Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

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  • James Brown: Dedication to Christ in Every Sphere of Influence. On this episode of the BreakPoint Podcast, Warren Cole Smith interviews sportscaster and journalist James Brown.  Brown talks about taking his faith into every sphere of his life, from personal fitness, to athletics, to education, to journalism, to entrepreneurship.
  • Job Clubs: One Way Churches Can Implement “Economic Wisdom”. Amy L. Sherman writes “How can churches take steps to better integrate economic wisdom throughout their churches and neighborhoods? One method is through job clubs. A job club, or a gathering of job-seekers for mutual support and encouragement, often involves networking and some training — with the focus on effective job-searching skills.”
  • Three Guys, Three Chainsaws. Steve Graves writes “So do you want to hire great workers? Hire workers that work hard, smart, and productive. Want to unleash great workers? Give them purpose and meaning.”
  • Accelerating Culture, Part 2. On the September Andy Stanley Leadership podcast, Stanley concludes his conversation with Dave Katz, CFO of Coca-Cola Consolidated, about what it means to accelerate culture within your organization.
  • Matrix Design. Listen to this broadcast from iWork4Him with Patrick Bertsche and Ivette Franco of Matrix Design, located outside of the Chicago area. Matrix works closely with end users to develop, build and install robotic automation systems. Hear their faith backgrounds, and what they are up to now, and how they are furthering the Kingdom via business.
  • Kathy Peel writes “Despite efforts to create the illusion of a perfect home on Instagram or Facebook, there’s no such thing as a perfect home. But there is such a thing as a good home–a place where family members walk through the door and say, “Wow, it’s good to be home!” A place where family members help each other flourish personally and do the will of God.” Listen to Kathy’s interview on  iwork4Him.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More interesting article links
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure, and Overcoming the Odds by Nick Foles with Joshua Cooley
  • My Review of Birds of Pray: The Story of the Philadelphia Eagles’ Faith, Brotherhood, and Super Bowl Victory by Rob Maaddi
  • Snippets from the book ‘The Economics of Neighborly Love’

  • How to Get Unstuck. On this episode of the Catalyst Podcast Matt Perman joins Jason Haynes for a conversation about productivity. There is often a gap between our vision and our reality, listen in as Matt addresses how to get unstuck and turn your dream into actuality.
  • On Those Busy Days. Scotty Smith prays “Heavenly Father, I woke up today with a long “to do list” clamoring for my attention. “
  • Fear of Man and Failure. Trillia J. Newbell writes “If you struggle with the fear of man or failure, ask God to help you turn from your fear to embrace Jesus, asking the Lord to fill you with fresh faith, grace, and knowledge of Him. Keep pursuing good work—but ask your gracious heavenly Father to cleanse your motives, helping you do it for the good of His kingdom and the glory of His name.”
  • Why Biblical Leadership is Usually Unglamorous. Glenn Brooke writes “Therefore, be encouraged if your leadership isn’t getting much attention in the world. Don’t be fooled into thinking you missed something, or become bitter because you aren’t recognized by the world the way others have been. God has all kinds of people in leadership roles, with a wide range of scope—including you.”

  • The Real Dignity of Working at Trader Joe’s (And All Work). Hugh Whelchel writes “Whether you’re at the beginning, middle, or end of your career, work is a God-given gift. All work has a purpose, whether it’s paid or unpaid, to glorify God, serve the common good, and advance God’s kingdom.”
  • 20 Quotes from the Most Insightful Book on Calling and Vocation. Ivan Mesa writes “Wingren’s book Luther on Vocation is refreshingly clear, practical, and timely—so much so that I found myself transcribing quotes from nearly every page. Below are 20 of the most helpful ones, grouped around specific themes that are good reminders for us today.”
  • A New Testament Professor’s Rediscovery of the Doctrine of Vocation. Robert L. Plumer writes “Imagine the average layperson in your church—the owner of a bike shop, a truck driver, a doctor, a secretary, a lawyer, a school teacher.  If you were to ask him or her, ‘How does your pastor expect you to apply your Christian faith to your work?’ What would they say?”

  • 4 Things Your Work Exposes About Your Heart. Michael Kelley writes “Work is not just an opportunity to make money, to bring something of value to the world, or to occupy your time – work, in the hands of the Holy Spirit, is actually an opportunity to grow in Christ.”
  • Working Unto the Glory of God. Gene Veith writes “One way we can glorify God in our work is to do our very best”.
  • Work, Dignity, and the Source of Our True Value. Daniel Darling writes “Constructive work is in and of itself a way we live as image-bearers. And the way we work can be a way we demonstrate that we understand the value of those we work alongside, and those we interact with. Our work is how we love and serve our neighbors”.
  • Two Crucial Errors That Limit the Impact of Our Leadership. Kristin Brown writes “In the podcast, Hugh shares more of his personal story of working 30 years in the business arena and struggling to understand that the purpose of his work was more than just providing money for the church and his family. While both of those are good purposes, they are not ultimately the “why” behind our work. When we don’t know the reason for our work, it ultimately limits our ability to impact our communities for Christ.”

  • Are You Asking the Right Questions About Life’s Purpose? Hugh Whelchel writes “The problem is that many people, including Christians, are looking for meaning in all the wrong places. For the Christian, the answers to these three core questions can be found in the opening chapters of Genesis.”
  • God Calls Me to Motherhood and Art. How Do I Do Both? “Instead of viewing motherhood as a barrier to her artistic calling, Michelle B. Radford has learned to embrace the inherent tension between the work of raising a family and the work of creating fine art—a tension that in many ways undergirds the vocational focus of Leaf Institute itself. Christianity Today spoke with Radford about the vision behind her new project, the struggle between community and creation, and the subterranean logic of her multiple callings.”
  • Will We Work and Have Jobs in Heaven? Randy Alcorn writes “Because there will be continuity from the old Earth to the new, it’s possible we’ll continue some of the work we started on the old Earth. We’ll pursue some of the same things we were doing, or dreamed of doing, before our deaths.”
  • Why Do We Work Hard at Our Work? Scott Slayton writes “Many of us spend more time working and commuting to work than we do on any activity. We work more than we sleep and more than we spend time with friends and family. If we are going to spend this much time at work, shouldn’t we have a reason for doing so beyond the accumulation of money? In addition, don’t we need to understand why we need to work hard at work instead of frittering away our time?”
  • If the World’s Going to End, Why Do a Good Job at Work? Greg Forster writes “Continuity and discontinuity are both needed for a sound eschatology, and hence for a sound approach to our daily work. Continuity alone brings us vocational captivity to worldly standards and moralistic legalism. Discontinuity alone brings us vocational detachment and even resentful isolation.”

Quotes about Faith and Work

  • When pursuing your life’s work, your calling can be hard to see. Jeff Goins
  • Living the mission of Jesus means taking your faith into your work and your life and praying for it to change people’s hearts toward God. Tim Keller
  • A calling is something you have to do. A dream is something you want to do. Calling is doing what you are created to do. John Maxwell
  • Don’t devote your life to doing something big. Devote yourself instead to a good direction, and then do all the small things that God commands. Every day. Over and over and over. Then a day just might come when you discover you’ve accomplished something big. Jonathan Leeman
  • Work, it seems, was never meant to be something we do just to make a living. It was meant to be a means of making a difference- in our own lives and in the lives of others. Jeff Goins
  • Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. Augustine
  • This job has been given to me to do. Therefore, it is a gift. Therefore, it is a privilege. Therefore, it is an offering I may make to God. Therefore, it is to be done gladly, if it is done for Him. Here, not somewhere else, I may learn God’s way. In this job, not in some other, God looks for faithfulness. Elisabeth Elliot
  • (Work is) the expenditure of energy (manual or mental or both) in the service of others, which brings fulfillment to the worker, benefit to the community, and glory to God. John Stott
  • If God is satisfied with the work, the work may be satisfied with itself. C.S. Lewis

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEWS:

Believe It: My Journey of Success, Failure, and Overcoming the Odds by Nick Foles with Joshua Cooley. Tyndale Momentum. 239 pages. 2018
****

This is the inspiring story of Nick Foles, the backup quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles who stepped in and led the team to the 2018 Super Bowl championship after the starter went down. I’ve read a lot of books written by sports figures after a remarkable season. But this is so much more than your typical sports book. In Believe It, Foles demonstrates how he integrates his faith with his work as an NFL quarterback, aiming to glorify God in his work. He also writes that he gets his identity from who he is in God, rather than through his performance on the football field. Throughout the book, he also shares lessons he’s learned from his failures, struggles, and weaknesses that have made him who he is today.
Foles shares his story about growing up in Austin, Texas, and playing football one season at Michigan State University.  It was at Michigan State that he made a deeper commitment to Christ. He then transferred to the University of Arizona. It was there that he would meet his future wife, Tori Moore.
He would be drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012. In his rookie year, the Eagles finished last and their head coach, Andy Reid, who Foles thinks very highly of, was fired.
Foles would have a Pro Bowl season in 2013. After stepping in for injured Michael Vick, he ended up finishing the regular season with twenty-seven touchdowns and two interceptions—the best ratio in NFL history—and a league-leading 119.2 passer rating. Even better, the team won six of their final seven games, clinching the NFC East division title.
He writes of his growing relationship with Tori, who would be diagnosed with POTS (Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome), a dysfunction in the autonomic nervous system. Years later, they would live together before they were married. Foles is honest in writing that both he and Tori knew what they were doing wasn’t in line with what they believed and what the Bible teaches. After being challenged about this, they decided to get married earlier than expected.
Foles 2014 season was a disappointment, eventually ending with a broken collarbone midway through his first full season as a starter. He writes that he was trying so hard to live up to his prior accomplishments that he put way too much pressure on himself; his play suffered as a result. He was shocked to hear from the coach that he was being traded to the St. Louis Rams. There was a losing culture in St. Louis, having been more than ten years since the Rams had finished over .500, and the franchise was going to be moving to Los Angeles the following season.
He played poorly in that environment and writes of Coach Jeff Fisher benching him without warning and publicly in front of his peers, certainly not a good example of servant leadership. After that season he did a lot of searching through journaling. This kept him close to God and he realized that there was a purpose for everything he was going through, even if he still couldn’t see it.
It was during this time that he decided to retire from football.  But Tori and others close to him weren’t sure that it was the time to retire and they asked him to reconsider his decision. He writes of praying with Tori for God’s plan for him and to help him make a decision that would glorify him.  He writes of making the decision to try football one more time, and calling his old coach Andy Reid, who was now coaching in Kansas City.  He returned to the NFL as a backup quarterback to Alex Smith in Kansas City. He writes that his job that year was simple: to work hard, support Alex as best he could, encourage his teammates, be a positive influence in the locker room, and be ready to step in and play if needed. On a deeper level, his goal was to glorify God in everything he did, and to do it with a joyful spirit.
Foles enjoyed the 2016 season with the Chiefs, even if most of it was from the sidelines. The season also included the birth of the couple’s first child, daughter Lily James. By the end of the 2016 season, Foles had also signed up for two seminary classes through Liberty’s online program, as he planned to be a Youth Pastor after his football career was over.
Although Nick and Tori really enjoyed their time in Kansas City and wanted to stay, football is a business and that didn’t work out. But an opportunity came up for Foles to return to Philadelphia to play the 2017 season with the Eagles. Foles signed a two-year contract. All he wanted to do was be part of an organization that he loved and glorify God in his role, which would be as a backup to Carson Wentz.
Injuries are a part of sports, and Foles got his opportunity when Wentz was injured. The rest of the book takes the reader through the final weeks of the season and then the playoffs, where the Eagles were the top seed in the NFC at 13–3, with home-field advantage throughout. In the Super Bowl, the Eagles would face the New England Patriots and their star quarterback Tom Brady, who already had five Super Bowl titles.
In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, Foles found peace and perspective rereading the Psalms. I enjoyed hearing how he spent the hours leading up to the Super Bowl game itself, including listening to a message from Tim Keller. Nobody expected the Eagles, with a backup quarterback to win the game. But they did, and Foles was named the Super Bowl Most Valuable Player.
A final note: all proceeds from the book will go to various churches and organizations.

Here are 10 great quotes from Believe It:

  • When my identity was tied to football, I constantly felt the pressure to be perfect. I lost sight of the fact that I don’t have to be perfect—in fact, I can’t be perfect. No one can. Only Jesus is perfect.”
  • The true measure of success is to make sure everything I do—the way I act, the way I treat others, the way I deal with disappointment and setbacks—reflects and glorifies God.
  • As a Christian, I find my identity, value, and purpose in life in one source—God.
  • I’m not just a football player. I’m a child of God who happens to be called to play football, using the gifts and abilities he has blessed me with. Once I finally understood this, I realized that it didn’t really matter which path I chose.
  • When we share our faults and weaknesses, not only are we being honest, we also become more relatable—and more human—to the people around us.
  • Our frailty and inabilities highlight God’s perfect strength. Jesus himself is the ultimate example of finding strength in weakness. He was fully God and fully human, yet he came down to serve others and sacrifice himself for us. What appeared to be a moment of weakness for him was actually the strongest moment in history.
  • We are strongest when we are weak because that’s when we turn to God and put our trust in him.
  • Football is my calling now, and if God wants us in Philly for the time being, then that’s where we’ll be. I’ll strive to glorify him, remain humble, and focus on having a positive impact on others—just like I would anywhere else.
  • I am a walking example of the “strength in weakness” principle. My whole career arc bears it out. “Backup quarterback who considered retirement leads team to first Super Bowl”—that’s not just a nice underdog story. That’s 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 in action!
  • The truth is, we all have different gifts, interests, and abilities that God delights in using. Our job is simply to use those gifts in ways that will glorify him and point others toward him.

Birds of Pray: The Story of the Philadelphia Eagles’ Faith, Brotherhood, and Super Bowl Victory by Rob Maaddi. Zondervan. 208 pages. 2018
***

There have been a few books written about the 2018 NFL Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles. I previously read Nick Foles’ book Believe It:  My Journey of Success, Failure, and Overcoming the Odds. This book is written by Rob Maaddi, who started his “Faith On The Field Show” on Philadelphia sports radio in 2017 to give athletes a forum to discuss how God has impacted their lives and to use sports as a vehicle to share the message of Jesus. The author has been covering Philadelphia sports teams full-time since 2000.
In this book, he introduces us to many of the Christians on the Eagles team last season. He writes that winning or losing wasn’t going to define that group of men. Their identity wasn’t rooted in their accomplishments, it was found in Christ.
He writes about players being baptized in the recovery pool at the team’s practice facility. The pool they were baptized in was the same pool a majority of the players on the team go to for healing.
The first section of the book gives us glimpses into these players, often including long quotes from them. He tells us how the players’ strong desire to grow in their faith, to sharpen each other, to hold each other accountable helped this core group of players form an unbreakable bond. Community was also a key concept for the players.
He addresses the controversial and divisive national anthem protests that some of the players participated in as a way to protest against social injustices.
The second half of the book takes the reader through each game of the championship season, including the many injuries that the team suffered, most notably to quarterback Carson Wentz, who was putting together an MVP worthy season.
The Eagles mantra was “We all we got, we all we need”.  Backup quarterback Nick Foles would lead the Eagles to an upset win over the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
I enjoyed reading this book, especially the first half, as the author provides insights into the Christians on the team, and how they integrated their faith and work.

Faith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

The Economics of Neighborly Love: Investing in Your Community’s Compassion and Capacity, the new book by Tom Nelson, author of the excellent book Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work. Why not consider reading along with us? Download The Economics of Neighborly Love Study Guide from Made to Flourish.

This week we look at Chapter 11: Rebuilding the Ruins

  • Neighborly love requires that we wisely and intentionally integrate faith, work, and economics for the glory of God and the good of the world.
  • Nehemiah helps us not only see our responsibility to promote the flourishing of both our local and global neighbors, but also provides needed guidance as we seek to enhance human flourishing and rebuild the ruins of our broken cities and society.
  • Nehemiah begins where we must begin, by seeing a community’s most fundamental need as a spiritual one. Without a restored relationship with God, no individual, community, or city will fully flourish. Without the spiritual insight and empowerment prayer brings, rebuilding the ruins of a community or a city is a mere dream.
  • If we are to embrace true neighborly love like Nehemiah did, then we must anchor our own lives and church mission in a Godward direction.
  • The ultimate bottom line in the economy of Jesus is grace. Grace is the kingdom currency. You can’t get very far without it. Economics is often seen as the allocation of scarce resources, but in Jesus’ economy there is no scarcity of grace. No matter the time, place, or circumstances, God’s grace is always available.
  • When it comes to what God requires from each of us, we all fail to measure up.
  • In the Jesus economy, grace is unfair. It is dispensed at the discretion of the Master. This truth may cause us to resent grace, because it is humbling to be unable to earn it.
  • Many times, we are like the older brother, resenting those we deem as unworthy of God’s grace. We look down at those who we believe know less than us, work less than us, or have less to offer than we do.
  • When we grasp that everything we have or achieve is ultimately a gift of grace, we are in a position to love our neighbors rightly. As recipients of grace, we can extend grace to others.
  • For a gospel ecosystem to flourish in a community or city, pastors and Christian leaders must take seriously the task to equip congregants not for the minority of their lives but for the tasks they are engaged in the majority of their time. A more comprehensive discipleship approach will connect Sunday worship with Monday work, enabling congregants to live, share, and grow in their faith within their vocational callings and remunerative work.
  • Christian leaders and pastors will find they are being more effective in the stewardship of the spiritual formation of congregations when they grasp that a great deal of spiritual growth takes place in the workplace and everyday economic life.
  • How much more creative, innovative, enjoyable, and productive would our workplaces be if the fruit of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—were regularly evident instead of deeds of the flesh?
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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 38 years and a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Before retiring I served as a manager at a Fortune 50 company; I'm 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 2 Corinthians 5:21 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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