Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

connecting faith and workInteresting Links about Faith and Work

  • Finding a Job that Fits. Listen to this message from R.C. Sproul.
  • 7 False Assumptions Made about Introverts. Ron Edmondson writes “There are a lot of false assumptions made when someone is introverted.”
  • 10 Things We All Want from Our Leaders. Dan Rockwell is one of my favorite leadership bloggers. He has the gift of being able to deliver helpful advice in posts of 300 words or less. Here he shares 12 things we wish our leaders would stop and 10 things we all want from our leaders.
  • Great Leaders Walk the Talk. Mark Miller writes “When we do what we say we’re going to do, when we walk the talk, this builds trust and confidence in our leadership. When we fail to Embody the Values, we erode or destroy our opportunity to lead. As leaders, we must be adept at building trust.” He shares 3 steps to embody the values.
  • Authenticity. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses what it means to be authentic.
  • 13 Key Points on Being an Authentic Leader. Brad Lomenick writes “Here are 13 points on the importance and practice of being Authentic as a Leader. You might consider these “Authenticity Rules.” And in today’s leadership culture, it’s true that “Authenticity does actually rule.””
  • Cut it Out: The Secret to Winning. In this “Tuesday Tip”, Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “If you’re a leader or a manger that means you’ve got to keep on training your employees. And if you’re an individual contributor, you’ve got to recognize that school is not out and it never will be.”
  • 13 Points on Being an Authentic Leader. Brad Lomenick writes “Here are 13 points on the importance and practice of being Authentic as a Leader. You might consider these “Authenticity Rules.” And in today’s leadership culture, it’s true that “Authenticity does actually rule.”
  • Preacher with a Skate Shoe Named After Him. Bethany Jenkins interviews Brian Sumner, a professional skateboarder and evangelist pastor originally from Liverpool, England. In 2013, he produced a short film, Foolishness, which John Piper called “the fullest 60-minute gospel word I’ve heard.” Sumner currently serves as city pastor of Rock Harbor Church in Huntington Beach, California, where he lives with his wife and their three children.
  • Evangelism in the Workplace: Is Sharing Your Faith Ever Appropriate? Bill Peel writes about whether evangelism in the workplace is appropriate.
  • Three Reasons Leaders Must Constantly Ask “Why”. Eric Geiger writes “Wise leaders constantly ask “why.” Not because they find joy in questioning everything but because they want to ensure the thinking beneath the decisions is sound and the motivations beneath the actions are pure. Instead of mindlessly executing, they think deeply about what is beneath the execution. Instead of simply implementing, they care about the theology and philosophy underneath the implementation.”
  • Mentorship. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell encourages us to reach out to multiple mentors.
  • A Heart Transplant. Mark Miller writes “To become a leader people want to follow is primarily an issue of the heart. The truth is, if your heart is not right, no one cares about your skills.”
  • Seeing Seamlessly. Steven Garber, who gave the commencement address at my graduation from Covenant Seminary, writes “Every vocation at its truest is a call to see things as they really are, to understand the reality of the world that is really there. In science, in art, in economics, in education, in politics, in law, at home and at play, in our work and in our worship, from the most public of our responsibilities to the most personal of our relationships, we are called to the vocation of seeing seamlessly.”
  • Business as a Moral Community. Drew Cleveland writes “Integrating faith with the demands of work is a challenge many Christians face.  Two men with a lot of insight on faith, business ethics, integrity, and leadership recently sat down to discuss this challenge: Al Erisman of Seattle Pacific University and Bill Pollard, retired CEO of ServiceMaster and professor emeritus at Wheaton College. They recorded a video conversation about the God-honoring business model, thoughts on Peter Drucker, and the struggles of godly leaders in corporate management.” 
  • 5 Leadership Questions about using Profiles and Assessments to Build a Team. This episode of the 5 Leadership Questions podcast looks at the best ways to use profiles and assessments (think Strengthsfinders, Myers-Briggs, etc.) to craft the best team.
  • Seven Signs Success Has Outgrown Your Character. Eric Geiger writes “When a leader’s competence outpaces a leader’s character, implosion is imminent. When skills surpass the process of sanctification, the trajectory is downward though everything looks great on the outside. It is often easier to see the speck in someone else’s eye than the plank in our own, so here are seven signs your success is outpacing your character.”
  • Top 30 Must-Read Posts On Leadership/July 2015. Paul Sohn shares this helpful list of articles.
  • The Top 10 Ways Leaders Erode Trust. Randy Conley shares this helpful list.

Quotes about Faith and WorkNo one wants to follow people who are constantly impressed with themselves. Andy Andrews

The world is full of leaders with impressive credentials who people choose not to follow. Mark Miller

Success is not counted by how high you have climbed but by how many people you brought with you. Coach K

  • Don’t tell me what you start. Tell me what you finish. Dan Rockwell

Toby Mac

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead Book Club ~ Won’t you read along with us?

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

We’re reading this excellent book on leadership principles from a renowned agent of change, Albert Mohler. It is one of the best that I’ve read on leadership and is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we complete our overview of the book by looking at

CHAPTER 25 – The Leader’s Legacy

  • The leader unconcerned about leaving a legacy is a leader who will leave the job undone.
  • Every leader must understand that whatever we contribute, build, and dream can be lost more quickly than we can imagine.
  • The leader’s central concern with regard to legacy is the perpetuation of conviction.
  • The convictional leader strives to the end to see fundamental beliefs taken up by others, who will then join in the mission that grows out of those convictions.
  • The evidence indicates that most leaders are not very good at managing succession and most organizations do little more than hope for the best.
  1. The leader’s first task is to make certain that the organization’s core commitments and convictions are shared by those who will hire the new leader.
  2. Second, the leader bears the responsibility of building a leadership team of outstanding individuals who fully share the leader’s convictions and vision.
  3. Third, the leader must communicate these convictions to the organization’s various constituencies, laying a solid foundation for a healthy succession.
  4. Fourth, the leader should strive to drive the convictions and beliefs so deeply into the culture and ethos of the organization that alteration or abandonment is seen as betrayal.
  5. Fifth, this means that every hiring decision is a legacy decision.
  • The ideal of retirement seems to be a life of leisure and ease, occasionally interrupted by travel and entertainment. That is a fundamentally dangerous concept.
  • For Christians the issue should be redeployment rather than retirement.
  • John Piper puts this new vision of our lives into clear focus when he writes, Finishing life to the glory of Christ means resolutely resisting the typical American dream of retirement. It means being so satisfied with all that God promises to be for us in Christ that we are set free from the cravings that create so much emptiness and uselessness in retirement. Instead, knowing that we have an infinitely satisfying and everlasting inheritance in God just over the horizon of life makes us zealous in our few remaining years here to spend ourselves in the sacrifices of love, not the accumulation of comforts.
  • The legacy I aspire to is the perpetuation of conviction and the furtherance of a worthy mission—nothing less.
  • Your legacy is all that remains when you are gone. Do you have any idea what that legacy will be? Answering that question honestly is part of what it means to have the conviction to lead.

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Links to Interesting Faith and Work Articles:

  • What Experts Will Never Tell You about Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type. Paul Sohn shares some interesting facts for each 16 Myers-Briggs personality types. Some of these findings may surprise you.
  • 5 Leadership Questions about Building a Great Organizational Culture. In this episode of the 5 leadership Questions podcast Eric Geiger, the Vice President of the Resources Division at LifeWay, helps leaders figure out how to build a healthy culture in their organizations.
  • GiftOfWorkGood Work: The Gift of Work by Bill Heatley. Despite some criticisms, J.B. Wood writes “The Gift of Work is filled with some incredible nuggets of spiritual wisdom – the kind that hits you between the eyes — because it frames work as directly integrated with our relationship with God. Bill Heatley tells us what that is like, because he is living it. And that, frankly, is inspiring.”
  • Two Very Different Callings. David Murray helpfully writes “There’s been a welcome resurgence of the Christian doctrine of vocation and calling over the past years, helping many Christians to see their work as an essential part of their service to and worship of God. But it’s vital that we don’t confuse it with the Christian doctrine of effectual calling. The difference? Vocational calling is God “calling” us into work that fits our gifts and talents. He is bringing out of us what is already there so that we find ourselves suited to certain kinds of work. Effectual calling is God calling us out of darkness and into light. He didn’t call out of us what was already there; by His call, He put something in us that was never there before. He didn’t match what we were with something that fitted us; He made us fit for something totally unlike us. He didn’t match our passions with opportunities; He gave us passions for what we previously hated.”
  • 5 Ways to Spot Leaders with Character. I’ve been reading a lot about character recently. Here, Dan Rockwell shares 5 ways to spot leaders with character.
  • Renew. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses what it means to renew ourselves.
  • What is Christian Ministry? C. Patton writes “What exactly do you have to do to qualify for Christian ministry? What exactly is full-time ministry? Is it something you must be called to do?”
  • Three Reasons Leaders Must Constantly Say “No”. Eric Geiger writes “Steve Jobs famously said, “I’m as proud of what we don’t do as I am of what we do.” He was ruthlessly focused as a leader. Many of us have a difficult time saying “no,” but leaders must do so for at least three reasons.”
  • The Power of Morning & Evening Routines. See this seven minute video from the Art of Manliness.
  • Criticism5 Wrong Ways to Respond to Criticism. Ron Edmondson writes “The way a leader responds to criticism says much about the maturity of the leader and the quality of his or her leadership.”
  • How to Get People to Do What You Want. In this “Tuesday Tip” Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “If you’re like most people, you want to know how you can get others to do what you want them to do.  That’s understandable, but it’s also a little short-sighted. If you’re a truly effective communicator, you ask a slightly different question.  You want to know how you can get others to do what you want them to do — BECAUSE THEY WANT TO DO IT.
  • 5 Leadership Questions with Dave Ramsey. Dave Ramsey joins the 5 Leadership Questions podcast for a lively conversation about leadership. His insights about leadership transitions, running a family business, and organizational culture are practical and helpful.
  • The Reality of Work-Life Balance. Ken Blanchard writes “Reaching balance in life is all about decreasing stress by focusing on things that create a sense of contentment. Several years ago my lovely wife, Margie, came up with PACT—an easy to remember model whose elements can help people relieve stress in their lives by achieving Perspective, Autonomy, Connectedness, and Tone.”
  • 12 Killers of Good Leadership. Ron Edmondson writes “Any one of these can squelch good leadership. It’s like a wrecking ball of potential. If not addressed, they may even prove to be fatal.”
  • Creating a Culture of Accountability. Mark Miller shares four specific things you can do to begin creating a culture of accountability in your organization.
  • Swiss army knifeOne Tool Every Leader Needs. Mark Miller writes “How do you keep score as a leader? What key metrics ultimately determine whether you are winning or not?” He believes that all leaders need a scorecard.
  • Everybody Matters Podcast: Jacob Morgan. Jacob Morgan is the founder of the Future of Work Community and an author and speaker. On this episode of the Everybody Matters podcast, Jacob continues a discussion about leadership and management, and shares his thoughts about what the workplace of tomorrow will look like.

Faith and Work Quotes:

  • When everything bothers you, it’s about you. Dan Rockwell

    Dan Rockwell

    Dan Rockwell

  • Leadership is a combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without strategy. General Norman Schwarzkopf
  • We often judge ourselves by our intentions but others by their actions. Andy Andrews
  • Accountability goes wrong when it focuses on preventing failure rather than creating success. Dan Rockwell
  • Dependence on God as a leader is a requirement, responsibility and obligation, not just a perk or program of the Christian life. Brad Lomenick
  • Leaders are never satisfied and they’re never finished. Mark Miller
  • Success is not counted by how high you have climbed but by how many people you brought with you. Coach K
  • You handle things. You work with people. John Wooden
  • Mediocrity arrives when difficult conversations are avoided. Dan Rockwell

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

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

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

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

Chapter 24 – The Leader and Death

  • Christians understand death to be the result of human sin and the final enemy that is defeated by Christ. But as long as this age continues, death comes to us all.
  • We lead with the knowledge that our time is limited, and that someone else will inevitably take over for us.
  • Leadership, in other words, is perishable.
  • There is no place as humbling as a cemetery—and there is no place more likely to remind the leader of the limits of one’s leadership.
  • A legacy is what is left in the wake of a great leader. The leader is gone from the scene, but his influence remains essential to the direction and culture of the work he led. Once again, conviction is central.
  • What matters is that the convictions survive.
  • Remember that leadership is conviction transformed into united action. If the convictions are right, the right actions will follow.
  • The leader who aims at a legacy aims to perpetuate conviction. If the conviction is truly perpetuated, all the rest will follow. If the convictions are not perpetuated, none of the rest really matters.
  • In truth, there are no indispensable people, only indispensable convictions. The convictions came before us and will last when we are gone. Truth endures when nothing else can. This is the only real assurance that we have.
  • If we are faithful stewards of the leadership entrusted to us, we will see ourselves as setting the stage for greater things to come.
  • There are several strategic moves a leader can make that will greatly assist in perpetuating conviction. The first is to drive conviction into the genetic identity of the organization.
  • Second, hire on the basis of conviction.
  • Third, promote on the basis of conviction.
  • Fourth, let convictional strength be the deciding factor in building your leadership team.
  • Fifth, document and communicate conviction everywhere you can. The key issue at this point is the perpetuation of conviction so that the truths you have given your life to serve stay at the heart of the organization, church, or institution.

Next week we’ll finish our review of this book.

 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:  This week we look at

Behavior 3: Achieving Commitment

  • The reason that conflict is so important is that a team cannot achieve commitment without it.
  • When leadership teams wait for consensus before taking action, they usually end up with decisions that are made too late and are mildly disagreeable to everyone. This is a recipe for mediocrity and frustration.
  • It’s only when colleagues speak up and put their opinions on the table, without holding back, that the leader can confidently fulfill one of his most important responsibilities: breaking ties.
  • But when there has been no conflict, when different opinions have not been aired and debated, it becomes virtually impossible for team members to commit to a decision, at least not actively.
  • Most leaders have learned the art of passive agreement: going to a meeting, smiling and nodding their heads when a decision is made that they don’t agree with. They then go back to their offices and do as little as possible to support that idea.
  • The only way to prevent passive sabotage is for leaders to demand conflict from their team members and to let them know that they are going to be held accountable for doing whatever the team ultimately decides.
  • At the end of every meeting, cohesive teams must take a few minutes to ensure that everyone sitting at the table is walking away with the same understanding about what has been agreed to and what they are committed to do.

Comfort Zone

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Links to Interesting Articles about Faith and Work:

sabbath_Wisdom and Sabbath Rest. Tim Keller writes “The purpose of Sabbath is not simply to rejuvenate yourself in order to do more production, nor is it the pursuit of pleasure. The purpose of Sabbath is to enjoy your God, life in general, what you have accomplished in the world through his help, and the freedom you have in the gospel—the freedom from slavery to any material object or human expectation. The Sabbath is a sign of the hope that we have in the world to come.”

  • Re-Creation or Wreck-reation…What’s Your Approach to Life and Work? In this “Tuesday Tip” Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes that he tells his clients “If you can’t find time for recreation, sooner or later your body will make time for illness.” He shares four tips for what you should do if you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, burned out, or off balance.
  • Escape Perfectionism Once and For All. Michael Hyatt states that “Perfectionism is the enemy of productivity and success. It costs us opportunities, even freedom. But anyone can beat perfectionism and finally launch with the three simple steps in this podcast.”
  • Avoid Vacation Meltdown. Malinda Fasol writes “Here are our five safe harbor suggestions to shield you from the storm of conflict, which often accompanies vacation.”
  • 15 Ways to Dig Out of Discouragement. Dan Rockwell writes “The only reason encouragement matters is discouragement is real. Positive thinking addresses the reality of negative. Dark feelings give relevance and power to positive.”
  • The Slowest Way to Build a Reputation. C. Patton uses an illustration about his daughter to show that a reputation is built over time.
  • 5 Ways to Bless Others with Our Words at Work. This post from the Theology of Work Project states “The words we use in our places of work have the power either to bless or curse, to build others up or to tear them down. Our choice of words often has more power than we realize.”
  • Communication. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell looks at the word “communication”.
  • The Future of Work – Part 2. Mark Miller continues to discuss his Free Address experiment, an approach to work in which a person does not have a designated, permanent workstation or office.
  • This Job Influences the Future of Culture. Bethany Jenkins “I’ve come to realize that being a college career counselor or coach might just be one of the most strategic jobs that any person, especially any Christian, can have. Here are four reasons why.”
  • A Testimony of Conscience and Conviction in the Workplace. Hands On Originals Christian Outfitters is a small printing company in Lexington, Kentucky, that, up until recently, had very few problems when they declined to print a certain message. The company is owned by Blaine Adamson. Watch Adamson’s testimony in this four-minute video.


  • Clarity. Mark Miller writes “How to help a team or organization stay laser focused on what matters most is a universal and eternal question for every leader. It doesn’t matter if you are leading a scout troop or a multi-national conglomerate. Clarity is a precursor to alignment and alignment multiplies impact. As leaders, we should always be in the pursuit or preservation of clarity. The list of strategies and tactics is virtually endless.”
  • How to be a Horrible Boss. Barnabas Piper writes “Do you want to be an epically bad boss? Do you want to grind employees into dust, crush their morale, and leave quaking dry husks of humanity in your wake? If so, then all you need to do is follow these 13 simple steps.”
  • Are You on the Leadership Fast Track. Mark Miller says that if you want to accelerate your career development, perhaps you need to be more of a Developer.
  • Act As If Then Is Now: Strategic Change Management. In this two-minute video from Leadercast, Andy Stanley shares his leadership principles for understanding why change management is important and the two key areas on which to focus as an investment in the future.
  • 5 Leadership Questions with Brad Lomenick. On this episode of the 5 Leadership Questions podcast Todd Adkins and Barnabas Piper talk with Brad Lomenick about his own experiences, his passion for authenticity in leadership, and even some of his thoughts about being a single leader.
  • Great Teams Have Great Depth. John Maxwell shares six dimensions of depth that every team leader needs to focus on to have a winning season
  • 15 Ways NOT to Lead Well. Brad Lomenick asks “How is your leadership dysfunctional? What stands out as areas to improve? Here are a few key indicators of the kind of leadership and ultimately a leader that needs to reimagine, re-engage, and recommit. Look for these, and if they exist, be committed to change.”
  • How to Make Meetings Less Painful. In this episode of the 5 Leadership Questions podcast, hosts Todd Adkins and Barnabas Piper and guest, Brad Lomenick, discuss 5 questions about how to make meetings less painful.
  • 7 Questions Leaders Should Use Often. Ron Edmondson shares 7 examples of questions leaders should memorize and use often.
  • 11 Ways to Earn Respect at Work. Peter Daisyme writes “We seek respect in our professional lives. Gaining the respect of others in the workplace is something many people want, but often have misguided ideas on how to achieve this goal. The following tips will provide valuable insight into the process of gaining and keeping respect in the workplace.”
  • When Should Leaders Change Their Minds? Jeff Iorg writes “Despite how firmly we (leaders) hold our convictions, we are also learners — meaning we are open to new ideas. When we discover new insights, we are humble enough to change our minds. When we are wrong, we admit it and move forward. But with new information generated daily and all the different biblical interpretations being proposed, how do you know when to change your mind?”

 Faith and Work

  • Calling means that everyone, everywhere, and in everything fulfills his or her (secondary) callings in response to God’s (primary) calling. Os Guinness
  • If there is no Caller, there are no callings – only work. Os Guinness
  • Start your day with good intentions and set yourself up for a good attitude. It’s not what happens to you that matters but how you respond. Ken Blanchard
  • It’s normal to enjoy praise and dislike criticism. True character is when you prevent either from affecting you in a negative manner. Coach K
  • The greatest leaders mobilize others by coalescing people around a shared vision. Ken Blanchard
  • Dependence on God as a leader is a requirement, responsibility and obligation, not just a perk or program of the Christian life. Brad Lomenick

 The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead Book Club – Won’t you read along with us?

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

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

Chapter 23: Leadership that Endures

  • The leaders who make the biggest difference are those with long tenure. Great impact requires a lengthy term of leadership, and the leader who wants to make a difference had better make a public commitment to stay.
  • The most effective leaders know to stay on the job, determined to see the task done.
  • Short terms for leaders are the rule rather than the exception.
  • The average tenure of corporate leaders is amazingly short, and their leadership impact is frighteningly temporary. If you want to make a lasting difference, you had better make the commitment to endure.
  • Leadership is an endurance test that will demand the best of anyone.
  • Endurance is what keeps the leader on the job, day in and day out.
  • Endurance not only makes demands of leaders, it also offers the blessing of a long memory and a longer period of evaluation.
  • Leadership requires maturing, learning, adapting, rethinking, and retooling. None of these things come fast or easily.
  • Convictional leaders prize endurance for one other fundamental reason—the endurance of truth. The truths we hold and the beliefs we cherish take the form of convictions that frame every aspect of reality. Our mission is to see these convictions known, believed, and translated into meaningful combined action.

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Gospel Centered Work by Tim ChesterBook Review ~

Gospel-Centered Work: Becoming the Worker God Wants You to Be by Tim Chester. The Good Book Company. 2013. 111 pages

Dr. Tim Chester is a director of the Porterbrook Seminary, and a leader of The Crowded House, a church planting network. I’ve read several “For You” books written by Tim Keller from The Good Book Company, and this is the first book of Tim Chester’s that I’ve read. It’s an excellent resource for those looking to connect their faith and work, a passion of mine.

Although you can read the book by yourself as I did, I would recommend reading it with someone else or better yet in a group. I think you will get even more out of the book by doing that. Each chapter contains the following helpful sections:

Consider this. A scenario—often based on a real-life situation—which raises some kind of dilemma or frustration in our working lives.

Biblical background. A relevant Bible passage together with some questions to help you think it through.

Read all about it. A discussion of the principle, both in terms of its theological underpinning and its contemporary application.

Questions for reflection. Questions that can be used for group discussion or personal reflection.

Ideas for action. Some ideas or an exercise to help people think through the application of the principle to their own situation.

Chester asks the reader to consider what it means to live for Jesus in the workplace, and states that we need to connect Sunday morning and Monday morning.

Many think that work is a necessary evil we have to endure. But Chester states that work is commended in the Bible as a good thing. It is both a privilege and a blessing. That is why we find satisfaction and fulfilment in work.

Chester talks about working as if Jesus were your boss, something that John Piper first helped me think through years ago and was emphasized more recently in the fine book The Gospel at Work by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert. Chester writes that Christians have rediscovered that work can be done for the glory of God, stating that we glorify God when we give credit to Him for what we achieve, rather than claiming the credit for ourselves.

I appreciated Chester’s discussion of work and rest. He writes “Some people rest to work—the only value they see in rest is making work more productive. Some people work to rest—the only value in work is earning an income to enjoy leisure. But according to the Bible, work is good and rest is good.” He wants to help us achieve a balance between work and rest.

He addresses a number of helpful topics related to work, such as busyness, conflict, being a witness for God in the workplace, and ways in which churches can support Christian workers. A few suggestions that I appreciated on the last topic were:

  • Visit people in their workplace to see where they work, meet their colleagues and pray for them in context.
  • Have a regular “window on the workplace” when you gather as a church, in which someone talks about their work and shares prayer needs.
  • Send a regular email to workers in their workplace with a brief “thought for the day”.
  • Routinely include application to the workplace in sermons and Bible studies.

This was an excellent biblically based look at work. Highly recommended.

Faith and Work News:

  • Work as Worship. See this excellent four-minute video about seeing work as worship and connecting our faith and work.
  • Making Work Meaningful. Matt Perman shares and 18-minute TEDx talk by Ryan Hartwig, co-author of Teams that Thrive. It’s called “The Myth of Meaningful Work.” The talk closes with closes with four suggestions for helping people bring meaning back into their work.
  • Kingdom Calling by Amy L. ShermanSeeking the Prosperity of Our Neighbors. Amy Sherman, author of the excellent book Kingdom Calling (which is the next Faith and Work book we will be reading and sharing highlights on the blog), explains how why recognizing our vocational power is so important when seeking the good of our cities.
  • 10 Ways to Find More Energy Today. Dan Rockwell shares this helpful list.
  • Vocation Resource Lists. The Center for Faith and Work has produced helpful new vocational resource lists for you to find compelling reads and other resources that will reenergize your mind and spirit toward the gospel’s power for transforming your work.
  • From Farm to Fork to Keyboard. Bethany Jenkins visits with Abigail Murrish, an agricultural writer passionate about encouraging people to know their food, eat well, and show hospitality. Since her time at Purdue University, Abigail has appreciated talking with farmers (versus about them) to understand difficult agricultural issues and grow in her knowledge of the Christian call to steward creation.
  • Delegation. In this month’s podcast, Andy Stanley explores an easy and effective way to delegate.
  • Catalytic Meetings. Mark Miller writes “To create catalytic meetings, here are five ideas guaranteed to make things happen.”
  • The Road to Character by David BrooksHow Should I Choose a Career? Using the example of Francis Perkins from David Brooks’ book The Road to Character, Jeff Haanen writes “Having a vocation is not about fulfilling a personal desire or want, in the sense of avoiding pain and seeking pleasure. It’s opening yourself to be used by God as He chooses.”
  • Four Ways to Express Love to the People You Lead. Eric Geiger writes “To serve the team well, you must know those you are leading. You must know how members on the team feel valued and appreciated. How do those on the team feel most valued and appreciated? Is it time, words of affirmation, acts of service, or gifts?”
  • Introducing The 5 Leadership Questions Podcast. Barnabas Piper writes “The 5 Leadership Questions podcast is new from LifeWay’s leadership development team. Each episode co-hosts Barnabas Piper and Todd Adkins will ask five questions of different guests or about different leadership topics. The aim of the podcast is to inform and encourage Christian leaders whether they serve in the pastorate, the business world, non-profits, or on a volunteer basis.”
  • Where Imagination and Innovation Meet. In his keynote address at the 2014 Center for Faith and Work conference, Tim Keller walked us through how the hope of the gospel is not only the source of our imagination, but the fuel and anchor we need to drive our imagination into innovative terrain. Making Unpopular Decisions. Dan Rockwell shares some good tips to think about when making those unpopular decisions.
  • The Influence of Business Leaders’ Faithfulness (Lessons from Ruth). Eileen Sommi writes “I have known some good men and women in positions of influence who are not only able to run successful businesses, but also affect others in significant ways by their faith, compassion, generosity, and goodness. They see beyond the profit margin and take advantage of their position and success to bless others. They see their work as a blessing from God and want to give back and be used by him for his purposes.
  • You Don’t Have to Plan Everything. Jon Bloom writes “God doesn’t want or intend us to plan everything. He is working a highly detailed plan and he wants us to follow his lead — perhaps more than we are today. Let us ask ourselves if and where we may be leaning too much on our own understanding in pursuing God’s kingdom advance.”
  • 10 Good Questions for Leaders to Ask Themselves. Brad Lomenick offers these helpful questions in this short read.
  • The Most Critical Part of Leadership – And 80% Miss It! Megan Pacheco writes “Many business experts argue there is one aspect of leadership that is more predictive of exceptional performance than any other factor. Understanding it and operating by it will transform any individual and every person and organization they influence. What is that leadership silver bullet? Purpose.”
  • Boss vs. LeaderManagement vs. Leadership. Many people use these terms interchangeably. David Mead writes “There’s a difference between management and leadership. Management is about doing stuff – the day to day operations needed for the tactical things to get done. Leadership, on the other hand, is about people.”
  • Six Places Leaders are Developed. Eric Geiger writes “From a Christian perspective, leadership development is not constrained to one environment. Because the whole world is His, leadership development can happen in a plethora of places. Because He continually matures His people, God will use anything to conform us more to the image of His Son.”
  • Standing on the Shoulders of Giants. John Maxwell writes “We all need other people. When you’re open to learning from others, you set yourself up for the kind of success that can lead to significance.”
  • Skills Can Kill: 4 Dangers of (Only) Skills Based Leadership. Eric Geiger states that both character and competence are essential for leaders. He then writes “When people think of developing leaders, they often think in terms of necessary skills that need to be acquired. Often leadership development degenerates into only skill-based training. While skills are important, there are four dangerous outcomes of only developing skills.
  • Holding down a job or fulfilling a calling? Dave Kraft writes “The purpose of this post is to simply get your mind and heart cranking on asking yourself if you have, or are pursuing, a job or a true calling from God.
  • 5 Ways to Help the “Least of These” in the Church. Raleigh Sadler writes “How can the local church be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ if we aren’t being his eyes and ears, too? How can we love someone if we don’t even know they exist? Here are five places to start.”
  • A CEO’s Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job: Joy at Work by Dennis Bakke. Joy at Work by Dennis Bakke, co-founder and CEO of AES, an energy company, offers a model for the 21st-century company that wants to treat its people with respect, give them unprecedented responsibility, and hold them strictly accountable because it’s the right thing to do – not just because it makes good business sense.
  • Every Square InchBruce Ashford on the Gospel and Every Square Inch. Bethany Jenkins visits with Bruce Ashford, provost and dean of faculty as well as professor of theology and culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, author of Every Square Inch: An Introduction to Cultural Engagement for Christians.
  • Everybody Matters Podcast: Richard Sheridan. Richard Sheridan is the CEO and Chief Storyteller of Menlo Innovations, a company that builds custom software, whose mission is to “end human suffering in the world as it relates to technology.”  This week’s episode of the Everybody Matters podcast features a conversation with Rich about joy, Menlo’s culture, building great teams and his ongoing leadership journey.
  • Growth. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell talks about the word “Growth”
  • Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make. Mark Miller shares ten mistakes that leaders make. Can you think of others?
  • You’ve Got 3 Choices When Your Job Gets You Down. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “No matter how bad things are, no matter how awful your job or your life may be, you always have three choices.  You can LIVE with it; you can LOBBY to change it, or you can LEAVE.  And just knowing you have a choice makes all the difference in the world. Make sure you understand each of your three options.”

 Faith 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 as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live and act entirely for him. Os Guinness
  • Luther wrote ”The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but that all works are measured before God by faith alone.” Os Guinness
  • When I take one day out of every seven to focus on worship, fellowship, and rest, I am far more capable and motivated in the six that remain. Tim Challies
  • Success is never owned, it’s rented and rent is due every day. Coach K
  • Your talent is God’s gift to you. What you do with it is your gift back to God. Coach K
  • Leaders maintain positive environments when they deal with negative issues quickly, decisively and compassionately. Dan Rockwell
  • Every leader is in a tug-of-war…the real question is who are you pulling against, your own people or the competition? Mark Miller

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

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

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

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

Chapter 22 ~ The Leader and Time

  • Most leaders know that time is precious and that it is, in a sense, not on our side.
  • Leaders understand that time is working against them, and that success or failure depends upon the right deployment and stewardship of time.
  • Drucker advised leaders to carefully analyze where their time goes, convinced (rightly) that much of the executive’s time was wasted on peripheral matters. Wisely, he also urged leaders to allocate significant discretionary time for the thinking and planning that are central to leadership.
  • The first thing we learn about time in the Bible is that God created it and that time is contrasted with eternity.
  • The Christian leader understands his calling in terms of God’s eternal purposes and plan.
  • We are not limited to the horizon of earthly time. We want our lives to serve an eternal purpose.
  • The second truth the Christian leader knows is that our time is in God’s hands.
  • The Christian leader knows that a day of judgment is coming, when every minute of our lives will be exposed to God’s righteous judgment. That is a sobering thought, but it underlines the importance of our faithfulness in the stewardship of the time we are given.
  • So how are we to exercise the faithful stewardship of time? The first task, as Peter Drucker reminds us, is to be honest about how we use it. Time-wasters, he advises, “abound in the life of every executive.”
  • The effective leader learns how to be available at the right times—the times that will make the most difference.
  • Leadership by conviction affirms the reality that leadership is an intellectual enterprise. It is more than intellectual, of course, but never less. And intellectual work requires large blocks of uninterrupted time. Planning, strategy, conception, analysis, evaluation—all of these are intellectual activities. Add to these the task of framing messages and the ongoing responsibility to continue learning.
  • Faithful leaders know that time has to be protected or it will be lost. Once lost, it can never be regained. This requires hard decisions and maturity.
  • The leader’s stewardship of time fits within the context of the leader’s life and times.
  • Some of us do our best thinking in the morning, while others do better at night. As Drucker advised, lean into your strengths and compensate for your weaknesses.
  • When the leader has discretion, he should plan the stewardship of time so that strengths are maximized and weaknesses are minimized.
  • The faithful leader knows that time must be measured against the backdrop of God’s eternal character and purposes. Everything humans build will one day be reduced to ruins, but our lives and our leadership will, in Christ, have eternal consequences and impact.
  • The leader knows a time to work and a time to rest, a time to plan and a time to act, a time to read and a time to speak, a time to play and a time to fight.

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Links to Interesting Articles about Faith and Work:

connecting faith and workGod Will Use Even You. Steven Lee writes “If your résumé is sparse, your intellect feeble, your skills unimpressive, and your wisdom just average, fret not. God can use even you — even me. God wants to use those who look away from their self-sufficiency to his all-sufficiency. God uses all those who humble themselves before the cross, boasting only in him — his strength, his wisdom, his righteousness, his accomplishment.”

  • 4 Tips for Dealing with Procrastination. Tim Challies offers 2 big-picture tips on how to deal with procrastination and then follows them with 2 very practical ones.
  • God is Silent – Why? C. Patton shares five reasons that might explain why God is silent in response to some of your prayers.
  • 5 Qualities Every Employee Wants in a Boss. Here are five common sense qualities every employee wants in their boss.
  • 4 Ways to Take Back Your Life. Mark Miller writes “I don’t fully understand it, but I believe excessive, sustained busyness leads to a heart burdened by hurry. Following are four potential root causes and specific actions to help you take back your life.
  • Making Beautiful Places for the Glory of God. Read Inc. magazine’s story about Walker Mowers of Colorado and this video with Bob and Dean Walker.
  • Intention. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell discusses the word intention.
  • What’s Your Mid-Term Grade for Growth? John Maxwell writes “Today, at almost the mid-point of 2015, it’s a natural time to evaluate your progress in personal growth so far. So here are some questions to ask yourself to see how well you’ve been growing this year.”
  • Why Invest in Being Nice? Relationships matter. Clearly, we can­not always drop what we’re doing at a moment’s notice and attend to relationships. But no matter what our task, relationships are our business. Tasks are important. Relationships are important.
  • You’re Not a Leader if You Never Say You’re Sorry. Eric Geiger writes “There are a myriad of issues in the heart of a leader who never apologizes. If you never apologize, at least one of the following four is also true.”
  • 7 Ways to Keep a Leader on Your Team. Ron Edmondson writes “One of the biggest challenges for any organization is to attract and retain leaders.” He shares a few suggestions to encourage leaders to stay.”

 The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe Conviction to Lead Book Club – Won’t you read along with us?

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

We’re reading this excellent book on leadership principles from a renowned agent of change, Albert Mohler. It is one of the best that I’ve read on leadership and is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. This week we look at:

Chapter 21 – The Digital Leader

  • If the leader is not leading in the digital world, his leadership is, by definition, limited to those who also ignore or neglect that world. That population is shrinking every minute.
  • If you are satisfied to lead from the past, stay out of the digital world. If you want to influence the future, brace yourself and get in the fast lane.
  • By now, just about every church, corporation, business, school, or organization has a presence on the Internet. If not, realize that you just do not exist, as far as untold millions of people are concerned. If you are a leader, you are responsible to see that your organization’s Internet presence is useful, attractive, inviting, and well designed.
  • The first impression you make on the web is often the only impression you’ll get to make at all, so make sure it counts.
  • People come to your website because they are looking for information. Make sure they can find it, and make certain it is worth finding.
  • As leader, consider establishing your own Internet presence as a part of your organization’s site.
  • The blogosphere, as it is now called, offers history’s most cost-efficient way of communicating big ideas and solid content. If you are not writing a blog, you should be.
  • Leaders should let their blogs play to their strengths, but always make it clear, interesting, and serve the mission of your organization. In other words, blog with conviction.
  • Social media will soon dominate all other forms of digital communication. That fact is reason enough for leaders to be engaged in social media.
  • Twitter is fast becoming the leading edge of social communication. I let Twitter feed my Facebook page, and I work hard to inform my constituencies and Twitter followers day by day. Twitter is now my first source for news. Tweets announce headlines, and I follow the links to the news stories. It is a huge time-saver and alert system.
  • If you are not on Twitter, and if you are not working and following it regularly, you are missing a massive leadership opportunity. Twitter, used wisely, can drive enormous traffic to your content, your organization, and your convictions. How can you justify leaving all that behind?
  • The digital world opens the opportunity for you and your organization to become a producer of video and audio content without the massive investment. Podcasts and streaming media allow you to do this, but they must be done well.
  • Creating a podcast is a powerful opportunity for a leader, but you can start small. If it works for you, develop it.
  • The use of streaming media allows content to be shared, and this is a good investment of institutional time and funds. Share the content with others, as long as it’s worth sharing.
  • I am also a bold advocate for digital reading devices, such as the Amazon Kindle and the Barnes & Noble Nook. I own both and use both, and I also have their apps on my iPad.
  • Leaders are readers, whether in print or on a screen. And leaders belong in the digital world, leading with conviction. Leaders have a message, and should be ready to use every appropriate platform and technology to get it out to others.

Faith and Work Quotes:four_steps_to_hearing_your_call

  • 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
  • Nothing short of God’s call can ground and fulfill the truest human desire for purpose. Os Guinness
  • A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus. Martin Luther King Jr.
  • Are you busy or in a hurry? To put it simply, busy is about your calendar, hurry is about your heart. Mark Miller
  • You don’t have to worry about burning out if you were never on fire. Dave Ramsey
  • Vision should be big and inspiring enough to MOTIVATE, while specific and tactical enough to MATTER, to each person on the team. Brad Lomenick
  • Leaders should always exceed expectations. Under promise and over deliver. You can never take enough off the plate of your boss. Brad Lomenick
  • Be most interested in finding the best way, not in having your own way.  John Wooden
  • Mission includes our secular vocations, not just church ministry. Tim Keller
  • The worst thing you can do for someone is to do something for them they can and should do for themselves. Coach K
  • Every single day you should wake up and commit yourself to becoming a better person. Coach
  • The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. Coach K
  • If you make a mistake in business, no one is interested in excuses & explanations. All they care about is what you’re going to do about it. Dr. Alan Zimmerman
  • Everyone makes a difference. The question is what kind of difference you are you going to make. Andy Andrews
  • Love is patient. Love is kind. Lead with love and you will never fail. Ken Blanchard

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday


Faith and Work News:

  • How to Decide about Your Next Job. John Piper writes “In 1997 I put a list of Bible texts together to help folks think through what job to pursue. Below I have taken that list and added comments to flesh out more specifically what I had in mind.”
  • God’s Will and Your Job. R.C. Sproul writes “If the Bible teaches anything, it teaches that God is a calling God. The world was created through the call of the omnipotent Creator:” ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.” God also calls his people to repentance, to conversion, and to membership in his family. In addition he calls us to serve him in his kingdom, making the best possible use of our gifts and talents.”
  • Pursue The Gifts You Have, Not The Ones You Want. C. Patton offers four lessons for leaders based on a lesson on using your gifts from Dave Anderson’s book How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK.
  • Why We Can–And Should–Grieve at Work. Kristin Brown writes “For anyone who has gone through grief, you know it lasts much longer than you anticipated. You must return to your workplace and continue to serve to the best of your ability amidst the swirling, unpredictable emotions. How do you function? And how do you support those who are grieving in the cubicle next you?”
  • Leadership Gold. John Maxwell offers a series based on his book Leadership Gold. Lonely, Listen, Connect, Choices. Note: I fondly remember Maxwell having a draft of that book with him when my friend Kirk and I took him and a mentee to and from our local airport when he came in to do an event for us back in 2007.
  • Who’s Right and Who’s Wrong? Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “Forget the “who” question and focus on the “how” question. How are you going to deal with the other person? You’ve got two choices. One is to confront the other person. The other is to confront yourself.”
  • Great Leaders Serve. Mark Miller writes “My biggest personal insight over the last three decades regarding leadership is… Great Leaders SERVE.”
  •  No, You Don’t Need to be Great at Everything – And You Shouldn’t Even Try. Michael Hyatt writes “You don’t need to do everything in your business. And if you try, you’re just holding yourself back. If you need some help discarding a few of those hats and finding out which one you should wear at least most of the time, just ask yourself these three questions.”
  • Happiness or Joy… or Both? Randy Alcorn, in this three-minute video, talks about the artificial distinction made by many Bible-believing Christians between happiness and joy. He will address this in his forthcoming book Happiness, which will be published October 1.
  • 5 Lies Too Many Christians Believe. C. Patton writes “Once you stop accepting what you have been taught all of your life and begin comparing it to God’s Word, you will likely see that you have been operating on a shaky foundation in some areas. You will begin to seek more of God’s truth and how to apply it to every area of your life.”
  • Everybody Matters Podcast: Seamus Lafferty. Seamus Lafferty, president of Accraply is featured in this edition of the Everybody Matters podcast. There are 200 team members within Seamus’ span of care. Seamus shares his insights into what it means to be a truly human leader, one who is learning something new every day as he takes very seriously his responsibility for those lives.
  • What’s in Your Future? Mark Miller writes “What should Five Years Out look like for your organization and how do you decide? Here are a few ideas to help you get started.”
  • What Nashville and Denver Have in Common. Bethany Jenkins writes “Dr. David Miller acknowledged the dangers and limitations of the faith and work movement being isolated from the church, but he imagined only two ways for churches to get involved—either “develop an in-house FAW group” or “participate in an existing group.” Churches in Denver in Nashville, though, are trailblazing a third way.”
  • What to Do When You Are Completely Overwhelmed at Work. This article from the High Calling states “If you are at all challenging and stretching yourself, you will inevitably run into situations where you feel completely over your head. It’s the most natural thing in the world. But rather than beating yourself up for being such an idiot for not knowing how to handle it better, here are some useful steps to take when you feel snowed under at work.”
  • Why You Don’t Have to Be a Jerk to Win at Work. Michael Hyatt writes “I’d put my money on a kind boss over a meaniac any day. There are several reasons. One is I just don’t like jerks very much. But there are legitimate business reasons for backing the kind boss. Here are four ways kindness can give you an edge in business.”
  • The ‘Screwtape Letters’ on Gratitude, Discontentment, and the Focus of the Christian Worker. Jessica Schaeffer writes “Seeking to “climb the ladder” is antithetical to practicing thankfulness for your present job situation. It is impossible to give thanks while acting out of discontentment.”

Faith and Work Quotes:

  • The greatest day in your life and mine is when we take total responsibility for our attitudes. That’s the day we truly grow up. John Maxwell
  • People need to know that their job matters and they make a difference in the world. Ken Blanchard
  • People Matter. Treat your spouse, kids, co-workers and customers like they matter. You will see incredible results. Dave Ramsey
  • Our passion is to know that we are fulfilling the purpose for which we are here on earth. Os Guinness
  • As a leader, thinking is your primary responsibility. Mark Miller
  • A leader is a person you will follow to a place you would not go by yourself. Joel Barker
  • Servant leadership is something very different from the “kind boss” model of leadership. It means you empower–transfer power to–followers. Matt Perman
  • Deep in our hearts, we all want to find and fulfill a bigger purpose than ourselves. Os Guinness
  • Employees who don’t get a sense that they make a difference, have trouble valuing their work. Create an environment of praise and value. Ken Blanchard
  • Leadership is a form of Stewardship. Ron Edmondson
  • When an organization becomes healthy it’s almost impossible for it to fail. Patrick Lencioni
  • People do get better at living, at least if they are willing to humble themselves and learn. David Brooks
  • When we are slow to tend that which is most central to our calling, and speedy to tend that which is not, our business is actually laziness. Zack Eswine
  • The “WHY” behind your goal gives the goal nobility. It causes you to be willing to sacrifice to win. Dave Ramsey
  • To be successful you must accept all challenges that come your way. You can’t just accept the ones you like. Coach K
  • Let me give so much time to the improvement of myself that I shall have no time to criticize others. John Wooden
  • Worry attempts to convince our faith that God doesn’t have this under control. Ron Edmondson

The Conviction to Lead Book Club – Won’t you read along with us?

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 on leadership principles from a renowned agent of change, Albert Mohler. It is one of the best that I’ve read on leadership and is broken down into 25 relatively short chapters. Won’t you read along with us? This week we look at:

Chapter 20 ~ The Leader as Writer

  • Leaders who want to make a difference, and to make that difference last, must write. You can write this down—leaders are writers.
  • When matters central to the organization’s mission and convictions are at stake, leaders must write with care and concern. Words matter.
  • Leadership is about communication, and much of that communication is necessarily written, but far too many leaders undermine their leadership with poor writing.
  • When the leader writes, he writes to inform, to motivate, to explain, and to inspire. Sometimes the leader has to clarify, correct, or even sound an alarm. Whatever the context, words matter, and the effective leader works hard to develop the ability to write clearly, cogently, and powerfully.
  • For Christian leaders, the commitment to words is a matter of discipleship and personal devotion, for our faith is communicated by words. As John Piper has memorably said, we have to be willing to die for sentences. We even have to put ourselves on the line for single words.
  • Average leaders are satisfied to use average words in an average way. Effective leaders, those who aspire to lasting and extended influence, will learn to use words as arrows fired from a bow, carefully chosen and aimed in order to accomplish a purpose.
  • By a careless use of language, leaders can end up miscommunicating or failing to say what they mean at all.
  • Leaders write because words matter and because the written word matters longer and reaches farther than the words we speak.

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Faith and Work ~ Connecting Sunday to Monday

spurgy quoteFaith and Work Quotes:

When work is your identity, if you are successful it goes to your head, if you are a failure it goes to your heart.  Tim Keller

At some point every one of us confronts the question: How do I find and fulfill the central purpose of my life? Os Guinness

  • Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. Vince Lombardi
  • Leadership is like coaching. Recruit great players. Train. Motivate. Keep developing. Help them have their best game. Celebrate wins. Ron Edmondson
  • As modern people we are all on a search for significance. We desire to make a difference. We long to leave a legacy. Os Guinness
  • In 1962 there were zero articles on self-esteem in the education journals. By 1992 there were 2,500 a year. David Brooks
  • In leadership, the quality of your success is often directly proportional to the quality of your investment in others. Ron Edmondson
  • A wise man will cultivate a servant’s spirit, for that particular attribute attracts people like no other. Andy Andrews
  • What I have learned about mentoring is that when you help others you learn a lot too. Be intentional about spending time with others. Ken Blanchard
  • I define anxiety as experiencing failure in advance. Seth Godin.
  • What are you busy doing? As a leader, you should be busy serving others. Mark Miller
  • Success is never owned, it’s rented and rent is due every day. Coach K
  • Are you becoming the kind of person you want to be? Are you growing into the kind of person you admire? Dr. Alan Zimmerman
  • To be successful, leaders have to fight (often enormous) pressure and expectations and discover how to effectively use the word no. Ron Edmondson.

Faith and Work News:

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

 The Advantage by Patrick LencioniThe Advantage Book Club

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni

I’m reading this book with a few colleagues at work. This time we look at Behavior 2: Mastering Conflict.

  • Contrary to popular wisdom and behavior, conflict is not a bad thing for a team. In fact, the fear of conflict is almost always a sign of problems.
  • Of course, the kind of conflict I’m referring to here is not the nasty kind that centers around people or personalities. Rather, it is what I call productive ideological conflict, the willingness to disagree, even passionately when necessary, around important issues and decisions that must be made. But this can only happen when there is trust.
  • When team members trust one another, when they know that everyone on the team is capable of admitting when they don’t have the right answer, and when they’re willing to acknowledge when someone else’s idea is better than theirs, the fear of conflict and the discomfort it entails is greatly diminished. When there is trust, conflict becomes nothing but the pursuit of truth, an attempt to find the best possible answer. It is not only okay but desirable. Conflict without trust, however, is politics, an attempt to manipulate others in order to win an argument regardless of the truth.
  • But that’s not to say that even productive conflict isn’t a little uncomfortable.
  • Overcoming the tendency to run from discomfort is one of the most important requirements for any leadership team—in fact, for any leader.
  • Avoiding conflict creates problems even beyond boring meetings and poorly vetted decisions, as bad as those things are. When leadership team members avoid discomfort among themselves, they only transfer it in far greater quantities to larger groups of people throughout the organization they’re supposed to be serving. In essence, they leave it to others below them to try to resolve issues that really must be addressed at the top. This contributes to employee angst and job misery as much as anything else in organizational life.
  • As critical as conflict is, it’s important to understand that different people, different families, and different cultures participate in conflict in different ways.
  • When people fail to be honest with one another about an issue they disagree on, their disagreement around that issue festers and ferments over time until it transforms into frustration around that person.
  • When it comes to the range of different conflict dynamics in an organization, I’ve found there is a continuum of sorts. At one end of that continuum is no conflict at all. I call this artificial harmony, because it is marked by a lot of false smiling and disingenuous agreement around just about everything, at least publicly. At the other end of the continuum is relentless, nasty, and destructive conflict, with people constantly at one another’s throats. As you move away from the extreme of artificial harmony, you encounter more and more constructive conflict. Somewhere in the middle of those two extremes is the demarcation line where good, constructive conflict crosses over into the destructive kind.
  • The optimal place to be on this continuum is just to the left of the demarcation line (the Ideal Conflict Point). That would be the point where a team is engaged in all the constructive conflict they could possibly have, but never stepping over the line into destructive territory.
  • Nowhere does this tendency toward artificial harmony show itself more than in mission-driven nonprofit organizations, most notably churches. People who work in those organizations tend to have a misguided idea that they cannot be frustrated or disagreeable with one another. What they’re doing is confusing being nice with being kind.
  • When leadership team members fail to disagree around issues, not only are they increasing the likelihood of losing respect for one another and encountering destructive conflict later when people start griping in the hallways, they’re also making bad decisions and letting down the people they’re supposed to be serving. And they do this all in the name of being “nice.”
  • Even when teams understand the importance of conflict, it is frequently difficult to get them to engage in it.
  • One of the best ways for leaders to raise the level of healthy conflict on a team is by mining for conflict during meetings. This happens when they suspect that unearthed disagreement is lurking in the room and gently demand that people come clean.
  • By looking for and exposing potential and even subtle disagreements that have not come to the surface, team leaders—and, heck, team members can do it too—avoid the destructive hallway conversations that inevitably result when people are reluctant to engage in direct, productive debate.
  • Another tool for increasing conflict is something I refer to as real-time permission. When a leader sees her people engaging in disagreement during a meeting, even over something relatively innocuous, she should do something that may seem counterintuitive but is remarkably helpful: interrupt. That’s right. Just as people are beginning to challenge one another, she should stop them for a moment to remind them that what they are doing is good.
  • What it will do is give people the permission they need to overcome their guilt—and they’ll definitely be fighting off feelings of guilt—and continue to engage in healthy but uncomfortable conflict without unnecessary and distracting tension.
  • It’s important to remember that the reluctance to engage in conflict is not always a problem of conflict per se. In many cases, and perhaps in most of them, the real problem goes back to a lack of trust. Remember that when team members aren’t comfortable being vulnerable, they aren’t going to feel comfortable or safe engaging in conflict. If that’s the case, then no amount of training or discussion around conflict is going to bring it about. Trust must be established if real conflict is to occur.

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe 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 19: The Leader and the Media:

  • But it really doesn’t matter which kind of leader you are—if you are a leader, the media is part of your world.
  • Never apologize for having a message and for wanting that message to receive the widest possible coverage and exposure. That is why you are leading. You are the steward of beliefs and convictions that your organization represents and to which you have committed your life. Your organization exists to serve the mission defined by those beliefs, and you have been charged to lead. So lead, and never apologize for leading.
  • Here is one of the keys to all communication: People simply tune out the things that don’t interest them.
  • If you send out a press release, it had better be interesting. Don’t expect an assignment editor to waste time on the boring or the ordinary.
  • If you want to get your message out through an op-ed column on the editorial pages, you had better have a good, clear point to make about an issue of very current concern, and your column had better be written well.
  • The best way to learn what kinds of news items make their way into print and what kind of columns get printed on the opinion pages is to read those same papers and magazines regularly, carefully, and strategically. There is no substitute for familiarity.
  • On the radio waves, you have one central asset—your voice.
  • You have a message, and you cannot ignore television. In terms of impact, nothing yet exceeds the nationally broadcast networks and cable news channels.
  • If you want to get your message out on these platforms, learn to face a camera with confidence, learn to immediately lead with something interesting, learn to answer the interviewer’s questions, and learn how to be warm and unflappable on the outside, even when you are frustrated and agitated on the inside. The camera reads emotions more quickly than the microphone carries words.
  • Leaders need to determine in advance what to do when a reporter calls, because you never know when one will.
  1. First, be honest.
  2. Second, be direct.
  3. Third, realize that you can say no.
  4. Fourth, respect the reporter or program host.
  5. Fifth, realize that reporters do not control the final form of a printed news story, and that radio and television reporters are also subject to editing.
  6. Sixth, realize that some media appearances don’t go as you expect, and some don’t even go.
  7. Seventh, know that everyone at every stage in this process operates out of his or her own worldview.
  8. Eighth, building on what was just stated, know that explaining what you believe is the very mission that brought you to this position of leadership.

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FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

Faith and Work
Rising to the Call by Os GuinnessRising to the Call: Discover the Ultimate Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness. Thomas Nelson. 112 pages. 2008.

Os Guinness’s The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life is the best book I’ve read on the subject of calling. I read that book in one of my last classes at seminary a little over a year ago. This small book was inspired by that book and contains much of the best material from that volume.

Guinness states that there is no deeper meaning in life than to discover and live out your calling. He tells us that our calling is deeper than our jobs, our career, and all of our benchmarks of success. He states that it is never too late to discover your calling, and that at some point every one of us confronts the question: “How do I find and fulfill the central purpose of my life?” He tells us that answering the call is the way to find and fulfill the central purpose of your life.

One of the important points in the book is that there is no calling without a caller and down through the centuries God’s call has proved the ultimate “Why” in the human search for purpose. He writes that if there is no Caller, there are no callings—only work.

Guinness tells us that our primary calling as followers of Christ is by Him, to Him, and for Him. Our secondary calling, is that everyone everywhere and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him. Our secondary callings can be our jobs or vocations. Guinness states that these and other things are always the secondary, never the primary calling. They are “callings” rather than the “calling.”

Another important teaching in the book is the two distortions that Guinness states have crippled the truth of calling – the “Catholic distortion” (The “perfect life” is spiritual, dedicated to contemplation and reserved for priests, monks, and nuns; the “permitted life” is secular, dedicated to action and open to such tasks as soldiering, governing, farming, trading, and raising families), and the “Protestant distortion” (a secular form of dualism, elevating the secular at the expense of the spiritual. This distortion severed the secular from the spiritual altogether and reduces vocation to an alternative word for work).

Guinness writes that we must avoid the two distortions by keeping the two callings together, stressing the primary calling to counter the Protestant distortion and secondary callings to counter the Catholic distortion.

Guinness writes “Work takes up so many of our waking hours that our jobs come to define us and give us our identities. We become what we do. Calling reverses such thinking. A sense of calling should precede a choice of job and career, and the main way to discover calling is along the line of what we are each created and gifted to be. Instead of, “You are what you do,” calling says: “Do what you are.”

Throughout the book, Guinness share important features of calling. He states that to follow the call of God is therefore to live before the heart of God. It is to live life Coram Deo (before the heart of God) and thus to shift our awareness of audiences to the point where only the last and highest—God—counts. I also appreciated his discussion of the concept of an Audience of One.

If you are looking for a good Christian approach to calling, I would highly recommend this short book by Guinness as well as his full-length The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life.

The Conviction to Lead by Albert MohlerThe 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 18 – The Moral Virtues of Leadership

Leaders are involved in one of the most morally significant callings on earth, and nothing the leader touches is without moral meaning and importance. Leadership requires the possession and cultivation of certain moral virtues that allow leadership to happen. If the leader does not demonstrate these essential virtues, disaster is certain. Leaders are subject to the same laws, moral principles, and expectations as the rest of humanity, but the moral risks are far higher for them.

  •  Honesty – Truth telling is central to leadership.

One of the greatest temptations that comes to any leader is the temptation to tell something less than the truth. We must be ready to tell the truth at all times, even when it hurts.

  • Dependability – The leader shows up when it matters, every time.

The leader is where he needs to be, always. This is not so much a statement of physical presence as it is an affirmation that the leader is always there in attention—in charge and ready to lead. The leader may have a day out of the office but never a day away from dependability.

  • Loyalty – Without loyalty, human endeavors are doomed.

If we expect followers, employees, students, members, and customers to be loyal, leaders must be loyal in advance, and consistently so. Are the people who follow your leadership afraid that you are only looking for the next opportunity? If so, you can forget loyalty. Do they see you living with less commitment to the mission than you are asking them to have? Congratulations, you just undermined loyalty. Loyalty grows where it is cultivated and admired.

  • Determination – You cannot lead without tenacity and the unconditional commitment to getting the job done.

Tenacity of purpose is what defines great leadership, and the greater the purpose, the greater the tenacity required.

  • Humility – Get this straight—leaders will be humble, or they will be humbled.

Leaders have unique abilities, but they received those talents and the ability to develop them as gifts from God, given for the good and welfare of others. The gifts were given to us in order that we might serve others. The minute we forget that and begin to believe our own publicity is the minute we set ourselves up for humiliation.

  • Humor –Humor is a public admission that leaders are completely human, and that, in itself, is a virtue.

We are not called to be comedians or humorists, but the effective leader knows that generous, self-deprecating humor is a gift that leaders can give to the people they serve.

Faith and Work News:

  • Failure. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell looks at the word failure.
  • Bold Leadership. In this month’s leadership podcast, Andy Stanley explores what it takes to be a bold leader.
  • A Cultural Imagination.  I’m currently reading David Brooks’ book The Road to Character. Here’s a video of a talk he gave at Redeemer Presbyterian’s Center for Faith and Work.
  • The Most Liberal and Conservative Jobs in America. Ana Swanson writes “You can probably guess that environmentalists and yoga instructors are more likely to be Democrats — and oil workers to be Republicans. But what about flight attendants, talk show hosts, and neurosurgeons?”
  • Major Body Language Don’ts at Work. Nikelle Snader writes “The nonverbal communication you use, even if you’re not aware of it yourself, can serve as major signals to those around you if you’re invested in your work, whether you’re open to input, and if you have the confidence necessary to succeed in your office.”
  • Trend or Issue. Mark Miller writes “If you’ve never drawn the distinction between trends and issues, perhaps now would be a good time to do so.”
  • Just Stop and Think. Here’s an oldie, but a goody, Watch this 15-minute video from Francis Chan.
  • The 37 Best Business Books I’ve Ever Read. Michael Hyatt shares this helpful list broken down into different categories.
  • Two Strategies That Turn People Into Partners. Dr. Alan Zimmerman writes “Fortunately, people are interesting, even though they’re not always charming.  Yet the fact of the matter is — we’ve got to work with people.  And every business that has ever been successful has learned how to turn people into partners. So how can you do that?  Let me suggest two strategies from my new program, The Power of Partnership: Keys to Better Relationships and Greater Teamwork.
  • People Over Profit: Easier Said Than Done. Dorcas Cheng-Tozun writes about the new book People Over Profit: Break the System, Live with Purpose, Be More Successful by Dale Partridge.
  • Seven Thoughts on Taking Risks as a Leader. Brad Lomenick writes “So why do we risk and take courage as leaders? Seven things stood out to me on the whole issue of taking a risk.”
  • Why Everybody Needs a Mentor and How to Find One. Chuck Lawless writes “A few years ago, I wrote a study called Mentor: How Along the Way Discipleship Can Change Your Life. That study was directed to college students because I believe every young person needs a mentor. Now, at age 53, I’m convinced EVERY person needs a mentor.”
  • The 10 Characteristics of a Rockstar Executive Assistant. Michael Hyatt writes “A good executive assistant is like an air-traffic controller for your life. Not just your business—your whole life. They help manage not only the intricacies of the office, but all the treacherous intersections between work, family, social obligations, and more.”
  • Lead the Many by Focusing on a Few. Eric Geiger writes “Jesus left His role as disciple-maker knowing “the words that you gave me, I have given them.” A time is approaching when you will vacate your role. Wise leaders envision their last day and work backwards. To make the biggest impact, the few need your focus. To bless many, focus on a few.”
  • 6 Essential Principles to Guide You Toward Your Calling. Gordon Preece writes “Many of us sometimes wonder if we’re in the right place at the right time. In particular, we wonder if we’re investing our time and energy in the right job, career or work. How can we tell?  Here are a few basic principles to help guide you toward your calling.”
  • Quicksand. Mark Miller writes “With a decided heart and a disciplined approach to our work, we can win the battle over busyness – and avoid the leadership death that awaits its unsuspecting victims.”

Faith and Work Quotes:

  • 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
  • Great leaders lead by ideas. Rudy Giuliani
  • Most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. Stephen Covey
  • If you are going to ask yourself life-changing questions, be sure to do something with the answers. Bo Bennett
  • Make sure you enjoy every moment and live in the present. It’s the only most important moment you have! Ken Blanchard
  • To “confront” doesn’t have to be aggressive. It literally means “to turn your face towards something or someone.” I.e. “Let’s look at this.” Dr. Henry Cloud
  • Leaders who refuse to listen will be surrounded by people who have nothing to say. Andy Stanley
  • Admit to and make yourself accountable for mistakes. How can you improve if you’re never wrong? Coach K
  • “Joy.” What creates joy for you? Your heart needs it. God designed you to feel some joy….ask yourself what brings it & what destroys it. Dr. Henry Cloud
  • If you find yourself wishing things were different, maybe it’s time to start doing something different. Michael Hyatt
  • There is no deeper meaning in life than to discover and live out your calling. Os Gunness
  • Your calling is deeper than your job, your career, and all your benchmarks of success. It is never too late to discover your calling. Os Guinness

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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

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


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.”




  • 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

  • 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:

This week we look at


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.


  • 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