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Monday, January 28, 2019

Porn-icious Thinking

We’re just days away from Super Bowl "Whatever." I wish they would just use numbers rather than Roman numerals. Who uses those in everyday language? Definitely not football players. They find ways to use obscure words like “physicality” and “trickeration.”

Fine. I’ve decided to make up my own word for Super Bowl advertising. It’s often “pornicious.” The correct word, "pernicious," means “having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way.” So my word fits quite well, especially if you saw this recent headline in the Chicago Tribune:

"Frozen food porn" Super Bowl ad: Kraft Heinz makes play for spotlight with racy Devour spot

It seems we’re returning to the un-thrilling days of yesteryear when we blushed in watching GoDaddy commercials in the Super Bowl. And then there was the PETA controversial ad that fortunately never aired during the big Bowl. In their effort to promote adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, this ad had women in their underwear using vegetables on their bodies in a sexualized way.

Another non-Super effort that was rejected was a Bud Light beer commercial for the 2007 game.This one showed a young couple sans bathing suits jumping naked into a pool. The ad then revealed a window that looked into the pool. Thus, everyone would see the dipping duo.

So what’s the deal in the Devour spot for this year’s Big Ad Game? First off, I’d never heard of the frozen food brand, Devour. It’s manufactured by the Kraft Heinz Companies.

An uncensored version of the commercial was released last week. In this one, “a woman talks about her boyfriend's problem with ‘frozen food porn’ and says he watches it several times a day and has a hidden stash of photos—of food.’” The girlfriend claims the addiction has made him a "three-minute man," referring to the time it takes to heat up the frozen meal.

Allen Adamson, co-founder of the branding consultancy MetaForce, commented on the ad, saying, "Male millennials may get a yuk out of it, but it is going to do very little to sell any products. It’s more likely to do more damage than good for the actual brand.” In fact, as the Tribune noted. “Raunchy ads risk offending or polarizing a company's intended target audience.” Ya think?

Why do it? A 30-second ad can cost more than five million dollars. Apparently some advertisers are willing to employ a “whatever it takes” attitude. Says Adamson, "There's nothing worse than spending $5 million and having no one notice.”

That is not true, of course. Selling your corporate soul, or revealing that making money is your true god, will ultimately not win souls. Our consciences will make sure of that.

My favorite Super Bowl ad of all time was from a beer company—Budweiser. It featured Dalmatian puppies. The ad portrayed two of the dogs being selected—the first one by a fire department who would grow to ride on the fire truck. The other pup grew up to ride in a Budweiser truck. Two years later the dogs pass each other and the Bud dog was the envy of his sibling. It ended with a very cute touch. (It’s available on YouTube at

Creative, memorable advertising touches the human spirit best with an emotional connection of warmth and often a humorous touch. Our kids can watch it and enjoy it. We need not worry about turning the channel.

The writer of Proverbs tells us, “The tongue of the righteous is choice silver, but the heart of the wicked is of little value. The lips of the righteous nourish many, but fools die for lack of sense.” (Proverbs 10:20-21, NIV)

Looks like the Kraft Heinz folks need to devour more of the Proverbs if they really want to “nourish many.”

I’d rather not see a good company get frozen in time because of porn-icious marketing.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook. 

Tune in each weekday at 4 p.m. CST for Mark’s encouraging Facebook Live message on the workplace.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Facing the Mountain

Here is how the year started off for me. On Friday, January 4th, I finished my work day, having recorded my two hour talk show, thus allowing me to leave a bit early. Before I headed out the door, the station program director stopped by and invited me to join him for a “short visit” with the station manager.

Having lived and worked on Planet Earth for several years, I recognized this meeting before it was held. After all, it was Friday and the final day of the pay period. Now, a last minute meeting? Usually, this does not bode well.

And it didn’t for my talk show job. It would be my final day at AM1160. Time to immediately clean out the office and then to make the dreaded phone call to my beloved wife Rhonda with the news. Painful.

So I’ve joined the ranks of the so-called unemployed. Again. Cost cutting seemed to be the trigger on my release.

For anyone who has been down this road, it only takes a little while for the negative thoughts to begin. As a seasoned citizen, those negative thoughts can become more paralyzing. The job market for those over 65 is not part of the booming economy.

I’m one who believes in the forces of good and evil. The good is from a God who loves us and has been a Provider for me all my life. The evil comes from one who dared oppose God for being God. He has a name. Satan. His mission is to destroy the good and, particularly, to weaken and even kill those who are made in God’s image. That would be people like you…and me.

The tactics of the meister of evil become more visibile when we are hurting. That’s when the voices are more noticeable. Their familiar messages are there to question whether there is a good God who cares and to create a mountain of self doubt in the struggling soul.

This is when we must rely on something greater than ourselves. We must trust in the promises of the Good King and the fellowship of those who can uphold us through prayer and encouragement. We must be trained to keep an eye out for the attacks that will be heading our way when we are especially vulnerable in life.

Those attacks come anytime we have faced a loss, or defeat, or life isn’t going well. Sometimes these voices tell us we’ve been wronged and so we want to retaliate. If we are hurting, we’re tempted to alleviate the pain by pleasure in ways that aren’t helpful.

Among the worst attacks are the ones that get really personal. These are the voices that tell us we’re finished. Or that we’re under-qualified or weak. A really dark voice may tell us that life isn’t worth living. The spiritually mindful person will recognize these voices for what they are—falsehoods. And they need to be met head on.

Are you hearing these kinds of subtle messages in your life? Are you going to believe them? As former President Bush 41 might say, “Not gonna do it.” I know where those voices are from. They’re not from the God who loves me and has brought me faithfully this far in life.

In the Bible, the prophet Samuel set up a stone of remembrance of God’s faithfulness. It was called an Ebenezer. Its message was this: Til now the Lord has helped us. (1 Samuel 7:12)

Here’s my message to you: Don’t let the mountain of self doubt cripple you. Resist the evil one. After a while, he’ll get tired of you. And leave.

In tough times, affirm God’s abiding love. That’s a voice that will carry you through.

Develop this attitude and you’ll become a skilled “mountain” climber.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook. 

Tune in each weekday at 4 p.m. CST for Mark’s encouraging Facebook Live message on the workplace. 

Monday, January 14, 2019

6 Ways to Deal with a Critic

(I’m traveling today! So I have a guest blogger: 
Rick Ezell heads up EMPLOYEE CARE OF AMERICA (ECA). His info is at the end of the blog for today.)

Critics are everywhere. The manager of the Cleveland Indians, Tris Speaker, said of Babe Ruth: “He made a great mistake when he gave up pitching.” Jim Denny, manager of the Grand Ole Opry, fired Elvis Presley after a 1954 performance and said, “You ain’t goin’ nowhere, son. You ought to go back to drivin’ a truck.” The president of Decca Records said of the Beatles in 1962, “We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out.”

Whatever your feelings toward criticism, don’t expect to miss out. No matter how hard you work, how great your ideas, or how wonderful your talent, you probably will be the object of criticism. No one is exempt. Well, maybe you can evade it, but there is a catch. Aristotle said, “Criticism is something you can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

Maybe you face criticism at work, at home, or at school. Your boss nit-picks, your coworker second-guesses, your business partner points out the flaws, your friends see only the bad, and your family members take pride in pointing out your mistakes.

The nature of a critic can be identified as follows: One, critics resist change. The heart of the habitual critic resists change. To the critic, change is a threat. Two, critics run with critics. Critics have a “herd” mentality. They function as a group. Three, critics demoralize. They seek to suck the life out of a vision and the heart out of a willing worker.

How can one deal with the critic? Here are some powerful action steps to take.

Evaluate the criticism.
Since criticism is inevitable, we must measure the value or worth of the criticism. This step requires great self-control that prevents us from becoming impatient and defensive. Someone said, “Patience is the ability to let your light shine after your fuse has blown!”

Ask yourself if the criticism is true or false. Take an honest look at yourself. If the criticism is valid, do something about it. Sometimes the best course of action is to respond to criticism and learn from it. If the criticism is invalid, forget it. Sometimes the best course of action is to completely ignore it.

A. W. Tozer wrote, “Never fear criticism. If the critic is right, he has helped you. If he is wrong, you can help him. Either way, somebody gets helped.”

Pray about the criticism.
Once you weigh the criticism, play it down and pray it up. Instead of turning it over and over again in your mind, turn it over to God. Take the criticism to God in prayer.

When we are criticized, we need to talk to God about the critic and the criticism. A song we sang as teenagers had the line, “You can talk about me whenever you please, but I’ll talk about you when I’m on my knees.” Chuck Swindoll wrote, “You are never more successful than when you are on your knees in prayer: The saint who advances on his knees need never retreat because prayer provides an invincible shield.”

Stay at the task.
Critics demoralize. Leaders encourage. It’s easy to give up when criticized. But we need to persist.

Calvin Coolidge wrote, “Press on. Nothing can take the place of persistence. Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are overwhelmingly powerful.”

Use the criticism to motivate.
We need to use the criticism as a motivation to bigger and better things. Winston Churchill wrote, “Kites rise highest against the wind.” The wind of criticism enables some to rise to new heights, new potentials, and new strengths.

Keep your dream alive.
There are times when criticism does not lie down—it intensifies. In such situations, keeping the dream alive calls for an intensified response.

Perhaps the deadliest poison of criticism comes when it is aimed toward one’s aspirations. Years ago, the sister of an innovative college professor suffered from a hearing deficiency. In the midst of building a device to help her hear better, he invented an unusual contraption. After many years of trial and error and eventual success, the professor was ready to take the device into production. He traveled extensively to gain financial backing for his dream. But everywhere he went, potential supporters laughed at his idea that the human voice could be carried along a wire. The professor could have allowed his critics to discourage him. He could have given up, but he didn’t. And nobody laughs at Alexander Graham Bell today.

Don’t allow your critics to snuff out your dreams.

Know that time answers a lot of criticism.
Time and success have a way of erasing a lot of criticism.

Colonel George Washington Goethals, the man responsible for the completion of the Panama Canal, had big problems with the climate and the geography. But his biggest challenge was the growing criticism back home from those who predicted he’d never finish the project.

Finally, a colleague asked him, “Aren’t you going to answer those critics?”

“In time,” answered Goethals.

“When?” his partner asked.

“When the canal is finished.”

In the end, remember they don’t build statutes to the critic. In the words of Theodore Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually try to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Thanks for these great insights, Rick!

If this resonates with you as something from which your company might benefit, check out Rick’s website for more information. Contact him at: or phone him at 864-770-3560.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook. 

Monday, January 7, 2019

Trusting the Called ... or Not

Welcome to 2019! I realize I’m a little late to the game with my well wishes for the New Year. By now, you’re well on your way to living up to the grand plans you’ve made to really change for the better this year. Right?

If there’s one collective group that could use a significantly better year than last, it's pastors and church leaders. I’m serious. The majority of those who serve in the role of spiritual leadership have responded to a very high calling. For some, the calling did not remove them from earthly temptations and struggles—including depression.

Pastor Andrew Stoecklein became the face of pastor suicides in 2018. He took his own life while working inside the church that his father had founded. It had become a megachurch with mega responsibilities. Andrew seemed unable to live up to the expectations he had placed on himself.

Andrew Stoecklein left behind his wife, Kayla, and three sons. He had recently returned from a sabbatical. The much needed break was an involuntary four-months-long timeout to deal with depression and anxiety, according to the Christian Post. Earlier, he had advised his congregation to be more aware of the mental health crisis in our country.

And then there was the abuse by ministry leaders. The most glaring and horrifying seemed to center around Catholic priests. A 1300-page report from Pennsylvania chronicled the abuse of more than 1000 children by 301 priests over several decades.The State Attorney General, Josh Shapiro, described it vividly in saying "Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing, they hid it all.”

Protestants had plenty of guilt to go around. The Fort Worth Star Telegram uncovered hundreds of sexual abuse allegations within Independent Fundamental Baptist churches. The widespread abuse was found in 40 states and Canada. Another church organization, Sovereign Grace Ministries, was accused of covering up sexual abuse.

Of course there were ministry leaders who stepped down because of individual indiscretions. Among the most well known was the founder and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. After several accusers came forward, Bill Hybels resigned from his pastoral position and the highly popular Global Leadership Summit.

A different kind of abusive activity of a well known Chicago-based ministry leader surfaced in the latter part of 2018. A well documented report in World Magazine by Julie Roys cast a dark view of the management style and financial difficulties of Harvest Bible Chapel’s leader, James MacDonald. Further damage to his reputation came after an extensive Facebook post by a former employee, Matt Stowell. At this point, James MacDonald remains as pastor.

These multiple reports from 2018 have led to a trust crisis for clergy. A Gallup poll, conducted between December 3-12 last year found that only thirty-seven percent of respondents had a "very high" or "high” opinion of the honesty and ethical standards of clergy. The poll reported forty-three percent of people gave clergy an average rating. Some fifteen percent had a “low” or “very low” opinion of this profession.

Leadership in a church setting has a pretty high bar set for the individuals called to that role. Here are the criteria Paul the Apostle gave in Titus 1:6-8:

“An elder must not be guilty of doing wrong, must have only one wife, and must have believing children. They must not be known as children who are wild and do not cooperate. As God’s managers, overseers must not be guilty of doing wrong, being selfish, or becoming angry quickly. They must not drink too much wine, like to fight, or try to get rich by cheating others. Overseers must be ready to welcome guests, love what is good, be wise, live right, and be holy and self controlled.” (NCV)

Like I said, it’s a high calling. Unfortunately, it took a very low turn in 2018. Let’s pray for better character for those called by God in the days ahead.

That’s The Way WE Work. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.