Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Center for Faith and Work Podcast. I’m very excited about this new podcast from the Center for Faithcenter for faith and work and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. Listen in on weekly talks, lectures, and conversations about the intersection of theology and culture as it applies to our everyday work. Topics range from vocational-specific (business, law, arts, education, etc.) to practical resources regarding prayer, discernment, calling, and more.
  • Joy and the Power of a Dream. Steven Garber, who spoke at my Covenant Seminary graduation in May, 2014, writes that the film Joy “a remarkably insightful account of creativity and imagination and gumption and grit, together forming a vocation in the life of Joy Mangano, played by Jennifer Lawrence”.
  • The Fashion Brand with a Heart for Adoption. Bethany Jenkins interviews Sara Brinton about her work. Brinton is the leader of marketing for Noonday Collection, a socially responsible fashion brand, and believes that entrepreneurship can be a sustainable solution to poverty and injustice.
  • 6 Techniques for Getting the Most Out of Continuing Education. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “It’s never too late to make continuing education a center piece in your life.  These six strategies will help you tap into the power of continuing education.”
  • How Do You Define Success? John Maxwell writes “Success means having those closest to me love and respect me the most.”
  • 10 Ways to Increase Results in Meetings. One of my pet-peeves is poorly run meetings. They are frustrating and a waste of already busy people’s time. Selma Wilson offers these ten helpful ways to ensure your meetings have positive outcomes.
  • Labor of Love? Jamie Winship writes “What does it mean to work for the Lord on a daily basis? Do people who work wholeheartedly, as if they are serving the Lord, look any different from those who work hard just to get ahead in life? And if so, how?”
  • Work Is Worship. Enjoy this short video that shows that our work life is an act of worship.
  • Are Spiritual Disciplines Meant for My Work? Jessica Schaeffer writes “Keeping company with Jesus ought to be sustained throughout the day. He is not companion and Lord only when a Bible is open in the lap. We don’t leave him on the shelf with our devotional books and prayer journal.”
  • What the Image of God Means for Our Dignity and Work. Art Lindsay writes “Every person is created in the image of God, full of dignity, with unique talents and gifts to use for the glory of God in their work. One reason why so many Christians fail to discover their vocation is because they don’t fully understand what it means to be made in the image of God.”

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

integrating faith and work
Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • 3 Ways to Make Your Week More Productive. Kevin Lloyd discusses some tips around time management.
  • 4 Character Traits of Thriving Employees. Stephen Graves writes about the traits: work ethic, problem solving ability, relational skills and spiritual vitality.
  • 4 Leadership Principles to Inspire Star Performance. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “Effective leaders get average people to do extraordinary work.”
  • 4 TED Talks to Inspire You in Your Work. Here are four videos to inspire you in your work, the first of which I watched with my team and had a good discussion about recently.
  • 4 Types of Tone-Deaf Leadership. Eric Geiger writes “There are a plethora of tone-deaf leaders who are out of sync and rhythm with people and their context. They seem deaf to the people and context around them.”
  • 4 Ways to Attack a Sense of Entitlement. Eric Geiger writes “A sense of entitlement can greatly harm the culture and the mission of a ministry or organization. A sense of entitlement is corrosive and crushes the collective soul of the team. Those the team is designed to serve become less and less important as self-centeredness reigns. When entitlement spreads, the ministry or organization acts as if it exists for itself instead of for others.”
  • 4 Things Leaders Owe Their Followers. Eric Geiger writes “Leaders, we are servants and debtors. We are in debt to the people who follow us.”
  • 4 Temptations That Leaders Face. Dan Reiland writes “How you handle your temptation will determine, to a great degree, the effectiveness and longevity of your ministry.”
  • 5 Steps to Recovery from a Failure. Ron Edmondson writes that what you do after you fail will determine if – and how well – you recover.
  • 5 Things That Are a Total Waste of Time in Leadership. Carey Nieuwhof shares these five items that all leaders will most likely agree are time wasters.
  • 5 Leadership Questions with Dan Rockwell. In this episode of the 5 Leadership Questions podcast, Todd Adkins and Barnabas Piper visit with one of my favorite leadership bloggers Dan Rockwell.
  • 6 Signs That Silos Exist in Your Organization. Art Rainer writes “When they (silos) do exist, leaders will find themselves struggling to move their organization forward and experience a deteriorating staff morale.”
  • 7 of My Biggest Frustrations as a Leader. Ron Edmondson writes “In many ways, I am still learning the secret of being content, but I like continual improvement and think there is usually room to get better in all areas of our life. I think it is true in leadership too.”
  • 7 Core Disciplines Needed for a Spiritual Leader. Ron Edmondson writes “All leaders should lead well, but when one claims to be a follower of Christ their leadership reflects on his or her walk with Christ. I have learned personally that leading well requires discipline. It doesn’t happen naturally.”
  • 10 Points of Managing Tension in Leadership.  Brad Lomenick shares a few thoughts on tension and the perspective as leaders we should have in managing it.
  • 10 Things You Can Do Today to Improve as a Leader. Ron Edmondson writes “Most leaders want to improve. I hear from leaders weekly who want to get better in their role. They want to improve so the organization they lead can improve. As much as leaders desire improvement, many leaders wonder where they should go to grow.”
  • 18 Reasons Good Leaders Get Fired. Brian Dodd provides these reasons good leaders get fired in light of the recent firing of Cleveland Cavaliers head coach David Blatt.

Quotes about Faith and Work

  • Success is knowing your purpose in life, growing to reach your full potential, and sowing seeds that benefit others. John Maxwel
  • Intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you. Andy Andrews
  • The book of Genesis leaves us with a striking truth – work was part of paradise. Tim Keller
  • Dear workaholics: There’s no extra credit for impressing others while losing your family. Burk Parsons
  • Servant leadership is love in action. Make a positive difference in someone’s life. Ken Blanchard
  • As a leader, the health of your marriage directly affects the impact of your leadership. Michael Hyatt
  • Wherever you are, be all there. Live life to the hilt every situation you believe to be the will of God. Jim Elliot

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

Don't Waste Your LifeDon’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Crossway. 192 pages. 2003  

Other than the Bible, this small book by John Piper has had the most influence on my life. It played a key role in my returning to seminary after ten years in 2005. I have read it almost each year since it was published in 2003. Listen to John Piper describe the book in this less than two-minute video.

This week we look at Chapter 9: The Majesty of Christ in Missions and Mercy— A Plea to This Generation

  • God does not call us to ease, but to faithful joy. He is closing in on some of you, smiling and with tears in his eyes, knowing how much of himself he is going to show you—and how much it will cost. As I write, I pray that you will not turn away.
  • If you have pity for perishing people and a passion for the reputation of Christ, you must care about world missions.
  • One of the burdens of this book is to show what life looks like when you believe that you dare not choose between the motives to love people and glorify Christ. They are not separate motives.
  • This single passion—to see that Christ be glorified as perishing people become eternally satisfied in him—drives the great global enterprise we call world missions.
  • Missions exists because worship doesn’t.
  • There can be no weary resignation, no cowardly retreat, and no merciless contentment among Christ’s people while he is disowned among thousands of unreached peoples.
  • Those of you who stay—the senders—should keep this remarkable fact in mind: Foreign missions is a validation of all ministries of mercy at home because it exports them abroad.
  • Ministries of mercy close at hand validate the authenticity of our distant concerns.
  • Just as there is a partnership between the Gospel itself and mercy to the nearby poor, so there is a wonderful partnership between Christians being the merciful church at home and Christians planting the merciful church abroad. Neither is a wasted life.
  • The partnership that emerged between students, who were going, and businessmen, who were sending, was profound, because there were God-centered visionary leaders in both groups. Both were moved by the same passion not to waste their lives.
  • Laypeople, pastors, churches—all of us who stay behind—will find the “sweetest and most priceless rewards” as we enlarge our hearts to embrace not only the needs close to home, but also the hard and unreached places of the world.
  • These businessmen from a hundred years ago saw their secular calling and their missionary vision as an integrated whole.
  • Missions is not only crucial for the life of the world. It is crucial for the life of the church. We will perish with our wealth if we do not pour ourselves out in ministries of mercy at home and missions among the unreached peoples.
  • One way to describe the situation is to say that about 1.2–1.4 billion people have never had a chance to hear the Gospel; that is, they live in cultures where the preaching of the Gospel in understandable ways is not accessible. Other analysts estimate the number of un-evangelized somewhat higher. About 95 percent of these live in what has been called the 10/40 window (between latitudes 10 and 40 degrees north of the equator and between the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans). This is the great challenge of our day.
  • There is a call on this generation to obey the risen Christ and make disciples of all the unreached peoples of the world. I am praying that God will raise up hundreds of thousands of young people and “finishers” (people finishing one career and ready to pursue a second in Christian ministry).
  • Frontier missions does what Paul aimed to do: Plant the church where there is now no possibility of ministry. This is the great need of the hour, not only for missionaries who go to serve the established church in other countries (which is a great need, especially in leadership development), but also for missionaries who go to peoples and places where there is no church to serve.
  • Don’t think the days of foreign missionaries are over, as if nationals can finish the work. There are hundreds of peoples and millions of people where there are no Christian nationals to do same-culture evangelism. A culture must be crossed.
  • Missions, not same-culture evangelism by nationals, will finish the Great Commission.
  • So “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38), and ask him if you should be one. Expect this prayer to change you.
  • Get a copy of the amazing world prayer guide called Operation World, and pray and read and ponder your way through the nations day by day.
  • if you want to be most fully satisfied with God as he triumphs in the history of redemption, you can’t go on with business as usual—doing your work, making your money, giving your tithe, eating, sleeping, playing, and going to church. Instead you need to stop and go away for a few days with a Bible and notepad; and pray and think about how your particular time and place in life fits into the great purpose of God to make the nations glad in him. How will you join the great global purpose of God expressed in Psalm 67:4, “Let the nations be glad and sing for joy”?
  • Many of you should stay where you are in your present job, and simply ponder how you can fit your particular skills and relationships and resources more strategically into the global purpose of your heavenly Father. But for others reading this book, it is going to be different. Many of you are simply not satisfied with what you are doing.
  • If the discontent with your present situation is deep, recurrent, and lasting, and if that discontent grows in Bible-saturated soil, God may be calling you to a new work. If, in your discontent, you long to be holy, to walk pleasing to the Lord, and to magnify Christ with your one, brief life, then God may indeed be loosening your roots in order to transplant you to a place and a ministry where the deep spiritual ambitions of your soul can be satisfied.
  • It is true that God can be known and enjoyed in every legitimate vocation; but when he deploys you from one place to the next, he offers fresh and deeper drinking at the fountain of his fellowship. God seldom calls us to an easier life, but always calls us to know more of him and drink more deeply of his sustaining grace.
  • May God give you a fresh, Christ-exalting vision for your life—whether you go to an unreached people or stay firmly and fruitfully at your present post. May your vision get its meaning from God’s great purpose to make the nations glad in him. May the cross of Christ be your only boast, and may you say, with sweet confidence, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

faith-work-cultureFaith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

Bryan Chapell on Vocation. Former President of Covenant Theological Seminary, where I got my Master Degree, and current Senior Pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church about an hour from our home, recently started a new sermon series titled “Mission at Work”. You can listen to the messages here.

The Realest Authenticity. Barnabas Piper writes “The truest authenticity, the best authenticity is humble. Authenticity without humility is a lie.”

Third Serving Leader Quote

10 Favorite Faith and Work Quotes of the Week Servant Leadership Quote

  • Real work is a contribution to the good of all and not merely a means to one’s own advancement. Tim Keller
    Resolved, never to lose one moment of time, but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can. Jonathan Edwards 
    What a pity it would be to have to tell God that we spent our life earning a living, and that’s it. Erwin Lutzer
  • Have you been holding back from a risky, costly course to which you know in your heart God has called you? Hold back no longer. Your God is faithful to you, and adequate for you. You will never need more than He can supply, and what He supplies, both materially and spiritually, will always be enough for the present.  J.I. Packer
  • Surround yourself with people who acknowledge your progress and challenge you to be better. Dan Rockwell
  • There are not two worlds—sacred and secular—but one world—created, fallen, and saved by Christ and which will pass thru judgment into glory. Bethany Jenkins
  • A woman told me about getting involved in a Bible study that demanded strict commitment to the study of God’s Word.  ‘You should make the Bible your number one priority,’ she was told.  That meant getting up early and the very first thing in the morning doing Bible reading and having a quiet time with the Lord.  She did this, but to her consternation every morning as she would start to read her Bible, the baby would wake up.  She found herself resenting the interruption.  Here she was, trying to spend time with God, and the baby would start fussing, demanding to be fed and distracting her attention away from spiritual things.  After a while, though, she came to understand the doctrine of vocation.  Taking care of her baby was what God, at that moment, was calling her to do.  Being a mother and loving and serving her child was her vocation, her divine calling from the Lord.  She could read the Bible later.  She did not have to feel guilty that she was neglecting spiritual things; taking care of her baby is a spiritual thing! Gene Veith
  • The church’s approach to intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours and to come to church on Sundays.  What the church should be telling him is this:  That the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables. Dorothy Sayers
  • The maid who sweeps here kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays – not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors.  The Christian shoemaker does his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on the shoes, but by making good shoes, because God is interested in good craftsmanship. Martin Luther

Don't Waste Your LifeFaith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Crossway. 192 pages. 2003

Other than the Bible, this small book by John Piper has had the most influence on my life. It played a key role in my returning to seminary after ten years in 2005. I have read it almost each year since it was published in 2003. Listen to John Piper describe the book in this less than two-minute video.

This week we look at Chapter 8: Making Much of Christ from 8 to 5

  • It would be a mistake to infer from the call to wartime living in the previous chapter that Christians should quit their jobs and go to “war”—say, to become missionaries or pastors or full-time relief workers. That would be a fundamental misunderstanding of where the war is being fought.
  • The war is not primarily spatial or physical—though its successes and failures have physical effects. Therefore, the secular vocations of Christians are a war zone. There are spiritual adversaries to be defeated (that is, evil spirits and sins, not people); and there is beautiful moral high ground to be gained for the glory of God. You don’t waste your life by where you work, but how and why.
  • The call to be a Christian was not a call to leave your secular vocation. That’s the clear point of 1 Corinthians 7:17-24.
  • Therefore, the burning question for most Christians should be: How can my life count for the glory of God in my secular vocation?
  • Our aim is to joyfully magnify Christ—to make him look great by all we do.
  • Boasting only in the cross, our aim is to enjoy making much of him by the way we work. The question is, How? The Bible points to at least six answers.
    • 1. We can make much of God in our secular job through the fellowship that we enjoy with him throughout the day in all our work.
  • When the saints are at work in their secular employment, they are scattered. They are not together in church. So the command to “remain there with God” is a promise that you may know God’s fellowship personally and individually on the job.
  • One way to enjoy God’s presence and fellowship is through thankful awareness that your ability to do any work at all, including this work, is owing to his grace.
  • This is the way God speaks to you through the day. He encourages you, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). He reminds you that the challenges of the afternoon are not too hard for him to manage: “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27). He tells you not to be anxious, but to ask him for whatever you need (Philippians 4:6), and says, “Cast all your anxieties on me, for I care for you” (paraphrase of 1 Peter 5:7). And he promises to guide you through the day: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).
    • 2. We make much of Christ in our secular work by the joyful, trusting, God-exalting design of our creativity and industry.
  • So if you go all the way back, before the origin of sin, there are no negative connotations about secular work. According to Genesis 2:2, God himself rested from his work of creation, implying that work is a good, God-like thing.
  • To be sure, when God sends us forth to work as his image bearers, our ditches are to be dug straight, our pipe-fittings are not to leak, our cabinet corners should be flush, our surgical incisions should be clean, our word processing accurate and appealing, and our meals nutritious and attractive, because God is a God of order and beauty and competence. But cats are clean, and ants are industrious, and spiders produce orderly and beautiful works. And all of them are dependent on God. Therefore, the essence of our work as humans must be that it is done in conscious reliance on God’s power, and in conscious quest of God’s pattern of excellence, and in deliberate aim to reflect God’s glory.
  • When you work like this—no matter what your vocation is—you can have a sweet sense of peace at the end of the day. It has not been wasted. God has not created us to be idle. Therefore, those who abandon creative productivity lose the joy of God-dependent, world-shaping, God-reflecting purposeful work.
  • True personal piety feeds the purposeful work of secular vocations rather than undermining it. Idleness does not grow in the soil of fellowship with God. Therefore, people who spend their lives mainly in idleness or frivolous leisure are rarely as happy as those who work. Retired people who are truly happy have sought creative, useful, God-honoring ways to stay active and productive for the sake of man’s good and God’s glory.
  • So the second way we make much of God in our secular work is through the joyful, trusting, God-exalting design of our creativity and industry. God created us for work so that by consciously relying on his power and consciously shaping the world after his excellence, we might be satisfied in him, and he might be glorified in us. And when we remember that all this God-exalting creativity and all this joy is only possible for undeserving sinners like us because of the death of Christ, every hour of labor becomes a boasting in the cross.
    • 3. We make much of Christ in our secular work when it confirms and enhances the portrait of Christ’s glory that people hear in the spoken Gospel.
  • There is no point in overstating the case for the value of secular work. It is not the Gospel. By itself, it does not save anyone. In fact, with no spoken words about Jesus Christ, our secular work will not awaken wonder for the glory of Christ. That is why the New Testament modestly calls our work an adornment of the Gospel.
  • So one crucial meaning of our secular work is that the way we do it will increase or decrease the attractiveness of the Gospel we profess before unbelievers.
  • Of course, the great assumption is that they know we are Christians.
  • Should Christians be known in their offices as the ones you go to if you have a problem, but not the ones to go to with a complex professional issue? It doesn’t have to be either-or. The biblical mandate is: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men” (Colossians 3:23; cf. Ephesians 6:7).
  • So the third way we make much of God in our secular work is by having such high standards of excellence and such integrity and such manifest goodwill that we put no obstacles in the way of the Gospel but rather call attention to the all-satisfying beauty of Christ. When we adorn the Gospel with our work, we are not wasting our lives. And when we call to mind that the adornment itself (our God-dependent, God-shaped, God-exalting work) was purchased for us by the blood of Christ, and that the beauty we adorn is itself the Gospel of Christ’s death, then all our tender adornment becomes a boasting in the cross.
    • 4. We make much of Christ in our secular work by earning enough money to keep us from depending on others, while focusing on the helpfulness of our work rather than financial rewards.
  • The curse under which we live today is not that we must work. The curse is that, in our work, we struggle with weariness and frustration and calamities and anxiety.
  • Able-bodied people who choose to live in idleness and eat the fruit of another’s sweat are in rebellion against God’s design. If we can, we should earn our own living.
  • How then do Christians make much of Christ in working “to earn their own living”? First, by conforming willingly to God’s design for this age. It is an act of obedience that honors his authority. Second, by removing stumbling blocks from unbelievers who would regard the lazy dependence of Christians on others as an evidence that our God is not worthy of following. “Work with your hands . . . so that you may live properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). We honor God by earning our living because this clears the way for non-Christians to see Christ for who he really is. Aimless, unproductive Christians contradict the creative, purposeful, powerful, merciful God we love. They waste their lives.
  • Third, we make much of God by earning our own living when we focus not on financial profit but on the benefit our product or service brings to society.
  • This is paradoxical. I am saying, yes, we should earn enough money to meet our needs. But, no, we should not make that the primary focus of why we work.
  • In other words, don’t focus on mere material things in your work. Don’t labor merely with a view to the perishable things you can buy with your earnings. Work with an eye not mainly to your money, but your usefulness. Work with a view to benefiting people with what you make or do.
  • So don’t labor for the food that perishes. Labor to love people and honor God. Think of new ways that your work can bless people. Stop thinking mainly of profitability, and think mainly of how helpful your product or service can become.
  • You are not working for the food that perishes. Your goal is to enjoy Christ’s being exalted in the way you work.
  • None of us in our vocations should aim mainly at the food that perishes—leave that to the Lord. We should aim instead to do the will of him who sent us. And his will is that we treasure him above all else and live like it.
  • If we simply work to earn a living—if we labor for the bread that perishes—we will waste our lives. But if we labor with the sweet assurance that God will supply all our needs—that Christ died to purchase every undeserved blessing—then all our labor will be a labor of love and a boasting only in the cross.
    • 5. We make much of Christ in our secular work by earning money with the desire to use our money to make others glad in God.
  • So my point here is that, as we work, we should dream of how to use our excess money to make others glad in God. Of course, we should use all our money to make others glad in God, in the sense that our whole life has this aim. But the point here is that our secular work can become a great God-exalting blessing to the world if we aim to take the earnings we don’t need for ourselves (and we need far less than we think) and meet the needs of others in the name of Jesus.
  • God clearly tells us that we should work to provide the needs of those who can’t meet their own needs.
    • 6. We make much of Christ in our secular work by treating the web of relationships it creates as a gift of God to be loved by sharing the Gospel and by practical deeds of help.
  • But now I want to say that speaking the good news of Christ is part of why God put you in your job. He has woven you into the fabric of others’ lives so that you will tell them the Gospel. Without this, all our adorning behavior may lack the one thing that could make it life-giving.
  • Christians should seriously ask not only what their vocation is, but where it should be lived out. We should not assume that teachers and carpenters and computer programmers and managers and CPAs and doctors and pilots should do their work in America. That very vocation may be better used in a country that is otherwise hard to get into, or in a place where poverty makes access to the Gospel difficult. In this way the web of relationships created by our work is not only strategic but intentional.
  • In conclusion, secular work is not a waste when we make much of Christ from 8 to 5. God’s will in this age is that his people be scattered like salt and light in all legitimate vocations. His aim is to be known, because knowing him is life and joy. He does not call us out of the world. He does not remove the need to work. He does not destroy society and culture. Through his scattered saints he spreads a passion for his supremacy in all things for the joy of all peoples. If you work like the world, you will waste your life, no matter how rich you get. But if your work creates a web of redemptive relationships and becomes an adornment for the Gospel of the glory of Christ, your satisfaction will last forever and God will be exalted in your joy.


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

ON LEADERSHIP: Serving Leader Quote

 

  • 11 Ways to Think Better Thoughts. Check out this infographic of 11 ways of thinking outlined by John Maxwell from his latest book JumpStart Your Thinking that will give you a starting point to thinking better thoughts, making better decisions and, ultimately, succeeding more often in your life and work. Your thoughts are the starting place for success.
  • The Biblical Call and Plan for Productivity. Listen to this interview with Tim Challies on his excellent new book Do More Better.
  • Does God Care about Efficiency? Matt Perman writes “As with God, so also with us. Care about efficiency. But care about beauty and service most of all.”
  • jazzHow Jazz Music Teaches Us to Trust God. Bethany Jenkins interviews John Raymond, a jazz trumpeter, composer and educator about his faith and work.
  • Trust: Better to Give Than Receive. Bob Chapman writes “To get trust, you have to freely give it. This is a tough concept for many people. It’s the opposite of what we normally think. We think of trust as something to be earned. We’ll trust someone when they give us proof that they can be trusted.”
  • Calling and Work. Mark McConnell writes “You might not be a pastor, you might not be a missionary, you might not be in so-called full-time Christian service, but God has called each of us: to glorify Him in all that we do, to serve Him in all that we do, and to witness to His love and grace in Christ Jesus.”
  • 3 Ways to Make Difficult People Less Difficult. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “what can you do with the difficult people in your life, starting right now? After all, you may not be able to avoid all the difficult people. And you may not be able to turn every difficult person around. But there’s quite a bit you can do to make these encounters less upsetting.”
  • Four Questions to Spot the Difference Between Healthy Tension and Unhealthy Conflict Eric Geiger shares some information about tension and conflict that are in line with what Patrick Lencioni writes in The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, one of my favorite business books.
  • Development. In this “Minute from Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses development, a word that signifies improvement, making progress, growth, etc.
  • 7 Signs You’ve Become Too Busy for Your Own Good. Alli Worthington writes “But there are signs our body gives us if we’re paying attention, signs that may look different for each of us. For some the warning signs may be emotional. For others they might be physical, relational, or spiritual. But rest assured, if you are over capacity, you will soon find out— the hard way.”
  • The Secrets of Success, Week One: Health. John Maxwell begins a new series looking at “three critical decisions that impact everything else in your world. If you can win these three each day, you are on your way to living life successfully.” He begins by looking at the area of our health.
  • How to Avoid Life’s Flat Tires. In this short video, Dave Ramsey shares the seven areas of life in which you need to set goals this year . . . and every year in your future. Use the Wheel of Life as a guide for keeping your life balanced and flat-tire free.
  • Strategies for When Life Seems Aimless. In this episode of “Ask Pastor John”, John Piper addresses a question about waiting when life seems to be aimless and going nowhere, specifically when it comes to a career.

favorite quotes

  • Rise to every occasion, give our best effort, and make those around us better as we do it. John Wooden
  • The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away. Pablo Picasso
  • If your purpose hasn’t been fulfilled, that means the most important part of your life is still to come. Persist without exception! Andy Andrews
  • Celebrate and recognize your colleagues as they do things right. You can make a difference in their lives! Ken Blanchard
  • You want to do large things famous and fast. But most things that truly matter need small acts of overlooked love over a long period of time. Zack Eswine
  • Your greatest leadership moments will probably be ones that nobody else sees. Private faithfulness leads to public impact. Brad Lomenick
  • Serve God with integrity, and if you achieve no success, at least no sin will lie upon your conscience. Charles Spurgeon
  • The Bible says that our real problem is that every one of us is building our identity on something besides Jesus. Tim Keller
  • The leaders who get the most from their people are the leaders who care most about their people. Simon Sinek

Patrick Lencioni Quote

The Gospel Goes to WorkThe Gospel Goes to Work: God’s Big Canvas of Calling and Renewal by Stephen R. Graves. KJK Publishing. 168 pages. 2015
***

I have read a number of books about integrating our faith with our work. I enjoyed some of the unique perspectives to this issue that the author brought forward in this new book.

He tells us that the book is about work and the gospel. Not ministry work only, but every kind of work. He aims to focus on the question: What more can you and I do to engage the gospel through our work? He introduces the reader to what he calls the four-act gospel, which provides a comprehensive grid of meaning for our lives, including our work. He states that work itself is a service to God. He argues that the message about the gospel’s integration with work is needed as much now as it ever has been, if not more so.

He provides a different way of looking at the integration of faith and work. He first talks about a lowest-common-denominator application of the gospel that is relevant to all workers and all workplaces. This is what he calls the Baseline. Then, there are individualized applications of the gospel for each of us in our particular wiring and for our particular organizations. He calls this the Blue Sky.

He tells us that The Baseline is the starting point or universal minimum for all people in all environments, regardless of their personality, title, age, background, and other particulars. The Blue Sky represents the boundless horizons of what could be when someone personalizes any idea or insight.

He tells us that the gospel going to work will look different depending on where we work and what we do. He tells us that when we merge the baseline/blue sky pair with the individual/organizational pair, you get The Gospel Goes to Work Grid. It covers the whole range of workplace expressions of the gospel. He then looks at each quadrant in detail as well as four foundation stones. The four foundation stones are:

      • Foundation Stone 1: You give evidence of your calling
      • Foundation Stone 2: You display character on the job
      • Foundation Stone 3: You deliver skill consistently
      • Foundation Stone 4: You model service to others

I found his list of a “Gospel 500” (think of the Fortune 500) to be of interest. He lists organizations that would make his list in each of four regions of the Blue Sky. Among those listed that you may be familiar with are Chick Fil-A and Hobby Lobby.

He writes that we all must ask and answer, “How does the gospel go to work in my industry and especially in my particular organization?” He feels that this is the most penetrating question anyone can ask in his or her faith and work. It requires vulnerable personalization. And it demonstrates a mature faith that depends on God doing His work His way. He writes that the gospel is intended to penetrate, permeate, and alter the way we consider our work and do our work.

I enjoyed this book and its unique approach to the important issue of how we integrate our faith and work and recommend it to you.

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

Don't Waste Your LifeDon’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Crossway. 192 pages. 2003  

Other than the Bible, this small book by John Piper has had the most influence on my life. It played a key role in my returning to seminary after ten years in 2005. I have read it almost each year since it was published in 2003. Listen to John Piper describe the book in this less than two-minute video.

This week we look at Chapter 7: Living to Prove He Is More Precious Than Life

  • If we walk away from risk to keep ourselves safe and solvent, we will waste our lives.
  • If we look like our lives are devoted to getting and maintaining things, we will look like the world, and that will not make Christ look great. He will look like a religious side-interest that may be useful for escaping hell in the end, but doesn’t make much difference in what we live and love here.
  • Why don’t people ask us about our hope? The answer is probably that we look as if we hope in the same things they do.
  • Jesus loves faith-filled risk for the glory of God.
  • If we want to make people glad in God, our lives must look as if God, not possessions, is our joy.
  • Sometimes I use the phrase “wartime lifestyle” or “wartime mind-set.” It tells me that there is a war going on in the world between Christ and Satan, truth and falsehood, belief and unbelief. It tells me that there are weapons to be funded and used, but that these weapons are not swords or guns or bombs but the Gospel and prayer and self-sacrificing love (2 Corinthians 10:3-5). And it tells me that the stakes of this conflict are higher than any other war in history; they are eternal and infinite: heaven or hell, eternal joy or eternal torment (Matthew 25:46).
  • One of the marks of this peacetime mind-set is what I call an avoidance ethic. In wartime we ask different questions about what to do with our lives than we do in peacetime.
  • If we are going to pay the price and take the risks it will cost to make people glad in God, we move beyond the avoidance ethic. This way of life is utterly inadequate to waken people to the beauty of Christ. Avoiding fearful trouble and forbidden behaviors impresses almost no one. The avoidance ethic by itself is not Christ-commending or God-glorifying. There are many disciplined unbelievers who avoid the same behaviors Christians do. Jesus calls us to something far more radical than that.
  • The better questions to ask about possible behaviors is: How will this help me treasure Christ more? How will it help me show that I do treasure Christ? How will it help me know Christ or display Christ? The Bible says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). So the question is mainly positive, not negative. How can I portray God as glorious in this action? How can I enjoy making much of him in this behavior?
  • Oh, how many lives are wasted by people who believe that the Christian life means simply avoiding badness and providing for the family.
  • Television is one of the greatest life-wasters of the modern age. And, of course, the Internet is running to catch up, and may have caught up.
  • The greater problem is banality. A mind fed daily on TV diminishes. Your mind was made to know and love God.
  • Oh, that young and old would turn off the television, take a long walk, and dream about feats of courage for a cause ten thousand times more important than American democracy—as precious as that is. If we would dream and if we would pray, would not God answer? Would he withhold from us a life of joyful love and mercy and sacrifice that magnifies Christ and makes people glad in God? I plead with you, as I pray for myself, set your face like flint to join Jesus on the Calvary road.


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting ArticlesJoy

  • Why Joy at Work Matters. Maxwell Anderson writes “And from what I’ve seen, joy can be found in almost any line of work. You don’t need to be convinced of this idea, I just ask you to consider it.” He then shows a video from the program Undercover Boss to illustrate his point.
  • 7 Things Every Leader Needs to Quit Immediately. Ron Edmundson shares some things that he has learned the hard way – things to quit.
  • God Uses Books to Transform People. Carey Bustard interviews Byron Borger about his work. Borger, along with his wife, Beth, has owned and operated Hearts & Minds, an independent bookstore, in Dallastown, Pennsylvania, for 33 years.
  • Elevate One on Ones to Power Moments. Dan Rockwell writes “When you want others to take personal ownership, say “you” not “we”. Reserve “we” for topics that include several people, including yourself.”
  • Are You Stuck In Your Comfort Zone? Chris Patton writes “Begin praying that God would call you out of your comfort zone and into experiences you cannot even imagine right now!”
  • Ten Questions for Work that Matters. Seth Godin offers these ten thought-provoking questions.
  • 3 Factors That (Almost) Guarantee Success. Steve Graves writes “When I’m trying to get my hands around a new organization or a new concept in fast fashion, or when I want to test its viability, I primarily look at three things: tailwinds, edges, and depth.”
  • Three Warning Signs You Are Wasting Time. Eric Geiger writes “There is a deep connection between wisdom and making the most of the limited time we have been given. Wise people recognize the brevity of this life and steward their time well.”
  • Four Ways to Unleash the Power in Others. Dan Rockwell writes “The real issue for those who aspire to lead successfully is the way you pursue success. Don’t suppress your passion to be remarkable.  Channel your passion for remarkable leadership into unleashing the power in others.”
  • characterWhat Builds Character? Jon Mertz writes “We need to remember to be big in our character and reduce the size of our personality. Personal brand chatter focuses too much on superficial things and too much on self-importance. If you want to build a sustainable personal brand, focus on your personal character early and often.”
  • How to Tell Who You Can Deeply Trust in Leadership. Carey Nieuwhof writes “Here are 3 ways to tell who you can truly trust in leadership. I’ve framed it in the form of 3 questions.”
  • 2016: Your Year of Living Intentionally. John Maxwell writes “We live in a culture that encourages good intentions, but is less excited about being intentional – and there’s a big difference.”
  • Everybody Matters Podcast: Dan Rockwell. Bob Chapman visits with one of my favorite leadership bloggers Dan “Leadership Freak” Rockwell.
  • Will God Call Me To a Career I Don’t Enjoy? Listen to this episode of “Ask Pastor John” with John Piper.  
  • Juggling Parenting and Work: 5 Myths to Overcome. Selma Wilson writes “All parents are working parents and the mix of work inside and outside the home is unique to each family. I am often asked to speak on this issue with the hope that I can provide a formula that helps balance it all. I’m sorry to tell you, but there isn’t a formula. There are, however, some myths to overcome.”
  • 3 Signs of a Sick Team Culture. William Vanderbloemen shares some key indicators of a sick team culture from Bryan Rhinehart.
  • Daring Destinations. In this month’s episode of the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, Andy starts a conversation with author and CEO Cheryl Bachelder on how to make bold decisions that drive superior performance results.
  • 12 Often Overlooked Practices Great Leaders Develop That Poor Leaders Don’t. Carey Neiuwhof shares 12 overlooked practices as often-missed qualities and characteristics of the best leaders he knows.

Faith and Work Quotes Steven Garber Quote

  • Christians are called to redeem entire cultures, not just individuals. Charles Colson
  • I asked that [work] should be looked upon, not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God. Dorothy Sayers
  • It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it. The motive is everything. A. W. Tozer
  • A cobbler, a smith, a farmer, each has the work and office of his trade, and yet they are all alike consecrated priests and bishops, and every one by mean of his own work or office must benefit and serve every other. Martin Luther
  • The problem with Western Christians is not that they aren’t where they should be but that they aren’t what they should be where they are. Os Guinness
  • Too much of my time passes in busy idleness. John Newton
  • Our calling is not to stay alive, but to stay in love with Jesus. John Piper
  • Prayer must not be our intermittent work but our daily business, our habit and vocation. Charles Spurgeon
  • We must stop dividing business and ministry. We are to make the Kingdom economy touchable in our most marginalized areas. Michael Rhodes

Don't Waste Your LifeFaith and Work Book Clubs – Won’t you read along with us?

Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Crossway. 192 pages. 2003  

Other than the Bible, this small book by John Piper has had the most influence on my life. It played a key role in my returning to seminary after ten years in 2005. I have read it almost each year since it was published in 2003. Listen to John Piper describe the book in this less than two-minute video.

This week we look at Chapter 6 The Goal of Life— Gladly Making Others Glad in God

  • It is impossible to risk your life to make others glad in God if you are an unforgiving person. If you are wired to see other people’s faults and failures and offenses, and treat them roughly, you will not take risks for their joy.
  • The question is, do we lean toward mercy? Do we default to grace? Do we have a forgiving spirit? Without it we will walk away from need and waste our lives.
  • God is the goal of forgiveness. He is also the ground and the means of forgiveness. It comes from him; it was accomplished through his Son; and it leads people back to him with their sins cast into the deepest sea. Therefore the motive for being a forgiving person is the joy of being freely and joyfully at home with God.
  • What is the nature and aim of glad-hearted, Christian giving? It is the effort—with as much creativity and sacrifice as necessary—to give others everlasting and ever-increasing joy2—joy in God.
  • By gladly pursuing the gladness of others in God—even at the cost of our lives—we love them and honor God. This is the opposite of a wasted life.
  • How then do we make others glad in God?
  • There are two clarifications I should make. The first clarification is that, of course, we can’t make anyone glad in God. Joy in God is a fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22).
  • The second clarification is that gladness in God is not a peripheral religious experience.
  • I am saying that gladness in God is the goal of all saving work, and the experiential essence of what it means to be saved. Without this joy in God, there would be no salvation.


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

Col 323 Quote

  • Your Work Matters to God, But Does It Matter to the Church? Gaye Clark writes “I know there has to be balance. The church needs volunteers for its specific purposes or it cannot function. Still, I believe looking strategically at where your flock spends most of their time during the week could translate into greater opportunities to advance the gospel.”
  • Work as Worship. I appreciated this short devotional from the Lead Like Jesus ministry.
  • Stop Using “Work-Life Balance” and Start Using “Work-Life Integration”. Michael O’Hara writes “Work-life integration is the idea that you’re the same person, not two separate beings, throughout your day, so you shouldn’t try to switch on and off between work and home. It’s about recognizing when and where it’s okay to weave aspects of one into the other rather than struggle to be in two places at once. When you integrate successfully, you’ll have no guilt in allowing home and business to mix.”
  • The Key to Gospel Driven Productivity. Matt Perman, author of the excellent book What’s Best Next, writes “So what happens when we look at the issue of time management and getting things done from the perspective of the gospel? A surprising insight emerges.”
  • 7 Productivity Tips from Productivity Experts. David Murray writes “Ron Friedman invited 26 bestselling science and productivity writers to share their insights for achieving top performance and identified nine overarching themes that encapsulate their advice for peak work performance. Here’s a summary of the seven that I’ve found the most helpful.”
  •  Bob Chapman Interview. Bob Chapman, author of Everybody Matters, was recently interviewed by Charlie Brennan on KMOX in St. Louis.
  • A Sobering Reality Leaders Must Recognize. Eric Geiger writes “A leader’s negative traits spread further and faster than a leader’s positive traits.”
  • A Prayer for a God-Honoring Work Life. Check out this wonderful prayer from our friend Kevin Halloran. It is from his new book Word + Life: 20 Reflections on Prayer, the Christian Life, and the Glorious Gospel of Christ.
  • Break Your Bad Habits Before They Break You. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “To break your bad habits, you need to attack them from many directions. And the more ways you attack this enemy, the greater your chances of success.”
  • 10 Actions to Jump Start Your New Year. Selma Wilson writes “The new year is here and it holds many things for you and those God has placed in your arena of influence. Whether you make resolutions or not, here are a few intentional and easy actions you can take to put you in position to run the race before you this year.”
  • Six Diagnostic Questions for Life and Work. Steven Graves, author of The Gospel Goes to Work, writes of these simple diagnostic questions “They aren’t particularly profound or complex, but they get to the heart of our life and work. Perhaps best of all, they’re versatile. You can use them when evaluating a strategy, a product, or even your own performance.”
  • Five Questions that can Release the Power of Humble Leadership. Dan Rockwell writes “It’s important for you to believe in yourself. It’s even more important, from a leadership perspective, for you to believe in others.  Successful leaders learn how to have confidence in others.
  • Five Ways Leaders Lose Credibility. Eric Geiger writes “In the book The Leadership Challenge, researchers and authors, Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner claim that the most important leadership characteristic is credibility.”
  • How to Build a Compelling Culture. Paul Sohn interviews Dee Ann Turner of Chick Fil-A, the organization I most admire, about how to build a compelling culture. I plan to read her book It’s My Pleasure: The Impact of Extraordinary Talent and a Compelling Culture soon.
  • Trustworthy. In this “Minute from Maxwell”, John Maxwell emphasizes the importance of being a person others can depend on.
  • The Purpose of Vacation: Preparation for Vocation. Dr. David Leonard, in looking at the relationship between vocation and vacation, writes “If we’re ready to take our vocation seriously, then we ought to take our vacation just as seriously.” 
  • 3 Reasons to Keep Praying. Michael Kelley writes “As leaders we frequently find ourselves praying the same thing over and over again. Prayers for the same people with the same issues. Prayer for wisdom to attack the same problem. Prayers for direction, day after day.”
  • The Courageous Leadership of Winston Churchill. Albert Mohler writes “One thing Christian leaders must always remember is that leaders are speakers. Leadership requires bold, convictional, and clear communication. Churchill knew this principle and we would do well to learn from his example.”
  • 5 Secret Objections to Change. Ron Edmonson writes “In the world of change, I’ve learned there are some common objections. I’ve previously written objections people use to criticize change, but in this post, I’m addressing the root cause of that criticism. These are the secret objections.”

10 Favorite Faith and Work Quotes of the Week

Faith and Work Quote

  • Thinking of work mainly as a means of self-fulfillment and self-realization slowly crushes a person. Tim Keller
  • A true Christian lives and labors on earth not for himself but for his neighbor. Martin Luther
  • 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
  • The greatest leaders have learned to take the blame when things go wrong, and give the praise to others when things go right. Andy Andrews
  • Christians ought to have a different approach to business. We should view work as both service and a form of worship. Charles Colson
  • Religion does not take a man away from his work; it sends him to his work with an added quality of devotion. B.B. Warfield
  • God not only wants to join us in our work but to increasingly conform us into greater Christlikeness while we work. Tom Nelson
  • Just be who God has called you to be right where you are, with the people he has called you to serve. Michael Horton
  • If you waste your time, you waste your life. Steven Lawson

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

Don't Waste Your LifeDon’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Crossway. 192 pages. 2003  

Other than the Bible, this small book by John Piper has had the most influence on my life. It played a key role in my returning to seminary after ten years in 2005. I have read it almost each year since it was published in 2003. Listen to John Piper describe the book in this less than two-minute video.

This week we look at Chapter 5 Risk Is Right— Better to Lose Your Life Than to Waste It

  • If our single, all-embracing passion is to make much of Christ in life and death, and if the life that magnifies him most is the life of costly love, then life is risk, and risk is right. To run from it is to waste your life.
  • I define risk very simply as an action that exposes you to the possibility of loss or injury.
  • Risk is woven into the fabric of our finite lives. We cannot avoid risk even if we want to.
  • One of my aims is to explode the myth of safety and to somehow deliver you from the enchantment of security. Because it’s a mirage. It doesn’t exist. Every direction you turn there are unknowns and things beyond your control.
  • Queen Esther is another example of courageous risk in the service of love and for the glory of God.
  • Esther did not know what the outcome of her act would be. She had no special revelation from God. She made her decision on the basis of wisdom and love for her people and trust in God. She had to risk or run. She did not know how it would turn out. So she made her decision and handed the results over to God. “If I perish, I perish.” And this was right.
  • The great New Testament risk-taker was the apostle Paul. He had two choices: waste his life or live with risk. And he risked his life every day. And this was right.
  • It is the will of God that we be uncertain about how life on this earth will turn out for us. And therefore it is the will of the Lord that we take risks for the cause of God.
  • What happens when the people of God do not escape from the beguiling enchantment of security? What happens if they try to live their lives in the mirage of safety? The answer is wasted lives.
  • Risk is right. And the reason is not because God promises success to all our ventures in his cause. There is no promise that every effort for the cause of God will succeed, at least not in the short run.
  • We are wired to risk for the wrong reasons.
  • God has given us another way to pursue risk. Do it “by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11). And the way God supplies his strength is through faith in his promises. Every loss we risk in order to make much of Christ, God promises to restore a thousand-fold with his all-satisfying fellowship.
  • The bottom-line comfort and assurance in all our risk-taking for Christ is that nothing will ever separate us from the love of Christ.
  • On the far side of every risk—even if it results in death—the love of God triumphs.
  • It is simple trust in Christ—that in him God will do everything necessary so that we can enjoy making much of him forever. Every good poised to bless us, and every evil arrayed against us, will in the end help us boast only in the cross, magnify Christ, and glorify our Creator. Faith in these promises frees us to risk and to find in our own experience that it is better to lose our life than to waste it.

wanting less


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • contentmentContentment and Ambition: Friends, Not Enemies. Dave Kraft writes “I want to learn how to be content and, at the same time, be ambitious for God and his purposes and plans. I see a solid understanding of true biblical contentment and true biblical ambition to be wonderful friends–not dangerous enemies.”
  • Serving the Church and Selling Mattresses. Carey Anne Bustard interviews Jeremy Rhoden, co-owner of a small business and a trustee at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary about his work.
  • Staying Godly in a Godless Workplace. Rick Segal writes “Very few, if any, awake one morning and decide all of a sudden, “Today is the day I’m going rogue. Enough with all that honesty stuff. From now on, I’m all about corruption.”
  • How I Work: An Interview with Daniel Patterson. Joe Carter interviews Daniel Patterson, Chief of Staff at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, about his work.
  • 6 High-Yield New Year’s Resolutions Every Leader Should Make. Carey Nieuwhof writes “You will have some resolutions that are specific and personal to you—which is great. But there are some goals that every leader could benefit from accomplishing.”
  • 6 Ways to Win in 2016. In this “Tuesday Tip”, Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “If you want to ensure your place among the winners, if you want to make next year the best year of your life and career, there are six little strategies you can use.”
  • The Exponential Leadership Goal for 2016. Dan Rockwell writes “Successful leadership pivots on developing leaders. Leaders, who don’t develop leaders, become bottlenecks.”
  • The First Step of Highly Successful People. Dan Rockwell writes “The ability to try one more time – in new ways – propels you forward. If you can’t begin again in new ways, frustration and irrelevance await.”
  • How to Boost Your Energy. In this episode of the This is Your Life podcast, Michael Hyatt and Michele Cushatt discuss how to boost our energy.
  • Tim Challies QuoteGoals. In this “Minute from Maxwell”, John Maxwell encourages us to be growth-oriented, rather than goal-oriented.
  • Three Indicators Your Email Should Have Been a Meeting. Eric Geiger writes “Some meetings could have been an email, but some emails should be meetings. There are times that people, in attempts to handle things efficiently, resort to an email when a meeting would have been more effective.”
  • A Leader You Can’t Live Without. Dan Rockwell writes “The greatest test of leadership is what happens when you’re gone.”
  • Excuses. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell says that it’s easier to go from failure to success than from excuses to success, and that excuses just don’t fit into a leader’s life.
  • My Five Favorite Personal Productivity Tools. Eric Geiger shares the five productivity tools he uses most often.
  • The Hardest Thing Leaders Have to Do. Dave Kraft writes the hardest things for leaders to do are “Learning how to get along with many different kinds of people, starting with those who misunderstand you, often followed by those criticizing you, judging you, labeling you, questioning your motives, questioning the authenticity of your walk with Jesus; sometimes questioning everything and anything. It always hurts and it’s always painful on multiple levels.”
  • Work Redefined. Why do we work? What is the purpose of our work, which can take so many hours in our day? This reflective illustration shows how we are divinely placed, wherever we work. It is our opportunity to worship the God who made us by the excellence of our endeavors. Watch this less than two-minute video from the folks at the Work as Worship Network.
  • Myths of Bold Leadership. In this video, Andy Stanley debunks the myths of bold leadership and states that very leader has the potential to lead with boldness.
  • Five Reasons a Team Lacks Joy. Eric Geiger writes “A joyless team harms the people on the team and those the team serves. Here are five common reasons joy eludes a team.”
  • Three Differences Between Busyness and Productivity. Eric Geiger writes “Busyness can give the allusion of productivity as people are doing things, as meetings are happening, and as emails are being sent and read. But not all busyness is valuable. In fact, busyness can mask a lack of productivity.”
  • 16 Tips for Getting 90 Percent of Your Work Done Before Lunch. Neil Patel writes “You can get 90 percent or more of your work done in the morning. Around the time people are groping for the next shot of caffeine, you’re shutting down your Macbook and chilling out.”

Book Review:

Do More BetterDo More Better: A Practical Guide to Productivity by Tim Challies. Challies. 120 pages. 2015
****

There is much of value in this small book written by popular blogger and author Tim Challies. It is extremely efficient, well-organized, easy to read and practical. He states that he wrote the book because he wants his readers to do more of what matters most and to do it better. He writes that readers will get the most from the book if they read, observe, and imitate—at least at first. As time goes on, they can incorporate those tips they find especially helpful and discard the others.

The author begins by helping the reader to think about their God-given purpose and mission. He writes that there is no task in life that cannot be done for God’s glory, and that God saved us so that we could do good works and in that way bring glory to him. He states that productivity is effectively stewarding our gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. Productivity, and the book, are about doing good to others.

He looks at three productivity thieves: laziness, busyness, and what he refers to as the mean combination of thorns and thistles. He states that busyness and laziness are both issues that arise from within. They are deficiencies in character that then work themselves out in our lives.

He writes that while the book will emphasize tools and systems and other important elements of productivity, nothing is more important than our own holiness and godliness.

He begins by having the reader create a list, using a productivity worksheet you can download at a web site provided in the book, of each of their areas of responsibility, targeting five or six categories, with no more than nine. He helpfully shares his own list. He then asks the reader to list the roles, tasks, or projects that fall under each area of responsibility. He has the reader define their mission for each area of responsibility. The primary purpose here is to guide us week by week as we schedule our time and make decisions about where to spend our time.

He states that you can do more good for others if you have fewer roles and projects than if you have more. He considers goals to be to be a helpful, but optional component of productivity.

He then discusses tools, indicating that many people try to be productive with tools that are poorly suited to the task. He tells us that our productivity depends to a good degree on identifying and using the best tools for the job and then growing in your skill in deploying them. He states that effective productivity depends upon the below three tools and the relationship between them.

  • Management tool. A task management tool enables you to capture and organize your projects and tasks. He recommends Todoist (todoist.com) as the task management tool. Todoist will capture, organize, and display your projects and tasks while notifying you about the most urgent ones.
  • Scheduling tool. A scheduling tool enables you to organize your time and notifies you of pending events and appointments. He recommends Google Calendar (calendar.google.com) as the scheduling tool. Google Calendar will hold and display your important events, meetings, and appointments and, through the notifications function, alert you ahead of any pending meetings or appointments.
  • Information tool. An information tool enables you to collect, archive, and access information. He recommends Evernote (evernote.com) as the information tool. Evernote is a powerful piece of software that enables you to capture almost any kind of information.

The principle that he uses in organizing our productivity systems is: A home for everything, and like goes with like.

The author tells us that these three tools work together to help plan your day, and the tools work together to help you get things done throughout the day. Thus, your day has two phases: planning and execution. He calls his planning phase his Coram Deo, a Latin phrase that means in the presence of God, and one that I use as the title of my blog.

He states that there are always a few things that are undeniably high priorities and a few things that are undeniably low priorities. But the majority will fit somewhere in the middle, leaving you to make difficult decisions. He also writes about things we should stop doing because they don’t fit into our priorities, much like Jim Collins “stop doing” list.

He discusses the concept of a Weekly Review, in which he looks at the question: How can I serve and surprise in the week ahead? Whereas the daily planning session is tactical, a weekly review is strategic. He writes that that our system will function well when we make time for this review and it will begin to sputter when we do not.

Two helpful bonus chapters are included:

  • Tame Your Email-6 Tips for Doing More Better with Email.
  • 20 Tips to Increase Your Productivity

He includes helpful “Action” steps after each section. For example “Choose at least one habit other than productivity that you will pursue as you read and apply this book.”

If you are looking to increase your personal productivity, check out this book. It’s a quick read and if the concepts are applied it can reap huge dividends.

Visit http://www.challies.com/do-more-better for worksheets and bonus material to help you get started.

10 Favorite Faith and Work Quotes of the Week

  • John Wooden QuoteLord, since it is you who feed us and you who meet our needs, ordinary human labor such as farming, cooking, knitting have great dignity. They are means by which you love your creation. Help me to sense that dignity so I can do the simplest of tasks to your glory. Tim and Cathy Keller
  • We’re not going to have the impact we want if we don’t manage our energy. Michael Hyatt
  • Work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God. Dorothy Sayers
  • Work is rearranging the raw materials of a particular domain to draw out its potential for the flourishing of everyone. Tim Keller
  • Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming. John Wooden 
  • Vocation is the specific call to love one’s neighbor. Martin Luther
  • 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
  • All honest work is worth doing for the glory of God, and we may find ourselves called to do any honest work that we’re fitted for. J.I. Packer
  • No one wakes up wanting to be managed. We wake up wanting to be led. Brad Lomenick
  • Real work is a contribution to the good of all and not merely a means to one’s own advancement. Tim Keller

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

Don't Waste Your LifeDon’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. Crossway. 192 pages. 2003  

Other than the Bible, this small book by John Piper has had the most influence on my life. It played a key role in my returning to seminary after ten years in 2005. I have read it almost each year since it was published in 2003. Listen to John Piper describe the book in this less than two-minute video.

This week we look at Chapter 4: Magnifying Christ Through Pain and Death

  • Suffering with Jesus on the Calvary road of love is not merely the result of magnifying Christ; it is also the means.
  • The normal Christian life is one that boasts only in the cross—the blazing center of God’s glory—and does it while bearing the cross.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a gift to my generation of students. I pray that his costly message will be rediscovered in each generation. The book that set fire to the faith of thousands in my generation was called The Cost of Discipleship. Probably the most famous and life-shaping sentence in the book was, “The cross is not the terrible end to an otherwise God-fearing and happy life, but it meets us at the beginning of our communion with Christ. When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Bonhoeffer’s book was a massive indictment of the “cheap grace” that he saw in the Christian Church on both sides of the Atlantic. He did not believe that the faith that justifies could ever leave people unchanged by the radical Christ they claim to believe. That was a cheap response to the Gospel.
  • A life devoted to making much of Christ is costly. And the cost is both a consequence and a means of making much of him. If we do not embrace the path of joy-laden, painful love, we will waste our lives.
  • The Calvary road is costly and painful, but it is not joyless.
  • If Christ is not made much of in our lives, they are wasted. We exist to make him appear in the world as what he really is—magnificent. If our life and death do not show the worth and wonder of Jesus, they are wasted.
  • What you love determines what you feel shame about.
  • Paul’s all-consuming goal in life was for Christ to be magnified. Christ was of infinite value to Paul, and so Paul longed for others to see and savor this value. That is what it means to magnify Christ—to show the magnitude of his value.
  • But how are we to magnify Christ in death? Or to put it another way: How can we die so that in our dying the surpassing value of Christ, the magnitude of his worth, becomes visible?
  • If you experience death as gain, you magnify Christ in death.
  • That is what death does: It takes us into more intimacy with Christ. We depart, and we are with Christ, and that, Paul says, is gain. And when you experience death this way, Paul says, you exalt Christ. Experiencing Christ as gain in your dying magnifies Christ.
  • Death makes visible where our treasure is. The way we die reveals the worth of Christ in our hearts.
  • The essence of praising Christ is prizing Christ. Christ will be praised in my death, if in my death he is prized above life.
  • If we learn to die like this, we will be ready to live. And if we don’t, we will waste our lives.
  • Daily Christian living is daily Christian dying. The dying I have in mind is the dying of comfort and security and reputation and health and family and friends and wealth and homeland. These may be taken from us at any time in the path of Christ-exalting obedience. To die daily the way Paul did, and to take up our cross daily the way Jesus commanded, is to embrace this life of loss for Christ’s sake and count it gain.
  • The way we honor Christ in death is to treasure Jesus above the gift of life, and the way we honor Christ in life is to treasure Jesus above life’s gifts.
  • We are always on the lookout for ways to justify our self-protecting, self-securing, self-pleasing ways of life.
  • The greatest joy in God comes from giving his gifts away, not in hoarding them for ourselves.
  • God’s glory shines more brightly when he satisfies us in times of loss than when he provides for us in times of plenty.
  • No one ever said that they learned their deepest lessons of life, or had their sweetest encounters with God, on the sunny days. People go deep with God when the drought comes. That is the way God designed it.
  • Christ aims to be magnified in life most clearly by the way we experience him in our losses.
  • When everything in life is stripped away except God, and we trust him more because of it, this is gain, and he is glorified.
  • But when all is said and done, the promise and design of God for people who do not waste their lives is clear. “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).
  • What a tragic waste when people turn away from the Calvary road of love and suffering.