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

GRIPING VS. CONTENTMENT:

  • 4 Major Gripes Heard Around the Office. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “As a speaker in hundreds of companies, I’ve kept a record of the gripes I hear people utter. After all, it’s my job as a speaker/trainer/coach to turn those things around. These are the four most commonly heard gripes these days.”
  • What is Biblical Contentment? Dave Kraft writes “Contentment has less to do with the amount of, or intensity, of the activity you are involved in and more to do with your mind-set. Who are you truly trusting to see things happen in your life, relationships, work and ministry–yourself or God?”

VOCATION AND CALLING:

  • “Job Crafting”: Cultivating Our Vocation at Work. Stevan Becker writes “Cultivating our vocation is a matter of listening to God in the particulars of our work situation and discovering the unique things we’ve been created to do. Cultivating our job may mean taking what we have to work with and recreating
  • How to Glorify God at Work. John Piper writes “The point is: Whatever you do, whether you eat or drink or work, do all to make God look as great as he really is.”
  • Your Calling Actually Isn’t About You. Sharon Hodde Miller writes “At some point, a self-centered calling conflicts with God-centered callings, because God-centered callings always lead to a cross. God-centered callings involve suffering, sacrifice, and looking like a fool, because this is the path of the Savior we follow. If your calling is about your image or your reputation or your comfort and convenience, it will eventually diverge from the path of Christ. At some point, God will ask you to do something that isn’t about you or doesn’t feel good or requires you to suffer, and you will have to make a choice.”
  • Help Me Teach the Bible on Work. The latest episode in Nancy Guthrie’s “Help Me Teach the Bible” is with Peter Orr on work.
  • Top Reasons Why a Long Commute May Be Worth It. Hugh Whelchel writes “Work is necessary for a meaningful life, but we must not make our work themeaning for our existence. As Christians, we must find our identity in Christ, not in our work. Yet, work is the major way we respond to God’s call on our lives. So, no matter the length of your commute, be encouraged that what you do today at work matters!”

REAL LIFE EXAMPLES:

  • God Works in Advertising, Too. Stevan Becker writes “God is intimately involved in our work. He cares about the details. He’s doing his work through the work of our hands—even in the “secular” sales and advertising space. No matter what you do for work, stop and pray through your projects, both the big ones and the small ones. Pray that he will be glorified as you serve him in all you do.”
  • Everybody Matters Podcast: Mark Sawyier of Bonfyre. This episode of the Everybody Matters Podcast features a discussion with Mark Sawyier of Bonfyre, a company who has created a workplace culture platform that is helping organizations engage, include and inspire their people.

CONFERENCES:

  • 2018 Faith at Work Summit. The 2018 Faith at Work Summit will be held in Chicago, on October 11th-13th. Be sure to save this date!
  • 9Marks Leadership Conference. The talks and panel discussions from the 9Marks at Southeastern conference are now online. Watch as Mark Dever, Danny Akin, Burk Parsons, Thabiti Anyabwile, Jeramie Rinne and H. B. Charles, Jr consider the importance & implications of biblical leadership.

FOR LEADERS:

  • Ron Edmondson On Busting The 7 Myths That Break Too Many Young Leaders. Ron Edmondson joins Carey Nieuwhof on his podcast for a discussion about his new book The Mythical Leader: The Seven Myths of Leadership.
  • 10 Books Every Leader Should Read This Fall. Brian Dodd shares this list of ten books, one of which I’ve read, and one I’m reading now.
  • 42 Leadership Quotes from Andy Stanley. Brian Dodd shares these quotes form Catalyst 17’.
  • 7 Spurgeon Quotes for Stressed Leaders. Eric Geiger writes “Charles Spurgeon started ministry at sixteen years old, led the largest evangelical church of his day, published more words in English than anyone, preached to celebrities and royalty, earned millions of dollars, gave it all away, and was by almost any measure a success. Yet he battled anxiety, depression, and significant suffering. He knew the pressures of leadership and ministry like few others. Here are seven encouragements from one tired, stressed, faithful leader to you.”

TEAMS:

Quotes about Faith and Work

  • All good work, especially yours, is God’s work. Scott Sauls
  • God wants no lazy idlers, but each should work hard and faithfully, following his calling and fulfilling his office, that God give him blessing and cause him to thrive. Martin Luther
  • Work is the fruitful transformation of the world through human effort and skill, in ways that serve our shared human needs and give glory to God. Andy Crouch
  • Integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one is watching. S. Lewis
  • It is better to be in anonymity and be marked by God than be in the spotlight and be marked by man. Brad Lomenick
  • There’s nothing wrong with greatness. The problem is how we conceive of greatness. Albert Mohler
  • If you want to lead on the highest level, be willing to serve on the lowest. John Maxwell
  • Laziness is not just a bad work ethic; it is a sin and affront against God. Thom Rainer
  • Do you direct people or develop people? Oswald Sanders

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEWS:

Luther on Leadership by Stephen J. Nichols. Tremendous Leadership. 80 pages. 2017
***

This short book is a part of the Life-Changing Classics series. The author, who has written extensively on Luther, looks at five essential lessons for leaders that Luther offered, each of which he states was colorfully displayed in his life. Below are the five lessons, and a few of the author’s comments about each one:
Leadership lesson #1: Timeless Truth. The time of Luther was a time of death and darkness (economic, cultural and spiritual). He writes that ultimately, the answer to this darkness is the timeless message of the gospel and the timeless truth found in the Bible.
He tells us that in addition to his understanding of media and negative communication, Luther also knew the value of the well-spoken word and the power of a concise message. Luther used the pamphlet to get his message out. He was not the first person to employ the pamphlet as a tool for reaching people, but he came near to perfecting it with a great deal of efficiency and effectiveness. The author states that Luther utilized the greatest technological advancements of his day, and he mastered the medium.
Leaders tell timeless truth in timely ways. They know the power of the written and spoken word, and they know just the right package for each. When a timeless and truthful word is told well, it can change the world.
Leadership lesson #2: Boldness and Confidence. Boldness and confidence come not from within, but from God. There should be very little doubt that courage, boldness, and confidence are necessary for leadership.
Leadership lesson #3: Perseverance. Luther was no stranger to conflict or suffering. He suffered physically and he also watched his family suffer. Another source of trials for Luther was the distortion of his teachings by opponents. Friends and foes alike made life difficult for Luther. Nevertheless, he persevered.  We see this perseverance even in the events surrounding his death. Though he had many victories and celebrations, his life was difficult and full of sorrows and cares.
Leaders who are unprepared for distortion, rejection, suffering, and loss probably will not be able to endure in leadership roles.
Leadership lesson #4: Potential of Children. Luther never underestimated the potential of children and rarely did he pass up the opportunity to influence them.
Prudent leaders will invest time and attention in their younger employees, workforce, or direct reports.
Leadership lesson #5: Service. Luther sees servant leadership as not only a time-tested reflection of the practices of Christ, but also as liberating and joy-inducing. Luther would say that to be a servant leader is both a duty and a delight. Gratitude leads to humility. Humility leads to service. Luther both withheld his power and used his power in the service of others.
Luther’s leadership occurred largely within the church, but he was also a leader in the academy. The author states that Luther was a reformer and scholar but, above all, he remains a leader worth following.
I enjoyed this unique look at Luther from a respected author. Unfortunately, the editing and formatting of the book was poor (many sentences starting without a capital letter, etc.), resulting in my lower rating for the book.

Can I Know God’s Will? (Crucial Questions Series Book 4) by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust. 114 pages. 1998
****

In this short book from R.C. Sproul’s helpful Crucial Questions series, he looks at the will of God for our lives. He begins by looking at the different ways in which the will of God is addressed in the Bible. First, he addresses the decretive will of God. That is the will by which God decrees things to come to pass according to His supreme sovereignty. He also talks about the preceptive will of God. The precepts, statutes, and commandments that God delivers to His people make up the preceptive will. They express and reveal to us what is right and proper for us to do. The decretive will of God cannot be broken or disobeyed. It will come to pass. On the other hand, there is a will that can be broken, the preceptive will of God. It can be disobeyed. Indeed, it is broken and disobeyed every day by each one of us. Another aspect of the will of God is the will of disposition. It is tied up with the ability of man to disobey God’s preceptive will. This aspect of the will of God refers to what is pleasing and agreeable to God.
The author states that there is both a revealed and hidden will of God. The distinction of God’s revealed will and hidden will raises a practical problem: the question of whether or not it is possible for a Christian to act in harmony with God’s decretive (hidden) will and at the same time work against His preceptive will.
The author writes that the top priority of Jesus is that we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. All other things will be added to that.
He writes that perhaps the oldest dilemma of the Christian faith is the apparent contradiction between the sovereignty of God and the freedom of man. He states that our freedom is always constrained by the sovereignty of God and that there is no contradiction between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will.  We were commanded by the Creator not to sin, but chose to sin, though not because God or anyone else forced us to. We chose that out of our own heart. The author states that we must never attribute the cause of our sin to God, or adopt any position that would excuse us from the moral responsibility that Scripture clearly assigns to us.
He looks at the will of God for us in two major areas of our lives: our vocations and our marriages. In discerning our vocational calling, he gives us four important questions to consider:

  1. What can I do?
  2. What do I like to do?
  3. What would I like to be able to do?
  4. What should I do?

He writes that any vocation that meets the needs of God’s world can be considered a divine calling. A vocation is something that we receive from God; He is the one who calls us. Other questions that will be helpful in discerning our vocational calling are:

  • What would I most like to do if I didn’t have to please anyone in my family or my circle of friends?
  • What would I like to be doing ten years from now?

In looking at the will of God in marriage, he asks us to consider these questions:

  1. Should I Get Married?
  2. Do I Want to Get Married?
  3. What Do I Want in a Marriage Partner?
  4. From Whom Should I Seek Counsel?
  5. When Am I Ready to Get Married?

He writes that in order for us to understand the will of God for marriage, it is imperative that we pay attention to God’s preceptive will.

This short book is a helpful introduction to the will of God for our lives in the areas of our vocations and marriage.

The e-book version of all 25 books in the Crucial Questions series are free.  To find out more go here.

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 8 – Designing Your Dream Job:

  • First of all, let’s clarify that there is no dream job. There are good jobs in good places with good co-workers, and there are at least a couple of those good jobs that you can make close enough to perfect so you can really love them. Those are the “dream jobs” we can help you find, but almost all of them are invisible to you now, because they’re part of the hidden job market.
  • It is a wonderfully happy accident that the very best technique you can use to learn what kind of work you might want to pursue (prototyping with Life Design Interviews, as discussed in chapter 6) is exactly the best, if not only, way to get into the hidden job market in your field of interest, once you know what you want.
  • Remember, all you’re looking for from a Life Design Interview (functioning as a prototype conversation) is to learn about a particular kind of work or role to help you find out if you want, at a later date, to try to get a job doing that kind of work yourself.
  • More than half the time, when the approach we’re recommending results in an offer, they initiate it. You don’t have to. If they don’t start it for you, you can ask one question that will convert the conversation from getting their story to pursuing a job.
  • “Network” is more noun than verb. The point isn’t to “do” networking; the goal is to participate in the network. Simply put, it just means to enter into a particular community that’s having a particular conversation (such as sustainable architecture).
  • The network exists to sustain the community of people getting the work done—and is the only way to gain access to the hidden job market.
  • Use the Internet not to get online job listings but to find and reach out to the people whose stories you want to hear.
  • If you become a superstar at using LinkedIn and Google, the Internet can make a difference for you, and will no longer be the black hole into which you submit countless applications.
  • Guess what the first consideration was of the graduating class of 2014 when looking for a job: nature of the work. Salary and the friendliness of co-workers come in second and third, to complete this completely dysfunctional job-seeker trifecta.
  • That’s why the most important reframe when you are designing your career is this: you are never looking for a job, you are looking for an offer.
  • The biggest impact of this reframe is on your mind-set. It shifts you from being a person deciding whether or not you’d take this job (which you know nothing about) to being a person who is curious to find out what kind of interesting offer you might be able to find in that organization.
  • Whether you are seeking your first job, changing careers, or choosing an encore career, you need to be genuinely curious. That’s what prototyping conversations and prototyping experiences are all about: being open and curious about the possibilities. We call it pursuing latent wonderfulness.
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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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