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

Speaking Updates. Thanks for the words of encouragement about a few faith and work presentations I have coming up. The first will be at the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) General Assembly in Greensboro, North Carolina. I’ll be speaking at 8:00 am on Wednesday, June 14. The title for that presentation is “Helping Our People Connect Their Faith to Their Work and Callings”.  The second will be at 6:15 pm on Thursday, July 6  at the By the Way Conference at the Lexington Community Church. The working title for that presentation is “Disciples at Work”.

WOMEN AND WORK:

  • Working Women are Leaving the Church. Here’s How to Bring Them Back. Diane Paddison writes “It is possible to stem the tide of working women leaving the church. See that working woman, acknowledge her, and provide opportunities for her to connect, learn, and serve. With the church’s help, she can transform her family, her workplace, her church, and her community with the gospel.”
  • Is Homemaking Part of God’s Economy?Anna Arnold writes “So, take heart (John 16:33)! Be encouraged. Just because what you do as a stay-at-home mom doesn’t make the news or get quantified in some tangible way, you have great value to our economy, our society, and, most importantly, to the God who made you.”
  • At-Home Work—Not Just for Women. Courtney Reissig writes “But the work of the home is for everyone. The home isn’t just filled with women or mothers. It’s often filled with children and a husband. Sometimes it’s filled with other family members and houseguests, too.”

REAL LIFE EXAMPLES:

  • The Golfer Who Won the 2012 U.S. Open. Sean Martin interviews Webb Simpson, who has won four times on the PGA Tour, including the 2012 U.S. Open, and has ranked as high as No. 5 in the world, about how he integrates his faith and work.
  • Why John Wooden’s Teams Won. John Maxwell writes “Most of you who are reading this are interested in winning and learning how you can get ahead at your own businesses. So let me share with you two things that helped set Coach Wooden apart from other coaches.”
  • The Navy Captain Who Said No to the Dream. Jason Cook interviews Voresa Booker, a retired Navy captain who served our country for more than 30 years, about how she integrates her faith and work.
  • Conversations with Consequences. I was encouraged to hear about Steven Garber, who gave the address at my graduation ceremony in 2014, working with Covenant Theological Seminary on a DMin degree in “faith, vocation and culture”.
  • When Tragedy Touches Every Part of Your Job. Abby Perry interviews Val Anderson, the executive director of His Grace Foundation (HGF), a nonprofit organization that provides physical, emotional, and financial support to patients and families on the Bone Marrow Transplant Unit (BMTU) of Texas Children’s Hospital (TCH), about how she integrates her faith and work.

YOUR WORK MATTERS TO GOD:

  • The Value of Work. In this episode of the Unlimited Grace podcast, Bryan Chapell answers questions about how God values our work.
  • Check Your Bias at the Door—Manufacturing Jobs Have Dignity, Too. Anne Bradley writes “We were designed to reflect the creativity of the One who designed and brought us into being. We need to be proactive about affirming the dignity of others in their work, just as we need to possess a balanced, honest understanding of our own value in society and to our God.”
  • Christ-Like Submission at Work. Watch this three and a half minute video clip from J.D. Greear about three things that Christ-like submission at work means.
  • Wanted: A Meaningful Job. Hugh Whelchel writes “Can you see your work through God’s eyes? Do you see how meaningful your job is to God? Embracing his perspective should put the work of every Christian, no matter what it is, at the top of the “most meaningful job” list.”
  • 4 Reasons Your Work Matters Today. Michael Kelley writes “Does our work really matter? And if the answer is “yes,” then are there reasons for that answer that go beyond the scope of a particular vocation? In other words, does our work matter regardless of what our position is?”
  • 3 Transforming Truths About Your Work. Tom Nelson writes “God cares a great deal about your work. How about you? Are you increasingly seeing your work as God sees it? What does faithful stewardship in your vocation look like? Are you being slothful or diligent? Has work become an idol in your life? Or are you seeing your work and workplace as a primary place for your spiritual formation and gospel mission? What steps do you need to take to embrace a more seamless gospel faith that narrows the Sunday-to-Monday gap? Your work really does matter.”

LOCAL CHURCH:

  • Helping People Connect Faith and Work. Skye Jethani and Luke Bobo write “In the past several years, there has been a growing awareness among pastors of the biblical foundations of integrating faith with work and the economy. The natural next step of needed development will be pastors who begin to integrate these ideas into the local church in new, creative ways.”

MILLENNIALS: 

  • 7 Things Pastors Need to Know about Millennials and Their Work. Amy Sherman writes “David Kinnaman from Barna research group argues that one of the most important reasons why young adults ages 18-29 drop out of church is that they do not find there a connection between Sunday and Monday.”
  • Enough About Millennials. Patrick Lencioni writes “Teamwork is not limited to any one generation. Millennials aren’t so special. In fact, they’ll be just fine.”

LEADERSHIP:

  • 5 Phrases Your Employees Need to Hear You Say. Chris Patton shares these five things that employees want to hear from their (servant) leaders.
  • 10 Identifiers to Spot a High Character Leader. Ron Edmondson writes “Do you want to know if a leader has high character? You simply have to observe them long enough. We demonstrate whom we really are by what we really do.”
  • Servant Leadership. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell states that servant leadership is when you serve and add value to others to the extent that their success can be considered to be your own success as well. He states that servant leaders have the most loyal people around them, because people see their heart.
  • Five Marks of a Servant Leader. Jon Bloom writes “The vast majority of our leaders are imperfect servants trying to be faithful.”
  • 16 Marks of Effective Servant Leadership. Brian Dodd, using 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as his primary text, shares the 16 Marks of Effective Servant Leadership.
  • 3 Mistakes Leaders Make as Soon as They Wake Up. Eric Geiger writes “If a leader begins the day without looking to the Lord, the day will likely be lived apart from His power. Instead, a leader should begin the day with his/her affections set on the Lord and with the mind focused on what is most important.
  • 6 Non-Negotiable Traits You Need To Increase Your Leadership Influence. Carey Nieuwhof writes “Leadership, as John Maxwell says, is influence. So the question about whether your ideas or viewpoint catches on quickly becomes a discussion about influence.”
  • 25 Signs of a Healthy Leader. Kristen McCall offers these signs and a helpful general assessment that can jump start your leadership review.
  • 4 Essentials of Christian Leadership for Our Time. Trevin Wax writes “There are four spheres in which Christian leaders should know “the time”: biblically, personally, organizationally, and culturally.”
  • 10 Leadership Time Wasters. Chuck Lawless offers these 10 helpful time wasters. How many can you relate to?

CALLING:

  • Calling.  In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses our calling. He states that a calling is something that we do for others, and that people with a calling have found a purpose greater than themselves.
  • Is Discerning Your Calling Becoming Your Holy Grail? James Clark writes “Your current job may be suggestive of your larger vocational calling. Or it may not. Either way, God is calling you today to love him and your neighbor, both through your job and outside of it. Continue to discern your vocational calling, but don’t become so preoccupied with trying to figure out where you need to end up that you are not present where you are right now.”

GLORIFYING GOD IN YOUR JOB:

  • What Does Biblical Contentment Really Mean and Really Look Like? Dave Kraft writes “I don’t want what someone else is experiencing. I don’t want what God is doing through and for someone else. By his grace, I want to be content with what he is doing right now, right here, in and through me…nothing more and nothing less. I don’t want envy or jealousy, flowing out of comparing, to be a slap in the face of the one who has called me and put me where I am.”
  • 7 Ways to Make Yourself Invaluable to a Team. Ron Edmondson writes “I think there are ways a person can make themselves more valuable to a team. Perhaps, even invaluable.”
  • The Secret to Job Satisfaction. Marshall Segal shares three ways we can glorify God in our job, whether we are working the dream, or dreading our work.
  • Creating a Culture of Continual Improvement, Part 1. On this month’s leadership podcast, Andy Stanley begins a conversation about creating a culture of continual improvement.
  • Creating a Culture of Continual Improvement, Part 2. In this month’s leadership podcast, Andy Stanley concludes a two-part conversation on creating a culture of continual improvement.
  • 10 Problems with Doing the Best You Know How To Do. Ron Edmondson writes “There is a huge difference in doing the best you know how to do and doing the best YOU CAN DO. The best you can do is to continue to get better. The times you are being stretched beyond what you know how to do may prove to be the best times of your personal development.
  • Mentoring in the Business World and Beyond. Steve Graves writes “Mentor well. Set aside some time in the coming days and take a look at your leadership influence. Who are the “next generation” people you are investing your time, energy, and even money to influence? Then, make sure you’re planning with an eye toward who they will mentor someday!”
  • Vision. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell talks about seeing more and seeing before.
  • 7 Things Which Have Brought Me Personal Success. Ron Edmondson writes “I get asked frequently by young leaders what I would attribute most to my success in business, ministry or life.”
  • Purpose.  In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell states that purpose keeps us focused. It is the engine that drives your life and leadership.
  • Motivate.  In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell states that he hires motivated people and they motivate themselves. Only bring motivated people on your teams.
  • 5 “Secrets” Which Can Make You A Better Leader. Ron Edmondson writes “Good leaders learn good principles and build upon them, contextualizing them for each leadership position.”
  • 5 Arguments for Becoming an Early Riser. Shawn Lovejoy writes “Do you really think Jesus got up earlier than everyone else because He was naturally a morning person? I don’t think so. Jesus simply understood the benefits of rising earlier than everyone else.”
  • 5 Ways Exercise Helps the Leader’s Mind. Eric Geiger writes “Leaders sometimes think of exercise as a tool to help them steward their bodies, but the reality is that exercise is also a tool to steward our minds better. We are integrated people, and taking care of our bodies cannot be separated from taking care of our minds.”

Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week

  • To violate the rhythm of work and rest eventually leads to chaos. Tim Keller
  • Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge. Simon Sinek
  • Successful leaders consider the impact of their behaviors on others. Dan Rockwell
  • If God exists then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling can matter forever. Tim Keller
  • So many are looking for special revelation from God while it sits on their shelves gathering dust. Burk Parsons
  • Whenever you make a commitment to another person, you create hope. When you keep that commitment, you create trust. John Maxwell
  • I’ve seen far too many Christians who are more than willing to travel halfway around the world to volunteer for a week in an orphanage, but who cannot bring themselves to take the personal risk of sharing Jesus with the coworker who sits day after day in the cubicle right next to them. Lee Strobel 
  • Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called and his work will be as sacred as the work of the ministry. It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. W. Tozer 
  • In nothing has the church so lost her hold on reality as in her failure to understand and respect the secular vocation. She 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

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEW:

Calling to Christ: Where’s My Place by Robert Davis Smart. WestBowPress. 116 pages. 2017.
****

Calling to Christ is the second of four seasons of gospel transformation in the author’s Four Spiritual Seasons of Spiritual Formation series. The author has been my pastor for more than 22 years, and has been teaching this material for several years. He writes that a clear sense of our identity in Christ ought to precede our calling formation to Christ, and assumes we have a reasonable grip on our identity in Christ. Thus, the reader may want to initially read the first book in the series, Embracing Your Identity in Christ: Renouncing Lies and Foolish Strategies. This second season also prepares us for the last two seasons of spiritual formation – intentionality and legacy.
The book is designed for group study with discussion questions provided at the end of each chapter designed to help each person discover and write out a sense of their calling to Christ. The goal is that by the end of the book each person can use the template provided in the last chapter to write out what they sense is God’s call on their life.
How do you get started with determining your calling? The author writes that if you are a new creature in Christ and have a solid sense of your identity, the first essential question is settled – who am I in Christ? Then, you would want to ask in prayer – where’s my place?
The author writes that calling formation is for a season, not a mere job decision that lasts a week or so. It usually takes from age eighteen to thirty-five, but is always renewing with changes in our particular callings within our general calling to Christ. He writes that a vocation is not merely one’s choice of career or a decision to get married, but is a matter of hearing a higher call or voice from God when we make such decisions. A job, a marriage, singleness, or a ministry may all be identified as particular callings of ours within our common overall general calling. He tells us that our general calling comes from God to every Christian, but our particular callings vary from one Christian to another.
The author states that since God has so much to say in the Bible about working, serving, and employment, it is surprising that Christians have made this major chunk of our lives seem so unimportant and “secular” in the sight and presence of God throughout the week. He states that God is for you in your workplace because He put you there. Your work matters to God, so you can pray for help in moments of unfair opposition.
He writes that although we may encounter resistance from the outside in our callings, much of the opposition to our joy is related to internal hindrances in our own hearts. He tells us that Christians ought to avoid living like practical atheists in their callings because it is incompatible with what they believe to be true.
I’ve been reading a lot about the subject of rest recently. The author tells us that until we learn to deeply rest and separate ourselves from our work, we won’t work effectively.
This book teaches the reader to get a clearer sense of their calling. After that he wants you to put what you’ve learned into practice, which includes sharing with others your sense of calling to Christ.
I enjoyed this book and would recommend you reading each of the books in the Four Spiritual Seasons of Spiritual Formation series in order:

  1. Embracing Your Identity in Christ: Renouncing Lies and Foolish Strategies
  2. Calling to Christ: Where’s My Place
  3. Intentionality for Christ
  4. Legacy from Christ

Faith & 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 3: Redemption Work Now That Christ Has Risen 

  • We now consider how what Jesus accomplished on the cross redeems and frees people to work for God’s glory.
  • The concepts in Romans 12:1–2 energize everything the New Testament says about work.
  • To bear his image as Christ-like imitators of God, Christians must reflect the one they worship in the way they work. The basic idea can be captured in one word: integrity.
  • Christians are not to be idle.
  • Work that does not communicate love for God and neighbor is idolatrous because such work exalts something other than God as ultimate, making a god of oneself or mammon or one’s agenda or whatever.
  • The following four principles from four New Testament passages provide a cross section of the New Testament’s teaching on how to love God through our work.

1) Work to please God: The parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14–30).
2) Do all for God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31).
3) Do all in Christ’s name (Col. 3:17).
4) Work from your soul for the Lord (Col. 3:23).

  • In addition to working for the Lord, Christians should work to benefit other people.
  • Following is a sampling of New Testament statements on how we work in order to love our neighbor.

1) Following Paul’s example of hard work to benefit others (1 Cor. 9:6–27; 15:10).
2) To support the ministry (1 Cor. 9:14; Gal. 6:6).
3) To share with the needy (Eph. 4:28).
4) To live an undisruptive life (1 Thess. 4:11; 2 Thess. 3:12).
5) As a good testimony for unbelievers (1 Cor. 9:12; 1 Thess. 4:12; 1 Tim. 5:14; 6:1; Titus 2:5, 9).
6) Not to burden others (2 Cor. 11:9; 12:13, 14, 16; 1 Thess. 2:9; 4:12; 2 Thess. 3:8)
7) In brotherly love that transcends race and status (1 Tim. 6:2; Philem. 16).

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

Seizing the Advantage 

  • The fact remains that organizational health is largely untapped in most companies. But that’s going to change.
  • As more and more leaders come to the realization that the last frontier of competitive advantage will be the transformation of unhealthy organizations into healthy ones, there will be a shift in the mind-set of executives away from more technical pursuits that can be delegated to others and toward the disciplines outlined in this book.
  • There is just no escaping the fact that the single biggest factor determining whether an organization is going to get healthier—or not—is the genuine commitment and active involvement of the person in charge.
  • At every step in the process, the leader must be out front, not as a cheerleader or a figurehead, but as an active, tenacious driver.
  • As tempting as it may be, leaders must not abdicate or delegate responsibility for communication and reinforcement of clarity.
  • People who lead healthy organizations sign up for a monumental task—and a very selfless one. That is why they need to relinquish their more technical responsibilities, or even their favorite roles, that others can handle.
  • In order to give their organizations the best possible chance of succeeding in these efforts, a team must engage in a few vital initial steps to get momentum started. The first of those is setting aside time to launch the process.
  • After that initial off-site, the team will need to put together a playbook, a short summary of those answers and a few other items related to how the team behaves and how it will go about working together going forward. And once the information in the playbook has been finalized and the answers fully agreed on by the team, the next step will be to properly communicate it to the rest of the organization.
  • And finally, the leadership team will need to spend time, probably a fair amount of time, designing systems to reinforce the information from the playbook by embedding it into every process that involves people.
  • The impact of organizational health goes far beyond the walls of a company, extending to customers and vendors, even to spouses and children.
  • At the end of the day, at the end of our careers, when we look back at the many initiatives that we poured ourselves into, few other activities will seem more worthy of our effort and more impactful on the lives of others, than making our organizations healthy.
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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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