One of the men in our men’s ministry began his talk several years ago by introducing himself as an ordained lawyer. That was the point he and I were trying to drive home to our men that morning… to think of themselves as ordained ________ (fill in the blank with whatever it is that they do.). In other words, your work IS your ministry.
To think of your job as your ministry is foreign to many of us. Many of us grew up thinking that only pastors and missionaries "did ministry." Thankfully, there has been a surge of books and studies that have tried to steer folk away from that sort of thinking.
What we want to get people thinking about is “vocation” or calling. This is a horrible paraphrase, but a quote often attributed to Martin Luther supposedly went something like, “A cobbler who makes shoes to the glory of God during the week is every bit the minister as a pastor who preaches a sermon on Sunday morning.” The Bible does not draw a distinction between the sacred and the secular. All work should be for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). Paul wrote in Colossians 3:23-24,
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,  since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
While God may give you the opportunity to communicate the gospel, hold a Bible study, or wear a John 3:16 button in your workplace, it’s more likely that your faith will be exercised by simply doing your job well, with integrity. Beyond that, it may also include representing Christ faithfully to hurting, lost, angry, bitter, fearful, restless, or despairing people. How can Christ use you to minister to those sorts of people in your workplace? What might that look like? In every setting, you are Christ's ambassador... his representative.
In order to help you with those questions, here are a few links to enable you to discover what your faith at work might look like in your spheres of influence…
The High Calling
Center for Faith and Work
The Institute for Faith, Work & Economics
Christian Business Men Connection
On Call in Culture
Called to Business.com
Christian Faith at Work
Fellowship of Companies for Christ International
How to Build a Ministry through Your Work by Pat Morley at Man in the Mirror
Work and the Man in the Mirror (audio and video messages) by Pat Morley
A Biblical View of Work by Ken Boa
Theology of Work from Western Seminary
The Theology of Work (print and mp3 audio available) by Robert Rayburn
Working out a Theology of Work and here by Justin Taylor (also see the related resources at the bottom of the article)
Theology of Work (website)
Video Messages on Work from Wayne Grudem
Videos on Faith and Work from Tim Keller
Men and Work video messages by Patrick Morley
Miscellaneous video messages on a Theology of Work
Business for the Glory of God (book) by Wayne Grudem
God at Work (book) by Gene Edward Veith
I just started reading Gene Getz’s book, The Measure of a Man: 20 Attributes of A Godly Man. I immediately thought it was something I wanted to share with the men of our church family. The need for such a book seems obvious. Boys are rapidly growing up in this world without learning what it means to be a man… even fewer understand what it means to be a godly man. Too many are having to make it up on the fly… with disastrous results. Many adult men are in the same boat.
Therefore, I thought I would share some of the insights I’m gleaning from the book and pass them on to you, with a few extra items I hope will bless you.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:12)
The first chapter of the book is a broad overview of everything Getz will be looking at throughout the rest of the book. The chapter is entitled, “Becoming Faithful Men.” That’s a key topic as well as an important title. You see, we aren’t born faithful. Just the opposite, in fact. We are born fallen in sin, broken, and far from God. If we’re blessed to be born and raised in a Christian family, we may come to know God earlier in our lives. However, regardless of our background, growing in our faith is a lifelong pursuit. As you can imagine, if our goal is "Christ-likeness,” then we all have a LONG way to go! So I like the word “becoming”, because it highlights the idea of process… not product. We are works in progress (superintended by God himself (Philippians 1:6), and our goal is to continue moving in a Christward direction throughout the course of our entire life.
The word becoming also emphasizes focus and intentionality. No one grows into a godly man by accident. It happens on purpose or it doesn’t happen at all. Philippians 3:12 captures this idea. The Apostle Paul labored and strained to reach the goal of maturity in Christ (i.e., godliness or holiness). It’s an everyday and “on purpose” process that requires nothing less than God’s Spirit working in and through us to give us the will, strength, and direction to grow in grace. We won’t grow in our faith apart from the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives, and yet, the Holy Spirit won’t do the work for us. We have to participate in the process.
Finally, Getz uses the word “faithful” to describe the kind of man he has in mind. Then, borrowing from 1 Timothy and Titus, Getz puts together a list of what we might call the marks of spiritually mature (godly) manhood. Here’s his list…
Can anyone read that list and declare they’ve already arrived? Anyone doing perfectly with this list?
Over the weeks to come I hope to look at each one of these headings and offer some thoughts and reflections from Scripture regarding what these characteristics might look like in our lives and how we might, in Paul’s words, “obtain them.”
To close this post, I want to share this prayer from Ken Boa…
Faithful Father, as I reflect on the redemptive history recorded in the narratives and oracles of Scripture, I see so many surprising setbacks and breakthroughs. The wisdom of Your Word invites me to view events and circumstances with a long-term perspective. When I only look at the short-term, I get muddled, confused and doubtful, because I allow my immediate circumstances to shape my understanding. But when I contextualize the events of my life in the long-term, I can see that You are indeed causing all things to work together for good to those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. Teach me to affirm that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to Your children in Christ.
Your Brother in Christ,
Several years ago I worked through Stuart Scott’s book, The Exemplary Husband, with a few folks from my church. We were moving along pretty well until we arrived at the chapter on communication. Yikes…I’ve got a long way to go before I reach mediocre, much less exemplary, regarding how well I communicate with my wife.
Now, I know that no one who reads this blog has any difficulties communicating, but just in case you know a person who knows a person who struggles in this area, I thought I would share a few of Scott’s key ideas.
Six Prerequisites to Good Communication
1.) A husband must want to please God more than anything else. (2 Cor. 5:9)
2.) A husband must be humble. (Eph. 4:1-3)
3.) A husband must be aware that he is accountable to God for everything he communicates (Matt. 12:36)
4.) A husband must know how to listen. (Proverbs 18:13) Listening well means…
5.) A husband must know that communication involves more than just words. He must be very careful about…
6.) A husband must be willing to put forth the effort and spend the time that it takes to communicate. (Rom. 12:10-12)
That ought to give us husbands something to work on for a while.
I really enjoy reading the articles at The Art of Manliness. The folks there are a creative bunch and there’s usually not a week that goes by that there isn’t something very interesting to read. Not only that, but it’s an excellently put together website (unlike amateur-hour over here). While not necessarily coming at manhood from a biblical perspective, much of what they share could still receive a hearty “Amen,” from men pursuing godliness.
A while back they posted a two-part series called, “Don’t Waste Your Twenties.” (Click here to read Part 1… and here for Part 2). The first post focused a great deal on how our brains are wired during our twenties and what we are, therefore, able to do better during that decade than when we grow older. Part two is a natural follow-up post that basically says, “Since your brain is, in fact, wired that way… take advantage of it. Don’t waste this prime time in your life” (that’s my very simple paraphrase). Again, both posts are very interesting and I would encourage you to read them both.
Those posts reminded me of a book I read by one of my favorite authors, Steve Farrar. It’s entitled, How To Ruin Your Life by 30. (By the way, I think it’s the perfect gift for both high school and college graduates!) It’s short, simple, and to the point. Better yet, it’s really insightful. Here are Farrar’s nine suggestions for how a young person can do a super job at ruining his or her life by age 30…
1.) Overlook the law of cause and effect
2.) Get off to a bad start
3.) Ignore God’s purpose for your life
4.) Refuse to take responsibility for your actions
5.) Neglect your gifts and strengths when choosing a vocation
6.) Disregard what the Bible says about sex and marriage
7.) Stop Learning
8.) Isolate yourself
9.) Refuse daily wisdom
Obviously, the book is written to make the very opposite points and Farrar offers some helpful wisdom for folks at any age… not just the under 30 crowd.
Of course, the granddaddy of the “don’t waste your life” books is John Piper’s book… you guessed it… Don’t Waste Your Life. There is much wisdom in this book as well. One of Piper’s main desires is to encourage Christians not to give into the temptation of a retirement that amounts to no more than moving to Florida to collect shells on the beach and to play golf every day. He shares the words on a plaque that was in his childhood home that said…
Only one life,
‘Twill soon be past;
Only what’s done
for Christ will last.
The book is essentially an exposition of those words and the countless texts in Scripture that communicate that truth. It’s an inspiring, encouraging, and CONVICTING book. I think of the two, I would buy the Farrar book for graduates and give older folks the Piper book. Both, however, are well worth reading for Christians who take their lives in this world seriously.
Grace and Truth,
I’m embarrassed and ashamed to say that after staring at it on my bookshelf for over 17 years, I finally picked up J.I. Packer’s book, Rediscovering Holiness, and started reading it. It is extraordinary and I am kicking myself for waiting so long. (I’m also groaning over the fact that there’s a revised and updated version available. However, I’m going to resist the temptation and stick with my older copy. Ugh.)
Holiness is a topic that is near and dear to United Methodists (at least, it used to be... and still ought to be). It certainly was to John Wesley and Packer gives several tips of his hat to both Wesley brothers. I’m looking forward to reading the whole book.
Of particular interest in the first chapter was Packer’s distillation of J.C. Ryle’s “12 Point Profile” of what a holy person looks like. It’s fantastic! I thought I would share bits and pieces of his points with you below. The Apostle Paul encourages us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves to see if we are “in the faith” I can think of no better list with which to measure yourself than the following excerpts from Ryle.
I pray the following truths will bless, encourage, convict, and lead you to greater holiness in your life.
Grace and Truth,
1.) Holiness is the habit of being of one mind with God, according as we find his mind described in Scripture. It is the habit of agreeing in God’s judgment, hating what he hates, loving what he loves, and measuring everything in this world by the standard of his Word…
2.) A holy man will endeavor to shun every known sin, and to keep every known commandment. He will have… a hearty desire to do [God's] will, a greater fear of displeasing him than of displeasing the world…
3.) A holy man will strive to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. He will not only live the life of faith in him, and draw from him all his daily peace and strength, but he will also labor to have the mind that was in him, and to be
conformed to his image (Romans 8:29).
4.) A holy man will follow after meekness, longsuffering, gentleness, patience, kind tempers, government of his tongue.
5.) A holy man will follow after temperance and self-denial. He will labour to mortify the desires of his body, to crucify his flesh with his affections and lusts, to curb his passions, to restrain his carnal inclinations, lest at any
time they break loose…
6.) A holy man will follow after charity and brotherly kindness.
7.) A holy man will follow after a spirit of mercy and benevolence toward others…
8.) A holy man will follow after purity of heart. He will dread all filthiness and uncleanness of spirit, and seek to avoid all things that might draw him into it.
9.) A holy man will follow after the fear of God. I do not mean the fear of a slave, who only works because he is afraid of punishment… I mean rather the fear of a child, who wishes to live and move as if he was always before his father’s face, because he loves him…
10.) A holy man will follow after humility. He will desire, in lowliness of mind, to esteem all others better than himself. He will see more evil in his own heart than in any other in the world…
11.) A holy man will follow after faithfulness in all the duties and relations in life… Holy persons should aim at doing everything well, and should be ashamed of allowing themselves to do anything ill if they can they can help it… They should strive to be good husbands and good wives, good parents and good children, good masters and good servants, good neighbours, good friends, good subjects, good in private and good in public, good in the place of business and good by their firesides.
12.) Last, but not least, a holy man will follow after spiritual-mindedness. He will endeavour to set his affections entirely on things above, and to hold things on earth with a very loose hand… He will aim to live like one whose
treasure is in heaven, and to pass through this world like a stranger and pilgrim travelling to his home. To commune with God in prayer, in the Bible, and in the assembly of his people – these things will be the holy
man’s chief enjoyments. He will value every thing and place and company, just in proportion as it draws him nearer to God…
Rise up, O men of God!
Have done with lesser things.
Give heart and mind and soul and strength
To serve the King of kings.
Rise up, O men of God!
The kingdom tarries long.
Bring in the day of brotherhood
And end the night of wrong.
Rise up, O men of God!
The church for you doth wait,
Her strength unequal to her task;
Rise up and make her great!
Lift high the cross of Christ!
Tread where His feet have trod.
As brothers of the Son of Man,
Rise up, O men of God!
The Fellowship of Ailbe
Institute for Faith, Work, & Economics
Ravi Zacharias International Ministries
C.S. Lewis Institute
The Gospel Coalition
The Institute on Religion and Democracy
Every Square Inch Ministries
Gene Edward Veith
Center for Cultural Leadership
Church and Culture