Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

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  • Do Blue Collar Workers Fit Our Theology of Vocation? Daniel Darling writes “If we are not careful we can create a kind of second class system by elevating those whose vocations seem more praiseworthy—white collars or creative such as artists, engineers, lawyers, and CEOs—over and above the blue collar, “dirty jobs” professions that so employ so many of our people.”
  • How Should I Apply My Gifts in the Workplace? Art Lindsley writes “Remember, you are uniquely gifted with talents that help you find fulfillment and that bless others. These gifts can be applied in a number of different jobs or careers. Focus less on finding a specific career or job than on finding an environment in which you can regularly (not perfectly) use your gifts in the way God designed you. Perhaps it’s your current circumstances! Even unexpected gifts can transfer into unexpected jobs and roles in life. Be open!”
  • 5 Traits That Set Great Leaders Apart from the Pack. Ellie Walburg writes “What sets apart good leaders from great leaders? Is it political savvy and the ability to maneuver their way to the top? Is it the number of connections they have? Is it their ability to speak well and motivate people? While all these things may be helpful to varying degrees, leadership goes much deeper than that, to the very core of a who a person is.”
  • 7 Things to Do If You Don’t Like Your Job. Chuck Lawless states that many people are in work roles that they don’t enjoy. If that is where you are, perhaps these suggestions will help you look at your job differently.
  • Peter: The Servant Leader. John MacArthur writes “Restraint, humility, and servanthood aren’t obvious leadership qualities in the corporate world. Nor are they character traits that readily spring to mind for modern churches focused on growth and vision. But Christ prioritized those three qualities as he cultivated future leaders of the Christian church, most notably Peter.”
  • Chick-fil-A VP: The Advice I Give My Own Children — How to Start a Career. Dee Ann Turner writes “My three sons began receiving career advice from me before they even started high school. It was both the curse and the blessing of having a Mother who spent time as the Vice President of Talent and the Vice President of Human Resources at Chick-fil-A. As they matured, I tried to impress upon them the importance of character, competency and chemistry in their professional lives. These are the top tips I shared with them in advising them on starting and growing their careers.”
  • 4 Practical Reasons Character Must Trump Competence. Eric Geiger writes “When inviting others to join your team, both character and competence matter. They are both important. A person of integrity who is not skilled for the role will only grow frustrated while frustrating everyone else. So competence is important, but character is more so.”
  • The Value of Our Work. On this episode of Unlimited Grace, Doug Chamberlain interviews Bryan Chapell about the value of our work.
  • What are You Gifted to Do? Art Lindsley writes “Our gifts are things we do well because God has gifted us to do them. We enjoy doing them because God has created us to experience life and joy through our own unique gifts, and in this way, we experience flourishing.”
  • Christians in the Profession of Arms. Russell Gehrlein writes “Serving in the military was, and is, godly work. And God is definitely present in it.”
  • Global Leadership Summit Podcast. In this episode, Patrick Lencioni compares “smart” vs. “healthy” organizations, making the case that organizational health is the greatest competitive advantage in business. He then unpacks the four disciplines necessary to building organizational health.
  • Catch and Release: A Necessary Strategy for the Modern Leader. Steve Graves writes “As for me, my faith helps me live with catch and release because I trust that God is in control. I will do the best I can to keep my best people, but if something outside of my control happens and an employee leaves, that’s okay.”

Quotes about Faith and Work

  • A good leader is a person who takes a little more than his share of the blame and a little less than his share of the credit. John Maxwell
  • The secret to success is good leadership is all about making the lives of your team members or workers better. Tony Dungy
  • For far too many Christian leaders, in their head it’s all about the Gospel, but in their heart it’s all about them Dave Kraft
  • Our work is to be driven by our love of the Master, and our only desire should be to receive His praise. Hugh Whelchel
  • God designed human work to be an exhilarating pleasure, not a frustrating pain. Tom Nelson
  • God has blessed us with such great gifts, and one of them is our work. Marcus Buckingham
  • Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavours, 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 endeavour, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever. Tim Keller
  • Do we enjoy our work, love our work, virtually worship our work so that our devotion to Jesus is off-center? Do we put our emphasis on service, usefulness, or being productive in working for God—at his expense? Do we strive to prove our own significance? To make a difference in the world? To carve our names in marble on the monuments of time? The call of God blocks the path of all such deeply human tendencies. We are not primarily called to do something or go somewhere; we are called to Someone. We are not called to special work but to God. The key to answering the call is to be devoted to no one and to nothing above God himself. Os Guinness
  • If all that a believer does grows out of faith and is done for the glory of God, then all dualistic distinctions are demolished. There is no higher/lower, sacred/secular, perfect/permitted, contemplative/active or first class/second class. Calling is the premise of Christian existence itself Calling means that everyone, everywhere, and in everything fulfills his or her (secondary) callings in response to God’s (primary) calling. For Luther, the peasant and the merchant— for us, the business person, the teacher, the factory worker, and the television anchor—can do God’s work (or fail to do it) just as much as the minister or missionary. Os Guinness

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEW:
The Gospel & Work (Gospel for Life) Edited by Russell Moore and Andrew T. Walker. B&H Books. 144 pages. 2017
****

The Gospel for Life series is meant to assist pastors and church leaders to answer urgent questions that people are asking, questions that the church isn’t always immediately ready to answer. Each book in the series is structured the same: What are we for? What does the gospel say? How should the Christian live? How should the church engage? What does the culture say? This book is intended to be an introductory look at how Christians should understand work and vocation from every angle of the Christian’s life—their place in culture, their engagement as everyday Christians, and their role in the body of Christ, the church. The book includes the following chapters:
What Are We For? Bethany L. Jenkins
How Should the Christian Live? Greg Forster
What Does the Gospel Say? Bruce Ashford and Benjamin T. Quinn
How Should the Church Engage? Tom Nelson
What Does the Culture Say? Daniel Darling

Helpful discussion questions are included at the end of each chapter. Here are a few of my takeaways for each chapter:

What Are We For? Bethany L. Jenkins
This was my favorite chapter, and was worth the price of the book for me. Jenkins looks at the Bible’s narrative arc—creation, fall, redemption, and restoration—to discover the proper place of our work in light of God’s larger work of redemption. Our work is a vocational assignment if God calls us to do it and if we do it for the sake of others, not ourselves. Christians can do almost any kind of work—from data-entry to education to medicine to so much more—as an offering of worship to God. She states that since all assignments are from God for the common good, then all work is “ministry” work.

What Does the Gospel Say? Bruce Ashford and Benjamin T. Quinn
The Gospel makes demands on our lives—beginning with the humble recognition that everything we have in life is a gift from God. A second demand that the gospel makes on our vocations is the love for God and neighbor in all times and places. Third, the gospel demands that the redeemed of the Lord recognize their vocations as ministry. When we consciously recognize our role as conduits of God’s love and provision, our work takes on new dimensions. We begin to do our work with excellence, because if we are the “hands of God” through our jobs, we want those hands to provide the best service and the best product.

How Should the Christian Live? Greg Forster
Jesus will give you grace, power and wisdom to face whatever His calling requires you to face. Work is the main way we carry out the Great Commandment to love God and neighbor. In our work, we must first and foremost love God, must serve God as His stewards. Our work must be productive—fruitful—for God. To be faithful in your work, you will need to persevere through suffering.

How Should the Church Engage? Tom Nelson
This chapter includes some wonderful information, but it was mostly familiar to me from having read Nelson’s excellent book Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work. He writes that for many pastors and Christian leaders, there is a large Sunday-to-Monday gap. This gap leads to a deficient understanding of the integral relationship between worship on Sunday and work on Monday. If we perpetuate a Sunday-to-Monday gap, our efforts at spiritual formation—leading followers of Jesus into increasing Christlikeness—will be incomplete. He believes that pastors must become more intentional in teaching a robust theology of vocation that informs our people’s work.

What Does the Culture Say? Daniel Darling
Many, if not most, Christians see their workplaces as simple vehicles by which they can provide for their families, tithe their incomes to the church, and perhaps engage in occasional evangelistic conversations. The actual work seems unimportant in light of eternity. Your job on Monday is not a means to an end—it is part of your divine calling to fulfill the mandate given to us as God’s image bearers. The cubicle, the garage, the classroom—these are sanctuaries where you are called to worship your Creator with your best work. Our work on earth, when done for the glory of Christ, passes the test of fire (1 Cor. 3:12–13) and is mere preparation for our perfected vocations in eternity.

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

I first heard about this book from the Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. This week we look at Chapter 6 – Prototyping 

  • Prototyping the life design way is all about asking good questions, outing our hidden biases and assumptions, iterating rapidly, and creating momentum for a path we’d like to try out.
  • So—we prototype to ask good questions, create experiences, reveal our assumptions, fail fast, fail forward, sneak up on the future, and build empathy for ourselves and others. Once you accept that this is really the only way to get the data you need, prototyping becomes an integral part of your life design process.
  • A Life Design Interview is incredibly simple. It just means getting someone’s story.  You want to talk to someone who is either doing and living what you’re contemplating, or has real experience and expertise in an area about which you have questions. And the story you’re after is the personal story of how that person got to be doing that thing he or she does, or got the expertise he has and what it’s really like to do what she does.
  • You want to hear what the person who does what you might someday want to do loves and hates about his job. You want to know what her days look like, and then you want to see if you can imagine yourself doing that job—and loving it—for months and years on end.
  • In addition to asking people about their work and life, you will also be able to find out how they got there—their career path.
  • But you’re going to want more than just stories as input for coming up with your life design. You want actually to experience what “it” is really like—by watching others do it or, better yet, doing some form of it yourself. Prototype experiences allow us to learn through a direct encounter with a possible future version of us.
  • Life design brainstorming has four steps, and a very structured approach to coming up with lots of prototypable ideas.
  • It is important to frame a good question for a brainstorming session.
  • The brainstorm will generate energy and momentum toward your goal of coming up with some prototype experiences to explore. It will also be an exercise you can turn to whenever you need some new ideas, some community support, or just a little more fun in your life with people you trust.
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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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