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

  • The Best Workers Are the Best Neighbors. Tom Nelson writes “Martin Luther said it well: “God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.” A primary way God designed us to love our neighbors is for us to do our work well, and from our work to have the capacity to be generous to neighbors in need. When it comes to being a helpful neighbor, a slothful worker faces an uphill climb. On the other hand, the best workers make the best neighbors.”
  • Leaders and Loneliness. Scott Sauls writes “In the past two years, five of my friends who are pastors lost their ministries because of moral failure.”
  • Humility 101: Continuing Ed for Leaders. Bill Peel writes “To discover whether pride is edging out humility, give yourself a “fruit inspection.” The absence of fruit of the Spirit means something besides the Holy Spirit is guiding you, and could be setting you up for an unwanted spot on the evening news.”
  • If God’s a Worker, What Kind of Work Does He Do? Russell Gehrlein writes “how does God carry out this work today? Sometimes he works supernaturally. For example, he does redemptive and revelatory work through his Holy Spirit, in revealing our sin and leading us to Christ. However, it is also true that God has chosen to use human beings, both believers and nonbelievers, to do this work.
  • Why You Get Distracted at Work. Michael Hyatt writes “Interruptions are outside things that throw us off. Distractions are things we do to ourselves to derail us.”
  • Center for Faith and Work Podcast. Check out the new Center for Faith and work podcast that will run every Wednesday. Here is the initial episode “Taking Faith to Work”.
  • The Greatest Burden of Leadership. Tim Challies writes “I believe the greatest difficulty of all is the knowledge that I am leading poorly. It’s the knowledge that I am not leading as well as I could or as well as I wish I would. The burden of responsibility is light compared to the burden of insufficiency, inability, or just plain failure.If all those other weights are heavy, this is the one that threatens to be crushing.”

BY THE NUMBERS:

  • Three Biggest Hindrance to a Leader’s Growth. Eric Geiger writes “When we are not self-aware, we greatly hinder our own growth for three reasons.”
  • 6 Traits of an Excellent Worker.Steve Graves writes “If I had lived in the days of the Bible there is a good chance I would have been connected in some way to one of these three vocations (soldier, athlete, farmer).  The farmer and soldier were common “career tracks,” and athletes were just as prominent as they are today.  The apostle Paul uses these three to outline a set of universal virtues people of faith should strive for in their work, regardless of their age, title, or industry.”
  • 7 Indicators Your Team is Dysfunctional. Ron Edmundson writes “My definition of a dysfunctional team – in simple terms – is one which cannot operate at peak efficiency and performance, because it is impacted by too many negative characteristics. There’s more going wrong than right more days than not.”
  • Wisdom from Marcus Buckingham at the Global Leadership Summit. Dave Kraft shares these seven excellent questions Marcus Buckingham suggested we ask ourselves as it relates to the work we do; whether it’s in the market place or in the church.
  • 7 Indicators That You’re Not Leading Anymore. Ron Edmondson writes “How do you evaluate if you are leading or simply maintaining? One way is to look for the results of leading. What happens when you do lead? And, ask if those are occurring.”
  • 10 Steps to Becoming a Mentor Leader. Tony Dungy writes “The single most important factor that differentiates mentor leaders from other leaders in any setting is their outward focus on others. Because mentor leaders are committed to building value into the lives of other people, it seems natural that they would want to cast their influence as widely as possible by creating a culture of mentoring.”
  • Ten Major Fears You May Encounter at Work. John Kyle writes “It’s hard to reveal your inner fears and thoughts with your colleagues. Work is supposed to be professional. Getting all mushy and opening up about our fears isn’t professional. So, at the risk of being unprofessional, let’s get real about our fears at work.”
  • 10 Indicators You’ve Stopped Growing as a Leader. Chuck Lawless writes “Leaders who stop growing lose their edge as a leader. They become stale, even if others may not readily recognize it. See if your life reflects any of these indications that you’ve stopped growing as a leader.”

A THEOLOGY OF WORK:

  • Burnout Begins with Bad Theology. David Murray writes “So, what leads us to burnout? Ultimately, it’s false theology. Behind every exhausted person are bogus beliefs that must be identified and doused by replacing them with true theology. Let’s start by pointing our fire extinguisher at our (false) theology of sleep.”
  • Why We Need a Blue-Collar Theology of Work. In this episode of Christianity Today’s “Quick to Listen” podcast, pastor Kent Duncan joined Morgan Lee and Mark Galli to discuss the limitations of the current theology of work conversation, the spiritual needs of blue-collar workers, and how pastors can best lead professionally diverse congregations.
  • The Mixed History of the Church’s View of Work. Art Lindsley writes “Why does this history matter for your calling today? The historical views of work give us a better understanding of our work today. Today, many people are dissatisfied with their jobs and struggle to find fulfillment in their work. I would argue that we need to recover the biblical view of work that was reestablished by the reformers and reject cultural views like the sacred/secular divide that denigrate work.”

VOCATION:

  • The Chaos Theory of Vocational Development. Joe Carter writes “Above all, remember that while you cannot be anything you want to be, you can be anything that God wants you to be. He’s given you skills and interests and opportunities that will allow you, if you seek his guidance by reading his Word and obeying his commands, to find your calling.”
  • Quotes on Vocation from Luther. Gene Veith shares these quotes on vocation from Martin Luther.
  • Work: A Noble Christian Duty. Listen, or read, this message from John MacArthur on 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15.
  • 3 Plates to Spin in the Vocation Conversation. Bernard N. Howard writes “Jesus himself displayed his perfect humanity not only in his three-year public gospel ministry but also in his decades of carpentry beforehand. And he modeled faithfulness to the responsibilities of his life situation when he gave instructions for his mother’s future care while dying on the cross (John 19: 26-27). It shouldn’t be hard for us to honor one another’s work when we see each variety of godly work reflected in the life of our Savior.”

Quotes about Faith and Work

  • Don’t let the level of difficulty determine your level of commitment. Let it determine your level of surrender. God has this! Ron Edmundson
  • Your work, whether creative or restorative, paid or unpaid, in or out of the home, supports God’s mission on earth. Scott Sauls
  • We cannot add time; we can only exercise stewardship over the time we are given. Albert Mohler
  • We lead best when Christ leads us. Chris Larson
  • If you want to lead on the highest level, be willing to serve on the lowest. John Maxwell
  • Our work is to be driven by our love of the Master, and our only desire should be to receive His praise. Hugh Whelchel
  • People want to believe you are sincerely interested in them as person. Not just for what they can do for you. John Wooden
  • Would it not make sense that God not only wants to join us in our work but to increasingly conform us into greater Christlikeness while we work? Tom Nelson
  • Every occupation has its own honor before God. Ordinary work is a divine vocation or calling. In our daily work no matter how important or mundane we serve God by serving the neighbor and we also participate in God’s on-going providence for the human race. Martin Luther

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEW:

Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will by Kevin DeYoung. Moody Publishers. 144 pages. 2009
****

Pastor and author Kevin DeYoung writes that in this book about God’s will, his goal is “not as much to tell you how to hear God’s voice in making decisions as it is to help you hear God telling you to get off the long road to nowhere and finally make a decision, get a job, and, perhaps, get married.” He aims to give a different perspective than found in many books on seeking God’s will. He wants us to take some responsibility, make a decision, and just do something.
Many ask “If God has a wonderful plan for my life, how can I discover what it is?” But the author states that if the truth be told, God doesn’t really intend to tell us what it is, and we may even be wrong to expect Him to.
He addresses the different aspects of God’s will:

  • Will of decree, which refers to what God has ordained. All that He decrees will ultimately come to pass. This is how things are.
  • Will of desire. This refers to what God has commanded, what He desires from His creatures. This is how things ought to be.

A third way that we look at God’s will is His will of direction. Does God have a secret will of direction that He expects us to figure out before we do anything? The author states that God does have a specific plan for our lives, but it is not one that He expects us to figure out before we make a decision.
He then addresses problems with the conventional approach to finding the will of God, and writes that if we are seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, we will be in God’s will, so we should just go out and do something.
He looks at four tools that Christians have developed for discerning God’s will – open doors, fleeces, random Bible verses, and impressions. He writes that all four tools can be used wisely, and that all four can be instruments of foolishness.
For making decisions, he recommends:
Step One:  Search the Scriptures
Step Two:  Get wise counsel
Step Three:  Pray
Step Four:  Make a decision

He addresses two specific decisions we spend a lot of time on – what job should I take and who should I marry. He states that in almost any job, God can be pleased with our work so long as we are taking pleasure in Him as we do it. Regarding marriage, he states that as a general rule, Christians are waiting too long to get married.
This short book may best resonate with young adults, but it contains wise advice for all ages.

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

I first heard about it from the Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church. This week we look at Chapter 7 – How Not to Get a Job 

  • 90 percent of us are using a method that might only work 5 percent of the time.
  • The problem is that 52 percent of employers have admitted that they respond to fewer than half of the candidates that apply.
  • This standard model fails so much of the time because it is a model based on the mistaken idea that your perfect job is out there waiting for you.
  • The idea that somehow the Internet is the be-all and end-all when it comes to looking for a job has gotten a lot of traction, but it’s yet another dysfunctional belief.
  • Most great jobs—those that fall into the dream job category—are never publicly listed.
  • If you insist on trying to generate job options by mining the postings on the Internet, we have a few insider tips for you to improve the chances that your Internet search will be productive.
  • The job description on the website is typically not written by the hiring manager or someone who really understands the job. The job description almost never captures what the job actually requires for success.
  • Job number one is to “fit in.” This doesn’t mean you should say anything about yourself that isn’t true. It does mean that, if you want to be discovered, you need to describe yourself with the same words that the company uses. It also means that you don’t want to talk about your amazing multidisciplinary skill set yet—it will only confuse the “fit” evaluation.
  • If you have those specific skills, great; add them to your résumé, word for word. If you don’t, list very specific skills that are similar.
  • If you want to work at a cool company, you really do want to get connected to people inside that company, using the prototyping conversations we’ve discussed. A personal connection can help you greatly. You’ll still have to go through the hiring process, but you’ll have some help.
  • None of the job descriptions we found when we went looking on the Internet seemed to address any of the issues we’ve been discussing. They didn’t speak to the deeper issues of why we work or what work is for. It’s a wonder that anyone would want to apply for one of these jobs.
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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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