Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

The Art of Work by Jeff GoinsThe Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do by Jeff Goins. Thomas Nelson. 240 pages. 2015. Audiobook read by Jeff Goins.
*** ½

This book is an excellent introduction to the subject of calling. It is well-written, easy to read, interesting and practical. The book is organized into three major sections: Preparation, Action and Completion. In those sections he covers seven overlapping stages of calling. The stages are: Awareness, Apprenticeship, Practice, Discovery, Profession, Mastery and Legacy. In each stage he uses ordinary stories of people to illustrate the stage. Being a graduate of my hometown Illinois State University, I enjoyed the story of Jody Mayberry from ISU about his calling as a Park Ranger.

Goins tells us that finding your calling is a path, rather than a plan. He refers to a calling as the reason you were born. I wouldn’t quite go that far, believing for example that the reason I was born was to worship God and tell others about Him. However, I would apply what Goins writes as to say that our calling is the work that we were born to do. He also refers to your calling as that thing you just cannot not do. He states that your calling is not a destination, but a journey that doesn’t end until you die.

Goins introduces us to Viktor Frankl’s three things that give meaning to life. Frankl said “When a person can’t find a deep sense of meaning, they distract themselves with pleasure.” Goins tells us that a calling comes when we embrace the pain and that a calling is not necessarily fair. Finding your calling is not a passive process. You must persevere and commit to the path.

I enjoyed the section of the book in which Goins wrote about accidental apprenticeships and the role of mentors in helping us to find our calling. He writes that we never find our calling on our own.

He refers to deliberate practice as that practice that leads to expert performance. That section reminded me of Malcolm Gladwell’s discussion in his book Outliers of roughly 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Goins talks about practice being painful.

Goins tells us that finding our calling is a journey and that we must see the journey as one of building bridges, not as leaping off of bridges. It is a process and it takes time. Finding our calling is a series of intentional decisions.

I enjoy great quotes and one he shares is from Frederick Buechner, a favorite author. Buechner wrote “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”

Goins writes that a calling is a journey, a mystery, but also intentional. He writes about how failure plays into our calling, how we can see failure as our friend, and what he refers to as pivot points.

He writes about seeing our calling as a portfolio. I found this section to be particularly interesting. He states that our calling is more than our career. Instead he states that there are a variety of things you do (work, home, play/hobbies, etc.) that make up your calling portfolio.

Goins writes that calling is a gift to be given away. He states that success isn’t the goal, but legacy is. Your life, when lived well, becomes your calling. Goins writes that we have to understand that there will be some work that we will not finish. We will all die as unfinished symphonies. Success isn’t so much what you do but leaving a legacy that matters.  We should be careful of the cost of pursuing our calling. No amount of success is worth losing your family, for example. We should also be careful to master the craft but not let it master us.

An appendix is included which features a summary of the seven stages, seven signs you’ve found your calling and also seven exercises to complete. He also includes questions for discussions that would be helpful when reading and discussing the book with others.

Overall I found this book enjoyable, practical and easy to read, featuring many interesting stories illustrating his points. I particularly enjoyed references and stories about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Frederick Buechner, J.R.R. Tolkien and Dorothy Sayers. If you enjoy audiobooks, Goins reads the audiobook edition as well, and does a good very job.

While I find the best book on calling to be Os Guiness’ book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life, I found this to be a very good, more secular introduction, directed to a mass audience, on this important subject.

You can find additional resources at www.artofworkbook.com.

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

generous justiceThe Generous Justice Book Club

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller

This book, which I had read when it was first published, was listed under recommended reading in Matt Perman’s fine book What’s Best Next. Tammy and I are reading it and being challenged on every page. Won’t you read along with us? This week we conclude our looks at the book by reviewing

Chapter 8: Peace, Beauty and Justice:

  • “Shalom” is usually translated “peace” in English Bibles, but it means far more than what our English word conveys. It means complete reconciliation, a state of the fullest flourishing in every dimension—physical, emotional, social, and spiritual—because all relationships are right, perfect, and filled with joy.
  • When the society disintegrates, when there is crime, poverty, and family breakdown, there is no shalom. However, when people share their resources with each other, and work together so that shared public services work, the environment is safe and beautiful, the schools educate, and the businesses flourish, then that community is experiencing social shalom. When people with advantages invest them in those who have fewer, the community experiences civic prosperity or social shalom.
  • But the world is not, by and large, characterized by shalom.
  • The beginning of the book of Genesis tells us how in the Garden of Eden, humanity walked with God and served him. Under his rule and authority, it was paradise. All that ended, however, when humanity turned away from God, rejecting his rule and kingdom.
  • When we lost our relationship with God, the whole world stopped “working right.” The world is filled with hunger, sickness, aging, and physical death. Because our relationship with God has broken down, shalom is gone—spiritually, psychologically, socially, and physically.
  • Now we are in a position to see even more clearly what the Bible means when it speaks of justice. In general, to “do justice” means to live in a way that generates a strong community where human beings can flourish. Specifically, however, to “do justice” means to go to places where the fabric of shalom has broken down, where the weaker members of societies are falling through the fabric, and to repair it. This happens when we concentrate on and meet the needs of the poor.
  • Reweaving shalom means to sacrificially thread, lace, and press your time, goods, power, and resources into the lives and needs of others.
  • The strong must disadvantage themselves for the weak, the majority for the minority, or the community frays and the fabric breaks.
  • Edwards taught that if, through an experience of God’s grace, you come to find him beautiful, then you do not serve the poor because you want to think well of yourself, or in order to get a good reputation, or because you think it will be good for your business, or even because it will pay off for your family in creating a better city to live in. You do it because serving the poor honors and pleases God, and honoring and pleasing God is a delight to you in and of itself.
  • Proverbs 19:7 and 14:31 are texts that sum up a great deal of Scriptural material. The first text says that if you are kind to the poor, God takes it as if you are being kind to him. The second gives us the flip side; namely, that if you show contempt for the poor it means you are showing contempt for him.
  • But there’s a deeper principle at work here. If you insult the poor, you insult God. The principle is that God personally identifies very closely with the widow, the orphan, and the immigrant, the most powerless and vulnerable members of society.
  • In Jesus Christ God identified not only with the poor, but also with those who are denied justice.
  • This was the ultimate instance of God’s identification with the poor. He not only became one of the actually poor and marginalized, he stood in the place of all those of us in spiritual poverty and bankruptcy (Matthew 5:3) and paid our debt.
  • The God of the Bible says, as it were, “I am the poor on your step. Your attitude toward them reveals what your true attitude is toward me.” A life poured out in doing justice for the poor is the inevitable sign of any real, true gospel faith.
  • The term “justice” here has to do with the Old Testament concept of loving and defending the vulnerable.
  • So this is a call to create a believing community in which the well-off and middle class are sacrificially giving their resources away and deeply, personally involved in the lives of the many weak and vulnerable in their midst.

The Conviction to Lead by Albert Mohler The Conviction to Lead Book Club

The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler

We’re reading this excellent book from Albert Mohler, one of the best that I’ve read on leadership. It is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at

Chapter 17: The Leader as Decision Maker:

  • Leaders simply cannot avoid making important decisions, and effective leaders stand out because they are both courageous and skilled in making the right decisions again and again.
  • Leadership is a blend of roles, responsibilities, and expectations. But the one responsibility that often matters most is the ability to make decisions—the right decisions.
  • Organizations thrive when leaders make the right decisions, and they fail when leaders make the wrong ones. What is often less obvious is the fact that organizations can suffer worse when leaders refuse to make any decision at all. Indecisiveness is one of history’s greatest leadership killers.
  • Before making a decision, the leader’s preliminary task is to determine if a decision actually has to be made. Odd as this may sound, many organizations suffer because the leader allowed a decision to be made that should never have been decided at all.
  • Leadership by conviction takes some decisions off the table before the leader gets to work.
  • Six simple steps, taken sequentially, can greatly assist any leader in this task. First, define the reality. Defining reality, as Max De Pree, an outstanding leader and author of Leadership Is an Art, reminds us, is the leader’s first task.
  • Second, identify the alternatives. Often the most obvious alternatives are the best alternatives. But at other times, the best decision may be more surprising.
  • Third, apply analysis. To analyze is simply to take apart. The leader takes the alternatives apart by applying certain tests. Convictional leadership applies the test of belief and conviction at this stage, asking the questions that frame the organization’s deepest commitments.
  • Our beliefs, our convictions, our values? Unless this question rules over all others, the organization will inevitably forfeit or compromise its convictions. Convictional analysis must be rigorous, explicit, and open.
  • Leadership by conviction means that there will be times when the organization faces an opportunity or option that every financial, numerical, and statistical analysis will suggest is a great decision. In fact, the only reason the organization and its leader should not take this opportunity is because it conflicts or compromises the organization’s beliefs and convictions. But that is more than enough to tip the scales.
  • Fourth, pause for reflection.
  • Fifth, make the decision, and make it count. Weak leaders make weak decisions. Effective leaders make solid decisions and see them through.
  • Convictional leaders make the decision, communicate it throughout the organization, and stake their reputations on it.
  • Sixth, review and learn. Leaders learn from their decisions and from the process of making them. The leader learns fast, remembers honestly, and moves on.
  • Leaders have to make decisions day by day. Convictional leaders are determined to make the right decisions, grounded in those convictions. But at the end of the day, all we can do is make the best decisions we can, knowing that the final verdict will not come from shareholders, board members, church members, or even historians, but from God.

In the NewsFaith and Work News:

  • Ordinary Christian Work. Tim Challies writes” There will be some who are called to full-time church ministry as their vocation. There will be some who will put aside manual labor in order to be trained and tasked as full-time pastors, dependent on the support of others. There will be some who will stop working with their hands to go into the mission field. This is good, and it honors God. But it is not a higher call or a better call or a surer path to pleasing God. We please God—we thrill God— when we live as ordinary people in ordinary lives who use our ordinary circumstances to proclaim and live out an extraordinary gospel.”
  • Why Do You Work? Stephen Nichols looks at Psalm 104 for an answer.
  • 3 Things to Consider About Your Vocation (Part 3). This article from the Theology of Work Project states “If God is guiding you towards some kind of job or profession, it’s more likely that you may find a deep desire for it in your heart.”
  • Work is Sacred. In this brief video, Pastor Chris Neal states “The first thing God did was work and build and create. The first thing He commanded us to do was to work the garden. As soon as you frame work as a sacred task, that changes everything. At that point, your work can be done as worship to God and love for your neighbor!
  • How Great Do You Want to Be? Mark Miller writes “Why are some organizations able to achieve AND sustain greatness? The quick answer is they are never satisfied. Regardless of the level of excellence they achieve, they always Raise the Bar. The leaders in these High Performance Organizations understand, it is better to raise the bar yourself vs. waiting on your competition to do it for you.”
  • When Our Career Plans Aren’t Panning Out. Bethany Jenkins tells us about Johnathan Agrelius, and writes “How do we live in the tension of having a sense of God’s calling and not seeing it come to fruition? What happens when our career plans aren’t panning out?”
  • Potential. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell looks at one of his favorite words, potential.
  • Time. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses the word time.
  • Don’t try to manage your time – manage yourself! John Maxwell writes “How do you judge whether something is worthy of your time and attention? For years I used a formula to help me know the importance of a task so that I can manage myself effectively. It’s a three step process.”
  • The 5 R’s Of Applying Scripture To Your Business. C. Patton shares his 5-step process for applying Scripture to his business practices.
  • 7 Keys for Creating a Contagious Leadership Culture. Brad Lomenick shares several key ingredients to creating a great culture.
  • Leadership Starts with the Heart. Phyllis Hendry writes “A changed heart equals a changed leader. And leading like Jesus – leadership that achieves strong relationships and results – starts on the inside, beginning with the heart.”
  • Sharing Our Message: BW Leadership Institute. Bob Chapman writes that Barry-Wehmiller takes another big step in building a better world through the launching of their new BW Leadership Institute, created to share with other organizations what they have learned about building and fostering a people-centric culture.
  • New Website for the Center for Faith and Work. After a year reflecting on imagination and innovation at the Center for Faith & Work, they recently went live with their new website. Their aim is to allow you to better explore and experience faith and work in action. The Center for Faith and Work’s 2015 Faith and Work Conference will be held November 6-7. You can register now.

Ideas-Come-From-Curiosity-quoteFaith and Work Quotes:

  • Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him.  Our secondary calling, considering who God is sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him. Os Guinness
  • Our lessons come from the journey, not the destination. Coach K
  • If you are afraid of criticism, you will die doing nothing. John Wooden
  • The most important concept from The New One Minute Manager, even with all the rewritten sections, is to catch people doing things right. Ken Blanchard
  • If you’re doing what everybody else is doing, you’re probably doing something wrong. Andy Andrews
  • Honesty is critically important in business if you want to build the relationships you’ll need to succeed in business. Dr. Allen Zimmerman
  • Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service. Os Guinness
  • Don’t prioritize your schedule, schedule your priorities. Matt Perman 
  • Character is doing the right thing when nobody’s looking. There are too many people who think that the only thing that’s right is to get by, and the only thing that’s wrong is to get caught. J.C. Watts


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INTEGRATING FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Jobs are boring LEADERSHIP AND TEAMWORK:

10 Ways to Create a Teamwork 101 Environment. Brad Lomenick writes “I love the book of Philippians in the New Testament. The entire book is one of Paul’s greatest letters. Specifically, chapter 2 is a gem. Paul lays out some strong language regarding teamwork and working together.”

The 7 Characteristics of Servant Leadership. Matt Perman writes “I think it is so important for the church to understand the real meaning of servant leadership. So important.”

  • The Most Obvious Thing Most Leaders Miss. Mark Miller writes “If you want to see people perform at a higher level and be more engaged, take time to define how you are keeping score, and then share with each team member how they can contribute to the overall success. Never underestimate how much people need a way to measure their results. Remember, people play harder and smarter when they know the score.”

KEEP GETTING BETTER:

CALLING AND VOCATION:

PITHY PONDERINGS:

  • 20 Signs Its Time to Quit Your Job. Selma Wilson writes “Sometimes, we need to assess where we are in our work. If you answer yes to most of these questions, it may be time for you to leave your position.”
  •  What’s that Bible Doing on Your Desk? David C. Bentall writes “Over the years, I have concluded that a person who is a faithful Christian “in the marketplace” will probably not have a bible on their desk. Instead, they will display certain characteristics consistently, which will endear them to their colleagues, and which will reveal their heart for God to those around them. I believe that those who honor their Christian faith at work will do two things: 1) They will do a good job, and 2) They will be men of their word.”
  • The Art and Pain Of Applying Scripture To Business. C Patton writes “When I started over 10 years ago trying to integrate my Christian faith and my business, there were not as many books available on the subject. Instead, one of the few books I could find – Business by The Book – recommended reading the book of Proverbs with “business glasses” on.”
  • Everybody Matters Podcast. This week’s podcast features Amy Cuddy and Simon Sinek.
  • A Seminary President Sits Down with a Facilities Worker to Talk Faith and Work. Andrew Spencer writes “There are only two people with permanent, personally designated parking spots on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. As you would expect, one is for the president, Dr. Danny Akin. The other spot is for Mr. Eugene Smith, the 88 year-old man who works for facilities.

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

 Generous Justice by Tim Keller Book Club

Generous JusticeGenerous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller

This book, which I had read when it was first published, was listed under recommended reading in Matt Perman’s fine book What’s Best Next. Tammy and I are reading it and being challenged on every page. Won’t you read along with us?

This week we look at
CHAPTER 7 ~ DOING JUSTICE IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE

  • When believers seek to do justice in the world, they often find it both necessary and desirable to work with others who do not share their faith.
  • Our society is deeply divided over the very definition of justice. Nearly everyone thinks they are on justice’s side.
  • When we appeal to the principle of freedom we usually mean that people should be free to live as they choose, as long as they don’t harm or diminish the freedom of others. The problem with this seemingly simple idea is that it assumes we all agree on what harm is.
  • So freedom is indeed something of an “empty” concept, as Klarman said, because the causes for which freedom is invoked are always matters of deeply held beliefs, rooted in particular views of human nature and happiness and right and wrong that are matters of faith. We all agree that freedom should be curtailed if it harms people, but we can’t agree on what harm is, because we have different views of what healthy, flourishing human life looks like.
  • Sandel lays out three current views of justice, which he calls “maximizing welfare,” “respecting freedom,” and “promoting virtue.” According to one framework, the most just action is that which brings the greatest good to the greatest number of people. According to the second, the most just action is that which respects the freedom and rights of each individual to live as he or she chooses. According to the last view, justice is served when people are acting as they ought to, in accord with morality and virtue. These views lead to sharply different conclusions about what is just in particular cases.
  • Underneath all notions of justice is a set of faith assumptions that are essentially religious, and these are often not acknowledged.
  • To use a simple example, it is often argued that corporal punishment violates the rights and human dignity of a child, and therefore should be illegal. Smith reminds us, however, that there is no secular, scientific basis for the idea of human dignity, or that human beings are valuable and inviolable.
  • The rules of secular discourse lead us to smuggle moral value judgments into our reasoning about justice without admitting it to others or even to ourselves.
  • Why did we not give people the freedom to own slaves or not? It was because as a society we made the moral determination that members of all races were fully human. So if our society gives women the freedom to have abortions, it is because we also have made a moral determination.
  • How should Christians proceed to do justice in this kind of environment? I propose that Christians’ work for justice should be characterized by both humble cooperation and respectful provocation.
  • In other words, according to the Bible, virtue, rights, and the common good are all crucial aspects of justice.
  • God reveals much of his will to human consciences through what has been called “the light of nature.”
  • The Bible warns us not to think that only Bible-believing people care about justice or are willing to sacrifice in order to bring it about.
  • Christians should identify themselves as believers as they seek justice, welcoming and treating all who work beside them as equals. Believers should let their coworkers know of how the gospel is motivating them, yet also, as Myers says, they should appeal to common values as much as possible.
  • What we are laying out here is a balance. On the one hand there are Christians who want to work for social reforms, citing only Biblical reasons, and speaking aggressively against those who do not share their religious beliefs. On the other hand there are those who counsel Christians to not seek social justice at all, predicting that such efforts only make Christians more like the world. Instead, they say, Christians should concentrate on only bringing individuals to faith in Christ and building up the church. The former group is too triumphalist, while the latter group is too pessimistic about the possibilities of cultural change and social reform.
  • We should agree that, according to the Bible, all the various views of justice out there in our society are partly right. But they are also partly wrong.
  • No current political framework can fully convey the comprehensive Biblical vision of justice, and Christians should never identify too closely with a particular political party or philosophy.
  • Sandel has shown that the ideal of “liberal neutrality,” which has dominated modern law and jurisprudence for decades—namely that “we should never bring moral or religious convictions to bear in public discourse about justice and rights” —is actually an impossibility.
  • Justice is not only about the right way to distribute things. It is also about the right way to value things. And “valuing things” is always based on beliefs about the purposes of life, human nature, right and wrong—all of which are moral and religious.
  • How do we determine what is good or evil human behavior? Aristotle and his followers answer: Unless you can determine what human beings are here for, you can’t answer that.
  • The idea of human rights has its origin in the concept of “human sacredness,” which was born in religious traditions.
  • It makes an enormous difference to how one lives in the world if you see human beings as accidental beings rather than a sacred creation and gift of God.
  • This in no way means that nonreligious people cannot believe in human dignity and human rights. Millions of them can and do. But any such belief is, in itself, essentially religious in nature.
  • The pursuit of justice in society is never morally neutral, but is always based on understandings of reality that are essentially religious in nature. Christians should not be strident and condemning in their language or attitude, but neither should they be silent about the Biblical roots of their passion for justice.

 The Conviction to Lead Book Club

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters by Albert Mohler

We’re reading this excellent book from Albert Mohler, one of the best that I’ve read on leadership. It is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at

CHAPTER 16 ~ Leadership as Stewardship

  • In the secular world, the horizon of leadership is often no more distant than the next quarterly report or board meeting. For the Christian leader, the frame of reference for leadership is infinitely greater. Our leadership is set within the context of eternity.
  • The most important reality that frames our understanding of leadership is nothing less than the sovereignty of God. Human beings may claim to be sovereign, but no earthly leader is anything close to being truly sovereign.
  • The bottom line is this: We are merely stewards, not lords, of all that is put into our trust. The sovereignty of God puts us in our place, and that place is in God’s service.
  • The biblical concept of a steward is simple. A steward is someone who manages and leads what is not his own, and he leads knowing that he will give an account to the Lord as the owner and ruler of all.
  • Stewards are entrusted with responsibility.
  • Christian leaders are invested with a stewardship of influence, authority, and trust that we are called to fulfill.
  • We are called to exercise dominion over creation, but not as ones who own what we are called to lead. Our assignment is to serve on behalf of another.
  • Leaders lead, but they do this knowing that they are leading on another’s behalf. Leaders—no matter their title—are servants, plain and simple.
  • Those who lead are entrusted with a stewardship that comes ultimately from God and in the end will be judged by him alone. We are given a job to do and the authority to do it. We will shipwreck our leadership if we do not remember that we are stewards, not lords, of all that we hold by trust.
  • The leader is almost always steward of more than any job description can cover. In fact, convictional leaders are called to fulfill a stewardship of breathtaking proportions.
    • We are the stewards of human lives and their welfare.
    • We are the stewards of time and opportunity.
    • We are the stewards of assets and resources.
    • We are the stewards of energy and attention.
    • We are the stewards of reputation and legacy.
    • We are the stewards of truth and teaching.
  • The requirement of stewards is that they be found faithful. That’s why leadership is only for the brave.

 Leadership Book Club

The Advantage by Patrick LencioniThe Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick Lencioni. Jossey-Bass. 240 pages. 2012

Patrick Lencioni is one of my favorite business authors. His books The Advantage and The Five Dysfunctions of a Team are among my favorites. I recently started reading and discussing The Advantage with two colleagues at work. I’m sharing key learnings from the book here.

Some good resources around organizational health can be found here: http://www.tablegroup.com/oh

This week we look at

DISCIPLINE 1: BUILD A COHESIVE LEADERSHIP TEAM

An organization simply cannot be healthy if the people who are chartered with running it are not behaviorally cohesive in five fundamental ways. In any kind of organization, from a corporation to a department within that corporation, from a small, entrepreneurial company to a church or a school, dysfunction and lack of cohesion at the top inevitably lead to a lack of health throughout.

  • The question: What kind of advantage would the first organization have over the second, and how much time and energy would it be worth investing to make this advantage a reality?
  • The first step a leadership team has to take if it wants the organization it leads to be healthy—and to achieve the advantages that go with it—is to make itself cohesive.
  • What I’ll do in this section is present a comprehensive overview of the model and provide advice about addressing the five dysfunctions and embracing the positive behaviors that are at the heart of any cohesive leadership team.
  • I like to say that teamwork is not a virtue. It is a choice—and a strategic one.
  • A leadership team is a small group of people who are collectively responsible for achieving a common objective for their organization.
  • A leadership team should be made up of somewhere between three and twelve people, though anything over eight or nine is usually problematic.
  • When it comes to discussions and decision making, there are two critical ways that members of effective teams must communicate: advocacy and inquiry.
  • Advocacy is the kind of communication that most people are accustomed to, and it is all about stating your case or making your point.
  • Inquiry is rarer and more important than advocacy. It happens when people ask questions to seek clarity about another person’s statement of advocacy.
  • Why do so many organizations still have too many people on their leadership teams?
  • Collective responsibility implies, more than anything else, selflessness and shared sacrifices from team members.
  • There are other sacrifices that team members have to make beyond these tangible ones, and they come about on a much more regular basis—often daily. Two big ones are time and emotion.
  • And while there will always be a need for division of labor and departmental expertise, leadership team members must see their goals as collective and shared when it comes to managing the top priorities of the greater organization.
  • If a team shares a common objective, a good portion of their compensation or reward structure, though not necessarily all of it, should be based on the achievement of that common objective.

BEHAVIOR 1: BUILDING TRUST

  • Members of a truly cohesive team must trust one another.
  • The kind of trust that is necessary to build a great team is what I call vulnerability-based trust. This is what happens when members get to a point where they are completely comfortable being transparent, honest, and naked with one another, where they say and genuinely mean things like “I screwed up,” “I need help,” “Your idea is better than mine,” “I wish I could learn to do that as well as you do,” and even, “I’m sorry.”
  • At the heart of vulnerability lies the willingness of people to abandon their pride and their fear, to sacrifice their egos for the collective good of the team. While this can be a little threatening and uncomfortable at first, ultimately it becomes liberating for people who are tired of spending time and energy overthinking their actions and managing interpersonal politics at work.
  • Personal Histories. The first part of learning to build vulnerability-based trust is a small step that is necessary because to ask people to get too vulnerable too quickly is unrealistic and unproductive.
  • Profiling. The next stage, though deeper than the first one, is still largely nonthreatening. It involves using a behavioral profiling tool that can give team members deeper insights into themselves and their peers. We prefer the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, because it is widely used and understood, and seems remarkably accurate. However, there are other workable tools out there as well.
  • At the heart of the fundamental attribution error is the tendency of human beings to attribute the negative or frustrating behaviors of their colleagues to their intentions and personalities, while attributing their own negative or frustrating behaviors to environmental factors.
  • Some people ask me if it’s possible for team members to be too vulnerable with one another, to leave themselves open to being hurt. My answer is no.
  • As important as it is for all members of a leadership team to commit to being vulnerable, that is not going to happen if the leader of the team, whether that person is the CEO, department head, pastor, or school principal, does not go first. If the team leader is reluctant to acknowledge his or her mistakes or fails to admit to a weakness that is evident to everyone else, there is little hope that other members of the team are going to take that step themselves.
  • Trust is just one of five behaviors that cohesive teams must establish to build a healthy organization. However, it is by far the most important of the five because it is the foundation for the others. Simply stated, it makes teamwork possible. Only when teams build vulnerability-based trust do they put themselves in a position to embrace the other four behaviors, the next of which is the mastery of conflict.

Favorite QuotesFaith and Work Quotes:

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and world’s deep hunger meet. Frederick Buechner

  • It is not right for the Church to acquiesce in the notion that a man’s life is divided into the time he spends on his work and the time he spends in serving God. He must be able to serve God in his work, and the work itself must be accepted and respected as the medium of divine creation. Dorothy Sayers
  • Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence. Vince Lombardi
  • Look at your problems as problems and they’ll continue to hold you down. See them as blessings in disguise and that’s what they become. Coach K
  • If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes. John Wooden


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Book Reviews and News

Book Reviews
What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung. Crossway. 160 pages. 2015.
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Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan, and one of the leading young voices in Reformed circles, has written a very readable book from a pastoral heart, on a hot topic in our culture today. Up front, he tells us that this is a Christian book that has the focus of defending a traditional view of marriage.

He writes: “Is homosexual activity a sin that must be repented of, forsaken, and forgiven, or, given the right context and commitment, can we consider same-sex sexual intimacy a blessing worth celebrating and solemnizing? That is the question this book seeks to answer.”

He is open in stating that he believes same-sex sexual intimacy is a sin. “Along with most Christians around the globe and virtually every Christian in the first nineteen-and-a-half centuries of church history, I believe the Bible places homosexual behavior—no matter the level of commitment or mutual affection—in the category of sexual immorality.” Why the author believes this is the subject of the book.

The book is divided into a few major parts:  Part 1, consists of five chapters which examine the five most relevant and most debated biblical texts related to homosexuality. In part 2, DeYoung focuses on seven of the most common objections to this traditional view of sexual morality. A final chapter tries to explain what is at stake in the debate. Three appendices follow the main portion of the book.

DeYoung states that we must reinterpret our experiences through the Bible, rather than letting our experiences dictate what the Bible can and cannot mean. He encourages the reader, whatever their presuppositions may be, to keep three things open as they read the book: their heads, heart, and Bible.

In looking at Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, he suggests six reasons why we cannot set aside these passages, but should instead view these prohibitions as an expression of God’s unchanging moral will.

In addressing the key New Testament text on this subject, he writes:  “The most detailed and significant treatment of homosexuality is found in the first chapter of the most important letter in the history of the world. Romans 1 reinforces with unambiguous clarity all that we’ve seen up to this point from the Old Testament; namely, that homosexual practice is a serious sin and a violation of God’s created order.”

In addressing some of the common objections in part two, he writes:  “We cannot count same-sex behavior as an indifferent matter. Of course, homosexuality isn’t the only sin in the world, nor is it the most critical one to address in many church contexts. But if 1 Corinthians 6 is right, it’s not an overstatement to say that solemnizing same-sex sexual behavior—like supporting any form of sexual immorality—runs the risk of leading people to hell.”

DeYoung states that the biblical teaching is consistent and unambiguous, that homosexual activity is not God’s will for his people. In addressing the objections, he states how the revisionist authors look at the issue and texts in question.

He challenges the reader to consider what is at stake in moving away from the standard view of marriage:

  • The moral logic of monogamy
  • The integrity of Christian sexual ethics
  • The authority of the Bible
  • The grand narrative of Scripture

DeYoung states “The path which leads to the affirmation of homosexual behavior is a journey which inevitably leaves behind a clear, inerrant Bible, and picks up from liberalism a number of assumptions about the importance of individual authority and cultural credibility.”

The book concludes with three appendices:

  1. What about Same-Sex Marriage?
  2. Same-Sex Attraction: Three Building Blocks
  3. The Church and Homosexuality: Ten Commitments

He includes a helpful annotated bibliography for those who want to keep exploring what the Bible says about homosexuality.

The publisher is offering a Study Guide for the book at crossway.org/DeYoung2015.

Certainly not everyone will agree with the conclusions in this important book. It is a well-written, pastoral, and I believe biblically based view of this important issue.

 generous justiceThe Generous Justice Book Club

Generous Justice: How God’s Grace Makes Us Just by Tim Keller

This book, which I had read when it was first published, was listed under recommended reading in Matt Perman’s fine book What’s Best Next. Tammy and I are reading it and being challenged on every page. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at Chapter 6: How Should We Do Justice?

Doing justice is an important part of living the Christian life in the world. What I have wrestled with for many years since is the question of how to practically answer this call today.

  • God does not want us to merely give the poor perfunctory help, but to ponder long and hard about how to improve their entire situation.
  • Doing justice, then, requires constant, sustained reflection and circumspection.
  • If you are a Christian, and you refrain from committing adultery or using profanity or missing church, but you don’t do the hard work of thinking through how to do justice in every area of life—you are failing to live justly and righteously.
  • Vulnerable people need multiple levels of help. We will call these layers relief, development, and social reform. Relief is direct aid to meet immediate physical, material, and economic needs.
  • The next level is development. This means giving an individual, family, or entire community what they need to move beyond dependency on relief into a condition of economic self-sufficiency.
  • Wright then lays out a good list of what is entailed in helping a poor family or individual climb out of a state of constant dependency. It includes education, job creation and training, job search skills, and financial counseling as well as helping a family into home ownership.
  • When John Perkins explained his philosophy of ministry, he always named three basic factors. One he called “relocation,” though others have called it “reneighboring a community.” Perkins advocated that those helping the neighborhood live in it. Perkins also spoke of “redistribution,” something others have called “reweaving a community.”
  • There is a third important factor in John Perkins’s strategy for rebuilding poor communities. He names it “racial reconciliation.”
  • What is best for the poor community—a nonpaternalistic partnership of people from different races and social locations—was also one of the gifts that the gospel makes possible.
  • We must not miss the profound message of this account—that human pride and lust for power leads to racial and national division, strife, and hatred.
  • Partnership and friendship across racial barriers within the church is one of the signs of the presence and power of the gospel.
  • Racial prejudice is wrong because it is a denial of the very principle that all human beings are equally sinful and saved by only the grace of God.
  • Social reform moves beyond the relief of immediate needs and dependency and seeks to change the conditions and social structures that aggravate or cause that dependency.
  • Many Christians resist the idea that social systems need to be dealt with directly. They prefer the idea that “society is changed one heart at a time,” and so they concentrate on only evangelism and individual social work. This is naïve.
  • Doing justice in poor communities includes direct relief, individual development, community development, racial reconciliation, and social reform.
  • Churches in poor neighborhoods can serve as healing communities.
  • Christians can form organizations that serve as healers of communities.
  • Finally, churches encourage people to be organizers for just communities.
  • What should you do if you and your church are not in located in areas of poverty or dire need? You or your church should begin by discovering the needs in your locale. Another thing that your church can do is to make a connection to churches and ministries that are resident and effective in poorer neighborhoods and poorer countries.
  • You can’t love people in word only (cf. 1 John 3:16-17) and therefore you can’t love people as you are doing evangelism and discipleship without meeting practical and material needs through deeds.
  • As soon as a church engages in holistic ministry, however, it will run up against a number of practical policy issues. Often people with the same basic vision for justice will disagree on the specific answers to the following questions:
  1. How much should we help?
  2. Whom should we help?
  3. Under what conditions does your help proceed or end?
  4. In what way do we help?
  5. From where should we help?
  • As Christians do justice, they must face the important practical issue of how justice relates to their other duties as believers. In particular, what is the relationship between the call to help the needy and the Biblical command to evangelize?
  • I propose a different way to understand evangelism and social justice. They should exist in an asymmetrical, inseparable relationship.
  • Deeds of mercy and justice should be done out of love, not simply as a means to the end of evangelism. And yet there is no better way for Christians to lay a foundation for evangelism than by doing justice.
  • Doing justice necessitates a striking a series of balances. It means ministering in both word and deed, through the local church and as individual agents dispersed throughout the world. It means engaging in relief, and development, and reform.

Counter Culture by David PlattReading Together ~ Week 8

Counter Culture: A Compassionate Call to Counter Culture in a World of Poverty, Same-Sex Marriage, Racism, Sex Slavery, Immigration, Abortion, Persecution, Orphans and Pornography by David Platt.

David Platt, author of Radical, has written an important new book. So important, I believe, that rather than doing one book review, I’m going to review the content chapter by chapter. Note, all of Platt’s royalties from this book will go toward promoting the glory of Christ in all nations.

Each chapter concludes by offering some initial suggestions for practical requests you can pray in light of these issues, potential ways you might engage culture with the gospel, and biblical truths we must proclaim regarding every one of these issues. These suggestions will also direct you to a website www.counterculturebook.com/resources, where you can explore more specific steps you might take.

This week we look at CHAPTER 8: UNITY IN DIVERSITY: THE GOSPEL AND ETHNICITY

  • I feel inadequate to write this book on so many levels, but that inadequacy may be felt most in this chapter, for even as I have sought to develop friendships, foster partnerships, and forge initiatives that promote unity across ethnic lines, I know there is so much more that needs to be done in my own life and in the church of which I am a part.
  • Instead of being strictly tied to biology, ethnicity is much more fluid, factoring in social, cultural, lingual, historical, and even religious characteristics.
  • it makes no sense, then, to categorize our own country as a nation of black, white, brown, or other “races.” Instead, we are a nation of increasingly diverse people groups. We are Anglo Americans, African Americans, Latin Americans, Asian Americans, and more. These categories can be subdivided further based upon other ethnolinguistic factors, leading us to realize that we are a nation of unique people groups with diverse histories from different lands with distinct customs and even languages.
  • For in the beginning, sin separated man and woman from God and also from one another. This sin stood (and stands) at the root of ethnic pride and prejudice. When Christ went to the cross, he conquered sin, making the way for people to be free from its hold and restored to God. In so doing, he paved the way for all people to be reconciled to one another. Followers of Christ thus have one “Father” as one “family” in one “household,” with no “dividing wall of hostility” based upon ethnic diversity.
  • if the God of the Bible possesses particular compassion for the immigrant, even equating him or her with the orphan and the widow, and if the cross of Christ is designed to compel outreach across ethnic divisions, then how much more should we as the people of God care for immigrants from other countries in our midst?
  • First and foremost the gospel reminds us that when we are talking about immigrants (legal or illegal), we are talking about men and women made in God’s image and pursued by his grace. Consequently, followers of Christ must see immigrants not as problems to be solved but as people to be loved. The gospel compels us in our culture to decry any and all forms of oppression, exploitation, bigotry, or harassment of immigrants, regardless of their legal status. These are men and women for whom Christ died, and their dignity is no greater or lesser than our own.
  • We have a responsibility before God as citizens under a government to work together to establish and enforce just laws that address immigration. Among other things, such laws should involve securing our borders, holding business owners accountable for hiring practices, and taking essential steps that ensure fairness to taxpaying citizens of our country. Likewise, we have a responsibility before God as citizens under a government to work together to refute and remove unjust laws that oppress immigrants.[95] Failing to act in either of these ways would be to settle for injustice, which would put us out of sync with the gospel.
  • Christians are migrants on this earth, and the more we get involved in the lives of immigrants, the better we will understand the gospel.

QUOTE: Be careful what books you read, for as water tastes of the soil it runs through,
so does the soul taste of the authors that a man reads. John Trapp

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