Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles
- Is Work a Blessing or a Curse? On this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper responds to the question “Can you tell me whether our work today is a blessing or a curse? Much of our work seems to be cursed, based on Genesis 3. But a lot of our work also seems to be a God-given blessing, according to Ecclesiastes. According to the Bible, is my nine-to-five job a blessing, or is it a curse?”
- Mere Christians: David Platt. On this episode of the Mere Christians podcast, Jordan Raynor visits with David Platt about six steps to following Jesus fully at work.
- Called to Lead. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace is available in both a paperback and Kindle edition. Read a free sample (Introduction through Chapter 2).
- How to Work Well When Your Children Are Sick. Fernie Cosgrove shares a few things she’s learned about managing work when a child is sick.
Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:
- More links to interesting articles
- The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
- My Review of The Leader’s Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation (Second Edition) by Jim Herrington, Trisha Taylor and R. Robert Creech
- Quotes from the book You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly Kapic
- Help! I Want to Get Married But Can’t Afford It. Russ Gehrlein writes “Living God’s way, in accordance with his Word and the wisdom he provides, is always what’s best. His plans are perfect. He knows what you need because he designed you. His provision—of a godly woman to marry, of an education, of a job, of children—is something you can trust and rejoice in.”
- Making Peace with Work. Steven Lindsey shares thoughts from Kara Martin’s book Workship: How to Use Your Work to Worship God.
- Knowing God in Work & Rest. In partnership with Surge’s Faith, Work & Rest podcast, the Global Faith & Work Initiative’s new series is Knowing God in Work & Rest. This series invites you to make a subtle, yet profound, shift in the way you approach your work.
- Tim Keller Sermons on Work. Recently, all of Tim Keller’s sermons and talks were made available for free on the Gospel in Life Here are several of his sermons regarding work.
- Working with Dan Doriani. On this episode of the Working with Dan Doriani podcast, Dan visits with Michael Kruger, President of the Charlotte campus of Reformed Theological Seminary.
Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
- God created people to be His coworkers in expanding His kingdom on earth and He is present in the work of His children in order to meet the needs of humankind and bring glory to Himself. Russ Gehrlein
- All Christians are called as Christ’s ambassadors into the places where they live, work, play, and worship, with the glorious purpose of leaving it better than they found it. This is, we might say, the universal Christian job description. Scott Sauls
- In creation, God did all the work and rested. In redemption, God did all the work so we could rest. Tim Keller
- As an image bearer, we are to be fruitful, including in our work. Tom Nelson
- The problem of the workaholic, for example, is not that we love work too much, but that we love God too little, relative to our career. Tim Keller
- Vocation entails service in the place where God has given gifts and a desire to make a difference in this world. Dan Doriani
- If God exists then every good endeavor, even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling can matter forever. Tim Keller
- Your calling, when you find and embrace it, will result in the merging of your skills, talents, character traits, and experiences. John Maxwell
- The authority by which the Christian leader leads is not power but love, not force but example, not coercion but reasoned persuasion. Leaders have power, but power is safe only in the hands of those who humble themselves to serve. John Stott
FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEW:
The Leader’s Journey: Accepting the Call to Personal and Congregational Transformation (Second Edition) by Jim Herrington, Trisha Taylor and R. Robert Creech. Baker Academic. 256 pages. 2020
I was introduced to some of the concepts in this book a few weeks ago during our NXTGEN Pastors Cohort when we covered the “Leading in a Chronically Anxious Culture” module. I had been exposed to some of the material earlier when we covered the “Caring for Ourselves in Light of Our Family of Origin” module. The book is a basic overview of some of the principles of leadership in a living system, which is a different way of thinking about leadership. Leadership that recognizes an organization or a congregation as a living system requires a different way of thinking, and is not about learning a set of techniques. Learning this new way of thinking is about the disciplined practice of living out our values and guiding principles despite many anxiety-producing obstacles that come our way.
The authors wrote the book to offer a practical pathway to transforming the lives of pastors and congregational leaders. They tell us that we cannot lead others in transformation unless we are experiencing it ourselves.
The authors introduce many concepts and terms that may be new to most leaders. These ideas are rooted in the work of Dr. Murray Bowen’s Family Systems Theory. The book has been organized into four sections and at the end of each chapter are questions for reflective self-assessment.
When the authors talk about personal transformation, they are talking about disrupting patterns of disobedience and developing patterns of obedience that allow you to increasingly embody the gospel in your life. They use the life of Jesus and the conceptual framework of living systems to guide the reader on the journey of personal transformation. The authors tell us that leaders need not make the journey of personal transformation alone. Leaders have apprenticed our lives to Jesus to follow him. He is our teacher, our coach, and our guide on the journey.
The authors believe that transformation is a process that involves the whole person, and they believe there are three dynamic processes in the Christian life that help to grow the whole person to maturity:
- Personal transformation happens best as an inside-out process of committing to obey all the teachings of Christ.
- Personal transformation happens best in the context of a loving community that extends grace and truth.
- Personal transformation happens best when we develop a reflective lifestyle.
Among the many topics covered in the book are personal transformation, family of origin, a chronically anxious system, being a less anxious leader, spiritual disciplines, differentiation of self, reactivity, emotional maturity, emotional triangles, conflict, distant relationships, overfunctioning and underfunctioning, herding, ways to calm yourself, crisis, the togetherness and individuality force, polarization, family system, a family diagram, cut-off relationships, boundaries, guiding principles, the transformational learning model, learning and mastery.
The book often references Edwin Friedman’s book A Failure of Nerve. Friedman focuses on five central traits of a chronically anxious system: heightened reactivity, herding, blame displacement, demand for a quick fix, and poor leadership. The book includes a number of stories to help illustrate the concepts introduced in the book.
As to whether Christian leaders can work with a theory, such as Bowen Family Systems Theory, which is based on human science, the authors write that leaders can learn to accommodate scientific learning and their theological constructs so that they can occupy space next to each other; they don’t have to reject one or the other.
The book concludes with three appendices, a list of recommended reading and a helpful glossary, as there a many new terms introduced in the book.
Appendix A Constructing a Family Diagram
Appendix B Developing a Rhythm of Spiritual Practices
Appendix C Bowen-Based Training Programs
Below are 10 helpful quotes from the book:
- Differentiation deals with the effort to define oneself, to control oneself, to become a more responsible person, and to permit others to be themselves as well.
- The most powerful source of emotional gravity in most of our lives comes from family.
- Leaders who want to understand the context in which they carry out their role learn to pay attention to the presence of anxiety in their system.
- You must learn to be able to see what is going on around you, observe the anxiety, note your own part in it, and manage yourself amid the pressure.
- The most strategic role in the system is that of the calm observer.
- As the anxiety in the system rises, so must our resolve to remain composed.
- A system that operates without well-differentiated leadership makes it extremely difficult for such a leader to develop.
- Taking responsibility for our feelings (not denying them, repressing them, or blaming them on others) is one of the most helpful things we can do to become a less-anxious leader.
- Defining self means that we consistently and calmly tell others what we think and choose, without demanding that they think and choose the same way.
- When we are anxious, we react to the pressures of the moment in a way that does not reflect our guiding principles. We do this because we give in to our habitual behavior rather than pausing to think about other available options. Therefore, we must develop the ability to think before we speak and to pause before we act.
Faith and Work Book Club – Won’t you read along with us?
We are reading through You’re Only Human: How Your Limits Reflect God’s Design and Why That’s Good News by Kelly Kapic. The list of demands on our time seems to be never ending. It can leave you feeling a little guilty–like you should always be doing one more thing.
Rather than sharing better time-management tips to squeeze more hours out of the day, Kelly Kapic takes a different approach in You’re Only Human. He offers a better way to make peace with the fact that God didn’t create us to do it all.
Kapic explores the theology behind seeing our human limitations as a gift rather than a deficiency. He lays out a path to holistic living with healthy self-understanding, life-giving relationships, and meaningful contributions to the world. He frees us from confusing our limitations with sin and instead invites us to rest in the joy and relief of knowing that God can use our limitations to foster freedom, joy, growth, and community.
Readers will emerge better equipped to cultivate a life that fosters gratitude, rest, and faithful service to God.
This week we complete our review of the book by looking at the last half of Chapter 10: How Do We Faithfully Live within Our Finitude? Here are a few helpful quotes from that section of the chapter:
- We rejoice because we remember what God has done, we look for what he is doing, and we identify his presence and kindness in whatever is good, noble, just, peace producing, and worthy of praise.
- The theological question isn’t how well you sleep or whether you wake up, but when you do wake up, to whom do you turn? Our worries and sorrows crush us if we are alone, but with God we find comfort and rest.
- Sleep is a spiritual discipline that daily reminds us of our lack of control.
- Sleep is an act of faith. It requires us to see our finitude as a good part of God’s design for us.
- We were designed not only to work but also to rest, just as God rested after six days of creative work.