Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

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REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES OF COMBINING YOUR FAITH AND WORK:

  • Chewbacca MomLessons on Christian Vocation from “Chewbacca Mom”. Joseph Sunde writes “For Candace Payne, a 37-year-old stay-at-home mom and worship leader, her calling and influence began long ago, starting as a teenager, and proceeding with faithfulness to God in her daily life”.
  • When You Don’t Hide Your Faith at Work. Bethany Jenkins writes “The women featured below have (at least) one thing in common—they have shared the reason for their hope (1 Pet. 3:15). Their joy, their wisdom, their kindness, and their vulnerability has been so attractive to their colleagues that their colleagues—many of whom “heard” the gospel first by watching their lives—have begun reading the Bible, attending church, and worshiping Christ.”
  • Making a Living Is Loving a Neighbor. Bethany Jenkins writes “The women featured provide for others in their work. Whether that means advising clients on giving to missions, making the internet work, answering customers’ concerns, or planning melon production, these women see themselves as “the fingers of God,” going into their workplaces as agents of his providential love.”
  • How Our Work Embodies God’s Love. Bethany Jenkins writes “These women are working in ways that they incarnate the love of God to their neighbors.” Also read Bethany’s article “In Awe of God in Unexpected Places”
  • Faith Works at Omni Hotels – An Interview with Bob Rowling. Bill Peel interviews Bob Rowling, of Omni Hotels. Peel writes “Faith lived out at work inevitably leads to tough choices. For some it may mean risking ridicule for turning down dishonest gain. Others may forfeit promotion — or even lose a job — for drawing a line in the sand between right and wrong.”
  • 15 Practices of the World’s Most Creative People in Business. Brian Dodd shares the 15 practices of the world’s most creative leaders, based on Fast Company magazine editor Robert Safian’s 15 common threads of the magazine’s top 100 most creative people in business.
  • The Janitor Who Taught the U.S. President a Thing or Two About Work. Scott Sauls writes “Clearly we must integrate faith and work. But how do we do this? It starts with perspective.”
  • I Advocate for Convicted Criminals. Cara Wieneke is a post-conviction criminal defense attorney and, unlike a trial lawyer, she represents people after they have been found guilty and sentenced to prison. She writes “I struggled with finding God in all this—and sometimes still do. There have been days when I’ve felt as if there is nothing good in the world, only evil.”

Quotes about Faith and Work

  • Allow criticism to shape you, but not control you. Every leader doing anything of value attracts critics. Ron Edmondson
  • How will you get better, except by doing some things that are uncomfortable or things you don’t want to do? Henry Cloud
  • The most important mark of a leader others can trust is never passing the buck. Michael Hyatt
  • Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. John Wooden
  • The only Christian work is good work well done. Dorothy Sayers
  • Fulfillment can be found in whatever work God places in front of you, regardless of whether it’s your dream job or not. When we work hard every day at the work God has given us, it’s pleasing to him and way more fulfilling for us. Hugh Whelchel
  • Never let your giftedness carry you where your character will not sustain you. Lance Witt
  • Leading others starts with leading yourself first. Leading yourself means knowing yourself. The best leaders are highly self-aware. Brad Lomenick
  • It’s never winning or losing. We’re either winning or learning. Coach K

Dorothy Day Quote

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEW:

Refire! Don't RetireRefire! Don’t Retire: Make the Rest of Your Life the Best of Your Life by Ken Blanchard and Morton Shaevitz. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. 144 pages. 2015. Audiobook read by Joe Bronzi
** ½

I have read a number of books by Ken Blanchard and have seen him speak several times as well. He is the author of such books as The One Minute Manager and Lead Like Jesus. Last year I read his book Trust Works! See my review here.

As I am now much closer to retirement than to the beginning of my career, the subject of this book resonated with me. The book asks the question As you approach the remainder of your life, what are you going to do to make it joyful and meaningful?” The authors point out that too many people see their later years as a time to endure rather than as an exciting opportunity. The authors worked to identify the factors that cause some people to become old before their time. They found four characteristics that distinguish people who feel innovative and vibrant from those who feel as if they are in a rut intellectually, emotionally, physically, or spiritually.

They use a parable to tell the story of Larry and Janice Sparks. We meet them at their 45th high school reunion. They run into Dr. Jeffrey, who was one of their high school teachers. Dr. Jeffrey is now a college professor and living life with passion and gusto.  The two decide to ask for some refiring coaching from Dr. Jeffrey.  He takes them on a refiring journey, asking them to meet with different people along each step of the journey as he challenges them to refire emotionally, intellectually, physically and spiritually.

  1. Refire Emotionally
  • Larry and Janice form a “Last Minute Club” with their friends to demonstrate that they are flexible and spontaneous. To be honest, flexible and spontaneous are two words that those who know me well would not use to describe me.
  • Larry and Janice are encouraged to venture out of their comfort zone. I like and thrive when I am in my comfort zone, but understand how some get in a rut when they are comfortable.
  1. Refire Intellectually
  • Larry and Janice are encouraged to continue to learn new things – read books, take classes. I feel that I am doing well in this area of the refire process, recently completing my seminary education, reading books, listening to podcasts, etc.
  • Larry and Janice are encouraged to embrace new technology, though Larry was initially resisting this. Heroes in this area include my mother-in-law and father who are 80+ and have each learned how to use an iPad.
  1. Refire Physically
  • Larry and Janice learned that they can refire physically by:
  • Exercise – fun, walk, strength training
  • Lose weight by eating better
  • Get more rest/sleep
  1. Refire Spiritually
  • The book included vague thoughts on spirituality such as talk about a “higher power”, a “higher mind” and “something bigger than you”.
  • Comments like “it doesn’t matter which path you follow” are disappointing from the author of Lead Like Jesus.
  • The authors put down “religion” as meaning you have to be right. However, Christians believe there is only one way or path to Heaven and that is through the atoning death of Christ. The authors put forth a pluralistic view of religion.
  • On the positive side, there is an emphasis on humility and serving others.

Everyone finds themselves in a rut from time to time. The book shows how people look and deal with aging, and encourages the reader to embrace rather than endure life, or see getting older as a “life sentence”. The takeaways in this short book – there is a helpful “Pause, Reflect and Take Action” section at the end of each chapter – apply to work and life, and could positively impact the rest of your life. The message in the book can resonate not only with older audiences but also with people in their 30s and 40s who may be feeling bored with the status quo and looking to refire aspects of their own lives.

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

work mattersWork Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work by Tom Nelson

If you find yourself anywhere on the spectrum from workaholic to weekend warrior, it’s time to bridge the gap between Sunday worship and Monday work.  Striking a balance between theological depth and practical counsel, Tom Nelson outlines God’s purposes for work in a way that helps us to make the most of our vocation and to join God in his work in the world. Discover a new perspective on work that will transform your workday and make the majority of your waking hours matter, not only now, but for eternity.

Dr. Nelson is the senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Kansas City and also the President of Made to Flourish, a pastors’ network for the common good. This is one of the better books that I have read on integrating faith and work.  This week we look at

Chapter 5: Extraordinary Ordinary Work

  • David Miller speaks with compelling clarity when he writes, “Whether conscious or unintended, the pulpit all too frequently sends the signal that work in the church matters but work in the world does not. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that workers, businesspeople, and other professionals often feel unsupported by the Sunday church in their Monday marketplace vocations.”
  • For pastors to preach, and for us to conclude, that using our gifts within the context of a Christian organization is the only way we can truly invest our talents in the kingdom widely misses the mark of what the Bible truly teaches in its robust theology of vocation.
  • A right understanding of vocation has been a transforming truth in the day-to-day ordinary lives of faithful followers of Jesus for many centuries. Vocation is a robust theology of ordinary, everyday life.
  • The New Testament records Jesus spending only about three years in itinerant ministry, what we might refer to as full-time vocational ministry. But for the many years before that, Jesus worked as a carpenter.
  • A vital part of our learning from Jesus, of being yoked with him, is learning the path of vocational faithfulness. Brilliantly, Jesus teaches us not only how to live but also how to work.
  • One of the primary ways we tangibly love our neighbors is to do excellent, God-honoring work in our various vocations.
  • Your vocational work is your specific and invaluable contribution to God’s ongoing creation and an essential aspect of God’s Great Commandment to love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Work’s main goal is worship through a lifestyle of God-honoring vocational faithfulness.
  • Paul lays out three attitudinal adjustments that powerfully transform the workplaces we have been called to inhabit. Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16–18). In these power-packed verses Paul encourages us to cultivate attitudes of joy, of prayer, and of gratitude.
  • Our God-honoring work is often one of the greatest apologetics for our God-focused words.

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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 and this week we look at

Question 4: How Will We Succeed?

  • When team leaders answer this question, essentially they are determining their strategy. Unfortunately, more than any word in the business lexicon, strategy is one of the most widely employed and poorly defined.
  • Essentially we decided that an organization’s strategy is simply its plan for success. It’s nothing more than the collection of intentional decisions a company makes to give itself the best chance to thrive and differentiate from competitors.
  • The best way for an organization to make strategy practical is to boil it down to three strategic anchors that will be used to inform every decision the organization makes and provide the filter or lens through which decisions must be evaluated to ensure consistency.
  • The next question the leaders would need to answer, and the one at the heart of the strategic anchor activity, is, “How will we succeed?” Or put another way, “How will we make decisions in a purposeful, intentional, and unique way that allow us to maximize our success and differentiate us from our competitors?”
  • Remember, this process will always be a little messy and organic. It requires judgment, reflection, and, at times, intuitive synthesis on the part of the members of a leadership team. Nonetheless, it is a reliable process that should lead to an outcome that will resonate with the team and inspire confidence in how decisions can be made in an intentional, strategic way.
  • In rare instances every organization will find itself in situations where it will have to make small, tactical short-term decisions that don’t conform to its strategic anchors. It is critical that leaders be completely up front about the fact that such a decision is off-strategy and is a rare exception.
  • An organization’s strategic anchors should change whenever its competitive landscape shifts and market conditions call for a different approach.
  • Sometimes it is the very process of identifying strategic anchors that alerts an organization to the fact that what it is currently doing isn’t right or isn’t enough to ensure success and differentiation, and so a change is needed.
  • Another outcome of establishing strategic anchors is making it easier to agree on what an organization should not be doing.
  • I’ve come to learn over the years, with the encouragement of clients and consultants who found it to be true, that there should be three anchors. I’m convinced that three is almost always the right number of filters that an organization should establish to make their decision making as intentional as possible.

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John Calvin ~ Prayer upon Beginning One’s Work or Study

My good God, Father, and Savior, grant me aid by your Holy Spirit to now work fruitfully in my vocation, which is from you, all in order to love you and the people around me rather than for my own gain and glory. Give me wisdom, judgment and prudence, and freedom from my besetting sins. Bring me under the rule of true humility. Let me accept with patience whatever amount of fruitfulness or difficulty in my work that you give me this day. And in all I do, help me to rest always in my Lord Jesus Christ and in his grace alone for my salvation and life. Hear me, merciful Father, by our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

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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 my favorite verse is Romans 3:23. Some other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

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