🐑 3 Ways to Hear God at Work 🐑

As Kingdom agents, we carry unique responsibility.

From leading in humility to serving with authority1, no question our purpose thrives as we help others find theirs.

Yet, while these efforts often demand a lion-like attitude…

Matrix-Morpheus

You’d probably think I was nuts…baa none.

*Crickets*

Granted, this is partly true (just ask my wife); however, in all seriousness, if we truly desire to impact people, then we must seek to hear the Lord with all our hearts in all modes of life (Matthew 11:15). As the Psalmist declares, God not only wants to talk to us like a father, but lead us like the master shepherd he is…regardless of where we’re at.

That said, here are three steps we, as sheep-ishleaders, can take to better hear God at work…

KDlR

1. Trust the Shepherd

Scripture: John 10:3-4; 14-15 (ESV) – “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.  I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

Imagine you’re a supervisor delegating tasks in hope to achieve an important outcome. How would you manage? Obviously, you wouldn’t assign work outside your team’s ability or understanding. Rather you’d ensure they were properly trained, equipped to execute, and clearly communicated to.

Unfortunately, when it comes to God, we often think we have to ‘know’ our way to what he’s trying to say…as if he’s a detached boss speaking over our heads in hope we’ll one day figure it out.

But truth is: when we recognize the Lord as shepherd (Psalm 23:1) in whom we lack nothing, we can rest assured he will be faithful to awaken our ears to hear (Isaiah 50:4-5) as opposed to just leading through circumstance.

John 10:3 captures this beautifully…

The sheep hear his voice…”

No effort, no striving. Just listening in hope to follow. Listening in hope to follow…

                                                     …the epitome of stillness in motion (as well as call being rooted in listening and obeying, not skill and power; more on this in a future post).

Continuing into v. 4, we see how God, as shepherd, not only shows the sheep where to go, but goes before and calls them by name. Accordingly, the flock is at peace trusting the shepherd’s voice knowing the emphasis is not on their following, but his ability to lead.

Scripture: John 10:27 (ESV) – “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Scripture: Isaiah 30:21 (ESV) – “And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.

Bottom line: Hearing God speak at work starts with trusting him at all times. Even when God works in mysterious ways (Romans 11:25-36), he’ll still speak in ones we can understand, trust, and obey.

giphy

2)   Follow the Leader

Scripture: Psalm 23:1-6 (ESV) – “The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”

For many of us, we have no problem telling God, “Where you go, I’ll go, where you stay, I’ll stay, when you move, I’ll move, I will follow”; sadly, when it comes to, “what you do, I’ll do, what you say, I’ll say, what you love, I’ll love…”, we’re far more hesitant.

Why it that?

For starters, while it’s easy to trust God in green pastures and quiet waters, it’s harder to trust him in the darkest valleys surrounded by enemies. David captures this vividly in Psalm 13…

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him, lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

Of course, if there’s ever a time to ask the Holy Spirit to light up our eyes declaring, “I yield myself in this moment of decision, wanting only that which will glorify Jesus”, it’s when we work3. After all, one could say there’s hardly a place more consumingthan where we’re employed.

Yet, even when we feel lost within our corporate flocks, even when we think the daily grind is more like a daily distraction, note what the Lord, our shepherd, does on our behalf…

  • He guides us along the right paths for his name’s sake… (v. 3)
  • He establishes our steps by preparing tables (Note: if he can do this in the presence of our enemies, he can surely do it in the presence of our leaders, supervisors, bosses, etc.), anointing our heads, filling our cups… (v. 5)
  • As we follow him, his goodness and love follows. (v. 6)

In essence, not only is God faithful to illuminate our hearts to trust, but also our strength to follow…both as our front/rear guard (Isaiah 52:12) and through the ‘bellwether’ leaders he puts in our path.

Bottom line: Trusting God’s leading means trusting his will in those he entrusts.

giphy (1)

Bgk8Zo.gif

3)   Still Your Soul

Scripture Psalm 100:3 (ESV) – “Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”

For many, 9-5 silence can be hard to come by. Phone calls, conference meetings, appointments, trainings…no doubt, the quest to quiet our souls is far from easy.

Thankfully, where there’s a will, there’s a still…where we can allow the Spirit to convict our hearts as we worship and focus on God.

Take my case for example…

As a TDOT Finance employee, I work inside a moatless cubicle providing travel, departmental budget, and federal grant reporting support to a network of over 2,000 people. One could say I bring an umbrella to work even on dry days given when it rains, it pours!

1wq1ks

Still (pun intended), even on days when I’m drowning in what I can’t control or tempted to wallow in what I can’t understand, that gentle whisper5 reminds me of the invitation with my name on it…calling me to enter in his gates with thanksgiving, his courts with praise (Psalm 100:4)…helping me die to my own reasons, feelings, and false hopes.

And before you to know it…my peace is secure with the shepherd…my domain nothing more than the daddy’s lap6 where I inquire what he insists and longs me to resist7

…where I am his and he is mine…

…my dependence complete in perfect love.

Bottom line: Don’t just draw near to God; soak in his impressions8. Remember the goal is to be close to hear, not hear to be close. Even in silence, God’s guidance is always perfect, his heart always felt, his ways always clear.

VF1E5hB

Stay tuned next time for a sequel post on how we can test, apply, and share our guidance and impressions.

‘Til then, don’t stop baaa-lievin’…

Selaaah. 

Footnotes

  1. Diakonia
  2. As opposed to ‘sheepish’
  3. Marketplace, day job/place of employment/occupation
  4. Assuming one or more apply: competing voices, compromised ethics, and crazy/unpredictable workloads
  5. Inner voice could sound/look like a mental image, word picture, impression (whether visual or Scripture), word, peace/dispeace, surprising idea you normally wouldn’t have thought of (usually discovered through prayer), a sentence on the screen of your mind like the typing on a computer screen
  6. #staynotstray, #herdistheWord
  7. Be it vanity, mediocrity, fear of man, fear/anxiety, resentment, our past, etc.
  8. Tip: Consider bringing a notepad/writing utensil to record what the Spirit is telling you; if you have the privacy, you can also record your thoughts memo style on your phone

Cover photo creds: Biblical Research Reports

3 Ways to Level ↑ Your Teamwork

Have you ever struggled with group participation or felt more productive working independently?

Perhaps you’re a team player at heart, but feel taxed, even lost, when collaborating in a joint setting.

If so, I want to encourage you: a) you’re not alone and b) dare to rethink what you know about teamwork.

For while corporate success often hinges on team dynamic (i.e. how a group behaves and performs in pursuing a particular goal), such cooperation is only possible when each member knows the purpose and direction of their role.

Thus, in the next few posts, I want to discuss how we, as students and employees, can build teamwork through better team dynamic starting with these three points…

giphy

1) Clarify Expectations

It’s been said group morale is a fragile art – a sacred science based on strength integration, maintaining transparency, and trust management.

Yet, of all the bonds that bind, arguably none is more cohesive to team dynamic than clarifying expectations.

To quote Ron Edmondson…

to feel a part of the team, people need to know where the team is going and what their role is. An understanding of the overall goals and objectives fuels energy. When the big picture objective is understood each team member is more willing to pull together to accomplish the mission because they know the ‘why’ and can better understand where they fit on the team.”

In other words, to achieve positive outcomes, each role must be clearly defined in a way direction, unity, and purpose are mutually inclusive. Of course, none of this can happen without accountability, authenticity, and strategy/tactics (as we’ll later discuss); however, as long as expectations are effectively communicated top-to-bottom, the foundation to success is, at least, secured.

Bottom line: The more people perceive core value and expectations1 through vision, the more team dynamic will strengthen.

5QOJguX.gif

2) Don’t Just Direct People, Develop Them

As mentioned in my ‘effective influencer’ post, strong teams form when people are valued over goals and success is celebrated corporately as well as individually.

Unfortunately, not all work cultures are created equal where motivation is shared, let alone contagious. The question is…

How do we inspire unity among our teams regardless of setting, situation, or position?

For starters, we must be willing to connect role to direction and expectation to vision. In my case, having worked in various financial and ministerial arenas, I’ve found the best unity occurs in environments where each member understands their role and how it directly impacts the success of the organization.

Granted, easier said than done for the sanitation engineer and mail deliverer; still, if strong team dynamics are applied, even these employees can be directed to know the company’s core values2 and developed to take ownership of their responsibility.

Ultimately, if team members are empowered to see their skin in the game, camaraderie will flourish in the sense each person is directed, developed, and driven to see his/her work as more than a means to an end.

Bottom line: Intentional leaders not only give their team intentional purpose, but help their teams understand mission while embracing vision.

AlienatedCoordinatedCassowary-max-1mb.gif

3) Get Out of the Office

A great ministry leader once said…

Don’t get so busy doing the work of the Lord that you don’t spend time with the Lord of the work.”

Interestingly, while this truth pertains to spiritual intimacy, the same concept can be applied in collaboration and networking. After all, if project management and people management are best undivided, then the quality of our communication should extend beyond performance into its surrounding context.

For example, as a former LAMPO spouse, sports editor, and youth pastor, no question, the best “silo-busting” moments occurred during retreats, corporate team-building activities, and family outings. In each scenario, not only were tensions lessened, but a sense of esprit de corps developed carrying over into seasons of challenge and discomfort.

Moreover, to the extent creativity and oasis conversations abounded, to that extent priorities were pruned in the wake of internal and external inventory. Ultimately, as awareness within community increased, so did morale and enthusiasm by proxy.

Bottom line: 1) Teamwork is just as much attitude as it is practice. 2) If you want better teamwork, know the context of your team’s performance given team dynamic is influenced just as much outside work as at work.

Selah.

tenor.gif

Looking ahead, I want to talk about how we, as spouses and household heads, can abide by the same teaming principles outside our careers and inside our homes.

In the meantime, be at peace as you better people to better your teams to better your business.

As always, Lys & I are rooting for you.

Here’s to the journey…

~ Cameron

Footnotes

  1. Even compensation
  2. Tip: consider creating a team charter)

Cover photo creds: Australian Institute of Business

Tears into Wine: The Reason We’re All Cupbearers

If someone came up to you and asked, ‘What does my priesthood at work look like’, what would you say?

To lead like Jesus? To influence in confidence? To extend Kingdom authority?

Granted, the question is loaded and can’t possibly be unpacked in one post; that said, when we  examine our priestly influence through our “cupbearer identity”, we can, at least, begin to build a response.

To start, let’s explore “cupbearer” in Scripture beginning with Genesis 40:1-2 (AMP)…

Now some time later, the cupbearer (butler) and the baker for the king of Egypt offended their lord, Egypt’s king. Pharaoh was extremely angry with his two officials, the chief of the cupbearers and the chief of the bakers.”

Note how the Hebrew translation for cupbearer, “butler” and “chief of the cupbearers” capture the office’s rank. While it’s true most cupbearers were slaves or servants, clearly they were more than wine-tasters on standby as we’ll see in a second.

Flash-forward to 2 Chronicles 9:3-7 and again we find cupbearer immersed in royal splendor…

So when the queen of Sheba saw the [depth of] Solomon’s wisdom, and the house which he had built, and the food of his table, the [vast] seating order of his officials, the attendance and service of his ministers and their attire, his cupbearers and their attire, and his stairway by which he went up to the house of the Lord, she was breathless. She said to the king, “The report which I heard in my own land regarding your [accomplishments and your] words and your wisdom was true, but I did not believe the reports until I came and saw it with my own eyes. Behold, the half of the greatness of your wisdom was not told to me; you have surpassed the report that I heard. Blessed and fortunate are your people, how blessed and fortunate are these servants of yours who stand before you continually and hear your wisdom!

In this case, ‘cupbearer’ is not only set apart among the other officials (like Genesis 40), but declared blessed as serving in the presence of wisdom. Thus, we can infer cupbearers were not only regarded as trustworthy, but esteemed in knowledge and skill as well.

Lastly, in Nehemiah, we see cupbearer represented through the protagonist’s voice and position to King Artaxerxes. According to canon, after Nehemiah realizes the Jews in Jerusalem are struggling with the broken walls, Artaxerxes not only grants his request to rebuild them, but appoints him as governor to assure his authority. By book’s end, Nehemiah finishes the walls in 52 days thanks to his sound management and determination in the face of adversary1.

nehemiah

Now, I know what you’re thinking…why take this systematic Old Testament aerial view?

Honestly, there are several reasons.

First off, understanding how cupbearers conducted their business can help us, as marketplace ministers, approach our work. For instance, in the same way cupbearers protected the king at all costs, we can establish a safe and healthy working environment through integrity, consistent reliability, and quality support.

Granted, cupbearers, being the ancient  bodyguards they were, lived with their lives constantly on the line; however, even when we’re working outside our comfort zones, even when we’re wrestling with distrust, cynicism, or self-perservation, when we yield judgment to empathy, not only will we influence more effectively, but enhance a team dynamic driven towards collaborative solutions (more on this in our next post).

Secondly, when we apply the heart of a cupbearer, we can find inspiration in not only protecting our work environment, but purifying it as well. Remember cupbearers, while fragile in job security, perceived themselves as guardians could save a kingdom with one bite2. Consequently, they never hesitated to put their mortality at risk knowing what their sacrifice would mean long-term.

As for us, we may not have to down poison, but we can certainly purify the toxins within our arenas of influence (i.e. antagonism, condemnation, libel, slander, subordination, etc.).  ‘Cause truth is

…while we may not be able to change what people believe, as spiritual cupbearers, we can extend positive resilience into our company’s immune system through unceasing prayer, biblical confrontation, and 1 Corinthians 16:13/Colossians 3:23 determination.

Finally, when we consider Old Testament cupbearers served as agents of healing and restoration³, we can better recognize their foreshadowing to the preeminent cupbearer…Jesus Christ. Of course, Christ lived (and lives) as cupbearer and King simultaneously; however, by noting the parallels – the fact each cupbearer in Scripture abided sacrificially and submitted to a higher authority at his right hand- we can glean inspiration concerning our workplace identity. For as we celebrate Christ’s atonement in taking communion, we commemorate in our daily life knowing our influence is maximized when we live as Christ and take up our cross (Philippians 1:21; Luke 9:23). Ultimately, the key to thriving as present day cupbearers is recognizing our destiny and fulfilling our call…in remembrance of him.

Bread-and-Wine-03

In closing, I encourage you, friends, to live as the cupbearers of old and the Cupbearer of today. Regardless of the broken walls in your midst, regardless of what you have to lose, in the end, it’s all about being grateful as we’re faithful with what Christ has entrusted us. Even when you feel lost or anxious, remember you were made to pour out abundant life (John 10:10) as a drink offering (Philippians 2:17) to bear fruit in every good work (Colossians 1:10) lifting up the cup of salvation (Psalm 116:13)…

…just like a cupbearer.

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. Mostly false accusers and backslidden captives
  2. Or swig
  3. Mainly in what they prevented

Cover photo creds: Preachit.org

 

Integrating Ministry & Marketplace: The Temple Template

No question, the vocational life is hard work.

Early mornings, long days, rough nights…if you wear many hats and juggle multiple responsibilities…you know the drill.

Yet, as tempting survival/‘just get ‘er done’ mode may be, truth is: we were never meant to live this way.

Yes, strategic compartmentalization can center the gravity of focus and break busy days into doable, bite-sized moments; however, when we consider our identity as effective influencers in light of Jesus’ ministry,  we ultimately find…

a) Work (what we commit our hands and minds to) and faith (what we commit our beliefs to) were never meant to be mutually exclusive.

b) The marketplace can be just as much a hub of powerful, life-changing ministry as the church1.

Take Matthew 21:12-17 for instance…

After Jesus kicks off the triumphal entry (v. 1-11), note the first place he targets (i.e. the temple – v. 12) and the reason why (i.e. to cleanse it).

I don’t know about you, but when I consider the fact Jesus deliberately went to the temple to make its original intent known as opposed to simply stopping for a cup of coffee and the ‘Daily Jerusalem’…that speaks to me.

Granted, Jesus channels his inner Adele for time, turning tables and all (v. 12b), but the key here isn’t so much Jesus reacting in frustration as much as Jesus setting things right, being fearlessly intentional in speaking truth and breathing life into what had become a lifeless environment.

So while this passage reference may seem random, when we talk about what pastoral ministry in the marketplace looks like and how to rightfully use our spiritual gifts in similar arenas, I believe there’s important application to be found.

First off, to be an effective marketplace minister, we must be courageous and purposeful with the truth. Yes, we can be highly skilled with the gifts God has given us; yes, we can be articulate, persuasive, and emit confidence, but if what we’re divinely given is utilized with limited integrity, it’s like trying to build a sturdy structure on quicksand.

Secondly, when we consider what grieved Jesus most, we deduce how wise marketplace leaders understand the time and place to deal with financial affairs as they understand the providence of God (i.e. the difference between a love for money and a love for God who provides the money2 ;more on this in future posts).

And finally, when we consider Jesus straight up calls the temple “my house(v. 13 – “My house will be called a house of prayer…”), we find the a) confirmation of marketplace as an extension of sanctuary and b) value in declaring God’s original design over an establishment intended for our good.

In this case, Jesus calls the temple a “house of prayer” not only to reveal the truth of its purpose3 (i.e. a place of dwelling, influence, and vertical communication), but to set the stage for the spiritually/physically impaired to better know that purpose (v. 14).

I-Was-There-at-the-Temple-Image

Hence, it should be no surprise to see a completely transformed temple by the time Jesus peaces out in v. 17.

Bottom line: when we reflect on how Jesus integrated his ministry and spiritual gifts into the marketplace, we see…

  1. Jesus was intentional (in going to the temple courts)…
  2. Jesus was bold with the truth and how he handled conflict…
  3. Jesus lived out the identity he declared over the temple…
  4. Jesus loved at every opportunity…

Thus, I submit if we’re going to thrive in employing our spiritual gifts in our areas of business, we must be willing to live on purpose, be bold with the truth, pray without ceasing, be the change we long for…and most importantly…love at all cost, at all times.

Next time, I’ll look to build upon this foundation with more specifics, more real-life application, but for now, if any of this hits home with you (or if you want to add a point to the list above), feel free to comment below. And as always, if you have a prayer request/praise report, you’re more than welcome to drop us a line.

‘Til then, may you find peace and joy in abundance as you go about your week…

~ Cameron

Footnotes

  1. Sure, the church may be the heart of the operation, but what’s to say the marketplace can’t be the hands and feet?
  2. Seriously…how often are good leaders corrupted by sneaky, under-the-table, ‘will do anything to get an advantage’ maneuvers? More than we’d like to admit, right?
  3. As well as His authority

Photo creds: gospelmovements.org (edited by Cameron Fry) & lds.net

One Voice Q&A’s with Cameron & Steve Fry

Cameron & Steve Fry talk Commission U and marketplace/bivocational ministry @ Messenger Fellowship‘s annual summit

Note: Apologies on the audio (especially the first minute); will aim to obtain higher quality when available.

1. Why is focusing on equipping people in the marketplace so vital for the church?

I believe if the church wants to equip people in the marketplace, it must embrace its transitive nature. The marketplace ministry problem, particularly in the western church, isn’t so much a function of not discipling saints to be like Jesus as much as it is not discipling saints to be like Jesus…within their respective spheres of influence. Considering 90-95% of congregations work in secular settings, we must bridge the disconnect and target these settings if we want to better reach the lost.

2. What is ‘bi-vocational’ ministry?

Bivocational ministry is ministry that bridges the sacred and secular. Whether you’re versatile in the marketplace working multiple gigs or have a foot in both church/workplace arenas, bivocational ministry not only empowers people to be like Jesus at their desks, but also teaches them to make the best possible use with the margins and bandwidths they’ve been given.

3. What have you seen in Commission U that is so helpful to marketplace people?

One of the advantages of Commission U (and courses like it) is how it acknowledges the priesthood in all believers while shattering the mold of ‘pastors do this/non-pastors do that‘. There’s a false paradigm that suggests only those with liturgical callings can be ordained, but with Commission U, as we experienced last night…

…we recognize all as partners in God’s ministry of reconciliation…all as effective ministers and child-like ambassadors…co-equal in value and diverse in function with a unique set of spiritual gifts designed for deployment wherever we influence. Ultimately, the heart of Commission U is to decompartmentalize faith and work so it becomes faith at work…at our work.

Graphic per Vicki Wilstermann/Ryan Hall