Posts filed under ‘Sacred vs. Secular’
While the editor for PLNU’s alumni magazine was away on maternity leave, I got to manage the production of our fall issue. One of the perks of being in charge is that you sometimes get to push your own agenda. And, well, my agenda is helping people make a meaningful connection between faith and work. I encouraged the executive director of our Fermanian Business and Economic Institute, Randy Ataide, to pull together some of his thoughts on entrepreneurship, faith and culture. He had been writing along these lines in the academic arena with lots of big words and complicated concepts. He was kind enough to write an original piece for our magazine that is very personal and puts some complicated concepts into easy-to-understand terms. Check out the article.
In the article, he shares his personal reflections on the opportunities for connection between the church and the entrepreneur, as well as the mischaracterization and misunderstanding that he has personally experienced. His article explores some exciting connections that entrepreneurs can help the church make in the world, including the ability to critique the dominant culture, serve the poor and do justice, and reach the lost.
I hope you enjoy reading the article as much as I enjoyed getting it printed for 40,000 alumni to read!
I have not kept my new year’s resolution to blog weekly. I’m trying! But I am keeping another resolution to do more public speaking (for which preparing has pulled me away briefly from writing). So instead of a blog post tonight, I wanted to share a recent talk I did at an inaugural faith and work event at Emmanuel Faith Community Church.
This talk gets at the heart of my faith and work connection obsession. We need a few zealots, right? Enjoy!
Also, here is the powerpoint if you want to follow along. Powerpoint presentation
I’d love your feedback on other ideas you would want to hear about as I start to do more talks.
Our Faith and Work Ministry recently interviewed Keith Watanabe, a Deputy District Attorney with the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office. He works in a specialized unit that prosecutes domestic violence and child abuse crimes. I hope you find his insights into issues of faith as incredible as I did!
How do you integrate your faith with your work?
What helps me is that I have a correct biblical understanding of the things that I see so I can properly process and understand it in light of what God has told us about the world. For example, I see the effects of sin. I see the state of human misery in which this world finds itself. This world is imperfect – it is a fallen and broken world in which people commit crimes. People hurt each other and they do so for their own pleasure, self-interest, and greed. They hurt and exploit children for their own desires. Click link below to read more…
Take a moment and ask yourself what matters most to your career advancement. What percentage value would you place on each part of the P.I.E. – performance, image, and exposure. When I did this activity at a recent conference, I said that for me personally, 60% was performance, 30% image, and 10% exposure. This is what has been true of my career advancement thus far. I have worked really hard and a few people have taken notice. I have been aware of my image, always dressing for the job I want, not the one I have. Admittedly, I’ve been a bit oblivious to the exposure factor.
The speaker at the conference challenged the audience to think of what matters most in pretty much the exact opposite manner. She said that 60% should be exposure, 30% image, and 10% performance. Essentially, the performance part is assumed. The rest is what matters most. I can 100% see that this is how the work world operates. In fact, I went out the next weekend and bought some more suits and scheduled a lunch with a mover and shaker.
But doesn’t the Bible say to work as unto the Lord – to work with the strength that God supplies (clearly valuing the performance part). Don’t we learn that whoever exalts himself will be abased. Aren’t we to humble ourselves in sight of the Lord and He will lift us up?
I know that we are not meant to be doormats in the workplace. I get that. But the idea of self promotion seems suspicious. Won’t the Lord ‘cut off the tongue that speaks proud things.’ Or is it not self-promotion if someone else is doing the promoting for us?
I get that the P.I.E. thing is reality. We need a good image; we need to be in front of the right people. We need people who will advocate for us. And I don’t see that this is unbiblical. I guess I’m struggling with how we get there in a biblical way. What are some of the integrity-leaching pitfalls to be avoided? Is career advancement the wrong goal? I doubt it. We are designed to have a vision and passions that mean that we will grow in our careers. Am I over thinking this and it just is what it is?
Any thoughts out there in the blogosphere?
In an effort to get creative in her new business selling Aflac supplemental health insurance, a friend of mine, Kirsti, decided to approach the local strip club. Hey, why not! Strippers need health insurance, too, right? It was tough to get past the black curtain (I’m picturing a black curtain, but I don’t really know), but Kirsti is tenacious and was able to convince the manager that this was a good thing for her girls.
Before she left for her night at the strip club, she prayed with her husband – prayed that God would protect her, that she would be a servant and a light. If you were to guess where Kirsti would end up in her career, strip club would not be on your short list. On her resume, you will find that she worked for a medical missions non-profit and was dean of women at a conservative, private Christian college. But here she was – at the strip club.
Kirsit left me a voicemail on my work line the next day (I always listen to my messages on speaker, and this one said, “Call me, I have to tell you about my first night at the strip club.”). I hope my staff was not listening too closely!
When I called Kirsti back, she said she just had to tell me what happened. She knew I would appreciate it with my whole faith and work obsession.
I’d like to report that the ladies were at least scantily clad back stage, but I’m afraid they weren’t clad at all. “Was it awkward?” I asked. Kirsti responded matter of factly, “Not at all. I just looked them in the eyes and treated them with respect.”
I know it seems unconventional, but think about it. What Christian who wants to be a light in the darkness would ever get an all access pass to the back room of a dingy strip club!
Kirsti was excited to report to me that as she manned her little table, a young woman approached her and asked her how she got into her career. A little informational interview happened on the spot. The woman wanted to get out of her current profession. To Kirsti, if nothing else happened that night to further her business, she was honored to make this connection. Subsequently, she was able to help this woman get an interview with Aflac.
Fortunately, Kirsti is a Christian who understands that her work matters to God. She knows that God created her with special strengths – one of which is the ability to push beyond surface connections with people. She is a relator – she values deep relationships. It was this strength that enabled her to quickly make a connection in this circumstance.
People sometimes seem perplexed about why I am so passionate about marketplace ministries. Aren’t there more important eternal issues to worry about! The reality is that our work gives us the opportunity to work out our faith.. to be people of integrity… to be a light… to help redeem corrupt systems.
It was through Kirsti’s work that she was able to serve another human being. Kirsti could have avoided the strip club completely because it was a den of iniquity. Or she could have gone into that joint and just done her job. But her faith compelled her to treat those women with dignity – to look them in the eyes.
So what surprising opportunities do you have in your workplace to serve others and bring the hope of redemption and renewal? If Kirsti can be a servant in the back room of a strip club, I’m sure you can find ways to be a little creative in your sphere of influence.
About two and a half years ago, I moved to a more urban area of San Diego and decided that I really wanted to find a new church, one that was engaged in the issues of my new neighborhood – homelessness, sex trafficking, AIDS to name a few. A few people pointed me in the direction of Harbor Presbyterian.
The second week I attended, I learned that they were starting a new Faith and Work Ministry. I couldn’t believe it! I had found a church that valued something that had been a passion of mine for years – connecting what happens on Sunday with what we do 40-50 hours each week. The serendipity was uncanny.
I jumped into serving on the leadership team, and we built an exciting ministry. We offer seminars on life calling, leadership, job transitions, etc. We hold small groups on wisdom at work, the StrengthsFinder assessment, leading like Jesus. We have Vocares (conversations on calling) for people who work in various disciplines like engineering, teaching, law. It has been a ministry that has really allowed me to use my own strengths and work within an area of passion.
This morning, I heard the pastor of the church I had previously attended for 10 years preaching on TV. While he is a gifted teacher, I was so sad to hear him essentially tell the congregation of more than 2,000 that the reason they work is to make money to support important mission work like Bible translation. Juxtapose that to the sermon my pastor gave last Sunday on how our work enables us to connect to and reveal God and His kingdom.
I am so blessed to have found my church. They don’t just give lip service to the fact that our work matters to God; they have a vision to transform the City of San Diego through mercy and marketplace ministries. This is a vision that connects to my own heart’s desires. I love my old church for many reasons, but I am disheartened in general by the fact that most churches (maybe because many pastors have never worked in the marketplace so they can’t relate) don’t help people make a connection between their faith and their work. It is such a missed opportunity.