Thoughts on Leadership, Part 5 by Larry W Peebles July 14, 2017 17.26
We did not know what to think. We were very interested in the home, but the seller did not bother to respond to our offer. I felt insulted. Our local housing market had begun to warm. Sales activity was increasing, and prices had started to rise. My wife and I had prayed about moving out of our existing home of 16 years into something a little larger. This was a desire to move out of a declining neighborhood into one with a fresh appeal and less crime, although there would be a God-purpose in this move we would not understand until years later. I had just gotten a promotion and a raise at work, so the timing seemed right. One day as I was praying about how to begin the search, I felt the Lord said to start by looking in the local newspaper. It was there we found what seemed to be the ideal home. When we actually visited the home for the first time, it had everything we had put on our wish list, and a few things extra. The price was on the high end of our range, but was manageable.
The listing realtor did not return our call, so we enlisted the services of our own realtor to represent us. He made arrangements to show us the home. There was no doubt on our part when we saw it. This was the home we wanted. The home was priced at the leading edge of a new wave of increase, which made me want to test the price against the resolve of the seller. Our initial offer was so low the seller did not bother to respond with a counter offer. As a career builder and real estate developer, I had negotiated countless contracts to purchase properties. I considered myself a skilled businessman in the art of making the deal. I had never made a written offer that was totally ignored. I did not know my next move, except to go back to the prayer closet.
It was in prayer that I received the answer. I learned that I had shown no respect for the seller with my low offer. I came to clearly understand that I would need to offer something much closer to his asking price to elicit a response. The Lord asked me if the other man had to lose in order for me to win the negotiation. God asked if I believed that He had enough to make it possible for both sides to win. Was it possible that the price could represent a win for the seller and the buyer? Did the Creator of the universe have enough to go around so that both sides could walk away satisfied?
After I shared this with my wife, we took a more humble approach, and signed a higher, and much more respectable offer. At that point the seller met us half-way, and a deal was made. The Lord blessed us with the home of our dreams. He also blessed us with a quick sale of our existing home for considerably more money than we had anticipated, so we were able to close and move in rather quickly. Years later, when the national economy was hit with the Great Recession, a family member lost their job and home, and had to move in with us. At that point we knew why God had directed us to the larger home. What might have been considered excess space when we bought the home became very necessary space. If I held any reservation about the price we paid for the home, it was washed away with gratitude for the space in the home God had given us. There was room to come together for meals and family time, yet space to be apart for private time and thought, a necessity in a two-family arrangement that lasted for 14 months.
The word “respect” (noun) means “a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements.” Synonyms are esteem, regard, admiration, reverence, deference, and honor. The lesson I learned about respect would serve me well during the time of the housing market expansion. As the leader of a local division of a national home building company, I had to strike while the iron was hot in order to rapidly take advantage of the growing market opportunity. Success would come to the builder best able to meet the growing demand for homes. Over the next three to four years I would need to buy more land and developed lots on which to build homes than I had ever bought in my career.
Land owners and developers were to be viewed as partners, not as adversaries. It was not necessary to beat them on the issue of price in order to win. A fair price meant both could win. I would pray, and the Lord would lead me to another successful deal. We were able to not only grow our business to meet the increasing demand, but we were able to double our share of the available market.
A fair deal is defined as one where both sides are in favor of the terms. Neither side has an advantage over the other side which forces one party to accept the terms. Each side has a certain respect for the other, a duty if you will, to be sure the agreement works for both. If the deal is so one-sided one party simply cannot perform, neither side wins, and there will be no future dealings.
God is most interested in how we treat others, and that our dealings are fair and honest. As leaders, we must convey that interest. We are all His children, and He is clear on how we are to respect and relate to one another in our dealings. Consider these Scriptures on fair dealings and respect for others:
- Matthew 22:37-39- “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” We are not only to respect others, we are to love them.
- Matthew 7:12- “So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do unto you, for this sums up [is the essence of] the Law and the Prophets.” [Insert mine.] The so-called Golden Rule says that if we want respect, we must treat others with respect.
- Galatians 6:7- “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap.” Planting respect yields a harvest of respect.
- Romans 12:10- “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” Rather than compete with one another to gain an unfair advantage, compete in showing the most honor toward the other.
- Romans 13:7- “Give to everyone what you owe them: if you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.”
- Deuteronomy 25:15- “You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.” Honest and fair dealings are a key to a long and prosperous life.
- Leviticus 19:15- “Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, but judge your neighbor fairly.” Both the poor and the great deserve the respect that comes with just and fair treatment.
- Philippians 2:3- “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
- Titus 2:7- “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity.”
- Leviticus 19:32- “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.” Our Western society would do well to focus on regaining its respect for the elderly.
- Luke 14:10- “But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you.” Out of respect for others, do not promote yourself. Let God promote you.
- 1 Peter 5:5- “Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’”
There are many more such Scriptures, to be sure, but these provide a definite conclusion. We are to treat and respect others above ourselves. We are to deal fairly and honestly with others, out of respect for their situation, experience, and wisdom. God will repay our integrity; we do not need to take unfair advantage of others. God will reward and promote our honesty; He puts all leaders and authority into their position. Whatever we gain does not have to come at the expense of another, as God can and will provide the increase. These are true traits of a leader.