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

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

3 Ways to Better Date Your Wife

Guys…let’s be real: you love the lady in your life. You love her smile, the way she moves, how she wears it, makes it…I’m sure I could go on.

But let’s be honest: how well do you actually show it? Perhaps not as much as you’re capable of, right?

Well, fear not. If you’re here hoping to spice up your marital dating relationship or simply mature as a pursuer, I got you covered. Granted, I can only give you a head start in your quest for better connection, but hey…a boost is a boost and that’s, in part, why HGF exists.

That said, let’s dive in and discuss three ways we, as husbands, can better date our wives…

  1. Date her, not the moment

As an adventure aficionado, I love a good time. Whether dinner and a movie, pizza in the park, or a concert on the green, it’s hard to top a night out with the ‘better half’.

Still, if you’re like me in the sense you take pride in being a skilled date night architect, then heed the reminder: a date is about the person you’re with, not the setting or seconds it happens in.

Not to suggest the man shouldn’t effort in laying down the proverbial red carpet. After all, dating and wooing should never be mutually exclusive; however, if you’re a guy who tends to pursue the moment more than the ‘so’ (significant other), it’s fair to question not only where your heart is anchored, but also who (or what) you’re actually dating.

My advice? Always remember while framing the moment is key, at the end of the day a) the woman is why you’re on the date in the first place, b) intimacy trumps entertainment, and c) it’s not about you.

Apply this formula in unison and I guarantee the moment will be where it needs to (i.e. secondary to the relationship).

Bottom line: 1) What makes a date is your date, not the date. 2) Don’t pursue what can’t pursue you back; instead, dare to align your focus and priorities on what ultimately lasts.

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  1. Make love a present rhythm

No question, time is a valuable commodity; hence, the reason ‘date’ (the engagement) shares the same word as ‘date’ (the occasion); however, have you ever wondered what would happen if the two dates became less synonymous?

For instance, if you’re on date wanting to ignite nostalgia into the moment, can you honestly say what you’re on is a ‘date’?  Or are you simply trying to regurgitate a throwback to feel closer to ‘first love’?

And hear me, men: I’m not trying to gut punch your moxy here. I’m just sayin’ for those who may be in the routine of dating as opposed to the rhythm, it’s worth exercising caution when comparing the current edition of your ‘better half’ to the edition you first met. ‘Cause truth is: your wife isn’t who she used to be…and the love you’ve built isn’t what it used to be. Rather, both are continually upgrading  on account of precious time and energy being invested into a deeper connection fermenting with time.

Therefore, if you can resist the comparisons, then chances are you’ll be in much better position to revive love in the present, not an outdated version from years past.

Bottom line: 1) The best way to ‘carpe diem’ your date starts with sparking love where it’s at, not where it’s been. 2) Be in the rhythm, not routine, of dating your wife.

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  1. Make her the center of attention

While I may seem like a ‘hitch’ for dating, I admit there are times I [almost] take the opportunity for granted.

Yet, whenever I’m lucky fortunate enough to catch myself, I’ve learned the best adjustment is to find my wife within my attention and make her the center.

To do this, I subscribe to the following formula…

  1. Turn off your cell phone. Note: If you’re more controlled than I am, you can get away with silencing, but as one who likes to check scores, fantasy teams, social media post-‘post’, etc…I’ve learned it’s better/safer to go the extra yard here).
  2. Sit back turned to screens. Exception: Your wife has agreed to join you on a Buffalo Wild Wings date to watch the Predators, Titans (or the team of your choice) dominate.
  3. Seek a new compliment and/or question. Guys, if you can relate to point #2, then you’re going to want to deviate from distraction in a way that blends creativity with challenge. For me, this comes in the form of asking, ‘What’s new’ without actually saying ‘what’s new’.

Examples:

a) ‘I noticed you talking with ____ on the phone earlier? How did your conservation go? What did you talk about?’ (Note: Don’t EVER stop a thread after one question. See how the second question gives dialogue more trail options?)

b) ‘I noticed the casserole tasted different. What extra ingredient did you use? Whatever it was, I liked it!’ (Note: Some may consider ‘different’ to be a dangerous word; however, if you use it, make sure the connotation is positive. Yes, you could say ‘better’, but in case her reply is, ‘What was wrong with it before?’…make sure you have an answer ready).

c) ‘How was your admin tech meeting?’ What did your team talk about?

d) ‘If I remember correctly, you had a lunch date today with _____’ (repeat ‘a’ in follow-up)

e) Plan a future getaway and inquire bucket-list activities while also linking them to adventures of old (i.e. did you ever do this as a family back in the day; great way to blend past, present, and future together).

Bottom line: Regardless of what route you choose, remember a) whenever you give authentic inquisition and humility permission to dig, you ultimately discover places within your spouse you didn’t realize were there, b) your wife is a tome, not a spark note…thus why not read every word of every page as opposed to just skimming, and c) as husbands, we were made to reflect perfect love in perfecting fashion…which can’t happen unless we make it known.

So what are we waiting for? Let’s show our wives what they were made to be shown…and relish the time we have to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

Assurance

Stay tuned next time for Lyssah‘s installment on how wives can better relate and connect to their husbands.

Cover photo creds: Mental Floss