September 20 2017 – Click here to listen
Recently I met with a very successful hedge fund tycoon. He is incredibly brilliant and attended Harvard Business School and Fuller Seminary. He is fascinating to talk to, has deep faith, and is truly gifted in business.
Some think it is a rare mix to love the Lord and be incredibly successful as a business person, especially on Wall Street where less than 3% are Christians, but my new friend has done just that. He has a unique perspective on work that I happen to agree with 100%.
Check out a portion of what he wrote for a US News and World Report article. I have condensed it some from its original format due to space restraints in this column and emboldened a few key takeaways that were important to me:
“Fortunately, being engaged and happy at work depends more on calling than office environments and company perks. Marketplace experts and social engineers are taking a closer look how our calling is powerfully formed by faith. Calling has its origin in the Jewish and Christian traditions. The Old Testament’s word for calling literally means to call on God for help, to pray and to worship. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul is the first to attach calling to work.
The relationship between faith and the call to work is as old as work itself. The scriptures record Moses commanding fair treatment of workers, Jesus illustrating good and faithful work, and Paul requiring people to work in order to be a part of community.
In the beginning, God worked, called everything good, then rested. We were created in His image, male and female, to work and protect all the earth. Whether you believe in these truths or use them as “job crafting,” they will help you redefine your work in more meaningful ways.
Recognizing God works helps us understand the nature of God and transforms our own work. John’s Gospel records Jesus claim, “My Father is always at work to this very day and I too am working.” God in the workplace engages the majority of American’s who believe in God. Engaged employees are happier, provide better service and are more productive.
First and foremost a God who works reforms the relationship between faith and work. It changes how most of us view God. Suddenly, God is relatable to the laborer, the executive and the entrepreneur. Faith at work becomes practically as much a part of Monday through Friday as the rest of our lives.
The word for work in the scriptures is translated as both work and worship. Our work and worship are one and the same. Faithfully using God given abilities to serve others, rather than for selfish ambition, improves the workplace and becomes an act of worship.
Work is not a necessary evil; rather, it is good because it creates and sustains life. God reveals his creative power through work and calls us to work faithfully, producing, developing and innovating. We see the value in work from individuals creating new technology, companies providing jobs and industries developing resources. All of these contribute to our economy, culture and standard of living. We are motivated by the good that results from work, including providing for ourselves, the needs of others and ultimately being like God.
Being created in the image of God, male and female, provides an identity that is unchanging and not dependent on our work circumstances, successes or failures. It provides people dignity whether they are at work or unemployed. Our identity is with God who works to create, provides abundantly, and cares for the environment and for social justice. Men and women share this identity as co-laborers in the workplace and helpmates at home. Together we work at the office, out in the field, in board rooms and at home raising families to fulfill our shared calling.
With our identity intact and shared calling before us, we are free to work and protect the earth and everything in it. Our calling has a dual mandate to develop the earth’s resources and simultaneously protect the environment. When we follow our calling, we combine innovation with responsibility and produce sustainable technologies. Our calling also has a dual purpose to provide for ourselves and the needs of others. When investment is partnered with principle we fulfill our purpose and create wealth that profits many. Answering this calling is both work and worship.
Finally, the need for rest, even for God, provides perspective on how important it is we stop and reflect. In the information age, we are increasingly connected to work through smart phones, tablets and email. Disconnecting to rest allows us to reorient ourselves and redefine our work. Just as we are called to work, we are called to rest.
Whatever company we manage or are employed by, God’s call to work and protect is sure to change our work orientation and environment. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
Taking a look at incredibly successful people and especially their perspectives on work and faith has proven meaningful to me and this article was no exception. Personally, I used the Bible as my main source of business acumen throughout my career. Unfortunately, I didn’t get an opportunity to attend Wharton Business School or Harvard, but I did study the Bible daily for decades and it served me well.
Like my friend I too took note of God’s work ethic. He actually worked for six days and rested on the seventh, and just look what came of it. Just think we are created in His image and there is no limit to our own creativity, provided we remain positive, follow our calling, and remain focused. God wants us to work and use the fruits of our labor to serve others and thereby advance His kingdom. Think about it . . .
2 Thess. 2:10
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.