One of the things that saddens me are messages from people turning to me for help instead of turning to God. I do my best to share my thoughts and give advice, but anyone who actually reads my posts regulary, instead of just browsing and liking status messages, will know that one of the things I hate is celebrityism, which is the illogical praise, admiration, and/or dependence on a person just because he or she is known. I don’t like the idea of “special people” because I believe that everyone has the responsibility and potential to do the good works God has for them, starting with serving the people around us. Celebrityism makes us turn to limited man when we all have access to an unlimited God. This is both illogical and ineffective. We are all called to bear our own cross, and we can all cast our burdens on Jesus. To expect and insist someone else to carry our cross is selfish and will lead to disappointment. I’m up at 4:30am casting my own cares to God, I encourage you, if your cross is so heavy and your need so urgent, to do the same.
It was night already, I had just finished a meeting when I got a call. “I’m really upset.” Carla said with her very obvious upset voice. “Is it true that you allowed this?” she asked.
“Yup?” I said. “Why? What’s the problem?”
“This thing is not inline with our values.”
“Why not?” and I proceeded to explain why I didn’t think we weren’t crossing any lines.
She replied with her own explanation of why I was wrong, and why we needed to correct what I had green-lighted. After some discussion, it became clear that she was right and I was wrong. So I admitted she was right, we agreed on the proper next steps, and then I called two other team members who were directly affected to clarify the situation. Then I took a cab to my next meeting, finished that, did my evening routine and went to bed.
The next day, at our daily 7:00am huddle (Yes, we start at 7:00am), I shared the incident with the team, owned up to my mistake, and commended Carla for confronting me. I did this so that every single member of the team would know that not only is it possible and accepted to correct your boss at Bridge, but welcomed. I want them to be using their brains. I want them to sharpen their minds and use them to sharpen mine. I want them to know that it’s not only safe to question but beneficial, that debating doesn’t have to be disrespectful but is an important part of discovery. And I want them to know that I’m not infallible, that I need every single one of them to step up, to become really smart, really strong, really courageous, really excellent, really hard working, and really wise for their customers, for each other, and for me.
I did this because I want them more loyal to our mission and values than to me. And I told them so. “Your loyalty is to Bridge not to me. And what is Bridge? It’s this team embracing one mission and sharing distinct values. If you find me doing things that don’t make work life better for others, correct me.”
I think they got the point. I hope they got that point.
But then I explained my next point, “These tensions make us great. These seeming contradictions, Jett pushing the sales to the edge, Carla pushing compliance, Eric pushing technology, Janna pushing process, all of us are pushing to make our diverse responsibilities work, to make sure we’re the best at our individual domains, because there’s no room for second best. Keep pushing your domain forward. And in our pushing on all fronts, naturally, tension will arise, and during this tension, we will need to learn how to come together and briskly discuss the pros and cons in light of our values and mission. We can’t just jump to conclusions. we can’t just fee bad or feel good. We need to explore what we’re facing. It’s this process of cooperation amidst conflict that leads to breakthrough. So let’s get used to it.
Be so excellent in your field that you can’t help but challenge each other. Be so clear with our mission and values that we can’t help but refine our decisions with them.
We’ll be more than fine. We’ll be great.”
I didn’t exactly say it that way (I tend to ad-lib), but those were my notes. t hope they got that point too.
It’s these tensions that make us great. It’s these challenges that we overcome that lead to mastery, and mastery leads to confidence. I’m glad I have growth-oriented people pushing the boundaries. And I’m glad that the conflicts are settled with conviction and cooperation. I’m confident that someday when the world looks back, it will be glad that we did.
“Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a bondservant or is free.
Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him.”
Ephesians 6:5-9 ESV
Reflection Question: Is my work worshipping God?
I thought about this after reading the verse above, and I think it’s a great question for anyone who calls himself a Christ-follower. While I don’t believe that there are “Christian companies”, just as there are no “Christian bands”, or “Christian T-Shirts”, there are Christian people, and only Christian people. A Christian is someone who folows Christ, not someone who is affiliated with a certain group or organization, neither is it a t-shirt or piece of music as neither can follow Christ, even as they can be used by a human Christ-follower for worship. So while a Christ-follower may be affiliated with an organization, it doesnt mean that being affiliated with that organization means thst a person is a Christ-follower. I say all of this to make one point: the responsibility of thriving as a Christ-follower is on each individual, not on the groups they are affiliated with. The sincerity, progress, amd impact of your spiritual life has more to do with your own submission to Christ than your pastor’s, small group leader’s, or family’s.
In other words, your work matters greatly. This is both a good thing and a threatening thing, but before I expound on why, let me provide a more useful defintiion of work, as many simply think “my work is my job”, which is wrong.
DEFINITION: My work is the collection of every prodcutive act I engage in.
My productive acts are anything I do to develop, forward, or expand the different facets of my life, mainly:
So when asking myself the reflection question, “Is my work worshipping God?”, I can rephrase it to:
“Is my (collection of every productive act) worship to God?”
And even, “Are the physical, mental, spiritual, social, and emotional things I do worship to God?”
As we can see, when we deepen our understanding of work, we realize that it is impossible to separate worshipping God with our work without engaging in the development, forwarding, and expanding of the different facets of our lives.
We also need to deepen our understanding of worship from just singing and dancing, but to:
sincere, extreme adoration, honor, and submission
The person, thing, or idea we sincerely, extremely, adore, honor, and submit to is what we are truly worshipping.
Going back to the question, we can rephrase it again to:
Is my work (collection of every productive act) worship (sincerely, extremely adoring, honoring, and submitting) to God?”
And, “Are the physical, mental, spiritual, social, and emotional things I do sincerely, extremely adoring, honoring, and submitting to God?”
Like all verses should, Ephesians 6:5-9 moved me to reflect on my work, not so much how satisfied I am, or how much I’m making, or whether I have work life balance, but whether I am truly worshipping God. Working for God means I should be most excellent because the One I’m trying to please is most excellent. When I complain or grumble about my work situation, about my team, about my customers, and about my great effort, I’m forgetting that I’m supposed to be working for God, and should I not strive to give Him the very best of me at work? And should I not fix my diet, fix my routines, and adopt healthy habits for these allow me to give God better worship? Shouldn’t I also order my mental life, read books, study, make myself wise, as these can also be used develop, further, and expand my worship to God?
If we are to worship God with our work, and work is every productive act we engage in, should we not engage in more productivity than anyone else, for we are driven not by mere necessity nor love for ourselves but love for God and others? Should we not be the hardest working and most productive people in the world?
I think we should. And I think we, as so-called Christ-followers, should never be idle, never wasteful, nor selfishly living off others (including their parents if they are adults, or riding on the coattails of colleagues at work when our own contribution is tiny), just as we should never be greedy, never unkind or mean, never usurious, and never unfair.
Here’s some notes I gave myself to make this verse practical:
- Start by setting goals for every area of your life (spiritual, physical, social, emotional, mental).
- List down 3 routines per area that you will adopt (ex: daily devotions at 5am, gym at 530am, read a page a day).
- Stick to these routines faithfully (even better, do them without taking selfies or sharing every step of the way).
- If you don’t have s job, get a job – even if it isn’t your passion. You don’t need more prayer nor ideas. You don’t need to find your passion. You need to find balls. You need to find the truth that the universe doesn’t exist to fulfill you, but that you exist to serve, and in that -recess you’ll find fulfillment. You need a schedule, a daily work list, practice, and importantly a boss who will hold you accountable.
- If you have a job, do whatever it takes to be the best at it – even if it’s hard. Everything is hard at the beginning. I hard a hard time learning how to read. I’m glad no idiot told me “It’s ok if you don’t read David. Find your passion. You’ll excel there.” I’m glad my mom and Joe told me, “You can get this. Take it a letter at a time.” I think one of the dumbest things parents (and even small group leaders who act like parents) of anyone above 13 years old is to fight their battles FOR them instead of fighting their battles WITH them. No one ever got strong through someone fighting on their behalf.
- And you need to daily reflect on whether my collection of productive activities glorified God. This is where I fail often. Many times, I work for man (customers, team, boss, investors, myself), when I should be worshipping God. We workout to take selfies when we should be working out to give God a beautiful temple. We work to make money to buy stuff we don’t need, when we should be worshipping the Love we need most. We study to be smart and share quotes we don’t’ live out and know information we can’t utilize, when we should seek to be wise by learning the fear of God.
Let me summarize:
Get a job or make your own (that’s an Entreprenuer). Be the best at it, whatever it is, not according to your cheerleaders but according to your customers. Order your life to be productive. And do it all for God, not man.
But let’s not talk about glorifying God with work, if we’re not even engaging in productive activities. That’s what you call lip service.