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 TO GOD

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  • God’s Work; Our Work. Amy Sherman writes “In the midst of the tedium that inevitably accompanies any job (in varying degrees), it can be easy to wonder at times whether our work really matters. One way of battling the temptation to believe the lie that our work doesn’t matter is to see the connections between what we do each day and what God is doing from day to day.”
  • Tent-Making Is Not Second-Class. Tom Nelson writes “A closer look at 1 Thessalonians reveals that one connecting thread flowing from Paul’s inspired pen is a robust understanding and affirmation of Christian vocation. Indeed, vocational diligence is one of the letter’s main literary themes.”
  • Vocation is Integral. Steven Garber was the speaker at my Covenant Seminary graduation. “Many people today see their job as nothing more than a paycheck. But is one’s calling more than that? Steven Garber says yes. He says there is an intimate connection between one’s faith, vocation, and culture. “Vocation is integral,” he says, “not incidental to the missio Dei.” Steven explains how most of what God is doing in the world happens in and through the vocations of his people.”
  • On Calling, Ambition and Surrender. “Many of us struggle to discern our role in God’s bigger plan for the world; some of us even struggle to see God’s plan at all. We’re unsure of our purpose, or uncertain of how we can use that purpose to bring renewal to our communities. Pete Richardson helps executive, church, and cultural leaders hone in on their life purpose and perspective. He reveals some of the questions we need to ask ourselves, and the results we can expect when we respond to God’s very personal assignment for each of us.”
  • Working for God’s Glory. I’m looking forward to Michael Horton’s session on the doctrine of vocation at the 2017 Ligonier National Conference. Here’s a description of the session “Reformation extends to all matters of life, including theology, church, home, and society. This session will outline the doctrine of vocation and explain how it relates to other doctrines such as the priesthood of all believers, with a view toward encouraging greater faithfulness, innovation, and productivity in the workplace and beyond. It will consider why glorifying God in our callings is vital to the kingdom of God for future centuries.”vocation
  • Why Do People Work? Anne Bradley writes “You are created uniquely and have something to offer to the world.  You have a real contribution to make through your work and that contribution can have lasting significance for the Kingdom of Christ, even if you are flipping burgers.”
  • Connecting to a Higher Purpose – Especially at Work. Hugh Whelchel writes “Understanding our calling is not just about finding purpose in our work but finding purpose in everything we do – understanding that we are on a mission for God.”
  • The Fruit of the Spirit and Your Work. Matt Perman writes “And, this also helps us see why our work matters. For when we are doing our work, we aren’t just doing work. We are engaging in an opportunity to display the fruit of the Spirit and manifest the character of God all day long, right here in the concrete realities of everyday life.”
  • Your Work Matters. Watch this sermon from John MacArthur from 2 Thessalonians 3: 6-15.
  • Five Aims in Vocation. Amy Sherman writes “while it’s difficult to say with precision what career a particular Christian should take up, it is possible to suggest some overarching vocational aims to pursue. Here are five—each with a story to illustrate.”
  • Discovering the Reformation View of Work. Hugh Whelchel writes “It was initially through Martin Luther’s efforts that the 16th century Reformers began to recover the biblical doctrine of work. They began to recognize that all of life, including daily work, can be understood as a calling from God.”
  • The Historical Influences of the Sacred-Secular Divide. Hugh Welchel writes “Finding significance in our work requires that we once again overcome the sacred-secular divide and embrace a biblical view of work.”

REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES:

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  • Every Woman’s Call to Work. Abigail Dodds writes “What has the power to set a woman on edge and make her feel everything from shame to pride to embarrassment to judgment to superiority and in between? Ask her what she does for a living.”
  • Life at Work. Watch this sermon from RJ Grunewald from his Life at Work sermon series with a message on our identity in Christ over the identity in our job titles.
  • You Are Made in the Image of God. Here’s What That Means for Your Life and Work. Dr. Art Lindsley writes “Pursue intimacy with God and others in the body of Christ. Seek wise counsel on how you can better use your gifts. If you do, you will sense an integration and wholeness in your life.”

PRACTICAL ADVICE:phone-email

  • Should I Check My Work Email at Home? Jessica Schaeffer writes “For all of us—whether working in an office, working from home, or clocking atypical hours—how we engage technology is an imperative question to address with careful, honest consideration. Technology is something to steward, not something that should rule.”
  • Balancing Work and Family Responsibilities – William Wilberforce. Vance Christie writes “Properly balancing work, ministry and family responsibilities is not an easy feat to accomplish. Sometimes the pressures of seeking to do so are considerable. And even when we’re giving it our best we don’t always feel like we’re doing a very good job of maintaining a proper balance.”
  • Are You Totally Exhausted From Your Work For God? Chris Patton writes “If we will wait on God, remaining in Jesus and He in us, we will bear much fruit AND God will get the glory. That is a beautiful picture!”
  • Feeling Stuck? 8 Ways to Push Through. Brad Lomenick writes “Sometimes we just feel stuck. Not that anything is really wrong, but more the sense that we’re not going anywhere. That place where you sense that things are okay, but not great. Where it seems like you are just going through the motions. Dependable and reliable, yes. Consistent, absolutely. But you feel you are not necessarily bringing your A-game.”
  • Are You Concerned about Our Culture? Renew Your Character. Art Lindsley writes “Faith and work were never meant to be separated. We have divorced our internal beliefs from our external actions. Character assumes that our beliefs and actions are not isolated from each other.”
  • Stewarding Retirement: Why a Christian’s Work Never Ends. Joseph Sunde writes “Though our activities will shift as we get older, and though increased comforts and rest are no bad thing, let us not buy in to the ideals of an increasingly consumer-driven culture. Let the beach house, the golf course, and the sofa never be the idols or ends of our creative service.”
  • Tips for Making Difficult Decisions. Steve Graves writes “In some decisions, instead of flipping the coin, you have to bring both sides of the coin into play. You bring multiple truths to bear.”

FAITH AND LEADERSHIPmark-dalby-quote

FAITH AND WORK NEWS:

  • American Believer Suffers Brutal Persecution in Form of Occasional Ribbing From Co-Workers. The Babylon Bee Your Trusted Source For Christian News Satire reports “According to sources close to local believer James Beazer, the inside sales representative and father of two is suffering brutal persecution in the form of “two or three” lighthearted comments made about his faith each year.”
  • New Made to Flourish Website. Matt Perman writes “What is different about our new site? Two main things: First, it is filled with more content, as our aim is to make the site an extensive resource for you in thinking through how to help your church integrate faith and work. Second, it is easier to use, with improved navigation and organization.”love-work-steve-jobs
  • Work is for Love. Marcus Buckingham has started a new series. He writes “Right now, work is transactional. Most of us go to work not to do what we love, but to earn the money that helps us do what we really love. This is why people talk about “working to live and not living to work.” Which makes sense, don’t get me wrong — until you remind yourself that we spend half our waking hours, or more, on the job. Why on earth are we willing to throw half of our lives away? Shouldn’t we demand more? What would that look like?” Note: he uses a few expletives in the first short video.
  • How to Live Out Your Mission Statement. John Maxwell writes “When organizations and individuals align what they ought to do with what they are actually doing, they reap the rewards of a mission statement that does more than look inspiring on paper. It’s one lived out in principle.”
  • What Makes a Company “Christian”? Hugh Whelchel writes “What we need to be focusing on is not whether we have Christian businesses, but whether we have Christian businessmen who integrate their convictions and principles with their work.”
  • Many people of faith think because their ideas are true, everyone should listen, pay attention, and do as they suggest. Who or what deems an idea legitimate? Watch this message from Malcolm Gladwell as he addresses this question.
  • The Most Important Reason to Pursue Growth. John Maxwell writes “When you make growth a priority and pursue it in small, intentional ways every single day, you will experience gradual, consistent growth. And that will strengthen your hope for the future.”

favorite quotes

  • The doctrine of vocation is not just a teaching about the value of work. It comprises a theology of the Christian life. Gene Veith
  • In my interaction with other pastors, I am often shocked how few regularly spend time in the workplaces of their congregation. Tom Nelson
  • A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. John Maxwell
  • Don’t let success go to your head. Don’t let failure go to your heart. Tim Keller
  • The fruit of a believer is another believer, the fruit of a leader is another leader, the fruit of a disciple is another disciple. Eric Geiger
  • The chief purpose behind our productivity is to do good for others. Matt Perman
  • People’s talent can take them places their character can’t handle. Lecrae
  • Am I building my own kingdom, the kingdom of others, or the Kingdom? Brad Lomenick
  • Calling can lead you in any number of directions, but it will always lead you in a direction that is more Godly. Barnabas Piper

stephen-covey-quote

faith work book review

designed-to-leadDesigned to Lead: The Church and Leadership Development by Eric Geiger and Kevin Peck. B&H Books. 248 pages. 2016
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I was attracted to this book based on the subject matter and the fact that I regularly read Eric Geiger’s excellent leadership blog. Geiger writes this book with Kevin Peck, who is the Lead Pastor of the Austin Stone Community Church.  The authors state that God has designed his people to lead and that the church should be the epicenter of leadership development as God has designed the church to develop leaders in all spheres of life – the church, workplace, home, community and world. They state that leadership development is obedience to the Great Commission. However the current lack of leadership development among God’s people is what led the authors to write this book.

The authors give us a helpful framework for developing leaders in our churches. This framework includes the following components:

  • Conviction. Without conviction, leadership development will not occur.
  • Culture. The health of a church’s culture is closely aligned with the health of its leaders. Managing the church culture is a pastoral function. The authors provide a framework of culture attributes. I appreciated the section on leading change, or cultural transformation.
  • Constructs. These are the systems, processes, and programs utilized to help develop leaders. This was the “nuts and bolts” section of the book. The authors share leadership competencies which are also transferrable to most leadership positions outside of the church. The authors state that the systems you have in place tell others what is important in your organization. I found the discussion about the leadership pipeline to be helpful.  Moving through the pipeline is not about progression but development. A pathway is an individual development plan along the pipeline.  Idols to be aware of for leaders are control, approval and comfort.

The authors state that all believers are gifted for ministry. It is the pastor’s job to develop and disciple others, but it is not their job to do all of the ministry, as many believe.

In the church I attend, for example, we have existing leaders mentoring/discipling young men for our church leadership pipeline.  But we can be doing much more to develop church members to lead outside of the church. This book can help with that.

A leader carries tremendous responsibilities. Leaders are to make known the glory of God.  They are to reflect the glory of God, replicate and cultivate. Leaders are to lead to make much of God, not ourselves. We lead for the glory of God and the good of others. We lead for the kingdom of God. Unfortunately, the authors write that leaders today are not always trusted. The U.S. has a crisis of leadership; we need to redeem leadership and this book is a good step in that direction.

Although I am a leader in my church, my full-time vocation is outside of the church, or what the authors refer to as a societal leader. The authors helpfully emphasize the concepts of stewardship and culture making for societal leaders.

This is a very practical book. The authors use helpful examples from scripture (Moses, Adam, Paul, etc.) to illustrate their points.

I could see a follow-up workbook or workshops based on this material to help church leaders to drive leadership development in their churches. I recommend that pastors read and discuss with their leadership teams.

 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 conclude our review of this book, but looking at Chapter 10: The Church at Work.  Next time, we’ll begin our look at the new NIV Faith and Work Bible.

Chapter 10: The Church at Work 

  • The doctrine of vocation properly understood weaves together a seamless life of true Christian discipleship in all facets of life. Vocation is the path of daily life where we are called to be a faithful presence in our world.
  • Embracing a more robust theology of vocation is not just about what you do on Monday; it requires changing how you speak, think, and act on Sunday.
  • Whether you are called to exercise leadership in your local congregation as a layperson or as a pastor, cultivating an integral theology of vocation is at the heart of your church’s gospel mission.
  • Vocational diligence is one of Paul’s main literary themes of this letter. His robust doctrine of vocation inextricably links the church’s vibrant spiritual formation with its flourishing gospel mission (1 Thess. 4:11–12; 5:12–15; see also 2 Thess. 3:6–15).
  • Through the Thessalonians, the transforming gospel message of faith in Christ had greatly spread. And this came about through their daily work.
  • Having embraced the gospel, they were honoring Christ in the various vocations and stations of life they were in when they were called.
  • Sometimes we wrongly buy into the idea that our gospel mission really advances most when we become a pastor or missionary or parachurch worker, or when we recruit others to do the same. But Paul commends gospel proclamation and incarnation in the primary context of Christian vocation and vocational networks.
  • If we are called to be a pastor or missionary, that is a high calling and should be applauded. If we are called to be a business leader, a teacher, a homemaker, or an assembly-line worker, that is also a high calling and should be equally applauded.
  • I believe much of our foggy thinking about work will clear if we begin to see our gospel mission through a vocational lens.
  • God designed the local church to be a transformed people scattered in their various vocational callings throughout the week. One of the highest stewardships for local church leadership is to encourage and equip apprentices of Jesus for their work. Yet this stewardship rarely gets the attention and commitment it requires.
  • Closing the Sunday-to-Monday gap will require more than hopeful thinking. Honest vocational appraisal is needed to begin doing the important work of equipping others for vocational diligence and faithfulness.
  • To move forward, a faith community will need to: (1) become more intentional about teaching a robust theology of vocation, (2) begin celebrating the diversity of vocations, (3) equip for vocational faithfulness, and (4) collaborate with other like-minded local churches that also recognize the church at work as a primary conduit for gospel faithfulness.
  • Teaching a rich vocational theology not only involves the preaching and teaching ministry of a local church, it also must become a vital part of the spiritual formation pathways in your faith community.
  • Desiring to encourage more momentum in this area of vocation, our faith community has hosted a church-wide conference devoted to the subject of work, as well as encouraged our congregation to attend other conferences on vocation. Teaching the rich and transforming truths of vocation is a vital part of your local church’s equipping mission.
  • Our local church is becoming more intentional about celebrating the broad diversity of vocations within our congregation. In our Sunday morning services, congregational members periodically give short and timely vocational testimonies, either live or via video, regarding their faith at work. At times the video testimonies will be shot on location at their particular workplaces.
  • In addition to teaching and celebrating vocational faithfulness, we also take seriously the transformational power of workplace mentoring.
  • Whatever your vocational calling, the workplace you inhabit is a place where life-changing mentoring is designed to take place.
  • Our local church has benefited a great deal in learning from Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Redeemer has been a pioneer in weaving a strong vocational thread into its mission. Redeemer’s Center for Faith and Work has been a catalyst for our leaders to think more intentionally about equipping our congregation in vocational mission.

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 6: Who Must Do What?  

  • The fact is, every organization of any size needs some division of labor, and that begins at the very top. Without clarity around that division of labor, the potential for politics and infighting, even among well-intentioned people, is great.
  • Although there is often clarity among executives in most organizations about who does what on the team, making assumptions about that clarity can lead to surprising and unnecessary problems.
  • In many cases, it’s the leader of the executive team, often the CEO, who presents the biggest problem. Many of these leaders take on active roles beyond their responsibility of managing the leadership team, and this can create confusion.
  • Regardless of how clear or confusing a company’s “org” chart may be, it is always worthwhile to take a little time to clarify so that everyone on the leadership team knows and agrees on what everyone else does and that all critical areas are covered.
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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 some other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

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