Change Your Leadership Posture

This week’s Meditation comes to us from the Arrow Program.  Arrow has been training Christian leaders in Canada for decades.

Confession: I have struggled with bad posture my entire life, and I believe it is getting worse as I age. My chiropractor reminds me often that not paying attention to my posture will affect many areas of my life. It will impact my running, my sleep, my ability to breathe deeply and ultimately my overall health. The crazy thing about it all is that one’s posture can be corrected!

As we age, our posture can become an issue, and I believe the same is true for us as Christian leaders. There are three healthy postures I believe we need to have as leaders that will help us “age” and “mature” well.

  1. Posture of Submission – Philippians 2:6 I like being right. I like being in charge. I like being the final word. I like leading because, in most circumstances, the org chart reveals that most are in submission to me. Dear leader, please be careful. Jesus reminds us that our submission must be first to God (John 8:28), but I will go a step further and say that submission to God and man is good for the soul. Find space and situations where your word is not the final one. Force yourself to listen to an outside voice or wise counsel that pushes you into areas you would not naturally go. Allow your board or supervisor to lead you even when you don’t fully agree with the decision.
  2. Posture of Service – Philippians 2:7 As we age, it is easy to forget that our first call is to serve. Jesus, our leader, reminds us that just like him we are not called to be served but to serve. It is easy to forget this posture and to begin thinking our people, our staff or our community exist to serve us. A little secret I learned years ago was to find a practice of serving those that my job description did not require. I also learned it is good to show up within the church or organization in places that you are not required to be and just be there to serve.
  3. Posture of Sacrifice – Philippians 2:8 A posture of service is impossible without a proper posture of sacrifice. Remember leader, we have been crucified with Christ and we no longer even live, Christ now lives in us (Gal. 2:20). A posture of sacrifice reminds us that our leadership is not about us. We gave up our salaries, our retirement, our positions and titles when we said “Yes” to following Jesus. Sacrifice means just that, letting go of what we believe is ours for the sake of others. Sacrifice can hurt, and that is OK. Don’t take the credit for something, be audaciously generous and don’t let anyone know it was you. Let go of something that you want to provide for someone in need.

These three postures are vital to leadership health. Here is the reality, you must seek to be healthy in all three; you can’t cheat! There have been seasons of my leadership where I was healthy in one area but not the others. Healthy postures do not work like that, it takes focus on each.

My Chiropractor often reminds me of the formula to healthy body posture:

Awareness – You must look in the mirror and see for yourself. You must ask others to remind you when you are out of line.

Attitude – You must want to change, or you never will. You must believe for yourself in the importance of right posture, or it won’t change.

Actions – Now that you are aware, and your attitude is ready, it is time to put into action some steps to fix the problem.

How about you? Are you aware of your leadership posture? Are you willing to ask others how are you doing in those areas? How is your attitude as you read this article; are you open to change? Are you willing to take action?

Here is one final encouragement:

Don’t get overwhelmed! Change in posture is a process that must continually be reviewed. Sometimes we may need some simple tweaks, while other times we may need a complete overhaul. You can do it! I believe you want to be a leader worth following, and you want to be like Jesus in your leadership. Here is the amazing mystery about postures, you are in control. The health of your posture is not determined by anyone else but you. You can change. You can be healthy. You don’t have to ask permission or seek board approval. Change can start right now, today, and will begin to impact your leadership, personal life and family for a lifetime!

Dr. Taylor Williams

Director of Leader Engagement – Arrow Leadership Program

http://www.arrowleadership.org/

We All Need a Rest!

“You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today…” (Deuteronomy 8:17,18 NIV)

“but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work,” (Exodus 20:10)

As I interact with Corpath members, there is often a theme of busyness and tiredness that comes up.  My concern when I hear this is that one of the fundamental truths of Christian spirituality is to rest one day in seven.  Scriptures teach, “remember the Sabbath to keep it holy.”  So why do so many of us in business struggle to protect one day, why do so many of us struggle to practice a sabbatical rest?

There are many reasons I am sure, but I suspect one core reason is captured in the Deuteronomy text above.  We may say to ourselves, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.”  Many leaders in business have a Type A Personality.  Many business owners know that to be successful you must log long hours.  I have no problem with that, and I am in awe of the strong work ethic of many of our members.

But there is a very small distance from having a good work ethic to build a business and slipping into a conscious, or unconsciously held belief that our businesses will not be successful unless we work 24/7.  We must examine our assumptions.  Do we really believe that it is God who partners with us to give us the ability to produce wealth?  Or do we act as if it is all up to us, regardless of what we say we believe?

A subtler danger is captured in the phrase, “this is just a temporary crunch time which will soon be over…”.  This is where we buy into the myth that in 6 months or a year or two, the crunch will be over and we will be able to return to spending time with family, caring for ourselves, keeping balance, honouring the Sabbath, etc.  But, while the temporary crunch is on, I must launch this business or I will not be successful.  After all, you may say to yourself,  “…once I have achieved the wealth I seek I will be giving a portion to God’s Kingdom.”  This may end with the sudden realization, three years later, that what started out as a temporary ‘crunch time’ has become a lifestyle with some dark consequences!

This week’s scripture reminds us that our personal efforts and strengths are not the formula for wealth creation in God’s economy.  Conversely, it is through relying upon His strength and obedience to His Word that will bring success.  This is not to say that prolonged effort and pursuing excellence in our business skill sets are not required.  Rather, it is to say that exclusive reliance upon our own strength and skill sets is not the biblical formula for success.

At Corpath, we believe that true success is a balance between business life, personal-family life, and spiritual life.  To stay spiritually healthy, we must retreat from being ‘on’ all the time to having solitude with God for at least a day a week.  If you believe that the route to business success lies in sacrificing imbalance for ‘a time’, you are buying into a secular driven culture laying a foundation for a destructive and unsustainable lifestyle – because, “…it is God who gives you the ability to produce wealth.”  Honour His command to protect a Sabbath day to spend with Him in rest and trust that the rhythm of resting one day in seven is part of the formula for success.

REFLECT:

  • What does “keep the Sabbath” mean in the context of your work schedule?

John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

The Ongoing Nature of Salvation

“Yet you, Lord, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Isaiah 64:8)

The theme of the Corpath Devotional Green Guide this past week is Conversion.  I recall in my early Christian experience that some in the Christian community were concerned that I identify a particular day or even an hour when I was converted.  However, that was not my experience.  Rather, I went through a few weeks of a growing realization that God was present in Christ and was calling me to accept the message of Jesus Christ and allow him to mold me to His purposes.  This process continues in me today, as I continue to experience conversion to new realizations of God’s presence in my life.  For some, the conversion experience is an intense, discrete experience.  For others, it is a growing realization and life change.  Reuben Job expresses it well in his essay below:

“Conversion is going on all the time within us and within the world. The radical change of Christian conversion is also going on within us at all times.  While the change of turning toward God may seem like a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it is in reality a continual process. We may think that we have turned fully toward God; then we discover another dimension of God, and we know immediately that more conversion is possible and necessary if we are to move Godward in all of life.

Conversion is a lifelong process of turning more and more fully toward God in all that we are, possess, and do. There may be earthshaking moments when we are being formed in the image of Christ at incredible speed and in remarkable ways. But such moments are not the end; there is more to come as we give ourselves to the transforming power of God.

While conversion requires our decision and action, the grace and strength to be changed—to become more than we are – is the gift of God.  Conversion is a partnership project.   We cannot transform ourselves, and God does not transform us against our wishes. However, once we invite God’s transforming presence into our lives, the necessary power to change comes with the transforming presence.

It is wise not to try to dictate what our conversion will be like. We cannot know what God has in store for us until we begin to live in harmony and companionship with God.  As our understanding of and relationship to God grow, we may begin to see where God is leading us in our conversion. On the other hand, we may experience surprises throughout our lives as God seeks to shape us.  It is also wise not to assume that our conversion will look like, feel like, or keep pace with any other person’s conversion.  Since we are unique and God is infinite, our conversion experiences will be unique as well. The important thing is inviting God to be the master potter in our lives. We may not know what the end product will be, but we do know that it will be good when we permit God to be the potter and we agree to be the malleable clay,” [Reuben Job, A Guide to Prayer for all who seek God. Pp. 249,250]

As you reflect upon your conversion AND the ongoing process of sanctification that God is doing in you, regardless of the nature of your conversion be comforted that his end goal is to bless you as you allow yourself to be molded to his purposes in your Business, Family life and Personal life.

God’s Promise

“I will come to you and fulfill my good promise…  For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” (Jer. 29:10-11 NIV).


John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

THE SEASONS OF LIFE – The Art of the Long View

Today’s meditation comes from Calgary consultant David Irvine:

Inspired by my late mentor, Jim Rohn, below are five lessons I’ve learned about living and leading through the seasons of life.

Lesson #1. Don’t judge a person by a season. It is good practice to suspend the assumptions we hold of ourselves and others, and instead, view life beyond a single season. You don’t want to judge a tree or a person or a life by only one time of year. The essence of who we are – and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life – can only be measured when all the seasons have been lived. Life and business are like the changing seasons. You can’t change the seasons, but you can change yourself.

Lesson #2. Learn how to handle the winters. After the fulfillment of the harvest, winter befalls us. Some winters are long, some are short, some are difficult, some are easy, but they always come. There are all kinds of winters – the winter of confusion, the winter of grief and loss, the winter of hibernation, the winter of failure. There are economic winters, social winters, and personal winters when your heart is broken. Winter can bring disappointment, and disappointment is common to all of us. Winter, whether it lasts for days or months, is a time for reflection, renewal, and learning.

You learn to face the demands of winter when you learn to handle difficulty. Problems always arise after opportunity. You must learn to handle recessions; they come right after expansions. That isn’t going to change. You can’t get rid of January simply by tearing it off the calendar. But what you can do is get stronger, get wiser, and get better. Make a note of that trio of words: strongerwiserbetter. The winters won’t change, but you can. Jim Rohn said that when things get difficult, don’t wish for things to be easy. Instead, wish you were better. Don’t wish for fewer problems; wish for more capacity. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom. If you give up when it’s winter, you will miss the promise of your spring, the beauty of your summer, and the fulfillment of your fall.

Lesson #3. Learn how to take advantage of the spring. As night follows day, winter will inevitably give way to spring. Spring is opportunity. Opportunity follows difficulty. Expansion follows recession. And you can count on it. However, the mere arrival of spring doesn’t mean that things are going to look good in the fall. According to Mr. Rohn, everyone has to get good at one of two things: planting in the spring or begging in the fall. So, learn how to take advantage of the spring, your opportunities. There aren’t many springs in life. Life is brief, even at its longest. Whatever you are going to do with your life, get at it. Don’t just let the seasons pass by.

Lesson #4. Be present to life. Summer teaches us not to be so busy building toward the future of the fall harvest that you miss being present to the beauty that surrounds you now. It is in the present where life is lived, not once we achieve some future goal that will propel us into yet another objective down the road. A gardener will tell you that as soon as you’ve planted, the busy bugs and noxious weeds are out to take things over. Planting in the spring is followed by preparing for the summer’s insects and drought or flood or even late frost if you live in Canada. Every garden must be tended all summer to realize the fall’s harvest. What’s important is to not miss the beauty and joy of the present moment, the only time when these can be realized.

Lesson #5. Learn how to reap in the fall with gratitude. Take full responsibility for what happens to you. One of the highest forms of human maturity is accepting full responsibility. Learn how to reap in the fall without apology if you have done well, and without complaint, if you have not. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and the joy and fulfillment of your harvest. Be present to and grateful for the abundance that life brings through your efforts. I’m not saying it’s the easy way. I’m saying is it’s the better way.

The seasons don’t work for you or against you. They just are what they are. They are guaranteed to come every year, bringing both the challenges and the opportunities. Remember the five lessons in life, whether you cycle through the seasons in a matter of days or a matter of months. Prepare for them and make the most of everything that each season offers.

The Aroma of Leadership

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”  (Matthew 20:25-28)

A while ago I heard a phrase that stuck in my mind.  ‘Christian leaders should have an aroma about them that attracts people to them as bees are attracted by honey.’

As I write this on Friday, June 8, 2018, the G7 conference of the leaders of the world’s biggest economies is gathering in Eastern Canada to talk.  Because of the recent economic tariffs imposed and the attitudes of US President Donald Trump towards other G7 leaders – some are calling the meeting, the G6 +1.  Regardless of your political views about President Trump, and without digressing to itemize all the effects of his leadership style on foreign relations within the G7 – it is safe to say the aroma of his leadership style is not attracting other world leaders to him!

So, what are the two main attributes of a leadership style that creates a sweet aroma and will draw people to your leadership, your business and yourself personally?

FIRST, a spirit of Servanthood.  This is the key attribute that Jesus held out to his disciples in our text above.  If you desire to have influence, if you desire to enhance your leadership, you must seek to serve, just as Jesus came to serve even to the extent of giving his life.  How this works itself out and evidences itself in your business is very contextual.

The spirit of Jesus’ teaching here does not lend itself to 4 Steps or a formula to follow to become a Servanthood leader.  Rather, it is a result that comes from allowing yourself to be transformed by Christ over time as you make decisions on a day to day basis.   Some guiding questions to ask would be:

  • “Am I working toward win-win relationships in business, rather than win-lose?”
  • “Do my employees trust one another and trust that I want the best for them?
  • “Do I have a way of expressing appreciation for my customers?”

SECOND, a set of Values.  Recently, due to multiple ethical failures amongst the business leadership community, many business schools have been adding ethics classes to their curriculum.  Although teaching a basic framework of ethics is always helpful, I do not believe it is the solution to the effects of greed, pride and all the temptations that exist when a leader is given authority over people and a mandate to produce a profit.

Rather, identifying and following an internally held set of ethical values is the best predictor of successful business leadership.  I would suggest starting with the 10 Commandments and the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5) is the foundation for a set of biblically based values that can guide your leadership.  Furthermore, I would argue that following a set of values requires regular consultation with a trusted community of peers.  To answer questions of what vulnerability and humility looks like in a corporate setting on a day to day basis requires regular discussions with peers who struggle with the same questions.  This is where having access to your Corpath Forum gives a competitive advantage in business.  The issue of staying true to Christian values in the marketplace is not always an easy black and white choice, many times it involves choosing from various shades of gray so good counsel is crucial.

The community aspect of keeping and respecting a set of values that guide you and your business and the competitive advantage is well recorded in Patrick Lencioni’s recent bestseller, The Advantage.

FINALLY, in 1992 Billy Graham became the first American leader to penetrate North Korea’s secretive state and meet with the late President Kim Il Sung.  Graham took a simple gift, a Bible.  Interesting that Kim Il Sung invited Billy to go fishing with him.  The aroma of his Christian leadership style of humility, kindness and as a peacemaker proceeded Billy and resulted in a historic invitation to meet with President Sung and established an important relational connection.  As North Korea was in economic shambles after the collapse of the Soviet Union, facing famine and with a possible war with the south on the horizon – the meeting with Billy Graham was generally credited with calming the North Korean fears and helping to establish the foreign aid that North Korea desperately needed.

On June 12, 2018, Donald Trump will meet current North Korean President Kim Jong-un in the Philippines.   He will be only the second American leader to meet with a North Korean President in decades.  Trump also has a leadership ‘aroma’ which precedes him.  It will be interesting to compare the results of his meeting and leadership style, with the results of Billy Graham’s meetings in the 1990’s.

REFLECTION

  • What is the ‘Aroma’ of your leadership style?
  • Are you bringing the challenge of living out your values in the marketplace to your Forum for insight?

John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

Constant Craving

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  (John 4:13, NIV)

Years ago, I was struck by the compelling lyrics of the song, “Constant Craving” by Edmonton Singer k.d. lang.  Using her amazing, plaintive voice, she sings of the fundamental human fact that we all suffer because ” constant craving has always been…”

 

Even through the darkest phase, be it thick or thin,

Always someone marches brave, here beneath my skin

Constant craving has always been.

 

This craving is all of our desires both good and bad.  Be they lust, greed, self-worth, acceptance, impact, excitement, meaning, connection with God – our desires are all-encompassing, universal and mostly go unsatisfied.

We observe this state in ourselves, our loved ones, employees, suppliers, and colleagues.  Who has not walked with someone who has suffered the destructive effect of having given in to the constant craving we all feel?  We have all observed broken marriages, uncontrolled addictions, low self-worth and unfulfilled dreams.  The un-slaked thirst that these cravings bring can affect employment or even derail careers.

The 19th-century preacher Charles Spurgeon put it well:

“People are in a restless pursuit after satisfaction in earthly things. They will exhaust themselves in the deceitful delights of sin, and, finding them all to be vanity and emptiness, they will become very perplexed and disappointed. But they will continue their fruitless search…  They have no forethought for their eternal state; the present hour absorbs them. They turn to another and another of earth’s broken cisterns, hoping to find water, where not a drop was ever discovered yet.”

But the situation is not hopeless – the gospel holds a solution to the human condition.

So, what is the solution to the dilemma we see in ourselves, this ‘spiritual madness’ in our employees, our friends, ourselves?  The same solution that Jesus offered the woman at the well:

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  (John 4:13)

Sometimes in our desire to have discretion, or to ‘not offend’ we can hold back from sharing our faith in the workplace.  But who among us would not offer a drink to a parched, thirsty co-worker?  Yet, that is what we do when we are not eagerly sharing our hope and fulfillment in Christ with those who do not yet know Him.  Peter encourages us to, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (I Peter 3:15).

All around you are people staggering forward turning to the earth’s broken cisterns of entertainment, diversion, and materialism.  They have no forethought of their eternal state, yet they stagger forward, thirsting for fulfillment.  If you know Christ, you have had your thirst for meaning, fulfillment, and purpose quenched by the living water that only Christ can provide.

If you know someone caught up in constant craving, would you prayerfully consider how you might play a part in guiding that person to discover Christ?


John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

The Praise Psalm

Most Christian’s have a favourite scripture passage that they return to over the years.  For me, it is Psalm 103.  I love it and read it often for several reasons:

  1. It is summary of the Gospel of Grace;
  2. It gives me assurance that in spite of failing often, God will not treat me as my sins deserve;
  3. It provides a detailed account of things to praise God for.

So for this week’s meditation, I encourage you to read slowly through David’s Psalm 103 and Praise God for all it contains. Perhaps it will become one of your ‘go-to’ favourite passages:

Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding,
who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul.


John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

Start with the End in Mind

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)

Because it has such foundational Christian teaching, I try to read through the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7 at least once a year.  This past month I was once again struck by the power of the command to orient everything in our lives around seeking God’s kingdom and doing what is right as stated in this week’s verse.

Kingdom orientation is an important spiritual principle, but how is it applied in the business world?  As I reflected upon how this teaching could be applied in the workplace, I thought of Stephen Covey, the bestselling author.  Covey articulated the heart of this teaching in a slightly different way.  In his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, his second habit is, “Begin with the End in Mind.”  He states, “To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination.  It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.” (p. 98, 2004 edition).  The connection to the Kingdom principle is evident.  For the Christian, the end destination is to be in God’s Kingdom and to enjoy him forever.

Relating this principle to business, Covey continues, “…look at business.  If you want to have a successful enterprise, you clearly define what you’re trying to accomplish.  You carefully think through the product or service you want to provide in terms of your market target, then you organize all the elements – financial, research and development, operations, marketing, personnel, physical facilities, and so on – to meet that objective.  The extent to which you begin with the end in mind often determines whether or not you are able to create a successful enterprise. (p. 99)

Therefore, I would suggest that for the Christian business person, all planning, marketing and general business activity falls under the Kingdom mandate.  If we start with the end in mind, to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness, then all of our activities will orient to that eternal goal.  This singular focus is crucial to life effectiveness.  Covey argues, “How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and, keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most. …We may be very busy, we may be very efficient, but we will only be truly effective when we begin with the end in mind.”

As you go through the busyness of your week, I encourage you to think through what seeking first the Kingdom of God means for you.

REFLECTION:

  • How important are the issues, crises or opportunities that I am currently facing when viewed in the light of eternity?
  • How does my thinking or plans change on the things that I face in the next two months when I consider Christ’s mandate to seek first His Kingdom?

 

John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

How Faith Affects Our Work

by  Timothy Keller

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Col. 3:23,24)

I’ve had some busy people pick up my book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, look at the subtitle, and ask: “OK, so, in a nutshell, how does God’s work connect to our work?” Always a good exercise for an author, to be asked to explain your book in just a few minutes! Here are four ways Christian faith influences and shapes our work.

First, the Christian faith gives us a moral compass, an inner GPS giving us ethical guidance that takes us beyond merely the legal aspects or requirements in any situation. A Christian on the board of a major financial institution—recently publicly embarrassed by revelations of corruption—told me about a closed-door meeting there between top executives. Someone said, “We have to restore moral values.” Immediately someone asked, “Whose values? Who gets to define what is moral?” And there’s our problem. There once was a habitus of broadly felt moral intuitions that governed much behavior in our society. It went well beyond the legal. Much of the ruthlessness, the lack of transparency, and lack of integrity that characterizes the marketplace and many other professions today come because consensus on those moral intuitions has collapsed. But Christians working in those worlds do have solid ethical guidance and could address through personal example the values-vacuum that has now been recognized by so many.

Second, your Christian faith gives you a new spiritual power, an inner gyroscope, that keeps you from being overthrown by either success, failure, or boredom. Regarding success and failure, the gospel helps Christians find their deepest identity not in our accomplishments but who we are in Christ. This keeps our egos from inflating too much during seasons of prosperity, and it prevents bitterness and despondency during times of adversity. But while some jobs seduce us into over-work and anxiety, others tempt us to surrender to drudgery, only “working for the weekend,” doing just what is necessary to get by when someone is watching. Paul calls that “eye-service” (Colossians 3:22–24) and charges us to think of every job as working for God, who sees everything and loves us. That makes high-pressure jobs bearable and even the most modest work meaningful.

Third, the Christian faith gives us a new conception of work as the means by which God loves and cares for his world through us. Look at the places in the Bible that say that God gives every person their food. How does God do that? It is through human work—from the simplest farm girl milking the cows to the truck driver bringing produce to market to the local grocer. God could feed us directly, but he chooses to do it through work. There are three important implications of this. First, it means all work, even the most menial tasks, has great dignity. In our work we are God’s hands and fingers, sustaining and caring for his world. Secondly, it means one of the main ways to please God in our work is simply to do work well. Some have called this “the ministry of competence.” What passengers need first from an airline pilot is not that she speaks to them about Jesus but that she is a great, skillful pilot. Third, this means that Christians can and must have a deep appreciation for the work of those who work skillfully but do not share our beliefs.

Fourth, the Christian faith gives us a new world-and-life view that shapes the character of our work. All well-done work that serves the good of human beings pleases God. But what exactly is “the common good”? There are many work tasks that do not require us to reflect too much on that question. All human beings need to eat, and so raising and providing food serves people well. But what if you are an elementary school teacher or a playwright? What is good education (i.e. what should you be teaching children)? What kinds of plays should you write (i.e. what kinds of stories do people need)? The answers to these questions will depend largely on how you answer more fundamental questions—what is the purpose of human life? What is life about? What does a good human life look like?  It is unavoidable that many jobs will be shaped by our conscious or semi-conscious beliefs about those issues.  So, finally, a Christian must think out how his or her faith will distinctly shape their work.

How wonderful that the gospel works on every aspect of us—mind, will, and feelings—and enables us to both deeply appreciate the work of non-believers and yet aspire to work in unique ways as believers.  Putting all of these four aspects together, we see that being a Christian leads us to see our work not as merely a way to earn money, nor as primarily a means of personal advancement, but a truly a calling—to serve God and love our neighbor.

http://www.timothykeller.com/blog/2014/3/7/how-faith-affects-our-work

If you wish to read more of Tim’s excellent thoughts on Faith and Work I recommend his book:

 

 

 

 

 


John Wiseman – Corpath  Business Forums – www.corpath.ca

Who Will Be First in the Kingdom?

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-4 NIV)

Sometimes you hear a sermon that has such a striking message that you feel the need to pass on its content.  That happened to me some time ago with Pastor Clyde Glass’s sermon at Southview Alliance so I commend his scriptural insights to you this morning.

First, the question – “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

The disciple’s question reveals our natural tendency to rank ourselves.  During the February 2018 Olympics, I was struck by the obsession with the Gold medal.  Everyone wants to be FIRST.  In this same spirit, the disciples wanted to know which of them was going to be ‘first’?  Who was on the Gold medal podium?  Who was on the right career track to be the ‘right-hand man’ of Jesus in his kingdom?   The very spirit of the question shows their competitive nature, a desire to be the best, an aggressiveness.  Now, one could say, these are attributes of a good entrepreneur, and I agree.  But there is a shadow side to these positive qualities that are self-serving rather than wanting to serve.

Jesus answers the disciples’ question with a confrontation.  “Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”   As he so often did, Jesus reframes the question with a challenge.  He confronts them with a sobering truth – kingdom prestige is not about accomplishment, but heart attitude.  Unless they were to become dependent and trusting upon him, as a child is dependent upon an adult, unless they allowed themselves to be changed by the Holy Spirit – they would never enter the kingdom.

Finally, Jesus concludes with a declaration, “Therefore whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  Augustine wrote in his Confessions that humility was not one of the Christian virtues, it was the key Christian virtue which was primary to all the others.  From this passage, one could define humility as, “Accepting the social status of a child.”  In other words, Jesus was declaring the need to abandon the worldly quest for status and independence or you may miss the kingdom.

This goes against our nature & our secular culture.  We live in a culture which emphasizes the charter of individual rights and freedoms, rather than our responsibility to each other.  We value the individual freedom of independence, we desire to be masters of own domain.   We do not like to have to rely on anyone else.  Jesus declares – if you strive for independence and individual accomplishment, you will miss the kingdom.

Therefore, how to develop humility?

I would like to suggest that the route to true humility requires authentic brokenness.   Full openness to others, vulnerability, and a total dependence upon God.   In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus declared, “..blessed are the poor in spirit.”  He was referring to those whose brokenness had brought them to a place of spiritual need, spiritual poverty where they were willing to be dependent upon Him – like a child.

As we seek to embrace this truth, there is a danger.  The hurts and setbacks of life and brokenness can send us one of two ways.  They can either trigger a prideful, striving result, which becomes status conscious and seeks to build up an independent, invulnerable sense of competence.  (Who is the greatest?…)   Or, our response to the challenge of Christ can be a humble redoubling of reliance upon the Spirit.   We can realize that only by being connected to Jesus can any greatness be achieved in the kingdom of heaven.  “Apart from me, you can do nothing…” (John 15:5b)

Where are you today?  What is your response to the brokenness you have encountered?  Do you find that you are still striving for status, independence, and recognition?  Or do you place your sense of status & achievement in being connected to God with total reliance upon Him?  It is that connection, that sense of childlike reliance, that leads to true greatness in the eyes of God.  “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a person remains in me and I in him, they will bear much fruit;..” (John 15:5a)


John Wiseman – Corpath Business Forums – www.corpath.ca