Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

Integrating Faith and Work ~ Connecting Sunday to Monday

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  • Boring Work: Good for the Soul. Bradley Nassif writes “Our daily life is nothing less than a sacred journey into the being of God. Our most important spiritual work, then, is located wherever we find ourselves. That is the place where we till the soil of our jobs, and where the soil of our jobs tills us. It’s where God meets us, transfigures us, and leads us from glory to glory. Our workplace is our monastery.”
  • Building an Army. Bob Chapman writes about the Conscious Capitalism 2015 event he recently spoke at with Simon Sinek (Start with Why, Leaders Eat Last) and others in Chicago.
  • Your Job is Not Your Savior. Listen to this episode of “Ask Pastor John” featuring Bruce Hindmarsh.
  • Are You Doing the Right Things? Mark Miller writes “Below are some behaviors for you to consider. As you read the list, see if you can guess which are the nice things, and which ones are the right things.”
  • Dorothy Sayers: Clamor to be Engaged in Work Worth Doing. Matt Perman shares some quotes from Dorothy Sayers’ essay “Why Work”.
  • Is it What You Do or Who You Are? How Your Identity Changes Your Work. Dan Cumberland writes “It’s an internal switch. It’s a choice to put on a new identity that is deeply connected to who you are. It’s the choice to let yourself be something that you’ve felt yourself longing to become. It’s allowing yourself to be identified as having a particular work in the world.”
  • Workers and Laborers or Kings and Priests? John Bolt writes “To think of our work as the work of a royal priest ennobles it, giving work a glory that comes from seeing it sub specie aeternitatis (from the vantage point of eternity). Seeing our work from the perspective of eternity also leads us to confront the purely utilitarian understanding of work. It confronts the notion that work should be done just so we can be free—for weekends, for holidays, for vacations, for leisure—that our work is a necessary means to an end.”
  • Going on Vocation. Watch the trailer for this new video series from the Christian History Institute. Looks like it could be good for as faith and work small group study or an Adult Sunday School class.
  • Your Job is Not a Vocation. Malcom B. Yarnall III writes “To put it boldly, as Luther himself might: It is more important to find out who you are in Christ than it is to find out what you are to do in the world. But once you are in Christ, do what you are doing for his glory!”
  • The Secret to Living a Remarkable Life. In this podcast Jeff Goin and his co-host discuss whether or not there is a specific process to finding your calling and how we should look at trials, difficulties and obstacles along the way — not as things that prevent us from our purpose but actually help us get there. They also talk about how your calling isn’t something you plan. It’s really what happens when the plan goes horribly wrong.
  • How to Be Productive According to the Bible. Colin Smith writes “Your work and productivity matter to God and are profoundly important in his eyes. This goes for every job you may have. If you’re mopping floors for a living, you are mopping floors for the glory of God. Working productively allows you to honor God by maximizing the use of your time and to do more good works for his glory. This is what Christian productivity is all about.”
  • You Have Just Enough Time. Jon Bloom writes “Busyness is moral laziness, God has given us just enough time, every moment is a sacrament — these are massively important truths I need to soak in.”
  • Rest? Who Has Time for Rest?! Heather Day writes “Jesus clearly needed spiritual rest and solitude with His Father. How can we possibly think we need anything less?”

SUCCESS AND FAILURE:

  • 8 Lies Christians Believe about Success. Emily T. Wierenga writes “I have spent my whole life trying to be successful. I thought it was what we were supposed to do. Worse than that, I thought success was the mark of a blessed Christian.”
  • How Do You Become a Successful Failure? John Maxwell writes “Anyone pursuing a goal of value will make mistakes and wrong decisions. So the key is to expect failure, to prepare for it, to be ready to turn it into a lesson and a stepping-stone to success. There is such a thing as a successful failure. These are some of the traits of such a person.”
  • Is it Better to Try and Fail or Not Try at All? Dan Miller writes “My theory is that you will be a brighter, better person for trying something big – even if you “fail.”

LEADERSHIP:

FAITH AND WORK QUOTES:

  • God has an interest in all our nonreligious life. All our business transactions are his concern. God is not so distant or even ‘religious’ that he only cares about what happens at church and during devotions. Every square inch of this earth is his and every minute of our lives is a loan from his breath. He is much more secular than we often think. John Piper
  • If you love what you are pursuing, things like rejection and setbacks will not hinder you in your pursuit. Coach K
  • If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • A leader makes certain that his followers know they are working with him not for him.” John Wooden
  • Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up. Coach K
  • How can you be a positive influence for someone in your life? Andy Andrews
  • Don’t wait for the perfect set of conditions before you do something. If you know it’s the right thing to do … just do it. Dr. Alan Zimmerman

 Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead Book Club

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler

We’re reading this excellent book from Albert Mohler, one of the best that I’ve read on leadership. It is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at Chapter 13: The Leader and Power:

  • The essence of leadership is motivating and influencing followers to get the right things done—putting conviction into corporate action. This requires the exercise of power.
  • Faithful leaders understand that while they will influence the organization with their personality, they must never allow personality to be the defining mark of leadership.
  • There are two dangers here. The first is the well-known “cult of personality,” in which the persona of the leader becomes the hallmark of the organization. The other danger is that the leader will rely on personality as a substitute for conviction or competence.
  • Personality is important, but it will fall flat when conviction wanes or competence is lacking. In addition to the power of personality, power also comes from the office the leader holds.
  • A leader unwilling to exercise the responsibility of office has no business accepting that stewardship.
  • Leaders must keep one truth constantly in focus—the office you hold exists because the organization depends on it.
  • Power of office works in two ways. First, it allows leaders to define reality to outside constituencies. The one who holds the office of leadership gets to speak for the organization. Second, the power of office allows the leader to force change within the organization.
  • Any leader unwilling to force change is destined for ineffectiveness. The faithful leader uses this power sparingly, but uses it nonetheless.
  • The truth is that people within an organization feel most secure when the leader leads.
  • The most sobering thought I often have in the course of a day is that I will make decisions that will impact people’s lives.
  • If the leader’s main task is to lead by conviction, then the convictions must be more central and prominent than the leader’s personality. If the personality looms larger than the convictions, alarms should go off, and they had better be heeded.
  • The Christian leader cannot succumb to the temptations of ostentation and the glorification of power.
  • The Christian leader will serve by leading and lead by serving, knowing that the power of office and leadership is there to be used, but to be used toward the right ends and in the right manner.
  • Power and responsibility must come accountability. A leader without accountability is an accident waiting to happen.
  • The stewardship of power is one of the greatest moral challenges any leader will ever face.

TThe Advantage by Patrick Lencionihe Advantage Book Club

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni. Jossey-Bass. 240 pages. 2012

Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite business authors. His books The Advantage and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team are among my favorites. I recently started reading and discussing The Advantage with two colleagues at work. I’m sharing key learnings from the book here.

Some good resources around organizational health can be found here: http://www.tablegroup.com/oh

This week we look at “The Case for Organizational Health”:

  • The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it. That is the premise of this book—not to mention my career—and I am utterly convinced that it is true.
  • In spite of its undeniable power, so many leaders struggle to embrace organizational health (which I’ll be defining shortly) because they quietly believe they are too sophisticated, too busy, or too analytical to bother with it. In other words, they think it’s beneath them.
  • The health of an organization provides the context for strategy, finance, marketing, technology, and everything else that happens within it, which is why it is the single greatest factor determining an organization’s success. More than talent. More than knowledge. More than innovation.
  • But before leaders can tap into the power of organizational health, they must humble themselves enough to overcome the three biases that prevent them from embracing it. The Sophistication Bias: Organizational health is so simple and accessible that many leaders have a hard time seeing it as a real opportunity for meaningful advantage.
  • The Adrenaline Bias: Becoming a healthy organization takes a little time. Unfortunately, many of the leaders I’ve worked with suffer from a chronic case of adrenaline addiction, seemingly hooked on the daily rush of activity and firefighting within their organizations. It’s as though they’re afraid to slow down and deal with issues that are critical but don’t seem particularly urgent.
  • The Quantification Bias: The benefits of becoming a healthy organization, as powerful as they are, are difficult to accurately quantify.
  • There is yet another reason that might prevent them from tapping into the power of organizational health, and that is what provoked me to write this book: it has never been presented as a simple, integrated, and practical discipline.
  • I am convinced that once organizational health is properly understood and placed into the right context, it will surpass all other disciplines in business as the greatest opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage. Really.
  • At its core, organizational health is about integrity, but not in the ethical or moral way that integrity is defined so often today. An organization has integrity—is healthy—when it is whole, consistent, and complete, that is, when its management, operations, strategy, and culture fit together and make sense.
  • Any organization that really wants to maximize its success must come to embody two basic qualities: it must be smart, and it must be healthy.
  • Smart organizations are good at those classic fundamentals of business—subjects like strategy, marketing, finance, and technology—which I consider to be decision sciences.
  • A good way to recognize health is to look for the signs that indicate an organization has it. These include minimal politics and confusion, high degrees of morale and productivity, and very low turnover among good employees.
  • Most leaders prefer to look for answers where the light is better, where they are more comfortable. And the light is certainly better in the measurable, objective, and data-driven world of organizational intelligence (the smart side of the equation) than it is in the messier, more unpredictable world of organizational health.
  • The advantages to be found in the classic areas of business—finance, marketing, strategy—in spite of all the attention they receive, are incremental and fleeting.
  • The vast majority of organizations today have more than enough intelligence, expertise, and knowledge to be successful. What they lack is organizational health.
  • After two decades of working with CEOs and their teams of senior executives, I’ve become absolutely convinced that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre or unsuccessful ones has little, if anything, to do with what they know or how smart they are; it has everything to do with how healthy they are.
  • An organization that is healthy will inevitably get smarter over time. That’s because people in a healthy organization, beginning with the leaders, learn from one another, identify critical issues, and recover quickly from mistakes.
  • The healthier an organization is, the more of its intelligence it is able to tap into and use. Most organizations exploit only a fraction of the knowledge, experience, and intellectual capital that is available to them. But the healthy ones tap into almost all of it.
  • First, organizational health just isn’t very sexy, so journalists aren’t terribly excited to talk or write about it.
  • Another reason that organizational health has been overlooked by academia and the media has to do with the difficulty of measuring its impact.
  • Trying to identify exactly how much a company’s health affects its bottom line is next to impossible; there are just too many variables to isolate it from the myriad of other factors.
  • Finally, organizational health gets overlooked because the elements that make it up don’t seem to be anything new. And in many ways, they aren’t. The basic components—leadership, teamwork, culture, strategy, meetings—have been a subject of discussion within academia for a long time. The problem is that we’ve been looking at those elements in isolated, discreet, and theoretical ways instead of as an integrated, practical discipline.
  • The financial cost of having an unhealthy organization is undeniable: wasted resources and time, decreased productivity, increased employee turnover, and customer attrition. The money an organization loses as a result of these problems, and the money it has to spend to recover from them, is staggering. And that’s only the beginning of the problem.
  • Aside from the obvious impact this has within the organization, there is a larger social cost. People who work in unhealthy organizations eventually come to see work as drudgery. They view success as being unlikely or, even worse, out of their control. This leads to a diminished sense of hope and lower self-esteem, which leaks beyond the walls of the companies where they work, into their families where it often contributes to deep personal problems, the effects of which may be felt for years.
  • Turning an unhealthy company into a healthy one will not only create a massive competitive advantage and improved bottom line, it will also make a real difference in the lives of the people who work there. And for the leaders who spearhead those efforts, it will be one of the most meaningful and rewarding endeavors they will ever pursue.
  • DISCIPLINE 1: BUILD A COHESIVE LEADERSHIP TEAM. An organization simply cannot be healthy if the people who are chartered with running it are not behaviorally cohesive in five fundamental ways. In any kind of organization, from a corporation to a department within that corporation, from a small, entrepreneurial company to a church or a school, dysfunction and lack of cohesion at the top inevitably lead to a lack of health throughout.
  • DISCIPLINE 2: CREATE CLARITY. In addition to being behaviorally cohesive, the leadership team of a healthy organization must be intellectually aligned and committed to the same answers to six simple but critical questions.
  • DISCIPLINE 3: OVERCOMMUNICATE CLARITY. Once a leadership team has established behavioral cohesion and created clarity around the answers to those questions, it must then communicate those answers to employees clearly, repeatedly, enthusiastically, and repeatedly (that’s not a typo). When it comes to reinforcing clarity, there is no such thing as too much communication.
  • DISCIPLINE 4: REINFORCE CLARITY. Finally, in order for an organization to remain healthy over time, its leaders must establish a few critical, nonbureaucratic systems to reinforce clarity in every process that involves people. Every policy, every program, every activity should be designed to remind employees what is really most important.
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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence. I’m married to my best friend. I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 100 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people determine their callings, develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. My favorite book is the Bible, and some other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

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