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, April 26, 2013

He Escaped A Life Of Toil?

Last week, a beloved man of God passed from this life to the next at the age of 104: George Beverly Shea, the long-time associate of Billy Graham who always sang an inspiring song just before Billy preached.

Mr. Shea’s obituary in the New York Times caught my attention. The first line declared that George Beverly Shea had “escaped a life of toil in an insurance office to become a Grammy-winning gospel singer.”

What’s this? He escaped a life of toil in an insurance office? If you happen to work in the insurance industry, I hope you’re not saying to yourself, “Congratulations to Mr. Shea. I’d like to find my escape before I turn 104!”

The fact is, many people feel trapped at work. Many don’t want to be doing what they’re supposed to be doing at work, and endure the situation until the weekend. Many are not engaged. How many? Research by The Gallup Organization suggests 55% of the US workforce is “not engaged,” and another 16% are “actively disengaged.”

If Gallup’s findings are correct, then 71% of US workers are not engaged in their work! The “not engaged” folk are described as those who “hang back and don’t commit themselves [to their job],” while the “actively disengaged” employee is described as one who is “not just unhappy at work…[but] acts out that unhappiness.”

The big question is, “Why?”

In response to last week’s post, one reader, Alex Brubaker, sent a link to an article in the Huffington Post, from April 15, titled: “Why Are We So Frustrated at Work and at Home?” written by Behnamn Tabriai and Michael Terrell, who are affiliated with the Stanford Business School. Here is their answer to the “why” question:

"Though our society-wide struggle to find greater meaning is certainly attributable to a variety of nuanced factors, we have found that one of the biggest reasons is that, simply, people aren't aligned. By that we mean that 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. However, when they move into alignment, our lives are pervaded with a sense of satisfaction and happiness -- feelings that researchers have shown contribute significantly to how well we perform and our sense of meaning."

Could "alignment" be a key to meaning?

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Meaning At Work

The following article is by David Mashburn, a consulting psychologist for Tidemark, Inc., and editor of WorkPuzzle. His post is reprinted here by permission. It is a good lead-in to the topic I'll be focusing on in coming weeks: how to bring extraordinary meaning to "ordinary" work.    

Dr. Robert Emmons, a prolific researcher and professor at the University of California, recently wrote:
“As far as we know, humans are the only meaning-seeking species on the planet. ‘Meaning- making’ is an activity that is distinctively human, a function of how the human brain is organized.

The many ways in which humans conceptualize, create, and search for meaning has become a recent focus of behavioral science on the quality of life and subjective well-being.”

A tremendous amount of research and writing on the connection between human performance and the meaning people find in their work has started to emerge because of this focus. And, some of the heavy-hitters in the business world were quick to take notice of these discoveries.
Here are some examples of how much attention is being paid to “meaning-making” at work:

  •  Gary Hamel, ranked by the Wall Street Journal as the world’s most influential business thinker, and who Fortune magazine called “the world’s leading expert on business strategy" is encouraging managers to see themselves as “entrepreneurs of meaning.”

I want to emphasize that the research being done in this area is far from the touchy-feely anecdotes or inspirational speaker clichés that sometimes sound similar. I have little tolerance for methods and insights that are not based on research. Once you push through the surface language, there is substance behind this topic that leads to real and measurable performance improvements.

There is far too much to share with you about this subject matter in one blog edition, but here are a few examples that will get you thinking about the importance of meaning at work. These examples were compiled by Susie Cranston and Scott Keeler at McKinsey and Company:
[To view the examples, access David's full article here: WorkPuzzle.]
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Friday, April 12, 2013

This Could Change A Future Generation

A good English friend of mine, David Oliver, surprised me the other day when he asked if he might write today's post. Many of you will have already met or heard David. He is an international speaker and author of twelve books, including one I highly recommend, titled, Love Work! Live Life! Releasing God's Purpose in Your Life. David has spoken for Focus on The Family and The Billy Graham Association on the subject of Christians finding their destiny in the workplace. Speaking to over 10,000 people each year on this same important topic, David has become one of the leading voices in our generation on serving God in our places of work. Let me hand the pen over to him.

Hi, everyone.

Today's blog is very different and could quite literally be life-changing for a whole generation. In a moment I am going to ask you for a small favour as a way of helping Christian, that will cost you nothing and take less than 30 seconds.

I'm writing this blog because, like many of you, I have been a subscriber to Christian's blogs for nearly five years and have taken a keen personal interest in his tireless efforts to bring down the stronghold of dualism, introducing "whole life thinking" to families, churches, schools and workplaces. His anointing as a teacher and "champion" for this message is evident and clear in all his writings, but in a conversation a few weeks back, Christian let something slip that got me so fired up I wanted to do everything I could to help.

Christian is burdened by the lack of the theology of work being taught in our Christian schools. Even the most enlightened Christian schools in the USA and the UK simply do not address this topic; and from all we can tell, they don't have a clue where to start. It's as if headmasters and teachers know they really should be teaching it, and better still, embedding it into the standard curriculum, but no-one in education seems to know how to do it. Yet it's a critical need.

As you will see in the short video clips below, Christian has what I believe is a God-given game changer. He provides a toolkit for developing a comprehensive approach to embedding theology of work into the standard curriculum of any Christian school, with personal coaching for headmasters willing to undertake the journey with him. There is nothing like this anywhere else in the world. You can see why I personally believe this could change a future generation in unimaginably positive ways.


Could I ask you for that small favor: If you know a Christian school teacher or headmaster, I'm asking you to forward this post to him or her. Ask your friend to view the video clips below. Ideally, forward the links by email with a short one or two line personal introduction from you.

For best viewing, click the You Tube icon in the lower RH corner of each video:

Headmasters, I encourage you to have a personal phone or SKYPE conversation with Christian, as mentioned in the second video. Simply request this here: CHAT WITH CHRISTIAN

For a print version of Christian's programme, click here: VITALIZATION PACK 

If you are a pastor, elder or church leader, I encourage you to consider sponsoring an educator within your own congregation to go through this programme. If you are a businessman, I encourage you to consider sponsoring a school.

Christian is currently seeking a limited number of headmasters to participate in a pilot project in the development of learning communities dedicated to restoring the integration of faith and work to the standard curriculum.

Applications are now being accepted through July 10, 2013: APPLICATION

You may forward this post with ease using the "SHARE" button below.

Thank you!

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Friday, April 5, 2013

What Got The Early Christians Into Trouble

Several months ago, a Christian school headmaster who was raised in an environment where theology of work was often spoken about, realized the subject wasn’t being discussed in his current Christian community. He brought this matter to his staff: “We wondered outloud about how we could address this in our classroom. We committed to praying about how we could address this issue with our students.”    

While he and his staff were praying (unknown to me), I was putting finishing touches on a project that addresses the very issue they "wondered outloud about." (!) Through remarkable circumstances, we connected. I informed him of the project, and he presented the opportunity to his board: “They wholeheartedly support the school's involvement in such a project and voted unanimously to approve all expenses that will be incurred.”
What’s "the project?”  

It’s rooted in the project Christ initiated long ago, in Matthew 28:18-20, an injunction to teach others to observe all that He commanded. Where is this observation to happen? In church?  At home? In our personal lives? Yes. But what about beyond church, home, and personal life?
This is what got the early Christians into trouble. Some were burned alive, and others thrown to lions. Why? Because they observed what Christ commanded in the world.
Caesar was not their god. Today, Christians are sprinkled like salt throughout the full spectrum of society in the workplace. Here we have prime opportunities to “observe all that Christ commanded” in the world Observing all that He commanded between 9 to 5 in today's "Rome" could "turn the world upside down” again! 

Imagine if those who name the name of Christ were to observe His commands through marketing activity, salary and benefit issues, work conditions, decision-making policies, products, production, pricing, contacts, customer service, employee-employer relationships, hiring and firing, accounting, strategic planning and profit distribution!

Yes, alignment with Christ in some of these areas might mean getting fired. But not like early Christians in Rome were "fired."

Yet, teaching on how to make connections between the biblical worldview and all legitimate work is no longer commonly practiced. It’s absent from schools. Addressing this void is what “the project” I shared with the headmaster is about.
Next week, a good British friend of mine will ask a small favour related to “the project” that will cost you nothing, take about 30 seconds, yet could change the future of a generation.  

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