Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles
- Center for Faith and Work Podcast. I’m very excited about this new podcast from the Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Listen in on weekly talks, lectures, and conversations about the intersection of theology and culture as it applies to our everyday work. Topics range from vocational-specific (business, law, arts, education, etc.) to practical resources regarding prayer, discernment, calling, and more.
- Joy and the Power of a Dream. Steven Garber, who spoke at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May, 2014, writes that the film Joy “a remarkably insightful account of creativity and imagination and gumption and grit, together forming a vocation in the life of Joy Mangano, played by Jennifer Lawrence”.
- The Fashion Brand with a Heart for Adoption. Bethany Jenkins interviews Sara Brinton about her work. Brinton is the leader of marketing for Noonday Collection, a socially responsible fashion brand, and believes that entrepreneurship can be a sustainable solution to poverty and injustice.
- 6 Techniques for Getting the Most Out of Continuing Education. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “It’s never too late to make continuing education a center piece in your life. These six strategies will help you tap into the power of continuing education.”
- How Do You Define Success? John Maxwell writes “Success means having those closest to me love and respect me the most.”
- 10 Ways to Increase Results in Meetings. One of my pet-peeves is poorly run meetings. They are frustrating and a waste of already busy people’s time. Selma Wilson offers these ten helpful ways to ensure your meetings have positive outcomes.
- Labor of Love? Jamie Winship writes “What does it mean to work for the Lord on a daily basis? Do people who work wholeheartedly, as if they are serving the Lord, look any different from those who work hard just to get ahead in life? And if so, how?”
- Work Is Worship. Enjoy this short video that shows that our work life is an act of worship.
- Are Spiritual Disciplines Meant for My Work? Jessica Schaeffer writes “Keeping company with Jesus ought to be sustained throughout the day. He is not companion and Lord only when a Bible is open in the lap. We don’t leave him on the shelf with our devotional books and prayer journal.”
- What the Image of God Means for Our Dignity and Work. Art Lindsay writes “Every person is created in the image of God, full of dignity, with unique talents and gifts to use for the glory of God in their work. One reason why so many Christians fail to discover their vocation is because they don’t fully understand what it means to be made in the image of God.”
- Plan. In this “Minute from Maxwell”, John Maxwell talks about an acrostic that he uses for PLAN.
- Distracted by Worry. I have to admit that I do worry about things. I found this short devotional from Lead Like Jesus to be helpful. It states “What has worry ever done for us? As those who lead like Jesus, we have to acknowledge that Jesus didn’t worry. He was concerned about completing what God had given Him to do, but worry didn’t hold Him back.”
- What is a Calling? Check out this entry from Paige for the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics Video Contest (high school track).
- WhY Good Businesses Fail. In this short video, Dave Ramsey states that without passion your business will never thrive.
- 5 Ways to Make the Most of Unemployment. See this helpful excerpt adapted from Tom Nelson’s excellent book Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work.
- The Power of Saying “Yes”. Bethany Jenkins writes “Wouldn’t it be great if we, as Christians, were known by our colleagues as the most helpful people in our workplaces? After all, helping others is one way to love our neighbors. It should be a joy to say yes to those who need something we can give them.”
- Essential Truths for Your Everyday Work. Robert Alexander writes “Meaningful work isn’t all there is to life, but a meaningful life isn’t possible without the knowledge that God is at work, using our ordinary efforts for his extraordinary purposes. As we make the gospel the true center of our work, the Lord will use us in his kingdom and will use our work struggles to make us more like him.”
- Finding Jesus at Work. Emma Green writes “Though slightly less trendy than nap rooms and yoga classes, workplace chaplaincies are another attempt to make workers more productive by catering to their “whole” selves.”
- How to Handle Difficult Discussions. The EntreLeadership team writes “So how do you handle these tough situations when your natural instinct is to totally avoid them? Here are a few dos and don’ts of dealing with conflict.”
- 5 Tests of a Leader. Steve Graves shares a few common, but dangerous, storms that can wreak havoc in the heart of a leader. He writes “Every time we pass the test, our moral authority goes up. Every time we fail, our composite leader score is weakened.”
- Thankfully, You Don’t Need to Pressure People. Dan Rockwell writes “Ineffective leaders pressure people for more. Real leaders inspire people to become more. Inspired people challenge themselves.”
- 10 Leadership Traits That Require Zero Talent and Produce Infinite Results. Kevin Lloyd writes “Talent creates unforgettable performers, but leadership demands something deeper. Below are 10 traits requiring no talent from you as a leader, but will net you strong results.”
- 4 Things Leaders Know about Asking the Right Questions. Brian Dodd writes “Leaders Who Make Dreams Come True Ask Good Questions. This is because wisdom is found in great questions. Not great answers.”
- 3 Reasons Loving Your Team Matters. Selma Wilson writes “Your team needs a leader that loves them. Whether your “team” is a department or your family, are you leading with love?”
- Pessimists Can’t Lead: 7 Ways to Find Optimism. Dan Rockwell writes “Negative leaders bring up opportunities in ways that make people feel like losers.”
- How to be a Coaching Leader. Stephen Graves writes “I’ve found that remarkable coaches always provide four things—outside perspective, energizing hope, useful strategy, and measured accountability.”
- Leadership Suffers When You Cheat Sleep. Michael Hyatt writes “Effective leadership depends on high executive functioning. Unfortunately, the part of the brain responsible for that functioning—the prefrontal cortex—can’t manage when we short our sleep. That means our organizations suffer when we decide to burn the midnight oil.”
- 15 Ways to Not Lead Well. Brad Lomenick writes “Here are a few key indicators of the kind of leadership and ultimately a leader that needs to reimagine, re-engage, and recommit. Look for these, and if they exist, be committed to change.”
- 7 Reasons Why You Can Be a Leader. Art Rainer writes “Many have the ability to lead but do not realize it. In fact, there are several important leadership qualities that you probably have right now. So before you write off your potential as a leader, let’s look at seven reasons why you can be a leader.”
- 3 Early Warning Signs of an Impending Leadership Slump. Scott Cochrane writes “Every leader hits a slump every now and then. It’s a season when you make a few wrong calls, when you can’t seem to rally people, or when you just don’t seem to be making progress towards goals.
- 10 Personal Resolutions Guaranteed to Improve Your Ministry Leadership. Ron Edmondson writes “The resolve of a leader is a pre-determined approach to way a leader will lead. These are personal convictions, values, personally held beliefs, which shape decisions a leader makes and the way they respond to others.”
- Leaders are Readers. Dave Kraft writes “Leaders are life-long learners and one of the best ways that I know of to keep learning is to keep reading. When you stop reading, you stop learning and when you stop learning, you stop leading with effectiveness.”
- Persistence over Reflection and Other Leadership Blunders. Dan Rockwell writes “My biggest mistake was not learning quickly from mistakes. I chose persistence over reflection.”
- 6 Terrible (But Common) Ways Leaders Respond To A Problem. Carey Nieuwhof writes “It’s often a deep discontent that drives us to want to make things better and makes us leaders in the first place. But that discontent can also hurt us and hurt others if we mishandle it.”
- 59 Leadership Quotes And Lessons From Dave Ramsey at the Most Excellent Way to Lead Conference. Brian Dodd shares these helpful quotes from Dave Ramsey, author of EntreLeadership: 20 Years of Practical Business Wisdom from the Trenches.
Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters by John Maxwell. Center Street. 288 pages. 2015
John Maxwell has had a profound impact on my leadership journey over the past fifteen years, primarily through his books. I was also blessed to help bring him to our community nine years ago for a wonderful speaking engagement. This new book is about how to live a life of significance, moving from having good intentions to living a life of intentionality.
Maxwell writes that if we live each day with intentionality, we will live a life that matters and one that has significance. He encourages us to take action, and to move from an attitude of trying to one of doing. He wants us to tell our best story with our lives and to invite others to participate in our stories.
I’ve read all of Maxwell’s major books over the past fifteen years. This one is different in a few ways. Here, he tells more of his own life story, including telling us about those who have most helped him along his journey, starting with his parents. In this book, he also shares more of his faith than he does in most of his other books. He does this in a very respectful, non-proselyting manner. But he is absolutely clear that his faith is a huge part of his life and leadership.
Below are a few of the many takeaways that I had from the book:
- Make every day count.
- Align your thinking with your actions.
- Start small and believe big.
- Be a river, not a reservoir.
- Everyone has one thing that they are very good at (our strengths). Focus on your “one thing”.
- Find your “Why” (or your purpose). What is it that you cry, sing or dream about?
- Maxwell’s primary calling is to add value to others.
- Ask how you can help others on their road to significance.
- We need to move from success to significance.
- Will we serve ourselves or others?
- Jesus is Maxwell’s model for putting others first.
- Add value to others using your best gifts, skills and resources, intentionally and strategically.
- Find your sweet spot (your calling and strengths). What is it that you were made to do?
- Stay in your strengths zone as you get out of your comfort zone.
- Connect and partner with like-minded and like- valued people.
- We need to finish well in our lives and vocations.
- Use a sense of urgency to seize opportunities to take action (be intentional).
- Each day, think “What opportunities do you have to make a difference for others?”
Throughout the book, Maxwell shares stories from his life and the lives of others to illustrate his points. He demonstrates humility by sharing his own failures in life and what he has learned from them, hoping that we learn as well.
Maxwell recently spoke with members of the St. Louis Cardinals. See the pictures below of him with Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst, Manager Mike Matheny and others.
- No task will be so sordid and base, provided you obey your calling in it, that it will not shine and be reckoned very precious in God’s sight. John Calvin
- All vocations are intended by God to manifest His love in the world. Thomas Merton
- The Christian shoemaker does his duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes. Martin Luther
- I think we can measure the distance we have fallen from the idea that work is a vocation to which we are called, by the extent to which we have come to substitute the word “employment” for “work.” We say we must solve the “problem of unemployment” — we reckon up how many “hands” are “employed”; our social statistics are seldom based upon the work itself — whether the right people are doing it, or whether the work is worth doing. Dorothy Sayer
- Some man will say perchance, “What, must we not labor in our callings to maintain our families?” I answer, this must be done, but this is not the scope and end of our lives. The true end of our lives is to do service to God in serving of man; and for a recompense of this service, God sends his blessings on men’s travails, and he allows them to take for their labors. William Perkins
- He who thinks he’s leading, but has no followers, is only taking a walk. John Maxwell
- A leader’s life is the leader’s most powerful and important form of communication. Eric Geiger
- People who are humble don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less. Ken Blanchard
- Life takes on meaning when you become motivated, set goals and charge after them in an unstoppable manner. Coach K
Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?
Don’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.
Piper concludes the book with a chapter-length prayer in Chapter 10 “My Prayer – Let None Say in the End, “I’ve Wasted It”.
Our next book will be Tom Nelson’s excellent book Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work. We’ll start that book in two weeks. Won’t you read along with us?
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 and this week we look at “Question 2: How Do We Behave?”
- When it comes to creating organizational clarity and alignment, intolerance is essential.
- The answer to the question, How Do We Behave? is embodied in an organization’s core values, which should provide the ultimate guide for employee behavior at all levels.
- The importance of values in creating clarity and enabling a company to become healthy cannot be overstated.
- Values are critical because they define a company’s personality.
- An organization that has properly identified its values and adheres to them will naturally attract the right employees and repel the wrong ones.
- Clear values can also serve to attract and repel the right customers who want to do business with an organization that reflects what they value,
- Core Values: These are the few—just two or three—behavioral traits that are inherent in an organization. Core values lie at the heart of the organization’s identity, do not change over time, and must already exist.
- They should be used to guide every aspect of an organization, from hiring and firing to strategy and performance management.
- Aspirational Values: These are the characteristics that an organization wants to have, wishes it already had, and believes it must develop in order to maximize its success in its current market environment.
- Confusing core and aspirational values is a frequent mistake that companies make. It is critical that leaders understand the difference.
- Permission-to-Play Values: These values are the minimum behavioral standards that are required in an organization.
- Values that commonly fit into this category include honesty, integrity, and respect for others.
- Accidental Values: These values are the traits that are evident in an organization but have come about unintentionally and don’t necessarily serve the good of the organization.
- It’s important that leaders guard against accidental values taking root because they can prevent new ideas and people from flourishing in an organization. Sometimes they even sabotage its success by shutting out new perspectives and even potential customers.
- The key to sifting core values from the others, especially aspirational and permission-to-play values, is to ask a few difficult questions. For instance, separating core from aspirational values can be done by asking the questions, Is this trait inherent and natural for us, and has it been apparent in the organization for a long time? Or, is it something that we have to work hard to cultivate? A core value will have been apparent for a long time and requires little intentional provocation.
- Permission-to-play values are also often confused with core. The best way to differentiate them is to ask, would our organization be able to credibly claim that we are more committed to this value than 99 percent of the companies in our industry? If so, then maybe it really is core. If not, then it’s probably a candidate for permission-to-play; it’s still important and should be used as a filter in hiring, but it’s not what sets the organization apart and uniquely defines it.
- Another key to successfully undertaking the core value process is deciding what to call a core value once you’ve identified it.
- I find it helpful for leaders to choose a unique, nontraditional word or phrase—something that doesn’t already have such a worn legacy in society that everyone assumes they know what it means.
- The problem for organizations that choose common words like innovation or quality is that everyone has their own understanding of those terms. That makes it a little more difficult for leaders to establish their own definition.
- When leaders choose elaborate and unique phrases for their values but don’t adhere to them, they generate more cynicism and distrust than if they said nothing at all.
- Once an organization successfully identifies and describes its core values and separates them from the other kinds, it must then do its best to be intolerant of violations of those values. It must ensure that every activity it undertakes, every employee it hires, and every policy it enacts reflects those core values.
- One of the best ways to go about identifying an organization’s core values is to undertake a three-step process as an executive team. The first step is to identify the employees in the organization who already embody what is best about the company and to dissect them, answering what is true about those people that makes them so admired by the leadership team. Those qualities form the initial pool of potential core values.
- Next, leaders must identify employees who, though talented, were or are no longer a good fit for the organization. These are people who, in spite of their technical abilities, drive others around them crazy and would add value to the organization by being absent.
- Finally, leaders need to be honest about themselves and whether or not they embody the values in that pool.
Next time we’ll look at Question 3: What Do We Do?