Judges 10:1-5 – Giving God Your Best Every Day … Regardless of Notoriety!

Posted: September 7, 2017 in Book of Judges
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Judges 10:1-5
Tola and Jair Become Judges of Israel

About one month from now, I will celebrate my ninth anniversary in my current position as the comptroller of Fujikura America, Inc. (FAI). It may not be a big deal to you but it will be to me. One of these days, I will either leave here to go into full-time ministry or, if that never happens, I will most likely retire from this job. If I have not stopped to plant a church or to accept a full-time ministry position, my thoughts right now are to retire early at age 62 and pursue ministry then. If that be the case, I would leave FAI in another seven years for a total of 16 years in one job, easily the longest I have worked for any one company. Before this job the longest I had worked anywhere was 7 years 11 months.

But back to the point. The changes that I have seen in the Finance function of FAI over the past 9 years are maybe insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe. However, they were needed. When I first signed on as comptroller, FAI’s finance function was in complete disarray. I had observed this for a year before as a consultant working on assignment for FAI’s legal parent company here in the US, America Fujikura, Ltd. (AFL). Ultimately, both companies belong to a publicly traded company in Japan called Fujikura, Ltd. Here in the US though, AFL is the huge big linebacker of a brother (now over $1 Billion in annual sales) while FAI is the little sister (approaching $100 Million in annual sales). Although the companies are managed separately and report separately to Japan, there are many financial and administrative services that AFL provides to FAI because we are related to them and it just makes sense to not duplicate some services. For external purposes here in the US, we are consolidated into their financial statements. It’s a weird arrangement. We report separately to Japan for internal financial reporting purposes and we have our own separate management team. However, we are legal subsidiary of AFL so we must be consolidated with them for financial reporting here in the US. It’s weird and probably is boring you by now. However, it all plays into the story.

As I said earlier, I had been doing some internal controls consulting work for AFL for about year before I took the job at FAI. As fate would have it, as part of a team of internal controls experts that AFL hired to help them establish standard internal controls throughout the US businesses, I ended up being pushed toward assisting the ugly stepchild subsidiary, FAI. Because of successive horrible hiring decisions with three different comptrollers over the previous 6 years, FAI’s finance function was well “effed up!” Each one of these three comptrollers (and I use that word lightly in regard to them) was in over their head in that job. How FAI managed to here three completely incompetent finance leaders in a row is astounding. But what happened was by the time my immediate predecessor had been in the job for 3 years, everything was a complete mess. Nobody at AFL could trust anything that came out of FAI’s finance function. Financial statements were wildly erratic each month and the Finance staff would have no clue. And to provide information about the content of balance sheet or income statement accounts would be met with information that was sketchy and did not even reconcile to posted balances in accounts. You just could not count on anything financial coming out of FAI. Because I had been working with FAI directly as part of the internal controls program, I knew firsthand how the comptroller there was way in over her head and had no clue what she was doing or anything she was responsible for.

When I took over as comptroller, I found out just how bad it was. There was not one balance sheet account that anyone had a clue as to what made up the balance. To make matters worse, the staff did not understand why it mattered. So for the first year I was comptroller, with the help of my staff I had to figure just what were the proper balances of cash, accounts receivable, prepaid expenses, other current assets, accounts payable, and so on and so on. It took a whole year to get that figured out. As well, to establish and develop proper accounting procedures, standard month-end closing practices, and standard account reconciliation practices and documentation. It was amazing hard work to get the financial statements cleaned up and reconciled and documented as to their content.

Now, here we are almost 10 years later. What was once the worst finance group in the US group of Fujikura companies is considered the standard. Our reconciliation process for balance sheet and income statement accounts is used as the standard for the entire group. There is 10 years of a body of work where we can pull out binders and binders of reconciliations such that you can know from month to month over that 10 year period exactly what is in each of our balance sheet and income statement accounts. It is something of which I am proud. There is excellence there. There is consistency there. There is a trust there of knowing what you have got. The corporate folks at AFL have full and complete trust in what the financial statements at FAI say and contain. It is a far cry from the mess than I inherited. What was a complete mess is now completely trusted. I know that this may all be a boring example to you but to me is about the quest for excellence and about quietly doing that regardless of notoriety.

What I expect of my staff and of myself is consistent excellence and maintaining that excellence over the long haul. Regardless of who notices or whether it gets noticed, what I want for myself and from my staff is to seek excellence regardless of whether anybody pats you on the back or not. It should just be part of our nature to seek excellence not because someone is looking. We should give our best and try to be the best at what we do because that is one way to give glory to God – doing your job (that he talented you to do) to the best of your ability always everyday without fail. Nobody is going to make me CEO of a Fortune top 10 company. Nobody is going to see my name in lights because I am the hottest CFO on two feet that gets quoted in CFO Magazine or one that gets hired by Apple or some other NYSE darling company. I will never be quoted in the newspaper. However, what I can look back on here at FAI is a body of work that shows consistent excellence over a long period of time. My greatest compliment when I leave here will be maybe a phone call from the next comptroller saying, “Wow, man! This is amazing. The volume and quality of the work you did here just is really going to make my job easier than I thought. All I gotta do is maintain!” From the ashes that was once FAI’s finance function to consistent excellence, that’s what will be the legacy. Even if it is not national headlines and may not even be known outside my own company, I know that it was done well and done right. There may be no books written about it but I know it was done well and done right.

That’s the thing that I thought of this morning as I read this short passage of Judges 10:1-5. At first, I didn’t know what to make of this passage because it had so little information about Tola and Jair. But then, the Holy Spirit said, think of your own job. Write about that. So, let’s read about these basically anonymous judges of Israel:

10 Now after Abimelech died, Tola the son of Puah, the son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, arose to save Israel; and he lived in Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. 2 He judged Israel twenty-three years. Then he died and was buried in Shamir.

3 After him, Jair the Gileadite arose and judged Israel twenty-two years. 4 He had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys, and they had thirty cities [a]in the land of Gilead that are called [b]Havvoth-jair to this day. 5 And Jair died and was buried in Kamon.

Here, in this passage, we read about two men who judged Israel for a total of 45 years, yet all we know about them besides the length of their rule was that one had 30 sons who rode on 30 donkeys. God often uses otherwise unknown people to do great things for him. It may not make headlines but it is needed in the grand scheme of God’s kingdom. Are you and I willing to serve the Lord in ways that are not out front or up front? Are you willing to serve the Lord when no one is looking? Is notoriety or a pat on the back necessary for you to step up and serve the Lord? God wants us to serve Him because we love Him. We should not expect horizontal accolades for our service to the Lord. We should serve the Lord simply because we love Him so much. Our service to the Lord should be the result of our thankful hearts for our salvation in Christ. Our service to the Lord should be our love story to our Creator. We should give Him our highest and our best regardless of whether anyone is watching or not. We give Him our highest and our best because we desire to give Him no less.

That’s the thing this morning is that even in my secular job, I can give glory to God by doing my best, being trustworthy, giving excellent effort every day, having integrity, and striving for being better, faster, stronger every day. That is a praiseworthy song to the Lord in my secular job. It may not make headlines but it does speak loudly of what a Christ follower is like. There will be the satisfaction that I did everything I could. So, maybe, the biggest compliment here to Tola and Jair here in this passage is that there was a 45 year period where there was no crisis. They gave Israel peace and excellence for 45 years. They gave Israel a time where no great upheaval occurred. They were consistent and things happened the way they were supposed to happen. That’s excellence even when nobody notices because things are the way they are supposed to be.

Maybe we can use that in our lives. Maybe our greatest compliments can be when there is no notoriety because things happened the way they were supposed to happen. There is glory to God in that. There is excellence in that. Like an epitaph on a grave that says, “a good father and husband”, we want to have lived lives that gave honor to God by our being faithful regardless of whether anyone gave us publicity for it or not.

Amen and Amen.

 

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