Repurpose Your Work with Meaning
So who has the best job, a banker or street sweeper, an admin or the CEO, the teacher or the janitor? Is it what you do that gives you meaning or who you do it for or why you do it that that fuels purpose in your work? Here is a thought from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as we celebrate his birthday.
“And when you discover what you will be in your life, set out to do it as if God Almighty called you at this particular moment in history to do it. Don’t just set out to do a good job. Set out to do such a good job that the living, the dead or the unborn couldn’t do it any better.”
If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well. If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The Stanley Cup and Biblical Leadership
Did you get a chance to catch some of the interviews following the Hawks’ Stanley Cup win? I was impressed at how often the themes we discovered in Psalm 23 were highlighted and the devotion to team they engendered.
One of the most compelling was Michal Handzus. He was acquired just prior to the trade deadline from the San Jose Sharks where he was a healthy scratch. In other words, there was nothing physically wrong that kept him from playing other than his lack of effort, production and possibly attitude. Last night he was awarded the honor of being the first to hoist the Cup after the captain, Jonathan Toews. How did he go from the bench on one team to a respected member on the best team?
Handzus became part of an organization that was willing to fly 200+ family members and friends to Boston to insure the players could celebrate with their loved ones should they win. (encouragement) Toews said everyone on the team contributed to the goal of being this year’s best. (reward/recognition) Toews also said he was compelled to work hard for a teammate like Handzus because he had experienced the Stanley Cup before and would work as hard as he could to make sure others on the team, who were working just as hard, could have that experience as well. (personal sacrifice of a shepherd leader)
I don’t know if any of these organizational values where as a result of following Jesus. However, it shows us truth-is-truth no matter who unitizes it and truth rewards those who do. We may not all get the equivalent of the Stanley Cup, but for we who lead as Christ followers, the rewards go beyond this world. God’s truth applied in our workplace will transform us and those around us. It has the power to bring an expanding surge of God’s transforming eternal hope and healing grace to those we lead and serve in our marketplace. Learning and employing God’s truth is worth it.
The Law of Pride and Humility – 06.13
In the Book of Proverbs, Solomon wrote, “The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.” Proverbs 27:21 (NIV) Personally, I would have thought people are tested by trials instead of successes. Unlike trials which tend to keep us humble, success often tends to let the “Pride Genie” out of our bottle. Solomon, inspired by God, understood that success reveals the reality in our heart. Do we default to pride or toward humility?
Pride and humility are linked to an inescapable supernatural law written and enforced by God. Like the Law of Gravity, there is no escaping the Law of Pride and Humility while on earth. God’s pride/humility law is simple, responding in PRIDE has CONSEQUENCES, responding with HUMILITY has REWARDS. Listen to what the Bible says,
- God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. 1 Peter 5:5 (NIV)
- Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)
- Pride lands you flat on your face; humility prepares you for honors. Proverbs 29:23 (MSG)
PRIDE is a malignant monster that not only denies the role of God and others in our success, but also destroys both the individual and those around him/her. John Maxwell, author and recognized leadership consultant, identifies ego-inflating presumption, self-deception, ungratefulness and personal blindness in the proud. God is repulsed by PRIDE and vows to frustrate the proud.
By contrast, HUMILITY fosters an understanding of one’s limitations and the need for a blending of skilled people to succeed. They understand success is a team sport. The humble are grateful, acknowledging the important contribution each person has made to attain success while recognizing the sovereign role of God in their accomplishments. God is attracted to and establishes the work of the humble. He rewards the HUMILITY with unifying favor and gratitude and ultimately long lasting fulfillment rather than fleeting success.
Planning within God’s PLAN? – 05.13
Planning is a critical component of business and of life. The adage, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail” is often true. Yogi Berra said it best, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.” Lack of planning stands in stark contrast to God’s planning. His plans are referred to as His will, purposes and good pleasure. His plans are for our benefit (Jeremiah 29:11) and His glory. The question becomes, “If God has plans and I have plans, how should my plans compliment His and not oppose them?” (Proverbs 19:21)
With sea gulls overhead and a cool salt breeze sweeping across a focused multitude, Jesus said, “But seek first his [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33 (NIV)) As we pursue our career or life plan, Jesus reminds us all to make sure God’s plan stays in the forefront of our pursuits. Our plans must be influenced by God’s plan for the world (His Kingdom) and for you personally, His righteousness. How do we do this?
God’s Plan is to redeem and transform our broken world through Jesus. Intentionally seeking to bring the redemption and transformation of Jesus to those we serve with our leadership makes God’s kingdom our priority. Intentionally living out Jesus ability to be rightly related to God, ourselves, others and things makes God’s righteousness our primary pursuit. With both God’s kingdom and Jesus’ right-relating our focus, God promises to keep His eyes on our plans because we are keeping our eyes on His. That’s an amazing promise!
Thomas Merton said, “A life is either all spiritual or not spiritual at all. No man can serve two masters. Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in its image.” Careers and plans repurposed by Jesus is a worthy image to bear!
With All Your Strength – 04.13
Loving God with all your strength is one of the key ways in which a workplace leader can express their love to God. Strength is one of the four dimensions of love Jesus said incorporated all of the hopes and expectations God had for a relationship with mankind. (Mark 12:30) So what does this mean and what does it mean in the workplace?
The very first time a term or concept is mentioned in the Bible often represents its defining moment. Strength first appears in Genesis in terms of the earth’s capacity to produce food which it then yields to benefit mankind. Instead of strength being about power or perseverance it’s about the unique ability to bear fruit. Transposing that to our work-a-day world today, loving God with all my strength is bearing fruit with what we are uniquely and individually able to do better than others. Strength is our “sweet spot” it’s our “wheel house.”
What does that look like for you? What is your “sweet spot?” What does it mean when something is in your “wheel house?” This is the area of your strength. How can you begin to use it to the fullest (all your strength) to bear fruit that can be yielded to God in a way that also benefits others and gives Him honor and acclaim? Being a workplace leader who does this is loving God with ALL YOUR STRENGTH!
An Affirmation and Prayer for
Civility and Cooperation in Public and Private Leadership
First, we wish to affirm our complete support and the encouragement of a civil discourse by our public officials during this current presidential campaign and in all subsequent campaigns at all levels of government. We believe a civil discourse that respects and honors those of opposing views best characterizes the thread of our nation’s historic fabric.
Second, we also wish to affirm our complete support and encouragement for a spirit of cooperation and productive dialog designed to creatively seek solutions for our nation’s challenges with the common good of our citizens and those who seek the shelter of our nation in view.
Third, it is our intention to covenant to continuously pray that our leaders, both public and private, will willingly and daily be guided by the Hand of Providence in the months and years to come.
To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice. Proverbs 21:3 (NIV)
Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people. Proverbs 14:34 (NIV)
Common Prayer for our Nation, its leaders and its people.
Our heavenly Father,
We thank You for the many blessings and strengths of our country.
We also humble ourselves before You and acknowledge our brokenness as a people. Despite the many who serve namelessly, many of us are proud and many more selfish. We have stopped seeking the common good and seek that which is only best for self. We have transgressed the basic law of loving You and loving those around us as we love ourselves.
We appeal to You for forgiveness. We are wrong and You are right. Please heal us.
We appeal to You for Your amazing grace to be poured out on our land, its leaders and its people. We seek the power of Your merciful grace to provide our leaders, both public and private, with discernment to observe the threats and needs of its people and the wisdom to take healing and productive action for the common good and for Your honor and Your glory.
We humbly ask this in the name of Your Son Jesus Christ! Amen.