Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

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Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • contentmentContentment and Ambition: Friends, Not Enemies. Dave Kraft writes “I want to learn how to be content and, at the same time, be ambitious for God and his purposes and plans. I see a solid understanding of true biblical contentment and true biblical ambition to be wonderful friends–not dangerous enemies.”
  • Serving the Church and Selling Mattresses. Carey Anne Bustard interviews Jeremy Rhoden, co-owner of a small business and a trustee at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary about his work.
  • Staying Godly in a Godless Workplace. Rick Segal writes “Very few, if any, awake one morning and decide all of a sudden, “Today is the day I’m going rogue. Enough with all that honesty stuff. From now on, I’m all about corruption.”
  • How I Work: An Interview with Daniel Patterson. Joe Carter interviews Daniel Patterson, Chief of Staff at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, about his work.
  • 6 High-Yield New Year’s Resolutions Every Leader Should Make. Carey Nieuwhof writes “You will have some resolutions that are specific and personal to you—which is great. But there are some goals that every leader could benefit from accomplishing.”
  • 6 Ways to Win in 2016. In this “Tuesday Tip”, Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “If you want to ensure your place among the winners, if you want to make next year the best year of your life and career, there are six little strategies you can use.”
  • The Exponential Leadership Goal for 2016. Dan Rockwell writes “Successful leadership pivots on developing leaders. Leaders, who don’t develop leaders, become bottlenecks.”
  • The First Step of Highly Successful People. Dan Rockwell writes “The ability to try one more time – in new ways – propels you forward. If you can’t begin again in new ways, frustration and irrelevance await.”
  • How to Boost Your Energy. In this episode of the This is Your Life podcast, Michael Hyatt and Michele Cushatt discuss how to boost our energy.
  • Tim Challies QuoteGoals. In this “Minute from Maxwell”, John Maxwell encourages us to be growth-oriented, rather than goal-oriented.
  • Three Indicators Your Email Should Have Been a Meeting. Eric Geiger writes “Some meetings could have been an email, but some emails should be meetings. There are times that people, in attempts to handle things efficiently, resort to an email when a meeting would have been more effective.”
  • A Leader You Can’t Live Without. Dan Rockwell writes “The greatest test of leadership is what happens when you’re gone.”
  • Excuses. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell says that it’s easier to go from failure to success than from excuses to success, and that excuses just don’t fit into a leader’s life.
  • My Five Favorite Personal Productivity Tools. Eric Geiger shares the five productivity tools he uses most often.
  • The Hardest Thing Leaders Have to Do. Dave Kraft writes the hardest things for leaders to do are “Learning how to get along with many different kinds of people, starting with those who misunderstand you, often followed by those criticizing you, judging you, labeling you, questioning your motives, questioning the authenticity of your walk with Jesus; sometimes questioning everything and anything. It always hurts and it’s always painful on multiple levels.”
  • Work Redefined. Why do we work? What is the purpose of our work, which can take so many hours in our day? This reflective illustration shows how we are divinely placed, wherever we work. It is our opportunity to worship the God who made us by the excellence of our endeavors. Watch this less than two-minute video from the folks at the Work as Worship Network.
  • Myths of Bold Leadership. In this video, Andy Stanley debunks the myths of bold leadership and states that very leader has the potential to lead with boldness.
  • Five Reasons a Team Lacks Joy. Eric Geiger writes “A joyless team harms the people on the team and those the team serves. Here are five common reasons joy eludes a team.”
  • Three Differences Between Busyness and Productivity. Eric Geiger writes “Busyness can give the allusion of productivity as people are doing things, as meetings are happening, and as emails are being sent and read. But not all busyness is valuable. In fact, busyness can mask a lack of productivity.”
  • 16 Tips for Getting 90 Percent of Your Work Done Before Lunch. Neil Patel writes “You can get 90 percent or more of your work done in the morning. Around the time people are groping for the next shot of caffeine, you’re shutting down your Macbook and chilling out.”

Book Review:

Do More BetterDo More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies. Challies. 120 pages. 2015
****

There is much of value in this small book written by popular blogger and author Tim Challies. It is extremely efficient, well-organized, easy to read and practical. He states that he wrote the book because he wants his readers to do more of what matters most and to do it better. He writes that readers will get the most from the book if they read, observe, and imitate—at least at first. As time goes on, they can incorporate those tips they find especially helpful and discard the others.

The author begins by helping the reader to think about their God-given purpose and mission. He writes that there is no task in life that cannot be done for God’s glory, and that God saved us so that we could do good works and in that way bring glory to him. He states that productivity is effectively stewarding our gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. Productivity, and the book, are about doing good to others.

He looks at three productivity thieves: laziness, busyness, and what he refers to as the mean combination of thorns and thistles. He states that busyness and laziness are both issues that arise from within. They are deficiencies in character that then work themselves out in our lives.

He writes that while the book will emphasize tools and systems and other important elements of productivity, nothing is more important than our own holiness and godliness.

He begins by having the reader create a list, using a productivity worksheet you can download at a web site provided in the book, of each of their areas of responsibility, targeting five or six categories, with no more than nine. He helpfully shares his own list. He then asks the reader to list the roles, tasks, or projects that fall under each area of responsibility. He has the reader define their mission for each area of responsibility. The primary purpose here is to guide us week by week as we schedule our time and make decisions about where to spend our time.

He states that you can do more good for others if you have fewer roles and projects than if you have more. He considers goals to be to be a helpful, but optional component of productivity.

He then discusses tools, indicating that many people try to be productive with tools that are poorly suited to the task. He tells us that our productivity depends to a good degree on identifying and using the best tools for the job and then growing in your skill in deploying them. He states that effective productivity depends upon the below three tools and the relationship between them.

  • Management tool. A task management tool enables you to capture and organize your projects and tasks. He recommends Todoist (todoist.com) as the task management tool. Todoist will capture, organize, and display your projects and tasks while notifying you about the most urgent ones.
  • Scheduling tool. A scheduling tool enables you to organize your time and notifies you of pending events and appointments. He recommends Google Calendar (calendar.google.com) as the scheduling tool. Google Calendar will hold and display your important events, meetings, and appointments and, through the notifications function, alert you ahead of any pending meetings or appointments.
  • Information tool. An information tool enables you to collect, archive, and access information. He recommends Evernote (evernote.com) as the information tool. Evernote is a powerful piece of software that enables you to capture almost any kind of information.

The principle that he uses in organizing our productivity systems is: A home for everything, and like goes with like.

The author tells us that these three tools work together to help plan your day, and the tools work together to help you get things done throughout the day. Thus, your day has two phases: planning and execution. He calls his planning phase his Coram Deo, a Latin phrase that means in the presence of God, and one that I use as the title of my blog.

He states that there are always a few things that are undeniably high priorities and a few things that are undeniably low priorities. But the majority will fit somewhere in the middle, leaving you to make difficult decisions. He also writes about things we should stop doing because they don’t fit into our priorities, much like Jim Collins “stop doing” list.

He discusses the concept of a Weekly Review, in which he looks at the question: How can I serve and surprise in the week ahead? Whereas the daily planning session is tactical, a weekly review is strategic. He writes that that our system will function well when we make time for this review and it will begin to sputter when we do not.

Two helpful bonus chapters are included:

  • Tame Your Email-6 Tips for Doing More Better with Email.
  • 20 Tips to Increase Your Productivity

He includes helpful “Action” steps after each section. For example “Choose at least one habit other than productivity that you will pursue as you read and apply this book.”

If you are looking to increase your personal productivity, check out this book. It’s a quick read and if the concepts are applied it can reap huge dividends.

Visit http://www.challies.com/do-more-better for worksheets and bonus material to help you get started.

10 Favorite Faith and Work Quotes of the Week

  • John Wooden QuoteLord, since it is you who feed us and you who meet our needs, ordinary human labor such as farming, cooking, knitting have great dignity. They are means by which you love your creation. Help me to sense that dignity so I can do the simplest of tasks to your glory. Tim and Cathy Keller
  • We’re not going to have the impact we want if we don’t manage our energy. Michael Hyatt
  • Work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God. Dorothy Sayers
  • Work is rearranging the raw materials of a particular domain to draw out its potential for the flourishing of everyone. Tim Keller
  • Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. John Wooden 
  • Vocation is the specific call to love one’s neighbor. Martin Luther
  • Work is the expenditure of energy (manual or mental or both) in the service of others, which brings fulfillment to the worker, benefit to the community and glory to God. John Stott
  • All honest work is worth doing for the glory of God, and we may find ourselves called to do any honest work that we’re fitted for. J.I. Packer
  • No one wakes up wanting to be managed. We wake up wanting to be led. Brad Lomenick
  • Real work is a contribution to the good of all and not merely a means to one’s own advancement. Tim Keller

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

Don't Waste Your LifeDon’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Crossway. 192 pages. 2003  

Other than the Bible, this small book by John Piper has had the most influence on my life. It played a key role in my returning to seminary after ten years in 2005. I have read it almost each year since it was published in 2003. Listen to John Piper describe the book in this less than two-minute video.

This week we look at Chapter 4: Magnifying Christ Through Pain and Death

  • Suffering with Jesus on the Calvary road of love is not merely the result of magnifying Christ; it is also the means.
  • The normal Christian life is one that boasts only in the cross—the blazing center of God’s glory—and does it while bearing the cross.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a gift to my generation of students. I pray that his costly message will be rediscovered in each generation. The book that set fire to the faith of thousands in my generation was called The Cost of Discipleship. Probably the most famous and life-shaping sentence in the book was, “The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise God-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Bonhoeffer’s book was a massive indictment of the “cheap grace” that he saw in the Christian Church on both sides of the Atlantic. He did not believe that the faith that justifies could ever leave people unchanged by the radical Christ they claim to believe. That was a cheap response to the Gospel.
  • A life devoted to making much of Christ is costly. And the cost is both a consequence and a means of making much of him. If we do not embrace the path of joy-laden, painful love, we will waste our lives.
  • The Calvary road is costly and painful, but it is not joyless.
  • If Christ is not made much of in our lives, they are wasted. We exist to make him appear in the world as what he really is—magnificent. If our life and death do not show the worth and wonder of Jesus, they are wasted.
  • What you love determines what you feel shame about.
  • Paul’s all-consuming goal in life was for Christ to be magnified. Christ was of infinite value to Paul, and so Paul longed for others to see and savor this value. That is what it means to magnify Christ—to show the magnitude of his value.
  • But how are we to magnify Christ in death? Or to put it another way: How can we die so that in our dying the surpassing value of Christ, the magnitude of his worth, becomes visible?
  • If you experience death as gain, you magnify Christ in death.
  • That is what death does: It takes us into more intimacy with Christ. We depart, and we are with Christ, and that, Paul says, is gain. And when you experience death this way, Paul says, you exalt Christ. Experiencing Christ as gain in your dying magnifies Christ.
  • Death makes visible where our treasure is. The way we die reveals the worth of Christ in our hearts.
  • The essence of praising Christ is prizing Christ. Christ will be praised in my death, if in my death he is prized above life.
  • If we learn to die like this, we will be ready to live. And if we don’t, we will waste our lives.
  • Daily Christian living is daily Christian dying. The dying I have in mind is the dying of comfort and security and reputation and health and family and friends and wealth and homeland. These may be taken from us at any time in the path of Christ-exalting obedience. To die daily the way Paul did, and to take up our cross daily the way Jesus commanded, is to embrace this life of loss for Christ’s sake and count it gain.
  • The way we honor Christ in death is to treasure Jesus above the gift of life, and the way we honor Christ in life is to treasure Jesus above life’s gifts.
  • We are always on the lookout for ways to justify our self-protecting, self-securing, self-pleasing ways of life.
  • The greatest joy in God comes from giving his gifts away, not in hoarding them for ourselves.
  • God’s glory shines more brightly when he satisfies us in times of loss than when he provides for us in times of plenty.
  • No one ever said that they learned their deepest lessons of life, or had their sweetest encounters with God, on the sunny days. People go deep with God when the drought comes. That is the way God designed it.
  • Christ aims to be magnified in life most clearly by the way we experience him in our losses.
  • When everything in life is stripped away except God, and we trust him more because of it, this is gain, and he is glorified.
  • But when all is said and done, the promise and design of God for people who do not waste their lives is clear. “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
  • What a tragic waste when people turn away from the Calvary road of love and suffering.
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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 37 years, a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 50 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and Colossians 3:23 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

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