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, March 26, 2010

One Of The Single Biggest Discoveries Gallup Has Ever Made

Gallup's "World Poll" was the first of its kind. No one had ever created a poll that covered almost every issue on the globe, with questions that were applicable to every culture.

There is a lot of data out there that shows what men and women are doing around the world, but Gallup wanted to find out what men and women around the world are thinking. Gallup could not find such a poll, so they made one.

Gallup scientists created a questionnaire that was translated into dozens of languages, and they collected data from over 100 countries. The Gallup organization is committed to conducting this poll for 100 years.

After the first World Poll was completed in 2007, Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, wrote of this project: "...we many have already found the single most searing, clarifying, helpful, world-altering fact." He went on to identify this fact as, "one of the single biggest discoveries Gallup has ever made."

What was Gallup's great discovery?

Clifton summarized it this way: "What the whole world wants is a good job."

Clifton wrote these words before we entered the world-wide recession we are now experiencing: "If you and I were walking down the street in Khartoum, Tehran, Berlin, Lima, Los Angeles, Baghdad, Kolkata, or Istanbul, we would discover that on most days, the single most dominant thought carried around in the heads of most people you and I see is 'I want a good job.'"

I found Clifton's report fascinating. It says something about people, in all parts of the globe, throughout all cultures. Muslims, Christians, atheists, Jews, black, white, communists and capitalists. It says something about how we are wired. We have a common felt need. That felt need is to be working, and to be working in a "good" job.

But what makes a particular job “good?” Is it the pay? The people we work with? The compatibility of our work with our particular gifts and talents, doing what we want to do? These are important factors, but it is possible to have excellent pay, great people to work with, a very fitting job compatibility, and yet still lack that "something" which makes a particular job a “good” one.

What is that "something?"

To answer this question, we'll turn once more to Dr. George Washington Carver. Next week.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

It Boils Down To Four Words

For Dr. George Washington Carver, the purpose and meaning of work boiled down to four words.

After Carver succeeded in creating products from plants, Thomas Edison asked him to come to New Jersey and work for him. Edison offered Carver a salary equivalent in today’s economy to nearly one million dollars per year. Carver declined the offer so he could remain at Tuskegee and help the Southern farmers.

Carver started a “School on Wheels,” going out to farms so he could teach farmers how to revive cotton-tired soil by planting peanuts and sweet potatoes. He also went to his lab to create markets for these plants, inventing 300 uses for the peanut and 118 uses for the sweet potato. Carver not only revived the soil, but the economy as well.

More than twenty years after Carver’s death, Clarence Mason, director of the Carver Research Foundation at Tuskegee, said of Carver: “…I have the most profound respect and admiration for Dr. Carver because he turned away from the field in which he was most skilled and best trained [botany], to work in an area which he felt he could do the most good for the people in his community [chemistry].”

When Booker T. Washington invited Carver to come to Tuskegee Institute to teach students how to plant and harvest crops so they could be brought out of "degradation, poverty and waste," Carver replied: “I…shall be glad to cooperate with you in doing all I can through Christ who strengtheneth me to better the condition of our people.”

That is exactly what Carver did.

Through his work as a botanist-chemist, Carver loved people. At age 60 Carver wrote: “Living for others is really the Christ life after all. Oh, the satisfaction, happiness and joy one gets out of it…I know that my Redeemer lives. Thank God I love humanity; complexion doesn’t interest me one single bit.”

For Carver, it boils down to four words: Love God, love people.
Most people would agree that George Washington Carver was an extraordinary person, doing extraordinary work. But I think it is possible for any legitimate work done by any follower of Christ to be a conduit for loving God and loving people.

What do you think?

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Friday, March 12, 2010

He Is Able To Look Beyond The Peanuts

Religious leaders tried to trip Jesus up one day by asking Him to identify the most important commandment. Christ replied: “Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” And then He added: “Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.”

Through his work as a botanist-chemist, Dr. George Washington Carver loved God and loved people. For Carver, his work is a daily opportunity for living out his love for Christ, and for humanity.

Carver’s love for God is evidenced by the fact that he asked the Lord to give him his “orders for the day” during his morning walks through the woods. Carver continued to commune with God throughout the day, while in the lab at Tuskegee Institute creating products from peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans.

In doing his work as a botanist-chemist, Carver put his daily trust in the Lord. He says: “God is going to reveal to us things He never revealed before if we put our hands in His. No books ever go into my laboratory. The thing I am to do and the way of doing it are revealed to me. The method is reveled to me the moment I am inspired to create something new. Without God to draw aside the curtain I would be helpless.”

When asked what the secret of his success was, Carver replied: “It is simple. It is found in the Bible, ‘In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.’”

At the age of 75, Carver wrote: “…if we do not take Christ seriously in our every day life, all is a failure because it is an every day affair.”

Clearly, Carver’s love for God compeled him in his daily work as a botanist-chemist. He is able to look beyond the peanuts to his love for the Lord, and this gave his work with plants extraordinary meaning, and a higher purpose beyond the plants themselves.

Carver was not only compelled by his love for God, but his love for people too, as we'll see next week.

In the meantime, here is the big question of the day: How can our daily work be a channel for loving God and loving people?

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Carver Was In Full-Time Ministry

The accomplishments of Dr. George Washington Carver in the field of botany-chemistry are legendary, having developed 300 products from the peanut, and 118 from the sweet potato. The products Carver invented include printers ink, shaving cream, plastics, adhesives and much more.

But Carver only owned three patents on his many creations. Why? Because he didn't feel it was right to take money for something God gave him.

God gave him?

That's the way Carver saw it.

When he was inventing products from peanuts, Carver would go into his lab (which he called "God's Little Workshop") at Alabama's Tuskegee Institute, and ask God to reveal to him the mysteries of the peanut.

Carver literally asked God why He made the peanut, and, by Carver's own testimony, God answered his prayer. Carver locked the door to his lab when he was creating things, because, as he put it, "only alone can I draw close enough to God to discover His secrets."

Carver epitomizes what it means to be a co-worker with God. In a letter written to Rev. Lyman Ward, Carver declared, "I am not interested in science or anything else that leaves God out of it."

At the age of 63, he wrote: "Man, who needed a purpose, a mission, to keep him alive, had one. He could be...God's co-worker...My purpose alone must be God's purpose...As I worked on projects which fulfilled a real human need, forces were working through me which amazed me. I would often go to sleep with an apparently insoluble problem. When I woke the answer was there."

Carver did not practice a "Sunday religion." His relationship with the Lord was an every day reality: "...all my life I have risen regularly at four o'clock and have gone into the woods and talked with God. There He gives me my orders for the day."

Carver was in full-time ministry. Not as a pastor, but as a botanist-chemist.

We'll unpack more about Carver's life next week, but in the meantime, please take a few moments to watch a short video clip about Dr. Carver, and note the way he seamlessly integrated his faith with his work:

If the video does not play, click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wv4qYIyJoM

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