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

your-work-matters

  • 3 Ingredients to Greater Satisfaction and Impact at Work. Dan Anderson writes “In this post, let’s consider a second key ingredient to achieving greater satisfaction and impact at work: contentment.”
  • When It Comes to a Job Well Done, God Is in the Details. Andrew Spencer writes “No matter how small the task appears, it is worthy of being done well. Regardless of where your job falls on the org chart, you have the opportunity to contribute to the company and the glory of God through a job well-done.”
  • How We Participate in God’s Own Work. Joe Carter writes “A key step in being “happy in our toil” is to recognize which vocation model our work most reflects—and recognizing that such work has value.”
  • 5 Bad Starting Points for the Faith and Work Conversation. Jeff Haanen writes “The death and resurrection of Jesus, and the far reaching effects of salvation “as far as the curse is found,” is the best place to start the conversation about faith and work.”
  • Doing Good Work that Matters Doesn’t Happen Accidentally. Matt Perman writes “We have to be intentional in making plans for the welfare of others. And then we have to be proactive in carrying those plans out.”
  • Retirement Reexamined. James Clark writes “We should be always ready for the work God has placed in front of us, before retirement and beyond it, for God’s call does not fade over time, but beckons us ever onward for as long as we live.”
  • Katherine Leary Alsdorf: We’re Made to Work. Katherine Leary Alsdorf worked with Tim Keller on the excellent book Every Good Endeavor. Read this interview with her from Faith & Leadership about the book and the challenges of integrating work and faith.
  • Working Well. In part one of his two articles on work, Tim Challies writes “Whether you are an employee or an employer, a manager or a line-worker, a tradesman or a Wall Street executive (that’s Bay Street here in Canada), you will benefit by hearing three instructions from God as given by Paul.”
  • Wait for Payday. In part two, Tim Challies writes “Paul says that you are to complete your work (“render your service”) with a good will. That is quite the command because it indicates that not only does God expect you to do good work, but he expects you to have to have a good attitude while you do it.”
  • No Job’s Too Small for Jesus. Courtney Reissig writes “In the Lord Jesus, every single act of work you do is never wasted, because in him you are showing the world what it means to be loved, cared for, and welcomed into a family.”
  • 14 Rules for a Godly Employee. Jordan Standridge writes “As believers we know that our calling is higher. We do work for men, but ultimately it is God whom we serve. As we work hard we are ultimately declaring our belief in the Gospel, and our hope in eternity.”

workplace-wisdom

  • Wisdom for the Workplace. Listen to this teaching series from John MacArthur, based on 2 Thessalonians 3: 6-15. The series description is “In Wisdom for the Workplace, John MacArthur brings practical, biblical perspective to your career—whatever it is. Discover the keys to genuine job satisfaction, and see how your career can have a vital, eternal impact for the kingdom of God.”
  • How to See Productivity from a Biblical Perspective. Hugh Welchel writes “So how can Christians see productivity from a biblical perspective? First, by recognizing that productivity isn’t morally neutral – in fact, it’s just the opposite. Second, by seeing the bigger picture of productivity within God’s plan for creation.”

  • Is Competition Out of Bounds for Christians? Hugh Whelchel writes “We should compete and try to win not for our own selfish purposes, but to honor him. What matters is our attitude, the motivation that resides in our hearts.”
  • The View from the Top of the Hill. John Maxwell writes “Almost everything that has value, almost everything that has purpose, requires work on our part to attain it. We have to put in the effort to get what to where we want to go.”
  • People Want to Know How Their Work Matters. Nathan Kirkpatrick writes “It is a gift of leadership to help others see their time, effort and sacrifice against a different horizon — to help them see how their work contributes to the development of a vibrant institution, to the cultivation of a thriving community, to something that points beyond itself to the greater reality of the kingdom of God, which is making itself known in our midst.”
  • Timeless Cautions For Your Day-to-Day Work. Tim Challies writes that in chapter 4 of John Flavel’s classic work The Mystery of Providence, Flavel instructs the reader to acknowledge the hand of God in and behind our daily work
  • Limited Time, Unlimited Wants. Anne Bradley writes “We should seek to be the best stewards of the time we have been given, and entrust the results of our efforts to God.”
  • How to Make Your Job a Good One without Ever Having to Leave It. Hugh Whelchel writes “A good job is one where God allows us to bring purpose and meaning into the work he has called us to do, understanding there is inherent value in that work itself because it is important to God. This is true whether we are a dishwasher or a CEO, a stay-at-home mom, or the pastor of a mega church.”
  • 3 Sources of Superior Performance. Steve Graves writes “The earlier the training is the better. Whether you’re born with it or it’s your upbringing or it’s on the job training, the sooner you get it the better.”
  • Two Ways Christ Offers Power and Encouragement for Your Work. Art Lindsley writes “Christ gives us power for our work through the Holy Spirit, and he gives us encouragement for our work by praying on our behalf.”
  • In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell encourages us to learning, keep earning and keep returning.
  • Consistency: A Wise Investment of Time. John Maxwell writes “When you live with consistency, you learn that the rewards you seek in life don’t come after you take one step; they come when you’ve taken a journey to a place you’ve never been.”
  • Jesus on the Job: How Faith Mixes With Work, Part 2. Ed Stetzer writes “One of the keys to equipping people to see their work as a place where they can point people to Jesus and as a way to fulfill God’s call upon their lives is to begin early.”
  • Unpacking the Lies We Believe about Work (and the Biblical Truths to Counter Them). Art Lindsley writes “We should be transformed by the renewing of our minds to affirm a biblical view of work. Here are five thoughts that can influence how we act in the workplace.”

tips

recommended-resources

  • Made to Flourish. Pastors, are you familiar with Made to Flourish, a pastor’s network for the common good? Check out their site.
  • 2016 Center for Faith and Work Conference. This year’s conference has the theme of “The Wonder and Fear of Technology”. Find out more about the conference and how to register.

Real-Life Examples of Integrating Faith and Work:

Christ and culture

Leaders and Leadership:Leadership

Yeah, They’re Talking about YOU!

  • 8 Signs You’re Too Big for Your Britches. Brad Lomenick writes about the pitfalls of becoming too much of a prima donna.
  • 3 Reasons You Need Accountability. Selma Wilson writes “One of the signs you don’t want accountability is that you rebel against authority yourself. You became angry or frustrated when anyone questions your leadership actions or decisions. If this is your pattern, you are already in trouble.
  • 4 Obnoxious Behaviors All Authentic Leaders Should Avoid. Chris Patton writes “I would bet heavily that the one obstacle keeping most non-believers from being open to a relationship with Jesus is the hypocrisy of those calling themselves Christians. Even more critical is the hypocrisy of Christians that hold leadership positions.”
  • Workplace Rudeness and What You Can Do About It. Alan Zimmerman writes “Actually, you are not helpless when it comes to rudeness in the workplace. You can actually do some things to help turn your organization … or at least your little corner of the office … into a more positive place to work.”

Quotes about Faith and Work

  • What is culture? It is at least taking raw materials God has made and rearranging it for human flourishing, as God defines it. Tim Keller
  • Who you are will take you much further than what you can do Dave Kraft
  • A life which is empty of purpose until 65 will not suddenly become filled on retirement. Dwight Moody
  • You will not have a meaningful life without work, but you will lose yourself if you say work is the meaning of your life. Tim Keller
  • Difficulties, disappointments, discouragements, and suffering are a part of every work experience, but they need not be seen as obstacles to God’s purposes in our lives. Tom Nelson
  • Every person has a longing to be significant; to make a contribution; to be a part of something noble and purposeful. John Maxwell
  • If you don’t demonstrate leadership character, your skills and your results will be discounted, if not dismissed. Mark Miller
  • The first step to creating a compelling culture for your team is to be assured of your calling as their leader. Dee Ann Turner 
  • The Lord has a plan. We always think the plans are A, B, C and D, and everything is going to be perfect for us and it may not be that way, but it’s still his plan. Tony Dungy

buechner-quote

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEWS:

its-my-pleasureIt’s My Pleasure by Dee Ann Turner. Elevate. 160 pages. 2015
****

When you go into a Chick Fil-A quick service restaurant anywhere in the country you will not be greeted with replies of “No Problem” or “No Worries” from their employees. No, you will always be greeted with “It’s My Pleasure”. What a difference that is! It’s an organizational culture that drives this difference, and it’s why Chick Fil-A is always spoken of so highly by leadership experts such as Patrick Lencioni and Ken Blanchard. And it’s also why Chick Fil-A is probably the organization I most highly respect. In this book, Dee Ann Turner, who has worked for Chick Fil-A for more than 30 years, gives us an entertaining look at several of the components that make up that compelling culture.

Turner tells us that Chick Fil-A is not in the chicken business, but the people business. Selling chicken is just a means for glorifying God. She tells us that founder Truett Cathy practiced servant leadership (before it was such a trend to do so) and led according to biblical principles, including their “Second Mile Service” from Matthew 5).  Chick Fil-A uses the SERVE leadership model (which I learned about years ago in Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller’s fine book The Secret).

Their Core Values tell you a lot about the organization. They are excellence, generosity, integrity and loyalty.  They have a culture that is about loving life together. Their purpose for existence is stewardship and a positive influence on people’s lives.  All Chick Fil-A restaurants continue Truett Cathy’s leadership model by being closed on Sundays. Chick Fil-A continues to be a privately owned organization as well.  The organization, based in the Atlanta area, was founded in 1946 and has more than 2,000 restaurants.

An important aspect of the Chick Fil-A culture is their hiring process. They are diligent about making sure that they select the right people for their organization.  They select based on character, competency and chemistry.  In selecting leaders, Dee Ann writes that a good question to ask is “Would you want your children to work for this person?” Their stringent selection processes help result in their low employee and leadership turnover rates.

When discussing the stewardship of Chick Fil-A’s leaders, I liked how they use and honor their seasoned, or older/more experienced leaders, as that describes me. Too often older leaders are not as respected as they should be. Not at Chick Fil-A.

I agree with her that saying “No” when it needs to be said, even in employment and promotional decisions, is actually the kind thing to do.  Other topics that I particularly enjoyed was the author’s comments about calling and servant leadership.

The author liberally uses real-life stories from the organization to illustrate her points. I enjoyed hearing stories about generosity, creating remarkable experiences for their customers (treating customers like friends and family, their “First 100” events at new stores, and “Daddy/Daughter Date Nights”.

Chick Fil-A is much more than just another quick service restaurant. They truly stand for something (think of their core values). I hope with this book, other organizations will learn from Chick Fil-A, particularly with respect to excellence and integrity.

People who love Chick Fil-A, including me, are very loyal to them. To see a humorous depiction of this, check out Tim Hawkin’s “Chick Fil-A song”, to the tune of the Beatles “Yesterday”.

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 highlights from Chapter 9: Facing Challenges in Our Work:

  • We are only one step away from personal and ethical compromises that can lead to personal disgrace and unleash a torrent of devastation on others.
  • One of the greatest challenges we face every day in our workplaces is living a life of personal integrity.
  • Personal integrity is observed in a person of good conscience where belief and behavior are growing in consistency. Maintaining this consistency in the workplace can be a formidable challenge, and in many cases wisdom and courage are needed.
  • Your personal integrity is the most important asset you bring to your workplace. If your personal integrity is compromised at work, your life is inevitably comprised. The pressure to compromise our core beliefs and ethical values as Christians is a regular temptation in many workplaces today.
  • You must make up your mind ahead of time what workplace boundaries you simply cannot cross as a disciple of Jesus, making a commitment to do what is right no matter the cost or the consequences.
  • If your work is crowding out a weekly Sabbath rest, it is time for you to make changes.
  • Sometimes our work overload is due to our poor planning and management of our work. An exercise that I have found helpful is to regularly make a to-do list as well as a stop-doing list.
  • Whether we are single or married, the workplace is often where we are most tempted to cross the boundaries God has for us in regard to our sexual purity.
  • When it comes to facing the challenge of sexual temptation, there are several important things to keep at the forefront of our minds. First, know that God has empowered you to resist temptation. Second, the way to escape sexual temptation is to flee it. Finally, establish wise boundaries within your workplace.
  • Wherever you find yourself in your vocational journey, it is important to cultivate a deep sense of contentment. Scripture tells us that true contentment is not found in the accumulation of financial wealth or a fulfilling career, but in a fulfilling and intimate relationship with Christ.
  • One of the marks of Christian maturity is a growing sense of joyous contentment wherever God has us and in whatever he has called us to do.
  • Consider your workplace challenges not as obstacles in your life but as opportunities to grow in greater Christlikeness.

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 5: What is Most Important, Right Now?”  

  • More than any of the other questions, answering this one will have the most immediate and tangible impact on an organization, probably because it addresses two of the most maddening day-to-day challenges companies face: organizational A.D.D. and silos.
  • Most organizations I’ve worked with have too many top priorities to achieve the level of focus they need to succeed.
  • The result is almost always a lot of initiatives being done in a mediocre way and a failure to accomplish what matters most.
  • By communicating that the organization has five or seven top priorities, leaders put their well-intentioned employees in the inevitable position of getting pulled in different directions, sometimes polar opposite ones.
  • Every organization, if it wants to create a sense of alignment and focus, must have a single top priority within a given period of time.
  • The thematic goal is the answer to our question, What is most important, right now?
  • A thematic goal is … Singular. One thing has to be most important, even if there are other worthy goals under consideration. The thematic goal should almost never be established with specific numbers attached to it.  Temporary. A thematic goal must be achievable within a clear time boundary, almost always between three and twelve months.
  • Shared across the leadership team. When executives agree on their top priority, they must take collective responsibility for achieving it,
  • The best way to identify a thematic goal is to answer the question, If we accomplish only one thing during the next x months, what would it be? In other words, what must be true x months from now for us to be able to look back and say with any credibility that we had a good period? These questions provide a critical level of focus for leaders who are being pulled in numerous directions.
  • More than anything else, it is to provide the leadership team itself with clarity around how to spend its time, energy, and resources.
  • Every thematic goal must become the collective responsibility of the leadership team. This is true even if the goal doesn’t seem to directly involve the departments that some of those executives lead.
  • Let me make it clear that it is the lack of a defined, compelling rallying cry or thematic goal that allows most bad staff meetings to happen, which enables poor decision making.
  • The benefits of establishing an overarching thematic goal are enormous.
  • Realizing the benefits of having a clear and collective focus requires more than merely identifying the thematic goal. That goal must then be further clarified by defining the objectives which will make accomplishing it possible. I call these, for obvious reasons, defining objectives.
  • Defining objectives are the general categories of activity required to achieve the thematic goal. Like the thematic goal, defining objectives must be qualitative, temporary, and shared by the leadership team.
  • In most cases, there are between four and six defining objectives, depending on the nature of the goal itself.
  • Once teams identify their defining objectives, they have to take on the next, and last, step in the thematic goal process: identifying their standard operating objectives. These are the ongoing and relatively straightforward metrics and areas of responsibility that any leadership team must maintain in order to keep the organization afloat.
  • Few leadership teams need more than fifteen minutes to identify and agree on their standard operating objectives, which are already a big part of their daily focus.
  • It’s important to note that sometimes a company’s thematic goal will be one of the items that appears on its standard operating list.
  • Different kinds of organizations have different thematic goals, defining objectives, and standard operating objectives for a variety of reasons. However, what they all have in common is that their goals fit on a single sheet of paper.
  • The length of time that a thematic goal should live (within the 3–12 month time frame) is up to the leadership team and depends on the reality of how much time a given issue requires addressing.
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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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