Built to Build: The Call of Vocations (Part 1)

After previously discussing 1 Corinthians 4, I want to rewind a chapter and review our vocational identity – what God intends us to be on the clock.

While we will ultimately need guidance from Colossians 2 to unpack this in full, for now let’s start with 1 Corinthians 3:9-11 (ESV):

For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Here, Paul, having emphasized church divisions (v. 1-4), is reminding the Corinthians to see Christ as their cornerstone (Ephesians 2:19-22), as the foundation of life on which new life can be built. Unfortunately, like the Israelites in Judges, the Corinthians are strong in flesh and weak in discernment. A people ravaged by schismatic impulses, they are plagued by paganism and a past rooted in idolatry. Certainly, Paul couldn’t have been too surprised to hear reports of such dissension.

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Yet, what Paul lacks in suspense, he makes up in candidacy, specifically we are servants designed for unity and God is the source and core of it all. What matters is not who gets this task and who gets that task, but rather why the task exists at all. For most of us, this makes sense, but to the Corinthians, a people who saw their value through who they followed, this would have been difficult to accept. Imagine your political preference and/or denomination of choice being your chief designation. “Hi, my name is Cameron and I’m a charismatic Republican.” A bit off-putting, right?­

Conversely, for Paul, affiliations meant nothing compared to eternal intent as evidenced in v. 9 (AMP):  

For we are God’s fellow workers [His servants working together]; you are God’s cultivated field [His garden, His vineyard], God’s building. “ 

Like 1 Corinthians 4:9-13, this is powerful imagery concerning our vocational identity. We aren’t just God’s workers, but fellow workers on mission with Christ doing good works in Gospel partnership (Phil. 1:5-6). Concerning our colleagues and clients, they’re also designed for God’s assignments, but whether they know it or not should not deter us from working peaceably as it depends on us (Romans 12:18). As long as we accept the call to be Christ’s championing companions, we can embrace unity as helpers of joy (2 Corinthians 1:24) while perceiving our cultivation as an overflow of God’s goodness.

After all…

…we don’t work to lay the foundation; we work because Christ is the foundation!

Put another way, as co-laborers and vocational leaders, we’re meant to be laid on, not laid upon; hence, why Jesus says in Mark 3:25, “…a house divided against itself cannot stand.” If we don’t value teamwork apart from personal gain, our operations will be hindered having affirmed our identity as the foundation.

Again, this offers quite the paradox to the natural mind. Are we the foundation Christ, the master builder, lays or are we the slab plan built on Christ the foundation, by Christ the builder? Personally, I side with the latter, especially when I note the Psalmist and weeping prophet (i.e. Jeremiah) who perceived identity as predestined (Psalm 139:13, Jeremiah 1:5), Christ’s work in them1 as destined, and God’s nature as perpetually present. Applying their worldview, we can rest knowing as vocational influencers, we can mature our reach knowing it is Christ in us who does the cultivating through our work.

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In other words…

He is the vine, we are branches…but we are also a part of His vineyard!

Sometimes, we get so discouraged being branches, we forget the beauty of the garden we’ve been planted in. This tells me not only do we need to know Christ as the foundation on which we stand, but also the cultivator who pours out seeing the growth before it happens.

Colossians 1:4 and 2:2 (AMP) captures this process beautifully.

We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus [how you lean on Him with absolute confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness], and of the [unselfish] love2 which you have for all the saints (God’s people)…For my hope is that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in [unselfish] love, so that they may have all the riches that come from the full assurance of understanding [the joy of salvation], resulting in a true [and more intimate] knowledge of the mystery of God, that is, Christ…”

Combining these passages, we find the blueprint to living our vocational identity. When we’re overcome by disappointment, we choose gratitude seeking God in confidence. When we’re overwhelmed by hate, prejudice, and indifference we choose love seeking God in faith. And when we’re overpowered by unbelief and unforgiveness, we choose hope seeking God in His grace and power. In this way, we allow the towel (John 13: 1-9) to unfold as our hearts yearn to see others transformed and united by unselfish love. Granted, when we talk being on the job in the midst of funk and discrimination, this is easier said than done.

Then again, the whole point of Paul writing this is to encourage the Gentiles to desire unity with the Jews in hope to see them know Christ. And it’s this heart posture, I submit, we embrace as believing vocations on marketplace frontlines. Remember we are built up to build up, a process that with God knows no bounds.

As far as what we do between being built up in Christ and building up through Christ, Paul does give an additional template on this later in Colossians 2. For now, let’s pause and revisit the topic in next week’s post on how we contend for unity at work.

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. Ministry of reconciliation/sanctification
  2. The key to understanding this and other statements about love is to know that this love (the Greek word agape) is not so much a matter of emotion as it is of doing things for the benefit of another person, that is, having an unselfish concern for another and a willingness to seek the best for another.
Photo creds: FULLER studio

Integrating Ministry & Marketplace: The Temple Template

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).

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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

3 Ways to Mature as an Effective Influencer (Part 1)

If I were to ask what the point of ministry is, what would you say?

Drawing people to Christ? Developing them as disciple-makers? Deploying them into service?

Albeit, these are all fine answers…but what if I told you we can sum up ministry in one word…

…influence.

Would you agree?

Regardless, the Word is clear our ministry emerges from our influence.

Consider 2 Corinthians 5:11

Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others.”

If you’re like me, you hear ‘persuade’ and immediately think ‘convince’; yet, when we dissect the Hebrew and extend it through v. 21, we find Paul is actually talking about influence.

Applying this filter, we can better understand how influence not only partners in God’s ministry of reconciliation, but matures our effectiveness as marketplace influencers.

Granted, there are many ways to broach the topic. For now, we’ll start with our usual ‘core three’ and work from there…

1. Know who you’re fearing

As mentioned, the bottom line of ministry is reconciliation achieved through influencing; however, to get there it’s important we grasp the fear of the Lord.

For while “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:7), it’s also a preserver of our sincerity (Colossians 3:22) and a gateway to comfort in the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:31).

Note the latter reference:

So the church throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria had peace and was being built up. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, it multiplied.”

This tells me two things:

  1. Godly fear multiplies wisdom and virtue in addition to faith.
  2. The evidence of influence is peace inspired by encouragement.

Therefore, when we talk about influence, we’re not talking as much about personal strength as we are the maturation of corporate morale and pointing people in the direction of Jesus (more on this in future posts).

Contrarily, it’s important we understand what influence isn’t.

‘Cause while the key to influence is the fear of the Lord, the enemy will use the opposite spirit, the fear of man, along with memories of past hurt to contrive a narrative where we’re seeking to overcome what’s already been overcome.

Thankfully, as Kingdom agents…ministers of reconciliation who can persuade through the fear of the Lord…we can rhythmically resist this mindset whiling combating the compromised systems of the world.

For as long as there is sin, enterprise will be governed by hierarchy1 where people are bound by control, manipulation, and intimidation. Yet, as for you, you can see people as God sees them (i.e. forgiven) and help them find purpose through daily influencing where they are.

After all, freedom begets freedom…and He craves it more than you do.

2. Know how you’re leading

As effective influencers2, it’s imperative we not only have the right mindset towards people, but our work as well.

For starters, we must view our work as an opportunity to show people who they are as opposed to a stage to prove our self-worth. In this way, we not only invest trust in God being the one to open eyes, but free ourselves to influence through our wiring and discover new strengths through how God uses their responses.

‘Cause truth is: When we allow God into our realm of influence, we trade the pressure of of accomplishing goals for a humility motivating others to reach them.

But Cam…what if I’m not a team leader or in a place of authority?

Again, to answer this question…we must ask ourselves why we’re asking it.

For instance…

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If we’re talking about what we’ve been conditioned to believe…then authority is nothing more than the appointed person governing ‘over’ us; however, if we’re talking about absolute authority3, then we can see how a) God alone carries it…and b) what we often associate as ‘authority’ is, in fact, influence manifest through the seven motivational gifts (as outlined in Romans 12).

Again, the system…a real life Matrix if you will…runs by pecking order, production, and the Jerry Maguire mindset of ‘show me the money’, but…

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…as Kingdom influencers, we can approach metrics and outcomes without agenda by combining nurturing with our competence4.

Thus, whether you’re a supervisor in crunch time or a subordinate in training, you can help hold your team accountable to achieve certain goals in your respective roles. Just remember no matter what you do to galvanize effort, make sure it stems from a desire for everyone to succeed given a true influencer always values people over goals and never risks reaching them at the cost of another’s well-being.

For when we value people and decompartmentalize our desire to impact them, we not only influence a place where encouragement and goodness abound, but also where confidence and favor are ultimately shared.

Stay tuned next time when I’m unveil my third and final step to maturing as an effective influencer in the marketplace.

‘Til then if you have any questions, thoughts, concerns, feel free to leave them below in the ‘comments’ section and I’ll return serve as soon as I can.

Peace for your week,

~ Cameron

Footnotes

  1. As well as the idea leadership is greater than serving (contrary to Romans 12 which tells us each gift is equal and carries status and dignity)
  2. All influencers lead, but not all leaders influence
  3. Difference between authority and authorities
  4. A simple formula for adding value to your team members in a way they’ll turn to you for guidance and feedback

Cover photo creds: MikeLavere.com

Kingdom Agents: The Reason We Exist (Part 1)

As mentioned in last week’s podcast, His Girl Fryday exists to bridge the bivocational divide between ministry and marketplace.

Yet, while our mission is to provide tools for your influence, give value for your destiny, and find the balance between sacred and secular, our vision…the reason why we exist…is worth discussion.

For starters, we see you as significant…a Kingdom agent made to influence (whether in business, church/missions, or both) who, like us, need routine refreshers of truth and how they apply in challenging situations.

For instance…

What do you do when an authority figure chews you out…

…or when a subordinate isn’t getting the job done?

How do we cope when a friend/colleague is stuck in sin…or when organic community constantly seems out of reach?

No question, there’s a whole lot of life to troubleshoot this side of heaven; however, while your worldview, your perception of reality, matters, it’s not until we apply a Kingdom grid to it that we begin to respond in a transformative way.

Thus, when it comes to why we exist…we exist to equip…to help you react/respond on God’s terms…whether it involves overcoming past mindsets and habit patterns or troubleshooting leadership/relationship issues.

‘Cause truth is: it’s one thing to know you’re significant, but it’s another thing to know who you are (i.e. a Kingdom agent) in the face of selfish tendencies and compromised philosophy.

Paul, in part, talks about this in Romans 8 when he says, “…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.” (v. 37)

What are ‘all these things’?

Backtrack to v. 35 – “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger, or sword?”

Essentially, Paul is saying nothing can shield us from God’s love. Yes, we can choose to turn our backs, but this doesn’t mean we’re out of God’s reach.

Therefore, because God is for us and has given everything necessary for goodness and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), we can take confidence in being more than a conqueror and extend it into our marketplace function1.

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As for this resource…

…it’s not only our heart to see the church embrace what God is doing in the marketplace…

…but our passion, as de-compartmentalizing ambassadors on the frontlines and sidelines of whatever race you’re running, to inspire ‘walk and talk’ alignment and connection among the bivocational/marketplace body.

That is why we exist.

Stay tuned next time when I’ll dive into why we, as marketplace ministers, must see ourselves as agents of heaven on a rescue mission.

‘Til then, peace to the journey,

~ Cameron Fry

Footnotes

  1. Basically, building and extending this confidence answers ‘why we’re here’

Cover photo creds: Image Paper Safari

3 Ways to Level ↑ Your E-mails

E-mails.

We all write them…but do we really know how?

I know, I know…sounds silly to ask, especially in the Information Age business world we live in.

Still, when it comes to etiquette, how we frame professional communication within pragmatic boundaries is worth discussion.

As a governmental employee, I’ve been on both sides of the decorum fence as a sender and recipient. So trust me when I say the importance of lining up what you say and what you mean is very important.

That said, here are three practical points in delivering quality e-mail content…

1. Keep it ‘short and sweet’

As a writer, I admit: I can be wordy at times.  I remember early in my career, I would often exhaust my word count fearing I’d say too little, conceal my tact, and/or give my recipient room to read between the lines.

Yet, after years of composition, I ultimately discovered my best e-mails were the ones with simple language and basic syntax (think 4th grade level as opposed to 8th 1). Granted, variance in e-mail construction hinge on the need; however, in most professional scenarios, e-mails will either answer a question or call to action.

Thus, if you want to communicate more effectively, consider a ‘short and sweet’ approach. Not only will you capture the problem more cogently, but also increase the odds of it being solved more quickly. Not to mention you limit the risk of asking unnecessary questions.

Bottom line: Coherency and conciseness go hand in hand.

After all, if you’re going to troubleshoot, why not shoot straight?

Bonus: If you’re concerned your ‘short and sweet’ e-mail is more on the short than sweet side, consider inserting a smiley emoji after the greeting or concluding sentence (informal cases only).

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2. Make humility apparent

In a day-to-day grind, it’s hard to be perfect. Clearly, as long as there’s work, there’s going to be errors…and with errors, an assortment of cleanup, manipulative maneuvers2, and mountains made from molehills.

Okay, okay…maybe those last two are a tad extreme; however, as real world correction has taught me, it’s worth noting how to handle being on the wrong side of them.

‘Cause truth is: when people throw you shade, there’s always a fade3…and that, in one word, is humility.

Now I know for many humility is nothing more than a ‘kill with kindness’ or ‘fall on the sword’ strategy; however, given true humility has no agenda, it’s safe to say these approaches are flawed since they cater to what you want to say or what you think others want you to say.

From my experience, if you want to live true humility in the marketplace, the best approach is through forthright evaluation. In other words, if there’s something to own, be sincere in owning it; if there’s something to resolve, be direct in resolving it.

Remember when rectifying conflict electronically, the emphasis should always be reconciling the issue as opposed to justifying why it exists. In doing so, not only will you validate concerns, but establish value to whom and what is necessary to move the ball down the field.

Bottom line: Wrong turns happen. Why not write4 the ship by humbling yourself and letting God’s grace exalt you?

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3. Proofread your tone, not just your grammar

 It’s fair to say the e-mail equivalent of ‘think before you speak‘ is ‘proof before you send’.

Need proof? Just check out your app store…

Grammarly, PerfectIt, Ginger, AutoCrit, No Red Ink, Hemingway Editor, Phrase Express, After The Deadline, EssayDot…and we’re just scratching the surface.

Yet, while most of us associate proofreading to syntax and grammar, arguably one of the most underrated elements in e-mail content construction is checking for tone.

Yes, you may be able to master subject lines, use the right words, and succinctly capture information; however, if you don’t put yourself in your recipient’s shoes before pressing ‘send’, you risk losing the message through ambiguity and misunderstanding.

Bottom line: When proofing your e-mails, dare to read them as sender and receiver.

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Footnotes

  1. Just because you decrease the reading level, doesn’t mean you decrease the tact
  2. i.e. ‘throw under the bus’ tactics
  3. Specifically, a fade from offense
  4. Intentional misspelling

Cover photo creds: Shutterstock