OPPORTUNITY IN CHANGE
Crisis is a time when change overwhelms and is out of control. When the pace of change is accelerating, it cannot be ignored. It is time to prepare.
We’ve been taking a closer look at Jewish business secrets. We’ve learned that among the secrets tied to disproportionate Jewish achievement is a systematically creative way of thinking and a different way of responding to risk and unfolding events.
Historically, the response of prescient Jews to times of impending crisis reveals a pattern. It first accurately reads the signs of the times. It then sends warning signals from within its informal community communication networks. The response calls for adjustments to the realities. Despite what may seem as setbacks, opportunity eventually will be discerned in those realities.
Business is the art of managing change. Nothing is ever static in business. Managing change as crisis approaches is even more volatile. It involves a keen eye on the future and on issues that make a difference. It involves wise, anticipatory responses to the change that lands on the right side of the power curve.
One of the greatest miscalculations of Jews, as a people, of anticipating change was the holocaust. This was a time in which Jewish emancipation was hitting its peak. It was a time when the amazing growth of Jewish accomplishment became its Achilles heel.
Over two hundred years ago, the shift of power brought about by Napoleon released the Jewish people from years and years of societal constraint. It began a time of incredible achievement for Jews as a people: not just in business, finance, the arts, the media and education, but in the discovery of new inventions and ways of doing things, as well as in the level of influence they wielded in the world’s power structures.
What was triggered was being recognized by the world around them. This recognition enshrouded the greatest virtue ever held by Jews: their identity. In diabolic subtlety it tapped the chief historic Jewish weakness: the desire to be like everyone else.
This amazing success blinded far too many of the Jewish elite to the amassing evil behind the approach of the holocaust, which had Jews in its cross-hairs.
Times of great change demand a closer look for the response. The days preceding the holocaust produced Jewish people like the Rothschilds who began using their resources to respond to the looming darkness, albeit too little too late. Likewise there were Christians, like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose outlook, discernment and courage in his response to the times in standing with the Jewish people represented a brilliant standard among those ignoring the realities.
Response to Change
The issue for today is in determining what lies ahead. It involves discerning the safe places and those with whom alliances can be trusted and will endure. Jewish thinking, as a rule anticipates the future. It examines the alternatives and gives careful scrutiny to sources of danger.
It is written: “A prudent man is cautious and considers well his steps.” Managing change and uncovering opportunity has the requirement to do your homework on assumptions and decisions bearing on the future.
It involves getting the perspectives of community leaders who may have greater insight into specific matters. That is the reason companies set up boards, in order to maximize the foundations used to make decisions. Yet, when leaders ignore their identity and the roots of their identity, then the community suffers.
Within Jewish wisdom is a story of a poor man’s wisdom that was despised and words not heard. The words of the wise spoken quietly should be heard, rather than the shout of fools. This passage describes a time when the community was vulnerable to disaster from an overwhelming, outside influence and was saved through the shrewd strategy of a poor, wise man. Yet, the community wound up in the same place as it had previously been, because of their attitude toward the man’s economic status, despite his wisdom. They were focused on the wrong way of viewing things.
Understanding the Times
Understanding the times is the greatest challenge when serious change and crisis is approaching. When King David emerged from the years of fleeing from Saul, he brought all of Israel together. At the forefront of his advisors was the smallest tribe in Israel, the sons of Isachaar, who understood the times and advised David on the wisdom of his response.
Jesus gave great emphasis to the importance of discerning the times. He made the point that such an understanding was critical in changing times. It provides not just the direction, but the focus.
Such an understanding was the defining characteristic of both Joseph and Daniel. It represents the identity and very mantle of the Jewish people historically to this day: of being a prophetic people of God, a prophetic people of destiny.
Grooming of the Prophetic
Joseph and Daniel went through years of having their prophetic gift groomed and highly developed. Then each arrived at a time of destiny in which the authority of their gift became the deciding factor in the destiny unfolding for God’s people, as well as for their host nation.
It was an authority that influenced the spiritual climate of the culture of which they had become a part.
The level in which Joseph and Daniel were called to administer God’s purposes required their prophetic gift to operate beyond the ordinary. It was clear to those around them that the authority of their gift was from God.
I have had the privilege of working with people who have spent time in prison for their faith in God. Conditions were terrible. Hunger prevailed. Death loomed and many died. Yet these people of God who endured and did so faithfully emerged with a unique combination of faith, humility and a spiritual authority that goes far beyond their human abilities. Today, each bears a mantle of change, of being leaders of God’s people through firestorms of change.
It is written that Daniel’s gift was ten times greater than that of the astrologers and sorcerers in the king’s court. When Pharaoh heard Joseph outline the interpretation of his dream and Joseph’s authoritative, strategic response to what lay ahead, he proclaimed there to be no one wiser than Joseph because God was with him.
When conditions changed, Joseph and Daniel wielded the wisdom and authority to guide both their host culture, as well as their own people into the destiny that the change had been reshaping.
Identity in God
At the core of any genuine prophetic gift, but more so with those with modern-day callings like Joseph and Daniel, is a cultural identity solely in God. It forms the basis of the Jewish roots to Christianity.
Jesus rebuked the religious leaders of His day because they had lost sight of the purpose of their identity as a culture within a culture. Jesus rebuked them for the idle words they spoke in unnecessarily accusing the innocent. Their unholy alliances and lust for personal power and recognition was blinding them, so that they despised their own people and were failing to lead to the point that they were misdirecting the people away from what was essential.
Jewish identity all began with Abraham. As the father of those we refer to as Jews today, but in Jewish writings as the House of Israel, the mantle for Abraham’s descendents was as a people who would shape the destinies of those around them. As a people, they have been described as restorers of the breach, rebuilders of broken down walls.
The descendents of Abraham are a people of God, a people of destiny whose destinies will shape the destinies of all the peoples of the earth. One of the specialties of their mantle, for those who have proved faithful, has been in discerning and navigating opportunity within times of crisis and great change.
These factors combine to spark a different way of viewing things. Responding to times of crisis requires thinking that is not constrained by the status quo.
One of the most respected creative corporate cultures of this generation almost lost its way when the founder, Steve Jobs, brought in a new president. Steve Jobs had built Apple based on a creative, entrepreneurial-thinking culture. The new president, John Skully, brilliant advertising strategist that he was, thought with a corporate view of things. This clash of cultures almost destroyed Apple.
Corporate thinkers tend to stifle innovation by attempting to maintain the status quo and minimize the risk. Entrepreneurial thinkers become expert in managing and capitalizing on risk. In other words, they thrive during times of change. Corporate thinkers place great emphasis on the goal of increasing market share. The perspective of entrepreneurial thinkers is focused on market creation. The motivator of corporate thinkers is to make money. For entrepreneurial thinkers, it is to make history.
The type of thinking needed during times of change and crisis requires a bigger picture perspective. Today is a day of accelerated change. The market response requires flexibility and innovation. Market share and money will follow the creative and innovative responses to business being approached as the art of managing change. However, without taking advantage of risk, without embracing and leveraging change, without the creative approach and the big-picture goal to make history, the pathway to market share and money is short-circuited.
Not many years ago, GE (General Electric) had become so large and institutionalized that their profits had lost the spark that they once had. Many divisions were losing money. Some divisions were being sold off to keep the balance sheet above water. It was at this time that GE brought in Jack Welch as their CEO. Jack Welch thought entrepreneurially. He began changing policies and with it the culture. Those resisting were replaced. GE began an amazing turnaround because they changed their thinking and response to the changing market conditions.
Stumbling Blocks to Discerning Change
The issue is in accurately discerning what lies ahead. This begins by identifying the stumbling blocks to viewing things wisely. The status quo is one of the primary blind-spots. Maintaining business as usual can be a death-trap that can mask not only the turns to be made, but in discerning new opportunity itself.
On the other end of the spectrum is overreacting to flurries of activity and change with the next hot trend. Responding to change takes wisdom and shrewd planning. The source of decision-making information needs to go beyond the glitzy, superficial and politically correct spins of the media elite and unsubstantiated Internet sources. Another trap tied to the status quo is blind loyalty. In today’s world of questionable sources of information, knowing the facts is a guard against missing the market turns that can have disastrous results.
This bears on the balance and focus of the direction for community businesses. Jewish tradition has a long history of business owners meeting together to pray, to seek God and help each other in the success of their business. Known as minyans, these gathering in turn affect the way these businesses help one another and help their communities. Regularly meeting and praying with groups like this will help avoid the trap of chasing money or being influenced by magical and weird solutions birthed from the superficialities of the day.
Discerning the Opportunity
At the heart of our series on Jewish business secrets has been the goal of each business making God their Senior Partner and becoming community builders. This is the intent, the strategy of the minyan groups.
These are vital first steps in discerning opportunity in changing times. The wisdom drawn from a group committed to pray and seek God and help each other be successful will be an essential element during challenging times.
At the heart of becoming a community builder is the Jewish tradition of tz’dakah, a community responsibility that gives back and strengthens the community for future generations. We’ve talked about tz’dakah before in this series. It is a community dynamic that will ignite and uncover opportunity.
Israel today is known for its advanced technologies and innovation. While Jews around the world have demonstrated technological achievements far outweighing their numbers, it was not until the early 1970s that Israel itself began assuming this mantle economically with the start of the Office of the Chief Scientist. At the time, Israel’s economy was struggling to establish itself and be the safe haven to any Jews who wished to be a part.
What followed was an accomplished Israeli business owner, named Rina Pridor selling her business. She was looking for her next challenge. She found it. She began realizing that there were many world-class scientists sweeping the streets in Israel. Others with advanced technological skills were on unemployment.
Ms. Pridor began putting together what has become today the world’s most renowned Technology Incubator program. Her program has expanded to support 22 business incubators across Israel, each specializing in commercializing specific technologies.
The two year program is applied for by inventors and people with developed technologies at a stage appropriate for bringing it to market. This program has a disproportionate ratio of companies going through their program that go public.
Ms. Pridor identified opportunity during a time of major economic change. In effect, she has contributed significantly to creating a culture of technology within Israel.
While the times are volatile and getting worse, for most economically they have not reached crisis proportions. Yet, in reading the signs of the times it is prudent to start looking ahead. We are indeed in times of accelerated change. They are times to be prepared, times to have backup plans. They are times to be ready for unexpected change.
Ancient Jewish wisdom states that a successful enterprise is built by wise planning, becomes strong through common sense and profits wonderfully by keeping abreast of the facts.
Jewish thinking begins with its identity. It is an identity as a people of God, of being a culture within a culture. Times of change will be times to prepare in strengthening the inner culture and setting up opportunity that benefits the inner culture. It means giving focus to building and mobilizing community.
In the West many people live to support a lifestyle. In changing times, such lifestyles can be a trap. One should have no debt and live below their means. They should have an emergency reserve for the unexpected. This is the wisdom of the cautious, prudent man noted by Jewish wisdom. Yet, with this prudence will be opportunity.
Jews have always held to a higher moral standard. Today that standard is being raised. Jesus raised the bar during His day by teaching His followers the secrets to employing righteous power in corrupt settings. His day was a time of great challenge. These principles are vital in today’s changing times.
These are days in which business decisions need to pursue wisdom to see the opportunity. They are days in which favor, along with that wisdom, needs to be recognized when new gateways are being considered.
There will be unusual alliances with modern-day Pharaohs and Cyruses, who provide safe places for God’s people during times of great change. Within that context, there is a need to identify the genuine Josephs and Daniels, those with a true prophetic authority and avoid the self serving, the critical and the phonies.
An eye needs to be kept on disruptive technologies that bring change rapidly. Israel can be expected to lead the power curve in terms of opportunity for new innovations and technologies. Israel is beginning to assume the fullness of its mantle described by the prophet Isaiah, who noted that the wealth of the seas would be turned to them and the riches of the nations would come. It is time to wisely pursue investments and business opportunity with Israel.
While the change upon us may have a parallel to the days in the 1930s during the rise of the Nazis, there is a difference. That difference was described by the prophet Isaiah with the words: “Darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples. But the Lord will arise over you and His glory will be seen upon you. Gentiles shall come to your light and kings to the brightness of your rising.”
In our quest to understand Jewish business secrets, let us recognize the change, then prepare and reach harder for the opportunity that endures, the opportunity in change that bring light to the nations.
Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and spokesman for the higher dimensions of business leadership since the mid-90s. As founder of Global Initiatives Foundation and designer of the God’s Economy Entrepreneurial Equippers Program, Mr. Ruddick imparts hope and equips economic community builders to be blessed to be a blessing where God’s light is dim in diverse regions around the globe.
He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World;” “Leadership by Anointing;” and “Mantle of Fire,” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders with destinies to impact their communities. They are available in print and e-versions from www.Amazon.com, www.apple.com/ibooks and www.BarnesandNoble.com.
Global Initiatives Foundation (www.strategic-initiatives.org) is a tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 non-profit whose efforts are enabled by the generosity of a remnant of faithful friends and contributors whose vision aligns with God’s heart to mobilize economic community builders imparting influence and the blessings of God. Checks on US banks should be made out to Global Initiatives and mailed to PO Box 370291, Denver CO 80237 or by credit card at http://strategicintercession.org/support/
Likewise, email us to schedule a seminar for your group’s gathering on the Joseph-Daniel Calling or on anointing the creative in business.
2016 Copyright Morris Ruddick — firstname.lastname@example.org
Reproduction is prohibited unless permission is given by a SIGN advisor. Since early 1996, the Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN) has mobilized prophetic intercessors and leaders committed to targeting strategic-level issues impacting the Body on a global basis. For previous posts or more information on SIGN, check: http://www.strategicintercession.org