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

  • Every Job a Parable: What Walmart Greeters, Nurses & Astronauts Tell Us About God. Bill Peel reviews this new book by John Van Sloten. He writes “Chances are you’ll find someone he interviewed doing work like you do, and sees God at work in their work. Van Sloten calls the jobs he writes about “parables” because each one is a real-life, lived-out story depicting some aspect of God’s work and tell us something about God.”
  • Made to Flourish National Conference. Common Good is the annual national conference for the Made to Flourish organization. Common Good 2017 (cg2017) will be Friday, October 13, 2017. The central Kansas City location will be at the Sheraton Crown Center, and they we will also have several local sites throughout the country. National speakers include Amy Sherman, Andy Crouch and Tom Nelson.
  • wellbeing@work: Chris Schroeder of PCMC.Bob Chapman writes “Most leaders understand their influence on team members’ lives during work hours, but often enough, they don’t think about how their leadership affects team members outside of the workplace as well. The way you lead impacts the way people live.”
  • Why You Should Not Copy Spurgeon’s Schedule. David Murray writes “While there is much to commend in the schedule—his weekly Wednesday Sabbath with his family, for example—I want to offer a caution lest any pastor try to implement a modern version of this.”
  • 5 Goals of Vacation for the Leader. Ron Edmondson writes “What is the purpose of vacation? Another way I might ask this question: What are the goals you have for vacation?”
  • Stop Overspiritualizing ‘Calling’. Bethany Jenkins writes “Our primary calling is to know Jesus Christ. That’s his resounding voice in his Word. Yes, in addition to his Word, he has given us gifts and talents—as well as prayer and community—and called us to different stations. But there’s no perfect job and, even if we love our work, we often only experience that in retrospect after years of deep labor, working heartily as unto the Lord.”
  • Is It Just Tiredness You Are Dealing With, Or Is It Actually Exhaustion Leading to Burnout? Dave Kraft writes “In my work with leaders and the churches in which they serve, I am encountering (more so than ever before) those who are very tired.”
  • Is Your Job a Living Sacrifice? In looking at Romans 12:1-2, John Piper states “The goal of these two verses is that you find the way of life at work and your home that makes Christ look at valuable as He really is. That’s what worship is.”
  • #KingofDreams. Steve Graves writes “Do strategy and Scripture have anything to do with each other? I’m convinced they do. Sometimes it is clearly stated in a single passage and other times it is embedded deep in the narrative or overall context.”
  • The 10 Commandments of Leadership. Brian Dodd shares these helpful 10 Commandments of Leadership, some the concepts were taught to him by John Maxwell.
  • Great Leaders Develop Leadership Vocabulary. Ron Edmondson writes “Great leaders understand the power of their words. The things they say develop the culture of the organization, team member’s perceptions of their individual roles, and the overall health and direction of the organization. Great leaders, therefore, choose their words carefully.”
  • The Greatest Leader in America. Patrick Lencioni writes “The truth is, our greatest leaders usually don’t aspire to positions of great fame or public awareness. They choose instead to lead in places where they can make a tangible, meaningful difference in the lives of the people they are called to serve.”
  • The Difference Between Your Job and Your Work. In this short post, Dan Cumberland writes “Few jobs bring a perfect alignment between your real work and your job. The more you can do your work in and through your job, the more connected you’ll feel to what you do.”
  • Five Reasons a Team Lacks Joy. Eric Geiger writes “A joyless team harms the people on the team and those the team serves.”
  • Work as Calling. Watch this forty-minute messages from Os Guinness (author of The Call, the best book I’ve read on the subject of calling), at the 2013 Gospel at Work Conference.
  • Your Job Doesn’t Define You. Megan Sauers writes “Are we compelled by the fact that He loves us? That is the most important thing. Not what we do, but that He loves us!”

  • God has created us in his image so that we may carry out a task, fulfill a mission, pursue a calling. Anthony A. Hoekema 
  • The only Christian work is good work well done. Dorothy Sayers
  • God calls every Christian to be a witness for Him. So, for most of us, our mission field is where we spend the bulk of our time: the workplace. Bill Peel
  • Christians do not fully comprehend the biblical concepts of work, calling, and vocation because we have lost the vision of the grand metanarrative of the Bible. Hugh Whelchel
  • Mission includes our secular vocations, not just church ministry. Tim Keller
  • There is no perfect job. We must use work to use forgiveness, understanding and prayer to grow from our work. Hugh Whelchel
  • If you want to lead on the highest level, be willing to serve on the lowest. John Maxwell
  • 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… How can anyone remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life? Dorothy Sayers
  • Our gospel-trained eyes can see the world ablaze with the glory of God’s work through the people he has created and called. Tim Keller

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEW:

Joy at Work: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job by Dennis W. Bakke.  Pear Press. 314 pages. 2006
***

The author, who was CEO of AES, an energy company, writes that his passion is to make work exciting, rewarding, stimulating, and enjoyable. He states that this is a book for people who want more from their jobs than a paycheck and a benefits package. He believes that the workplace should be fun and fulfilling. He writes that joy at work gives people the freedom to use their talents and skills for the benefit of society, without being crushed or controlled by autocratic supervisors or staff offices.
The author strongly believes that people should be able to bring many of their basic beliefs about life into an organization. He believes that there is a transcendent truth behind principles like integrity and justice that does not and should not change over time and should certainly not be adjusted because of economic setbacks. While our understanding of the values may change with time, the values and principles themselves are timeless.
He writes that there is little disagreement that the corporate values at AES arose out of the personal values of the co-founders. He discusses how the transformation of personal values to organizational values is accomplished with the word “shared.” Shared implies that members of an organization agree on the definition and importance of a value.
He states that the values articulated by many companies have only a minimal effect on how they conduct their businesses. But values and principles mean something only when they affect everything we do, every day of the week. He believes that we should attempt to live according to a set of unchanging shared ethical principles, because it is the right way to live.
He believes that for the most part, we have made the workplace a frustrating and joyless place where people do what they’re told and have few ways to participate in decisions or fully use their talents. He states that the label “human resources” has a dehumanizing connotation – and I agree!  We have financial resources, fuel resources, and human resources.
He states that in his experience, most people don’t believe that fun and work can coexist. But he writes that the key to joy at work is the personal freedom to take actions and make decisions using individual skills and talents.  The author tells us that a special workplace has many ingredients, with the most important factor being when people are able to use their individual talents and skills to do something useful, significant, and worthwhile.
He shares some of the practices he followed at AES in an effort to make it a more fun place to work, beginning with the belief that joy at work starts with individual initiative and individual control.  They attempted to design a workplace where the maximum number of individuals have an opportunity to make important decisions, undertake actions of importance to the success of the organization, and assume responsibility for the results.
AES was organized around multi-skilled, self-managed teams.  The primary factor in determining whether people experience joy or drudgery in the workplace is the degree to which they control their work. By “control,” he means making decisions and taking responsibility for them.  The amount of fun in an organization is largely a function of the number of individuals allowed to make decisions.
The author believed in decentralization, limiting the number of people in the home office, central staff, and senior executive offices. He believed that every decision made at headquarters takes away responsibility from people elsewhere in the organization and reduces the number of people who feel they are making an effective contribution to the organization.
He believes that moral leaders serve an organization rather than control it, with their goal being to create a community that encourages individuals to take the initiative, practice self-discipline, make decisions, and assume responsibility for their actions.
He writes that one of the most difficult lessons he had to learn is that leadership is not about managing people.  He writes that a leader’s character is far more important than their skills.  He states that the most important character traits of a leader who embraces the principles and values championed in the book are humility; the willingness to give up power; courage; integrity; and love and passion for the people, values, and mission of the organization. He states that humility is at the core of a leader’s heart. He states that the most important aspect of this leadership style is letting others make important decisions. When that happens, leaders dignify and honor their subordinates.
He writes about love in the workplace. He states that love pushes us to do whatever it takes to help others succeed, and that leaders who create dynamic, rewarding, enjoyable workplaces love people. He believes that love is the final and crucial ingredient in a joy-filled workplace.
He states that being passionate about your people and what they do is a key characteristic of a leader who can make work a joyful experience, and that the key to a great workplace is the freedom to make important decisions and take responsibility for the results.
He writes that most AES board members loved his approach primarily because they believed it pushed the stock price up, not because it was the “right” way to operate an organization.  Throughout the book, the author is open about mistakes he made as the leader of AES.
He writes about the importance of our work, stating that the idea that daily secular work is spiritually inferior comes to its ultimate destruction in the person of Jesus of Nazareth—the Carpenter. He indicates that nearly every kind of work is significant, if it is consistent with the person’s calling and the person is working to glorify and worship God.
He writes that Biblical leadership requires those in authority to serve the people they lead. Leaders do whatever it takes to allow followers to use their talents effectively. Good leaders delegate decisions and create an environment in which others can manage God’s world.
He writes that he can recall only two or three visits to his place of work by one of his pastors in 30 years, and doubts he is an exception. He writes that if our daily work is a sacred calling from God, pastors and priests should come to the workplace often.
You may not agree with how the author defines joy at work, but I believe you would benefit from reading this book.

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 Chapter 2:

  • What is the good life? How do you define it? How do you live it? Why am I here? What am I doing? Why does it matter? What is my purpose? What’s the point of it all?
  • You need two things to build your compass—a Workview and a Lifeview. To start out, we need to discover what work means to you.
  • A Lifeview is simply your ideas about the world and how it works. What gives life meaning? What makes your life worthwhile or valuable? How does your life relate to others in your family, your community, and the world? What do money, fame, and personal accomplishment have to do with a satisfying life? How important are experience, growth, and fulfillment in your life?
  • Our goal for your life is rather simple: coherency. A coherent life is one lived in such a way that you can clearly connect the dots between three things: Who you are, What you believe, and What you are doing
  • Living coherently doesn’t mean everything is in perfect order all the time. It simply means you are living in alignment with your values and have not sacrificed your integrity along the way.
  • A Workview should address the critical issues related to what work is and what it means to you. A Workview may address such questions as: Why work?, What’s work for?, and What does work mean?, How does it relate to the individual, others, society?, What defines good or worthwhile work?, What does money have to do with it?, What do experience, growth, and fulfillment have to do with it?
  • Your Lifeview is what provides your definition of what have been called “matters of ultimate concern.” It’s what matters most to you and addresses questions such as Why are we here?, What is the meaning or purpose of life?, What is the relationship between the individual and others?, Where do family, country, and the rest of the world fit in?, What is good, and what is evil?, Is there a higher power, God, or something transcendent, and if so, what impact does this have on your life?, What is the role of joy, sorrow, justice, injustice, love, peace, and strife in life?
  • Anytime you’re changing your situation, or pursuing a new thing, or wondering what you’re doing at a particular job—stop. Before you start, it’s a good idea to check your compass and orient yourself.
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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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