by Alan Louis, PhD in Commerce
Applying the Testudo
One of my Christian mentors, who is sadly now deceased, often encouraged me to “apply the Testudo” in my business affairs. In ancient Roman warfare, the Roman Legions used what was called a Testudo formation in battle, which is the interlocking of shields that create a type of tortoise shell to cover the forward advance of soldiers while at the same time protecting their backs from artillery attack.
The forward elements of the formation would bring up their shields to protect their vital areas while the rearward elements raised their shields up and over the soldier in front of them. This innovative battle formation provided maximum protection from enemy fire because it was so difficult to penetrate.
However, the Testudo only works when there is complete unity; if a single person breaks rank the strategy is doomed to fail. In the same way that the Testudo works to protect advancing armies, family members can lay aside their own devices and use it, by uniting to protect each other, and in the end, to protect and preserve the entire family unit, from the onslaughts of both the devil and the darts hurled by the world.
When embracing the Testudo, remember that in the end all people are mere humans, and subject to change. That makes it even more important for us to cling tightly to God as the heart of the Testudo. You can make a significant contribution to your Testudo team by merely being a Dealer in Contentment.
A Dealer in Contentment
Being a dealer in contentment (a state of satisfaction) is imperative for success in business. Why should you be a dealer in contentment? Because it empowers you and gives you much-needed clout, in a dog-eat-dog environment.
What do I mean by “a dealer in contentment”? To consciously acknowledge the many blessings you already have, becoming indifferent to the ups and downs of temporal blessings, living above your circumstances, and remaining undefeated even if the marketplace pulls the rug out from under you.
Discontentment, or expressing dissatisfaction, magnifies what is past, and vilifies what is present, without regard to truth or reason. Our adversaries will always present to us the worthless as important, the irrelevant as essential and that which is detrimental as beneficial with the goal of destroying us. Some even distort partial truth and make it look logical, like a good idea.
What are the key problems associated with discontentment? In his book on contentment, Leo Babauta (‘The Little Book of Contentment – A guide to becoming happy with life & who you are, while getting things done’) makes some good observations as to these key issues:
- An ideal/fantasy we are holding onto;
Unhappiness with who we are;
Lack of trust/confidence in ourselves;
Seeking happiness externally.
It’s a good thing to learn to react well and not let ourselves be swayed by the actions of others, because if we allow ourselves to be discouraged or defeated by what others do, we can easily see ourselves as victims and fall into discontentment. We can improve our reactions to the actions of others by:
1. Not taking any negative actions personally because there are a million reasons why people behave the way they do, and in most cases it has nothing to do with you;
2. Reaffirming your worth in Christ as your value, not affected by the opinions of others, but only by the opinion of your Creator;
3. Considering the advice of Philippians 2:3: “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.”
After you have checked in with yourself and realised you are good to go – then go and help some other person.
Victory over Circumstances
Victory is not always found in having the right circumstances or winning the gold medal, victory is achieved in living with integrity and thankfulness in all circumstances. For this reason the Bible (1 Timothy 6:6) places the gold medal on an attitude of contentment and says: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”
Consider for a moment the points outlined in this fact-file I was sent by an anonymous author on the blessings we should acknowledge:
If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world’s population.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
If you wake up in the morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the many who will not even survive the day.
If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation … you are ahead of 700 million people in the world.
If you can attend a church or synagogue without the fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death, you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world.
If your parents are still alive and still married…. you are very rare.
If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you’re unique to all those in doubt and despair.
If you can read this blog, you are more blessed than over a billion people who cannot read at all.
A dealer in contentment is someone who finds satisfaction emanating from within, despite external circumstances. Internal contentment is very rare, and is the result of a heart at peace, secure in the unchanging love of God.
About the Author: Dr Alan Louis is a third generation entrepreneur in a family with a 100-year business history. He devoted his life to Christianity since the age of 7. He was awarded a PhD in Commerce, is an Ironman Triathlete Gold medallist and was inducted in the IBC Hall of Fame for entrepreneurship. Internationally he has served on more than 100 private corporate boards, and has experienced the ups and downs of commerce for 3 decades.