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

CALLING, PURPOSE, VOCATION AND DESTINY:vocation

  • God Sees Value in Your Work and Callings e-book. I would appreciate your prayers as I work on a short e-book about my journey in seeing that God values our work and callings, not just those that are in “full-time Christian work”. I’m looking to see if with my unique perspective (nearly 37 years in leadership at a Fortune 50 company, nearly 21 years as an elder in my church and a recent seminary graduate), I might have something fresh to add to the faith and work conversation. We’ll see. Over the past few years I’ve written a lot about this. Now I am pulling all of that together in one place and then hopefully get the opportunity to speak to more groups about what I’ve learned on this journey. Thanks!
  • Three Ways Calling Impacts Our Lives. Art Lindsley writes “We live before an audience of One and are called by him to give our lives for others.”
  • Discover Your Destiny. Bill Peel writes “Do you ever have questions about your purpose? What you have to offer the world? Why you even exist in the first place?”
  • More Misunderstanding of Vocation Gene Veith writes “Anyone, of any tradition, who writes about vocation needs to start with the great theologian of vocation:  Martin Luther.  According to him, vocation is God’s calling to love and serve our neighbors in the tasks and relationships that He gives us.  Also, our “jobs” are only one facet of our vocations and probably not the most important:  we also have callings in the family, the church, and the society.  And our vocations are not just where we find our fulfillment but also where we bear our crosses.”
  • Know Your Why. Ken Costa writes “True identity cannot be self-motivated; it is given by God. Our tasks are to live out our true callings as uniquely shaped by God.”
  • In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell states that purpose keeps us focused.  It is the engine that drives your leadership. Each day you want to make sure that your life is filled with purpose.
  • Reviving the Biblical Doctrine of Work in America. Hugh Whelchel writes “The biblical doctrine of work has to play a larger part in our worldview if we are to be effective. This is a vision that sees our work as important to God and as a gift from God, bestowed on us to influence the world for his glory and the furtherance of his kingdom.”
  • What Does the Bible Say about Finding Personal Job Satisfaction? Russell Gehrlein writes “Do you have a sense that God has designed and prepared you to do what you get paid to do? Are you filled with contentment and the peace that passes all understanding, resting in God’s grace that has led you safely thus far and will ultimately lead you home?”
  • Where God is Calling You. Ken Costa writes “The fact that we are passionate about something is often a sign that this is where God is calling us to be.”

REAL LIFE EXAMPLES:

  • aaron-rodgers-green-bay-packersHow Aaron Rodgers Saved the Packers’ Season. Speaking about Patrick Lencioni’s book The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (my favorite leadership book, and one that can be used for business, church, non-profit, etc.), Green Bay Packers’ quarterback states “”One part of the book that especially talked to me about this team was communication and conflict and being comfortable having issues with teammates and resolving them and moving forward in a positive way and not having that fear of conflict, which I think alienates and isolates individuals. Being comfortable talking to people and letting them talk to you about issues they have and being constructive and positive in your reaction to that.”

  • One Foot in Ministry, the Other in Medicine. Bethany Jenkins interviews Lina Abujamra is a pediatric emergency room (ER) doctor, about her faith and work.
  • I am a Shepherd and a Salesman. Timoteo Sazo interviews Ramny Perez, who works as an insurance sales representative and is a full-time seminary student about his faith and work.
  • Where Can Discarded Embryos Go? Mark Mellinger interviews Jeffrey Keenan, president and medical director of the National Embryo Donation Center, a Christian non-profit in Knoxville, Tennessee, dedicated to protecting the lives and dignity of human embryos by promoting, facilitating, and educating about embryo donation and embryo adoption.
  • Martin Scorsese on Vocation. Gene Veith writes “Renowned film director Martin Scorsese talks about vocation in a recent interview.  He didn’t make it through seminary but started to realize that you don’t have to be a priest to have a vocation.”
  • The Single Most Important Key to Success for You and Me in 2017. Dave Kraft writes “It’s not something you do, but someone you know. That someone is Jesus. The one key is one word for success across the board for you in 2017: Jesus.”
  • If Jesus Took a Personality Test, This Would Be His Myers-Briggs Personality Type. Paul Sohn writes “Imagine that Jesus had the chance to take a modern personality inventory. What would the results look like? It’s a fascinating question.”

CHURCH LEADERS:church

  • How Church Leaders Can Pray for Their Church at Work. Bill Peel writes “As a church leader, you have the privilege and responsibility to care for the whole life of people you shepherd. After you give the benediction on Sundays, people walk out of church to the rest of life which can shape them spiritually more than the Sunday service. This includes their work life — where they spend the bulk of their mental and physical energy between Sundays.”
  • 3 Reasons Pastors Should Read Leadership Books. Eric Geiger writes “If one’s devotional life is weak, Christian worldview is not firm, or compassion for people is waning, then church leaders should flee from leadership books.”
  • The Top 35 Blogs Christian Leaders Need To Read In 2017. Brian Dodd shares his annual listing of the top blogs Christian leaders need to read.Leadership

LEADERSHIP:

  • 5 Things You Say That Kill Your Leadership. Carey Nieuwhof writes “The innocent phrases you say every day impact you—and others— more than you think.”
  • 7 Things Which Weaken Good Leadership. Ron Edmondson writes “If we can begin to identify what interrupts the effectiveness of our leadership, we can become better leaders. I have personally experienced some things in my own life which weaken my leadership. One of my goals is to consistently find ways to guard against them.”
  • 3 Things Every Leader Should Do Every Day. Randy Gravitt writes “I’m beginning to believe there are three things I need to do every day if I plan to reach my potential. I encourage you to consider building them into your routine as well.”
  • 4 Ways to Recognize Lazy Leadership. Eric Geiger writes “Lazy leadership is unfaithful stewardship. Instead of wise stewardship, lazy leaders foolishly squander resources, gifting, and opportunities rather than make the most of the brief season in which they are privileged to lead.”
  • Behaviors That May Seem Inconsistent with Servant Leadership. Dan Rockwell writes “You have the wrong idea if servant leadership makes you think of picking daisies while holding hands.”
  • The Equation for Godly Leadership and the Result of a Missing Element. Erik Reed writes “To combat the people-pleasing tendencies, I believe the Lord has shown me three elements, found in the leadership of Jesus and others throughout Scripture, that must be the DNA of my leadership. The equation is: Humility + Conviction + Courage = Godly Leadership.”
  • 5 Reasons You Need to Stop Imitating Other Leaders. Carey Nieuwhof writes Learning from great leaders can make you a better leader. Constantly imitating other leaders can actually do damage.”
  • How to Influence Leaders: 2 Tips for Creating Positive Change. Andy Andrews writes “Influencing leaders is all about refocusing their perspective. The quickest way to do that is often hidden in the things we dismiss as obvious—time-tested principles that can be creatively applied to their unique situation.”

PRACTICAL ADVICE: practical-ideas

  • 7 Ways to Offer Constructive Criticism That Actually Gets Heard. The always helpful Ron Edmondson writes “How do you keep criticism which may be helpful – even constructive – from being drowned out by a perception that it is non-helpful criticism?”
  • The Gospel of Change Part I: Which Face of Change are You? Steve Graves writes “Change comes and it comes often. It’s not that all change is good (and it’s not all bad, either), but change is inevitable. I’m not talking about change that we choose but change that happens to us.”
  • The Gospel of Change Part II: Four Truths to Guide Us. Steve Graves provides four tips to help anyone honestly wrestling with growing their change mindset and behavior.
  • My Top-10 Blog Posts and Podcast Episodes from 2016. Michael Hyatt shares his top-10 blog post and top-10 podcast episodes from 2016, along with his takeaways on what’s working and why.
  • Sanctification, Resolutions, and Becoming Who God Made You to Be. Hugh Whelchel writes “As we think through our goals for this next year, we should not leave out character goals. These goals are vital to our growth as a spouse, parent, child, friend, boss, or employee.”
  • How to Serve a Bad Boss. I used to keep a laminated copy of this article in my notebook at work. Wise words from John Piper.
  • How to Ensure You Never Have Another Terrible Meeting. Michael Hyatt writes “Meetings don’t have to be awful. But it’s critical that we recognize one fact: We’re not going to drift into better meetings. We have to be intentional and learn how to conduct meetings for top results.”
  • The 5 Causes of Failed Tasks. Steve Graves writes “I’ve seen five causes of task failure. And keep in mind that when I say, “task,” I include all categories of consequence that belong on your list. That includes personal and work, company and community, local and global.”
  • Making It Without Faking It. Jacqueline Isaacs writes “We may witness people around us, even people in the church, believing that they can fake success until they really achieve it. It is incumbent upon each of us to be living examples of God’s people pursuing kingdom success and articulating a clear vision of what that means.”

Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week

  • It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, but why he does it. W. Tozer
  • [The church] has allowed work and religion to become separate departments, and is astonished to find that, as a result, the secular work of the world is turned to purely selfish and destructive ends, and that the greater part of the world’s intelligent workers have become irreligious, or at least, uninterested in religion. Dorothy Sayers
  • So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 10:31)
  • Oh, let every Christian walk with God when he works at his calling, and act in his occupation with an eye to God. Cotton Mather
  • There is no greater discovery than seeing God as the author of your destiny. Ravi Zacharias
  • We judge ourselves by our intentions. Others judge us by what we actually do. Henry Cloud
  • Direction, not intention determines your destination. Andy Stanley
  • True identity cannot be self-motivated; it is given by God. Ken Costa
  • The best way to make leaders who serve God’s world is to develop people who love God’s Word. Trip Lee

j-oswald-sanders-quote
FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEW:

monday-morning-atheistMonday Morning Atheist: Why We Switch God Off at Work and How You Fix It by Doug Spada and Dave Scott.
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The authors of this helpful book state that they wrote it to help people experience God as we work. They encourage the reader to complete a free Work Personality Profile before starting the book. This profile shows the spiritual traits unique to our work challenges. The profile takes just five minutes to complete and you receive the results immediately via email. In addition, you can send the profile opportunity to a few friends for them to complete for free.
The book is set up so that you can read it quickly yourself, or what I believe would be even more helpful – reading and discussing it with a group of peers at work or church over a five-week period. There are helpful resources (Switch Check, etc.), that help you go deeper with the information just covered that will help focus you for the following work week.
The authors state that many of us have left God out of our work, and in doing so, we’ve shut out His light as well. Based on ten years of research and field experience, they help us to understand why this is the case.  They tell us that we have conditioned ourselves to work without God, like everything is depending on us. In effective, we are Monday Morning Atheists. They tells us that when we stop working as Monday Morning Atheists, we can rediscover purpose in our work.
The authors cover three false assumptions commonly found in our thinking about work, and state that the keys to a renewed life at work are found in tackling these lies: “Only some of life is spiritual.” “I’m alone and it’s all up to me.” “My work is just a waste.”
The authors tell us that many of us see our jobs purely as an earthly enterprise, and we rarely see any spiritual component at all. Seeing work as inherently non-spiritual is a major false assumption causing Monday Morning Atheism to grow in our work lives. It also denies the biblical truth that everything was created by God for His glory. They write that until we realize that God is with us when we are working, we will not be freed from Monday Morning Atheism and will always struggle to have meaning and life in our work.
While many feel that work is a necessary evil, or a result of the fall, work was actually part of God’s plan before sin entered the world. We were made for work. Our work has value because God values it. The authors tells us that no work done for God is ever a waste.
The authors provide a list of action ideas to get you started to fight Monday Morning Atheism in the daily activities of your work. They also offer helpful tools and resources to help you put principles into practice and explore God’s desires for your work life in greater detail.
I highly recommend this helpful book. Read it, discuss it with others and use the resources they provide to help you integrate your faith and work.

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

work-and-our-labor-in-the-lordWork and Our Labor in the Lord (Short Studies in Biblical Theology) by James M. Hamilton Jr. Crossway. 128 pages. 2017

This week we begin looking at James M. Hamilton Jr’s new book Work and Our Labor in the Lord.   The book is described as follows:
“Work has been a part of God’s good creation since before the fall—created to reflect his image and glory to the world. What are we to make of this when work today is all too often characterized by unwanted toil, pain, and futility?

In this book pastor, professor, and biblical scholar James Hamilton explores how work fits into the big story of the Bible; revealing the glory that God intended when he gave man work to do, the ruin that came as a result of the fall, and the redemption yet to come, offering hope for flourishing in the midst of fallen futility.”

This week we begin our look at this book with the “Introduction”:

  • The following questions will help us to seek the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors on the topic of work:
    • What part did work play in the big story of the world through which the biblical authors interpreted their lives?
    • What propositional truths about work did they understand to flow out of and back into that big story?
    • Do the biblical authors understand work to symbolize something beyond mere labor?
  • We will begin with:
    • (1) God’s design for work in the very good creation, prior to sin. From there we will move to consider,
    • (2) What work looks like in a fallen world,
    • (3) What work should be in the kingdom that the Lord Christ has inaugurated, and finally,
    • (4) What the Bible indicates about work in the new heaven and the new earth the Lord Jesus will bring.
  • The following four chapters will enable us to explore work as it was meant to be, as it is, as it can be, and as it will be.

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 begin looking at Discipline 4: Reinforce Clarity:

  • In order to ensure that the answers to the six critical questions become embedded in the fabric of the organization, leaders must do everything they can to reinforce them structurally as well. The way to do that is to make sure that every human system—every process that involves people—from hiring and people management to training and compensation, is designed to reinforce the answers to those questions. The challenge is to do this without adding too much structure.
  • There is a delicate but critical balance between too much and too little structure in an organization, and the people responsible for creating that balance are its leaders.
  • They must ensure that hiring profiles, performance management processes, training programs, and compensation systems are relevant, and the only way to do that is to design them specifically around the answers to the six questions.
  • Human systems are tools for reinforcement of clarity. They give an organization a structure for tying its operations, culture, and management together, even when leaders aren’t around to remind people. And because each company is different, there are no generic systems that can be downloaded from the Internet.
  • Bringing the right people into an organization, and keeping the wrong ones out, is as important as any activity that a leadership team must oversee. Though few leaders will dispute this, not many organizations are good at doing it, for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, too many organizations have not defined exactly what the right and wrong people look like; that is, they haven’t clarified a meaningful set of behavioral values that they can use to screen potential employees.
  • When push comes to shove, most executives get enamored with what candidates know and have done in their careers and allow those things to overshadow more important behavioral issues. They don’t seem to buy into the notion that you can teach skill but not attitude.
  • And even organizations that have defined their core values and really do believe that those values should trump everything else sometimes lose their way when it comes to ensuring cultural fit because they don’t have the right kind of process for hiring.
  • Many leaders, especially those who run smaller organizations, believe that they have the natural skills they need to choose good people without any real process.
  • The other extreme, though slightly less common, doesn’t yield much better results. When organizations overstructure their hiring process by adding layers of bureaucratic forms and approvals and analysis, they often diminish the role that judgment must play in the selection of good people. This is more common in larger organizations, where an overemphasis on administrative processes seems to hinder the ability or desire of hiring managers to use common sense and discernment. Often it is a well-intentioned human resource or legal department that drives these efforts.
  • The best approach to hiring is to put just enough structure in place to ensure a measure of consistency and adherence to core values—and no more.
  • What might this more balanced approach look like? First, it should probably take no more than one page, front and back, to describe and apply.
  • Second, all of this should be consistent across departments within an organization.
  • When it comes to the actual practice of interviewing, many leaders still make the same mistakes that they did forty years ago.
  • The most memorable time of an employee’s career, and the time with the biggest impact, are his or her first days and weeks on a new job. The impact of first impressions is just that powerful, and healthy companies take advantage of that to move new employees in the right direction. That means orientation shouldn’t revolve around lengthy explanations of benefits and administration but rather around reinforcing the answers to the six critical questions.
  • Leaders of organizations, even very large organizations, need to understand the value of bringing in new employees with clarity, enthusiasm, and a sense of their importance.
  • There are many ways to handle orientation, and I don’t need to go into them here because there is no one right way to do it. What is key is that it is built around the six questions and that leaders take an active role in its design and delivery.
  • Most important, employees and managers alike have come to see the performance management process as a largely adversarial activity, fraught with nervous negotiation rather than clear communication.
  • When employees focus more on the official “grades” they receive from managers, and managers focus on documentation more than coaching, inevitably trust is diminished and management and communication suffer.
  • Healthy organizations believe that performance management is almost exclusively about eliminating confusion. They realize that most of their employees want to succeed, and that the best way to allow them to do that is to give them clear direction, regular information about how they’re doing, and access to the coaching they need.
  • The best performance management programs—you guessed it—are simple. Above all else, they are designed to stimulate the right kinds of conversations around the right topics.
  • The single most important reason to reward people is to provide them with an incentive for doing what is best for the organization. Yes, this sounds patently obvious, but somehow most companies’ compensation and rewards programs get divorced from this purpose, and take on a disconnected life of their own. When that happens, they lose their value and actually become sources of distraction rather than tools of focus and motivation.
  • To fail to make the connection between compensation and rewards and one or more of the six big questions is to waste one of the best opportunities for motivation and management.
  • I like to explain to clients that when leaders fail to tell employees that they’re doing a great job, they might as well be taking money out of their pockets and throwing it into a fire, because they are wasting opportunities to give people the recognition they crave more than anything else. Direct, personal feedback really is the simplest and most effective form of motivation.
  • When it comes to building a healthy organization, the most important part of the firing process is the very decision to let someone go. That decision needs to be driven, more than anything else, by an organization’s values.
  • In a healthy organization, a leader who is thinking about letting someone go will evaluate that person against the entirety of the company’s values, paying special attention to the core and permission-to-play varieties. If an employee’s behavior is consistent with the core and permission-to-play values, there is a good chance that it would be a mistake to let him go.
  • Instead of firing him, the company should take a closer look at how he is being managed and find a way to give him a chance to succeed.
  • If the leaders of an organization are clearly convinced that an employee does not fit the core or permission-to-play values, even if he meets basic performance criteria, they would be advised to gracefully help that person find employment elsewhere.
  • Finally, keeping someone who clearly doesn’t fit culturally is almost always a disservice to that person, who knows that he doesn’t belong and is usually as frustrated as his colleagues are. Letting him go is putting him in a position to find an organization where he does belong and where he’ll be able to thrive.
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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.

2 thoughts on “FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

  1. Gathering your thoughts to write a book? That is so exciting! I will pray the Lord’s leading – you have so much of value to share.

  2. Great articles, Bill!

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