#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

 

#174: A Modern Day Rabshakeh Will Try to Destroy You and Your Organization

Lessons from the Lesser Known

Every leader I have ever talked to has a story of someone who came along and tried to ruin them as a leader and/or destroy their organizations.

Rabshakeh

These organization killers come in all shapes and sizes. They can be inside your organization or attack from the outside. They may try to distract the organization from their work. They may try to divide the workers pitting them against their leaders. They may even try to take control of the organization itself.

King Hezekiah was just such a leader who had to deal with someone who tried to destroy the people of Judah. Hezekiah was trying to keep the people of Judah following the Lord and safe from the aggressive king of Assyria who had already conquered Israel. You’ll find Hezekiah’s story recounted in 2 Kings 18-19, and Isaiah 36-37.

When the king of Assyria threatened to invade Judah, Hezekiah tried to buy-off the Assyrians by giving them gold from the temple of the Lord. That wasn’t enough and soon the king of Assyria sent his military commander, someone known only by his title of “the Rabshakeh,” to convince king Hezekiah and the people of Judah to surrender (2 Kings 18).

The Rabshakeh tried six different tactics to convince the leaders and people of Judah there was no hope in trying to defend their country; the only smart choice was to surrender.

  • He tried to shake their confidence (vv. 19-21). The Rabshakeh belittled their military strength claiming not only could the people of Judah not defend themselves, even their allies could not help them withstand an attack.
  • He belittled their faith (v. 22). The Rabshakeh belittled their faith in the Lord and their commitment to worship before the altar of the Lord.
  • He claimed the Lord had sent him (v. 25). The Rabshakeh claimed the Lord himself had told him to come conquer Judah and destroy it.
  • He divided the people against the leaders (vv. 26-30). The Rabshakeh spoke to the leaders of Judah knowing the people could hear him. He tried to frighten the people by claiming the leaders would cause the people great suffering if they did not surrender.
  • He claimed Hezekiah was deceiving them (vv. 31 & 32b). The Rabshakeh said the people should not trust Hezekiah because he was deceiving them when he said the Lord would protect them.
  • He promised great rewards if they surrendered (vv. 31b-32a). The Rabshakeh promised if they would surrender the king of Assyria would provide for them by giving them their own gardens for food and wine, a land of bread, olives, and honey. But they must surrender, otherwise, they would be killed.

Lessons for us from The Rabshakeh

You don’t have to be the leader of a country to have someone come against you.

Here are six tactics a modern day Rabshakeh will use to try to destroy you and your organization:

  • You’re not good enough. The modern day Rabshakeh will say no matter how good you are, you are not good enough, you are not strong enough, you’ll never be successful, or this will never work.
  • The Lord doesn’t care about you. The modern day Rabshakeh person will try to tell you the Lord doesn’t really care about you and that you are foolish for putting your faith in Him.
  • The Lord told me to tell you. The modern day Rabshakeh will claim to have been told by God to bring a message to you to give up and do what they tell you.
  • Divide and conquer. The modern day Rabshakeh will try to shake the confidence of the organization in the leader; pitting them against each other. He will try to convince the organization the leader is only going to bring them great harm.
  • Your leader is lying to you. The modern day Rabshakeh will tell the organization the leader is not only wrong but is untrustworthy.
  • It will all be better if you do what I say. The modern day Rabshakeh will make all kinds of promises of wealth and security, if only you do what they say. They threaten if you do not follow them, you will most certainly suffer great harm.

The world is full of modern day Rabshakeh’s. It takes great wisdom and faith to persevere against them. But remember the words of John the apostle as he encouraged those who faced false prophets “…you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

The same is true for us today, He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world, and that includes any modern day Rabshakeh!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. Have you dealt with a modern day Rabshakeh in your role as a leader? What impact did they have on the organization?

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 | Wisdom

 

 

 

 

#060: Do you have morals and believe in free speech? If so, get ready for the unemployment line!

Having a moral framework, a set of guiding principles, and believing in free speech can be a recipe for the unemployment line. Just ask Brandon Eich.

Free Speech, Constitution

Brandon was co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Mozilla until the board appointed him to the position of CEO of the Mozilla Foundation on March 24, 2014. He resigned as CEO only 11 days later on April 3, 2014. I imagine he hadn’t even had time to move into his new office.

What happened to Brandon? What could possibly have happened to cause him to resign in less than two weeks? The answer is simple. Mr. Eich had the temerity to believe in and support traditional marriage. He backed up his personal belief a few years ago by making a financial contribution to the Prop 8 Campaign in California, which maintained that marriage was defined as between a man and a woman. By the way, 33 other states have a similar law, and 52% of the California electorate supported Prop 8.

The “tolerant” folks who support gay rights demanded Eich’s removal now because he gave money to a campaign initiative years ago. They started an online petition to gather signatures demanding his removal, and threatened Mozilla they would all switch to another browser if he was not removed. A huge dating website, OK Cupid, reportedly blocked Mozilla users from their site during his tenure as protest.

No one at Mozilla has ever come forward in the 16 years since Mozilla was founded to suggest even remotely that Mr. Eich’s personal beliefs led to the unfair, or illegal treatment of any race or class or people regardless of their beliefs. In fact, in his own statement to the company as CEO, he reinforces the importance of diversity and acceptance within the company, and the larger global technology industry itself.

What makes the situation even more difficult to understand is that in the case of Citizens United vs. Federal Election Committee (2008) the Supreme Court held that political contributions were protected free speech. Yet, apparently in the land of Mozilla, protected free speech from years ago can be brought forward as a basis to terminate an employee.

In a written statement, Mozilla Chairwoman Mitchell Baker, wrote, “Mozilla prides itself on being held to a different standard and, this past week, we didn’t live up to it,” She doesn’t know how right she is! She allowed a small, but vocal, opposition to, in effect, overturn a decision the Mozilla Board of Directors had made just a few days prior. Way to stick by your people (sarcasm light is on)!

I don’t understand why the folks who support gay rights haven’t gone after the nearly 7,000 other corporations and people who donated $1,000 to Prop 8. Why not demand the resignation of all of their executives? Where does it stop? For that matter, why just takes away the jobs of those who don’t believe the way the “tolerant” gay rights supporters do? Why not take away their property rights? Their right to vote? If some of the Constitution is now void for those who oppose a viewpoint, why not the rest of it? What about the Bill of Rights? Is that only for those who agree with a certain viewpoint?

NEXT WEEK I’ll review the Biblical implications and principles that touch on this issue.

Application

Ask yourself what course of action should we as Christians take when confronted with similar situations. My bet is they will happen with greater and greater frequency in the months and years ahead!

Join the Conversation

As always questions and comments are welcome. What do you think about Mozilla’s action? What do you think about the actions of the supporters of gay marriage – are they right?

Category: Personal Development | Wisdom

#056: Ten Things I Learned about Leadership from Dr. Seuss

My apologies and belated congratulations to Dr. Seuss, I missed your 100th anniversary on March 2. When I saw an article recently about Dr. Seuss so many memories came back about those great books, and all those characters that helped me learn to read. As I re-read some of Dr. Seuss’ inspirational prose I realized in many ways the principles taught then are just as valid in our business careers today.

So here are my top 10 inspirational Dr. Seuss quotes:

Continue Reading »

#017: Building on a Firm Foundation

To build any kind of structure that will last requires a firm foundation. Sand makes a poor foundation because water can easily wash it away. Gravel or hard clay is better, but the best foundation is built on solid rock.

House foundation

In most parts of the country, we have seen what can happen when homes are built on poor foundations. Southern California is no exception. Just about every spring during our “rainy” season we have homes undermined by rushing rain water run-off and ocean side cliffs that crumble into the ocean taking their beautiful homes with them. Occasionally, homes that are built on fill dirt will suddenly settle and break in half.

Florida seems to have their own problems. With the high water table and low elevation, many homes suddenly disappear into gigantic sinkholes that form when the water erodes the unstable soil below.

The Bible says for Christians it is important that our faith be built on a solid foundation–lest it be washed away or crumble under the pressure of the secular world in which we live. Matthew explains that for Christians a strong foundation is built on the solid rock, the Word of God.

Matthew 7:24-27 (NIV)
24  “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

Jesus is explaining that hearing about how to live is like building on a weak foundation—it can be washed away. But if you put into practice what He says, if you make it part of your life, it will be like building on a firm foundation—it cannot be easily washed away.

Application

It is not enough to go to church where you hear the Word. It is not enough to stay at home and read the Word. If this is all we do, Jesus says we are foolishly building on a foundation of sand—our faith can be easily washed away. If you want to have a faith that will stand up against the storms of life:

1) You must put your faith into practice,

2) You must do what you hear, and

3) You must do what you read.

Only then are you like the wise man that built his house on the firm foundation of solid rock.

For believers, there is no middle ground. Once we know the Word of God we build wisely.

Join the Conversation!

As always questions and comments are welcome. How is your foundation? Is one of these three steps harder for you than the others?

Category: Personal Development | Wisdom