Christianity

Just Be Like Him

For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.                                                                                                             - Romans 8:29

How do we serve as effective ambassadors and marketing vehicles for God? The Highest form of marketing for God is to just be like Him. We serve Him best when we emulate Him. Now, you might be wondering exactly how we mere humans could even entertain the notion of being like almighty God, especially in the ruthless and cutthroat world of business. Well, this may not be as much of a quantum leap as you might think.

Be Imitators of God

First, we must remember that God created us in His own image (Genesis 1:26). He calls us “gods” and we are instructed to be imitators of God (Psalm 82:6; John 10:34; Ephesians 5:1). So we must leverage our godly brand attributes and obey His commandment to imitate or be like Him.

Be Conformed to the Image of His Son

Fortunately, God has already given us a professional coach to help us with this. God declares that we are to be “conformed to the image of His Son” (Romans 8:29, NKJV; 2 Corinthians 3:18).

Jesus Christ is our ultimate role model and coach. He is the Benchmark. The Standard. The Bible tells us that we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) and Christ has the mind of God, so being like Him is not impossible.

Jesus tells us:

  • Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me (John 14:10, NLT).
  • I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you (John 13:15, NLT).

Jesus is saying that He has given us an example and a pattern to follow so that we can serve as effective ambassadors and marketing vehicles for God. You don’t have to lecture or preach about God at work. The only thing you need to do is just be like Jesus.

The Bible says that “Jesus went around doing good” (Acts 10:38, NLT). Just by reading the Bible and learning more about Jesus and His leadership practices, we can learn so much about how to be ambassadors for God, particularly within the commercial arena.

In the Foreword for the book, Church on Sunday, Work on Monday, Ken Blanchard, world-renown leadership expert, states that “Jesus was a leadership model for all leaders” and that “business leaders need help and they need the kind of help that they can get from the leadership message of Jesus.”

We are to share God’s blessings and anointing in our lives with others so that we can give them a preview of Jesus and God’s redemptive power (Revelation 1:1-5).

Just be like Him in the workplace and in the marketplace and you will attract the attention of your target audience. Just being like Jesus equates to leading and ministering to others by example. We are to exemplify godly principles in our business philosophy and practice. We are to be holy because He is holy (Leviticus 20: 7-8; 1 Peter 1:14-16).

When we commit to being like Him, we are committing to be role models in our conduct (1 Timothy 4:12). We are committing to show others how to be “a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned” (Titus 2:7-8, NKJV) putting our opponents to shame to the point that they have nothing negative to say about us!  We are committing to set the Highest standards for others to follow by allowing our business practices to give credence to our belief in God. But does this mean that we have to be perfect?

Must we be perfect?

The Bible tells us in Ephesians 4:1 (NKJV) that we must mature as individuals and “grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.” We are to be obedient to God and live and mature by following the example of the life of Jesus Christ. But this doesn’t mean that we have to be perfect. We just need to exemplify excellence and wisdom. Remember, excellence is doing your best. Excellence is not perfection. We will never be perfect, for we all sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). We just need to do our best to live the Christian life we espouse so that God can use our faith, testimonies, and blessings to bring others closer to Him.

Does the Everyday Mundane Matter?

Do you believe the everyday activity of ordinary Christians has deep religious significance? The answer really depends on when in the history of the church you ask it.

Prior to the Reformation, Christians in the medieval church would have answered no. They believed only priests did spiritual work. All other activity was secular.

It was the sixteenth century reformers, men like Martin Lutherand John Calvin, who rediscovered the biblical idea that everything we do is important to God.

These men encouraged Christians to be salt and light in the world. They believed it was possible to maintain integrity of faith while injecting Christian influence within society.

They were right.

Western civilization is replete with examples of followers of Christ who positively shaped culture through their work in the fields to which God had called them.

Many American evangelicals during the last seventy-five years have let the sacred/secular distinction corrupt their worldview in such a way that they leave their faith at home when they enter the public square.

They are ambivalent about engaging with social and political matters, as the Reformers urged.

They fear involvement in such secular matters will compromise the integrity of their faith.

They are convinced faith is a private matter and best kept that way.

They have lost sight of the spiritual significance of their work.

To be sure, the risk they have identified is real. Being in the world but not of it is not easy. It is not safe. But it is what we are called to be.

These thoughts came to me recently as I was finishing Carl Henry’s Uneasy Conscience of Modern Fundamentalism, published in 1947. In this book, Henry, an American evangelical theologian who served as Christianity Today‘s first editor-in-chief, wrote a stinging critique of Christian fundamentalism in the late 1940s.

Almost prophetically, Henry argued fundamentalists did not present Christianity as a worldview with a vision for impacting culture. Instead, they chose to emphasize personal salvation. In doing so, they offered a truncated, impoverished version of the gospel to the world. This gospel was too other-worldly and anti-intellectual to be taken seriously.

And so, in their efforts to preserve orthodox Christianity from modernity and liberalism at the beginning of the twentieth century, evangelicals lost an important ingredient that has been a powerful influence throughout the 2,000 years of Christian history. They forgot how to be leaven in the loaf. (Matthew 13:33)

The good news is that sixty years later, many of Henry’s hopes for evangelicalism are beginning to be realized. Today’s evangelicals are re-engaging many social and political issues and working together to influence culture for the kingdom.

Yet the importance of our daily vocational work in the furtherance of God’s kingdom is still lost on many believers. Many still feel they need to quit their jobs and start working for ministries or non-profits to truly make a difference in the world. They don’t. They can be salt and light right where they currently work.

Bringing faith to work or anywhere else in the public square runs many risks, but it is essential if Christians are to be leaven where leavening is most needed.

If Christianity is to once again become a positive influence in American public life, all Christians need to be present within that life as salt and light. Christians need to leave the safety of their Christian ghettos and take the risks necessary for reforming, renewing, and recalling today’s culture.

The legacy of the Reformation invites us to engage the world. It instructs us in how to do so with integrity and as public witnesses to the power of the gospel.

So, do you believe the everyday activity of ordinary Christians has deep religious significance?

The real question should be “Does the Bible teach that the everyday activity of ordinary Christians has deep religious significance?”

The answer is yes, absolutely yes, in any age.

 

Originally published by the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE). ©Institute for Faith, Work & Economics 2015. Used by permission.

Connecting Your Profession With Your Purpose

We don’t have a personal life and a professional life; we have ONE life and we have to make it count!

 

Are you doing what you love for a living? Do your professional endeavors and entrepreneurial ventures reflect God’s purpose for your life? How do the mission and vision for your business align with God’s mission and vision for your life?

In the Western world, we spend most of our time at work. Our careers consume over half of our lives! We spend too much time at work not to enjoy it. So, it’s critical that what we spend most of our waking hours doing, for most of our lives, is also spiritually edifying.

But, most of us have heard the unfortunate results of studies from Harvard Business School, SMU Cox, The Gallup Poll, and other leading research organizations, reporting that Americans are consistently dissatisfied with their jobs and careers. The Gallup Poll’s 2013 State of the American Workplace study found that 70 percent of those who participated described themselves as “disengaged” from their work. This is unacceptable - - particularly for those of us who are ambassadors for Christ.

We don’t have a personal life and a professional life; we have ONE life and we have to make it count. So, how do we make our lives count through our entrepreneurial pursuits? As always, the answer is found in the Word of God. The Bible says “where there is no revelation, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18; AMP). One revelation is the importance of having a Biblical foundation for your commercial endeavors.

 

Business people don’t plan to fail;

they simply fail to follow God’s Plan

 

I am a planner at heart. I grew up in Dayton, Ohio in a Christian household and in my uncle’s church. I also grew up hearing the mantra of “Go to school to get a good job.” And, so I began developing and executing my educational pursuits and career plan. My plans. I have had the pleasure of serving in leadership roles with Fortune 500 companies and esteemed academic institutions and I am also blessed to be an entrepreneur. I have often served in a strategic planning capacity in my career and my consulting firm specializes in strategic business planning. Business Plans. But, along the way, God has taught me that my professional endeavors are not about me; they are all about Him and His sovereign Kingdom Agenda. His Plans.

Part of my journey involves Him calling me out of my comfortable position in corporate America, with my six-figure income, company stock, expense account, company vehicle, etc., to trust Him by resigning from the company and taking a sabbatical to start my business and write the book, Revelations in Business, that He had placed in my heart - - all during one of the most horrendous times in the history of the U.S. from an economic perspective – the years 2007 to 2009. Definitely not my plan.

But guess what? I obeyed God and it all worked out! I wouldn’t change my journey for anything. It continues to be a blessing. The Bible says that He knows the plans He has for us (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV) and that when we commit our work to the Lord, then our plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3,NLT). I am a living testimony that His Word does not return void (Isaiah 55:11, NKJV). Now, you might be saying: Well, Shelette, that all sounds good, but I’m not even sure of what my purpose is, let alone, how to align it with my profession!   Good point. Read on for a few ways to uncover your God-given purpose and connect it with your profession.

Steps for Connecting

Your Profession With Your Purpose

You are never too young, nor too old, to identify and pursue your God-given purpose. Following are a few practical suggestion and pragmatic ways to uncover your purpose and align it with your profession:

  1. Begin from Within: Pray to the God who created us and ask Him to reveal His purpose for you; and He will (James 1:5). But, you must be sincere, diligent, and intentional in doing so.
  1. Recognize the Clues: The Bible says that we are all blessed with gifts (Romans 12:4-8) and that we are to stir up the gifts that are within us (2 Timothy 1:6)!   What is it that you do so well that you are always getting complimented on? What are your passions? What are those hobbies that when you are immersed in, time just seems to fly by? The goal is to make sure that you are incorporating your natural skill sets, talents, abilities, interests, and passions into your entrepreneurial ventures. This is the proverbial sweet spot when you feel as if you are being compensated for a hobby!
  1. Quench Your Thirst: Jesus says: If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink (John 7:37, NKJV). What do you thirst for spiritually? Intellectually? Creatively? That thirst, that yearning, that calling, that desire, is there for a reason. It’s not to be ignored. Often times it’s the Holy Spirit leading us into our next season. Identify your areas of thirst and make sure that you are quenching them through your business endeavors.
  1. Leave a Positive Lasting Legacy: Corrie ten Boom, the late Christian Holocaust survivor, said: The measure of a life is not its duration, but its donation. Aligning your profession with your purpose positions you to leave a positive lasting donation, or legacy, in your family, in the community, and in the world.   You are positioned to enrich the lives of others and you have a level of peace that comes only from God because He is in control (Romans 5:1). You no longer have to worry about the economy, competitive threats, and corporate downsizing. You are transcending the world’s boundaries of temporary success and positioning yourself for eternal blessings and salvation. Success and significance. Now, my friend, go forth and connect your profession with your purpose and enjoy the journey!

Yellowstone & Business

At a recent One2One meeting with a long-time Convene member, Steve—a man with a great heart for God, family and business—shared about a recent vacation to Yellowstone National Park with his extended family (wife, 4 daughters with husbands, and grandchildren). He described the park as a sanctuary of geothermal activity, forests, mountains and wildlife in an ever-evolving landscape. Steve was evidently moved in spirit by this experience. Steve described Yellowstone in this way:

  • “The environment is constantly changing”
  • “Only the strong survive”
  • “God’s hand is so evident there”

My immediate reaction was to ask, “How is that like your business environment?”

For certain, in our information-deluged and technology-advancing world, the environment is constantly changing. How does your business keep up with the pace? Our Convene team has a saying, “What got you here, won’t take you there”.

For certain, in our still-precarious economic environment, the strong survive by great leadership and team building, innovation and operational efficiency. How do you hone your leadership skills?

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another”—Proverbs 27:17.

For certain, God’s hand is active in your business. How do you stay focused on God’s intent for your company and your stewardship thereof? Convene helps to impel your decisions through the filters of Kingdom Purpose, Vision and Values.

Could your business have a legacy like Yellowstone?

Let us not give up meeting together…but continue to encourage one another”. Hebrews 10:25

Lock It Down! God is in Control

I heard a speaker from South America, a man who had a deeply spiritual and unusual relationship with God.  He made a comment I've never forgotten.  He said that spiritually, he lived up here, holding his hand high, and we live down here, holding his hand low.  He wasn't intending to demean our spiritual condition, but was making the point that there is a spiritual realm that most followers of Christ have not arrived at—and probably never will—perhaps especially in North America. You see, in our capitalist, scientific, consumer brand of Christianity, the supernatural is just that, not natural.  To this man, the supernatural was natural.  To him, being Christian meant that he sees the world from God's point of view.  He doesn't believe in coincidence, accidents or surprises when it comes to his belief and understanding of God.  His God is the Creator of all things and holds all things together.  His God is all-powerful, all-knowing and a God of plan and purpose.  His God raises up one and puts down another, because He is in charge of the affairs of men.  He is never surprised at what happens because He already knows.  His ways are not our ways, nor are His thoughts our thoughts. He knows everything, and He's everywhere all the time, and makes all His decisions with our best interests in mind.

So, it follows that He never bites His fingernails wondering what is going to happen or who is going to win, like, an election.  Many followers of this God were biting their fingernails and bordering on a state of panic because they believed there was so much at stake in this recent election.  So, why were they afraid?  Probably because they were focused on the potential problem rather than the solution.  I'm thinking that if we have our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, and if we have the Gospel on our hearts like He has it on His, we have absolutely no reason to be afraid.  God is committed to seeing people reconciled to Him through His Son's shed blood on the Cross.

News flash! God knew who was going to win this election!  God will put the right man in office that will do the best job in accomplishing His Gospel agenda.  All candidates have agendas.  So does God.  In light of these truths, if our desired candidate loses, will we praise God anyway?  Will we look at God and His ways and what He knows is best for the Gospel's sake, or in our limited understanding, want what we think is best for America, whether it's best for the Gospel or not?

The point is that when we, as God's people, can say, as Jesus did, "Not my will, Father, but Your will be done," we will praise God because He knows what's best regardless of how it looks or feels to us.  Let's keep in mind that it's not about winning or losing.  It's about God and His will being done on earth as it is in heaven.  You and I don't know which candidate will serve God's Gospel purposes best, so let's trust Him with that, and praise Him no matter who won.  And by the way, I think God is saddened by how big a deal we're making out of this whole mess, as if He is no longer in control.  So let's lock our theology down and be about our Father's business, and relax.