A Word that Blew My Mind

פָּנִים

I called myself a “Word Nerd” in my last post.  It’s true, I am.  So I decided to share a word that blew my mind. I know that in the process I will be giving further evidence of my nerdiness but that’s OK.
A few years ago I was in a financial planning class and the instructor  made reference to an ancient Hebrew proverb. He was talking about taking care of your business in general terms. I was intrigued so I looked up the proverb and did what I usually do (word nerd). I broke it down and looked at the meanings of the words. The proverb in English says, “Be sure to know the condition of your flocks, give careful attention to your herds; for riches do not endure forever . . .” Proverbs 27:23 – 27 It goes on to say that if you take care of your flocks and herds, they will take care of you when times get tough.
The word that blew my mind was “condition,” not too amazing at first. But, the proverb was originally written in ancient Hebrew. I still have some tools from my ministry days, so I looked it up. The Hebrew word is Paniym (it’s the word pictured in the title of this post). It means “faces!” The proverb says, “Be sure to know the faces of your flocks . . .” When I discovered that meaning, the faces of all my colleagues at work started racing through my mind. I could see them happy, I could see them stressed, I could see them frustrated and angry. These people with whom I worked every day, most of them were my employees, were my flock. They were the ones who did the work that determined the success or failure of the business. The proverb goes on to say, as I further learned, “Put your heart into taking care of your herds!” Wow! My job is to take care of the people who do the work so they can take care of the work.
One of the main things I learned from this was that the principles of Employee Engagement are not new. This proverb was written around 3,000 years ago yet it sounds strangely like “The Service-Profit Chain,” (Harvard Business Review) and the findings of many other modern studies. Put your heart into taking care of the people that take care of your business. It makes sense. It has for a long, long time.

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