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

  • Doing What Only You Can Do. In this episode of the Andy Stanley Leadership podcast, he begins a two-part conversation about onlydoing what only you can do.
  • Far and Away, This is Always Listed as the Biggest Time Waster by Most Leaders. Dave Kraft writes “For the most part, meetings I have experienced over 49 years of Christian ministry are poorly prepared, poorly executed, with poor follow-up.”
  • The Freedom of Working to Please Jesus, Not People. Hugh Whelchel looks at what freedom at work looks like from Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert’s excellent book The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs.
  • 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?”
  • Character. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell states that reputation iswho people think we are, and character is who we really are.  For years, I’ve defined character as doing the right thing when nobody was watching. How would you define character?
  • Is the Protestant Work Ethic Still Alive? Hugh Whelchel writes “As we become serious about being “salt and light” in our communities, we can have the same effect as yeast in a loaf of bread, providing a significant moral framework that positively influences those around us.”
  • How the Protestant Reformation Renewed the Church, Our Work and Society. Hugh Whelchel writes “We are called to reshape andreform our world to be the place God originally intended it to be—restoring order, loving and serving each other with integrity and honesty, meeting each other’s needs, and creating something of value from the raw materials he has supplied—all through the work of our hands.

 

GOOD AND NOT SO GOOD LEADERSHIP:

  • Isolated Leaders are Dangerous Leaders. Eric Geiger writes “The sting of criticism, the burden of the responsibilities, and the pace of leadership can nudge a leader towards isolation, but every step towards isolation is a step towards danger.”
  • 5 Warning Signs That Laziness Is Creeping into Your Leadership. Eric Geiger writes “Like all sin, laziness can slowly creep into our lives and leadership. If we fail to address the temptation to move toward laziness, we become unfaithful in our leadership.”
  • Giving Credit Where Credit is Due. Bob Chapman writes “Leaders, next time you’re ready to celebrate with your own particular touchdown dance in the end zone, think about how you got there. I would bet that it wasn’t a solo effort. Think about what a simple act can mean to those who participated in this triumph. They want to know they matter, and sometimes, just a simple high five is a way to help them know that their work is appreciated.”
  • Leading with Control Versus Leading with Influence. Ron Edmondson writes “Leaders, if you want to to have a healthy team environment, you must learn to control less and influence more. The differences are measured in the results of creating a healthy team.”
  • Why Busy Leaders Make Bad Leaders. Carey Nieuwhof writes “I’ve noticed that people who usually tell you they’re busy are often bad leaders. Or flip that. Talk to highly effective leaders and you’ll notice they rarely tell you they’re busy.”

REST:

  • Better Than Busy. Colin Noble writes “What would happen to our 24/7 switched-on world if the people who came to Jesus for rest regularly took a day of rest from distraction, work, and busyness? What would this weekly habit have to offer to the world in which we find ourselves — a world that restlessly continues to search for peace amid busyness?”
  • Trusting and Resting in God’s Work as We Do Our Work.Scotty Smith prays “Heavenly Father, we LOVE the freedom grace gives us to work without any concern for merit or deserving, personal failure or not measuring up.”
  • The Power of Deep Rest. Tim Keller writes “There is a symbiotic relationship between work and rest. Of course, we know this at one level. We get away from work in order to replenish our bodies and minds. Resting, or practicing Sabbath, is also a way to help us get perspective on our work and put it in its proper place.”

  • Vocational Calling as a Lifelong Journey. Kevin & Kay Marie Brennfleck write “Living your vocational calling is a journey. As you grow and mature, God can use you in new and more significant ways. Your journey may take you through the levels of vocational fit one step at a time, such as progressing from just a job to OK work to enjoyable work. As you continue on your journey, investing the time and energy needed and being willing to risk, you can move up the levels of vocational fit.”
  • The Dilemma of a Bi-vocational Pastor. Darryl Williamson writes “Theologically and practically, how should we view bi-vocational pastors? Should they be commended for their sacrifice and the special burden they carry? Or should they be challenged to surrender their lives fully to the calling God has placed on them?”
  • Vocation and Identity: Interview with Dan Cumberland. In this episode ofThe Portfolio Life podcast, Jeff Goins talks to Dan Cumberland about helping people discover meaning in their life and work. Dan and Jeff talk about the definition of vocation, the pitfalls of external pressure, and why you may not be surprised by your life’s work.
  • Is it Better for Moms to Stay at Home? Adrien Segal writes “The problem for me was when my work became my identity, when my work was the source of my “self-esteem” and made me feel more “important,” when my work seemed more worthy because it was more interesting on a day-to-day basis, when my work was necessary for approval, praise and applause.”

REAL-LIFE EXAMPLES:

  • Buy a Taco, Feed a Starving Child. Bethany Jenkins interviews Austin Samuelson, who along with his wife, Ashton, have harnessed an entrepreneurial spirit in service of the hungry, both the paying and the poor, about how they integrate their faith and work.
  • A Christian in the Secular Academy. Gabriel Williams writes “The task of being a Christian professor is marked with numerous difficulties and challenges, but none are insurmountable.”
  • Pastors, Learn from Non-Pastors. Garrett Kell shares five reasons why pastors must devote some of their best time, energy, and resources to training up and learning from electricians, lawyers, teachers, and bankers.

GLORY IN THE ORDINARY:

  • Ordinary Christian Work. Tim Challies writes “We please God—we thrill God—when we live as ordinary people in ordinary lives who use our ordinary circumstances to proclaim and live out an extraordinary gospel.”
  • Living an Ordinary Life: Are you Missing Something?Steve Graves writes “I think the power and dignity of the ordinary life is what Martin Luther had in mind when he said, “The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays—not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors. The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship.”
  • Using Your Talents Outside of Work Honors God, Too. Elizabeth Moyer writes “Pursuing interests and gifts outside of your regular work day can have ripple effects. In the act of fulfilling God’s call on your life, you may find yourself building new relationships, strengthening old ones, relieving stress, becoming healthier, and working harder.”
  • Paid Versus Unpaid Work. Courtney Reisig writes “Pitting paid work and unpaid work against one another misses the purpose of our work.”
  • On Holy Ground!  Henry Blackaby writes “As we function in the workplace and as we find ourselves moving in a very secular world, we need to recognize that God’s presence in us makes a sacred difference. Anywhere that God places His presence is sacred. God’s presence connects the secular to the sacred.”

Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week

  • You aren’t fit to lead if you don’t care what people think of you. Dan Rockwell
  • Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter. Dwight L. Moody
  • A job is a vocation only if called to it, not for ourselves. Work is a calling only if it is a mission of service. Tim Keller
  • A charismatic personality may draw people, but only integrity will keep them. John Maxwell
  • One of the best statements a leader can make it is “I don’t know what I’m doing.” Asking for help is not a sign of weakness but maturity. Ron Edmondson
  • Christians who grasp a biblical theology of work learn not only to value and participate in the work of all people but to also see ways to work distinctively as Christians.Tim Keller 
  • There are two great days in a person’s life – the day we are born and the day we discover why.William Barclay 
  • Dear workaholics: There’s no extra credit for impressing others while losing your family. Burk Parsons
  • The best way to make a difference in your dream future tomorrow is to choose faithfulness to His calling, right where you are, today. Zack Eswine

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEW:

Discipleship with Monday in Mind: How Churches Across the Country Are Helping Their People Connect Faith and Work by Skye Jethani and Luke Bobo. Made to Flourish. 100 pages. 2017 
**** 

This short, but very helpful book from the Made to Flourish organization, shares information from interviews conducted about what pastors across the country are doing to help their people connect Sunday to Monday. I found many helpful ideas in the book.

The interviews identified three recurring pathways being followed:

  • Pathway One: Through the Marketplace
  • Pathway Two: Through the Millennials
  • Pathway Three: Through the Scriptures

The authors look at three of the most frequently cited pastoral practices.  These are activities an individual pastor or church leader may begin independently – with no new programs to create or budgets to approve. For that reason, these practices may be the best place for a pastor seeking to integrate faith, work, and economics into their congregation to begin.

  • Pastoral Practice One: Curiosity. Although rarely identified as a pastoral characteristic, curiosity is an essential quality of any person called to shepherd and equip God’s people.
  • Pastoral Practice Two: Workplace Visitations.  Regularly visiting people at their work was by far the most cited, and most transformative, pastoral practice that was uncovered in the interviews. Workplace visitation is a practice that simultaneously informs the pastor as it affirms the member.
  • Pastoral Practice Three: Prayer and Counseling. Having a fuller understanding of church members’ vocation and workplaces also shifts the way pastors pray for their people. Some of the church leaders interviewed reported a shift in their counseling practices as well.

Among the many ideas I picked up from the book were:

  • To communicate the sacredness of work, many churches have “Faith at Work” interviews during the worship service. One church has also incorporated a version of this in their children’s ministry. The aim is to get children thinking about faith and work at an early age.
  • Commission people to specific vocations in the same way you would pray for pastors or foreign missionaries. One church has commissioned those in finance, law, the arts, and the health industry, thus far. Commissioning services have a powerful ability to affirm people in their work.
  • Instead of a traditional adult Sunday School, one church hosted a seminar series called Vocare. The purpose of the seminar was to explore the intersection between the gospel culture and vocation, thinking through how we live out our call as God’s people in the world in light of the challenges and opportunities of our cultural moment.
  • One church, in place of Vacation Bible School, started an “All of Life” camp. The church takes children who attend the camp to various workplaces where adults are working, and they talk about their work. The goal is to give these students a rich experience within that particular work context.
  • Some churches have started vocational affinity groups. The idea is to place Christians who serve in the same industry in a small group for mutual encouragement and instruction.
  • One church launched industry roundtables, which were organized around vocations. These were mid-size communities, organized around a particular industry. The purpose of the groups was to explore “theology, ethics, best practices, tensions, and networking.”
  • Many pastors found that the most effective way to promote faith and work integration was by starting a nonprofit.
  • Many churches are addressing the “E” in FEW (Faith, Work and Economics) faith by coming alongside and assisting those interested in being entrepreneurs.
  • One church sponsored a BIZ Camp. Young people were taught how to develop business plans. Business leaders served as sounding boards to help the aspiring teenage entrepreneurs fine-tune their business plans and, eventually, launch new businesses.

The authors write that integrating faith, work and economics theology into the life of the church can be methodical and frustratingly slow, but also rewarding. Pastors interviewed are prayerfully seeking ways to integrate this theology into four areas in their local bodies: corporate worship, pastoral practice, discipleship/spiritual formation, and outreach and missions.

Throughout the book the authors shared stories of people who has imbibed the particular theology of faith and work integration and lived it out.

I highly recommend this book for church leaders interested in helping their people connect their faith with the work.

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

Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans  Knopf. 274 pages. 2016

My wife Tammy and I are reading and discussing this book this summer. I first heard about it from the Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. This week we look at the Introduction of the book:

  • In the United States, only 27% of college grads end up in a career related to their majors. The idea that what you major in is what you will do for the rest of your life, and that college represents the best years of your life (before a life of hard work and boredom), are two of what we call dysfunctional beliefs—the myths that prevent so many people from designing the life they want.
  • In America, two-thirds of workers are unhappy with their jobs. And 15 percent actually hate their work.
  • In the United States alone, more than thirty-one million people between ages forty-four and seventy want what is often called an “encore” career—work that combines personal meaning, continued income, and social impact.
  • Your well-designed life will have a look and a feel all of its own as well, and design thinking will help you solve your own life design problems.
  • A well-designed life is a life that is generative—it is constantly creative, productive, changing, evolving, and there is always the possibility of surprise.
  • We decided we were going to partner to bring a new course to Stanford, to apply design thinking to designing life after college—first to design students and, if that went well, then to all students. That course has gone on to become one of the most popular elective classes at Stanford.
  • How do I find a job that I like or maybe even love?  How do I build a career that will make me a good living?  How do I balance my career with my family?  How can I make a difference in the world?  How can I be thin, sexy, and fabulously rich? We can help you answer all these questions—except the last one.
  • Designers love questions, but what they really love is reframing questions.
  • A reframe is when we take new information about the problem, restate our point of view, and start thinking and prototyping again.
  • In life design, we reframe a lot. The biggest reframe is that your life can’t be perfectly planned, that there isn’t just one solution to your life, and that that’s a good thing.
  • The reframe for the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is this: “Who or what do you want to grow into?”
  • When you think like a designer, when you are willing to ask the questions, when you realize that life is always about designing something that has never existed before, then your life can sparkle in a way that you could never have imagined.
  • Here’s the big truth: there are many versions of you, and they are all “right.”
  • We suggest you go out and get a design team right off the bat—a group of people who will read the book with you and do the exercises alongside you, a collaborative team in which you support one another in your pursuit of a well-designed life.
  • Designers don’t think their way forward. Designers build their way forward.
  • Work can be a daily source of enormous joy and meaning, or it can be an endless grind and waste of hours spent trying to white-knuckle our way through the misery of it all until the weekend comes.
  • The five mind-sets you are going to learn in order to design your life are curiosity, bias to action, reframing, awareness, and radical collaboration.  Most of all, curiosity is going to help you “get good at being lucky.” It’s the reason some people see opportunities everywhere.
  • Try Stuff. When you have a bias to action, you are committed to building your way forward.
  • Reframing is how designers get unstuck. Reframing also makes sure that we are working on the right problem.
  • When you learn to think like a designer you learn to be aware of the process. Life design is a journey; let go of the end goal and focus on the process and see what happens next.
  • 80 percent of people of all ages don’t really know what they are passionate about.
  • Passion is the result of a good life design, not the cause.
  • A well-designed life is a life that makes sense. It’s a life in which who you are, what you believe, and what you do all line up together.
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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence. I’m married to my best friend. I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 100 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people determine their callings, develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. My favorite book is the Bible, and some other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

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