Category Archives: Leadership

Jesus is CEO of Top-Branded Honey Company.

Nature Nate’s is the top-branded honey in America, but the company’s president, Nathan Sheets, refuses to take credit. Instead, the marketer-turned-beekeeper attributes his business’ rapid success and growth to Jesus.

“The overwhelming theme that engulfed me as I started really focusing on Nature Nate’s was ‘God is our CEO, and I’m simply the chief steward of what He’s entrusted to us,'” says Sheets of his McKinney, Texas-based company.

Sheets pursues this theme not only by cultivating a healthy work environment for his employees but also by using the company’s finances and influence to share the love of Christ and strengthen families and communities.

For instance, Nature Nate’s has launched the Honey Gives Hope corporate giving program and was the presenting sponsor of the 2017 GMA Dove Awards honoring the best in Christian music. The company partnered with the Dove Awards to promote Show Hope, an organization seeking to unite orphans and loving families as quickly and easily as possible.

Sheets believes exercising this kind of stewardship has a positive impact on the company overall.

“The success of Nature Nate’s isn’t because we’re great branders or we’re great marketers,” Sheets says. “I believe the success of Nature Nate’s is because we truly want to use this platform to make a difference for eternity.”

Falling in Love With Bees

“We went from this teeny-tiny honey company in 2012 to five years later, we’re the No. 1-branded honey in America [according to market research firm IRI],” Sheets says. “It’s just a total God story.”


Sheets realised that the regional focus of the North Dallas brand would keep the company from growing in popularity across the U.S. After much prayer, he decided to make two changes: personalise the brand name and shift the focus from the honey’s local quality to its raw, unfiltered characteristics.

Sheets’ wife came up with a significant idea: using his college nickname, “Nature Boy.” Together, they settled on renaming the company “Nature Nate’s.”

“We rebranded and did the labels so that 80 percent of the label focus is on raw and unfiltered,” he says. “And man, we were just blessed to be at the right place at the right time in the right industry.”

Selling to Advance the Kingdom

Indeed, 80 percent of the label’s focus is on the honey’s “raw, unfiltered” quality, but 100 percent of the company’s focus is on making an impact for Christ.

“I just came to realise that as a honey company, we don’t have to raise money,” he says. “We can make money, take that money, go do projects and make a difference in people’s lives.”

For Sheets, the company’s impact begins and ends with stewardship.

“I want to steward our people resources, the people who work for us, first and foremost, to make an impact on their lives,” he says. “I want to steward the financial resources and try to make as much as we can, live on as little as we can and give away as much as we can. And then I want to focus on stewardship of our influence and try to use the influence we have at Nature Nate’s to share Christ with people. Then [we can] challenge believers to look at the lens of their business as possibly the biggest opportunity to make a difference for Christ where they are 8 to 5, five days a week.”

Pointing Employees to Jesus

It’s not a requirement to be a Christian to work at Nature Nate’s, but the company’s Christ-focused atmosphere is evident.

Becca May, director of brand management, comes from a non-Christian background, but Sheets has made it easy for her to fit in with company culture.

“I grew up in a Jewish home, and so I was bat-mitzvahed when I was 13,” May says. “I went to a Hebrew school until I was 18. It’s the only faith-background and exposure I’ve ever had. … [Working at Nature Nate’s has] been life-changing and eye-opening—and beyond [our] being welcomed and understood and treated with so much love and respect, Nathan continues to share with us … the lessons and the roots that we find in [his] faith that guide everything we do.”

Several of Sheets’ employees have become believers through personal evangelistic efforts, but his overall focus is on demonstrating and encouraging biblical values. He does this in several ways, such as what he calls “Bee-attitudes”: “Bee passionate,” “Bee creative,” “Bee generous,” “Bee loving,” “Bee faithful” and “Bee honest.” The company rewards employees each month for exhibiting these characteristics. For instance, some employees chose to exercise the “Bee passionate” and “Bee generous” principles by spending their own money to buy needed supplies for victims of Hurricane Harvey in Houston.

Nature Nate’s has also offered practical help to employees in a number of ways, including setting its minimum pay above minimum wage. Sheets’ employees have benefitted from his generosity and also have supported each other in times of need. The company also offers monthly financial management classes to any interested employee.

Innovating for Better Health

The concept of good stewardship pervades not only the work culture of Nature Nate’s but the company’s goals for the future too. Sheets lists his top three, the first of which is to give away $5 million.

“I used to say we want to be there by 2020,” he says, though he wants to take care that his goal doesn’t become a personal idol that consumes his focus.

Another goal on Sheets’ heart is to hire thousands.

“That’s an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of thousands of people,” he says. “On one hand, it really excites me, and on the other hand, it really freaks me out because I know that if you create a machine like that, you’ve got to keep going and growing, and there’s just a lot to that.”

Sheets’ final goal for Nature Nate’s is to create better-for-you products that use honey instead of less-healthy sweeteners such as processed sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.

In January, the company will launch four new nut butters, three jams, a syrup for Kroger and a single-serve snack for Walmart.

“We’re really driven by innovation,” Sheets says. “We don’t just want to be the No. 1-branded honey company in America. We want to be one of the No. 1 better-for-you food companies in America.”

The only way he sees these three goals coming to pass, though, is by depending on and emulating Jesus.

“It says in Ephesians that we’re to smell like the aroma of Christ,” Sheets says. “And as we live our lives and live in authenticity and transparency, people recognize that there’s just something different. It makes people inquire, ‘What’s different?’ And that’s what draws people to the Lord. So we just try to live that out.”

adapted from article by Jenny Rose Curtis, assistant online editor for the media group at Charisma Media 


Starbucks’ President Reveals 6 Leadership Traits That Led to His Success

Howard Behar is former president of Starbucks Coffee Company International and the author of It’s Not About The Coffee and The Magic Cup. During his tenure, he helped grow the company from 28 stores to over 15,000 stores spanning five continents. He retired in 2007. He now dedicates a large part of his time to the development and education of future leaders and has been a longtime advocate of Servant Leadership. Writing for Inc, Marcel Schwantes, Principal and founder, Leadership From the Core, takes a look at an interview; with Bill Fox, co-founder of Container13 and editor of Forward-Thinking Workplaces™, Behar talks about the virtuous behaviors and mindset that guided him throughout his successful 21-year tenure manning the ship at Starbucks.

Six key (and often rare) principles for better leadership and a better life clearly stood out for me in this compelling interview.

1. Give your people room to make mistakes.

Behar was asked by Fox how more companies are able to create workplaces where employees’ voices matter and people thrive. He says, “The person who sweeps the floor chooses the broom.”

Behar is talking about giving a person in a specific role or function full authority, responsibility, and accountability to do their work. “You’ve got to give them room to make mistakes and to grow primarily as people first, and then as employees,” says Behar.

2. Remove fear with trust.

The freedom for employees to make mistakes can only occur with a strong foundation of trust in place. That’s where “people can begin to use their creativity because they lose that fear of being judged. They lose the fear of making mistakes,” says Behar.

In trustworthy settings, you’ll naturally find that people genuinely care about and encourage one another. But it starts with leaders setting the stage — giving their people responsibility and accountability to let them “choose their broom,” says Behar.

3. Serve one another.

“You know it’s not really employees and customers. That’s a word we all use to describe with [whom] we work and do business,” says Behar.

At the end of the day, what we’re really put on earth to do is serve another human being. Behar states, “It doesn’t make any difference what your job description is or what your title is; we’re all servers of human beings.”

4. Set expectations and get agreement.

When asked about what it takes to get an employee’s best performance, Behar believes that open and honest communication–lots of it–is critical for success. But it’s not just communicating. It’s setting clear expectations and getting agreement on those expectations that gets the employee’s full attention. It’s a feeling people get when they are trusted with responsibility and accountability.

Behar uses the example of family dynamics: “What allows your kids to give you their attention? It’s when they feel trusted and not judged,” says Behar. “When that happens, they open up to communication that gets closed down when they’re not. When you’re constantly after them, when you’re always setting rules and regulations then what happens? They close down” says Behar.

Behar says the same is true with workplace dynamics. Set clear expectations, gain agreement on those expectations, and “let them go for it.”

5. Treat people more like human beings, less like mere employees.

Behar was asked what people really lack and long for at work. He says, “Being treated with respect and dignity. Being dealt with as a human being and not an employee.”

In workplaces where people model and share common values like respect and dignity, there’s acceptance of one another: “People are allowed to be themselves at work, whatever that is — within the context of achieving the goals of the organization,” says Behar.

Leaders who respect and treat people with dignity also support their development as human beings. When Fox asked Behar what is the most important question a leader should be asking an employee, Behar replied, “What can I do to support you in the attainment of your own goals in the context of obtaining our family or our organization’s goals?”

6. Discover the truth of who you are.

Reflecting back on his professional journey, Behar shared a story of his own compelling self-discovery. At 26, he really didn’t know whom he was, what his values were, what he stood for, or what he wanted to accomplish in life.

Working at a furniture company at the time, his boss asked, “Howard, what do you love more — people or furniture?”

That hit him like a Mike Tyson punch to the gut. Being that he wanted to be the best in the home furnishings industry, for the first time Behar was confused about his true purpose in life.

He says, “Once I asked myself that question, it began a process of self-discovery. Trying to figure out, ‘Howard, who are you?’ ‘Do you love furniture?’”

He concluded that it wasn’t furniture that he loved, but people — working with people, being with people, and learning from people.

And most importantly, he says, “learning to manage me.”

As a servant-leader, the question of “who am I?” has been a lifelong journey of self-discovery for Behar. He says that he is still figuring out his mission and how he’s going to live his life.

“It’s constantly in my head. I’m always trying to deal with, ‘Who am I?’” says Behar.

Read the full interview.


Collaborative Leadership Models Work

Richard Branson’s 10 Favorite Quotes on Collaboration

The model at Virgin exemplifies this welcome transition. “The fundamental driver of our success at Virgin has, and will always be, our people working together,” says Richard Branson. “To be successful in business, and in life, you need to connect and collaborate.”

Branson has many things to say about the importance of collaborative efforts, not only internally, but from company to company as well. On a recent blog, the Virgin mogul cited the following as the quotes on collaboration that inspire him the most.

  1. “No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” – Reid Hoffman
  2. “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than the one where they sprang up” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
  3. “It takes two flints to make a fire.” – Louisa May Alcott
  4. “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilisation work.” – Vince Lombardi
  5. “The lightning spark of thought generated in the solitary mind awakens its likeness in another mind.” – Thomas Carlyle
  6. “No matter what accomplishments you make, somebody helped you.” – Althea Gibson
  7. “No one can whistle a symphony. It takes a whole orchestra to play it.” – H.E. Luccock
  8. “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton
  9. “If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.” – Henry Ford
  10. “Collaboration has no hierarchy. The Sun collaborates with soil to bring flowers on the earth.” – Amit Ray

Are you ready to share the responsibility for your company’s success? Apparently, the collaborative model works quite well!

Richard Branson’s 10 Favourite Quotes on Collaboration |

Christian Faith Plus Chinese Productivity

At first glance, it looks as though it could be any other factory driving the rapid development of the Chinese economy. But this is no ordinary enterprise because here religious faith is as important as profit.

In fact, the owner of the Boteli Valve Group in Wenzhou would like to see all his staff convert to Christianity.

And such a factory is not a one-off: it is part of a growing number of businesses run by Christian entrepreneurs in one of China’s key enterprise zones, whose success is now being studied by the Chinese government.

As he shows me the production facilities, the factory’s general manager, Weng-Jen Wau, tells me that every month, $5m (£3m) worth of industrial valves are manufactured.

About 40% of the factory’s output is exported to businesses worldwide.

But he seems to have limited interest in the sales figures – he is far more concerned to tell me about the place his family’s Christian faith has in the life of the factory.

‘Better workers’

Every Monday morning, the senior managers gather together and pray about the business.

Once a week, members of staff are encouraged to attend an on-site Christian fellowship meeting, where they read the Bible and pray for each other.

Weng-Jen Wau believes that by encouraging increasing numbers of his staff to convert to Christianity, his business will prosper.

And he tells me that when staff do convert to Christianity, their attitude towards their work is transformed.

“If you’re a Christian you’re more honest, with a better heart,” he says. “The people who aren’t Christians aren’t responsible. I think it’s very different.

“I’m not saying those people who aren’t Christians are all bad, but from the percentage of the workers who are Christians, they seem to be more responsible.

“Also when they do things wrong, they feel guilty – that’s the difference,” he explains.

One of the workers I met who had recently converted to Christianity explained that he had known nothing about the religion before he started work at the factory.

BBC map

But he said that his new-found faith was now a source of daily inspiration.

He told me that he was now trying to convert his friends and colleagues to Christianity.

“If everybody became a Christian, it would have a very big impact, and would really help the development of our factory,” he said.

Work ethic

So I asked Mr Wau how much religion was a factor when he was recruiting new staff.

“Of course I would choose the Christians first, definitely,” he said.

Such comments could prompt accusations of discriminatory practice in some countries, but he had no doubt about the sort of impact Christianity could have on Chinese business.

“I think if all enterprises absorb this Christian culture, we will have a much more harmonious society,” he said.

There are obvious questions about whether the staff really have discovered Christianity, or whether they are simply responding pragmatically to a clearly defined vision for their company.

Those I met were keen to stress the significance of their new faith, and the lack of pressure to convert – though there was no disguising their bosses’ clear desire to boost Christian numbers in the workforce.

But the wider role of Christian entrepreneurs in the economic success of the Wenzhou private enterprise zone has not gone unnoticed by the Chinese government.

Far from being regarded as a religious oddity, the impact of Christian-run businesses is now being studied by Chinese government officials.

At the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, I met Professor Zhuo Xinping, Director of the Institute of World Religions.

He specialises in the study of Christianity’s growing influence in China – and has plenty to say about Wenzhou’s Christian entrepreneurs.

He tells me that the city was visited by substantial numbers of Western Christian missionaries during the 19th Century and thus has – by Chinese standards – a long history of Christian faith.

Today it has an unusually high number of Christians for a Chinese city – with some estimates suggesting Christians now make up 20% of the population.

But what really interests him is the way in which the growth of Christianity and economic prosperity have happened side by side.

The Boteli Valve Group in Wenzhou, China
Image captionThe factory has a monthly output worth $5m

He tells me that Chinese researchers are considering whether in Western history there is a link between economic prosperity and Protestant Christianity – and they are questioning what that might mean for today’s China.

“It’s very important to find the secret of social development, the so-called potential forces for a nation,” he says.

“When it comes to Western countries, the majority Chinese understanding is that this potential force is Protestant Christianity.”

Christian faith may sound like an unlikely component in China’s future economic success.

But the notion that newfound faith can inspire a workforce to increased levels of productivity is being taken seriously not only by Christian businessmen, but by China’s Communist – and officially atheist – leaders

The Mega-Goal of Five-Fold Leadership

Three Goals of Five-Fold Leadership

“And He [Jesus] Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-16

Whenever God repeats something in the Word, it is important. Clearly within these six verses are three distinct goals mentioned (in different ways) at least two times each. The highlighted words wrap themselves around these three obvious goals:

Goal #1: Edify/edifying/fullness = building up unto completion

Goal #2: Unity/knitted together = agreement, oneness

Goal #3: Growth = progressive development, increase

Notice that the Lord does not stop with these three measurements, but continues toward the one mega-goal.

The Mega-Goal of Five-Fold Leadership

The mega-goal five-fold leadership is not about your leadership anointing or even the edification, unity, and growth of your teams. It is ultimately about love (good will, benevolence, affection).

The only way to achieve the mega-goal of love is to take your focus off measuring the depth of your unique leadership gifts, and instead, focus your attention on measuring the edification, unity and growth of your teams in love.

Jesus’ final exam is based upon on how well you release His leadership gifts toward love. Unless you move beyond the gifts themselves into a focus on His outcome of the gifts, you totally miss His purpose for the gifts.

Therefore, to avoid falling into the tantalising trap of five-fold leadership, measure all your leadership efforts in love.


You don’t know it all. There are limits to your knowledge, ability and energy. And while the competitive nature of our culture, which often sneaks into our lives for those in leadership, and would have us to hide all of our weaknesses in fear, there is tremendous power in becoming vulnerable with people.


This article was written for church leaders but it just as applicable to business leaders and leaders in general. Deciding to become vulnerable is risky. As church leaders (business leaders), there will be people in our congregations (businesses) that don’t want us to be human. They would prefer that we wear a halo and pretend we’re never tempted to sin in the same ways they are. They feel safer if we, as spiritual leaders, are immune to the crass realities of life.

But when we hide our weaknesses, three big problems arise:

1. Our weaknesses get worse, feeding off the shame and secrecy.

2. We become dishonest and hypocritical.

3. The truth inevitably comes out, and people are disillusioned as a result.

So is bearing our vulnerability worth the risk? Absolutely. Here are some important reasons vulnerability is a forgotten virtue of great leadership:

1. It’s emotionally healthy. Maintaining an image of perfection requires enormous amounts of emotional energy. One of the reasons we sometimes get so stressed-out and depressed is because we’re working so hard to stay behind the facade and keep everyone convinced that we’re strong.

If you are worried about your image, you are heading for burnout. Keeping people happy and impressing others is terribly exhausting, and it’s always temporary. Eventually, people get to know our weaknesses all at once.

Being real and vulnerable, on the other hand, is liberating. It’s freeing. In fact, it’s really the only way to live. James 5:16 says, Confess your faults to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much. We need to confess our sins to God to be forgiven, but we also need to talk about our weaknesses with others to find healing.

In fact, some faults won’t budge until you confess them to others.

2. It’s spiritually empowering. James also says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6b). It is impossible to lead in ministry without the grace of God. And how do you find the grace you need? You find it by humbling yourself before God and others.

Remember, pride prevents power.

3. It’s relationally attractive. Everybody is wearing a mask, and it’s what we expect others to do as well. When we choose to throw our masks away, we surprise people with our authenticity. Being real is the fastest way to endear yourself to others.

We tend to love people who area real, honest, humble and vulnerable, and we tend to despise people who are deceitful, arrogant and hypocritical. Paul told the Thessalonian believers, So having great love toward you, we were willing to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you were dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8).

When you share your strengths, you create competition. But when you share your weaknesses, you create community. You let people know “We’re all in this together.”

Pastors are often incredibly lonely people. Why? I believe it’s in large part because they’re so afraid of the cost of being vulnerable.

4. It’s a mark of leadership. We only follow leaders we trust. The first requirement for effective leadership is credibility, and the more honest you are, the more credible you become.

Real leaders lead by example. They go first. If your desire is that the church, group or organisation you’re leading be a place where people are open, you must be the first to open up.

You must decide whether you want to impress people (which you can do from a distance) or influence people (which you can only do up close).

5. It increases the impact of your preaching/leading. The concept of preaching from our vulnerability is something I’ve written about before because it’s a really big idea. In the previous generation of great preachers, we usually asked what’s the most powerful way to preach this? Now, we should be asking what’s the most personal way to preach this?

You will always be more effective as a personal witness and a storyteller than as a skilled orator. As you preach and lead, try to answer these questions:

  • What struggles and weaknesses should I share with others?
  • What progress am I making that others could learn from?
  • What am I currently learning, especially from my failures?

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of, a global Internet community for pastors.

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