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

  • How Cancer Gave Me a New Perspective on Work. Chip Roper writes “Medical work, which we have now been the regular recipients of for eight months, can teach us something about work in general.”
  • How to Pray When You Hate Your Job. Tom Nelson writes “We may deeply struggle with our work, our workplaces, and the fellow image bearers we encounter in our vocational responsibilities. Yet it is in and through our jobs that we are called to provide for our material needs, to worship God, to be spiritually formed, to incarnate and proclaim the gospel and indwell common grace for the common good.”
  • Experiencing God’s Presence in my Military Service (Part 2). Our friend Russell Gehrlein writes “This is the second article of a two-part series on this topic. In part 1, I reflected on five aspects of how I experienced God’s presence as I served in and with the U.S. Army over the past 34 years.  Here, I would like to continue to expand my thoughts by covering my next five observations.”
  • The Intrinsic Value of Business to God. Bill Peel writes “The Bible provides rich resources Christian business leaders can use to guide their vision for enterprises that glorify God.”
  • Teaching Kids to Live as Christians Through Work. Andrew Spencer writes about his desire that his children learn to value work.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Reviews of The Leader’s Greatest Return: Attracting, Developing, and Multiplying Leaders by John Maxwell and An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life by Jeff Haanen
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week

  • The gospel frees us from the relentless pressure of having to prove ourselves and secure our identity through work. Tim Keller
  • No matter what our vocational calling is, whether our work is paid or not, our contribution of productivity is a vital manifestation of the flourishing, fruitful life from which we serve and love others. Tom Nelson
  • We can talk all day about what we’re supposed to do, but if we don’t understand why we’re leading in the first place, none of it will make sense. Patrick Lencioni
  • The Lord is pleased with faithful work in every calling. Dan Doriani
  • Work is a major instrument of God’s providence; it is how he sustains the human world. Tim Keller
  • No individual, team or organization will ever drift into greatness. Mark Miller
  • Good leaders want more for the people they lead than they want from them. John Maxwell
  • This is what vocation is for everyone everywhere, a calling to care about the way the world is—even dreaming dreams about what might be—and working through the days of our lives at what could and even should be. Steven Garber
  • All honest work is dignified if we love our neighbors and strive to serve God in it. Dan Doriani

FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEWS:

The Leader’s Greatest Return: Attracting, Developing, and Multiplying Leaders by John Maxwell. HarperCollins Leadership. 256 pages. 2020
****

John Maxwell has had a significant impact on my leadership since I began reading his books almost twenty years ago. In his latest book, he writes about developing leaders, which he states is his greatest joy as a leader. He writes that developing leaders is the most impacting and rewarding thing you can do as a leader, and that the work of investing your life in developing other leaders has a high return.
Like all of Maxwell’s books, he illustrates his points with interesting stories and quotes from articles and books, including some of his own, most notably The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, my favorite Maxwell book, and the one I most often use when I mentor others leaders. He also shares about people he has developed, including pastor Kevin Myers and Mark Cole, CEO of the John Maxwell Companies.
The author covers a number of subjects related to attracting, developing, and multiplying leaders. Some of those were the leadership table, adding value, asking questions, listening, empowering leaders, sponsors, and mentoring, the latter being my favorite section of the book, as mentoring is a passion of mine. In that section, he shares about mentors that he has had, including legendary UCLA men’s basketball coach John Wooden, who he refers to several times in the book.
This book is another gift that John Maxwell has given to leaders. My only complaint is the lack of study questions at the end of each chapter, which would be helpful as you read and discuss the book with others. Note: there is a separate workbook for the book that can be purchased.

Below are 20 of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • Everywhere you look, there is a leadership deficit.
  • If you are a leader—at any level or in any capacity—your organization will benefit when you start developing leaders.
  • There is nothing in this world that gives a greater ROI to a leader than attracting, developing, and multiplying leaders. It’s the key to success for any country, family, organization, or institution.
  • Developing leaders is the one activity that compounds a leader’s time, influence, energy, vision, culture, finances, and mission.
  • Grow a leader—grow the organization.
  • Success for leaders can be defined as the maximum utilization of the abilities of those working with them.
  • One of the primary responsibilities of any successful leader is to identify potential leaders.
  • When you’re trying to identify potential leaders to develop, look for influence. It’s a qualification that must be present in someone you wish to develop as a leader, because leadership is influence, nothing more, nothing less.
  • Good leaders want more for the people they lead than they want from them.
  • Having a leadership table means creating a place in your organization or on your team where people have a place to learn, an opportunity to practice leadership with its successes and failures, and a chance to shine.
  • Organizations with a strong leadership culture depend on people for guidance and direction, not rules and policies.
  • A company’s culture is the expression of the values of the people within the organization. It is the sum of the behavior of the people, not a reflection of what you want it to be.
  • Adding value is what leaders do for others.
  • Knowledge isn’t the key to success. Applying knowledge is. That’s how people grow.
  • Leadership is more caught than taught.
  • If you want to develop leaders, you need to encourage them to practice their leadership and give them a place to do it.
  • Before you lead and develop people, you need to connect with them.
  • Good leadership requires a perspective shift from it’s all about me to it’s all about others.
  • Asking questions is more powerful than giving directions.
  • There is perhaps no better way to connect with people than to become a better listener.

An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life by Jeff Haanen. Moody Publishers. 208 pages. 2019
****

Having recently retired, reading this book came at a good time for me. Actually, if I had read the book before I retired it would have been the perfect time. There is much wisdom in this book and I highly recommend it for believers who are retired or will soon be retired. I read the book in two days and then read and discussed it again with a few friends who retired the same time as I did.
The author, the executive director of the Denver Institute, writes that there is a growing sense of uneasiness among Americans ages 50–70. Baby boomers, and even early Gen Xers, are asking new questions about life, work, calling, and purpose in retirement—questions that our society is largely unprepared to answer. This book will help with those questions. One of the biggest of those questions is “God, do You have a purpose for my retirement?”
The author states that finances are a major concern for most older Americans, with the number one financial concern among the recently retired is how to pay (or who will pay) for rising healthcare costs as they age.
He writes that the dominant paradigm of retirement today is about vacation—how to afford it, and then how to make the most of it. But this type of lifestyle leads to boredom at a minimum, and sometimes to despair. Vacation as an ongoing lifestyle is often an attempt to escape from reality. Vacation isn’t the answer. Instead, the answer is to begin retirement with a stretch of deep Sabbath rest. A sabbatical is a way to structure time in early retirement to heal past wounds, seek God’s voice, and find God’s call for the next season of life. A sabbatical is the time to ask the honest question, “God, what are You calling me to do in retirement?” Listening to God’s voice is at the heart of discerning your calling. Retirement is the chance to pick up the strands of your calling that might have been latent during your career and develop them more fully into your life’s work.
The author tells us that a Christian perspective on retirement needs more than “never retire, keep working.” It needs a restoration of work, rest, and service that matures over a lifetime.  For many, retirement offers a budding hope for work that better aligns with calling, yet is less subject to the deadline-driven pressure of their careers. Though work changes over a lifetime, he states that there’s nothing to suggest that work should completely cease at 62, 65, or 70. For Christians, work is fundamentally about contribution to others, not compensation; it’s an expression of our identity, but not the source of our identity; it’s about serving others, not personal success. However, working in retirement is filled with possible challenges that you should anticipate as you start planning your next season of life. Retirement is a season of possibility yet also of increased reminders of mortality. The author suggests that you decide what is important, and make a plan to do it, as the path toward effectiveness and impact. He tells us that studies find that those who write out their plan for retirement are far more satisfied than those who don’t.
The author states that learning in retirement can be preparation for a new job, career, or volunteer position that flows from a God-given calling. He discusses mentoring, indicating that today many are swapping a traditional idea of mentoring for the practice of intergenerational friendship. He adds that young people want to hear more about your mistakes than your successes.
He writes that reconnecting with family is a genuine joy of retirement. For many, serving kids, grandkids, and aging parents is central to a sense of vocation in this season of life.
The author writes that the church has been nearly silent on the topic of retirement, and then asks “What would it look like for the Christian church in America to transform our narrative about retirement?”
The “Afterword” is written by Chuck Bentley, CEO of Crown Financial Ministries. He writes that God is calling our generation to repurpose, not retire. He urges the reader to move away from thinking of retirement and to reframe this season of life as a time to repurpose.
The author includes helpful stories to illustrate his points throughout the book. He also contrasts “Common” vs. “Uncommon” approaches to retirement. An example is: “Common: Fear, doubt, and uncertainty in retirement” vs. “Uncommon: Retirement has hope because the Christian story is true”.
One suggestion for future editions would be to include “Questions for Discussion and Reflection” at the end of each chapter. That would aid in reading and discussing the book with others. (Note: A Discussion Guide is available for free download from a site that is listed in the book).

Below are 10 of my favorite quotes from the book:

  1. To be like God—and to become fully human—we need both work and rest in proper proportion.
  2. Work was created to be an expression of our identity, not the source of our identity.
  3. Discerning your calling is to move outward toward the majesty of God and a lifetime of service to Him.
  4. Work is inherently good and a way we reflect the image of God.
  5. Work is an expression of love because it’s the principal way we serve the needs of our neighbors.
  6. Work is the primary avenue for fulfilling Christ’s command to love your neighbor as yourself.
  7. Reconnecting with family is a genuine joy of retirement.
  8. Caring for the spiritual nourishment of the next generation is a way to think about a deep vocation in retirement.
  9. Retirement is a chance to pause and ask deeper questions about the next season of life.
  10. The biblical sense of hope is complete trust in God, for this life, for eternal life, and for the “life of the world to come.”

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

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life by Os Guinness is the best book on calling for the Christian that I have read. The first time I read it was in Dr. Douglass’s wonderful “Spiritual and Ministry Formation” class at Covenant Seminary in 2013. In 2018, on the 20th anniversary of the book, Guinness published a revised and updated edition.
Here are a few takeaways from Chapter 15: People of the Call.

  • The call of Jesus is personal but not purely individual; Jesus summons his followers not only to an individual calling but also to a corporate calling.
  • The called-out assembly of God’s people, which is subordinated to Christ as its head and coordinated with its fellow members of the body, lives its life by its practical obedience to God’s call in Christ.
  • There now stands a new community composed of willing members—the assembly of God’s called-out ones. These are bound together by a covenant and living out a corporate calling that both complements and transcends their callings as individuals.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 39 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.

One thought on “FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

  1. Pingback: Experiencing God’s Presence in my Military Service (Part 2) | Reflections on Theological Topics of Interest

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