Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles
- True Leaders Are Teachable. Dave Kraft writes “I’ve come to the measured conclusion that, when it comes to the indispensable qualities for being a leader in the body of Christ and in life in general, there’s one characteristic that perhaps should be placed at the top: teachability.”
- Sharing Our Message. Bob Chapman writes about Barry-Wehmiller and other companies being featured in a Wall Street Journal article titled “Culture Quantified”, about how a positive company culture impacts every aspect of an organization.
- Millennials and Vocation. Gene Veith writes “Barna has done a study of the millennial generation’s attitude towards work. Most do not see their careers as central to their identities (unlike Baby Boomers). Rather, their jobs are there to fund their personal interests. And yet, Millennial Christians are more likely than Baby Boomers to see their work in terms of “calling” (a.k.a. “vocation”).”
- Enough about Millennials. Patrick Lencioni writes “Am I the only person in the world who is tired of hearing people talk about Millennials? Whether it’s a complaint about their entitlement mentality or a declaration of their brilliance, it all strikes me as shallow and simplistic.
- Four Reasons Religious Freedom Matters for Society. Hugh Whelchel writes “If you believe in the Christian view of work, religious freedom is essential to living out that belief in a way that brings all of life, including your work, under the Lordship of Christ.”
- The Best Workers Make the Best Neighbors. Tom Nelson writes “The Christian faith compels us to live in such a God-honoring way that we do honest work, make an honest profit and cultivate economic capacity so we can serve others and help meet their economic needs. Our diligent work creates economic value, and it is economic value that makes possible the economic capacity for living generously. What the world needs now is jobs, sweet jobs. Good jobs make for good neighbors.”
- Trust is Hard to Gain and Easy to Lose. Dave Kraft writes “Trust is critically foundational to a team or a family. You don’t demand trust, you earn it, and you earn it more by your character than your competence. More leaders lose trust over character issues than competency issues.”
- Taking Your Leadership Out of the Office. John Maxwell writes “As a 360° leader, in addition to leading up, across and down, you need to lead out. Leading out means to be on the forefront of an action.”
- Life on Life: The Key to Sustainable Influence. Steve Graves writes “Jesus’ method was life on life. He poured courage, hope, and direction into His followers, and then He challenged them to do the same with those coming along behind them.”
- Character in Leadership: Does it Really Matter Anymore? Albert Mohler writes “Three principles may offer us guidance in considering the issue of character in leadership, whether that leadership is exercised in the political sphere, in the church, or in any other consequential endeavor. These principles, rooted in the Christian worldview, may help us to think as we ponder the issue of character.”
- Work Hurts Sometimes – And That’s a Good Thing. Tom Nelson writes “If work is difficult today, bask in this wonderful truth. Hardship and frustration in the workplace doesn’t need to be meaningless. Even today, you can embrace it as one of the ways God is renewing and reshaping us into his image.”
- What Role Does Personality Play in Being an Effective Leader? Dave Kraft writes “A personality inventory will simply (based on your answers to a series of questions) tell you what people who are wired like to you tend to do in certain situations with certain kinds of people. But you have a choice. You can act like your personality type usually acts, or with the help of the Holy Spirit, you can act biblically and differently. The grace of Jesus Christ can more than make up for what you don’t have, or overcome what you do have by way of personality.”
- Learning to Lead Your Peers. John Maxwell writes about leading across. He writes “If you want to see your team make winning a habit, you’re going to have to learn to lead your peers.”
- Three Ways God Tells Us to Rest. David Platt writes “Work is a gift from God. He gave us the privilege of working for his purposes, even before sin entered the world. (Genesis 1:26ff). Work should glorify God and it can bring us great joy, but if we’re honest, work can also feel futile and exhausting. Thankfully, God also gave us rest.”
- Why Grumpiness at Work Lies About God. In this episode of the “Ask Pastor John” podcast, Tony Reinke talks to Tim Keller on the important topics of business, vocation, and calling.
- 5 Times to Say No to Yourself to Stay Productive. Craig Jarrow writes “To stay on task, sometimes you need to ask yourself, “What shouldn’t I be doing right now?””
- Calling Series. In the 2015-16 ministry year, the Center for Faith and Work focused on the topic of calling. “The Bible sets forth a unique doctrine that Christians are people “called” by God for particular purposes. When we live in line with this calling, we experience a greater fullness of what it means to be a child of God. This is an absolutely critical doctrine to understand, internalize and experience. Every Christian needs to understand the Biblical notion of calling as it provides an important guide in thinking through the bigger questions of our identity and the meaning and purpose of our lives.” Watch the messages from the series.
- Emotional Intelligence. In this “Minute with Maxwell, John Maxwell states having emotional intelligence means that we can feel what others feel and know what others know so that we can add value to them.
- 5 Thoughts on Leaders and Insecurity. Eric Geiger writes “Just as we have a difficult time recognizing and admitting pride, leaders can struggle to recognize and admit insecurity.”
- When You Work in a Tough Situation. Bethany Jenkins writes “The women featured below have (at least) one thing in common—their job puts them in situations that are tough, that require trust in God’s faithfulness and goodness. Whether they are working in customer service or helping provide nutrients for premature babies or navigating all-male leadership or participating in decision making about layoffs, these women have obedient, eternal perspectives that help them to endure, and even rejoice, in the work God has called them to do.”
- 7 Pitfalls of Leadership Which Can Derail a Leader. Ron Edmondson writes “In years of studying leadership, both in the business world and in ministry, I’ve seen some consistent traps which get in the way of a leader’s long-term success. I call them pitfalls.”
- Raising Up the Next Generation of Leaders. Dave Kraft shares the first of two posts on raising up the next generation of leaders with these six thoughts.
- Seven Warning Signs Your Heart is Growing Hard in Leadership. Carey Nieuwhof writes “One of the greatest casualties in leadership is the human heart. So many leaders see their hearts grow hard over time. How does it happen?”
- The Humble Leader. Kevin DeYoung writes “Humility isn’t about pretending to be lower than we are. It’s about realizing we are not as mighty as we think. When we understand who we are–gifted, loved, and made in the image of God, but also flawed, weak, and wholly dependent upon God–we will naturally show respect, listen to others, and be eager to see those around us flourish. God is the ultimate sovereign, so we don’t have to be.”
- A Quick Check-Up on Leading Down. John Maxwell writes that he is going to “Touch on the concept of leading your followers, but instead of teaching you what to do, I want to help you examine what you’re already doing. I’m calling it The Leadership Checkup, and it’s for anyone who leads a team.”
- We’re on a Mission from God! Listen to this interview with Hugh Whelchel of the Institute for Faith Work and Economics about finding meaning in the midst of the daily grind when we understand our role in fulfilling God’s mission for such a time as this.
- 7 Ways Christian Business Leaders Kill Their Witness. Chris Patton shares seven all-to-familiar compromises by Christian business leaders and owners trying to fit in with the culture around them.
- Reimagining Your Work as an Offering. Bethany Jenkins interviews Ollie Watts Davis, a professor of music at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and conductor of the award-winning University of Illinois Black Chorus, about she integrates her faith and work.
- What is Your Calling? Charles Spurgeon writes “Some people have the foolish notion that the only way in which they can live for God is by becoming pastors, missionaries, or Bible teachers. How many would be excluded from any opportunity of spiritual usefulness if this were the case.”
- In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell says proactive means we take control of the things we can take control of.
- Why Most Dream Jobs Disappoint (and What to Do About It). Dan Cumberland writes “Problems arise when we begin to think that one job or opportunity is the end all position. It’s not. It can’t be.
- Coaching. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell states that a coach is someone who puts together a team and provides guidance and encouragement. He’s convinced that we all need a coach.
- The Simplest Coaching Pattern Imaginable. Dan Rockwell writes “Coaching closes gaps between current and desired states by tapping strengths.”
- CT Makers: 20 of the Most Creative Christians We Know. Kate Shellnutt of Christianity Today writes “The 20 business leaders, artists, and nonprofit founders on the following pages are doing both—investing in novel and fun ideas while also pioneering important changes—in their respective industries and fields of experience. By casting a vision, naming their creation, and releasing it out into the world, CT Makers remind us of the joy of bearing the Maker’s image. Their stories reveal the myriad ways the body of Christ goes into the world as kingdom-minded change agents.”
- Does Our Calling Make Us More Creative? Kate Shellnutt interviews Adam Grant, psychology professor at Wharton Business School, about his new book The Originals.
- 10 Warning Signs You’re a Power Hungry Leader. Chuck Lawless writes “Christian leaders are called to be servant leaders, willing to be last in order to lead (Matt 20:26). Even Christians, though, wrestle with a desire to be powerful and influential. Take a look at your own life, and be aware of these signs that you might be a “power hungry” leader.”
- Blue-Collar America as an Unreached People Group. Timoteo Sazointerviews Noah Gallop, an ASE-certified master automotive technician, about his faith and work.
- 7 Times the Speed of Change Can Be Faster than Normal. Ron Edmondson writes “There are unique opportunities where change can be introduced and implemented quicker than other times. The leader should be careful to strategically plan each change, but taking advantage of these times can help facilitate change faster.”
Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
- God is glorified at the workbench, where the godly worker fulfills his task singing of the Savior’s love. Charles Spurgeon
- 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. Tim Keller
- People are successful to the degree they bring out the potential God has placed in others. Dave Kraft
- God is the only one who gets his to-do list done every day. Kevin DeYoung
- If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes. John Wooden
- Leadership is not just about being in charge, it’s now equally about being out in front. Brad Lomenick
- Your work ethic and attitude are two things you can control, and they’ll get you more opportunities in your lifetime than your talent alone. Coach K
- A leader makes certain that his followers know they are working with him not for him. John Wooden
- God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does. Martin Luther
FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEW:
The Ideal Team Player: How to Recognize and Cultivate The Three Essential Virtues by Patrick Lencioni. Jossey-Bass. 240 pages. 2016
My favorite “business” book is The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni and a close second is his The Advantage. I put business in quotes because I have found the principles from Five Dysfunctions to be helpful on any team, be it in business, sports, a nonprofit or ministry. This new book picks up where The Five Dysfunctions left off.
Lencioni states that if someone were to ask him to make a list of the most valuable qualities a person should develop in order to thrive in the world of work—and for that matter, life—he would put being a team player at the top. In The Five Dysfunctions he explained that real teamwork requires tangible, specific behaviors: vulnerability-based trust, healthy conflict, active commitment, peer-to-peer accountability, and a focus on results. He indicates that the three underlying virtues that enable them to be ideal team players are that they are humble, hungry, and smart.
He states that when a team member lacks one or more of these three virtues, the process of building a cohesive team is much more difficult than it should be, and in some cases, impossible. He writes that leaders who can identify, hire, and cultivate employees who are humble, hungry, and smart will have a serious advantage over those who cannot.
He states that the purpose of the book is to help the reader understand how the elusive combination of these three simple attributes can accelerate the process of making teamwork a reality in your organization or in your life so you can more effectively achieve the extraordinary benefits that it brings.
As is his usual approach (The Advantage was the exception), Lencioni illustrates his points in a leadership fable and then wraps up his points in a model at the end of the book. In this fable, we meet Jeff Shanley who lives and works in the Silicon Valley. After a few jobs in high-tech marketing, at age thirty-five he cofounded a technology start-up. Two years later, he was fortunate enough to get demoted when the board of directors hired what they called a grown-up CEO. During the next four years, that CEO, Kathryn Petersen, taught Jeff more about leadership, teamwork, and business than he could have learned in a decade of business school. When Kathryn retired, Jeff left the company and spent the next few years working at a small consulting firm in Half Moon Bay, over the hills from the Silicon Valley. As the book opens he is ready for a change. But it turns out to be a change that he didn’t see coming.
Jeff receives a phone call from his Uncle Bob, who owns Valley Builders, a successful building contractor in Napa Valley. Eventually, due to his uncle’s health problems, Jeff will take over the company from his uncle at a critical time for the organization, a time of both challenges and opportunities. Valley Builders has just landed two large projects. The company has never had two major projects like this at the same time, both of which are as big as they’ve ever done. They will need to add a net sixty people in the next two months, with five critical hires that will need to be made first – a project manager, three foremen, and a senior engineer. On top of that, they will need about a half dozen supervisors and about fifty contractors of all kinds.
Jeff and his leadership team at Valley Builders will need to look at their hiring process to assure that they hire true team players, the kind of person who can easily build trust, engage in healthy conflict, make real commitments, hold people accountable, and focus on the team’s results. The life of their company will depend on it.
After the fable, the author covers the ideal team player model, what it means, where it comes from, and how it can be put to practical use. He states that “For organizations seriously committed to making teamwork a cultural reality, I’m convinced that “the right people” are the ones who have those three virtues in common—humility, hunger, and people smarts.” Included in this section is a helpful Manager Assessment. He also discusses peer evaluations versus peer discussion, stating that he believes “the most powerful activity that occurs around any assessment is peer discussion.”
I found his section connecting The Ideal Team Player Model with The Five Dysfunctions of a Team to be particularly helpful. He states that the ideal team player is all about the makeup of individual team members, while the five dysfunctions are about the dynamics of teams getting things done.
He ends the book by stating that over the past twenty years, it has become apparent to him that humility, hunger, and people smarts have relevance outside of the workplace, and that apart from the other two virtues, humility stands alone.
There is some profanity included in the leadership fable portion of the book. I found it of interest that two of the three virtues included here were included in Brad Lomenick’s excellent 2015 book H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle.
Lencioni points the reader to his website for additional resources about The Ideal Team Player.
Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?
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 6: The Transforming Power of Work
- When we think about work, our tendency is to reflect on how we, as free moral agents, shape our work, yet we must not overlook how the work we do profoundly forms us as individuals within a community.
- We shape our work and our work shapes us.
- In a multitude of ways, our work defines who we are, what we are becoming, and how we are contributing to the world.
- Daily we are being formed by the work we do, the people we rub shoulders with, and the skills we acquire. Work is one of the providential arrangements through which we are spiritually formed.
- Martin Luther understood vocation to be the primary pathway God uses to transform our lives.
- If we are going to avoid a mindless and perilous conformity to the spirit of our age, we must be actively engaged in the renewal of our minds. Only then will we have the discernment and attentiveness to discover God’s will and honor him in our lives and our work.
- If we fail to meditate on Scripture and nurture our intimacy with God at work, where we spend the vast majority of our time, then our spiritual growth, Christian maturity, and spiritual formation will be greatly hindered.
- If you will embrace the spiritual discipline of the careful study and consistent memorization of God’s Word and hide it in your heart, then meditating on God’s Word in your workplace as you work will be transformational in your life.
- One of God’s primary places where he desires your mind to be renewed is your workplace—for your thoughts, words, and behavior to be changed while you work. Your workplace is to be a place of spiritual formation.
- We must not compartmentalize our work and our worship, but rather we must learn to see our work as an act of worship. Though God is omnipresent, make it your thoughtful intention to bring God with you to work and mediate on the truths of his Word while you work.
- The Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence joins us in our work—guiding us, empowering us, interceding for us, and producing in us character qualities of Christlikeness such as love, humility, submission, servanthood, and sacrifice.
- Our attitude toward our work, the excellence of our work, and our relationship with our coworkers would dramatically change if we walked in the Spirit at work.
- When we face the formidable winds of workplace trials, rather than running from them or becoming embittered by them, we would be wise to lean into them with trust and confidence, knowing that God has allowed them in our lives for a reason. Often this reason is not fully known by us.
- If you will begin to see your workplace as your primary place of discipleship, it will be truly life changing. You will do good work. You will grow spiritually, and you will have a significant influence in the world.