- Opportunity recognition
- Resource acquisition
- Venture creation
- Organization expansion and growth
The most important reason is that letting your organization be a miserable place to work is just plain wrong. Employee satisfaction and engagement is an intrinsic good that everyone ought to care about — especially Christian ministries — because it is the right thing to do.
For those still not convinced (though if doing the right thing isn’t important to you, maybe you shouldn’t be in the workforce…), here’s a great combination of the ethical case and the business case in one paragraph (from the article I linked to yesterday, Entrepreneurs Must Save America):
People say that America will beat China because the U.S. is full of innovators and China isn’t. What do you think?
Clifton: For one thing, that’s not true. China can innovate. But they don’t have a culture that understands the power of engaged workers. Right now, they just out-low-cost-manufacture the world. But that won’t last forever. Their wages will keep going up, and jobs will go to other places — to Southeast Asia, to India, probably some to Africa, maybe some to parts of the Middle East.
But for now, it’s safe to say they’re winning the jobs war?
Clifton: Definitely. Yes, they’ve got the momentum right now.
Then why does it matter if China has engaged workers?
Clifton: Because engagement is a precondition for the state of mind that creates entrepreneurs. Miserable workgroups chase customers away. Miserable workforces don’t create any economic energy, so those companies are always cutting jobs. America will not come back and win the world unless we have the most spirited workforce. Spirited workforces create new customers. New customers create new jobs.
That’s the point of a helpful interview in the Gallup Management journal with Jim Clifton, author of the The Coming Jobs War. Here’s an excerpt:
The United States has no shortage of great ideas and innovations. What the country most needs right now are highly motivated entrepreneurs who can turn those ideas into great businesses — and thus create millions of new jobs.
China fills needs; Steve Jobs created needs. Nobody knew they needed an iPhone.
So says Gallup Chairman Jim Clifton in his book, The Coming Jobs War. Clifton is worried because America and much of the rest of the world are trying to boost innovation while entrepreneurs — living, breathing, job-creating engines — are neglected.
Clifton’s book draws from Gallup’s extensive analysis of U.S. and worldwide poll data, macroeconomic data on job creation, and trends in world economics. That analysis has uncovered astonishing and sometimes discomfiting facts. But a central finding of the book is that the will of the world has changed.
People used to desire love, money, food, shelter, safety, peace, and freedom more than anything else. Now, however, what everyone in the world wants is a good job. And as Clifton discusses below, by concentrating on innovators and neglecting entrepreneurs, we may be making it harder to create the jobs the world wants and needs.
An excellent point: innovation is critical, but not enough. More than innovation, we need entrepreneurs who create the businesses, non-profits, and ministries of tomorrow.
For entrepreneurs — which I think is most helpfully defined as those who start things – and those interested in improving their entrepreneurial skills, few resources are more helpful than Guy Kawasaki’s The Art of the Start: The Time-Tested, Battle-Hardened Guide for Anyone Starting Anything.
Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding.
“Buy truth” = you can know truth. It’s obtainable.
“Buy truth” = it’s worth getting. That is, it is valuable.
“Do not sell it” = states the same thing from another angle: it’s valuable. Hold on to it. It’s worth keeping.
(From Jon Rittenhouse, A Biblical View of Truth.)
The 3 things are:
- Personal management: how to get things done and know what the right things are to get done
- Career management
As a result, most of us need to learn these on our own, on the job. If you really try to figure them out and do them well, it’s a painful process — especially if most of the people you are working with are in the same boat (which, since these things aren’t taught well in school, is usually the case).
There are good seminars and courses and training workshops on each of these areas for those in the workforce, especially if you work at a large corporation. The leadership teaching that is out there is often pretty good, because it emphasizes that leadership is about building people up just as much as making things happen. But even that is less effective without a broad set of foundational knowledge already in place that you can relate it to. If you start learning about leadership, for example, at 28, when you are put in a leadership position in your organization, you are still 14 years behind where you could have been (or 20 years behind). This makes the journey that much harder. Same with learning how to manage your career and manage yourself, even if you encounter the need to learn these much earlier (toward the end of college or shortly after).
I’m not saying that there aren’t excellent leadership opportunities available in the educational system; there are. And, that does a lot of good. (So things aren’t nearly as bad as they could be!) But I’m talking about explicit teaching on what leadership is, how to do it, and so forth, in addition to actual leadership experiences.
This has large costs to us as a society, as so many people end up spinning their wheels trying to figure out what direction to go long-term with their career, trying to figure out how to manage themselves, and learning how to lead that they could have spent actually leading and, in terms of their career management, avoiding some wrong turns.
And it’s not just the education system that has dropped the ball here. Churches have too. Churches are mandated by God to be led well and to develop leaders (that’s the meaning of Isaiah 32:1-8, if you understand it correctly, among other passages). Because of the priesthood of all believers, this means teaching all believers how to lead well, not just those in ministry. Yet, strangely, much of the time the church opposes leadership development because of the notion that it is somehow worldly or unspiritual.
This is a long-term problem. Obviously I have lots of thoughts on how this could be fixed, but this is enough for now.
Actually, schools tend to teach almost nothing on how to do knowledge work — that is, on the actual process for high performance workflow management (as opposed to the specific skill sets for various jobs, such as creating financial statements, etc., etc., which is taught in abundance).
Here are three things that you especially never hear, but are true:
- You will have to spend more time than expected doing seemingly strange and mundane tasks like organizing your computer files (or trying to figure out how you want them organized!) and figuring out where to capture and store all the various ideas you have.
- If people make fun of you for this (like my pastor has!; good-naturedly), ignore them. These are essential components for knowledge work, and your actual ideas, plans, and work products are better if you can keep yourself organized.
- This is because, somehow, in the process of organizing your ideas and knowledge work inputs and outputs, real work gets done beyond just the organizing (though that is important in itself).
A Christian View of Working in Your Strengths (Especially in Relation to Thinking About Our Weaknesses)
People often ask me “if we are supposed to seek to work within our strengths most of the time, what about our weaknesses?” The question is about more than simply “how do we manage our weaknesses.” Rather, the question stems from the (very good) observation that God especially uses weakness in his kingdom. Does this change anything about the way we should go about our work? Should we, for example, conclude that we should not seek to focus on our strengths most of the time?
I have many thoughts on this, and actually have written a short book (unpublished, and not yet fully polished) on a Christian view of strengths where I also deal with this question in some detail. (That book was originally a very, very long chapter I originally wrote for What’s Best Next.) I hope to publish that book at some point, once What’s Best Next is taken care of.
But for now, here’s a chief part of the answer: There are plenty of weaknesses within your strengths themselves. You don’t need to worry about making yourself weaker than you already truly are.
And, if God has a special weakness he has ordained for your life to make you more fruitful as you have to rely on his power to live in light of it and overcome it, he’ll see to that, as he did with Paul (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
Further, what’s interesting from Paul’s experience is that he was actually quite diligent in asking the Lord to take away his weakness (see verse 8). That is the Christian response. It is not Christian to try to make ourselves weaker than we already are. That’s presumption, not Christianity. The Christian response to suffering is to first ask the Lord to take it away. But then in instances where he doesn’t, then the Christian response is to accept it and, indeed, glory in it, as Paul did, as a (forced!) invitation to rely on a greater strength — namely, the strength of Christ (vv. 9-10).
Let me just say one more thing. I would suggest that, perhaps, the notion that we ought to avoid focusing on our strengths is actually somewhat prideful. For it assumes that your strengths are stronger than they really are. You focus on your weaknesses when you are forced to. That’s what makes them weaknesses. A weakness that is “chosen” is not, typically, a true weakness.
Use your strengths. God has given them to you, and you in fact have an obligation to use them for the good of others — that’s what justice is: the strong using their strength on behalf of others (note also the biblical exhortations to do this in 2 Corinthians 8 – 10; also the command in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 as it applies to money and the Parable of the Talents). Please don’t worry about being “too strong.” You’re not. And when God does bring (even greater) weakness your way, first seek to remove it and ask him to remove it and, if he doesn’t, recognize it as an opportunity to rely on God in a different way, and rejoice in that.
I love and fully affirm the centrality of the biblical call to meet the full range of people’s needs, not just spiritual needs. When people are hungry, we need to feed them (Matthew 25:35). When they are mistreated, we need to stand up for them (Isaiah 1:17; Job 29:12-17). When they are sick, we need to visit them (Matthew 25:36). It is noteworthy that the false believers Christ rejects in Matthew 7:21-23 were apparently great at preaching (so-called), but neglected to meet people’s real, concrete needs as Christ instructs in Matthew 25:35-46.
We need to do better at this, and I think it is exciting to dream dreams of taking radical action for the good of others, and actually following through on those dreams. Further, we need to do this on a large scale, not just a small scale.
As we seek to correct our oversight as a church on the social action side of the last 90 years or so, it can be easy to emphasize the importance of social action in a way that downplays or minimizes the equal importance of evangelism. It is not uncommon to hear stories, for example, of short term missions teams going over to build houses for those in need, and yet never once mentioning the way of salvation through Christ. Further, we can feel that when we do make evangelism a chief aim, we almost need to apologize for it as though social action is what really “counts,” since it meets people’s concrete and directly felt needs.
This dichotomy is completely unnecessary. The reason is that the call to meet physical needs and the call to preach the gospel stem from the same motive and the same place in God’s heart.
Notice, for example, Matthew 9:13. Jesus chides the Pharisees here for not understanding the Scripture that “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6). The Pharisees consistently put their strange and odd rules over the welfare of people, and this Scripture stands squarely against that. This Scripture teaches us that what God requires of us is not following made-up rules, or even rules that seem justified on the basis of “self-protection” or keeping ourselves from sin, but actually serving people and meeting their needs (cf. also the related instance in Matthew 12:1-8).
God’s statement that he desires mercy and not sacrifice is a great passage, in other words, on the importance of social action and meeting physical needs. This is especially clear from the tie with the Parable of the Good Samaritan, where the Samaritan’s actions to meet the man’s physical needs are called “compassion” (Luke 10:33) and “mercy” (Luke 10:37). Jesus also often had compassion on the crowds, resulting in meeting their physical needs (Matthew 14:14; 9:35-36). To be a merciful person necessarily includes being on the lookout to meet physical needs.
But there is something even deeper in Matthew 9:13. When Jesus says “I desire mercy, and not sacrifice” there, he gives it as the reason and foundation for why he is interacting with sinners. For he immediately adds: “For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
At the heart of what Jesus is saying is this: True compassion involves not just taking action to meet people’s needs, but doing this even for the unworthy. “I desire mercy” does not simply mean “do good to those who do good to you.” Jesus is defining true compassion as having love for sinful, unworthy people at its very essence. What the Pharisees didn’t get is that when God calls us to have compassion on people, he doesn’t restrict it to apparently “worthy” people. Love that does not love the unworthy is actually not true love at all. That’s why the call to love one’s enemies is central, not an aside, to the biblical ethic of love (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36; Romans 12:19-21). True compassion has compassion even on sinners, those who have failed, and even one’s enemies.
Which is, of course, all of us (something else the Pharisees didn’t get).
This is why Jesus came to earth. He came because he is a loving, compassionate God, which means not simply that he does good for those who do good, but that he also seeks to rescue those who have done evil. That’s the true meaning of love. That’s Jesus’ point here. “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came to call not the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12-13).
This is also the meaning of John 3:16. “For God loved the world in this way: He gave his only begotten Son that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” That is, God’s love is the kind of love that gives utterly sacrificially even for the welfare of sinners–those who, as John puts it here, are in danger of perishing.
Seeking the welfare of unworthy — demonstrated in action — is part of the very definition of God’s love.
This is why social action is not enough. Love for others will and must manifest itself in meeting people’s concrete, tangible needs for food, shelter, companionship, and purpose in life. But beyond all of these things, we have a more fundamental, even deeper need: we are estranged from God because of our sin. True compassion does not stop at meeting people’s physical and social needs, therefore. It goes all the way and seeks to meet their spiritual need for reconciliation with God as well.
That’s how Jesus ultimately describes for us the meaning of “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” He demonstrates the meaning of that verse ultimately in his own ministry, coming into the world not simply to meet physical needs but also proclaim the gospel and thereby rescue us from our ultimate misery. “For I came … to call … sinners” (Matthew 9:13).
The same love that compels us to meet people’s concrete, physical needs also compels us to truly care for the full range of their needs — including their spiritual need to receive the forgiveness of sins and come to know God.
Romans 5:1 in many translations, including the ESV, reads: “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
There is a variant reading with this passage, however, and some manuscripts say instead “since we have been justified by faith, let us have peace with God.” In the first reading, peace with God is an absolute reality following from justification. In the second, it sounds as though, even though we are justified, we may have times where we are not “at peace” (or, complete peace) with God, and thus need to seek a state of complete peace with God, and our justification enables this.
Many people say both are true. While we do have peace with God because of justification, it seems as though we can disrupt our fellowship with God through sin. Not our acceptance (and thus ultimate peace) with God, but our fellowship and experience of that peace. While I think that distinction needs to be refined somewhat, there is probably something to it.
But what did Paul have in mind here? Did he have that distinction in mind, or was he making an unqualified statement about the perfect, unfailing, and infallible and unchanging rock-bottom peace and acceptance we have with God because of our justification, which continues even if our fellowship is disrupted through sin?
I think he was making the unqualified statement, because Romans 5:1 is a clear echo of Romans 8:1, which is unqualified. Romans 5:1 states it positively: “We have peace with God.” Romans 8:1 states the flip side: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Romans 5:1 and Romans 8:1 are restatements of one another. Each tells us the same truth, from different sides of the coin. To have peace with God (Romans 5:1) means, conversely, having no condemnation before him (Romans 8:1). Likewise, if we have no condemnation before him (Romans 8:1), then we are at utter and complete peace with him (Romans 5:1).
There is no textual variant with Romans 8:1 — it unquestionably states that we now have no condemnation. Hence, it is most likely the case that the parallel statement in Romans 5:1 is stating the same thing — that we now have peace with God, having been justified by faith.
Why does this matter? First, because it is important in itself to know what the correct reading of any text is. Beyond this, however, it gives power in the fight against sin and provides a foundation for true humility. For no matter how diligent you are to confess your sins and turn against them (as you ought to be diligent to do!), it is always the case that our sin is greater than we realize at any point in time.
The radical affirmation of Romans 5:1 (and Romans 8:1) is that our full and complete acceptance with God comes fully through faith, and not on our ability to fully see the depth of our sin in all respects which, this side of glory, is probably not fully possible. Thus, a correct understanding of Romans 5:1 keeps us from the pride of thinking that even our experience of fellowship with God is ultimately due to our own diligence in and ability to see the full depth of our sins.
In other words, it means that even the experience of fellowship with God is available to imperfect people. This is truly stunning, if you think about it.
How do you help those in need? Our default tendency seems to be to give advice. To give advice that is actually good is, of course, a good thing (although rare!). But the biblical call is for us to do much more than that. Consider:
“Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17).
“Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:3-4).
The way we typically act, it’s as though we take those passages to say “give advice to the weak and the fatherless; tell the afflicted that we live in a sinful world where injustice is rampant and they need to learn how to live with that; give kind words to the weak and the needy; tell people to pull themselves up by their bootstraps.”
That is emphatically not what the Scripture says. Yet, we often live as if it is.
Words can be helpful. But, when you see those in need, those who have been denied justice, mistreated, fallen on hard times, or other such things, the biblical call is not to give advice and stop there. It is to listen to what the wrongs are, and then actually do something about them. “Correct oppression.” “Defend the cause of the weak and fatherless; maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed” (Psalm 82:3-4, NIV).
Just people don’t just disagree with injustice. They do something about it.