot slipped into the grain auger and severed his arm above the elbow and his leg just above the knee.

At 17 years old, not only were Shawn’s dreams shattered, his personal identity was gone. Gone were his dreams of walking into Memorial Stadium as a Nebraska Cornhusker. Gone was the hope of finding a woman who could love him. For five years—five years of darkness—there was no joy in his life.  Lost in the forest of his pain, he believed he was destined to live a life he didn’t want—the life of an amputee. As he described it, “I lived in total selfishness and self-pity.”

In hindsight, Shawn recognized that the success he was seeking and was taken from him was on a path to self-destruction. In a moment, God gave him a gentle nudge and it was all taken away. He said, “I don’t know how God uses tragedy in his economy, but at that moment in time, the very hand of God reached in and grabbed me.”

It took over five years for Shawn to accept God’s grace, but through the testimony of Christian athletes and the woman who would become his wife of 25 years, Shawn was rescued from his dark place and as a result, he has gone on to share Christ through his own testimony.

New and improved dreams

Were his dreams really shattered? Not really. Shawn is still an athlete. He’s a competitive golfer with a 12 handicap. Shawn said, “The average person can’t imagine how difficult it is to swing a golf club with one arm.” Laughing, he added, “Try doing it with one leg!” He also met a woman who not only could love him but became his wife and mother of his three children. And, he’s a successful business owner who is a witness to God’s love at home and at work. When I asked if he wished God’s plan for him could have been a little less painful, Shawn emphatically answered “No! Looking back, that day is the single biggest event of my life leading up to my salvation.  It was a transformational event that I would never take away. Nothing would be worth going back and having the life I had before.”

We know from Scripture that the disciples’ dreams weren’t shattered, and neither did they go back to the life they had before. They received “the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4) and “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:4) Nothing, not even their lives, was more important to them than spreading the news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Accepting this gift changed their lives just as it changed Shawn Munn’s life. It didn’t mean they no longer had trials. It didn’t mean they didn’t suffer again because they surely did. It just meant they were able to persevere through the dark times with the help of the Holy Spirit because they were confident in the hope of their salvation.

Hindsight is 20/20

We are all living in a dark time right now. Wouldn’t it be great to fast-forward to the point where we can look back on the blessings that this time will bring? Wouldn’t that make it easier to deal with all the challenges this pandemic has brought into our lives? Well, for people of faith, we are already there. We know that all things work for good for those who love God. (Rom 8:28) We may not recognize the blessings at the moment, but we live in joy despite the hardship because we have hope.

Wouldn’t it be great to fast-forward to the point where we can look back on the blessings this pandemic will bring?Click to Tweet

This isn’t true for everyone. Some people will not be blessed by this pandemic. Instead, as Shawn Munn did for the first five years after his accident, they will choose selfishness and self-pity over living the joy that comes from knowing and trusting God. We all know people like this, so what are we to do?

The meaning of the Ascension

When writing about the Ascension in his book Vibrant Paradoxes, Bishop Robert Barron says, “The Ascension is Jesus’ journey not to another place but to another dimension. But this dimension to which he has gone is not alien to us. It is instead a source of inspiration, power, and direction. And this is why the angels who appear to the disciples just after Jesus’ departure say, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?’ (Acts 1:11) What they are hinting at, none to subtly, is this: under the influence of Jesus’ spirit, get to work! Do all you can to foster the marriage of heaven and earth. Get on with the mission of the Church.”

Under the influence of Jesus’ spirit, get to work! Do all you can to foster the marriage of heaven and earth. ~ Bishop Robert Barron @bishopbarronClick to Tweet

Get to work

You may be unemployed or underemployed right now, but we all have a job to do. As Christian disciples, we are called to be [Jesus’] witnesses… to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Shawn Munn’s story wouldn’t have turned out as it did if it weren’t for the people in his life whose witnesses gave him hope. Most of us have people we can point to who did the same for us. Their lives were a witness to the joy that comes from Jesus Christ, and because they shared the cause of that joy, we are now able to live in that joy and to pass it on.

I have a friend, a former colleague, who I keep in contact with and we get together from time to time. She has had her share of suffering as we all do…health issues, loss of a loved one, financial difficulties in a tight economy. But a scan of her Facebook page will reveal a constant stream of posts criticizing others. There is the exceptional post of something in her garden or a new recipe she tried, but 98% of it is sarcastic, vile, and often vulgar attacks on someone or something. I have another friend who is dealing with the exact same health, loss, and financial struggles, but her life radiates joy. The difference is she believes in Jesus Christ and because she has hope in him, she passes it on.

You may wonder why I haven’t “unfriended” my negative friend. It is because I feel sorry for her and I hope that I might be a witness to her. I believe that I have been called to do that. Not just in the general sense like we are all called to be Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth, but I was literally called to help this person. In fact, my phone rang a couple of years ago, and it was her. She hadn’t meant to dial my number, and my name and the person she wanted to call are not next to each other in her contact list, so it wasn’t just an accidental click. She dialed the other person and my phone rang. God knew she needed to talk to me, and he was calling me to be his witness.

Answering the call

Because of that call, I made an effort to be present to her. She was going through a very difficult personal loss and that was a very tough time in her life. Throughout the next year, I continued to call her, reach out, meet her for lunch, and see how she was doing. She took a new job where she was helping other people and the joy that brought to her was noticeable. But then, she quit that job and over the past year has fallen into a negative pit. Every time I read one of her posts, I pray for her. She has no joy and I know the only way out is Jesus. Now that the lockdown is relaxing a bit, I’ve been thinking I need to call her, get take-out, and have lunch with her. This week’s readings confirmed this for me.

Who is God calling you to be a witness to? You don’t have to go to the ends of the earth, just next door.Click to Tweet

How about you? Who is the person that God is calling you to be a witness to? You don’t have to go to the ends of the earth, just next door. Sharing Jesus with someone is not about winning a religious argument, it is about passing on the hope and the joy that you have in him and winning a soul. Pray about that person and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. That is what I will be doing for my friend.

This week, as we prepare for Pentecost, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to inspire us, strengthen us, and direct us to be Jesus’ witness to that one person God is calling us to.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and you will renew the face of the earth.

Lord, by the light of the Holy Spirit you have taught the hearts of your faithful.
In the same Spirit help us to relish what is right and always rejoice in your consolation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

May God bless you abundantly with his grace this week and may you glorify the Lord by your life.

If you liked this episode, spread the word. You know what to do, forward, share, or click to post. Also, check out the Resources page where you can find a link to the books and other resources mentioned in this and other episodes of By Your Life. I’m always interested in what you think, so give me some feedback by leaving a comment.

112 Keeping Commandments-Honoring Core Values

112 Keeping Commandments-Honoring Core Values

May 17, 2020

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15) But how do we do that and survive in the world of business where our competition isn’t playing by the same rules? How do we do this in a pandemic when all we can do is try to survive? In this episode of By Your Life, we’ll explore how loving God, keeping his commandments, and business profitability are not mutually exclusive.

Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 17, 2020

Happy Easter and welcome to the one hundred and twelfth episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and I know that you have a hundred different things you could be doing right now, so I thank you for choosing By Your Life.

My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular business world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in the marketplace. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.

In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter. This Sunday’s Gospel begins with Jesus saying to his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15) Let’s read that again. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15) If you love me…

The ultimate question

That’s a huge question to ask yourself. It is the ultimate question. Do you love him? I think we all want to say “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” (Jn 21:15) At least, I would want to say that. As much as we like to tell ourselves that we love him, do we really? Do we love him on his terms or ours? Because Jesus is clear the proof is in the pudding. If we love him, we will keep his commandments. We will love God and love our neighbor with agape, self-giving love.

How do we do that and survive in the world of business where our competition isn’t playing by the same rules? How do we do that when our industries’ common business practices are unethical? How do we do that in a culture where it is tough to find employees who even bother just to show up to work? And, how do we do that in a pandemic when all we can do is try to survive?

I get it. It can be tough. But, just asking these questions presumes that keeping his commandments is worse for business than not keeping his commandments. It assumes that being unethical is healthy for your business. It assumes that employees are a tool for your business to succeed instead of the other way around. And, it assumes that somehow not following his commandments will help you get through the Covid-19 crisis.

Core values are a necessity

Most of us want to lead moral, ethical lives at work. Doing so takes faith that we can do so and survive financially. It requires a belief that doing the right thing and doing it right, is good for business, even if no one else is playing by the same rules.

An article in the Gallup organization’s Workplace blog highlights this perspective. Pointing to Portillo’s Hot Dogs’ CEO, Michael Osanloo as an example, the authors emphasized that having a cultural “true north” is not optional. It is a business necessity. Portillo’s Hot Dogs has experienced a 20% drop in revenue because of the pandemic and according to the article, their CEO is proud of that number, considering the circumstances.

He said, “Our core values are family, greatness, energy, and funand those concepts have guided everything that we’ve done as an organization.” For example, when stores in certain markets weren’t required to close for dine-in customers, Portillo’s closed anyway because it was the right thing to do based on their values.

So, why is this good for business? First, your core values are a guide in difficult times that enable you to make tough decisions.  While this matters every day, it is especially important during times of disruption. The second reason is your customers and employees appreciate values-driven decisions. You attract and retain customers and employees who share your values.

Your core values are a guide in difficult times that enable you to make tough decisions and your customers and employees appreciate values-driven decisions. #leadership #corevaluesClick to Tweet

Competitive opportunity

Yet, in that same article by Gallup, it said, that “only 41% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they even know the values their company stands for, and only 27% strongly agree that they believe in their organization’s values.” In addition, according to Gallup research, only 26% of U.S. workers believe their organization always delivers on the promises it makes to customers.

Only 41% of U.S. employees know the values their company stands for and only 27% believe in their organization’s values. ~ Gallup #leadership #corevaluesClick to Tweet

So, people want to work for and buy from a values-centered organization, yet only ¼ to ½ of all companies can claim they are one. That means there is a huge opportunity for a competitive advantage that comes from being a moral, ethical, values-based business. But this competitive advantage doesn’t mean you’ll maximize profits. What it means is you’ll have sustainable profits because you’ll earn loyalty from employees and customers alike.

The case for profitability

So how does loyalty lead to sustainable profitability? Honoring core values increases trust, trust increases loyalty, and loyalty is good for business. Studies show that companies with high levels of customer loyalty typically grow revenues at twice the rate of their competitors. Customer loyalty increases profit margins. By some estimates, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. So, companies with low customer turnover have more time and money to serve their current customers and grow by attracting new ones.

Honoring core values increases trust, trust increases loyalty, and loyalty is good for business.Click to Tweet

On the employee front, a company that retains loyal employees builds an experienced, dedicated, and productive workforce that can deliver the high level of service necessary to cultivate loyal and satisfied customers. On the other hand, a company with high employee turnover is at a competitive disadvantage because it’s estimated that replacing an employee can cost, on average, one to three times the annual salary of that employee. Disgruntled or disengaged employees that remain on the payroll are also expensive. They can curtail productivity, damage morale, and create personnel problems that consume management’s time and energy.

Even though this makes logical sense, it is still difficult when you have to make decisions in the face of economic pressures. Honoring your core values or keeping Jesus’ commandments is the easiest way to make these difficult decisions.

It’s not about money

One of the CEOs I interviewed for my book, The Value of Core Values, was Peter Cunzolo, owner and CEO of ExecuJet Charter Services, a provider of world-class charter flights. He told me about a customer who needed help in acquiring an aircraft and hired ExecuJet as consultants. This customer was gung-ho to buy a particular aircraft even though ExecuJet told him it was going to need a lot of work. He wouldn’t heed their advice. At the same time, ExecuJet was under pressure from the selling agent who offered them part of his commission as an incentive to do the deal. The agent admitted the aircraft had a big inspection coming up but dismissed the risk and pushed to close the sale.

In the end, Peter Cunzolo walked away. He said, “I don’t want to run into this guy somewhere down the road and hear him say, ‘You sold me this airplane and it cost me an extra $250,000 just to bring it up to compliance.’ It’s just not in my constitution to do the kind of deal that would result in that kind of dissatisfaction. I never want my employees to do it either. It’s not the example I want to set. The bottom line is it’s lying. Yes, we would’ve earned a great commission to complete that deal, but I would’ve lost a repeat customer because I wouldn’t have done right by him. I would go so far as to say that I would have sinned against him.”

The customer bought that airplane anyway through another broker. He came back to ExecuJet several years later and handed them the project again. ExecuJet was able to help him on the back end of the deal. They had to go back and make a lot of the necessary repairs required at the time of purchase, plus additional repairs his last management company failed to perform. They did the right thing and in the end, it was good for their business.

Interestingly, I interviewed Peter Cunzolo in 2009, at the height of the economic downturn and at a time when executives were being demonized for flying in private or chartered jets. The entire private jet industry came under fire as an icon of corporate greed. The economic pressure was great. But Peter had a sense of calm and peace because he knew where his strength was coming from. He knew who was protecting and providing for him, his employees, and their families.

This type A, hard-charging, get things done executive was not afraid to make tough decisions to maintain their profitability. But, he said, “It doesn’t have anything to do with money. It is about finding your inner spirit—your inner joy—that God really wants you to have. If I didn’t have my faith and I didn’t have the blessings that I have—my family, my health, the people I’ve been blessed to work with—nothing else would work. In this very competitive business, we have maintained our profitability. It’s God’s providence. In a day and age when people want God to go away, I’m glad to be able to tell this story.”

The reason for your hope

And that brings me to our second reading on Sunday, where St. Peter said “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” (1 Pet 3:15) Peter Cunzolo knew the reason for his hope and he was glad to share it. His faith in God, his values-centered decisions, his business’s profitability, and his peace, calm, and inner joy were not mutually exclusive, and he was happy to let people know about it.

Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope. (1 Pet 3:15)Click to Tweet

Yes, it is true that sometimes you will suffer a loss of revenue or profits because you did the right thing. ExecuJet did, at least in the short term. But, St. Peter also wrote, “it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.” (1 Pet 3:17) So even in tough times, you should always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope. (1 Pet 3:15)

Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us live according to Jesus’ commandments in a world that does not. Let’s ask him to help us be a sign to the world so others will want to know the reason for our hope. And, let’s ask him to help us give an explanation to anyone who asks for the reason for our hope.

Come Holy Spirit, Advocate, and Spirit of Truth. Lead us on the path to generously respond to Jesus’ call to keep his commandment. Always remind us of the commandment of love and help us to live it. Allow Jesus’ words to become life within us, become attitudes, choices, actions, and testimony so that others may also come to love him. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen

May God bless you abundantly with his grace this week and may you glorify the Lord by your life.

If you liked this episode, spread the word. You know what to do, forward, share, or click to post. Also, check out the Resources page where you can find a link to the books and other resources mentioned in this and other episodes of By Your Life. I’m always interested in what you think, so give me some feedback by leaving a comment.

111 Don’t Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

111 Don’t Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

May 17, 2020

Most of the things we worry about never happen. Many of the things we worry about are unimportant in the scheme of eternity because none of us know when we will be called out of darkness into His wonderful light. In this episode of By Your Life, we pay tribute to someone who lived every day of his life in service of God, family, neighbor, and country and glorified the Lord by his life.

Fifth Sunday of Easter – May 10, 2020

Happy Easter, happy Mother’s Day and welcome to the one hundred and eleventh episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and I know that you have a hundred different things you could be doing right now, so I thank you for choosing By Your Life.

My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular business world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in the marketplace. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.

A tribute to a fan of BYL

In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter. This week, the By Your Life podcast lost its biggest fan, John Liebner. Almost every Monday, I would get a comment, email, text, or a call from my brother John thanking me for another great episode and sharing a bit of his experience that related to that week’s topic. But last Monday, there was nothing because he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly the night before. The silence bore a huge hole in my heart. It was less than 24 hours since he died, and I missed him so much already. So, I want to dedicate this episode of By Your Life to his memory. John Liebner truly was someone who glorified the Lord by his life.

Just a little background on who this guy was. He was the oldest of six siblings. He married his high school sweetheart and after graduating from Central Michigan University, began his career as a commissioned officer in the Army. While serving, John also got a Masters’ Degree in Human Resources Management with a concentration in Economics from the University of Utah, and shortly after left to join the foreign service at the State Department’s Agency for International Development. He spent the rest of his career serving in places like Yemen, Kenya, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bolivia, Egypt, and some 10 other countries. He spoke English, Spanish, Arabic, and French fluently. He loved to play football, cricket, rugby until his knees gave out, and he watched most sports, cheering for the Chicago Bears and White Sox, the University of Michigan, and his high school’s football team, which he followed every season. John was a big guy at 6’4”/240 lbs., and his personality was larger than life. He was a good man.

Rules for customer loyalty

At work, although he worked for a government agency, John was always customer-oriented. He used to preach that “It is essential to #1 Know your customer, #2 exceed customer expectations, and #3 always look for ways to make improvements. If you fail to follow Rules #1, #2, and #3, you’ll have to do customer recovery.”

#1 Know your customer, #2 exceed customer expectations, and #3 always look for ways to make improvements. If you fail to follow Rules #1, #2, and #3, you’ll have to do customer recovery.Click to Tweet

I was thinking about this as I reflected on the first reading this week. This is exactly what the early Church was doing. The Church doesn’t talk about people as “customers” any more than our government refers to recipients of foreign aid as “customers”, but why not? Businesses exist to serve their customers, USAID exists to serve communities in need, so too the Church serves the poor through corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

So, we heard in Sunday’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles that there was a complaint from the Hellenists “because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.” (Acts 6:1) As all organizations grow, things can get overlooked and so it was for the early Church.  Some early Christians felt their needs were not being met. So, the apostles listened to them to understand the issue and then responded to meet their needs. They established the first deacons to be responsible for the task of service so they could “devote [themselves] to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4) This was an act of continuous improvement and as a result, “the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly.” (Acts 6:70)

Every business needs to follow this example to create customer loyalty. There will always be issues that come up with customers, however, how you respond to the problems is what makes the difference between whether the customer is loyal or disgruntled. Businessman, author, and columnist Harvey Mackay said, “You can’t buy a good reputation, you must earn it.”, which is why my brother John said, “If you fail to follow Rules #1, #2, and #3, you’ll have to do customer recovery.”, and, how you manage customer recovery, will determine your reputation in the marketplace.

You can’t buy a good reputation. You must earn it. ~ Harvey Mackay #leadershipClick to Tweet

A good reputation

Which brings me to my next point, and that is how you achieve what you achieve is more important than your accomplishments because it defines your character and establishes your reputation. In our first reading, the apostles were looking for “seven reputable men” (Acts 6:3), and because of their good reputation, seven were selected and an opportunity was presented to them. As I mentioned, my brother had an extensive, interesting career that was the result of having a good reputation and opportunities presented to him. People he worked for—his customers—sought him out as new opportunities arose. He attributes that to his 3 rules: #1 Know your customer; #2 Exceed customer expectations; and #3: Always make improvements, which allowed him to contribute to his organization achieving its mission.

Quality service

John lived a life of service…service to God, service to his family, service to his neighbors, and service to his country. He was a big fan of Deming, the leading management thinker in the field of quality, and he sought to implement total quality management principles into everything he did. I interviewed him for Jobseek Radio a few years ago and he told me, “With my job in the government, I would always ask myself how I would do it if this were my own company. The key was to make improvements. If you don’t continue to make improvements, customers will perceive you as getting worse. They are always looking for something better. They’ve forgotten how good you were in the past and are looking forward to improvements in the future.”

John also felt it was important to share his knowledge with others. He said he felt good when one of his employees would leave because they were taking advantage of a good opportunity that was presented to them. That meant he did his job in developing his people and it was furthering the mission of his organization. John understood it wasn’t about him.

It’s all about people

John loved people from all cultures. I visited him and his family in Yemen shortly after I graduated from college. One of my most vivid memories was being invited into the home of the man who guarded his house. The guard’s house was a small, one-room building at the front of the yard. He was so pleased to have us as his guests. I was uncomfortable with the food, which I didn’t recognize, the conversation, which I didn’t understand, and the customs, which I unknowingly violated. But John was at home with all of it. He laughed and joked and ate and drank, and his guard enjoyed his company. He was a people person.

In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do.” (Jn 14:12) Feed the hungry. Welcome the stranger. These acts of service were commonplace for John and his wife Ann. Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday and it was not unusual for them to host upwards of 50 people in their home. They invited his co-workers, Marine guards from the embassy, or any ex-pat who needed a family for Thanksgiving. There was always room for one more because that is who John was.

Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. (John 14:12)Click to Tweet

A life of virtue

John was a good man and a man of virtue. We spoke two days before he died, and he mentioned that he had some old training videos that I might be interested in. When I say old, they were VHS tapes and manuals, but their message was timeless. We talked about how I could use them in my business, but then it occurred to John that these training materials were not his to give away. They were purchased by USAID and therefore belonged to the US Government. No one at USAID knew about them and if they did, they probably weren’t interested in them, but that didn’t matter. John knew the right thing to do was contact one of his old colleagues to see if they wanted them back and if not, then he could send them to me because John was a man of integrity. John was a man who glorified the Lord by his life.

Don’t let your hearts be troubled

The Gospel reading for this Sunday is very comforting to me as I grieve the loss of my brother. Jesus, in his farewell discourse, said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” (Jn 14:1-3)

My heart may have a hole in it that my brother used to fill, but it is not troubled. I do have faith in God and also in Jesus. He prepared a place and came back and took John to himself. So, it is with joy that I “announce the praises of him who called [John] out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet 2:9)

None of us know when we will be called out of darkness into his wonderful light. So like John, we need to live each day as if it were our last and glorify the Lord by our lives. On this Mother’s Day, let’s ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for us:

O Blessed Virgin Mary, pray to God for us always, that He may pardon us and give us grace. Pray to God for us always, that he may grant us peace in this life. Pray to God for us always, that he may take us unto himself, to the place he has prepared for us in his Father’s house. Amen.

And may God bless you abundantly with his grace this week and may you glorify the Lord by your life.

If you liked this episode, spread the word. You know what to do, forward, share, or click to post. Also, check out the Resources page where you can find a link to the books and other resources mentioned in other episodes of By Your Life. I’m always interested in what you think, so give me some feedback by leaving a comment.

110 Suffering for Good

110 Suffering for Good

May 3, 2020

We all have role models. Some are good and some are not so good. We need good examples to follow and we should be a good example to others. In this episode of By Your Life, we talk about the model that Jesus gave us to follow and why it is good for business.

Fourth Sunday of Easter – May 3, 2020

Happy Easter and welcome to the one hundred and tenth episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and as businesses are beginning to open up again throughout the country, I know that you have a hundred different things you could be doing right now, so I thank you for choosing By Your Life.

My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular business world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in the marketplace. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.

In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Three things to take away from this week’s readings:

  • Jesus teaches us how to be leaders.
  • Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything he didn’t do.
  • Everything Jesus does and teaches is for our good, not his.

This week, I participated in a webinar hosted by Patrick Lencioni and the Amazing Parish organization. The target audience was primarily pastors and those employed by Catholic parishes, but because I’m interested in the intersection of Catholic and leadership and I like Patrick Lencioni as a leadership author and coach, I listened in.

After being introduced as a successful leadership guru in the secular world who was bringing his expertise to Catholic parishes, Patrick Lencioni made an important clarification. He said, “I’m not bringing my secular knowledge to Catholic parishes. Jesus taught us how to be leaders. Everything I do in the secular world is biblically-based.” He went on to say that every pastor must be a leader, every CEO must be a leader, and you cannot lead without having a strong personal relationship with the people you lead.

Jesus teaches us how to be leaders

You don’t have to go any further than this Sunday’s Gospel to find a biblical source for this principle. Jesus said, “The shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger.” (Jn 10:3-5) He calls his own sheep by name. He knows them. He leads and they follow, but they will not follow a stranger. They recognize his voice. They know him. The sheep and the shepherd have a strong personal relationship. They know each other.

How well do you know that people who work for you? Do you know their spouse and kids’ names? Do you know what their troubles are, and do you pray for them? Do they know you? Do they know your spouse and kids’ names? Do they know what you enjoy doing outside of work? Do they know what your priorities are at work? Do you have each other’s back?

I’m sure that the answers to these questions vary by person. With some people, we do have a strong personal relationship and with others we don’t. Some people are just “easier” than others. But, if you are creating a culture of teamwork, it is essential for everyone to be a part of it.

I was working with a team that had created a toxic culture within their workgroup that was not only disruptive to their work, it was spilling out to other departments that had to interact with them. I worked with them as a team and individually. When I met with one of the members of the group, I asked him how his weekend had been. He told me he was a little sore because he had been painting the nursery in his house. So, I congratulated him on expecting his first child. Later that day, I was meeting with another team member and in casual conversation mentioned something about the baby. She said to me with a slight tone of anger, “I didn’t know he was expecting a baby. Who told you that?” I responded that we had just been chatting about his weekend and he told me. Then, a little angrier this time, she said, “He never told me he was expecting a baby.” She was obviously perturbed that she had been excluded. So, I asked her if she ever showed interest in him and asked him about his weekend. She hadn’t. Now, I don’t know if the lack of personal relationships was the cause or a symptom of the toxic culture in their workgroup, but I do know that one place to start to make a change for the better was for them to show interest in each other as people.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that your workplace becomes a counseling center or that everyone has to share intimate secrets. What I am saying is that we are whole people. Our personal lives do not end where our work lives begin. If I didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night because I was worried about a sick child, I’m not going to be as productive at work today as I normally would. If I have financial, physical, emotional, or social problems in my personal life, they will occupy my mind at work. Being aware that something isn’t right with a co-worker, offering to help, perhaps not with the problem but with the work that is being impacted, and just as importantly celebrating their life’s little successes are the Christian thing to do. It is called loving your neighbor who happens to be in the cubicle next to you.

Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything he didn’t do

In our second reading, St. Peter wrote in his first letter that Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps. (1 Pet 2:21) In current business terms, we might say, “Never ask your employees to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself.” or “Lead by example.”

I read an article recently in Authority Magazine that was an interview with Tony Cole, the Chief Technology Officer at California-based Attivo Networks. Tony learned a lot about leadership during his career in the military and in the interview, he shared military leadership lessons for business. Lesson #3 was “Don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do or haven’t already done.” He told a great story about a leader in the Army that was trying to get a soldier who was late for everything back on track. Besides this bad habit, the soldier was outstanding. To cure the soldier of his tardiness, he was ordered to be out and in proper duty uniform during Reveille every day for an entire month. The leader was also there saluting the flag every morning. The soldier respected that his leader shared his punishment and as a result, it truly was a learning experience that led to his fine career in the Army.

Unlike the military, for most of us, leading by example does not involve risking our lives for our fellow workers, but it certainly involves self-sacrifice. It means you are there if your team is working late or over the weekend to meet a deadline. It means you pick up trash on the floor when you see it. It means you are vulnerable and acknowledge your weaknesses. It means you honor your company’s core values even when there is a financial cost. It means that when you’ve violated those core values, you humbly acknowledge it and make it right. And, as Tony Cole said, “When things go wrong, it’s your fault and no one else should ever take the blame. One of your jobs as a leader is to take any hits for your team.” If you do, you’ll build loyalty, and loyalty builds teams.

No one took the hit for the team in a greater way than Jesus. “He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.” (1 Pet 2:24) He didn’t do it for himself. He did it for us. He had nothing to gain except our salvation. He did it because he is love itself.

Imitating his example requires you to be “patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God.” (1 Pet 2:20) It is easy to do good when you are rewarded for it. It is easier to suffer consequences when you did something wrong. But suffering patiently for doing what is good? How do you do that?

You’ve likely experienced the person who you were kind to, helped in a difficult situation, or went out on a limb to support, and instead of gratitude, you received indifference, or worse, hostility or abuse. Responding as Christ taught defies common logic. Instead of answering in kind, we are called to accept the hatred and suffer for doing what is good. “This is a grace before God.” (1 Pet 2:20)

I know a CEO who financially assisted an employee to help him out of a tough spot, only to have the employee turn around and steal from him. What impressed me the most about this CEO was that even though he had to deal with the issue of the theft, he said he if he had to do it over again, he still would have helped the employee out because that was the right thing to do. He didn’t allow this employee’s bad behavior sour his love for neighbor. This is a grace that comes from God.

So, we would never be like this employee, would we? I mean, would we ever turn on the person who extended us kindness, instead of responding with gratitude? Every time we sin and it doesn’t cut [us] to the heart (Acts 2:37) and we don’t repent, we are turning on the one who “bore our sins in his body upon the cross.” (1 Pet 2:24) Knowing this truth about ourselves, knowing that we are guilty of failing to respond with gratitude, may help us to find the compassion for others who do it to us.

Everything Jesus does and teaches is for our benefit

This is hard teaching to put into practice. I get it. Suffering for doing something good isn’t easy. It doesn’t make sense. It certainly isn’t commonplace. We live in a world where fighting back is the default position, not the last resort. Suffering for good is countercultural.

So is Christianity. Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who maltreat you. Living a Christian life is hard. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, and it certainly isn’t common in the marketplace. Businesses are subject to the to the laws of economics, but those laws are not mutually exclusive to living according to the laws of Christ. Jesus taught us to love, and according to St. Thomas Aquinas, to love is willing the good of another, and that is a choice. That is choosing self-less giving. When businesses seek what is good for their employees and their customers, it is inevitably good for business.

Just remember, everything Jesus does and teaches is for our good. He said, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10) A Christian life is a more abundant life, at home, at work, and for eternity.

So, let’s pray for the grace to follow Jesus’ example and suffer for others as he suffered for us.

God our Father, thank you for the abundant grace you freely give us. Help us to follow your Son, to overcome our self-interest and to patiently suffer for what is good. We know that your grace is enough. Amen.

May God bless you abundantly with his grace this week and may you glorify the Lord by your life.

If you liked this episode, spread the word. You know what to do, forward, share, or click to post. Also, check out the Resources page where you can find a link to the books and other resources mentioned in other episodes of By Your Life. I’m always interested in what you think, so give me some feedback by leaving a comment.

109 The Good News is Not Fake News

109 The Good News is Not Fake News

April 30, 2020

“Today, with the enormous amplification of news and of opinion, we are suffering from more than acceptable distortions of perspective.” Thomas Merton wrote these words over 50 years ago and they are just as true today, except what Merton referred to as “propaganda,” we call “fake news.” In this episode of By Your Life, we talk about how we are all guilty of distortion of perspective and what we should do about it.

Third Sunday of Easter – April 26, 2020

Happy Easter and welcome to the one hundred and ninth episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and I know that you have many options for what you could be doing right now, so I thank you for choosing By Your Life.

My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular business world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in the marketplace. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.

The propagation of fake news

In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for the Third Sunday of Easter. Last week, the mayor of Jacksonville Florida reopened the beaches to the public with limitations and guidelines for social distancing and it set off a mainstream and social media frenzy when a lot of people showed up to enjoy the sunshine. Some Twitter users called out Floridians for not taking proper precautions using the hashtag #FloridaMorons, which the mainstream media picked up and reported.

Then, there was a Facebook post that placed two images of the Jacksonville beach side by side and claimed the image of the crowded beach that was published in the news was from over a year ago and was being used to mislead people about the current situation. The post said, “Once again the media is giving the public fake news… They are lying again.” As it turned out, this post was the real fake news.

I watched this with interest because both stories were shared with commentary that highlighted the bias of the person sharing or retweeting. The rest of us who didn’t bother to share were likely to agree with one or the other point-of-view depending on how well it aligned with our pre-existing beliefs. Personally, I wanted to dismiss the version that painted the opening of the beaches as irresponsible, and not because I have any personal interest in whether the beaches are open or not, but because I am from Florida. I objected to the “Florida Morons” label, so I rejected the opinion of those who shared it.

The truth of this story is probably somewhere in the middle. According to News4Jax, “Not all of the beaches were crowded. Not all were empty. Most people didn’t break the rules of social distancing. Some didThe discrepancy in the perspectives has a lot to do with people looking at images of different angles from different times at different parts of the beach. Their preconceived notions also came into play. So, neither was the media fabricating news about crowds on the beach nor were these Floridians morons.

Wisdom of Thomas Merton

As this story was playing out online, I happened to be reading from The Pocket Thomas Merton, a little compilation of Thomas Merton’s works. Thomas Merton wrote in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander that:

This is no longer a time of systematic, ethical speculation, for such speculation implies time to reason, and the power to bring social and individual action under the concerted control of reasoned principles upon which most men agree.… Action is not governed by moral reason but by political expediency and the demands of technology—translated into the simple abstract formulas of propaganda. These formulas have nothing to do with reasoned moral action, even though they may appeal to apparent moral values—they simply condition the mass of men to react in a desired way to certain stimuli. (CGB 53-54)

Oh, how Merton describes our current culture and the spread of propaganda, a.k.a. fake news. Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander was published in 1966, decades before the advent of 24/7 news channels, the internet and the public’s obsession with social media. What would Thomas Merton write today? The same thing!

In Faith and Violence, published in 1968, Merton wrote:

Today, with the enormous amplification of news and of opinion, we are suffering from more than acceptable distortions of perspective. Our supposed historical consciousness, over-informed and over-stimulated, is threatened with death by bloating and we are overcome with a political elephantiasis which sometimes seems to make all actual forward motion useless if not impossible. But in addition to the sheer volume of information there is the even more portentous fact of falsification and misinformation by which those in power are often completely intent not only on misleading others but even on convincing themselves that their own lies are “historical truth.” (FAV 250)

Bias affects our ability to think critically

We are all guilty of this. Humanity has done it forever. That’s why Merton’s writings are as relevant today as they were over 50 years ago. We are subject to the way our minds are wired. We are all subject to bias and it is bias, not objectivity, that affects our ability to think critically and respond responsibly.

What are some of these biases that we all suffer from?

  1. Anchoring Bias, Primacy Effect – We overvalue the first information we see/hear. (This is why we say it is so important to make a good first impression.)
  2. Bandwagon Effect/Groupthink – Believe something not because we believe it, but because that is what everyone else believes. (Look at the stock market, how polls affect voting, and how people react in a meeting for examples.)
  3. Confirmation Bias – We listen to information that confirms what we believe, or receive information in a way that confirms what we already believe. (Hiring managers can be guilty of this when screening job applicants.)
  4. Ostrich Bias – We ignore negative information as an outlier. (This is true of smoking. Everyone knows that it is bad for you, but those who smoke think that they are an outlier and won’t be affected by it.)
  5. Blind Spot Bias – How biased are you? Most people are likely to say they are less biased than the average person. You’re not. (We all have blind spots and we are all biased. If you think you don’t, that’s your blind spot.)

So, you might be wondering what this has to do with our Sunday readings.

The Good News is not fake news

Our Gospel was taken from Luke 24 and is the famous Emmaus story. The two people, Cleopas and his companion were walking away from Jerusalem toward Emmaus. We find out that Cleopas knew all about Jesus, that he “was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Lk 24:19), and he knew that others “were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive.” (Lk 24:22-23) But yet, they didn’t believe it. They didn’t believe it even when others “went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” (Lk 24:24) They must have thought it was fake news, otherwise, I can’t imagine that they would have left Jerusalem.

Why were they downhearted and walking away?  Because the “chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him” (Lk 24:20) and they “were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel.” (Lk 24:21). Could they have been suffering from Blind Spot Bias? What they were hoping for—that Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel—didn’t happen the way they thought it should. Their blind spot was their belief the Messiah was someone who was going to redeem Israel from the Romans and Jesus’ death at the hands of Roman executioners meant he wasn’t the Messiah after all. So, they were downhearted and walked away.

But then, “Jesus himself drew near and walked with them.” (Lk 24:15) And as they walked, he helped them remove the blinders that kept them from seeing the truth, that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah. He helped them interpret all that had happened through the lens of “Moses and all the prophets, … [and] all the scriptures,” (Lk 24:27) not through the lens of their beliefs about the Messiah. He revealed to them that what they thought was fake news, was actually the Good News. Such Good News that their hearts were burning within them. (Lk 24:32)

This is the Good News that should shape our view of the truth, our biases, our perspective, and our responses to others. It should be the lens through which we interpret and live the Gospel. And since most of us are living the Gospel online now more than ever, it should be the lens through which we respond—or not—to things that other people say.

The Gamaliel Principle

One final thought: On Friday of last week, the first reading was from the Acts of the Apostles chapter 5. In it, a “Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people,” (Acts 5:34) spoke to the Sanhedrin about what to do with the apostles, who had just escaped from prison with the help of an angel and went right back out to teach in the temple area, even after they had been given strict orders to stop. The Pharisees had become so “infuriated with them that they wanted to put them to death. (Acts 5:33) But, Gamaliel said, “I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” (Lk 5:38-39)

These words of the great teacher of the law have become known as the “Gamaliel Principle” and is a helpful lens through which to view the things that might disturb us and instead of reacting, wait, gather more information, and see if it resolves itself. Bishop Barron offered this takeaway for leaders. He said, “A great leader should see everything, tolerate most things, and change a few.”

This advice reflects what Thomas Merton wrote when he criticized that “action is not governed by moral reason but by political expediency and the demands of technology.” (CGB 53-54) Sometimes doing nothing is the right thing. Instead of reacting, take some time to gather the facts and reason out, calmly and objectively, the moral implications of whatever action you plan to take, whether it be a retweet, share, comment, or more importantly in entering into dialogue with someone. To quote Thomas Merton again, “If we love our own ideology and our own opinion instead of loving our brother, we will seek only to glorify our ideas and our institutions and by that fact, we will make real communication impossible. (FAV 163)

So, as we go through this week, let’s remember Cleopas and his companion. They are like us and we should identify with them. Instead of walking the wrong way where we don’t recognize Jesus in the people we meet, let’s stop and take time to view them through the lens of Christ, and respond with mercy and truth as he taught us. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us.

Lord, no good life comes without the right discipline. Give me the grace to impose it upon myself. Help me to discipline my tongue, that I may be clear rather than clever, sincere instead of sarcastic. Help me to discipline my thinking and actions, to do what is right and not what is easy. And, help me to do the best I can and leave the rest to You. Amen

May God bless you abundantly this week and may you glorify the Lord by your life.

If you liked this episode, spread the word. You know what to do, forward, share, or click to post. Also, check out the Resources page where you can find a link to the books and other resources mentioned in this and other episodes of By Your Life. I’m always interested in what you think, so give me some feedback by leaving a comment.

108 Divine Mercy in the Marketplace

108 Divine Mercy in the Marketplace

April 20, 2020

Pope Francis said, “We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us.” But, how do we do this at work? In this episode of By Your Life, we talk about the obstacles and solutions to extending mercy in the marketplace.

Sunday of Divine Mercy – April 19, 2020

Happy Easter and welcome to the one hundred and eighth episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and I know that you have many options for what you could be doing right now, so I thank you for choosing By Your Life.

My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular business world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in the marketplace. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.

In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for the Second Sunday of Easter or Sunday of Divine Mercy. In the 1930s, Jesus chose St. Maria Faustina Kowalska to receive private revelations of his Divine Mercy that she recorded in her diary. Fourteen times she recorded that Jesus requested that the Feast of Mercy be observed on the Second Sunday of Easter. It wasn’t until 2000 that the Vatican decreed that this Sunday would be known as the Sunday of Divine Mercy.

In her diary, St. Faustina recorded that Jesus told her, “My daughter, tell the whole world about my inconceivable mercy. I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and a shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day, the very depths of my tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon the souls who approach the Fount of my Mercy.” (Diary 699)

In approaching the Fount of his Mercy, we are offered what St. Pope John Paul II referred to as “a personal encounter with the merciful Savior Himself.” So, it is no coincidence that this Sunday, as with every Second Sunday of Easter, we are presented the 20th chapter of John’s Gospel, verses 19-31, that is filled with the revelation of the merciful Savior. Although we could discuss the meaning of the revelation for hours, I’d like to offer three messages that you and I can contemplate and put into action this week.

Fear creates an absence of peace

The first is fear and the absence of peace. The disciples were in a locked room for fear of the Jews, and rightfully so. After all, Jesus had just been crucified and all their hopes were crushed. So, it is quite understandable that they were afraid. But maybe there was more to their fear. When Mary Magdalene encountered the risen Jesus, he asked her to “Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee, and there they will see me.” (Mt 29:10) Maybe they were afraid of facing this Risen Lord after denying him and fleeing in his hour of need. As much as they longed for the Lord, they may have equally feared seeing him.

So, there they were. Locked up in the room and afraid. Yet, “Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.” (Jn 20:19) When they recognized him, they rejoiced and Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.” (Jn 20:21) Then, a week later when he joined them in the room, although the doors were locked again, he said, “Peace be with you.” (Jn 20:26) They were afraid. They were locked up in their fear and three times Jesus offered peace to his disciples. Fear steals our peace. Jesus replaces it.

So, what are you afraid of? What is your greatest fear in life? This is a serious question to ponder because our fears can lead us to destructive behavior. One friend once told me her greatest fear is disappointing someone, and another said he feared not living up to other people’s expectations. Both these people are obsessively busy, and being obsessively busy robs them of their peace, and they know it.

We all have fears that drive our behaviors. At work, the know-it-all is afraid of his/her weaknesses, the people-person is afraid of not being liked, the perfectionist is afraid of being wrong, and the accommodator is afraid of conflict. Their fears present themselves as aggressiveness, defensiveness, or passivity. They are argumentative, unrealistic, take criticism personally, or overcomplicate situations and hesitate to act. Understanding your fears and those of others will go a long way to improving not only your success, but theirs. So, what is your fear and how is it impacting your success and robbing you of your peace?

Mercy brings peace

The second of the three messages I’d like to discuss is the connection between mercy and peace. Thomas Merton wrote, “We are not at peace with others because we are not at peace with ourselves, and we are not at peace with ourselves because we are not at peace with God.”

If you’re not at peace with God, it is only because you’ve not accepted his Divine Mercy. Like “Doubting Thomas” in the Gospel, hearing about someone else’s experience wasn’t enough. And so, Jesus appeared again the next week and Thomas was there and had a personal experience with the Risen Lord. Immediately he believed, exclaiming, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28)

Just as Thomas needed to see, and touch the Lord, we too must experience him ourselves. Again, St. Pope John Paul II said Divine Mercy “is a personal encounter with the merciful Savior himself.” So, why not? Why not accept Jesus’ invitation to approach the Fount of Mercy?

Through St. Faustina, Jesus gave us the Divine Mercy Image, the Feast, the Chaplet, and even the doctrinal message, which are means to enable us to personally experience the love of Jesus Christ. I had a transformational experience after meditating on the Image of Divine Mercy at a retreat many years ago. I kept looking at it and repeating the words, “Jesus, I trust in You”, realizing that I really didn’t trust in him. That realization was the beginning of a personal encounter with God’s merciful love that has continued to grow to this day.

But I know that just like the other disciples’ experience wasn’t what Thomas needed, my personal experience means nothing to you. You need your own personal experience of the love of Jesus Christ. He’s offered us the gift of his mercy. By accepting his mercy, we will find peace with God.

Share what we have received

Which brings me to the third message from this week’s Gospel, and that is our responsibility to share what we have received.

Jesus said to the disciples, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” (Jn 20:21) St. John Paul II points out that receiving is a prerequisite for giving. He said, “Only if we have experienced His love for ourselves, are we adequately prepared to share His love effectively with others.” But when we have, it is our responsibility. As Pope Francis said, “We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us.”

And how can we do this at work? How can we be bearers of Divine Mercy to others in our workplaces? In my book, The Value of Core Values, I wrote about The Fechtel Company, a designer and builder of high-end, high-quality custom homes. Jay Fechtel, the company’s CEO, shared a story about a team member named David. David was the type of guy who would take a sincere interest in the subcontractors on their job sites. He would regularly ask them how they were doing and how he could pray for them.

One day David went over to talk to the guy who was there to clean the port-o-potty. Normally, he wouldn’t have any interaction this guy with because he would come at random times, do his work, and leave. You know how seedy a port-o-potty can get. It’s a lot of work to keep them clean.

Well, this man was extremely moved by David’s offer to pray. It turned out that his son had Down syndrome and he and his wife had been struggling with this issue for years. When David share this with his team, several other employees started checking in with this man and praying with him too whenever he was on site.

Jay said that his team knew that this man truly appreciated the mercy they extended him because they had the cleanest port-o-potty in the state. I’m talking about clean! He would scrub those things down and put little tablets in them that made them smell so great, you could smell the fragrance twenty feet away!

Now that’s Divine Mercy at work!

Some of us are afraid to ask a stranger if they would like us to pray for them and a lot of workplaces would be hostile to this approach. But you don’t have to outwardly offer prayer to show mercy. You can listen to understand the other person’s fears and offer them mercy. You can love them despite their weaknesses by seeing their potential, or even better, you can help them, teach them, and encourage them. “Mercy towards a human life in a state of need is the true face of love” Pope Francis said, explaining that it is by loving the other that one becomes a true disciple of Jesus and the face of the Father is revealed.

God’s mercy is our liberation

Recognizing our own fears, accepting God’s mercy to overcome them, and then extending that mercy to others are three steps to practicing Divine Mercy in the marketplace. Pope Francis reminds us that “God’s mercy is our liberation and our happiness”, emphasizing, “it is the air that we must breathe”.

Let’s pray and ask for the help of our merciful Father.

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself. Amen.

May God bless you with his abundant mercy this week and may you glorify the Lord by your life.

If you liked this episode, spread the word. You know what to do, forward, share, or click to post. Also, check out the Resources page where you can find a link to the books and other resources mentioned in this and other episodes of By Your Life. I’m always interested in what you think, so give me some feedback by leaving a comment.

107 Forever Changed

107 Forever Changed

April 12, 2020

People can’t wait to go back to where we were before the coronavirus pandemic. The problem is, we can’t, and we shouldn’t. In this episode of By Your Life, we’ll talk about how instead of trying to hold onto what was, we should be forever changed for the better.

Easter Sunday – April 12, 2020

Happy Easter and welcome to the one hundred and seventh episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and I know in times like these our routines have been thrown out the window. Everything we do is by choice, so I thank you for choosing By Your Life.

My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in the marketplace. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.

In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord. (Cycle A) It is kind of hard for me to believe that two years ago, on Easter Sunday, I released the first episode of By Your Life. I’ve learned a lot since that first episode. I’ve learned a lot about podcasting, a lot about Scripture, and about living our faith in the marketplace. I’ve learned a lot about myself, a lot about others, and a lot about life in general. I’d never want to go back to where I was two years ago.

Longing to get back to normal

Even as I write these words, however, I find myself wanting to go back to where I was two months ago. I miss getting up early and walking before dawn. I miss going to daily Mass and receiving Jesus sacramentally. I miss meeting with clients and socializing with friends. I miss just being able to go to the store without wipes, gloves, hand sanitizer, and a scarf around my face.

And I’m not alone. These days we hear a lot of people asking when things will get back to normal. They can’t wait to go back to where we were before the coronavirus pandemic. The problem is, we can’t, and we shouldn’t. There is no going back to where we were before the #coronavirus #pandemic. So, we have a choice. As C.S. Lewis said, “It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad.

Overcoming Obstacles

I’ll be honest, I’ve been trying to hold on to being an ordinary, decent egg. And, I’ve allowed the changes that have been imposed because of the pandemic be an obstacle to moving forward, or worse, I’ve allowed them to be an excuse. What’s the difference? An obstacle is something that gets in your way. An excuse is an obstacle that you don’t try to find a solution for. There is always more than one solution to every obstacle, so if you can’t find one, you’re choosing to allow the obstacle to become an excuse for your inaction or your failure. And that’s what I’ve been doing.

Then, on Good Friday, I received two messages that knocked me out of my backward-longing and got me to start thinking differently. I’ve always said that if it is important, God tells me twice. Well, on that morning, he told me twice, first through my daughter and then through a colleague.

If it is important, God tells me twice!Click to Tweet

My daughter sent me a picture of the “garden” they set up in their house to spiritually accompany Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. In the center of her garden was a computer with virtual Eucharistic Adoration. While I had been longing for the beautiful Last Supper of the Lord we normally celebrate on Holy Thursday and lamenting not being able to process to the “garden” for Eucharistic adoration, my daughter and her housemates created a beautiful environment to stay with him and pray a while. While I was trying to hold onto the old way, they created a new way.

The second message I got was from a colleague who shared inspiration from Simon Sinek titled, “These are not unprecedented times.” The YouTube video is recording of one of Sinek’s company “Huddles” and it provides an optimistic view of the situation we are all in. I watched it and was again convicted by my current attitude toward this virus and my longing to get back to the way things used to be.

These are not unprecedented times

In the six-minute video, Simon Sinek reminds his team that these are not unprecedented times for businesses. There have been many times when change or something unexpected has put many companies out of business and has made others come out stronger and reinvent themselves. The internet put many companies out of business when they could not reinvent themselves but instead doubled down on the old way they did business. Every video rental store is out of business because they didn’t reinvent themselves with the advent of streaming. Ride sharing companies are putting taxis out of business, because taxi companies refuse to change. Sinek acknowledged that while our current situation has been more sudden and more shocking, it is not unprecedented in business.

So where is the optimism in his message? He said there will be companies who come through this stronger because instead of being in survival mode, they are in reinvention mode. The mindset is the difference. Instead of asking “How are we going to get through this?, they ask, “How are we going to change to get through this?” “What will we be?”, not “How do we preserve what we had?”

Adopting a new mindset

Both these messages convicted me.  I realized that I am one who is trying to get through this and preserve what I had. Since that isn’t going to happen, I need to adopt a new mindset.

Adopting a new mindset was the message St. Paul had for the Colossians in our second reading this Easter Sunday. He encouraged them to adopt the new mindset that comes with being raised with Christ. He said, “Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.” (Col 3:2) In other words, stop going back to who you were, concerned about the same things you were concerned about before you knew Christ as the source of your salvation. Instead, look forward, look above.

In John 20:17, we read about Jesus appearing to Mary Magdalene and when she recognized him, she embraced his feet (Mt 28:9), but “Jesus said to her, ‘Stop holding on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father.’” (Jn 20:17) The disciples didn’t understand “that he had to rise from the dead” (Jn 20:9), and he did not rise from the dead to go on living as before, only to die again like Lazarus. Christ overcame death, and “is seated at the right hand of God.” (Col 3:1) and he is inviting us to follow him.

Throughout the 40 days of Lent, we have been preparing ourselves to follow him. We have engaged in prayer, fasting, and helping others. The pandemic has only accentuated this. We’ve turned to the Father in prayer more than ever. We’ve been forced to fast from the things we worship on earth – sports, entertainment, work, money – and people have been reaching out to help each other by offering encouragement, making masks, donating food, even giving away toilet paper.

And now, Easter is here. The tomb is empty, and we have been raised with Christ. We should not go back to living as we were. After this pandemic has waned, we shouldn’t go back to business-as-usual either. We may not understand how we’re going to come out of this, but we will come out of this, and we should be forever changed.

Simon Sinek wrote a book called “The Infinite Game” in which he describes the difference between leaders who embrace an infinite mindset from those who don’t. They build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. The people in these companies trust each other and their leaders. They have the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world, while their competitors fall by the wayside. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead the rest of us into the future because they don’t worry about what they do, they worry about why they do it. The “what” and “how” will always be changing. They focus on “the why” and reinvent how.

In a similar way, Jesus calls us to adopt an eternal mindset. There is no sense in trying to hold on to what was. All these things will pass and in the scheme of eternity, what’s important? When you adopt an eternal mindset, you will find that you can better deal with your earthly problems. You’ll find that you are less stressed, less anxious, and able to think more clearly. An eternal perspective helps you prioritize what is important and let go of the small stuff. In short, it is a better way to live. More importantly, when you seek what is above always, “when Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.” (Col. 3:4) And that’s a forever that’s worth changing for.

Let’s pray for God to help us.

Lord, help us to realize afresh today what your death and resurrection mean for us. Forgiveness, freedom, and the ability to walk with you through this fallen world into eternity. May we always find our satisfaction in you and your willingness to offer yourself to us. In turn, may we live our lives as witnesses to your glory. We ask this through Christ our Risen Lord, Amen.

May God bless you abundantly this Easter season and may you glorify the Lord by your life.

If you liked this episode, spread the word. You know what to do, forward, share, or click to post. Also, check out the Resources page where you can find a link to the books and other resources mentioned in this and other episodes of By Your Life. I’m always interested in what you think, so give me some feedback by leaving a comment.

106 Pressed into His Service

106 Pressed into His Service

April 6, 2020

Often the right thing to do is the hardest thing to do, and that’s why we don’t do it. But when we don’t, we are missing out on the blessings. In this episode of By Your Life, we talk about the challenge and the grace that comes from taking up your cross and following Him.

Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion – April 5, 2020

Welcome to the one hundred and sixth episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and I know that things have been hard lately. It’s hard to keep positive when our lives are totally disrupted. So, I hope to offer you encouragement today and I thank you for choosing By Your Life.

My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in a marketplace that has been turned upside down. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.

In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion. (Cycle A) Lent is coming to an end and to quote  a meme that is being shared around social media, “This is the Lentiest Lent that we’ve ever Lented!” I think that about captures it! Most of us didn’t expect that we’d be giving up so much when we got our ashes and committed to our Lenten sacrifice just 5½ weeks ago. How quickly things changed!

How quickly things changed!

On January 21, we had the first confirmed case of Covid-19 in the US in Washington State. By February 21st, the total number reported to the CDC was only 15. By March 21st, the number had grown to almost 24,600 cases and just 10 days later, on March 31st, the number exceeded 186,100 and today, less than a week later, the number is over 266,000. How quickly things changed!

On the political front, before Lent started, Bernie Sanders looked poised to win the Democratic nomination with early success in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. And then on February 29th, Joe Biden, who had previously been written off by the pundits, won the South Carolina primary and just like that, everything changed. Three days later, Biden took the lead in the number of delegates won and those same pundits proclaimed the nomination to be his to lose. Now, just one month later, no one is talking about the election. How quickly things changed!

You could say the same thing about our Scripture readings for Palm Sunday too. How quickly things changed. Jesus entered Jerusalem where a “very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and strewed them on the road.” (Mt 21:8) The people cried out, “Hosanna to the Son of David; blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord; hosanna in the highest.” (Mt 21:9)

Then, within a few days, the same crowd cried, “Let him be crucified!” (Mt 27:22) They mocked him, (Mt 27:29) and then they crucified him. (Mt 27:35)  Those passing by reviled him. (Mt 27:39) The “revolutionaries who were crucified with him also kept abusing him in the same way.” (Mt 27:44) Even Peter, who the night before swore “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you,” (Mt. 26:35), denied him (Mt. 26:69-74), and all the disciples who spoke likewise “left him and fled.” (Mt 26:56) How quickly things changed!

The one constant in change

One thing never changes: God’s love for us and Jesus’ obedience to the will of his loving Father. As our second reading from St. Paul to the Philippians reminds us, “He humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:8) Jesus’ life’s mission was the Cross, and by the Cross we have been saved. But let’s not forget that this is our mission too as Christian disciples. Jesus called all of us to share in his Cross when he said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.” (Mt 16:24)

Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Mt 16:24)

Take up your cross

Earlier this week, there was a story about a nurse in the Bronx on the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Her name is Christina Norstein. The article detailed the struggles she and other medical professionals face each day as they try to do their jobs in unprecedented times. They lack resources, space, and clear policies for dealing with the influx of critical care patients. They lack personal protective equipment to keep themselves from being exposed to the deadly virus. And still, they are pressed into service.

Her story is just one that is repeated every day in hospitals across the country. These professionals not only worry about their patients, they fear they may inadvertently pass the disease onto their loved ones. After working 12½-hour shifts, Christina Norstein leaves the hospital exhausted. Her husband wants her to quit, but she said, “This is what I do.” He wishes she were a coward so they could cower together until this is over. Instead, in order not to put her family at risk, she moved into a hotel. (WSJ 4/1/20 pg. A1) Christina may not recognize the Lord in the least of these (Mt. 25:40) she is caring for, yet she has denied herself and taken up her cross. (Is it just a coincidence that her name is Christina?)

Pressed into service

This invitation to “deny yourself and take up your cross” is played out in our Gospel by Simon, from Cyrene who literally carried His cross. As well-known as his name is, we really don’t know a lot about him. We know that Cyrenaica was a Roman province on the north coast of Africa and Cyrene, its capital city, had a large population of Greek-speaking Jews. Simon may have been living in Palestine or may have come there for the Passover as a pilgrim. Mark tells us he was coming in from the country and was the father of Alexander and Rufus. (Mk 15:21)

Was he a follower of Christ? We don’t know. We do know that he picked up His cross. Did he do so willingly? Maybe, but maybe not. Mathew’s Gospel says, “this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.” (Mt 27:32) In his reflection on the Fifth Station, Bishop Barron said, “At the price of his own suffering, [Simon] was pressed into service. He couldn’t have known it was his Savior whom he served, yet he carried the cross and shared in the suffering that redeemed the world.”

It is most likely Simon was “pressed into service” against his will. Perhaps it was fear and not love that drove him. Even so, it’s not possible that he wasn’t blessed for his service. It cannot be possible that he carried the cross, was spat on and laughed at as he hauled the wooden beam without receiving the grace of God. It is not possible that he wasn’t changed by responding to the invitation to pick up the cross.

Sharing in the grace of the Cross

When meditating on the Fifth Station, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, (now Pope Benedict XVI) said of Simon, “From this chance encounter, faith was born. The Cyrenian, walking beside Jesus and sharing the burden of the Cross, came to see that it was a grace to be able to accompany him to his crucifixion and to help him. The mystery of Jesus, silent and suffering, touched his heart. Jesus, whose divine love alone can redeem all humanity, wants us to share his Cross so that we can complete what is still lacking in his suffering (cf. Colossian 1:24). Whenever we show kindness to the suffering, the persecuted and defenseless, and share in their sufferings, we help to carry that same Cross of Jesus. In this way we obtain salvation and help contribute to the salvation of the world.”

The challenge of denying self

And this is the challenge we face as Christians. We are being pressed into service by the Father. It is our purpose as Christian disciples to serve the Master’s need. Taking up a cross is usually not convenient nor is it something we look forward to. How dangerous it must have seemed to Simon to carry the cross. What about the other plans he had for that day? “But at the moment of truth, the Master had need of him and he responded, and his story is told to this day.” (From Bishop Barron’s reflection of the Fifth Station.)

We too are being asked to deny ourselves and we often don’t want to because it’s not easy. How can we possibly pick up our cross when even Jesus had a hard time with it? His life’s mission was the Cross and three times he asked for it to be taken away. But three times, he denied his will for the will of the Father. (Mt 26:39, 42, 44)

To deny yourself is to disown yourself as the center of your existence. In this “Lentiest Lent we’ve ever Lented”, we’ve been asked to do just that—to put others before ourselves. Some in this crisis, like Christina Norstein and many others like her are responding in charity. My mobile phone company provided extra gigabytes of data for the month at no charge. They did this automatically. I didn’t have to ask. Other companies are offering their customers similar breaks. And then there are others who are using the situation for personal gain. My bank has sent several notices about how I can use my home equity line of credit to pay my bills, and at the same time, I haven’t noticed that they lowered the interest rate in response to the near zero percent Fed rates. Note, there is nothing illegal about that and there is nothing unethical about it either. I know that a bank like any other company has employees to pay. It is just that the contrast speaks volumes about the character of the decision-makers at these companies.

The moment of truth

We aren’t all facing the virus from the front lines. Most of us are denying ourselves just by staying home. But, we all have our own part to play when the Master calls. From the donkey in the reading of Procession with the Palms, to Simon of Cyrene, to Christine Norstein, we all have a choice of how we will respond when the Master needs us. What will you do? What will you do when you are invited to deny yourself and pick up your cross and follow him? Quoting Bishop Barron again, “Your life is not about you. The Master has need for you. (Mt. 21:3) Whether and how you respond is all that matters.”

This is the moment of truth for us all. How will you respond when you are pressed into service? Let’s ask the Lord to help us:

Lord, you opened the eyes and heart of Simon of Cyrene, and you gave him, by his share in your Cross, the grace of faith. Help us to aid our neighbors in need, even when this interferes with our own plans and desires. Help us to realize that it is a grace to be able to share the cross of others and, in this way, know that we are walking with you along the way. Help us to appreciate with joy that, when we share in your suffering and the sufferings of this world, we become servants of salvation and are able to help build up your Body, the Church, and glorify you by our lives.

May God bless you abundantly today, whether you are going out or staying home,  glorify the Lord by your life.

If you liked this episode, spread the word. You know what to do, forward, share, or click to post. Also, check out the Resources page where you can find a link to the books and other resources mentioned in other episodes of By Your Life. I’m always interested in what you think, so give me some feedback by leaving a comment.

105 Paradox of Life and Death

105 Paradox of Life and Death

March 30, 2020

We are entering the first full week of the Safer-at-Home Order issued by our county government. Some areas of the country and the world have faced stronger restrictions and for much longer, but that doesn’t make it easier. In this episode of By Your Life, we try to understand the suffering and death brought on by the coronavirus in the light of eternity.

104 Taking Responsibility in a Pandemic

104 Taking Responsibility in a Pandemic

March 30, 2020

Who is to blame for the lack of preparation for and response to the coronavirus? A lot of people are asking those questions, and everyone has an opinion. I don’t. I think that asking who is to blame is the wrong question. In this edition of By Your Life we encourage taking responsibility not placing blame.

103 Can Coronavirus be a Blessing?

103 Can Coronavirus be a Blessing?

March 30, 2020

These days, it is hard to escape the impact of the coronavirus. No one is immune to the physical, psychological, emotional, social, and economic effects of this pandemic. But is it all bad? In this week’s episode of By Your Life, we explore other possibilities.

102 Self-Surrender

102 Self-Surrender

March 30, 2020

Listening is the doorway to learning. It may be a fact, or more often, another person’s perspective of the facts. Regardless, there is always something that can be learned by listening. In this episode of By Your Life, we talk about the key to effective listening.

101 Back to the Basics

101 Back to the Basics

March 30, 2020

In recent years there has been a parade of shipwrecked careers and bankrupted companies led by people whose egos got ahead of their values. Not only that, the pursuit of power and wealth has cost many men their souls. In this week’s episode of By Your Life, we’ll talk about how our Lenten practices can help us battle the temptations of life.

100 Affirm, Pray, Love

100 Affirm, Pray, Love

March 30, 2020

Imagine our workplaces if everyone prayed for the person they wanted to criticize. Imagine our workplaces if everyone did what they needed to do with competence and with love. In this 100th episode of By Your Life, I offer you three practical things you can do that will perfect your business and your life.

099 Freedom to Choose

099 Freedom to Choose

March 30, 2020

There is a natural human desire for autonomy. People need to express their individualism and to be able to make their own choices. We are wired to want the freedom to decide, to do, and to be what we want. In this edition of By Your Life, we discuss the seriousness of the choices we make.