Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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John Maxwell on Calling

The subject of our calling is one of great interest to me. I enjoy reading about calling and helping others to pursue their calling. I’ve read a few books about calling, the best of which have been by Jeff Goins (The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do), Bob Smart (Calling to Christ: Where’s My Place) and Os Guinness (The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life). In his book Leadershift: 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace, John Maxwell includes a chapter on calling titled “Career to Calling: The Passion Shift”. This was my favorite chapter in an excellent book. I want to share 10 great quotes on Maxwell’s chapter on calling:

  1. A job is not your calling, no matter how much money it will allow you to make or how it allows you to serve people. A job is merely a vehicle with the potential to take you toward your calling.
  2. Your calling, when you find and embrace it, will result in the merging of your skills, talents, character traits, and experiences.
  3. Finding your calling is like finding your why—the reason you exist, your purpose for living.
  4. Your life will never be the same once you know what you’re called to do and are working to fulfill it every day.
  5. Your calling can give you a fruitful and fulfilling life, one that fills you with passion and motivates you to make a difference.
  6. No one has ever been called to do something he or she wasn’t suited for. Calling always matches who you are.
  7. A true calling is never about the person being called. It’s about helping others.
  8. Nothing in life is as rewarding as fulfilling your calling—nothing. Wealth, fame, achievement, recognition: all of them fall short.
  9. The goal in life is not to live on forever but to create something that does.
  10. Our calling is the gift we give the world while we are still alive. Our legacy is our gift to the world after we die.

Have you read any books on calling that you would recommend? Please share them. Thanks.

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11 Ways You Can Be Salt and Light in the Workplace

In his “Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus calls his disciples to be the “salt of the earth” (Matthew 5 v. 13), and the “light of the world (v. 14):  
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

John Stott, in his article “Four Ways Christians Can Influence the World”, writes about being the salt of the earth and light of the world: Continue reading

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Prior Preparation Prevents P*** Poor Performance

I believe the sentiment behind that helpful but crass phrase is true. As I wrote in my book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace, an incident took place early in my career at a Fortune 50 organization that taught me to make preparation one of my core values. Our staff was to meet with a few new mid-level managers to give them an overview of our department, with each supervisor covering information about their specific area of responsibility. As I recall, we pretty much all just “winged it”, and it showed. It embarrassed our leader, and he really let us have it afterwards (which we deserved). I learned from that incident to try my best never to “wing it” on anything that was important in the future.
A definition of preparation that I like is “The action or process of making ready or being made ready”. I want to “be ready” for what I have to do in order to best use the gifts that God has given me.
The Bible has much to say about preparation. Here are just a few verses to speak of being prepared in different contexts: Continue reading


Living with Purpose in the Time We Have Left

Recently, during our Friday morning breakfast Book Club, a few friends and I got to talking about how much time we have left to make a difference with our lives.  Our ages range from the late 50’s to mid 60’s. We wondered what the average life expectancy for a male was, and we were sobered to find out that in the U.S. it is 76.1 years.
Similarly, a woman in our small group who had recently retired wondered about what she should be doing with her time to live with purpose for God. For women, the life expectancy n the U.S. is 81.1 years. These are averages of course. None of us know how much more time we have, and we know that not one more minute is guaranteed to us.
Several years ago, when my wife Tammy was volunteering at a soup kitchen, a much older friend told her that it seems that time moves much more quickly the older we get. That certainly seems to be the case with me. One morning, I had a wonderful time at breakfast with my Dad. But when I ordered off of the “Senior Menu”, he was taken aback. His son ordering off of the “Senior Menu”? Where had the time gone? Continue reading

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If You Bring Me a Problem, Bring a Possible Solution

The job of a leader is a busy one, and we continually strive to be working on the most important work we have “on our plate”. One way I tried to assure that I was working on the most important work was to develop a daily “Priorities” list (think “Things to Do” list). At the end of the workday, I would review what I had gotten done that day, what new issues had arisen, and then rank my priorities for the following day. I would keep that list on my desk so that I was focused on it throughout the day. At the end of each workday, one way I would evaluate my effectiveness that day was to see how many of those top priorities I had gotten completed.
In a perfect world, all leaders would need to do is focus on their priorities. But we know that never happens. Throughout each day, issues will arise from your team members, business partners/customers, and your leaders. Thus, a leader has to effectively manage these “interruptions” that will occur throughout the day, so that they can assure that they are working on the most important work.
In this article, I’ll focus on those situations where a team member will stop by your office and ask if you have a minute for a discussion. When this occurs, leaders have the option to address the issue at the time, or, depending on the issue and what the leader is currently working on, ask their team member if they would set up a short meeting, hopefully later that day, to discuss. How a leader handles those interruptions will tell you a lot about how effective they are. Continue reading

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What are You Doing to Improve?

Awhile back I went to our weekly Friday morning Book Club. This is something some friends and I started a few years ago at work, and have continued now that we are retired. At the time we were reading John Maxwell’s excellent book Leadershift: The 11 Essential Changes Every Leader Must Embrace.
During one point in our discussion we were talking about moving out of our comfort zones, and we started talking about what is required to improve a particular skill. For example, one person is currently taking both piano and golf lessons to improve their mastery of those skills. Another person is a painter, and talked about getting feedback from his wife on his paintings. At times, when the feedback on a painting has not been positive, he has completely painted over what he has created, and started from scratch, working to improve. I can relate with my writing. I’ll write an article or movie review and then send to my wife (and editor) for review. In both instances, it’s humbling to ask for feedback but it usually results in raising the bar. I have a friend who is writing a book, not only does she ask to meet with me and my wife regarding her progress, but she also puts herself on a timeline in order to accomplish her goals.  Anytime we look to improve a skill or task, we will need to possess and demonstrate personal discipline. Continue reading

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Go Into Retirement With Your Eyes Wide Open

I’ve been retired for three years. When I was first retired, I somehow felt I was doing something wrong. After nearly 38 years, I was no longer going to work each morning to the employer I worked at all of those years. My wife Tammy and I had agreed that we would take it easy, and not make any big commitments for a while. So, I spoke at a local church conference, and did a few teaching assignments at church, but didn’t commit to any more than that. What we were doing, though we didn’t know it at the time, was what Jeff Haanen writes about when he states that “the early years of retirement provide the perfect time to take a much-needed sabbatical”, in his excellent book An Uncommon Guide to Retirement: Finding God’s Purpose for the Next Season of Life.
Tammy was worried about how I would adapt to retirement.  She knew that I had loved being a leader in a Fortune 50 organization, working with some wonderful people over the years. Would I be left without my identity as a leader? Fortunately, I made a very good transition into retirement, with a new found love of writing and additional time to pour into relationships. But that’s not the case with everyone.  Many people, after enjoying the first months of retirement, and perhaps a few trips, find themselves feeling lost in this new season of life. After looking forward to no longer having to work, having more time to travel and play golf, they find themselves singing the old Peggy Lee song, wondering “Is that all there is?” That’s why I highly recommend that you go into retirement with your eyes wide open. You need to prepare yourself for what God has next for you.
Keep your eyes wide open in these three key areas: Continue reading

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Leader, You Own Your Calendar

I was never one of those leaders who was able to get my work done in the
standard work hours that our organization had. I found myself coming in early, staying late, and working weekends. That became more of a problem when you could work from home with laptop computers, and even more so when you could access your work email on your smart phone. If fact, years ago, the leader of our large IT department told me that we don’t have any standard work hours any longer. By that time, the work day had expanded and became part of our non-work life.
What are you to do when you want to be more productive and demonstrate better time management so that you will have more time for family, ministry, friends and hobbies? Continue reading

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Opposition to Border Walls is Nothing New: Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

The issue of border walls is certainly an ongoing political topic in our country these days. Some are in favor of a border wall along our southern border, while others see such a wall as immoral. Some politicians are wanting to build many more miles of a wall, while others to tear down the walls that have already been constructed. No matter which side of this debate you are on, you might be interested to know that opposition to building or rebuilding a wall is nothing new. In the first six chapters of the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, we read about the reconstruction of a wall that has been damaged.
We are introduced to Nehemiah in 444 B.C. when he was serving in the Persian royal court as the personal cupbearer to King Artaxerxes. I’ve always enjoyed the story of Nehemiah. One of the first books I read as a new believer in the early 1980’s was Charles Swindoll’s Hand Me Another Brick, which was about Nehemiah’s leadership.
After 70 years in exile, some of the Jews had returned home and rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem, as we read about in the book of Ezra. They were able to worship God in their own land, but the city still lay in ruins. In Nehemiah 1:3, Nehemiah is told that the wall of Jerusalem is broken down and its gates destroyed by fire more than a half-century after the completion of the rebuilding of the temple. Upon hearing this news, Nehemiah mourns and prays to God.  He then asks permission of King Artaxerxes to go to Judah to rebuild the walls, which the king grants.  When Nehemiah arrives, he inspects the walls around Jerusalem, devises a plan to rebuild, and rallies the people of Judah to do the work. He tells the jeering Sanballat the Horonite, Tobiah the Ammonite and Geshem the Arab that the God of heaven will make them prosper in the work (Nehemiah 2:20). Continue reading

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Should Christians Always Be the Best Workers?

Is it true that Christians should be the best workers? It depends.

I remember one of our pastors telling me years ago about a comment that one of their seminary professors had made in class. They said that if the married students were consistently getting straight “A’s” in class, they were obviously not spending enough time with their families. I think I know what the professor was getting at. If we apply it to our work, we could ask that if we consistently excel at work, could we be giving a lesser effort (time, energy, engagement) to our families, ministry and our relationship with God. Excelling at work includes more than just the effort and results you achieve during the regular workday.  It also includes taking job-related classes and studying for exams, be they industry designations or certification or a Master’s Degree.
Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert address the balance that is needed in their book The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs. They write that we should never be idle in our work, nor should we make work an idol. In other words, we should not be idle at work, but instead do excellent work. On the other hand, we should not make work an idol by being a workaholic, placing work above our family and church responsibilities. Continue reading