Operation City of Lights

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Is there a personal calling to serve Christ in the Marketplace?  I believe there is.  I  am a believer because of the testimony of others who spoke of Christ from two differing platforms; the ministry and the marketplace.

In San Francisco in 1995 I found myself suddenly the product of a broken relationship 2,000 miles from home.  Much was broken in my life including any relationship to my Father in Heaven.  As I cried out to one I did not yet know He answered me and said, “this does not happen to those who are right with Me”.  Immediately a  vision of my parents came to me and their love which has lasted their lifetime.  The message was clear to me, their heart for God was “right” in his eyes.  There was a way to be right with God.

The marketplace witness came within two weeks in the form of a fellow geologist on a work site at Alameda Naval Air Station.  I let the team know I was moving back to the midwest.  She brought a Bible to me on my last day of work.  Inside she wrote of a love so great that she knew of personally, and one that I could know as well; the Love of Jesus Christ.  A love that could not be broken.

It would take another 10 months for me to hear the gospel, receive His sacrifice for my sins, and begin a love so great just as I witnessed in the marketplace 10 months before.  Yes, people are called to serve The Lord within the marketplace. I know first hand.

For good reason we esteem those in spiritual authority for the watch they have over our souls.  But that does not disqualify evangelism by those outside full-time ministry.  Nor does it excuse the rest of us from our command to make disciples.

We are all laborers for the harvest wherever He calls us, ministry or marketplace.  Paul seems to plead with us to recognize the special place of our calling by saying it twice:

 Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called (1 Corinthians 7:20);

and again,

Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called (1 Corinthian 7:24).

I was called as a geologist.  You are called to your profession.  We each are called to bring light, life, and the name of Jesus Christ to our personal marketplace.

Indeed, what you may devalue as a second-rate calling may be your special deployment.  The “operation faith” to which your life experiences and gifting by the Lord has prepared you.

You are the light of the world.  A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14).   

You are set on a hill called “commerce” to be light.  Can I encourage you today to be that light to someone in need today in your workplace?  Can I prod you to consider a new purpose for your profession, occupation, or business?

But how are we to be light in offices, schools, storefronts, and organizations that are not asking us for the light?

That is simple.  It is by being yourself and not being less than yourself.

In each believer that is connected to and in love with The Lord is a wellspring of life.  The life takes form in prayer, encouragement, hope, faith, and love in the workplace.  More practically Proverbs is filled with practical advice on how we may apply the wisdom of God to nearly every imaginable experience in the workplace.  Consider the following in Proverbs:

  1. Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right (16:8)
  2.   The heart of the wise teaches his mouth and adds learning to his lips (16:23)
  3.   Without council plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established (15:22)
  4. He who is greedy for gain troubles his own house, but he who hates bribes will live (15:27)
  5.   The ear that hears rebuke will abide among the wise (15:31)
  6.   He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, but he who heeds rebuke gets understanding (15:32).
  7. In all labor there is profit but idle chatter will lead to poverty (14:23).
  8. He who oppresses the poor reproaches his Maker, but he who honors Him has mercy on the needy (14:31).
  9. He who guards his mouth preserves his life, but he who opens wide his lips shall have destruction (13:3).
  10. The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor (12:25).

How we conduct ourselves in business is important to God.  It is a measure of the purity of our heart.  But none of us has been a light to others everyday.  We often fail to fully release to others what the Lord has placed within us.  I am guilty of missing opportunities to pray, believe, and speak in faith when it was most needed.

We need to form new habits day by day to consistently follow Christ at work:

  • Shine Where You Are:  God suggests that we should remain the “calling” in which we are called.  Make up your mind to fully serve Him where you are and stop waiting for a more holy calling.
  • Be Supernatural Where You Are:  He gives ideas to help and prosper us in our work.  He gives us prayer opportunities and wants to move through us.  Listen to the Holy Spirit to nudge you and wake you up to these opportunities.
  • Live Right in Your Marketplace:  Your decisions, world view, treatment of people, and your servanthood to others speak of who you are.  If you are not connected to him Monday through Friday there will be no light.  But, if you offer your work to Him daily His light will illuminate your marketplace.

Articulating a New Business Worldview

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There is an agonizing yet accurate scene in Hollywood’s modern adaption of Noah’s Ark, Evan Almighty. The main character, Representative Evan Baxter, is asked who told him there would be a coming flood. He stands up in a US Congressional Hearing, in front of a nationwide audience, to the dread of his own family, and says, “God”.

The courtroom erupts, his pundits label him a freak and his wife leaves him.

The scene lays bare an unspoken commandment of the American marketplace; thou shalt not speak of faith in the workplace. Talk of faith is considered too much of a lightening rod to handle in our whitewashed corporate suites where diversity, acceptance, and placating others is the corporate doctrine.

Currently, it is rarely an acceptable cultural norm in the United States to discuss The Lord publicly in business. It is further taboo to state that The Lord influences your decisions and the decisions you make on behalf of the company.

You may be thinking that it would be unwise to discuss such a controversial subject in the marketplace. You may rightly state that it could be bad for business. Yet, what is the Lords’ perspective on this issue?

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:6).

The Lord expects us to acknowledge Him not just with those who know him but even with some of those who do not know Him. He expects this for His Name’s sake; that His Name would be known among all men.

I believe it is productive and healthy for believers in business ownership and leadership positions to acknowledge in the work place that The Lord is influencing their decisions. I believe it is a legitimate and even preferred route to guiding the ship of business to consult and lead with the Lord when compared with consulting with men and women only, as with secular leadership.

If we have prayed for The Lord to guide a decision and He gives direction it would stand to reason in the business meeting we would say something like, “I have prayed to find the best solution to this problem and I believe The Lord is telling us to go this direction”. Instead we communicate the counsel without acknowledging the Counselor, if we ask the Counselor at all. In this manner we censor ourselves and miss an opportunity to witness Christ in our business.

But what if our staff has non-believers? Well, you routinely lead staff using principles that you have learned over time but that they may or may not understand yet, correct? Not all your staff has the insight of the CEO but you don’t try to guide the ship of business by only the lessons they have yet learned, do you? If so, we each would have to bone up on our knowledge of accounting, IT, and organizational structure. These disciplines are not known by all but each are used to guide the company. So, it is ok to lead the company with principles not yet understood by all.

But it is not easy to acknowledge the Lord publicly in business. I remember leading a business development meeting with staff from around the country and I was trying to describe how expanding services would bring more clients and more revenue into the company. I drew a parallel by saying, it’s like the Bible says, “open up the windows of heaven and I will pour out a blessing. Giving more services to clients opens up more windows through which we may be blessed”.

Within two weeks the company president flew in to tell me that it was ok to have faith but you just can’t express it like you may want in the work place. In effect, the company wanted to censor faith speach. He used a quote from St. Francis of Assisi to help me, “Preach Christ everywhere and when you must, use words”.

Well, I learned of Christ by people who were not afraid to speak about Christ. I remember in 1995 a geologist in San Francisco gave me a Bible on the job knowing Jesus was what I needed, and what I didn’t have at the time. Monks are not soul winners.

Forget the monks, what does the Word say about this? In Acts 5:27-29, the Pharisees say, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man’s blood on us!” But Peter and the other apostles answered and said:

“We ought to obey God rather than men

We ought to obey God in the workplace in addition to men, and sometimes, rather than men. So what do we do if we are censored or persecuted? What if we are released from employment? What if we are overlooked from promotion due to reasons of our faith? Do not fear, instead:

  • Bless (Romans 12:14) – Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
  • Cry Out to God (Psalm 119:86) – All your commands are trustworthy; help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.
  • Endure (1 Corinthians 4:12) – We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it.
  • Delight in the Law of the Lord (Ps 119:92) – If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
  • Be Blessed (Matthew 5:10) – Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Pandering CEO’s Guide to Censoring Christmas

imagesDear American CEO

In your wish to maximize year-end profit please remember to quietly refuse any reference of Christ or Christmas in your workplace this holiday season.   In order to provide maximum sales of your products nothing must offend your customer’s experience in your stores.  Offending customers may limit traffic, create bad press, and reduce revenue.

Further, offended staff may reduce their productivity.  Remember, as the leader of your company, it is most important to keep your staff on task.   Unity is king!  Do not indulge your staff with opportunity to express any “spiritual” significance during the most important shopping season of the year.  They must together carry the message of “holiday” to help bring a successful close to the fiscal season.

I have learned effective ways to keep this holiday season focused on the almighty dollar.  They are lessons I’ve learned from CEO’s that came before me.  I am willing to share them with you because I see you have what it takes to carry them forward.  You have strictly compartmentalized your faith.  Monday through Saturday is for business.  Church is for Sundays.  Stick with that and you could gain the whole world!

Anyway, here are some lessons I’ve learned from CEO’s in my Christmas’ past:

  1. Forbid the word “Christmas”:  This word is associated with “Christians” and those that do not share their faith may feel slighted.  We want to include everyone in on the “holiday” alternative.  So, by all means no more “Merry Christmas” in the workplace.
  2. Replace the annual “Christmas Card” with a “Holiday Card”:  Most people won’t care or notice.  Again, we want to be friends to all and not slight others that are different from us.  This acceptance really shows love better than making people uncomfortable, right?
  3. Send an email to your staff explaining the “appropriate way” to communicate:  You are the leader and must communicate your vision to replace “Merry Christmas” with “Happy Holidays”.  They will follow your lead.  Remember, it’s for the unity of the team!
  4. Donate to a “Humanitarian” Cause:  Show your goodwill to all by donating to a cause that does not offend.  Stay away from groups that take stands against non-traditional lifestyles.  Stay away from donating to groups like the Boy Scouts, Salvation Army, etc.
  5. Remind everyone the private nature of “faith”:  This is the key to convincing them all.  It’s certainly ok for your staff to have “faith” so long as they don’t share it.  What’s that saying?  Oh yeah, “Preach Christ everywhere you go, and when necessary, use words.”  Use that and you’ll get their heads nodding like a Santa Clause Bobble Head doll!

Happy Season!

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