Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

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Jobs are boring LEADERSHIP AND TEAMWORK:

10 Ways to Create a Teamwork 101 Environment. Brad Lomenick writes “I love the book of Philippians in the New Testament. The entire book is one of Paul’s greatest letters. Specifically, chapter 2 is a gem. Paul lays out some strong language regarding teamwork and working together.”

The 7 Characteristics of Servant Leadership. Matt Perman writes “I think it is so important for the church to understand the real meaning of servant leadership. So important.”

  • The Most Obvious Thing Most Leaders Miss. Mark Miller writes “If you want to see people perform at a higher level and be more engaged, take time to define how you are keeping score, and then share with each team member how they can contribute to the overall success. Never underestimate how much people need a way to measure their results. Remember, people play harder and smarter when they know the score.”

KEEP GETTING BETTER:

CALLING AND VOCATION:

PITHY PONDERINGS:

  • 20 Signs Its Time to Quit Your Job. Selma Wilson writes “Sometimes, we need to assess where we are in our work. If you answer yes to most of these questions, it may be time for you to leave your position.”
  •  What’s that Bible Doing on Your Desk? David C. Bentall writes “Over the years, I have concluded that a person who is a faithful Christian “in the marketplace” will probably not have a bible on their desk. Instead, they will display certain characteristics consistently, which will endear them to their colleagues, and which will reveal their heart for God to those around them. I believe that those who honor their Christian faith at work will do two things: 1) They will do a good job, and 2) They will be men of their word.”
  • The Art and Pain Of Applying Scripture To Business. C Patton writes “When I started over 10 years ago trying to integrate my Christian faith and my business, there were not as many books available on the subject. Instead, one of the few books I could find – Business by The Book – recommended reading the book of Proverbs with “business glasses” on.”
  • Everybody Matters Podcast. This week’s podcast features Amy Cuddy and Simon Sinek.
  • A Seminary President Sits Down with a Facilities Worker to Talk Faith and Work. Andrew Spencer writes “There are only two people with permanent, personally designated parking spots on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. As you would expect, one is for the president, Dr. Danny Akin. The other spot is for Mr. Eugene Smith, the 88 year-old man who works for facilities.

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

 Generous Justice by Tim Keller Book Club

Generous JusticeGenerous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller

This book, which I had read when it was first published, was listed under recommended reading in Matt Perman’s fine book What’s Best Next. Tammy and I are reading it and being challenged on every page. Won’t you read along with us?

This week we look at
CHAPTER 7 ~ DOING JUSTICE IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE

  • When believers seek to do justice in the world, they often find it both necessary and desirable to work with others who do not share their faith.
  • Our society is deeply divided over the very definition of justice. Nearly everyone thinks they are on justice’s side.
  • When we appeal to the principle of freedom we usually mean that people should be free to live as they choose, as long as they don’t harm or diminish the freedom of others. The problem with this seemingly simple idea is that it assumes we all agree on what harm is.
  • So freedom is indeed something of an “empty” concept, as Klarman said, because the causes for which freedom is invoked are always matters of deeply held beliefs, rooted in particular views of human nature and happiness and right and wrong that are matters of faith. We all agree that freedom should be curtailed if it harms people, but we can’t agree on what harm is, because we have different views of what healthy, flourishing human life looks like.
  • Sandel lays out three current views of justice, which he calls “maximizing welfare,” “respecting freedom,” and “promoting virtue.” According to one framework, the most just action is that which brings the greatest good to the greatest number of people. According to the second, the most just action is that which respects the freedom and rights of each individual to live as he or she chooses. According to the last view, justice is served when people are acting as they ought to, in accord with morality and virtue. These views lead to sharply different conclusions about what is just in particular cases.
  • Underneath all notions of justice is a set of faith assumptions that are essentially religious, and these are often not acknowledged.
  • To use a simple example, it is often argued that corporal punishment violates the rights and human dignity of a child, and therefore should be illegal. Smith reminds us, however, that there is no secular, scientific basis for the idea of human dignity, or that human beings are valuable and inviolable.
  • The rules of secular discourse lead us to smuggle moral value judgments into our reasoning about justice without admitting it to others or even to ourselves.
  • Why did we not give people the freedom to own slaves or not? It was because as a society we made the moral determination that members of all races were fully human. So if our society gives women the freedom to have abortions, it is because we also have made a moral determination.
  • How should Christians proceed to do justice in this kind of environment? I propose that Christians’ work for justice should be characterized by both humble cooperation and respectful provocation.
  • In other words, according to the Bible, virtue, rights, and the common good are all crucial aspects of justice.
  • God reveals much of his will to human consciences through what has been called “the light of nature.”
  • The Bible warns us not to think that only Bible-believing people care about justice or are willing to sacrifice in order to bring it about.
  • Christians should identify themselves as believers as they seek justice, welcoming and treating all who work beside them as equals. Believers should let their coworkers know of how the gospel is motivating them, yet also, as Myers says, they should appeal to common values as much as possible.
  • What we are laying out here is a balance. On the one hand there are Christians who want to work for social reforms, citing only Biblical reasons, and speaking aggressively against those who do not share their religious beliefs. On the other hand there are those who counsel Christians to not seek social justice at all, predicting that such efforts only make Christians more like the world. Instead, they say, Christians should concentrate on only bringing individuals to faith in Christ and building up the church. The former group is too triumphalist, while the latter group is too pessimistic about the possibilities of cultural change and social reform.
  • We should agree that, according to the Bible, all the various views of justice out there in our society are partly right. But they are also partly wrong.
  • No current political framework can fully convey the comprehensive Biblical vision of justice, and Christians should never identify too closely with a particular political party or philosophy.
  • Sandel has shown that the ideal of “liberal neutrality,” which has dominated modern law and jurisprudence for decades—namely that “we should never bring moral or religious convictions to bear in public discourse about justice and rights” —is actually an impossibility.
  • Justice is not only about the right way to distribute things. It is also about the right way to value things. And “valuing things” is always based on beliefs about the purposes of life, human nature, right and wrong—all of which are moral and religious.
  • How do we determine what is good or evil human behavior? Aristotle and his followers answer: Unless you can determine what human beings are here for, you can’t answer that.
  • The idea of human rights has its origin in the concept of “human sacredness,” which was born in religious traditions.
  • It makes an enormous difference to how one lives in the world if you see human beings as accidental beings rather than a sacred creation and gift of God.
  • This in no way means that nonreligious people cannot believe in human dignity and human rights. Millions of them can and do. But any such belief is, in itself, essentially religious in nature.
  • The pursuit of justice in society is never morally neutral, but is always based on understandings of reality that are essentially religious in nature. Christians should not be strident and condemning in their language or attitude, but neither should they be silent about the Biblical roots of their passion for justice.

 The Conviction to Lead Book Club

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe 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 16 ~ Leadership as Stewardship

  • In the secular world, the horizon of leadership is often no more distant than the next quarterly report or board meeting. For the Christian leader, the frame of reference for leadership is infinitely greater. Our leadership is set within the context of eternity.
  • The most important reality that frames our understanding of leadership is nothing less than the sovereignty of God. Human beings may claim to be sovereign, but no earthly leader is anything close to being truly sovereign.
  • The bottom line is this: We are merely stewards, not lords, of all that is put into our trust. The sovereignty of God puts us in our place, and that place is in God’s service.
  • The biblical concept of a steward is simple. A steward is someone who manages and leads what is not his own, and he leads knowing that he will give an account to the Lord as the owner and ruler of all.
  • Stewards are entrusted with responsibility.
  • Christian leaders are invested with a stewardship of influence, authority, and trust that we are called to fulfill.
  • We are called to exercise dominion over creation, but not as ones who own what we are called to lead. Our assignment is to serve on behalf of another.
  • Leaders lead, but they do this knowing that they are leading on another’s behalf. Leaders—no matter their title—are servants, plain and simple.
  • Those who lead are entrusted with a stewardship that comes ultimately from God and in the end will be judged by him alone. We are given a job to do and the authority to do it. We will shipwreck our leadership if we do not remember that we are stewards, not lords, of all that we hold by trust.
  • The leader is almost always steward of more than any job description can cover. In fact, convictional leaders are called to fulfill a stewardship of breathtaking proportions.
    • We are the stewards of human lives and their welfare.
    • We are the stewards of time and opportunity.
    • We are the stewards of assets and resources.
    • We are the stewards of energy and attention.
    • We are the stewards of reputation and legacy.
    • We are the stewards of truth and teaching.
  • The requirement of stewards is that they be found faithful. That’s why leadership is only for the brave.

 Leadership Book Club

The Advantage by Patrick LencioniThe 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

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.

  • The question: What kind of advantage would the first organization have over the second, and how much time and energy would it be worth investing to make this advantage a reality?
  • The first step a leadership team has to take if it wants the organization it leads to be healthy—and to achieve the advantages that go with it—is to make itself cohesive.
  • What I’ll do in this section is present a comprehensive overview of the model and provide advice about addressing the five dysfunctions and embracing the positive behaviors that are at the heart of any cohesive leadership team.
  • I like to say that teamwork is not a virtue. It is a choice—and a strategic one.
  • A leadership team is a small group of people who are collectively responsible for achieving a common objective for their organization.
  • A leadership team should be made up of somewhere between three and twelve people, though anything over eight or nine is usually problematic.
  • When it comes to discussions and decision making, there are two critical ways that members of effective teams must communicate: advocacy and inquiry.
  • Advocacy is the kind of communication that most people are accustomed to, and it is all about stating your case or making your point.
  • Inquiry is rarer and more important than advocacy. It happens when people ask questions to seek clarity about another person’s statement of advocacy.
  • Why do so many organizations still have too many people on their leadership teams?
  • Collective responsibility implies, more than anything else, selflessness and shared sacrifices from team members.
  • There are other sacrifices that team members have to make beyond these tangible ones, and they come about on a much more regular basis—often daily. Two big ones are time and emotion.
  • And while there will always be a need for division of labor and departmental expertise, leadership team members must see their goals as collective and shared when it comes to managing the top priorities of the greater organization.
  • If a team shares a common objective, a good portion of their compensation or reward structure, though not necessarily all of it, should be based on the achievement of that common objective.

BEHAVIOR 1: BUILDING TRUST

  • Members of a truly cohesive team must trust one another.
  • The kind of trust that is necessary to build a great team is what I call vulnerability-based trust. This is what happens when members get to a point where they are completely comfortable being transparent, honest, and naked with one another, where they say and genuinely mean things like “I screwed up,” “I need help,” “Your idea is better than mine,” “I wish I could learn to do that as well as you do,” and even, “I’m sorry.”
  • At the heart of vulnerability lies the willingness of people to abandon their pride and their fear, to sacrifice their egos for the collective good of the team. While this can be a little threatening and uncomfortable at first, ultimately it becomes liberating for people who are tired of spending time and energy overthinking their actions and managing interpersonal politics at work.
  • Personal Histories. The first part of learning to build vulnerability-based trust is a small step that is necessary because to ask people to get too vulnerable too quickly is unrealistic and unproductive.
  • Profiling. The next stage, though deeper than the first one, is still largely nonthreatening. It involves using a behavioral profiling tool that can give team members deeper insights into themselves and their peers. We prefer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, because it is widely used and understood, and seems remarkably accurate. However, there are other workable tools out there as well.
  • At the heart of the fundamental attribution error is the tendency of human beings to attribute the negative or frustrating behaviors of their colleagues to their intentions and personalities, while attributing their own negative or frustrating behaviors to environmental factors.
  • Some people ask me if it’s possible for team members to be too vulnerable with one another, to leave themselves open to being hurt. My answer is no.
  • As important as it is for all members of a leadership team to commit to being vulnerable, that is not going to happen if the leader of the team, whether that person is the CEO, department head, pastor, or school principal, does not go first. If the team leader is reluctant to acknowledge his or her mistakes or fails to admit to a weakness that is evident to everyone else, there is little hope that other members of the team are going to take that step themselves.
  • Trust is just one of five behaviors that cohesive teams must establish to build a healthy organization. However, it is by far the most important of the five because it is the foundation for the others. Simply stated, it makes teamwork possible. Only when teams build vulnerability-based trust do they put themselves in a position to embrace the other four behaviors, the next of which is the mastery of conflict.

Favorite QuotesFaith and Work Quotes:

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and world’s deep hunger meet. Frederick Buechner

  • It is not right for the Church to acquiesce in the notion that a man’s life is divided into the time he spends on his work and the time he spends in serving God. He must be able to serve God in his work, and the work itself must be accepted and respected as the medium of divine creation. Dorothy Sayers
  • Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. Vince Lombardi
  • Look at your problems as problems and they’ll continue to hold you down. See them as blessings in disguise and that’s what they become. Coach K
  • If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes. John Wooden
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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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