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Equipping followers of Christ to engage in their everyday work as the work of God, so workplaces are invigorated, communities flourish and culture is renewed to the honor and glory of the Lord.

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Friday, May 31, 2013

Intentionality

When it comes to bringing meaning to work, the challenge lies in making conscious connections between the work itself and the "bigger picture" of a biblical worldview that gives our work the meaning God intends.  
 
This isn't rocket science. But it isn't simple either. First, it requires the development of a sound biblical view of God, Creation, Humanity, Moral Order and Purpose. This takes some time and thoughtful reflection on what we read in the Bible. But in addition to this, it requires some focused intentionality.
 
Along those lines, rather than present you with a list of biblical truths that relate to work, a more helpful approach might be to suggest questions that prompt deep personal reflection on the connections between your own work and the bigger picture of a biblical world-and-work framework.
 
With that in mind, here are some reflection-prompting questions relating to the "God factor." Pick one that speaks to you, and take a moment (or two) to deeply reflect: 
  • How does God look at _________ [my mowing the lawn, my managing a bank, my selling of real estate]?
  • How does God feel about _________ [the way I treated that customer, the solution I came up with]?
  • Is ________ really important to God? If so, why?
  • Where was God when ________ happened? [i.e., something went very wrong] How did God reveal Himself when this negative thing happened? How could I have been more spiritually or emotionally prepared for this?
  • With respect to _________, what practical difference does my biblical view of God make in contrast to an atheist's view?
  • If I were God, what would I do about _________? How might I co-labor with Him in this?
  • What has God said in His Word that relates directly or indirectly to _________?
  • Why is God silent in His Word about _________?
  • How does my work release God’s hand to freely work in the world? How does it limit Him?
  • How does God participate in _________?
  • How is God’s mercy and forgiveness evidenced through this activity?
  • What assumptions about God lie behind _________?
  • How does God’s ownership of all things relate to this enterprise?
  • What about ________ is in harmony with the biblical view of God?
  • What about ________ is in opposition to the biblical view of God?
  • What joy might God receive through my involvement in this work?
We'll pick up next week with questions relating to "Creation" and "Humanity."

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Friday, May 24, 2013

Ending Up As Greece

Everyone has a mental concept of what's "really real," even if one thinks the Tooth Fairy is real. A worldview, or as Immanuel Kant called it, a Weltanschauung, is a person's "take" on the deepest questions of life that serve as "compass bearings" for our big decisions, core values, and significant meaning in work. 

I'm convinced that the five biggest factors that make up the "compass bearings" of any worldview are: 
  • the GOD factor [who or what is the ultimate power and authority?]
  • the CREATION factor [what's really real ? how did it get here?]
  • the HUMANITY factor [who are we? what gives us true significance?]
  • the MORAL ORDER factor [what are the rules ? who decides?]
  • the PURPOSE factor [what is the reason for all that exists?]
Beliefs in these five areas will shape a person's concept of what is ultimately "real." Whether or not that Weltanschauung is accurate (or, really true), is another question.

Now let me say something that is politically incorrect and deeply offensive to many in our post-Christian culture: some views of God, Creation, Humanity, Moral Order and Purpose are false.

Our current culture tells us one worldview is just as valid as another, and those who don't agree with this premise are now branded "intolerant." It's against the fundamental code of multi-culturalism. But if we buy into the idea that anything goes, we'll be ending up as Greece, when they came to similar conclusions 2,500 years ago.  

Consider this description of Greece in her latter stages of decline, given by Will Durant in his book, The Life of Greece, under a subsection titled "The Morals of Decay" (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1939, pp. 565-568):
  • Cults from the East have been accepted.
  • Astrology is practiced.
  • Patriotism has declined.
  • Men practice manners which have previously been considered effeminate.
  • The upper class is consumed with the pursuit of pleasure.
  • Education stresses knowledge more than character, and produces masses of half-educated people. 
  • Public athletic games have turned into professional contests.
  • Homosexuality is popular. 
  • The dramas of the day are full of seduction and adultery.
  • A women’s liberation movement has brought women into active roles in a previously male-oriented culture.
  • Motherhood is devalued, and the bearing of children is viewed as an inconvenience.
  • Abortion is commonly practiced, as well as infanticide.
Sound familiar? Could there be a reason for this resemblance to our current condition?

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Friday, May 17, 2013

Weltanschauung

As Bonnie Wurzbacher pointed out last week, she was able to bring meaning to her work with Coke only after she understood how it connected with the bigger picture of a biblical worldview.

When it comes to bringing meaning to work, having a handle on what a "biblical worldview" is, makes all the difference. You may have noticed the name of this blog is "Worldview Matters." This is also the name of the educational service organization my wife, Kathy, and I founded back in the year 2000. Your worldview really does matter.

I am convinced that the ability to make connections between the bigger picture of a "biblical worldview" and our everyday work is essential for bringing meaning to whatever we do. A "worldview" provides a larger frame of reference that enables us to make sense of everything around us. Without a biblically informed worldview, the task of bringing real and lasting meaning to everyday work is impossible. That's a strong statement, but let me support it by providing some definition to the word "worldview." 

The word "worldview" was first coined by the German philosopher Immanuel Kant, in the eighteenth century. The word he coined was: Weltanschauung. As the Germans often do, Kant combined two German words into one: Welt, which means "world," and Anschauung, which can be translated into English as "conception," "idea," "opinion," or "view."

If two German children are resting on the grass looking up at the clouds, and one child points to a particular cloud and says, "Look at the horse!" and the other child looks at the same cloud and doesn't see a horse, he might reply: "That's your Anschauung!" In other words, that's "your take."

This brings us to a major characteristic of "worldviews." Everyone has a view of reality, but not everyone's "take" on it is the same. Some people see a Designer-Creator behind the existence of all things, while others (who are looking at the very same things, mind you) see nothing but impersonal matter, functioning by pure, blind fate. Some people see a Higher Law Giver behind "right and wrong," while others (who are looking at the very same issues) see only varying degrees of human preference. 

In the next few weeks, we'll take a look at the basic essentials of a biblical worldview, and how these essentials can bring remarkable meaning to all human endeavor.

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Friday, May 10, 2013

A Pause That Refreshes!

Last week I mentioned an interview I did several years ago with Bonnie Wurzbacher, Vice President of Global Accounts for The Coca-Cola Company, in which this committed follower of Christ told me, "We don't find meaning in our work, we bring meaning to our work.” 

I invite you to hear Bonnie's explanation of this statement in her own words. The videos below are short, the first one being 2 minutes, and the second being 1.5 minutes. If the clips do not play, click here and here.

You'll find Bonnie's perspective a pause that refreshes!
 






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Friday, May 3, 2013

The Coca-Cola Company? Was She Joking?

Last week I quoted Behnamn Tabriai and Michael Terrell as saying one of the biggest reasons people struggle to find meaning in their work is because they “aren’t aligned.” The way they put it is: “...people don’t build an external reality that is in line with their internal selves and values. When your inside world and your outside world are misaligned, it’s easy to feel frustrated, unhappy, and adrift.”

Tabriai and Terrell are touching on something very fundamental: “aligning” our behavior with our core values. When we don’t do this, we certainly do feel uncomfortable with ourselves. Conversely, when we do this, we have a sense of satisfaction. This is true whether it’s in the context of the workplace or anywhere else. And, as Tabriai and Terrell point out, the feelings of satisfaction that come when our values and our behavior are in alignment “contribute significantly to how well we perform and our sense of meaning.”
So what happens when a person’s a line of work constantly rubs against his or her deeply held values? If the “rub” is big enough, it may require a change of location. That is, a different job. A follower of Christ who is making a living through the propagation of pornography, should be uncomfortable.

But I suspect most of the readers of this blog are not dealing with that degree of misalignment. For most followers of Christ who suffer from a lack of alignment between their everyday work and their inner values, the issues are much more subtle. I am of the opinion that many followers of Christ who lack fulfillment and deep meaning in their everyday work are in this condition not because their job is in need of adjustment, but because their ideas about work itself are in need of adjustment.
I once interviewed a high-level executive in a famous worldwide company who told me, “We don’t find meaning in our work, we bring meaning to our work.” These profound words came from the lips of Bonnie Wurzbacher, then Senior Vice President of Global Accounts for The Coca-Cola Company, who, as a follower of Christ, learned to bring meaning to her work with The Coca-Cola Company by seeing how this work “fulfilled and advanced God’s purposes for the world.”

The Coca-Cola Company? Was she joking?
Not at all. I’ll pick up from here next week.

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