Friday, December 23, 2011

This Time of Year

As you've noticed, I have not been as consistent in the last month or so. As my university duties and our new baby have demanded more and more attention, it's been tougher to find time to write. I've posted before about the integrity of focusing on work tasks while you're at work, and so I've been trying to write a week's worth of posts every Tuesday evening. There have been a few weeks where that didn't work out.

Part of the issue is the tension between writing something and writing something worth reading. My original goal was to use this blog as a place to keep notes on how the Bible talks about work. I finished that task months ago. Since then, I've been writing more reflections on passages as they relate to the work context. But when Tuesday evenings roll around, it's easy to wonder "what am I going to write about now?"

With the holidays, I'm taking next week off. I plan to be back on January 4th with more posts. And as Wednesday's post shows, if you have ideas, feel free to send them to me. I'll see you in 2012.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Addressing Ageism

Someone sent this to me based on an issue in her workplace. I've posted on discrimination and favoritism. I think we are called as Christians to make sure we are not guilty of ageism, racism, sexism, or any other -ism.

As baby boomers age and remain longer in the workforce we see the phenomenon, and often the tension, of younger and older professionals struggling to work well together. Young professionals bring new energy and ideas, new trends, technological skills, and represent what many fear….change. Often young professionals go so far as to idolize their own attributes while seeing (and perhaps treating) their “seasoned” professional counterparts as “aged,” out of style, and old news.

On the flip side, young professionals are often pre-judged by senior-level employees as immature, inexperienced, naive, and altogether unworthy of opportunities to express opinions, participate in “senior” meetings, or to find a “seat at the table” (except maybe the children’s table). Both attitudes represent generalized and unfair assessments.

Young professionals are encouraged to not “let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

In his book On Being a Servant of God, Warren Wiersbe shares some valuable tips on the phenomena of older and younger people working together:

1. Never take down a fence until you know why it was put up.
2. If you get too far ahead of the army, your soldiers may mistake you for the enemy.
3. Don’t complain about the bottom rungs of the ladder; they helped you get higher.
4. If you want to enjoy the rainbow, be prepared to endure the storm.

The apostle Peter challenges the young and old to work together in humility. “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility” (1 Peter 5:5, NKJV). Paul encourages the older woman to mentor the younger woman in godliness and for older men to encourage young men and in to set them an example by doing what is good (Titus 2:3-5). He goes on to say “in your teaching show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.” (Titus 2:7-8). What a noble and God-inspired calling for us to live out in our workplaces as intergenerational employees learn to grow together in mutual respect.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

Mercy in the workplace is not a commonly considered approach. Think about common cliches. "Dog eat dog world." "Rat race." "It's a jungle out there." Those sayings don't make me think about mercy.

But look at James 2:12-13: "Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment."

How can you show mercy to people this week? You may be perfectly in your rights to judge. But that's where this passage is particularly relevant.

This is finals week for me, so perhaps it's appropriate that I should blog about mercy. There's a lot of talk about grade inflation and holding rigorous standards. And I agree with the idea that an A should mean something, should be a reward for hard work. But I also know that I have to balance that rigor with mercy. And it's a line that I'm still trying to find--how to show grace without being a push-over.

How does mercy affect you and how you do your job?

Friday, December 9, 2011

But I'm Right

This post is directed as much at myself as it is written for anyone reading it. Does it drive you crazy when you know you're right about something but no one listens to you? You feel the need to prove that you are right (and that the other person is wrong).

Oswalt Chambers in My Utmost for His Highest writes when we "allow the discernment to turn to criticism, we block God. God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede." (p. 328). Think about that. Suppose that you are right and the other person is wrong (which is a biased assumption, don't forget). Does that give you the right to criticize the other person for not agreeing with you? No.

I've blogged before about how fighting for your rights is rarely in God's interests. Fighting to make someone believe that you're right is also rarely a good idea. If the issue is important, intercede for that person. If it issue is unimportant, let it go.

Again, this post is something that I need help with as much as anyone else. It's tough when you have strong opinions. But not turning your opinions into criticism of the other person is a great way to show God's love to them.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Slow Creep of Questionable Decisions

I've posted before about how small ethical lapses lead to larger ones, but I was recently reminded of a story that really drives this point home. When Abraham settled in the land God had promised him, his flocks and Lot's flocks had gotten so big that they had to separate. Even though Abraham had the right to choose first as the family elder, he let Lot decide where to live (and Abraham took what was left over). We all know the story of how evil Sodom and Gomorrah were and how God saved Lot as He destroyed the area.

Here's the fresh perspective that I have on this story. Lot was in Sodom because of a business decision. It was a little decision to choose the land that looked good rather than trust God and seek out righteous people to surround you. And from Genesis 19:1, we know that Lot must have continued to make those small decisions because he was a leader of the city by the time the angels came to rescue him--he wouldn't have been recognized as a leader if he wasn't integrated into the city.

In discussing this story, a friend mentioned the idea of a "slow creep" of decisions that led to Lot being in a position of needing to be rescued. Lot made a bad decision, one that seemed right by the world's standards but that was made with God in mind. That decision led to other decisions, all of which led to other decisions.

For all of us, complacency is our default. It doesn't require effort. Making small decisions that are fine by the world's standards but might be questionable to God is easy. But those are the same decisions that lead us in a slow creep away from God. Think about the positions that you are in, the decisions that you make at work. Where is the slow creep in those positions, the complacency in your decision making? How can you reverse course and focus on God?

Monday, November 28, 2011


Matthew 5:33-37; James 5:12

Can people trust what you say? Are you generally trustworthy? Jesus said it first, but James re-emphasizes the point. As a Christian, people need to be able to trust you. They need to know that you are honest with them. Sometimes, we tell half-truths or deceive people without telling bald face lies, but that's still not letting "your yes be yes and your no be no." Jesus is saying that there should be no duplicity in your words.

In business, it can be easy to think that we have to make compromises to get ahead. Time and time again, Jesus says that if you think that way, you're not focused on the right goals. If you feel like dishonesty and deception are ingrained in your workplace, perhaps it's time for you to be the one who is different.

Friday, November 25, 2011


Monday, I blogged about giving thanks for where God has taken you. Wednesday, I wrote about being thankful in all circumstances.

As I think about the passages that I cited in those posts, I had workplace gratitude in mind. Today, as we end the week, think about God's amazing grace to you. Jesus gave up everything in order to be humiliated in ways that we can't even imagine so that we could have hope of being with Him for eternity. I think that puts everything in perspective.

Today, thank God for His grace and for Jesus. End the week of Thanksgiving with praise to God.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Give Thanks for Today

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 is one of my favorite passages. "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

First, it's short, which makes it easy to remember. But there's a lot in there as we think about thanksgiving this week. First, rejoice always, no matter what, in everything, even when things aren't going your way. We all need to hear that from time to time. Second, pray continually. That means that it's ok to pray for a change. Finally, give thanks in ALL circumstances. Back to the idea of rejoicing always. Give thanks no matter what's happening. Why? Because "this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." That could mean that your circumstances are God's will for you, but I tend to think Paul is saying that rejoicing, praying, and giving thanks are God's will for you.

As you go through your week, rejoice. Pray. Give Thanks. Not because your circumstances are necessarily making it easy to do those things. But because God is God, and He sent His son for you.

Monday, November 21, 2011


This week is Thanksgiving, so I thought posts should focus on thanksgiving as it relates to Christianity in the workplace. This week's posts will all be relatively short thoughts on that subject. I hope you'll take the time to reflect on your blessings and be thankful.

In what ways has God blessed you professionally? Today, don't focus on anything else for a minute or two--shut out the email and meetings--and think about how God has blessed you. Pull out your resume for a refresher. Where has God taken you in your professional development?

Remember the story of the 10 leppers (Luke 17:11-19). Jesus blessed 10, but only 1 returned to say thank you. Spend time today thanking God for where He has taken you.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Questions of Pride

A friend of mine who is a minister wrote "12 Questions to Probe Your Pride" a few years ago in a church bulletin. I saved it and recently came across it again. He gave me permission to reproduce parts of the article here.

Have you ever left a meeting with a feeling of enlightenment...based upon something you said during the meeting?
In your conversations, does the subject always somehow turn back to you? (This one is hard for me.)
Do you ever feel the need to namedrop in order to spice up a conversation?
Are the qualities you most admire in God the ones you find most prominent in yourself?
Are you very aware of and offended by others who are extremely arrogant?
Do others eve say to you, "You're not really listening to what I'm saying"?
Do you find yourself struggling to be interested in peopel with whom you have little in common?
Do you feel privately delighted when your rival has performed poorly in a public setting?
Do you find yourself unable to relate to teh Bible's warnings against pride because they're not relevant for your life?
Have you ever been dumbfounded by a serious error in personal judgment that led to unforseen problems in your life?
Do you frequently find yourself frustrated by the lack of interesting, talented, or intelligent people around you?
Do you find yourself being angry at God when circumstances don't go your way, as though God should protect you from such disappointments?

Look through those questions several times. As I typed them, I felt convicted several times. What about you? Where do you struggle with pride?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

An Indication of Pride

We all make mistakes. No question, there are times when you mess up in your workplace, no matter how good you are at what you do.

Here's the question then: how easy is it for you to apologize? When you realize that you were the one who dropped the ball on a team report, do you admit your mistake and apologize to the people that were affected? When you miscalculate a bill that costs a customer money, do you apologize and make it right? The other response, of course is to either cover it up or make excuses.

Why is this important to think about in the context of faith in the workplace? Because one of the main reasons that it can be hard to apologize to someone is our pride. An apologize is an acknowledgement of our own shortcoming. It's admitting that we can't do everything perfectly. And sometimes our pride makes us want to appear to have everything together.

God is very clear that pride is a sinful attitude. Look at the last few weeks. Do you need to apologize to anyone? Yes, it may be awkward if it's out-of-character. Yes, other people may take advantage of showing weakness. But it's a great way to submit yourself to God and get rid of pride.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Secular View of Work

Doug Sherman and William Hendricks, in their book You Work Matters to God, state that there are five attitudes that indicate a secular view of work.

  • The ultimate purpose of work is to fulfill yourself.

  • Success in life means success in work.

  • You can tell how successful someone is by material wealth, professional recognition, or positional status.

  • You've got to do whatever it takes to get the job done.

  • You just go to work to earn a living.
These attitudes come with living your life in compartments where God is in the Sunday compartment and work is in the Monday through Friday compartment. Unfortunately, that's all too common.

God calls us to tear down those attitudes. The ultimate purpose of work, like everything else in our lives, is to honor God. Success in life is based on His glory and on His Son, and you can't tell that from someone's wealth, recognition, or status. Sometimes, you can't make compromises for your job. And work is an opportunity to glorify God--far more than just a paycheck.

Today, look at your attitudes. Do any of these fit you? If so, focus on how you can honor God in your work this week.

Friday, November 11, 2011

What Do You Think About

When you're at work, what do you think about? When you're planning your next project, where do your thoughts go? In moments where you day dream, what is your focus?

For many of us, it might be thoughts of success, promotion, and prestige.

In two different passages, Paul describes where our thoughts should be. In Colossians 3:2, he says, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things." In Philippians 4:8, Paul says, "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things."

As your mind wanders, pay attention to where it goes. Focus on God. Think about things that are right, pure, and praiseworthy. If you're having trouble honoring God during the week, see what a difference changing your thought-life makes.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I've been reminded several times in the last two weeks how important patience is when dealing with people. It's very tempting to snap at someone, particularly when other someone's have been straining your sense of calm.

When you're in that situation, think about how patient God is with you. I admit I try His patience at least ten times as much as others try mine. It's a helpful reminder for me.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Updating Your Resume

Someone sent this to me and gave me permission to use it in this context.

"I was updating my resume, and had the most amazing experience. It’s been a while since I’ve really gone way back to the beginning of the job postings on my resume, the little internships I had as an undergraduate student, the small jobs, etc. Going back through those different positions, reading the responsibilities and tasks, and seeing how much my responsibilities have changed and grown over the last decade--and mentally going back to all those different co-workers, locations, and experiences--reminds me of the extent to which my life has already been so full of rich experiences, education, people, meaningful work, family, friends, mentors, traveling, etc. I was struck, once again, by how my “resume” is so much more than just that. It represents all of these other things, which are a wealth of blessings, full of opportunities that many people do not enjoy, and no doubt full of blessings that have gone unnoticed and unappreciated. Thank you, Lord, for all these experiences!"

As I read this, I felt a lot of gratitude about my own work experiences. I went back and considered by vita (an academic resume), thinking about all the classes and research projects that I'd prayed would go well (as well as those that I had forgotten to cover in prayer). Whether you're recently out of college or nearing retirement, take time to look at where you've been and thank God for the journey to this point.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Being Exceptional in Ordinary Things

Sometimes we think that we need to do extraordinary things for God. Oswalt Chambers notes that we like to think about acts like walking on water as demonstrations of tremendous faith, but that following Jesus over the dry land of the mundane takes far more faith. Chambers states that "it does require the supernatural grace of God to live twenty-four hours in every day as a saint, to go through drudgery as a disciple...we have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people" (My Utmost for His Highest, p. 295).

All of us would like to convert all of the unbelievers in our workplaces and thereby demonstrate our worth to God. But can you live every day without seeing any results? Can you honor God even when it means that you're misunderstood or isolated? Can you choose to do the right thing even in the seemingly insignificant things?

As we end the week, choose to be exceptional, even in the ordinary details of life.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

The Great Conversation

Sherman and Hendricks, in their book Your Work Matters to God, lay out what I think is one of the most practical guides to sharing your faith at work. Far different from preaching at your coworkers (which almost never works), they call their model the great conversation.

First, build relationships. People will listen to you if they know you and enjoy being around you. They're much more likely to tune you out if they aren't in a relationship.

Second, pray for the people around you. See Matthew 9:36-38 for inspiration.

Numbers three and four go back to relationship--seek common ground and be authentic/honest. Let the relationship develop--don't try to use it just for pushing the Gospel. Really develop an interest in the people around you.

Five, be appropriate and sensitive to the other person.

Six, start by explaining your experiences, your relationship with Jesus, and what He has done for you.

Seven, be patient. It's unlikely that one conversation will finish the job. You're just planting seeds. God is in charge of timing.

The list ends with a warning--your reputation matters. A lot. If you're known as unethical or unloving, people are unlikely to believe you as you describe God's holiness and love. That doesn't mean that you have to be perfect. Avoid acting perfect (hypocrisy) and emphasize that you are a work in progress.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sharing Jesus with People at Work

Benny Tabalujan explained that there are four types of Christians in workplaces.

  • Isolated Christians, who can't seem to make friends with people at work,

  • Insider Christians, who are friendly but never let on that they are Christians,

  • Inarticulate Christians, who are social and are open about their own faith but don't take the extra step of sharing the Gospel, and

  • Integrated Christians, who are sociable, open about their own faith, and intentional in sharing the Message of Jesus.
Tabalujan argued that far too many Christians are stuck in the third category, and I have to admit that I find myself there as well. I think about the coworker who regularly asked me what I believed, but I could only couch my beliefs in Jesus as one way to see the world, not as The Way, The Truth, and The Life. I think about my discomfort when students bring up their own faith in the classroom--"oh no, I hope other students don't feel pressured to adopt my beliefs."

I'm not proud of these shortcomings, and it's something that I am praying about.

Part of moving from being an inarticulate Christian to an integrated Christian, according to Tabalujan, is to develop new habits. He lists many ideas that are covered in other parts of this blog such as telling the truth and loving coworkers.

In terms of taking that next step and verbalizing the Gospel, Tabalujan notes that it begins with relationships to others and genuine concern for them. He also notes that discussions of faith should never "hijack" conversations, but instead, should come naturally. These conversations are rarely one-shot experiences. Instead, you may start planting seeds day-by-day. You may or may not see the outcome of those seeds (consider 1 Corinthians 3:5-9). But that's not your concern. Just focusing on taking the opportunities that God gives you to share His Good News. And keep praying for more opportunities.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Something's Missing Here

I was reading something a few days ago that made me realize that amid the topics I've blogged about recently, there was something that was noticeably missing. This author was discussing workplace evangelism. When I started this blog, one of my concerns was that people would see being Christian at work as beating people over the head with a Bible. I don't think that's the ideal way to honor God. But in reacting to that, I feel like I've gone the other direction and under-emphasized evangelism.

Part of the issue may be that I find talking about evangelism at work
more than a little uncomfortable. Part of it may also be that I don't feel like I'm very good at it. Nevertheless, an important part of honoring God at work is sharing the Good News of Jesus. Today and for the next several posts, I'm going to think about these ideas and explore what workplace evangelism looks like.

Jesus told us how to start. Look at Matthew 9:36-38. Jesus looked at the crowds of people around Him and realized they were "like sheep without a shepherd." Look at the people around you at work. Don't just see them as supervisors, colleagues, or customers. See them as Jesus would see them. But wait! Don't say anything to them yet. Notice what Jesus tells His disciples. He doesn't say, "go out there and convince them that I'm the Messiah." He doesn't tell His disciples to stand up and tell the people that they're going to hell. Jesus says, "ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field." Jesus tells His followers that they need to start by praying about the harvest.

This weekend, think about the people around you at work. See them as Jesus does, as harassed and helpless, sheep without a shepherd. Then, pray. Intercede with God on their behalf. Ask Him to send workers.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who Needs Grace, Anyway?

Every now and then, I look back on recent posts and realize that my thoughts on Christianity in workplaces has started to resemble lists of do's and don't's. It's easy to think that way, which is why I tend to gravitate to that style. And I don't think I'm alone. For today's post, I wanted to stop and think about God's grace.

Who's your favorite Bible character? Have you ever thought about that person needing God's grace? Abraham told two different rulers that Sarah was his sister because he feared their power more than he trusted God's power. David boldly face Goliath and Saul, but pretended to be insane so as to escape his enemies (not to mention his sin with Bathsheba). Elijah ran away into the desert, convinced God had forsaken him. Peter was right there with Jesus for almost every miracle, every sermon. And yet he denied Jesus three times. Paul called himself the chief of sinners.

They all needed grace, and so do we. There are times when you mess up (in the workplace and everywhere else). Maybe you don't show love to a coworker. Maybe you yell at a subordinate in anger. Maybe you have a habit of telling white lies. Or not using your time effectively. Whatever it is, you need God's grace and so do I. It's not that the do's and don't's aren't important. It's just that you cannot honor God by following them. For that matter, you're never going to do each one perfectly anyway. Instead, focus on God's grace. As you seek to honor Him, the other things become ways of expressing your gratitude for what He's done for you.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Thoughts about Firing Employees

I had lunch with a friend a couple of weeks ago, and he mentioned a topic that he'd like to see written about on this blog. This person is a Christian and tries to live like Jesus in his workplace. He is also a supervisor. He recently had to fire an employee. My friend asked me to think about and write about one's role as supervisor having to fire someone relates to one's role as Christian.

I'm still working on that post--it's not an easy question. There's the issue of
quality work. The master who gave talents to his servants certainly expected those subordinates to work hard. And you might say he fired the one who did not. But the other side of things is the unmerciful servant. We have been forgiven so much. How can we not forgive others?

In some ways, the analogous situation for me is assigning grades, particularly near the end of the semester when I know that assigning a particular grade will cause a student to fail.

It's a post that I'm still working on. What are your thoughts? If you'd rather not post them as comments, feel free to
email me. Look for the post in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Spread the Good News About People

I blogged about positive gossip a few months ago, but it bears repeating. Positive gossip is telling others about the good things that someone else has done, kind of spreading praise behind some one's back. Think about the good that comes from spreading good news about people. There is a lot of emphasis of getting ahead of people. Part of that may be office politics which some times involves gossiping about others. For a Christian, positive gossip involves using your tongue to bless instead of to curse (James 3:9-12). It's being salt and light in the world.

Take some time to encourage others by praising them behind their backs. They may be suspicious at first, particularly if your workplace is very political. But over time, watch how your encouragement spreads to others.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Crushed into Wine

We all have those days that really suck. Those times when it seems like everything goes wrong that could have gone wrong. Maybe those days are frequent in your job, maybe they're rare. But we all have them.

Sometimes, it's comforting to try to make sense of those experiences. What is God trying to teach me? Sometimes we can see a potential purpose. But most of the time, it seems meaningless. It doesn't add up for us.

I read something a few days ago that really speaks to this in Oswalt Chambers' My Utmost for His Highest. Chambers notes that God uses every day circumstances to crush us as a vintner crushes grapes. He says that "God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers He uses to crush us" (p. 274). Chambers also states that "if we're going to be made into wine, we have to be crushed--you cannot drink grapes."

Sometimes, the crushing doesn't make any sense to us. Try as we might, we cannot find a reason or purpose in our suffering. This isn't a hopeful blog post in that sense. But God uses those circumstances in ways we may never know this side of heaven to shape us, to crush us. He calls us to be faithful in them.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Image Building

My wife is in a Bible study, examining the book of Daniel through Beth Moore's Daniel: Lives of Integrity, Words of Prophesy. She pointed something out to me in one of their lessons that is particularly relevant for this blog. We know Daniel 3 as the story of the fiery furnace. But look at the events that led to that miracle. King Nebuchadnezzar built an image of himself (way beyond lifesize). He summoned the officials who reported to him and commanded them to bow to that image. Moore notes that there is a fine line between "an honest attempt to look or do our best" and building an image of ourselves as an "attempt to make impressions that are bigger than we are" (p. 49).

Moore points out that commoners weren't invited; only the well-to-do were to bow down to the king. That's part of the delusion--that great people think you're even greater than they are. It's a mentality that is rampant in our culture. I have reached the pinnacle of success when great people think I'm the best. I admit that I face that temptation as I think about my own career, wanting to impress the people I respect to the point that they praise me.

God wants you to do quality work. That's part of honoring Him. But the point of quality work is to glorify God, not yourself. That's a focus that is very hard to maintain, but it's one way that you demonstrate your distinctiveness and commitment to Christ.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011


I'm excited to see the movie Courageous in the near future. It's from the same people who did Facing Giants and Fireproof. Yeah, the acting is horrible--definitely not professionals. But the writing makes up for it.

One thing about these stories is that the main characters really struggle with how their faith and their work interact. At some point in the story, they realize that God wants to be Lord of their lives on Monday through Friday, not just on Sunday. That was a little more true in Facing Giants than in Fireproof, but you certainly saw that in both.

Take the time to see Courageous in theaters. It's worth the cost to support Christian filmmakers. In the meantime, be courageous in your own life--honor God in everything you do, including work.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Clothe Yourself with Humility

1 Peter 5:5-7

It's interesting to think about Peter writing on humility. The descriptions of Peter in the gospels are not exactly images of humility. He seemed brash and impulsive. And yet by the time he wrote the letters for which he is known, Peter had changed. He understood that Christians needed to submit to others, to avoid pride, and lively humbly.

Humility is hard in our society. We're taught to "look out for number one." After all, it's a "dog eat dog world." Pride even pervades our thinking about spirituality. I'm sure you've heard that "God helps those who help themselves" (that's not anywhere in the Bible, by the way).

Joni Eareckson Tada notes that Peter, as he wrote these verses, probably had Jesus in mind , wrapped in a towel as He washed the disciples feet. That experience likely helped Peter to picture someone "clothed" in humility.

Is that how people would describe you? If someone asked your coworkers about your behavior, would they comment that you were humble? It's a pretty sobering thought because it's completely counter to what we're told should be our attitude in the workplace. It was probably just as countercultural in the first century as it is in the twenty-first. God doesn't promise that He'll give us promotions, raises, and career success. He just promises us life in Jesus.

But verse 7 explains why we don't have to worry about being prideful--"Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you." When we're prideful instead of humble, everything is all about us. Peter is telling us that it doesn't have to be. Peter is saying that really, it's all about Jesus.

Friday, September 30, 2011

What God Has Done For You

How long has it been since you thought about what God did for you?

I'm not talking just about health or a good job or family or anything like that. Have you really ever thought about God's grace? Have you thought about Jesus as He hung on the cross? While He was there, He was a murderer, a liar, an adulterer, a cheat. Think about the sins in your life. While Jesus hung on the cross, He was guilty of those sins so that you don't have to be. Pretty amazing, isn't it?

Look at what Paul says in Romans 2:1: "You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things." We've been forgiven. Jesus was guilty so that we could experience indescribable grace. And yet it's still so hard not to pass judgment on others. When someone is rude to us, when they inconvenience us, or when we just don't like the way they look at us.

We probably all need to be reminded of the parable of the unmerciful servant. We've been forgiven a great debt. All that's left is for us to show mercy to others.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Let Your Light Shine

Yesterday I heard someone talking about Christians being active in the community. He quoted Matthew 5:16, "let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." I think that really captures what Monday Morning Christianity is all about. Honoring God at work is not about shoving a Bible at everyone you meet. To be sure, let people know what you believe. But being Christian at work is about living in such a way that people see Jesus in your actions--in the way you treat your supervisor, the way you handle conflicts, and the way you talk.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What Keeps You from Experiencing Work-Life Balance

God knows that we need balance. I've blogged before about how God rested, in part, because of setting an example to us of the finiteness of work. In spite of the idea of Sabbath in the Bible, it's hard to find time to rest. Work keeps us busy.

In his book, "God on Monday," Benny Tabalujan lists several "Sabbath Spoilers," which are essentially ideologies or myths that keep us from experiencing the work-life balance that God knows we need. One is the idea that we have to make every moment productive. Do you ever feel like, if you stop working even for a minute, you're wasting time. Verses like "Be still and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:10) don't seem to fit with our "got to keep moving" attitude.

Another attitude keeping us from balance according to Tabalujan is mechanistic time management. I have to admit that I struggle in this area--my day planner is divided into 30-minute increments and I am relentless about planning with it. He isn't against using time wisely--it's the over-emphasis on calculating time down to the second, with being more concerned about quantity than quality. I found it interesting as he pointed out that sundials were used for time-telling for most of history, giving only the "broad brush of daily time" and now we have clocks that are accurate down to the vibrations of an atom.

A third myth that steals rest is that our leisure time has to be filled with activities. I know people who can't seem to be happy unless they're doing something. They fidget if left to sit and enjoy an evening, or even I'm far from good at this, but I try to find times in every vacation or trip where we can sit and relax. Maybe it's an newly-discovered book store or a quiet place to enjoy an afternoon. Too often, we need our work to recover from vacation.

What keeps you from restful balance? Note I'm not suggesting laziness or sloth. Only that work be balanced with time to rest, recuperate, and worship.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Job Satisfaction

I have to admit a bit of hypocracy in this post. I get paid to do what I love, so it's difficult for me to write with credibility about how job satisfaction is less important than most of us think it is. Nevertheless...

All of us want to have a job that makes us happy. We want to wake up every morning excited about what we have ahead of us at work. We want to end every work day satisfied by the work we have done.

Unfortunately, that's not the case for many people. Many people dread their jobs. They get ready every morning looking for ways to delay getting to work. Perhaps they search for any reason to distract themselves during the day because their job is monotonous drudgery. If that's you, then please know that you have my sympathy.

However, loving what you do is not a prerequisite for honoring God at work. Doing what you do in love is. Regardless of whether you are satisfied with the tasks that are required of you at work and regardless of whether you are satisfied with the people with whom you work (coworkers, supervisors, etc.), your attitude shouldn't depend on your circumstances. Instead, your attitude should be based on the grace given to you by God through Jesus Christ.

Paul talks about contentment in every circumstance (Phillippians 4:10-13). Paul found such contentment because he understood that the only thing that mattered was Jesus (verse 13). As you approach your work, don't let your attitude be determined by anything about your job or your workplace. Instead, rest in Jesus. Let Him be your strength.

Friday, September 16, 2011

A Major Milestone

This is my 200th post!

I want to thank everyone who has read this over the last 199 posts. Thank you for the comments, both on the blog and to me personally. I have some posts that I'm really happy with, but there are always a few that felt rushed or uninspired. So thanks for sticking with me through those. I really appreciate everyone's support.

This began because I realized that I don't always think about God throughout the week as much as I should. I have to say that, as much as you may have appreciated the posts, I feel like no one could have grown as much from these as I have. Being committed to posting about Christianity in workplaces three times a week means that I'm almost always thinking about how my faith relates to work. It's given me a very different perspective about a lot of things.

This blog started with the idea that I'd read through the Bible and note passages relating to work. I did that, and since then, I've been posting about things that have occurred to me as I've re-read passages, heard sermons, or come across relevant scriptures. I'm always looking for ideas, so by all means, if you have a question or passage that's particularly meaningful to you at work, please feel free to share.

Thanks again for reading. Here's to the next 200.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Two Perspectives, Both Wrong

I was reading "God on Monday" by Benny Tabalujan, and he made a great point about early views on sacred and secular work. An early church leader, Eusebius, wrote about work in two tiers--religious work was at a higher tier and secular work was at a lower tier. Thus, the truly "good" Christians would leave secular jobs (or never enter them to begin with) and seek out religious work in monastic orders and convents. This was the dominant view until the Reformation (and still persists today).

Martin Luther and other Reformation leaders went to the other extreme. Perhaps you've heard of the "Protestant Work Ethic." They emphasized that all work glorified God. That wasn't inherently bad. The problem was that work became an end in itself, rather than a means to honor God. The truly "good" Christians were those that worked harder and longer than everyone else and thus achieved material success. That attitude is also prevalent today.

The truth is somewhere in between these two positions. There is no distinction between secular and sacred work--both are opportunities to honor God. But work itself isn't the goal. Neither is career success, wealth, or acclaim. The goal of everything in our lives, including work, should be God.

Monday, September 12, 2011

You Think You Have It Bad?

Habakkuk is an interesting prophet. Besides having a name that's fun to spell, he really had a rough life. He was a farmer, and he complained to God that his livelihood was failing (3:17-18). No fig buds. No grapes. No olives. The fields produce no food. No sheep or cattle. Everything is going down hill.

Maybe that's how things are going where you work. Losing accounts. Less profitability. Being audited. Facing layoffs. Increased competition.

Look at Habakkuk's response in verse 18: "yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will be joyful in God, my Savior."

Your response when things go bad says a lot about your faith. It's easier to honor God when things go well than it is to honor Him when things seem at their worst. But true faith doesn't depend on circumstances.

Friday, September 9, 2011

God's Grace to You, Your Grace to Others

The most popular post in the last three months is this one about grace. Here's another along a similar line of thought that was also well-read. It's pretty gratifying that the most read posts are so central to what God is all about.

We like checklists, and it would be easy if Christianity in general, and Christianity at work specifically, could be reduced to a checklist. The problem is, of course, that we can never be perfect at taknig care of the things on that list, and God expects perfection. Talk about a demanding boss! That's why His grace is so important. Jesus reduces our checklist to one thing--Himself. So respecting your supervisor, loving your coworkers, watching what you say, keeping God's perspective, etc., it's all about making Jesus the lord of your life. He takes care of the rest.

Just as we've been shown so much mercy, God wants us to show mercy to others. I think the parable of the unmerciful servant is one of the most convicting parts of Jesus' message. God has forgiven us so much. Others may offend us, but the offense is very minor compared to our offense toward God.

Mercy and grace aren't particularly popular concepts in workplaces. But they are part of our calling as Christians.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Salt and Light

Matthew 5:13-16

When we read the Beatitudes, we often stop after verse 12. But the next verses are an important point about why Jesus was telling His followers to be different:

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Being poor in spirit, meek, and peace-making set you apart from those around you. When you show mercy to coworkers, subordinates, or anyone else, you stand out as different. You are being salt and light.

Too often, we hide our faith "under a bowl" at work. We praise God on Sundays but try to fit in with everyone else on Mondays. Don't lose your saltiness. Put your faith on a stand. Let others know what you believe and why Jesus is your Savior.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor, but not too much

God created Adam to work! When God was busy creating the heavens and the earth, His plan was always for humanity to work taking care of His creation. Adam wasn't put into the garden to live a life of idleness—Genesis 2:15 explains that Adam was placed in the Garden of Eden to tend to the garden (the real “oldest” profession). Just a few verses earlier, Genesis notes that, after creation but before humanity, “there was no one to work the ground” (2:5). Adam wasn't created to be lazy—he was made to work! Working is part of our nature. What I mean by that is that work is as much a part of being human as our heart or our need to breathe.

Ironically, many of us are celebrating our labor with a day off today. And that's great! Because just as God created us to be working, He also created us to need rest. God rested on the 7th day, not because He was tired, but because His work was finished and He wanted to show us how to pause, how to stop. Sabbath was about taking time away from work to be with family and worship God.

It's important to see work in terms of balance. If we are able to work, God expects us to do so. But He also created us to need rest. The balance is key.

Friday, September 2, 2011


I head the words "wise" and "wisdom" a lot. "That was a wise move just then." "Your decision showed a lot of wisdom." What do those words really mean? Most of the time, people mean something like "you really made that decision anticipating the consequences" or "that decision is likely to have good outcomes." Interestingly, James 3:14-16 talks about how worldly wisdom is often tainted by envy or selfish ambition. The executive who wisely chose friends to help him/her climb the corporate ladder. The coworker who wisely chose not to trust others in the office.

In the context of this passage, wisdom means something very different than what we often think. James begins in verse 13 by explaining that wisdom is evident from good deeds and humility. We could probably conceed the "good deeds" part. But when have you ever associated humility with wisdom? But then look at verses 17-18. James goes on to say that wisdom from heaven is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive... I don't know about you, but I'm not sure how often I've heard those words associated with saying someone is wise.

Wisdom is about taking knowledge and applying it to situations in which you find yourself. Wisdom from the world takes knowledge from the world's perspective, which is focused on self, and applies it to decisions. Wisdom from God takes God's perspective, which is focused on Him and on others, and uses that knowledge to approach situations.

How will you be wise next week? As you think about work, where can you be purer? Where can you bring peace? How can you be considerate to others? In what ways will you be submissive to your boss? How can you show mercy to others, especially those who report to you or are further down the hierarchy?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


What are you worried about right now? Is it a major project? A potential promotion? Are you worried that your boss could explode at you at any minute for no reason? Is your workplace talking layoffs?

There's a lot of issues that cause people anxiety in their work. We think about those things, obsess about them, lay awake at night wondering. Sometimes, creative ideas come from those ruminations, but that's the exception, not the rule. Maybe that's why Jesus emphasizes peace and freedom from worry so much. In Matthew 6:25, He says "do not worry." In John 14:27, He says, "My peace I leave with you." Earlier in that chapter, He says "let know your heart be troubled" (verse 1). Peter tells his readers to "cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you" (5:7).

There were probably few things that were more frightening to fishers like Peter and John than a fierce squall. Winds on the Sea of Galilee could come out of nowhere and be very dangerous to any boats caught out on the waters. So the storm described in Mark 4:35-41 must have been terrifying. Yet Jesus had the peace to be asleep in the back of the boat. When these desperate men awoke Him, He said to the storm "Peace be still" (verse 39). The Bible says that the disciples were amazed that "even the wind and the waves obey Him" (verse 41).

If the winds and waves of their lives obeyed Jesus, don't you think the wind and waves in your workplace will obey Him as well? The same One who says "Don't worry" in Matthew 6 created the earth in Genesis 1 and still commands it in Mark 4.

That doesn't mean everything always works out perfectly at work. Your project may not succeed. You may miss out on the promotion. Your boss might explode at you for no reason, or you might be laid off. It's easy to be at peace when everything is working out for you. But even when the wind and waves are at their worst, Jesus says "focus on Me, I am the peace."

Monday, August 29, 2011


At my previous university, I taught at least one section of communication ethics every semester. We would discuss Kant, who thought that lying was never acceptable, under any circumstances, and every student would universally condemn that as too rigid. Throughout most of the semester, they would latch on to various versions of situational ethics.

One of my favorite moments in that course was when we would discuss Sissela Bok's book called "Lying." Students had to read the book by a particular moment in the course and write a brief paper about it. But the point of the paper was really to make sure they'd read so we could all discuss Bok's ideas. Bok believed that there were exceptions to Kant's universalism such as lying to save someone's life. But she believed that such exceptions were rare enough that very few of us would ever face them. When have you had to lie to save someone's life? Bok's rule of thumb was to think of lying as the option of last resort--always a bad idea, but sometimes the only option available. She called this the Principle of Veracity, that truth is always preferable to lying except in extreme circumstances. Bok also said that we're not really the best judges of when it's ok for us to lie. We should think about what it would be like if our peers knew about this lie--what would they think about us?

Now apply these ideas to workplaces. Lying is common in many organizations. We can all point to the Enron's and Countrywide's, but that's ducking the point in two ways. First, it's laying the blame on all the employees of those companies when many were also victims. Second, lying doesn't have to involve big issues and cost billions of dollars to be wrong. Fudging a timesheet or padding an expense account are both lying. So is making excuses for not coming in to work when those excuses are not legitimate. Flattery is a form of lying. Office politics are often based on deception.

Little "white lies" are all around us. You might think they're not a big deal, but I think there's two problems with even the smallest of lies. First, God says be honest. "Let your yes be yes and your no be no." Honesty honors God while dishonesty dishonors Him. Second, little lies increase our tolerance for dishonesty. We may have to tell bigger lies to cover up a little lie. Or we may just be more comfortable with medium sized lies because the smaller ones come so naturally. Lying becomes a habit, something we say before we even think about it. Remember, the problems with executives at Enron, Countrywide, and all of the other companies involved in scandals of the past decade didn't start out big. No one starts out to tell really outrageous lies. They start small. The lies grow and grow.

Make the decision today to be honest. It's not always convenient. It's sometimes uncomfortable or even dangerous to tell someone something other than what they want to hear. But it's the right thing to do.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mission Trips

I heard a sermon a few Sundays ago about what mission means. The preacher said that mission isn't necessarily a big task that we have to go somewhere to do. Mission is who we are as a church. He said that "God is a god who sends." That's an interesting idea. Acts 17:26 explains that God intentionally marked out the times and boundaries for the nations, and I've already posted about what this might mean in terms of God placing you here at this time. What if God has been preparing you to be a missionary in your workplace? Depending on where you work, you might be your coworkers' connection to Jesus. Perhaps God is sending you to your workplace.

If so, you cannot serve him living one life on Sunday and another Monday through Friday. You cannot fulfill your mission if you compartmentalize your life so that "church life" never intrudes during the work week. That's why it's so important to focus on Jesus every day, not just on Sunday.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Something Unconventional

I was looking at some analytics on this blog today, and one thing that caught my eye was what people clicked on after they arrived here. The homepage is obviously the most common place that people start when they visit. Once they're here, the most common place to go next is the category "Relating to supervisors" on the bottom left under "Labels." That's kind of interesting to me. I wonder if, for many of you, one of the areas where it's hardest to live out your faith is in dealing with a boss.

Here's an unconventional tip for dealing with your boss, whether he or she is great or a tyrant. Pray for that person. No, don't pray that they go away or fall off a cliff. Pray for him or her. Ask God to give that person wisdom and courage. Again, not necessarily wisdom to see things your way. Look at 1 Timothy 2:1-4, especially verse 2. Pray for "all those in authority." That includes your supervisor.

Whether you're on good terms or struggling with your supervisor, pray for him or her. Watch what God does in your workplace.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Making Decisions

You know, sometimes I think it would be more efficient if God planned out our lives and put big neon signs in the sky to show us what directions to take. The pillar of cloud and fire that directed the Israelites might get lost in the sky now, but neon would get us there. And that way, we could be sure of being on the right track.

When you have a decision to make, seek God. And if His will in that decision isn’t immediately clear, make sure you’re taking care of the things that you can be certain of being His will: love Him, love others. If at that point, you still don’t have direction, it could be that the specifics of the decision matter less than honoring and obeying Him through either option.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Making the Most of Every Opportunity

Ephesians 5:15-17

“Time is money,” so the saying goes, the idea being that our time is a very precious resource. While the idiom itself isn’t particularly biblical, the sentiment behind it is. God wants us to take very good care of our time. Just to be clear, that doesn’t mean frantically trying to do everything that we think needs to get done—we’re not to be slaves to the clock. But it does mean that we need to carefully consider how we spend each minute. Look at Ephesians 5:15: “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity.” God wants us to live in such a way that we are taking care of the time with which He has entrusted us.

Why are we to do this? Look immediately before and after that quotation. Paul is encouraging the Ephesians to “live as children of the light” (verse 8). Verse 16 says to make “the most of every opportunity because the days are evil.” The Ephesians lived in a society where people would try to corrupt their faith. Paul encouraged them to “not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (verse 17).

We, too, live in evil days. We, too need to make the most of every opportunity, which is why your faith is so important in your workplace. Don’t miss this opportunity to reflect Christ to others!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Psalm of Fairness

I wanted to follow up Monday’s post about not leaning on your own understanding of fairness with one more word on the subject from Psalms. You know, Psalm 1 is a funny chapter. Look at the first verse of the first chapter of Psalms: “Blessed is the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.” Verse 3 says “whatever that person does prospers.” The rest of the chapter is about how the wicked won’t do well. Wait a minute! That’s not how life works. That would be great if the righteous always prospered and the wicked didn’t. But we all can name good people that never seem to get ahead. And just as easily, we can probably all name bad people that get all the breaks.

Now look at Psalm 150. The last several chapters begin with the instructions to “praise the Lord.” The book closes with “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord” (150:6).

That doesn’t seem right. Chapter 1 starts with a statement that never seems to work out from our perspective, that the people of God will prosper while the wicked suffer. It’s hard to see that. So how can I “praise the Lord” when life seems so unfair?

When I was in college, a professor pointed out the issue with the two ends of Psalms and said that the key to the dilemma of praising God when things don’t seem fair was in chapter 73. Look at verses 3-13: “For I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. They are free from the burdens common to humanity…this is what the wicked are like—always carefree, they increase in wealth. Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure.”

Sound familiar? Have you ever had moments thinking those very same thoughts? Asaph gives the answer in verse 16: “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me until I entered the sanctuary of God.” It just doesn’t make sense to us when we see things from a worldly perspective. It’s only when we understand our circumstances from God’s perspective that we can understand how “the one who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked” can be blessed. And that understand is why we can “praise the Lord.”

Psalm 73 closes this way: “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”

It doesn’t matter what seems fair or unfair according to the standards of our world. What matters is that we stay near God, that we make Him our refuge, and that we tell of His deeds. Don’t think about excuses for unfairness or reasons why people do the things that they do. Instead, accept that God is the only thing that really matters. And because He is, give Him praise.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lean Not On Your Own Understanding

So last week’s posts about life not being fair and about not being able to count on people around you were kind of “downers.” It’s not happy to realize that you have to be content with an unfair world where people fail to meet your expectations. Today is the other side of that.

What happens when life seems unfair? What do you do when it just doesn’t make sense? Look at Proverbs 3:5-7. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.”

Trust in the Lord. Lean not on your own understanding. Do not be wise in your own eyes.

When we try to understand things from a worldly perspective, they don’t always make sense. It’s only when we understand who is in control that we can deal with unfairness. That’s true at work or anywhere else.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Problem with People is That Their Human

One of the reasons why life seems so unfair is that we have expectations that are too high. Don’t label me a cynic or pessimist yet. We expect our boss to make promotions in a way that is completely rational in our eyes. We expect that, if we do our work well, everyone will always treat us well. We expect our subordinates, coworkers, and supervisors to be respectful and civil all the time. Basically, we expect everyone in the workplace to be perfect. You may be saying, “no, I don’t expect them to be perfect. But it’d be nice if they were reasonable.” But what you’re saying is that you’d like them to be reasonable all the time. In a sense, perfectly reasonable.

The problem is that the people around you are human. If you were surrounded by robots, you might not have to deal with people who act unreasonably, with disrespect or incivility. Robots don’t backstab you. They don’t make decisions based on their own ambitions or whims. If you worked only with robots, life might be fairer.

Sure, I’m joking to a great extent. But people can never live up to our expectations because they are human. We create an illusion of how things should be, but imperfect humanity never makes it all the way to “should be.”

Don’t read this and be depressed all weekend about how pitiful we all are. Don’t let this lead to cynicism or pessimism. Instead, be a realist. Know that people do good things, but underneath everything, we’re all sinners in need of a savior. It might help to remember times when you weren’t reasonable or fair toward someone else. Pray for the people around you. And extend them the same mercy when they mess up that God extends to you.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Life's Not Fair

One of my favorite passages in the Bible is the end of Job. Job spends most of the book talking with his friends. They have several theologically-flawed reasons why Job is suffering. Job doesn’t buy into those ideas. Instead, he just asks God for an audience, an opportunity to plead his case. Basically, Job is saying that his suffering isn’t fair.

That’s a common complaint, isn’t it? “That’s not fair.” It’s not fair that you have to work for a particular supervisor. It’s not fair that your coworker got the promotion when you worked twice as hard. From the time that we’re children, we want things to be fair.

But look at God’s response to Job. God doesn’t say, “you’re right, it wasn’t fair.” God doesn’t even explain the reasons for Job’s sufferings. We have the benefit of the first two chapters that explain why Job loses everything—he never knew that God was proud of his faithfulness. No, God didn’t answer any of Job’s questions. Instead, He said, “who are you to question me?” “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?” (38:2) Job never learns the cosmic reason for the “unfairness”—but he does learn that he needs to trust God without questioning.

Life isn’t fair. Even though we can repeat the words, it’s still hard to accept. Joni Eareckson Tada explains that it’s like walking into a conversation and being asked for your opinion without knowing what’s been said before you arrived (Aug. 7). You don’t have all the information, and you don’t understand God’s purposes anywhere near enough to be able to judge fairness. And even if you could judge fairness, God’s version of fairness is very different from the world’s version.

As you interact with other people, it’s great when things work out well. But they often do not. Things aren’t fair. Remember that they don’t have to be. What’s important isn’t fair versus unfair. What’s important is God.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Princeton Professor Advocates for Faith at Work

There was an article a couple of months ago in the Princeton Alumni Weekly that talked about Princeton Professor David Miller, who is the director for the Princeton University Faith and Work Initiative. Read the article about Miller and his program here.

I really appreciated this. The author profiles Miller who believes that faith and work can be intertwined. Similar to the ideas in this blog, Miller felt coming out of college that he was told to live two separate lives--his work life and his church life. After 16 years in international finance, Miller saw that the two might not need to be separated.

The part of the article that most stood out to me was when he talked about the advantage that a person of faith has in the workplace over an athiest. You might not think about your religion as an advantage at work, but the article author quotes Miller as saying:
"One aspect of having a worldview grounded in faith or metaphysical things is that you have a different perception of time. You think in terms of eternity, and how you live this life matters for one’s eternity. If you have a longer sense of time infused by some spiritual tradition, it also means you treat the marketplace differently."

As you work, do you focus on eternity? How does that focus shape the way you interact with people at work? How does that focus change the way you do your job?

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Gift God Never Gives

God gives us a lot of amazing gifts. There's salvation. And that would be enough. But He showers down blessings on us, even in times that are tough.

But there's one thing that God will never give. God will never give us the right or the responsibility to take revenge. God says, "it is mine to avenge" (Deuteronomy 32:35). Leviticus 19:18 says "Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself." New Testament writers also emphasized that this means Christians should not look for revenge on their enemies. Paul told the Romans not to take revenge (Romans 12:19) and the writer of Hebrews told his readers that revenge belongs to God (Hebrews 10:30).

There will always be people who cross us at work. It's part of dealing with other people, people who are also sinners. When they do, the temptation is to look for ways that we can get them back. When you do that, you are judging between you and them. You are saying that they are wrong and need to be punished. And God warns that He, and He alone, is able to do that.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What Does It Mean to Be Blessed?

Whenever something goes right in our lives, we're apt to say we're "lucky." I was recently convicted about that and now I say I'm "blessed." Whatever good I'm experiencing is because of God's grace. We talk about blessings from God being those things that He gives us--food to eat, people who love us, maybe our jobs (especially in this economy), health, etc. And no doubt, those things are certainly blessings from our God who loves us more than we can imagine.

But there's another meaning for the word blessed. Part of the confusion comes between "blest" (which was the past tense of bless but isn't used as much any more) and "blessed" (which had a different meaning in the Bible). Blessed carried the idea of an enduring joy, regardless of circumstances. So while you might feel "blest" by the things God gives you, "blessed" carries a deeper sense. So when Jesus says "Blessed are the poor in spirit..." (Matthew 5:3), he's not saying that the poor in spirit are going to have blessing raining down on them, that they will feel great about their circumstances. He is saying that the poor in spirit will have a deep, enduring joy because "theirs is the kingdom of heaven." That joy is not dependent on their circumstances--in fact the circumstances may be quite troubling (John 16:33). That joy comes from understanding their place as it relates to God's Kingdom.

This meaning is very different from what we typically think of when we hear the word blessed (or blest) in our conversations. God doesn't promise any of us blessings beyond grace and the hope of heaven. What He does promise is that, if we tune our hearts to Him, we will have the kind of attitude that doesn't depend on our present circumstances. That sounds like a blessing that I want to have.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Bringing Your Faith to Work

Bradley Moore recently wrote about five rules of spiritual engagement at work. For me, #2 and #3 are the toughest. His second rule of spiritual engagement at work is to recognize that it's not about you. Your job isn't about you. It isn't about your salary or your accomplishments or your promotion. Your job is about God (just like every other part of your life). It's easy to say that, much tougher to really live that out. His third rule is to surrender to greater purpose for your work. Once you realize work is not about you, you are able to surrender to God's purpose. You become His instrument. You work for Him.

Think about those things this week. Your work is not about you. There's a greater purpose for what you do.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Radical Worldview

Matthew 5:3-12

Have you ever stopped to think about how radical the Beattitudes found in Matthew 5 really were as Jesus spoke them? Better yet, have you ever thought about your attitudes and actions would be completely counter cultural if you chose to enact them in your life, especially in a workplace?

We are taught from an early age to value achievement and accomplishment. Great people do great things. And they make sure people know that they do great things. We believe that, if we work hard and do our jobs well, then we deserve promotions and raises. And if we have to fight for our rights, then so be it. After all, it's a "dog eat dog" world, a "rat race." But Jesus says "blessed are the poor in spirit...blessed are the meek..." What? Meek? Poor in spirit? But if I'm meek or poor in spirit, how will I ever get ahead? How can I support my family? How will I get noticed?

Our culture uses metaphors of conflict and struggle to describe going to work--another day "in the trenches" or "it's a jungle out there." Jesus says "blessed are the peacemakers..." No, no, we've got to fight to get ahead. And if someone shows weakness, we can use that to our advantage. But Jesus says, "blessed are the merciful..."

It's a different way of living. This weekend, read the Beattitudes (or the whole Sermon on the Mount). What could you do differently to live out these ideas? How would that kind of living change your workplace?

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Things of First Importance

I heard a sermon yesterday that started with an important distinction--everything in the Bible is important, but everything is not equally important. Everything in the Bible is important, but there are things in the Bible that are more important and things in the Bible that are less important.

You may not have thought that way before. But there are a number of passages in 1 Samuel, Isaiah, Micah, Hosea and other places in the Bible where God talks about the most important things. For example, in Hosea 6 and Micah 6, the people were taking care of sacrifices but they were neglecting justice and mercy. In 1 Samuel 15, Samuel tells Saul "to obey is better than sacrifice." It's not that sacrifices and religious rituals were unimportant. It's that justice and mercy, obedience to the big things were more important.

When you want to honor God in your workplace, if you look at the list of labels to the left, you might think there's a lot of things to do. Attitude, ethics, honesty, importance of work, perspective, etc. But really, it comes down to two things. Jesus explains in Matthew 22 that the greatest commands, the most important things, are to love God and love people. There were over 600 laws in Jesus' time. And beyond those, they had laws about laws. But the most important things are to love God and love others. Everything else is subordinate to those. Everything "hangs" on those, to use Jesus' words in the NIV translation.

It's easy to feel overwhelmed when you think about all that God asks of you in your workplace. But really, you need to focus on two things. As you look at the week ahead of you, don't worry about the details. Instead, focus on the big picture: love God and love other people. If you get those right, the details will take care of themselves.

Friday, July 22, 2011

It's All About Grace

I want to end the week thinking about grace. As I look at the list of posts or the label categories on the left, it's easy to see a list of do's and don't's:

  • Do work as if you're working for God.

  • Don't be selfish.

  • Do stand out from the crowd.

  • Don't be sarcastic or hateful in your speech.

It's easy to think “if I do these things and avoid doing those things, I will honor God in my work.”

So you try to live by those lists and everything is going well for the first few days until Joe comes in late and you yell at him for messing up your day. Or your coworker Sally tries to steal your biggest client, so you let her have it. “Uh oh, I blew it. I'm not living by the lists.”

I want to really emphasize this—the ideas about which I'm writing are in no way lists of do's and don't's. I don't want anyone to read this book as a Pharisaical law of how to act at work. Paul says that we have all sinned and are justified through God’s grace (Romans 3:23-24) and that following rules can’t save us (Romans 3:30; Ephesians 2:8-9). While the Bible is full of commands and admonitions, that's not the “way” to God. Instead, the ideas that I've written in terms of honoring God at work are things to do because God has forgiven you for not being perfect. He knows that you're going to mess up. That's why He sent Jesus to begin with.

Don't think of these posts as rules for following God. Think about them as ideas from a fellow pilgrim.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Every job has those little things that aren’t any fun, don’t get you any recognition, but have to get done. They range from mildly annoying to something that you really hate to do. Those tasks are particularly burdensome when you can’t see why they need to be done or why they need to be done by you. Even when you like your job, there are days where you’re caught up in the drudgery of these tasks.

Oswald Chambers makes a great point in his book, My Utmost for His Highest, when he says that “drudgery is the touchstone of character” (p. 167). Chambers explains that we look for the big things, the grandiose ways to please God. We search for inspiration rather than being faithful with the day-to-day tasks that await us.

That’s true in life, but it’s also true in workplaces. Those day-to-day tasks that make a great job feel like drudgery are perfect opportunities to honor God. As others complain and gripe, maybe you complete those tasks with a smile. As others do the work barely good enough, you put your heart into it because you know you’re working for God.

Chambers explains that “if I do my duty, not for duty’s sake, but because I believe God is engineering my circumstances, then at the very point of my obedience, the whole superb grace of God is mine.” Don’t wait for “big” moments to honor God at work. Look for the little things, the common tasks, and think about how you can be faithful to God in those.