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

  • Rest ≠ Idleness. Watch this two-minute video from Courtney Reissig. She states “As a stay-at-home mom, it can be really hard to think about balance in the work of the home because we don’t have a boss.”
  • The Biblical Solution to Unproductivity and Laziness: Begin With Your Heart Motives. Lara d’Entremont writes “The truly productive person is motivated by a desire to deny themselves, serve others, and glorify God with their time. Because of what God has done for them (dying on the cross to give them eternal life) their primary concern is showing others that same love and glorifying God in that.”
  • Know Your Comparative Advantage to Make Better Decisions. Anne Bradley writes “Knowing your gifts and focusing on them is important for faithful stewardship. It allows us to specialize, especially with regard to things we produce and sell through our labor (our work). This specialization frees us from having to be good at everything and allows us to trade with others.”
  • Profitable Fails. David Murray writes “The basic difference between successful people and the rest of us is that they’ve learned to fail well. They humbly embrace their mistakes, use them as opportunities to learn, and persevere until each shot got them nearer the bulls-eye.”
  • Monday’s Preparation Brings Friday’s Success. Ron Edmondson writes “I find the more deliberate I am to pre-plan my day and week the more productive I feel at the end of the week.”
  • The Dangers of Success. Tim Keller writes “Success can easily cause us to forget God’s grace, because our hearts are desperate to believe that we can save ourselves.”
  • In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell states that discipline allows us to have a life to do what we need to do, not what we want to do. If we cannot discipline ourselves, life will become hard for us.
  • Redirection Not Retirement. Peter Markgraaff writes “Retirement is an opportunity for a redeployment, a recalibration, a reset, revival, reform, and a new trajectory.”
  • How to Receive Constructive Feedback with the Gospel in View. Kristin Brown writes “Getting constructive feedback is going to happen. In more theological terms, it’s part of the sanctification process—being changed to be more like Christ.”
  • When the Gospel Invades Your Office: Tim Keller on Faith and Work. Matt Smethurst interviews Tim Keller about “working for the weekend”; how the counternarrative of the gospel addresses our propensity to idolize or demonize, to overwork or underwork; how to counsel discouraged employees; and more.”
  • Why Your Church Needs to Talk about Vocation. Amy Sherman asks “Why does it matter to have a strong theology of work? Why should congregational leaders help their flock connect faith and work? Why should we talk about vocation when there are so many other worthwhile things we could talk about, like evangelism or compassion ministry? Why does it matter?”
  • 17 Powerful Workplace Scriptures. WorkMatters writes “Many scriptures are found throughout the Bible that support the importance of our work to God. Each contain God’s wisdom and views about our work, the importance of our work, or how we should conduct ourselves while performing our work.”

NOW THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION!

  • What Are You Crazy About? Patrick Lencioni writes “And yet, in so many ways, not being crazy about something is a recipe for not standing out in the minds and hearts of customers, employees and the market as a whole.”
  • Are Video Games Keeping Young Men Out of the Work Force?Alex Chediak writes “It’s not just that unemployed young men are spending more time with video games. It’s that their lack of productivity is being ever more subsidized.”
  • Is Your Work Meaningless? Chris Patton writes “We first need to realize that our work, to the extent that it points others to God and a relationship with His Son, can have eternal meaning AND create eternal reward! Once we realize this, we can begin working through our jobs and businesses to have impact on people for eternity.”
  • Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before Changing Jobs. Andrew Spencer writes “These five questions offer a helpful beginning point when considering a change of positions in the same field, between organizations that have morally acceptable purposes.”
  • The 8 Questions I Need to Answer Before I Decide to Retire. Chris Cagle writes “I’m not in a big hurry to retire. But I have started thinking about how to go about making that decision, and I thought I’d share that with you. If you are getting close to “pulling the trigger,” this may help you with your decision process.”

LEADERSHIP:

  • Peter: Raw Material for Leadership. John MacArthur writes “Are great leaders born or made? Peter is a strong argument for both. Without the Lord’s discipleship and tutelage, he never would have been more than a fisherman. But true leaders also require certain innate gifts—think of it as the raw material of leadership.”
  • The One Place Where All Leadership Principles Fall Apart. Michael Kelley writes “It’s impossible to follow a leader who is distant. Strategy is great. Vision is awesome. Directives are powerful. But nothing replaces presence.”
  • Summer Reads for Leadership Freaks. Dan Rockwell shares four book recommendations for leaders.
  • 4 Painful Results of Insecure Leadership. Eric Geiger writes “Insecurity must not be confused with humility. Insecurity, like pride, is a focus on yourself. Humility comes when you have a proper view of yourself in light of the Lord who is holy and above all. Humility comes from understanding that we are not God but we are loved by Him. When leaders lead in an insecure posture they don’t lead effectively.”
  • The Anatomy of Trust. Rich Diviney writes “One way as leaders we create the environment where the people in our span of care can trust us is through our behaviors – except you cannot “behave” trust. However, there are behaviors that can lead to the belief of trust. They reside in four key components: compassion, integrity, consistency, and competence.”
  • 7 Suggestions When a Leader Offers Praise. Ron Edmondson writes “Offering praise is a necessary part of a leader’s responsibility. We should all do it whether we are wired to or not.”
  • 49 Leadership Quotes From John Maxwell On The 3X Formula To Gain The Edge In Leadership.Brian Dodd shares these 49 quotes from John Maxwell’s recent live event, which I was able to watch online.
  • 19 Leadership Quotes and Lessons from Dunkirk. Brian Dodd offers this helpful article on leadership quotes and lessons from Christopher Nolan’s film Dunkirk, my top film of the year thus far. I’ve seen it twice, and would highly recommend seeing in on IMAX, if possible. I’m also reading Walter Lord’s book Miracle at Dunkirk. Watch for a review soon. Here’s my review of Dunkirk.
  • 7 Classic New Leader Mistakes. Ron Edmondson writes “I want to share some of the more common mistakes I’ve seen new leaders make recently. Again, most I’m referring to our pastors attempting church revitalization. I’m certain many of these would be true when attempting to newly lead any group of people.”

Quotes about Faith and Work

  • Productivity is effectively stewarding my gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. Tim Challies
  • There is never enough time to do everything, but there’s always enough time to do the most important things. John Maxwell    
  • The maid who sweeps here 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. Martin Luther
  • The church’s approach to intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours and to come to church on Sundays.  What the church should be telling him is this:  That the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables. Dorothy Sayers
  • What then does Christian faith say to this? It opens its eyes, looks upon all these insignificant, distasteful, and despised duties in the Spirit, and is aware that they are all adorned with divine approval as with the costliest gold and jewels…God with all his angels and creatures is smiling – not because the father (or mother) is washing diapers, but because he is doing so in Christian faith. Martin Luther
  • A woman told me about getting involved in a Bible study that demanded strict commitment to the study of God’s Word.  ‘You should make the Bible your number one priority,’ she was told.  That meant getting up early and the very first thing in the morning doing Bible reading and having a quiet time with the Lord.  She did this, but to her consternation every morning as she would start to read her Bible, the baby would wake up.  She found herself resenting the interruption.  Here she was, trying to spend time with God, and the baby would start fussing, demanding to be fed and distracting her attention away from spiritual things.  After a while, though, she came to understand the doctrine of vocation.  Taking care of her baby was what God, at that moment, was calling her to do.  Being a mother and loving and serving her child was her vocation, her divine calling from the Lord.  She could read the Bible later.  She did not have to feel guilty that she was neglecting spiritual things; taking care of her baby is a spiritual thing! Gene Veith
  • God doesn’t need our good works, but our neighbor does. Gustaf Wingren
  • Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavors, even the best, will come to naught.  Unless there is God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever. Tim Keller
  • If you find yourself in a work by which you accomplish something good for God, or the holy, or yourself, but not for your neighbor alone, then you should know that that work is not a good work. For each one ought to live, speak, act, hear, suffer, and die in love and service for another, even for one’s enemies, a husband for his wife and children, a wife for her husband, children for their parents, servants for their masters, masters for their servants, rulers for their subjects and subjects for their rulers, so that one’s hand, mouth, eye, foot, heart and desire is for others; these are Christian works, good in nature. Martin Luther
  • God himself will milk the cows through him whose vocation that is. Martin Luther

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEW:

Workplace Grace: Becoming a Spiritual Influence at Work by Bill Peel and Walt Larimore. LeTourneau University. 202 pages. 2014
****

The authors of this helpful book tell us that between Sundays, we can be pipelines of God’s grace to people who would never darken the door of a church.  They introduce us to a four-phase model of evangelism – cultivating, planting, harvesting, and multiplying – each with appropriate activities on our part that match the spiritual needs of non-Christians on their way to faith in Christ and beyond. They write that evangelism is a process, not an event and that each of us must think carefully about the best way to make Christ known in the workplace, given the particular limitations and constraints where we work.
The authors write that many Christians walk out of church on Sunday and see no connection between their faith and their work. The next six days between Sundays seem like a spiritual black hole with little or no spiritual meaning. But they tell us that the Bible has much to say about how God values work.  They write that when work is done with reverence for God and with all your heart, it must be recognized for what it is – worship.
The first phase of the evangelism model is cultivation. This phase is about earning the right to be a spiritual influence in someone’s life. The goal of this phase is to break down emotional barriers by earning trust and creating curiosity about our faith.
In evangelism, a story is a potent yet understated way to communicate truth without confrontation. Telling a story about a personal experience with God or about how a principle in the Bible changed our lives, or family, or career, can resonate with an unbeliever’s longings and allow us to connect on an emotional level.
The authors introduce us to “faith flags” and “faith stories”. A Faith Flag is a brief mention or statement about God, the Bible, or prayer in the natural course of conversation that communicates we have a spiritual dimension.  A Faith Story is another powerful way to communicate spiritual truth in an inviting form. It briefly describes a particular instance when we had an encounter with God or a time when we learned an important spiritual lesson. It lets the listener see how God is at work, making a meaningful and practical difference in our lives.
The next phase of the evangelism model is planting. In this phase, nonbelievers begin to view the Bible from a different perspective and consider how it might be personally relevant. The goal of this phase is not to win arguments but for nonbelievers to gain understanding.  The Planting Phase of evangelism is about scattering seeds of truth in heart soil that has been cultivated and softened.
The authors tell us that every phase of the evangelism process—from cultivating to harvesting—depends on prayer.  We do our part in cultivating, planting, praying for the harvest, and seeking His guidance. The rest is in His hands.
The multiplying phase is about making disciples. The authors tell us that in the Great Commission, Jesus did not mandate that we sign up new recruits or volunteers for His kingdom agenda, He told us to make disciples. The word disciple occurs 269 times in the New Testament.  The New Testament is a book about disciples, by disciples, and for disciples of Jesus Christ. Learning to read and study the Bible, both personally and with other believers, is essential to the spiritual growth of new believers.
We need not look far for opportunities to help others. It starts in our own work. Seeing our daily work as an opportunity to meet legitimate needs is vital to spiritual growth and serves as a witness of our faith in Christ.  You do not have to leave the workplace to know the joy of being used by God. He can use you right where you are.
This is a very useful and practical book that shows Christians that God values their work, and how they can shine His light in their workplace. Throughout the book the authors share helpful experiences from their life to supplement the points being made.

Faith and Work Book Club – 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 4 – Getting Unstuck:

  • Designers know that you never go with your first idea. Designers know that when you choose from lots of options you choose better.
  • We’re all stuck in some way in some areas of our lives. That’s where we need ideation, which is a fancy word for coming up with lots of ideas.
  • Believing that there’s only one idea out there leads to a lot of pressure and indecision.
  • The number one enemy of creativity is judgment.
  • As a life designer, you need to embrace two philosophies: 1. You choose better when you have lots of good ideas to choose from. 2. You never choose your first solution to any problem.
  • The first ideation technique we’re going to teach you is called mind mapping. Mind mapping works by using simple free association of words, one after another, to open up the idea space and come up with new solutions.
  • The mind-mapping process has three steps: 1. Picking a topic 2. Making the mind map 3. Making secondary connections and creating concepts (mashing it all up)
  • There’s a certain class of problems—the ones that just won’t go away—that we call anchor problems. Like a physical anchor, they hold us in one place and prevent motion.
  • When you anchor yourself to a bad solution, it just gets worse and worse with time.
  • Don’t make a doable problem into an anchor problem by wedding yourself irretrievably to a solution that just isn’t working. Reframe the solution to some other possibilities, prototype those ideas (take some test hikes), and get yourself unstuck.
  • Anchor problems keep us stuck because we can only see one solution—the one we already have that doesn’t work.
  • When you’re stuck with an anchor problem, try reframing the challenge as an exploration of possibilities (instead of trying to solve your huge problem in one miraculous leap), then decide to try a series of small, safe prototypes of the change you’d like to see happen. It should result in getting unstuck and finding a more creative approach to your problem.
  • An anchor problem is a real problem, just a hard one. It’s actionable—but we’ve been stuck on it so long or so often that it seems insurmountable.
  • Gravity problems aren’t actually problems. They’re circumstances that you can do nothing to change. There is no solution to a gravity problem—only acceptance and redirection.
  • Mind Map 1—Engagement. From your Good Time Journal, pick one of the areas of greatest interest to you, or an activity during which you were really engaged. Then generate a bunch of connected words and concepts, using the mind-mapping technique.
  • Mind Map 2—Energy. From your Good Time Journal, pick something you’ve identified as really energizing you in your work and life
  • Mind Map 3—Flow. From your Good Time Journal, pick one of the experiences when you were in a state of flow, put the experience itself at the center of a mind map, and complete your mapping of your experience with this state we’re going to invent an interesting, though not necessarily practical, life alternative from each.
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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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