Friday, October 30, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Work in the Bible begins with God's work of creation. This creative work is obviously not toil. It is more like the exuberance of an artist. It is joyous, self-expressive and energetic, unencumbered by the need to overcome obstacles or wrestle the physical elements into a finished product."

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Why God May Will An Unsatisfying Job

Conventional thinking assumes that God wants us to have jobs that are fulfilling. We are naturally convinced that God would have us satisfied in our work. But is that always true or even generally true? Might God actually place us in jobs that are unsatisfying? Would we find ourselves led to a place where our work is unrewarding?

As I've explored this in my own life, I've come to consider the possibility that God will sometimes, strategically place us in such situations, in order that His greater purpose might be fulfilled in us. Here are three reasons why God may will an unsatisfying job for us -

1. Unsatisfying work can lead us to center our joy in Christ and not in our work. From my own experience, it's easy to be happy when everything is going right. It's not so easy when work is hard, projects are failing, companies are struggling. But these situations offer us an opportunity to center our joy in Jesus Christ. We learn that knowing Christ is more valuable to our souls than the best paying, most satisfying job.

2. Unsatisfying work can be a means to sanctify us. God may be seeking to teach us something through a less than satisfying job. We may discover our need for God...we may learn perseverance....we may grow in patience. All this to better fashion us in the image of His Son.

3. Unsatisfying work reminds us that we're not home yet. When we find ourselves in the midst of unrewarding work, we are reminded that in this life, our work is tinged with sin and difficulty. But it won't be like that forever. God will redeem us and bring us to a place of rich, fulfilling labor. We can cast our eyes heavenward and trust that His work in the past and currently will bring this to pass. We can be truly optimistic and hopeful when we consider the future.

I've found it helpful to think through these points but perhaps I'm wrong on this. Please let me know. Please share if you occasionally struggle with work that is not satisfying. How do you respond and why?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Quote of the Week

"Jesus did not come into the world mainly to bring a new religion or a new law. He came to offer himself for our eternal enjoyment and to do whatever he had to do - including death - to remove every obstacle to this everlasting joy in him."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Leadership Tip: Build a Culture of Encouragement

I spent some time this weekend thinking about how to build a culture of encouragement in my workplace and family. When your tendencies are to manage toward a performance based culture, encouragement can often take a backseat.

However, I'm also convinced that a culture of encouragement and a culture of performance is neither mutually exclusive nor incompatible. In fact, mature Christian leadership involves the cultivation of both performance and encouragement. Building a culture of performance without encouragement dehumanizes the work experience - it denies our identities as image bearers of the Creator God. After all, we're not just machines measured simply by virtue of productivity. In fact, every worker uniquely bears the image of the Creator with special character, gifts and abilities.

So how do we build a culture of encouragement? A friend was helpful in formulating thoughts around this. He offered that a culture of encouragement is one where encouragement is:

- Personal
- Specific
- Genuine
- Regular

But I also believe that biblical encouragement has an additional component - it brings to bear the reality of God at work in our world. It affirms the fact that each person is uniquely gifted and bears the image of God. It reminds us that God is at work in our lives - in our circumstances, plans, hopes and dreams. For the Christian, it brings the comfort of knowing that Jesus Christ has addressed our greatest need and promises that He will neither leave us, nor forsake us. This is the kind of encouragement I hope to bring to my family and workplace.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Quote of the Week

"How you make plans tell a lot about yourself. Specifically, and of greatest importance, it tells you much about your relationship to God - how important He is to you in everyday life."

Friday, October 02, 2009

Criticism and the Christian

Let's face it, no one likes to be critiqued or criticized. It can be especially challenging to handle if we perceive the criticism to be unwarranted or unjustified. In those situations, we can often respond with a defensive posture, a myriad of excuses or even with counter-attacks.

But is there a different way that we can respond to criticism? I think so.

I was reminded of the value of criticism as I read the article entitled "The Cross and Criticism" from Peacemaker Ministries. The author, Alfred Poirier makes the point that the Bible commends the ability to heed criticism as a mark of wisdom.

"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser;
teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning"
(Proverbs 9:9)

In fact, wise men and women, not only heed criticism but consider it to be a blessing when it comes from a righteous source.

Let a righteous man strike me - it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me - it is oil for my head
(Psalm 141:5)

The point Poirier makes is that the Bible teaches us that correction and criticism can often be a means of God's blessing for our lives and he's right. In the article, he argues for how Christ's death on the cross enables us to view ourselves critically, yet secured by God's justifying love for us.

Certainly, there is a place for clarifying misconceptions and appropriately defending oneself against false accusations. Sometimes criticisms are actually unjustified or incorrect. In those situations, we should feel at liberty to "set the record straight" but not at the expense humbly listening and receiving the corrective input.

However, even when criticisms are unjustified, I've found them helpful in humbling my soul as it leads me to put my trust in Christ. Just think - if we are not open to receiving criticism, we might be overlooking the blessing of God hidden in a corrective word.

How do you respond to criticism? Do you make it easy for others to provide constructive criticism or feedback?