work

The Beauty of Creation and the Longing We Feel for Restoration

All of us have been mesmerized by the glory of a sunset or the beauty of the freshly fallen snow across a barren landscape. Yet, as beautiful as nature can be, we are still unsatisfied. There should be something more. C.S. Lewis speaks to this troubling disparity in Weight of Glory:

We do not want merely to see beauty, though…. We want something else which can hardly be put into words-to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become part of it…. At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendours we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumour that it will not always be so. Someday, God willing, we shall get in.

As Christians who live in the age of redemption, we realize that the beauty we see in God’s creation is a reflection of his glory. As a great painting reflects the glory of the master artist who painted it, even the fallen creation still reflects the glory of the Creator of all things.

Rick Howe writes in his book, Rivers of Delight, that,

Beauty and its pleasure are God’s gifts to enrich our lives. Beauty is the expression of the extravagant benevolence of our Creator.

What we see and feel are only a taste of the way things could be. We await the restoration of all things at the end of this age. We wait to truly embrace the way things are supposed to be.

But even in this fallen world, creation’s chorus still calls out to us as voiced by the hymn writer Henry van Dyke over a 100 years ago:

Mortals, join the happy chorus, which the morning stars began.

Living within the tension of this “already/not yet” of redemption and restoration also has significant implications for our work as well.

Made in God’s image, we are to create through our work things from the raw material he has given us. This is why J.R.R Tolkien called man a sub-creator. Tolkien would also rightly state that one of the ways man glorifies God is through the sub-creation of works that echo the true creations of God. This is one of the ideas expressed in Tolkien’s short story, Leaf by Niggle.

While our work has been redeemed, it awaits the second coming of Christ to be restored.

Like our appreciation of nature’s beauty, we can enjoy our work while realizing it will never be perfect in this current realm.

Acknowledging that our work can never be perfect does not give us a pass. God still expects us to work as hard as we can to do the best at whatever he has called us to do.

My wife and I recently moved into a new house, and I am sometimes overwhelmed by all the things that still need to be done and the things I wish we had done differently. I thought, “I am never going to get this house right.”

Tolkien’s story made me realize that my perfect house, like Niggle’s tree, is awaiting me in the new earth in the age of restoration. The house that I have built here is only a taste of the blessing that God has in store. Meanwhile, I still need to work as hard as I can to finish the things that are not finished and try to make the house the best it can be.

God wants the work of our hands to bring about flourishing that glorifies him and serves the common good in the here and now. Although we will be blessed in this life as we obediently work toward this end, we wait for the ultimate blessing, shalom, with patience.

 

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!