#242: An Instructive Letter from My Back-to-the-Future Self

In the Back to the Future trilogy, Marty McFly travels back in time and then into the future using a time-traveling DeLorean. I loved that DeLorean. It was a great looking car, but more importantly, it enabled Marty to go back in time. Marty could see where his younger self went wrong and helped him straighten out his life.

Back to the future

I don’t have a DeLorean, much less the specially equipped version that enables time travel. But that doesn’t mean I can’t get advice from my older self.

And you can as well—that is, get advice from your older self.

I just finished reading David Green’s (Hobby Lobby founder & CEO) book, Giving It All Away…And Getting It All Back Again. At the end of his book, Green suggests having your 80-year-old self, write your younger self an instructive, yet loving, letter explaining what it means to live a meaningful life.

What a great idea!

My Back to the Future Letter

It’s a bit like traveling back in time to advise your younger self. My 80-year-old self wrote an instructive letter to my 40-year old self. This letter included five key points that frame what I consider important elements of living a meaningful life:

1) To have a great marriage that honors God. Barb and I stood before God in 1980 and made a promise to each other. The older I get, the more precious she is to me, and the more important that promise has become.

2) To raise my daughter to use her gifts and talents to serve God. I can’t think of anything more important than raising a child who loves Christ and dedicates her life to serving Him.

3) To raise my special needs son in a way that helps him be all he can be. God entrusted this special boy’s care to me. It is incumbent on me to reflect Gods love to him and help him grow into a loving and considerate young man.

4) To use my gifts and talents to serve God wherever He places me. Who knows where God will lead me over the span of years He has allotted to me? Wherever God leads, I will use the gifts and talents He has given me to serve Him.

5) To be a faithful steward of the resources the Lord provides. The resources the Lord has placed at my disposal need to be invested carefully and faithfully to advance the Great Commission.

My younger self’s view of a meaningful life included different things like “be successful in business” and “save a lot of money to enjoy a comfortable retirement.”

Mind you; there is nothing wrong with being successful in business or saving money for retirement. The Bible supports both (Proverbs 12:11, Proverbs 6:6-8).

But my 80-year-old self realizes there are fewer years ahead of him than behind him. From this perspective, being successful in business and saving money for retirement is just not as important.

It is far more important to raise children who live lives that honor God and for my own life to be a Godly example to them.

My life journey has been a long way from perfect. Looking back on my 66 years, I realize I’ve made a lot of mistakes along the way. I wish my 40-year old self had gotten this letter sooner. But if I take the advice of my 80-year old self now and focus on these five things I will one day stand before the Lord having lived a meaningful life.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What advice would your older self give you? How would that advice change how you live your life today?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Values

 

#240: Here’s Another Nice Mess You’ve Gotten Me Into!

Will God Still Use Me When I Mess Up?

“Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!” is a catch phrase popularized by Laurel and Hardy in nearly 20 of their movies that released in the 1930’s and 40’s. Laurel was continually getting the hapless pair into some kind of trouble and Hardy’s response was always “Here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into!”

Mess Up

The times may have changed, but it seems we still manage to get ourselves and others into some kind of mess or another on a regular basis.

The question on the mind of many Christians, especially those in leadership positions, is, “Will God still use me even if I mess up?”

The apostle Paul wrestled with this very question. He said, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do…For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do–this I keep on doing” (Romans 7:15, 19).

Will God Still Use Me?

Looking at some examples from the Old Testament it’s clear that God is a God of second chances, continuing to use those who mess up while following Him.

Adam & Eve. There’s that whole eating the apple issue against God’s command (Genesis 3). While there were consequences to their actions, God still used them to populate the world.

Jacob. Jacob deceived his father and took advantage of his brother, but God still used him (Genesis 25). God made a covenant with Jacob and Jacob became the father of the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 28).

Moses. Moses killed an Egyptian and buried him in the desert (Exodus 2). Then there is the issue of not following God’s command regarding speaking, not striking, the rock to get water (Numbers 20). Despite these transgressions, God used Moses to deliver His people out of Egypt to the Promised Land.

There are also several examples of God using people who messed up in the New Testament. Three of the most prominent examples are from Peter, James, and John, Jesus’ own disciples.

Peter #1. Peter rashly cut off the ear of Malchus, the servant of the High Priest (John 18). Jesus rebuked Peter telling him to put away his sword and then healed Malchus’ ear.

Peter #2. When Jesus warns the disciples they will all fall away from him that night; Peter declares that he will never deny Jesus. Peter goes so far as to say he will die with Jesus (Matthew 26). Then, as predicted, Peter denies Jesus three times before the next morning.

Peter #3, James & John. Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him into the Garden of Gethsemane and asked them to stay awake and keep watch while he prayed (Matthew 26). Three times Jesus checked on them, and three times they had failed to stay awake and keep watch.

These men were Jesus’ disciples. They had been with him for the three years of his earthly ministry. They had been personally discipled by Jesus. They had witnessed His miracles. They had performed miracles themselves in the power of His name.

Despite sitting at the feet of the Lord, they messed up. They made mistakes. Yet, the Lord continued to use them.

An Ongoing Struggle

We can sense Paul’s angst in the Romans 7 passage. He wants to do so much better, to be better as a follower of Christ. Yet, he struggled to do the good he knows he should do.

This same theme emerges again in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:

For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me (1 Corinthians 15:9-10).

Despite all he has accomplished in the furtherance of the Kingdom, Paul says he is unworthy because of his past actions.

Yet, and this is most important, Paul realizes what has been done was done by God’s grace and the Holy Spirit working through him.

Leaders, we will mess up. We will never be the powerful, inspired leaders God intends us to be until we come to grips with our weaknesses and failures. We must, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 12:10, submit our weaknesses to God, then we are strong.

It is God’s will that we are made holy, conformed to His image (2 Corinthians 3:18b).

God does not condone our failures; He redeems them when we submit to Him. Because, as Paul said, God began a good work in us, and He will continue this work in us until we are united with Christ once again (Philippians 1:6).

So, no matter what mess you’ve gotten yourself into, submit your messiness to the Lord, and humbly ask Him to continue the process of making you into His glorious image.

There is much work left to be done, and you and I have a part to play in the Kingdom.

Many thanks to Pastor Doug Fields who gave me permission to adapt his wonderful sermon into this blog post. If you liked the post it’s because of him. If you didn’t like it, it’s all on me!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you ever questioned how God could use you after you made a mess of things? Do you see how God can continue to use you when you submit to Him?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#236: Are These Trials at Work Good for Me?

In the margin of my performance review, one boss wrote, “RRK’s sense of integrity sometimes gets in the way of getting things done.” He concluded the review saying if I didn’t quit he would find a way to fire me.

Trials at work

Another boss made grand promises and sweet-talked me into joining his organization, only to renege on all his promises within two years.

Everyone I know whose career has spanned a number of years have some kind of stories of workplace trials like these. Some, sad to say, are much worse.

Can these workplace trials possibly be good for me? For us?

According to James, yes! James says these workplace trials are good for us, and furthermore, he says, we should expect them!

James, writing to the people of Israel, said, “Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials” (James 1:2).

Was James on some form of ancient happy juice?

He says they should be joyful whenever they experience trials? And what kind of trials is he talking about? James says these are trials that will test our faith.

Well, the Israelites had been kicked out of their land and dispersed throughout the Roman empire. So, they lost all their land, their cities, and their ability to provide for their families. They had to start over with nothing in hostile territories.

Admittedly, the workplace isn’t exactly like what James is talking about when he says we should be joyful when we encounter trials. But some of our workplaces are becoming more and more hostile territories!

What kind of trials can we expect in the workplace that will test our faith?

Types of Workplace Trials

I see three broad categories of trials:

1) People openly hostile to our Christian beliefs. These trials range from simple prejudice to limitations on career growth, or even threats of physical violence.

2) Ethical trials. These trials include our own temptation to abandon our faith and compromise our beliefs to “succeed.” They may also be pressure from outsiders to compromise our beliefs.

3) Faith shaking events. Sometimes the workplace trials we face may come events that shake our faith. Promises made are broken. We are laid off. We question how God could let these events happen to us, His faithful servants.

Each of these types of trials can test our faith and they are the ones James says we should be joyful about enduring!

The Result of Enduring

Why in the world would James say that? Because, says James, of the result. If we can manage to withstand all types of trials and maintain our faith in God, the result is endurance. When we can look back on the trials of life and see that God was always with us, this endurance helps us become spiritually mature, complete children of God (James 1:3-4).

That boss that wrote my integrity got in the way of getting things done? An executive who heard about the situation (I still don’t know how he heard) offered me a better job in a better market.

That led to me living in a neighborhood where my wife and I were led to the Lord. It’s where we met people who helped us adopt our beautiful daughter, Rebekah. That boss may have meant to harm me, but looking back, I see God’s hand directing it all to the benefit of our family.

That boss that made promises and reneged on them led me to start writing this blog reaching out to Christians leaders around the world. It may be years before I see all of God’s plan with this ministry, but one thing is clear, His hand is in it. He is in control!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What workplace trials have you endured? And looking back, do you see God’s hand leading and protecting you?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Character

 

#235: Will God Still Use Me If I Mess Up?

Have you ever encountered someone doing something dumb during a crisis and you thought to yourself, “What in the World Was He/She Thinking?”

Jonah Mess Up

Sadly, as I look back on my life I can remember too many situations where I didn’t do what I should, and afterward said to myself, “What in the world was I thinking?”

When I became a Christian at 33-years old, these “What in the world was I thinking?” situations took on even more meaning. I thought, “Boy, I really messed up this time! Will God still use me?”

It turns out there are quite a few people whose story of messing up is recorded in the Bible.

One of the big mess up’s is Jonah.

Jonah’s Big Mess Up

Jonah was a prophet of God. His job was to bring God’s messages to whomever God told him. God spoke directly to Jonah and directed him to go to Nineveh to preach a message of repentance to the Ninevites.

God said, “Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because their wickedness has confronted Me” (Jonah 1:2). There is no ambiguity in this command. Jonah, get up and go preach to the Ninevites.

What does Jonah do? He thumbs his nose at God and jumps on the closest ship headed in the opposite direction. Jonah rebelled against God.

How often does God call us and we rebel, and head off in the opposite direction?

God caused a big storm on the sea that threatened to sink the ship. Jonah realized the storm was his fault, so the sailors on the ship ended up throwing Jonah overboard.

How often do storms come into our life after we rebel against God?

But here is the amazing thing. Despite his rebellion against God, God hasn’t abandoned Jonah. God is watching out for him. God has a large fish swallow Jonah, and Jonah has an uncomfortable three days in the belly of the fish to think about what his rebellion has cost him.

Jonah’s Redemption

Jonah finally prays to God asking to be saved and forgiven. He repents of his rebellion.

Immediately God forgives him and has the fish vomit Jonah up on the shore. Hopefully, Jonah grabs a shower somewhere and puts on a clean set of clothes because God is not done with Jonah yet!

God speaks to Jonah a second time saying,Get up! Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach the message that I tell you” (Jonah 3:2).

With this command, God has restored Jonah to his previous mission, to go and preach to the people of Nineveh.

This time Jonah does what God has told him to do. Jonah puts on his big boy pants and heads off to preach against the dreaded Ninevites.

Jonah rebelled against God. He refused to do the one thing God had called him to do.

Jonah repented of his rebellion against God and prayed for a second chance.

God restored Jonah.

I have rebelled against God. At times, I have refused to do what I feel He has called me to do. But I take comfort knowing that if I repent of my rebellion, like Jonah, God in His mercy will restore me. He will give me a second chance to do His will.

I take great comfort knowing that those future “What in the world was I thinking?” mess ups don’t mean that God is done with me or that He won’t use me. It just means I need to get back to Him as quickly as I can!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you had, “What in the world was I thinking?” mess ups in your life? Have you repented of your rebellion and been restored by God?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Obedience to God

#234: The Young Leader Who Lived Through Peace, Prosperity, Reformation, and Disaster

Leadership Lessons from the Lesser Known

Imagine turning a large company over to an 8-year old to run. A third grader! You wouldn’t do it, would you?!

Josiah Leader

Now, imagine turning a whole nation over to an 8-year old king? Well, that’s exactly what happened to young Josiah. He was made king over Israel when he was 8-years old after his father, Amon, was assassinated.

Fortunately, Josiah had two Godly people who shaped his young life; his mother, Jedidah, and Hilkiah, the high priest.

There’s a lot we can learn from this young king that parallels many of the situations we face as leaders today. His story is recorded in 2 Kings 22-23 and 2 Chronicles 34-35.

Peace & Prosperity

Josiah’s 31-year rule as king occurred during an unusual period. The Assyrian empire was in decline, and the Babylonian empire had not yet become a world power. The ebb and flow of power between the Assyrians and the Babylonians meant the Israelites had a time of relative peace in which they could govern themselves and pursue their trades.

Reformation

When he was 16-years old, Josiah turned away from the evil ways of his father and turned to God. When he was 20-years old, he began a campaign to rid Judah and Jerusalem of foreign idols and altars.

When Josiah was 26-years old, he ordered the cleansing and repair of the Lord’s temple. A copy of the Book of the Law was found in the temple and read to Josiah. He realized how far the people had fallen away from God. Josiah assembled the leaders, and before the people, made a covenant with God to follow all of God’s commands. All the people of Judah entered into the covenant with Josiah to follow God.

Disaster

When Josiah was 39-years old, God instructed Neco, Pharaoh of Egypt, to march to the Euphrates to help the Assyrians in Battle against the Babylonians. Josiah went out with his army to confront Neco. Neco warned Josiah not to oppose God by engaging in a battle with him. Instead of heeding Neco’s warning, Josiah went into battle and was killed. Josiah’s death ended Judah’s 31-year period of peace and self-rule. They were conquered and ruled by the Egyptians, then the Babylonians.

The people of Judah endured four bad kings in a row for nearly 23 years until Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians and the people of Jerusalem were exiled.

Leadership Lessons for Us

Among the many lessons we might learn from the life and reign of King Josiah, here are my top five:

1) Godly Advisors. Josiah was indeed fortunate that he had two Godly advisors who helped shaped his young life. The important thing here is that Josiah listened to them and became a man after God’s own heart.

Leader Lesson. Surround yourself with Godly men and women who can give you sound counsel and listen to them!

2) Seek the Lord. Josiah made a personal decision to follow the Lord.

Leader Lesson. It is not enough to have Godly men and women speak into our lives. We must each make a personal decision to follow God.

3) Courage. Josiah was only a young man, but he had the courage to rid the country of the foreign idols and altars that had been allowed by his father and grandfather.

Leader Lesson. There will be times in each of our lives when we must have the courage to stand against the tide of public opinion when it is contrary to God’s will for us.

4) Humbled Himself. When Josiah heard the words of the Lord read from the Book of the Law, he humbled himself and vowed to follow all the Lord’s decrees.

Leader Lesson. A position of power or prestige often brings out our prideful nature, but true Godly leaders will humble themselves and always be ready to follow as God leads.

5) Keep Seeking the Lord. Josiah’s reforms brought the people of Judah back to the Lord. But at some point, he stopped seeking the Lord in every matter. Ignoring the Lord in the matter of Pharaoh Neco, brought about his death and the enslavement of the people of Judah.

Leader Lesson. There is never a good time in the life of a Christian leader to stop trusting and seeking the Lord.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Which of these leadership lessons do you think is most important in your life right now?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

#233: Christian Leaders Need to Read Their Bible!

A recent survey by Lifeway Research found a lot of Americans think the Bible is helpful, but they don’t read it much.

Leaders Read Bible

What? Tell me it isn’t so! How can you say a book is helpful if you haven’t read it?

Some Have Read

In this survey of “representative Americans,” Lifeway found only 11% had read the Bible all the way through. Only 9% had read all the Bible more than once. Another 12% said they had read almost all of it, and another 15% stated that they had read at least half.

So, 47% of Americans have read half the Bible or more.

Some Haven’t Read

On the other side of the equation, 10% of Americans have never read any of the Bible, 13% have read a few sentences, and 30% have read a few passages or stories.

So, 53% of Americans haven’t read enough of the Bible to know what it says or doesn’t say.

This doesn’t make sense! Nine out of ten homes in America own a Bible, and the average home has three Bibles! What are we doing with them – using them as paperweights?

Many Think It’s Worthwhile

What is even more confusing is a lot of people seem to think the Bible is worthwhile:

  • 52% said it is a good source of morals.
  • 37% said it is helpful today.
  • 36% said it is true.
  • 35% said it is life-changing.

I’m going out on a limb here, but I bet the people that think the Bible is a good source of morals, is helpful, is true, or is life-changing are the 47% of folks who have actually read a good chunk of it.

Some Don’t Think So

A few people didn’t have a positive view of the Bible: 14% said it is outdated, 8% said it is bigoted, and 7% said it is harmful. Again, I’m going out on a limb here, but I bet these folks are the ones who haven’t read much or any of the Bible.

We Have a Problem

If you claim to be a Christian, a follower of Christ, you need to know who it is you are following! The best way to do that is to read and study His Word.

I am absolutely convinced that many of the political and societal issues we are facing today are the result of two things. First, too many professing Christians don’t know the Word of God. The second reason for our political and societal issues is that we are not doers of the Word (James 1:22).

Christian leaders, we need to step up. We need to take responsibility and be the powerful, inspired leaders God has called us to be. We need to know the Word, and we need to be doers of the Word.

Our example as leaders will be a light that shines before others. They will see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

Start Reading and Studying Today!

If you are one of the Christians, who hasn’t read and studied the Bible as much as you would like, then I implore you to start today. Find a Bible reading program and start reading. Get into a good Bible study. Get into a good Bible teaching church.

Do you want to get into a program to help you read and understand the Bible in the course of a year? If so, you are welcome to join with me and people from over 100 countries who are reading and studying the Bible daily.

I’ve developed two reading and studying programs that will get you through the Bible in a year. One is a straightforward Genesis – Revelation study. The other is a Chronological study which presents the Bible in the order events happened in history.

If you are interested, check us out and join us out at Bible Study Daily.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. What do you think of these survey results? Do they surprise you, trouble you, or is it about what you expected?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Commitment

#231: Is it Wrong to Leave God out of the Workplace?

A recent survey of professing Christians found that 83% were either very careful about how they integrated their faith in the workplace, or rarely if ever, let anyone in the workplace know about their faith.

Workplace

Respondents gave a number of reasons for their reluctance to let others know about their faith, but the root reason was fear. They were afraid of being judged, of being oppressed or persecuted, or of not being able to defend their faith.

If our work is to be in harmony with God’s will then we cannot leave God out of the workplace!

I believe there are three reasons why we should not leave God out of the workplace: 1) work is Godly, and 2) work is our service to Jesus, and 3) work is our evangelism.

Work is Godly

Beginning with the creation account in Genesis, we see God is a worker. At each stage of creation, God paused to review His work and proclaimed that it was good.

In Genesis 2:15 God placed Adam in the garden of Eden to “work” it. Work was commanded by God, before the fall of man, and it was good. In fact, the word translated “work” in Hebrew is abad. The same word is translated elsewhere as “worship.”

Work is Godly. It was ordained by God. Work is a form of worship to God!

Work is our Service

Numerous passages in the New Testament speak of the grandeur and unity of God’s creation.

Paul, writing to his young protégé Timothy, said, “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer” (1 Timothy 4:4-5).

God created the concept of work, and here Paul says everything God created is good. Everything here includes work!

Paul, this time writing to the Colossians, says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…it is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Paul makes it very clear that work is one way we serve the Lord. Paul makes no distinction about the type of work that serves the Lord. There is no higher and lower plane. The person in the pulpit serves the Lord in his work just as much as the field worker, the fast food worker, the housekeeper, the office maintenance man, and everyone else does in his/her work.

The relevant question is, “Is this work in harmony with God’s will? Is it of service to Christ?”

Work is our Evangelism

A lot of Christians I know don’t think of themselves as evangelists. But trust me we all are! Whether we like it or not we are in the world, and the world sees Jesus through what they see in us.

Some folks abdicate their responsibility by saying evangelism is the role of the professionals; the pastors, and missionaries.

But that limits our ability to reach the world and does not align with Scripture.

First of all, our pastors have an hour or maybe a bit longer (depending on your denomination) to preach to people, who, for the most part, are already in the boat.

You and I, on the other hand, have 40, 50, or even more hours in the workplace where we have the opportunity to demonstrate the love of Christ to people who, for the most part, are not in the boat.

Secondly, all Christians have been given gifts for the express purpose of ministering to the body. Writing to the Ephesians Paul said the gifts were, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12).

Third, Jesus commanded us to be salt and light to the world.

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13-16).

Salt is a preservative, but if it becomes impure, it loses its ability to preserve. We are to be like pure salt that preserves the Lord’s teaching. If we become impure by accepting a secular worldview our teaching is of no value to the Kingdom.

Light provides direction and enables you to walk securely without stumbling. If the light is hidden under a basket, it is of no use. A Christian who hides their faith is of no use in bringing light to others.

Christian leaders, we must be pure salt and a bright light in the workplace. We must use the gifts and opportunities God has given us to build up the Kingdom.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you struggled to be pure salt and a bright light in the workplace?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Courage/Risk-Taking

 

 

 

#230: How Does the Greek Worldview of Work Compare to the Biblical Worldview?

When I was a young Christian, I struggled with the question of if, or how, I should integrate my faith into the workplace. It turns out a lot of older, more seasoned Christians I turned to for advice had the very same struggles.

Worldview

As I did some research, I found man has been struggling with this question for some time!

Greek Worldview

Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, shunned the God of the Hebrews and instead came up with their own man-centered philosophies to define the world.

Socrates

Socrates developed the “dialectic method” where students came up with their own meaning of justice and goodness. Today, we refer to such constructs as “moral relativism.”

This philosophy claims there are no universal moral truths. In other words, nobody is objectively right or wrong. Moral relativism holds that because nobody is right or wrong, we ought to tolerate the behavior of others. Does that sound familiar?

Plato

Plato developed the concept of “dualism.” Dualism divides man’s experience into two planes; a higher and lower. The higher plane is made up of eternal things, while the lower plane consists of physical and temporal things.  Work was placed in the lower, temporal plane.

Aristotle

A thousand years later, Aristotle merged Plato’s concept of dualism with Christianity. He came up with two planes as well; there was the “contemplative life” and the “active life.” The contemplative life included sacred activities like Bible study, preaching, and evangelism. The active life activities were the secular activities of life. Like Plato, Aristotle placed work in the lower plane.

Thomas Aquinas

Fast forward to the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas furthered the concept of dualism with two planes he called “Grace” and “Nature.” The higher plane of Grace included such things as understanding theology and church matters. The lower plane of Nature included man’s natural intellect (that which did not require revelation from God). Work did not require revelation from God, so it was part of the lower plane of Nature.

Pietist Movement

Philip Jacob Spener founded the Pietist movement of the 17th century. Pietists continued the concept of dualism with even sharper divisions between what they called the spiritual and the material world. The material world, including work, was of no importance. In the pietist’s view, it was impossible to serve God in your work; only when engaged in spiritual pursuits was one serving God.

A graphical view of the Greek dualistic worldview looks like this.

Greek Worldview

 

There are two planes. The upper, or higher, plane is the sacred activities. The bottom, or lower plane, is the secular activities. The sacred activities include things that are spiritual, eternal and the unchanging realm of God in heaven. The secular activities include things that are physical, temporal, and the changing realm of humans on earth.

Fast forward to modern times. Dualism remains with us. Many people, including people of faith, still believe there are higher and lower planes; that some activities related to spiritual things are of the higher plane and they matter to God, while normal activities of life like work are the lower plane and don’t matter to God.

Between moral relativism and dualism, it’s no wonder people are confused about how to integrate their faith in the workplace.

Biblical Worldview

The Biblical view of work stands in stark contrast to the Greek concept of dualism dividing man’s existence into a higher and lower plane.

In the Biblical worldview, the concept of dualism does not exist. Life is not divided into two planes; one higher and one lower. There is no spiritual plane and a secular plane.

Biblical Worldview

Everything including church, school, art, home, music, drama, sports, business, law, labor, agriculture, sex, medicine, and everything else in man’s existence is either in conflict with God’s will or in harmony with God’s will.

That means our work is either in harmony with God’s will or in conflict with God’s will. If our work is to be in harmony with God’s will then we cannot leave God out of the workplace!

Satan would like nothing more than for Christians to remain afraid of sharing the Gospel in the workplace.

Paul, exhorted Timothy, his young protégé not to be afraid of sharing his testimony: “…God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Christian leaders, we must not let the prevalence of moral relativism and dualism in the workplace keep us from our playing our part in accomplishing the Great Commission!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you seen or experienced the Greek worldview of moral relativism or dualism in the workplace? If so, in what way?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Courage/Risk-Taking

 

#229: Achieving Your God Sized, Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal

Think Big, Start Small

As far as I know, Jim Collins was the first person to coin the phrase “Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals” (or BHAG’s for short) in his 1994 book, Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies.

Goals

Jim’ s idea spread quickly through Fortune 500 companies, including P&G where I worked at the time.

A BHAG is a visionary statement that is both strategic and emotionally compelling. At least in the case of P&G, we added the concept that to be a BHAG the idea must be so large, so visionary, that we don’t know how to accomplish it.

A perfect example of a BHAG from my youth was expressed by President John F. Kennedy. In announcing the United States’ intention to lead the world in space, Kennedy said, “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

Kennedy could have said “the United States will expand the space program,” but that would not have been visionary or emotionally compelling. Kennedy’s goal was certainly a BHAG because at the time, no one knew how to get a man to the moon, land, and return safely.

Long before Kennedy, another man proclaimed an even bigger BHAG. Jesus said to the disciples, “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

The disciples, a rag-tag group of doubters and misfits, had no idea what was in store for them. Yet, through them, Jesus’ proclamation changed the world.

Not all of us can change the world through our actions, but we can change or corner of the world. To impact our corner of the world we need to establish our own BHAG’s.

Establish Your BHAG

To achieve a goal, you have to establish a goal.

To achieve a BHAG, you have to establish a BHAG. You have to think BIG! Think so big that it is beyond what you know how to do. Think so big that it is beyond what you are capable of doing. Think so big that the only way it can be achieved is through God’s power.

Paul, writing to the Ephesians said God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (Ephesians 3:20). That power at work in us as believers is the Holy Spirit who gives us the power to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine!

Do you want to make a God-sized difference in your corner of the world? Then establish a God-sized BHAG; something that can only be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit working through you!

When you establish a God-sized BHAG, that is aligned with Gods’ will for your life, then you can be assured that “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

God’s work, done God’s way, will never lack God’s provision.

Get Started

But to achieve a God-sized BHAG you have to get started, and the best way to get started is to start small.

There is a Greek proverb that roughly translates, “the beginning is half of every action.” To accomplish any goals, let alone a God-sized BHAG, you have to get started. Getting started is often the hardest first step.

Here are three suggestions to get you started on your BHAG:

Start Small

Start with a small amount of faith and move against your God-sized BHAG.

Jesus told the disciples that if they have faith the size of a mustard seed they will be able to move mountains (Matthew 17:20). The tiniest amount of faith, combined with the power of God can and will accomplish great things.

Pray

Commit your BHAG to the Lord and reinforce your faith with prayer. James admonished believers saying, “You want something but don’t get it…you do not have, because you do not ask God” (James 4:2).

Thank God

Thank God for who He is and what He is doing for you. God is blessing and enabling you to accomplish more than you could ever hope or imagine. So, follow the example of the psalmist who said, “You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you” (Psalms 118:28).

If you want to make a difference in your corner of the world,  establish a God-sized BHAG. Then get to work on accomplishing what God has called you to do by starting small, committing your efforts to the Lord in prayer, and thanking God for his blessings and provision in your life!

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you established a God-sized BHAG to impact your corner of the world? If so, any suggestions for the rest of us?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Dependence on God

 

#228: United We Stand, Divided We Fall

This week should be a wonderful week of celebration here in the United States. It is the 241st anniversary of the July 4, 1776, signing of the United States’ Declaration of Independence from Britain.

United We Stand

But, I don’t feel much like celebrating. As I look around the political landscape of our country today, it seems we have not been this divided since the Civil War.

The de facto motto of the United States, “E Pluribus Unum,” was adopted at the same time as the signing of the Declaration. The motto, which translates to “Out of Many, One,” symbolized the strength of the 13 original colonies becoming united as one country.

It was through this united stand that the poorly equipped and largely untrained army of the colonists defeated and won independence from the most powerful country in the world.

Our motto reminds me of the line, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” from Aesop’s Fable, “The Four Oxen and the Lion.”

In this fable, four oxen are arguing with each other and so head off to separate corners of the field to graze. A lion comes along and devours each of the four oxen.

Had they settled their dispute and stayed together they would have been able to fend off the lion.

Divided they fell.

Divided we will fall. Not necessarily to an enemy from the outside. More likely, the enemy is within us. The lion that may devour us is the bitter division of intolerance.

The oxen could not tolerate each other’s differences of opinion, and so they all became lion food.

I fear the same will happen to us.

In late May, Steve Tennes, a Christian farmer in Michigan who lives 22 miles from East Lansing was denied a business permit to sell his crops at the local farmer’s market. Why?  Because he believes God’s definition of marriage is between a man and a woman.

A few weeks ago, actress, preacher, and gospel singer Kim Burrell preached against homosexuality in her church. As a result, her appearance on Ellen DeGeneres’ TV show was canceled. Burrell’s radio show was canceled. She was disinvited from an appearance as co-honoree of the BMI Gospel Music Awards. All because she preached a Biblical message in her church.

These are just two of the many examples of Christians who have been marginalized and oppressed for trying to live their lives in a way that honors God and His commandments.

The people who claim to be the most tolerant, are in fact among the least tolerant. They are not willing to let those who do not share their views live amongst them.

This is not a free and open society.

This is a divided, oppressive society.

President Abraham Lincoln, in a speech at the Republican Convention of 1858 said in part,

“We are now far into the fifth year, since a policy was initiated, with the avowed object, and confident promise, of putting an end to slavery agitation.
Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only, not ceased, but has constantly augmented.
In my opinion, it will not cease, until a crisis shall have been reached, and passed.
A house divided against itself cannot stand.
I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.

I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing or all the other.”

Lincoln’s line, “A house divided against itself cannot stand” is a reference to Jesus’ warning to the disciples about the importance of unity in the Church.

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand” Matthew 12:25.

We cannot exist as a productive society as long as there are those who seek who do away with God and His plan for humanity.

Christians, remember Jesus’ warning, “…every city or house divided against itself will not stand.”

Let us come together as believers, setting aside our minor differences, and agree to unite against the common enemy that confronts us.

As long as we are in different corners of the pasture, we will become lion food.

United we stand, divided we fall.

Join the Conversation

As always, questions and comments are welcome. Have you experienced oppression for maintaining your Christians values?

I’d love your help. This blog is read primarily because people like you share it with friends. Would you share it by pressing one of the share buttons below?

 

Category: Personal Development | Values