也許是重新考慮「最終結果」的時候了──MAYBE IT IS TIME TO RECONSIDER THE BOTTOM LINE

商務專業人士明顯喜歡改善「最終結果」(bottom line)。當你為人工作,很可能要面對一種或多重的績效評估。甚至身為高階經理人也要受到董事會審查和主要股東的監督。「最終結果」通常是重要的元素。

在生活的許多領域裡,我們都希望把重點放在改善「最終結果」(bottom line)上。無論是在商場、體育或是我們參與的任何領域,期待因表現出色而受到認可是很自然的。能達到業務和個人的目標,進而設定新目標,感覺總是很好。雖然努力實現這些目標並沒有錯,但是過分強調目標本身會帶來什麼後果呢?

在過去,努力實現自己在職涯和個人的目標對我來說也是很實際的,但是這麼多年來,我發現情況已經改變了。今天,我對「最終結果」最為關注的是我和天父的關係如何。

聖經中,傳道書的前十一章討論了這個兩難的問題。所羅門王自稱為「傳道者」,他對於我們在世上的存在,用一種很感慨地描述-「日光之下」。他不斷地提到為改善「最終結果」的努力,不斷地為多還要更多的經歷而爭取達標,只是在「捕風」而已。我把它稱之為自我中心的追逐,只是徒然的存在。

在傳道書的最後一章中,所羅門調轉我們眼光並幫助我們看到所謂更遠大的「圖像」,了解到生活在這個世上,不只是為自己更多和更好的生活無止盡地追求而已。他要我們把上帝放進這張圖裡,然後我們就能以更新鮮、更深刻、更有意義的方式建立清晰的人生視野並體驗人生的旅程。

所羅門以他的智慧之語結束了傳道書:「這些事都已聽見了,總意就是:敬畏 神,謹守他的誡命,這是人所當盡的本分(或譯:這是眾人的本分)。因為人所做的事,連一切隱藏的事,無論是善是惡, 神都必審問。」(傳道書12章13-14節)。你明白了嗎?無論是善還是惡,上帝都會將一切都納入審判之中,祂的審判不是我們審判。我們的任務僅僅是履行人類該做的責任。

在我作基督徒三十多年的歲月中,我逐漸明白,這種人生責任是要順服主,盡我所能地取悅祂,也盡我所能地愛別人。我還發現,除非我學會了愛上帝,我是無法真正地愛別人,也無法愛那犯了許多錯誤和有許多缺點的自己。

所以,當談到「最終結果」時,我現在意識到自己的個人目標並不那麼重要。我更關心的是上帝擺在我面前的過程。正如羅馬書12章2節告訴我們的那樣:「不要效法這個世界,只要心意更新而變化,叫你們察驗何為 神的善良、純全、可喜悅的旨意。」

每一天都是新的一天,而我現在的願望就是取悅我的天父,單單地注意祂在我的生活中透過誰、在什麼時間、在什麼地點、做了什麼事。是的,我仍然繼續設定目標,並很自然的去追求「最終結果」。但是我更把專注點放在與那唯一真神的關係上,就是與那位把自己放在軸心中,創造了萬有,並讓我們在有限的世上生命可以經歷的神。而這僅僅是與我們的創造者之間建立深厚永恆關係的開始。

Jim Langley從事人壽健康保險業已經超過30年了。最近幾年,他熱心於將自己與神的關係書寫出來,目的是要鼓勵其他人更加親近神。他也是CBMC的長期會員,在2014年時,他開始寫作「比賽第四節策略」(Fourth Quarter Strategies)。

反省與問題討論

  1. 當你聽到「最終結果」時,你會立即想到什麼?當「最終結果」成為專注點時,會影響你對工作的作法嗎?那麼,對你的人生又將如何影響呢?
  2. 專業上或個人過分強調「最終結果」有什麼問題嗎? 你是否同意不時地重新評估我們如何看待「最終結果」是有益處的呢?請解釋你的答案。
  3. 在傳道書中,所羅門王(被譽為世界上最有智慧的人)使用「虛空的虛空」一詞,或在另一種翻譯中說一切都毫無意義?你是否對自己的生活或工作有這種感覺?請解釋你的答案。
  4. 最後,他指出「人所當盡的本分」是「敬畏上帝並遵守祂的誡命」。你如何看待這個結論?

備註:想知道聖經中關於這個主題的更多信息,請參考以下經文(因經文篇幅較長,請參閱未列出的經文羅馬書8:29
撒母耳上15章22節
15:22撒母耳說:耶和華喜悅燔祭和平安祭,豈如喜悅人聽從他的話呢?聽命勝於獻祭;順從勝於公羊的脂油。
哥林多後書5章1-5節
5:1 我們原知道,我們這地上的帳棚若拆毀了,必得 神所造,不是人手所造,在天上永存的房屋。
5:2 我們在這帳棚裏歎息,深想得那從天上來的房屋,好像穿上衣服;
5:3 倘若穿上,被遇見的時候就不至於赤身了。
5:4 我們在這帳棚裏歎息勞苦,並非願意脫下這個,乃是願意穿上那個,好叫這必死的被生命吞滅了。                
5:5 為此,培植我們的就是 神,他又賜給我們聖靈作憑據(原文是質)。
以弗所書3章8-13節
3:8 我本來比眾聖徒中最小的還小,然而他還賜我這恩典,叫我把基督那測不透的豐富傳給外邦人,                  
3:9 又使眾人都明白,這歷代以來隱藏在創造萬物之 神裏的奧祕是如何安排的,
3:10 為要藉著教會使天上執政的、掌權的,現在得知 神百般的智慧。
3:11 這是照 神從萬世以前,在我們主基督耶穌裏所定的旨意。
3:12 我們因信耶穌,就在他裏面放膽無懼,篤信不疑地來到 神面前。
羅馬書12章1節
12:1 所以,弟兄們,我以 神的慈悲勸你們,將身體獻上,當作活祭,是聖潔的,是 神所喜悅的;你們如此事奉乃是理所當然的。


MAYBE IT IS TIME TO RECONSIDER THE BOTTOM LINE

By Jim Langley

Business professionals obviously like improving the bottom line. If you work for others, you might have to deal with performance reviews of one kind or another. Even top executives are reviewed by their board of directors and undergo scrutiny from their major stockholders. And the bottom line is usually an important element of those reviews.

In many areas of life we seek this great emphasis on improving the bottom line. Whether in business, sports or wherever we participate, it is only natural to want to be recognized for doing well. It feels good to attain our business and personal goals and set new ones. There is nothing wrong in striving to reach those goals, but what are the consequences of placing too great an emphasis on the goal itself?

Striving to achieve desired professional and personal goals has been true for me as well, but over the years I have discovered things have changed. Today the bottom line that concerns me most is how I am doing in my relationship with my Heavenly Father.

The Book of Ecclesiastes addresses this dilemma over its first 11 chapters. King Solomon, “the Preacher” as he calls himself, presents an emotional assessment of our lives “under the sun,” as he calls our earthly existence. He continually refers to the effort to improve our bottom line, to achieve and experience more and more, as “chasing the wind.” I would term this a self-centered, vain existence.

In the final chapter of Ecclesiastes, Solomon shifts to help us see what we might call “the big picture,” realizing there is more to life on earth than the relentless pursuit of more and better. He suggests bringing God into the picture so we can develop a clearer perspective and experience life’s journey in a new, deeper, more meaningful way.

Solomon closes his writing with these words of wisdom: “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter; fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14). Did you grasp that? Whether it is good or evil, God will bring everything into judgment – His judgment not ours. Our assignment is simply to do the whole duty of man.

During my 30-plus years as a follower of Christ, I have come to understand this duty/responsibility is to be obedient to the Lord and do my best to please Him and love others as well as I possibly can. I have also discovered I cannot truly love others until I have learned to love God, and then myself with all my faults and shortcomings.

So when it comes to “the bottom line,” I now recognize that my personal goals are not that significant. I am more concerned about the process God has laid before me. As Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Each day is a new day, and my desire now is to please my Heavenly Father and simply watch for who, what, when and where He is working in my life. Yes, I continue to set goals and naturally track the bottom line, but I am most concerned about my relationship with the One who put this world on its axis and created everything we get to experience during our short time here on earth. This is only the beginning of a deep, eternal relationship with our Creator.

© 2021, all rights reserved. Jim Langley has been writing for more than 30 years while working as a life and health insurance agent. In recent years, his passion has turned to writing about his relationship with God. His goal is to encourage others to draw near to Him as well. A long-time member of CBMC, he started writing “Fourth Quarter Strategies” in 2014.

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  1. When you hear the term “the bottom line,” what immediately comes to your mind? How much does an emphasis on the bottom line affect your approach to your work – and your life in general?
  2. What are the problems – if any – of overemphasizing the bottom line, professionally or personally? Do you agree that from time to time it might be useful to reassess how we view this bottom line? Why or why not?
  3. In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon – reputed to be the wisest man in the world – uses the terms “vanity, vanity,” or in another translation, “everything is meaningless”? Have you ever felt this way about your life, or your work? Explain your answer.
  4. He closes by stating that “the whole duty of man” is to “fear God and keep His commandments.” What do you think of this conclusion?

NOTE: For more about what the Bible says, consider the following passages: 1 Samuel 15:22; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5; Ephesians 3:8-12; Romans 8:29, 12:1-2


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