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

CHRISTIANS SHAPING CULTURE:culture

your-work-matters

  • Why Work Matters. Watch this message from Trip Lee as he discusses why every job and task is important in God’s Kingdom.
  • To Be a Diaper Changer. Nick Batzig writes “To be a diaper changer to the glory of God is a glorious thing. Jesus said, “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much” (Luke 16:10).”
  • Women, We’re Co-Workers, Not Competitors. Bethany Jenkins writes “When we see that Jesus is our identity, we have new eyes to appreciate others’ contributions rather than fearfully guarding our own choices. When our goal is to advance his kingdom, not our own, we can rejoice in all sorts of work being done since we’re on a shared mission. Women making different choices are co-laborers, not competitors. It’s a team effort, so it’s a team sense of joy.”
  • Career. Calling. What’s the Difference? Hugh Whelchel writes “Rather than equate vocational calling with a specific occupation or career, we are called to be Christians in whatever situation we find ourselves. Vocational calling stays the same as we move in and out of different jobs and careers. It is directly related to the discovery of our God-given talents. We develop and hone these talents into useful competencies for the glory of God and the benefit of others, often in various jobs or occupations.
  • On Christian Retirement. Hugh Whelchel writes “A Christian never retires from serving God through his or her vocational call. While we may have moved into a new season in our lives, God still calls us to grow and invest our gifts and talents in the work that he is doing in the world.”
  • Essential Keys to Finishing Your Race Well. Dave Kraft shares these essential keys for the Christian leader to finish well. He writes that he regularly teaches these, and by His grace, seeks to practice them in his own life and work.
  • In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell encourages us to be an everyday learner. We should keep learning and keep earning so that we can be returning.
  • It’s Not Only Athletes: What Platform Has God Given You? Randy Alcorn writes “But regardless of what vocation or position or role in a family God gives us, when God gives His people a platform to stand on, and a voice that can be heard, He expects them to represent Him faithfully. When they achieve something, whether as a farmer, factory worker, teacher, nurse, clerk, or salesperson, He calls upon them to give Him glory.”
  • Ken Costa on How to Discover Your Calling, Hope in the Workplace, and Connecting with Millennials. Carey Nieuwhof talks to Ken about integrating faith at work, finding your calling, Alpha and what millennials are looking for.


LEADERS:
Chart depicting the leadership style of transformational leaders

  • Was Jesus a Great Leader? Lee J. Colan writes “Was Jesus Christ a great leader? Putting religious and spiritual beliefs aside, no one in history has been discussed more, worshipped more, had more songs and books written about and inspired more artwork than Jesus. He also created one of the world’s most sustained organizations – the church.
  • 10 Questions Humble Leaders Ask Themselves. Dan Rockwell writes “If you have an ego problem, find a humble leader and ask them to be your mentor.”
  • Not an Island: 7 Dangers of Leading in Isolation. Ron Edmondson writes “Leading in isolation is displayed in numerous ways to the detriment of the church or organization.”
  • The One Thing You Can’t Be An Effective Leader Without. Steve Graves writes “You can influence without being a leader, and you can lead without influencing, but you can’t be a good leader without influencing.”
  • In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell states that people most want to know that leaders care for them. One of his famous quotes is that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
  • In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell states that everything rises and falls on leadership. When leaders use power correctly everything rises on leadership. When leaders use power incorrectly, everything falls on leadership. His hope is that we will take the power we have to add value to others.
  • 7 Ways to Stretch Yourself as a Leader. Ron Edmondson writes “It’s mandatory just to keep up with the pace of change. We can wish for days gone by, but to keep up, leaders will have to stretch themselves and work smarter.”
  • 7 Essential Qualities That Make You a Leader Worth Following. Carey Nieuwhof writes “You need to model leadership in a way that reflects the character and heart of Christ.”   
  • 4 Lessons in Leaving a Leadership Legacy. Steve Graves writes “We live our lives day after day. It’s not about preparing for posterity; it’s about living well today. If we live well now, we’ll leave behind something worth remembering.”
  • 5 Leadership Questions with Scott Sauls. In this episode of the 5 Leadership Questions podcast Todd Adkins and Barnabas Piper talk with Scott Sauls. Scott is the pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville and is the the author of two books, Jesus Outside the Lines and

Quotes about Faith and Work

  • To steward their vocations well, Christians need to have a big conception of God’s redemptive work. Amy Sherman
  • We are called into the workplace to transform the workplace. Ken Costa
  • God has called you to the place where you work, and will provide the strength you need for it. Ken Costa
  • Our tasks are to live out our true callings as uniquely shaped by God. Ken Costa
  • A biblical theology of work should be a frequent subject for sermons, just as it was during the Reformation. Chuck Colson
  • We were designed to know, serve, and love God supremely–and when we are faithful to that design, we flourish. Tim Keller
  • Our daily work can be a calling only if it is reconceived as God’s assignment to serve others. Tim Keller
  • While God works for us as our Provider, we also work for him. Indeed, he works through us. Tim Keller
  • God’s good plan always included human beings working, or, more specifically, living in the constant cycle of work and rest. Tim Keller

bryan-chapell-quote2
faith work book review

god-at-work-ken-costaGod at Work: Live Each Day with Purpose by Ken Costa. Thomas Nelson. 208 pages. 2016 reprint edition
***

In this book, Ken Costa shares what he has learned about doing his work for the Lord from his experiences gained while working more than forty years in finance. Throughout this helpful book he shares many stories – both his own and from others – that illustrate his points. He writes that he has found that the God who created and sustains the world is also the God of the workplace. He states that if the Christian faith is not relevant in the workplace, it is not relevant at all.

He asks what role Christians have to play in reasserting the values of Christ in our workplaces. He states that many work without joy in their work. One of his purposes for the book is to explore ways of recovering it.

He addresses the subject of love in the workplace, something that is not often spoken of. He states that love remains the key inheritance of faith and the missing jewel of happiness in the modern workplace. He hopes that the book will in a small way also help to recover the value and power of love at work.

The author states that all through the Bible, God is seen as a worker, and that just as God works, so each of us is made in order to work too. We are made in his image and God also commands us to work and to serve through our work.

He writes that people often portray church workers as being involved in sacred work, while he as a banker is involved in secular work. But he says that nothing could be further from the truth. He writes that we need to put away the view that there is a religious pecking order in God’s sight where bishops rank ahead of bankers and ordained clergy ahead of computer programmers.  He states that Paul drew no distinction between hard spiritual work and hard work in the workplace. No, the apostle used the same words to discuss manual labor as he did apostolic service. The author states that the reality is that all jobs are equal.

He writes that perhaps the ultimate overarching purpose for work is to worship God in and through our work. We should be content from the knowledge that we are working for God in what he has called us to do. We should complete the task he has set for us and so to reflect Jesus in our God-given callings.

He writes a lot about the 2008-09 global financial crisis, and includes an appendix titled “The Moral Spirit in Light of the Financial Crisis”.

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 continue our review of 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 look at Chapter 1 Creation ~

  • Work is neither punishment nor cursed drudgery but an exalted, Godlike activity.
  • The Bible opens with a depiction of God at work, and the operational understanding throughout the Bible is that God continues to work, guiding, upholding, loving, judging, and saving.
  • God made male and female in his own image (Gen. 1:27); then he blessed them and told them what he wanted them to do (1:28).
  • We are here to reflect the character of God in the way we subdue the earth and exercise dominion over the animal kingdom under the blessing of God.
  • Work is therefore built into the created order, right from the start. God gave man stewardship of the land and all life on it. All tasks man undertakes in God’s world can be seen in relationship to that original commission.
  • Arguably every righteous task in the world—from that of the farmer or rancher to that of the engineer, the software developer, or the nuclear physicist, from that of the ditch digger to the physician (or veterinarian), from the coach to the pastor, the zookeeper to the politician, the sergeant to the mailman—every task in the world can be seen in relationship to the subjection of the earth and the exercise of dominion over the animal kingdom.
  • At its most basic level, a righteous job is one that does not exist to commit or promote sin but to accomplish the tasks God gave to humanity at the beginning: fill, subdue, and rule. Such work affords everyone who does it the opportunity to image forth the likeness of the one living and true God.
  • The man’s role of working will entail providing; his role of keeping will entail protecting; and implicit in the narrative we also see that the man is to lead since he has heard the prohibition in Genesis 2:17 though the woman has not. The man was to provide, protect, and lead.
  • What does the woman’s role of helping entail? Perhaps it would be easier to say what helping does not entail, for helping would seem to involve everything but what the man is to do.
  • Men and women who reject the distinctions in roles given to male and female at creation rebel against God’s purpose: he made man male and female to reflect his own image and likeness. We cannot reflect the character of God’s unified diversity as the one God who ever exists as three persons if we reject the roles he gave to man and woman.
  • God built this vast world, and then he created two people whose responsibility it was to be fruitful and multiply and fill this world, to subdue the earth and to exercise dominion over all the animals. Can you imagine a bigger task?
  • The task of multiplying and filling the earth so as to subdue it and have dominion over the animals makes marriage foundational to the work that God gave man and woman to do on the earth.
  • This means that so-called egalitarians have rejected the roles assigned to men and women by the Creator on the basis of biological sex. We can further say that same-sex “marriage” and transgenderism rebel against the created order by rejecting the normative nature of Genesis 1:27 and 2:24 articulated by Jesus in Matthew 19:4–5. Same-sex marriages cannot be fruitful and multiply, and transgender behavior rejects the sex assigned by the Creator.
  • Being in the image and likeness of God, working to fill the earth with God’s image bearers, subduing it according to God’s character, ruling it as God’s representative—work points to the character and glory of God. As man works, he is to make the ways of the invisible God visible to any and all who behold what he does.
  • Though sin got Adam expelled from Eden, God did not alter his purpose from what he set out to achieve when he put Adam there in the first place. That purpose was and is to cover the dry lands with his glory.
  • Work continues to point beyond itself, with the character of God being displayed in the way God’s people do their work.
  • It is interesting to observe that in the Bible’s grand narrative, God’s judgment falls in particular on the domains of what God made man and woman to do.
  • God made man to work, but sin resulted in God’s judgment. God’s word of judgment against sin makes the work painful, the environment cursed, and the relationships between men and women strained. Because of sin, work will be futile, frustrating, and fatal. Everyone dies.
  • The fact that the man and woman are allowed to continue in their work, cursed though it is, means that they still have the job of making the ways of God known in the world.

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 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 over-structure 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.

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