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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Links to Interesting Articles

  • God The Great Janitor? Jim Mullins shares four of the main ways that janitors, and people with similar occupations, display the actions and attributes of God through their work.
  • How to Lead When You’re Not in Charge, Part 2. In this episode of the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, Stanley concludes his conversation with Clay Scroggins abouthow to leverage influence when you lack authority.
  • 2017 NFL Hall of Fame Leadership Quotes and Lessons from Kurt Warner. Kurt Warner was my favorite NFL player. A great example of someone integrating their faith and work. I’m thankful to Brian Dodd for capturing these quotes from Warner’s Hall of Fame speech.
  • Giving Servant Leadership the Works:  An Interview with Ken Melrose.In this interview, The High Calling talks to Ken Melrose, former CEO of the Toro Company, about how faith informs work and vice versa.
  • Luther on Vocation: Michael Horton. In this episode of the 5 Minutes in Church History podcast, Steven Nichols visits with Michael Horton about Martin Luther and the doctrine of vocation.
  • Peter: The Submissive Leader. John MacArthur writes “Character is absolutely critical in leadership. America’s current moral decline is directly linked to the fact that we have elected, appointed, and hired too many leaders who have no character.”
  • Cultivated Podcast. Check out this new podcast on faith and work. Enjoy interviews with Steve Taylor, Andy Crouch, Propaganda and others.
  • Do You See Work as a Platform or a Prison? Chris Patton writes “Too many Christians see their work as a prison.  It is a required part of their week, but it is not something they enjoy.  When asked for their reasons, the answers vary, but there is a recurring theme. Most view their work as a necessary evil instead of a source of joy and an opportunity for impact.  Very few would consider their work as a platform.”

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Rest ≠ Idleness. Watch this two-minute video from Courtney Reissig. She states “As a stay-at-home mom, it can be really hard to think about balance in the work of the home because we don’t have a boss.”
  • The Biblical Solution to Unproductivity and Laziness: Begin With Your Heart Motives. Lara d’Entremont writes “The truly productive person is motivated by a desire to deny themselves, serve others, and glorify God with their time. Because of what God has done for them (dying on the cross to give them eternal life) their primary concern is showing others that same love and glorifying God in that.”
  • Know Your Comparative Advantage to Make Better Decisions. Anne Bradley writes “Knowing your gifts and focusing on them is important for faithful stewardship. It allows us to specialize, especially with regard to things we produce and sell through our labor (our work). This specialization frees us from having to be good at everything and allows us to trade with others.”
  • Profitable Fails. David Murray writes “The basic difference between successful people and the rest of us is that they’ve learned to fail well. They humbly embrace their mistakes, use them as opportunities to learn, and persevere until each shot got them nearer the bulls-eye.”
  • Monday’s Preparation Brings Friday’s Success. Ron Edmondson writes “I find the more deliberate I am to pre-plan my day and week the more productive I feel at the end of the week.”
  • The Dangers of Success. Tim Keller writes “Success can easily cause us to forget God’s grace, because our hearts are desperate to believe that we can save ourselves.”
  • In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell states that discipline allows us to have a life to do what we need to do, not what we want to do. If we cannot discipline ourselves, life will become hard for us.
  • Redirection Not Retirement. Peter Markgraaff writes “Retirement is an opportunity for a redeployment, a recalibration, a reset, revival, reform, and a new trajectory.”
  • How to Receive Constructive Feedback with the Gospel in View. Kristin Brown writes “Getting constructive feedback is going to happen. In more theological terms, it’s part of the sanctification process—being changed to be more like Christ.”
  • When the Gospel Invades Your Office: Tim Keller on Faith and Work. Matt Smethurst interviews Tim Keller about “working for the weekend”; how the counternarrative of the gospel addresses our propensity to idolize or demonize, to overwork or underwork; how to counsel discouraged employees; and more.”
  • Why Your Church Needs to Talk about Vocation. Amy Sherman asks “Why does it matter to have a strong theology of work? Why should congregational leaders help their flock connect faith and work? Why should we talk about vocation when there are so many other worthwhile things we could talk about, like evangelism or compassion ministry? Why does it matter?”
  • 17 Powerful Workplace Scriptures. WorkMatters writes “Many scriptures are found throughout the Bible that support the importance of our work to God. Each contain God’s wisdom and views about our work, the importance of our work, or how we should conduct ourselves while performing our work.”

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How I Integrate My Faith and Work, Part 2

Recently, I shared what it was like for me to serve the Lord as a leader in a large and diverse IT department at a Fortune 50 company (Click here to read Part 1).  How do I try to live for Jesus in the workplace? How do I use the platform He has given me? How do I shine His Light to others? How do I try to integrate my faith and my work?

Here are 8 more ways in which I have personally tried to integrate my faith with my work, and you can as well:

  1. See Jesus as Your Supervisor. John Piper’s article “Lord Focused Living at Work” from his book A Godward Life, was key for me on this. Piper suggests we ask the following questions: Why would the Lord like this done? How would the Lord like this done? When would the Lord like this done? Will the Lord help me do this? What affect will this have for the Lord’s honor? Piper states that “What you are asked to do by a supervisor should generally be viewed as an appeal from the Lord.” I would agree, adding “unless they ask you to do something God prohibits, or prohibit you from doing something God commands”.
  2. Keep work in its proper perspective. Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert write in their book The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs, 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 and career above our family and church responsibilities. A good balance is needed.
  3. Point people to Christ. Our lives at work should point others to Christ. In some cases you might be able to develop relationships and actually share the gospel with those you work with (but not on work time, of course). We should always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in us. (1 Peter 3:15).
  4. Have a Teachable Spirit. David Murray has written that the one characteristic that separates the successful from the unsuccessful in every walk of life is teachability. He states that those who are teachable and remain so usually succeed, while the unteachable usually fail. He goes on to say that it doesn’t matter how much talent and gifting we have. If we are unteachable, we will never reach our full potential in the various facets of our lives – Christian growth, callings, relationships, etc. There are many areas of life in which we need a humble and teachable spirit and certainly the workplace is one of them.
  5. Get to Know Your Team Members Well. As a leader I want to serve those that I am privileged to lead. I often say that I am blessed to work with people for only a short period of time and then either they or I move on to another assignment. In order to serve them you need to know them. That’s why my initial “Meet and Greet” with them is all about them personally, and not about work. How can you effectively lead someone if you don’t first know about them and what is important to them?
  6. Consistently Demonstrating a Positive Attitude and Approach. A positive attitude has always been something that is very important to me. I’ve always said that I would rather have someone on my team with less talent and experience with a great attitude than someone with more talent and experience with a poor attitude. This quote by Chuck Swindoll is one of my favorites:

It is more important than facts. It is more important than past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…home.

The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…we are in charge of our attitude.”  

I find that I am weakened and drained when I am around negative people. Dr. Alan Zimmerman, whose “Tuesday Tip”, I’ve been reading for years, says that a negative attitude is just as contagious as the common cold. We can’t afford to catch it.

  1. Pray for Those I Will Interact With That Day. As I drive into work each morning, I pray for those that I know I will encounter that day in meetings. I pray that I will shine Christ’s light, representing Him, and serve others well. I also think about how I don’t know what will happen that day, but Jesus does. Praying about my work and the people I work with is a great way to start the day and be a disciple at work.
  2. Show empathy, care, and yes even love, to those I lead. In our church, elders have “flock groups” to shepherd, pray for, etc. I see my work team as another kind of flock group. I experience life situations with them, showing empathy for them as they go through difficult times and circumstances – and they do the same for me. Many of the people on my prayer list are from my workplace.

How have you tried to integrate your faith and work?


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

CALLING AND VOCATION:

  • Pursue Your Vocation. Tim Challies writes “If you are going to run to win, you, like Jesus, must pursue your vocation.”
  • Your Calling is More Than Your Job. Art Lindsley writes “Before we devote ourselves to a job or role, as Christians, we should devote our lives to God. Before he calls us to a job, God calls us to himself. That is and always will be our greatest call. Our answer to this call should inform and transform every area of life.”
  • Rethinking Christian Calling. Kyle Borg writes “You don’t need a divine calling to confirm the decisions in your life. In a sermon Augustine once famously said, “Love, and do what you will.” Not to tinker unnecessarily with the words of Augustine, but if I can modify that slightly I would say: glorify God in whatever you do, and do what you want. Glorify God in your relationships, and marry who you will. Glorify God in your studies, and study what you will. Glorify God in your job, and work where you will. Glorify God, and do what you want.”
  • Jesus Calls the Disciples (Matthew 3-4). Jonathan Pennington and Alice Mathews of the Theology of Work Project write “Does a call from Jesus mean that we have to stop working at our current job and become a preacher, pastor, or missionary?”
  • Work as Ministry. John A. Bernbaum writes “Viewed biblically, every Christian has ministerial rank! After all, if we are going to be “Ambassadors of the King,” ministerial rank is required.”
  • How God Sees Your Work. Listen to this Table Podcast with Darrell L. Bock and Stephen Ramseur.
  • There’s Nothing Ordinary About You. Art Lindsley writes “Many of us have lost our sense of dignity and self-worth. As a result, we are blind to our own inherent creativity and God-given talents.”
  • One Calling, Multiple Expressions. What does it mean to have a calling? How can we each know what it is we’re meant to do? Annie F. Downs reminds us that God has a specific call on each of our lives and no matter what our vocation is, our role matters.
  • On Calling, Ambition and Surrender. Many of us struggle to discern our role in God’s bigger plan for the world; some of us even struggle to see God’s plan at all. We’re unsure of our purpose, or uncertain of how we can use that purpose to bring renewal to our communities. Pete Richardson helps executive, church, and cultural leaders hone in on their life purpose and perspective. He reveals some of the questions we need to ask ourselves, and the results we can expect when we respond to God’s very personal assignment for each of us.

CHRISTIANITY AT WORK:

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How I Integrate My Faith and Work, Part 1


What is it like for me to serve the Lord as a leader in a large and diverse I.T. department at a Fortune 50 company? How do I try to live for Jesus in the workplace? How do I use the platform He has given me? How do I shine His Light to others? How do I integrate my faith and work?

Tim Keller tells us “To be a Christian in business, then, means much more than just being honest or not sleeping with your coworkers. It even means more than personal evangelism or holding a Bible study at the office. Rather, it means thinking out the implications of the gospel worldview and God’s purposes for your whole work life – and for the whole of the organization under your influence.”

In part one, here are 9 ways in which I have personally tried to integrate my faith with my work, and you can as well:

  1. Be a Servant Leader. For me, connecting my faith and work as a leader starts here. The concept of servant leadership is often misunderstood. There are many reasons why this form of leadership resonates with me. Here are just two of them:
  • It aligns well with my faith as Jesus is my model for leadership. Servant leadership means putting the needs and interests of others above your own.
  • It allows me to make a difference in my team member’s lives. Leadership expert Ken Blanchard states that the servant leader is interested in making a difference in their people’s lives, and in the process, positively impacting their organization by delivering good results. The role of the servant leader is to help their people be successful and accomplish their goals.
  1. Do excellent work. I believe that Christians should be the best workers. The rest of these items I mention don’t matter much if I’m not a good worker. And we glorify God when we give credit to Him for what we achieve, rather than claiming the credit for ourselves.
  2. Do your work for the Lord (Colossians 3:23).

My key verse here is Colossians 3:23-24: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” In their book The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert tell us that no matter what our job is or who our boss is, what we do in our jobs is actually done in service to King Jesus.  And that our work has purpose and meaning because we are ultimately doing it for the King. Who we work for is more important than what we do.

  1. Maintain a high level of integrity in all your actions. Are you a person of your word? Can people depend on you? If you say you will do something, do you do it? Former football coach Tony Dungy has written that dishonesty will eventually catch up with you. We can’t control our reputation (what others think of us), but we can control our integrity.

An example of demonstrating integrity is how we utilize resources at work. We shouldn’t steal from our employers, be it how we use our time, or company resources such as computers, office supplies and copy machines.

  1. Be a person of character. I’ve heard character defined as doing the right thing when nobody is watching. Trust is closely related to character. I tell new team members that they have my trust, that’s how we start our relationship. They don’t have to earn it. It’s up to them to lose it.
  2. Be a role model. Dungy has written in his book The Mentor Leader: Secrets to Building People and Teams That Win Consistently, that right or wrong, someone is always watching you and that it’s important to see yourself as a role model. We need to be above reproach, be role models, and have a strong “brand”, which is what distinguishes you from others, or what makes you different from others.
  3. Serve as a mentor. I’m a big proponent of the value of mentoring relationships, and never turn anyone down who wants to enter into a mentoring relationship with me. I see it as a way of giving back and pouring myself into future leaders just as my career mentor poured himself into me.
  4. Read books and blogs about integrating faith and work. I’m amazed with how many excellent books and blogs there are these days on this subject – I’m finding new ones all the time. Read some of these books and subscribe to the blogs and then share what you learn with others.
  5. Participate in a Faith and Work Book Club at work, school or home. A few colleagues in my workplace and I have been doing this for a few years now, and we are on our fifth book at this time. Our discussions, early on a Friday morning, are one of the highlights of my week. I enjoy learning from my friends how they integrate their faith and work and seeing the light come on when they realize that their work in an IT department has value in God’s eyes. Stay at home Moms could be encouraged by reading and discussing Courtney Reisigg’s new book Glory in the Ordinary: Why Your Work in the Home Matters to God.

How have you tried to integrate your faith and work?

Next time, I’ll share 8 more ways in which I have personally tried to integrate my faith with my work.


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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • Every Job a Parable: What Walmart Greeters, Nurses & Astronauts Tell Us About God. Bill Peel reviews this new book by John Van Sloten. He writes “Chances are you’ll find someone he interviewed doing work like you do, and sees God at work in their work. Van Sloten calls the jobs he writes about “parables” because each one is a real-life, lived-out story depicting some aspect of God’s work and tell us something about God.”
  • Made to Flourish National Conference. Common Good is the annual national conference for the Made to Flourish organization. Common Good 2017 (cg2017) will be Friday, October 13, 2017. The central Kansas City location will be at the Sheraton Crown Center, and they we will also have several local sites throughout the country. National speakers include Amy Sherman, Andy Crouch and Tom Nelson.
  • wellbeing@work: Chris Schroeder of PCMC.Bob Chapman writes “Most leaders understand their influence on team members’ lives during work hours, but often enough, they don’t think about how their leadership affects team members outside of the workplace as well. The way you lead impacts the way people live.”
  • Why You Should Not Copy Spurgeon’s Schedule. David Murray writes “While there is much to commend in the schedule—his weekly Wednesday Sabbath with his family, for example—I want to offer a caution lest any pastor try to implement a modern version of this.”
  • 5 Goals of Vacation for the Leader. Ron Edmondson writes “What is the purpose of vacation? Another way I might ask this question: What are the goals you have for vacation?”
  • Stop Overspiritualizing ‘Calling’. Bethany Jenkins writes “Our primary calling is to know Jesus Christ. That’s his resounding voice in his Word. Yes, in addition to his Word, he has given us gifts and talents—as well as prayer and community—and called us to different stations. But there’s no perfect job and, even if we love our work, we often only experience that in retrospect after years of deep labor, working heartily as unto the Lord.”
  • Is It Just Tiredness You Are Dealing With, Or Is It Actually Exhaustion Leading to Burnout? Dave Kraft writes “In my work with leaders and the churches in which they serve, I am encountering (more so than ever before) those who are very tired.”
  • Is Your Job a Living Sacrifice? In looking at Romans 12:1-2, John Piper states “The goal of these two verses is that you find the way of life at work and your home that makes Christ look at valuable as He really is. That’s what worship is.”
  • #KingofDreams. Steve Graves writes “Do strategy and Scripture have anything to do with each other? I’m convinced they do. Sometimes it is clearly stated in a single passage and other times it is embedded deep in the narrative or overall context.”
  • The 10 Commandments of Leadership. Brian Dodd shares these helpful 10 Commandments of Leadership, some the concepts were taught to him by John Maxwell.
  • Great Leaders Develop Leadership Vocabulary. Ron Edmondson writes “Great leaders understand the power of their words. The things they say develop the culture of the organization, team member’s perceptions of their individual roles, and the overall health and direction of the organization. Great leaders, therefore, choose their words carefully.”
  • The Greatest Leader in America. Patrick Lencioni writes “The truth is, our greatest leaders usually don’t aspire to positions of great fame or public awareness. They choose instead to lead in places where they can make a tangible, meaningful difference in the lives of the people they are called to serve.”
  • The Difference Between Your Job and Your Work. In this short post, Dan Cumberland writes “Few jobs bring a perfect alignment between your real work and your job. The more you can do your work in and through your job, the more connected you’ll feel to what you do.”
  • Five Reasons a Team Lacks Joy. Eric Geiger writes “A joyless team harms the people on the team and those the team serves.”
  • Work as Calling. Watch this forty-minute messages from Os Guinness (author of The Call, the best book I’ve read on the subject of calling), at the 2013 Gospel at Work Conference.
  • Your Job Doesn’t Define You. Megan Sauers writes “Are we compelled by the fact that He loves us? That is the most important thing. Not what we do, but that He loves us!”

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Will There Be Work in Heaven?

How about you? Do you now or have you at one time thought that the only work that had value in God’s eyes was “full-time Christian work”, such as serving in the ministry as a pastor or missionary? Do you feel that there is “sacred” or “religious” work, and everything else is “secular work”, and that secular work is a necessary evil, just to pay the bills and support your family, and contribute to God’s mission, but having no real value in God’s eyes?  That is what many Christians think.

If we were to admit it, many of those we work with, and perhaps some of us, view work as a necessary evil. Most don’t look at their work as a vocation, a calling, or even a career. No, it’s just a job. They embrace Loverboy’s “Working for the Weekend” philosophy, celebrate reaching “Hump Day”, ask “Is it Friday yet?”, get the “Sunday Night Blues” as they think about going to work on Monday morning, and count down the days until they can retire.

I wonder if many have a low value of work because they think it is temporal. Many believe that work is something that we will only do on earth.  But is that true? Some reading I’ve been doing recently would seem to contradict that thinking.

Randy Alcorn, author of Heaven, writes of our work continuing in Heaven. He states “Work in Heaven won’t be frustrating or fruitless; instead it will involve lasting accomplishment, unhindered by decay and fatigue, enhanced by unlimited resources. We’ll approach our work with the enthusiasm we bring to our favorite sport or hobby. Because there will be continuity from the old Earth to the new, it’s possible we’ll continue some of the work we started on the old Earth.”

Paul Stevens in his book Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture writes that our final destiny is not a workless utopia, but a renewed world in which we will work with infinite creativity and fulfillment.

In his chapter “What Does the Culture Say?” in the new book The Gospel & Work, Daniel Darling writes that many, if not most, Christians see their workplaces as simple vehicles by which they can provide for their families, tithe their incomes to the church, and perhaps engage in occasional evangelistic conversations. The actual work seems unimportant in light of eternity. But he tells us, our job on Monday is not a means to an end—it is part of your divine calling to fulfill the mandate given to us as God’s image bearers. The cubicle, the garage, the classroom—these are sanctuaries where you are called to worship your Creator with your best work. Our work on earth, when done for the glory of Christ, passes the test of fire (1 Cor. 3:12–13) and is mere preparation for our perfected vocations in eternity.

Here are a few Bible passages to ponder on the subject:

  • We will serve Him day and night in His temple – Revelation 7:15
  • His servants reign forever and ever – Revelation 22:5
  • We will rule over many things – Matthew 25:23

How about you? Do you believe that work is only temporal and that we won’t have work in Heaven?  Why or why not?