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

REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES:

  • What’s the Difference Between American Apparel and Chick-fil-A? Bethany Jenkins writes “Both companies want to provide fair wages to their employees and be transparent in their dealings. But Chick-fil-A’s leadership wants “to glorify God” in everything they do—from how they treat their customers to how they cook their food.”
  • Ministering from Behind the Barber’s Chair. Jason Cook interviews Thomas “Tick” Campbell a barber in Oxford, Mississippi about how he integrates his faith and work.
  • Living for More than Sunday’s Game. Jason Cook interviews Cedric Peerman, who played in the National Football League (NFL) for nine years and is currently with the Cincinnati Bengals, about how he integrates his faith and work.
  • Coding for the Kingdom. Timoteo Sazointerviews Adam Murray, a senior web developer for World Vision and associate pastor of Priest Lake Christian Fellowship in Nashville, Tennessee, about how he integrates his faith and work.
  • When a Gospel Conversation Finds You. Bethany Jenkins interviews Regina Robinson, dean of student affairs at Cambridge College and co-founder of Heart Change Fellowship, about how she integrates her faith and work.
  • Evangelism Lessons from Dr. Walt Larimore. Bill Peel writes “Here are some of the most important things I’ve learned from my friend, Dr. Larimore, about bringing faith conversations into a medical practice that are applicable to any workplace.”

  • Tim Keller’s 4 Ways the Gospel Transforms Work. Tim Keller started thinking deeply about a Christian view of work when a member of his congregation met with him to ask what it meant to be a Christian actor. Over years of thinking and teaching on work, Keller has observed four ways the gospel can transform work. Listen to Keller unpack these principles (and share a fifth as a bonus) to an audience at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, on November 8, 2016. A time of questions and answers follows the talk.
  • An Evening with Christian Wiman. “What is it we want when we can’t stop wanting? I say God.” Such core revelations are what comprise the latest work of world-renowned poet Christian Wiman. The intermingling of calling and desire, the inhering of the self in our work, the catalyzing hunger of longing — these tensions form the high-wire of meditation that Wiman treads. Hear this critically acclaimed poet investigate the ineffable essence of God’s calling in our daily lives in his brand new work, presented for the very first time, commissioned under the Center for Faith and Work’s inaugural Artist Fellowship. Watch the 47-minute video.
  • Neither Snobbish Nor Super-Spiritual About Work. William Taylor writes “Realizing all jobs are dignified should profoundly influence how we view ourselves and the position in which God has placed us. Indeed, it will influence what kind of work we’re prepared to do for the gospel’s sake.”
  • The Uniqueness of Christian Service. David Wells writes “Christian service is unique for three reasons. First, it is unique in its source. That source is our redemption in Christ. Second, it is unique in its objective, which is to model, as far as is possible, Christ’s kind of servanthood. Third, it is unique in its character, for it is motivated by God’s holy-love.”
  • The Christ-Centered Employee. Paul Tautges writes “Knowing that we ultimately work for the Lord is what will keep us working for the glory of God, both in spirit and performance. As we honor and submit to our earthly masters, God will be glorified in the workplace.”

Continue reading for more links on Leadership – inside & outside the church and Practical Ideas; Top 10 Faith & Work Quotes of the Week; A review of Ken Costa’s book, “Know Your Why”; and to follow along with our Faith & Work Book Clubs!

  • How a Biblical Theology of Work Can Transform Your Life: Interview with Dr. Jim Hamilton. Kevin Halloran interviews Dr. Jim Hamilton about his new book Work and Our Labor in the Lord, which I’m reading at this time, and would recommend to you.
  • Working for God’s Glory. Watch Michael’s Horton’s message from the recent 2017 Ligonier National Conference. “Reformation extends to all matters of life, including theology, church, home, and society. This session outlines the doctrine of vocation and explains 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 considers why glorifying God in our callings is vital to the kingdom of God for future centuries.”
  • What Makes Work “Christian”? J.D. Greear writes “God is interested in how Christians do their work, and he wants to be involved in it. Your work can make an eternal difference in the lives of those you work with, those you work for, and those you serve through your job. Allow the transformation of the gospel to change the way you look at and do your work. You were redeemed by grace—now live out that grace in the context of your job. You may never look at work the same way again.”

LEADERS AND LEADERSHIP:

FOR CHURCH LEADERS:

  • Discipling Congregants with Monday in Mind. Luke Bobo and Skye Jethani introduce’s Made to Flourish’s first eBook, Discipleship with Monday in Mind, which features practical ways rural, suburban, and urban pastors across America are integrating a theology of faith, work, and economics (FWE) into the life of their congregations.
  • Five Ways Pastors Can Teach that Work Matters. Art Lindlsey writes “Just imagine the impact as Christians break out of their individualistic mindset regarding God’s redemptive plan and understand their roles in restoring creation, unleashing their creativity as image-bearers of the Creator through their work.”

PRACTICAL IDEAS:

  • 10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Time. Eric Geiger writes “While we are incapable of creating more time, we can get more out of the limited time we have.”
  • Seek God First in Navigating Career Decisions: Some Guiding Questions. Russell Gehrlein writes “What about you? What is it that you do that makes you feel like you are doing exactly what God has designed you to do, and by doing it, gives God pleasure?”
  • Four Ways Not to Work. Steve Graves writes “Are you settled in your work, or is your soul full of turmoil and chaos from your work?”
  • God Uses Our Work—Even Cleaning Milk Off the Floor. Courtney Reissig, author of the forthcoming Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God, writes “While we may be clouded by our own sin and the overarching curse of fallen life, our work still points us back to God in worship and points us forward to the life that is coming.”
  • God Loves Messy Floors. R.J. Grunewald writes “God loves messy floors because in it we do the work that can’t be measured – it can’t be checked for dust, crossed off a list, or put in a box – only given. And it’s in that kind of love, a love that only a parent can give, that you might see God’s own love for you. His love doesn’t change with the mess, can’t be crossed off a list, and always gives endlessly to His children.”
  • Honestly, are You Overwhelmed, Over-Capacity and Over-Committed?  Dave Kraft writes “I don’t have the emotional, physical or mental capacity to get involved in every concern or issue I am aware of, but need to focus on my vision, calling and gifts. I need wisdom and courage to stay focused on a few things and not spread myself too thin, becoming perennially sick and exhausted and not being of much good to Jesus or anyone else.”
  • You Have a Unique Advantage Over Your Pastor’s Influence! Chris Patton writes “Take a look around.  Stop and count the number of people you could influence in a given month.  Count your employees, their families, your vendors, suppliers, and customers.  Also count the population of those in your community that could be touched by the influence of you and your business.  I am confident you will be awed by the number of people whose lives you can impact.”
  • 4 Ways to Handle Your “Boring Job”. Eric Geiger writes “Work was given as a gift before humanity rebelled and sin impacted everything. All work is spiritual when done for the glory of God. A.W. Tozer said, “It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.”
  • Four Tips to Encourage Single Christian Women in Their Work. Kristin Brown writes “The topic of Christian singleness and vocation, like life’s most pressing and difficult questions, deserves a rich theology. Whether we’re packing lunches or sitting at an office computer, we owe it to ourselves to wrestle with the Lord and dig into scripture to reflect deeply and soundly about our vocations.”
  • Should You Quit Your Job for Full Time Ministry? Chris Patton writes “The problem here is that entirely too many Christians have come to believe that Christian ministry is limited to those on the church staff.  They literally see it as an either/or proposition – business OR ministry.”
  • Do Everything. This song by Steven Curtis Chapman really sums up Colossians 3:23 (doing our work for the Lord) to me. Check out the wonderful lyrics below and watch this fun video for the song here.

You’re picking up toys on the living room floor
For the 15th time today
Matching up socks, sweeping up lost
Cheerios that got away
You put a baby on your hip and color on your lips
Head out the door
While I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all
Well let me remind you it all matters just as long as you

(Chorus)
Do everything you do to the glory of the One who made you
Cause He made you to do
Every little thing that you do to bring a smile to His face
And tell the story of grace
With every move that you make
And every little thing you do

Maybe you’re that guy with the suit and tie
Maybe your shirt says your name
You may be hooking up mergers, cooking up burgers
But at the end of the day

Little stuff, big stuff in-between stuff
God sees it all the same
And while I may not know you I bet I know you
Wonder sometimes does it matter at all
Well let me remind you it all matters just as long as you do

Well maybe you’re sitting in math class
Maybe you’re on a mission in the Congo
Maybe you’re working at the office
Singing along with the radio
Maybe you’re dining at a five star
Or feeding orphans in Myanmar
Anywhere and everywhere you are
Whatever you do it all matters
So do what you do and don’t ever forget
to do

Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week

  • Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation. Lecrae   
  • Let’s never forget that our main calling is to live in Christ and by Christ. Our salvation is union with Christ, not the imitation of Christ. Scotty Smith
  • Leadership is an influence process where you empower people to be part of the solution. As a leader, do you want to serve or be served? Ken Blanchard
  • Next to faith this is the highest art: to be content with the calling in which God has placed you. Martin Luther
  • You’ll never take pleasure in your work until you realize that the ‘work under your work’ has all been done by Jesus Christ. Tim Keller
  • Don’t let the compliments go to your head or the criticisms to your heart. Lecrae
  • Christians are called to reflect and restore God’s image in their contingent vocations. Andy Crouch
  • So my ambition has to be fueled by the right stuff. My desire to be great has to be shaped by a desire for God’s name to be great. Trip Lee
  • The gospel frees us from the relentless pressure of having to prove ourselves and secure our identity through work. Tim Keller

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEW:

Know Your Why: Finding and Fulfilling Your Calling in Life by Ken Costa. Thomas Nelson. 240 pages. 2016
***

The author has more than 40 years of experience in the workplace. He writes that we will spend up to about 40% of our lives at work, so he wants to help us find work or callings that have purpose and meaning. He writes that God has called and loved us; our challenge is to fulfill our Christian callings in the here and now.
Before we can consider our callings, we have to consider our identity and ask “Who am I?” He writes that identity comes before destiny, and that destiny is never a substitute for identity. Who we are in Christ comes before why.
The author writes that work is service for the common good. We are called to the workplace to transform it.  We should look at our work as a calling. The challenge is to see our callings in the context of the wider world.
The author challenges us with the question “What will I do with what I have?” In other words, how will we use our gifts and talents? We also need to encourage others in their callings.
In considering your calling, the author writes about waiting on the Lord’s timing, which can be difficult. We need to choose well and take wise counsel.
He discusses the fear of failure, which is something I’ve long struggled with, alongside restrictions and distractions in regards to our callings. We need to show perseverance. He also states that if we are not taking risks, we are not living a life of faith.  He writes that when we are secure in our identities through the Holy Spirit, we can take risks in our callings. He encourages us to use the abilities that God has given us the best we can as we join the Lord in transforming the world through our callings for the Kingdom of God.
Throughout the book the author uses a lot of helpful illustrations from scripture and workplace to reinforce the points he makes.

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

Work 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 2 Work after the Fall Fallen, Futile, Flourishing 

* As we turn our consideration to work on this side of the fall, we will see that the biblical authors present the tragic and devastating consequences of sin touching everything we are and do. We are fallen, and that means our work will be fallen. Sin makes everything more difficult (cf. Gen. 4:12), and death introduces futility, meaninglessness, and a vanity into all we do. In spite of our banishment, however, the biblical authors maintain that by God’s grace it is possible to flourish in the midst of fallen futility.
* Moses intends to teach his audience that people do not work for themselves, nor do we reap the fruit of our work for ourselves. We live to the Lord.
* Rather than a satisfying experience of bringing God’s character to bear on his tasks, Cain’s work was cursed and made more difficult because of his sin.
* The toilsome, laborious nature of the futility of life and work is a major theme in the book of Ecclesiastes.
* Work done with wisdom symbolizes the realization of God’s purpose to have his image reflected by those made in his likeness, for God himself did his work with the aid of wisdom (Prov. 8:22–31).
* The examples of Joseph, Daniel, Nehemiah, and Ruth are relevant for a biblical theology of work for a number of reasons. Foremost among these are the ways that these men serve as types of Christ and this woman became a messianic matriarch.
* If we were to summarize the instructions and the examples, we might say something like this: know God in all your ways (Prov. 3:5). Enjoy your work and its fruits as God’s gift to you (cf. the seven statements to this effect in Ecclesiastes). Hope in the promises and bless the world (Gen. 12:1–3). Live and work the way that Joseph, Daniel, and Nehemiah did: seeking to hallow God’s name and to see his kingdom come and his will be done—in reliance on him for daily bread, forgiveness of sin, and deliverance from evil—for his is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.
* These anticipatory types of Christ—Joseph, Daniel, and Nehemiah—along with Ruth the matriarchal woman of valor, were imitators of God in their work, and they are examples for us, for whose instruction their stories were written (cf. Rom. 15:4).

The 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 the centrality of great meetings:

  • No action, activity, or process is more central to a healthy organization than the meeting.  This is where values are established, discussed, and lived and where decisions around strategy and tactics are vetted, made, and reviewed.
  • Bad meetings are the birthplace of unhealthy organizations, and good meetings are the origin of cohesion, clarity, and communication.
  • A good way to understand meeting stew is to imagine a clueless cook taking all of the ingredients out of the pantry and the refrigerator and throwing them into one big pot, and then wondering why his concoction doesn’t taste very good. Leaders do the same thing when they put all of their issues into one big discussion, usually called a “staff meeting.” All too often they combine administrative issues and tactical decisions and creative brainstorming and strategic analysis and personnel discussions into one exhausting meeting. And like that cook, somehow they are surprised when the result doesn’t turn out so well.
  • Leaders who want healthy organizations cannot try to eliminate or reduce time spent in meetings by combining them or cutting them short. Instead, they have to make sure that they are having the right kinds of meetings, and then they must make those meetings effective.
  • Daily Check-Ins: The first category of meetings is the least important but certainly worth doing when it is practically possible. Essentially, it’s about the team getting into the habit of gathering once a day, for no more than ten minutes, to clear the air about anything administrative that would be helpful to know. Schedules. Events. Issue alerts. That kind of stuff. There are no agendas and no resolution of issues, just an exchange of information. To make sure that these meetings don’t morph into something they shouldn’t, it’s even best if people don’t sit down.  The most powerful impact of having teams meet every day is the quick resolution of minor issues that might otherwise fester and create unnecessary busywork for the team.
  • Tactical Staff Meetings:  When executives complain about meetings, many of them are probably thinking about their weekly or biweekly or monthly staff meetings. This is where meeting stew is usually served. The truth is, there is no more valuable activity in any organization than the regular staff meeting of a leadership team. But if they are not effective, there is little or no chance of building a cohesive team or a healthy organization.  The first thing a team must do to improve their staff meetings is really about what they should stop doing before the meeting. I’m referring to the dreaded agenda.  Instead of putting together an agenda ahead of time, team members need to come together and spend their first ten minutes of a meeting creating a real-time agenda.  And the way teams evaluate themselves is by using an easy and digestible means of assessing progress: colors. That’s right.  The beauty of this real-time agenda system is that the team will avoid the all-too-common problem of sitting through a presentation or a discussion of something that everyone knows is of little importance to the organization.
  • Adhoc Topical Meetings:  Probably the most interesting and compelling of all meetings is the third type: the adhoc topical meeting.  The purpose of this kind of meeting is to dig into the critical issues that can have a long-term impact on an organization or that require significant time and energy to resolve:  And yet leadership teams rarely carve out enough time for this. Instead, they try to resolve important issues in fifteen-minute increments in between more tactical and administrative topics during a staff meeting. The result is not only suboptimal decisions, but an immense sense of frustration among leaders.  Thinking they’re being efficient, they reduce the time they spend in meetings by cramming every discussion into one big staff meeting. What they’re really doing is ensuring that those staff meetings are going to be ineffective and that the most important conversations they should be having—topical, strategic ones—are cut short.  What leadership teams need to do—and this may be the single most important piece of advice for them when it comes to meetings—is separate their tactical conversations from their strategic ones.
  • Quarterly Off-Site Reviews: The fourth type of meeting that every leadership team needs to have is often known as the “off-site.” The problem with these meetings is that too often they are nothing more than an expensive and extended version of the unproductive staff meeting.  In essence, the off-site review is where the leadership team needs to step back and revisit the four disciplines covered in this book: team, clarity, communication, and human systems.  Finally, of the four types of meetings, the quarterly review is probably the one that might call for the use of an outside consultant. It’s often nice for the leader of the executive team to participate as a member and leave the organizing and facilitating to a trusted consultant.
  • A leader’s first priority is to create an environment where others can do these things and that cannot happen if they are not having effective meetings.
  • While it’s true that the single most important activity that a leader must do (outside of being a good team member) is managing his or her direct reports, much of that actually happens during meetings.
  • Of all the recommendations my firm makes to clients, the one that is most consistently embraced and touted as having an immediate impact on an organization is the adoption of the meetings model outlined here.
  • Finally, it’s important to remember that at the end of every meeting, with the exception of the daily check-ins, team members must stop and clarify what they’ve agreed to and what they will go back and communicate to their teams. This is called Cascading Communication.
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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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