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Nehemiah Part 6: Your Work Matters to God

Nehemiah Part 6: Your Work Matters to God

 

Continuing from where we left off last week, there are three common wrong or incomplete views of work.

1. Secular View

The primary purpose of work is self-fulfillment. Success in your life means success at your work.

Weaknesses:

  • The promises of fulfillment are fleeting – mirage. Self-fulfillment, like a new car, eventually loses its shine.
  • Work becomes an Idol. Work defines your entire being and worth.

2. Two Storied View: Secular vs. Sacred

The Two-Storied View distinguishes between Secular and Sacred work. Work that “matters to God” and has eternal value & work that “doesn’t really matter” and has little value.

Weaknesses

  • This view disconnects the soul & the body. The soul is the most important and work is diminished.
  • This view creates two classes of workers. There is a hierarchy of “spiritually elite” professions.

I had a discussion with a friend last week and he said, “We are on the Titanic and its sinking. All that matters is getting souls saved. Church doesn’t need to be concerned about work. If I want to learn about work I can go somewhere else.

3. Work as a Pulpit

This view sees the purpose for Christian participation in work primarily to set-up opportunities for evangelism. Work is a bridge or platform for the Gospel.

Weaknesses

  • Work is more than a bridge or platform.   
  • You reduce your work to a soapbox.

We need to understand God’s view of work. The truth is, your work matters to God. No matter what it is.

God is a Worker

The very first thing you find God doing in the Bible is work!

Genesis 1:31-2:3 –And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

Work is Not Beneath God

A commentator once said, “It is not by accident that God shows up in the old testament as a Gardener and in the New Testament as a Carpenter.”

Work is Not a Result of the Fall

It’s not like we were created to lounge around in the garden but Adam blew it and now we all have to work. Work is part of God’s good creation. In heaven we will not sit around on clouds but we will work. Work is good and is as much of a basic human need as food, friendship & prayer.

When Jesus came to earth he said he came to work. John 4:34 –  Jesus said, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me & to finish his work.

 Work is Not a Curse

Work is not a 4 letter word. Work is not a barrier which prevents you from doing the really meaningful things in life. Work is not designed to be the meaning of your life (which is idolatry) but it is designed to bring meaning to your life.   I wonder how many of us think or have thought: “I work, I grind it out 40-50 hours a week but what’s really meaningful in my life is____”

Work Was Designed for Joy

Genesis 1:31And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.

Like a master craftsman, when God completes His work of creation he steps back and enjoys the work of His hands. God finds pleasure and satisfaction in His work. God creates things that are beautiful, just for Joy. Beauty is valuable. Not all work has to be useful. Beauty has it’s own kind of value.

You see, God is a worker and we are made in His image. So when we work, we are exercising God like characteristics….that alone gives work dignity.

Work doesn’t need to be coupled with evangelism to have value.

God created people as workers

We are God’s co-workers. We are made in his image which, includes work.

The First Partnership

Genesis 1:27-28 – God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him;  male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

Genesis 2:8 & 15The Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed….The Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

Think about how partnerships with great people, firms, and companies make you feel. They tend to raise your personal stature. Men do this all the time. They tell other men who they are connected to. It gives stature, legitimacy, or value to your work. When I worked for the Atlanta Braves, when Ted Turner walked in, we suddnely began to work harder and look busier. Now, consider you are in partnership with God! That gives your life and work incredible value.

God doesn’t need us in order to accomplish his work, but he chooses us to participate in accomplishing his plans.

Ps 8:4-6 – What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him to rule over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet.”

Work: The Cultural Mandate

The Cultural Mandate is “to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the whole earth, to subdue, and to rule over the earth…..all of it.”  Notice that every living creature was given the assignment of reproduction, but only man was assigned a job; to subdue, to rule.

God designed our world with enormous resources and possibilities. Some latent, and some dorment. God gave man the assignment to continue discovering and continue God’s work:

  • In Forming and Filling
  • For Procreation and Civilization
  • For taking Chaos and turning it into Culture

So in the Garden of Eden, God left work to be done. The Garden was not designed to be the end, but the beginning of human flourishing.

Your Work Matters: It Has Instrumental Value.

God uses your work is an instrument to meet His purposes.

Matt 22:37-39‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul & with all your mind.’ This is the first & greatest commandment And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Your work has instrumental value in loving your neighbor.

Your Work is God’s Instrument to Love Our Families

I Tim 5:8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Work is God’s Instrument for Giving and Meeting the Needs of Others

Eph 4:28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”

God has a desire to meet human needs and he wants to meet some of those needs through us.

The following video link was played to close our Iron Leadership. It is only available through Right Now Media. If you have a membership, you can access the video here

Questions:

1. Intrinsic Value: How does God being a worker affect your view of work? 

Do you see your work as a gift?

Do you see it as a partnership with God? How? 

Does God endorse every kind of work that man does?

2. Instrumental Value: How does God use the work of a truck driver, artist, jet pilots, or your own work as an instrument to love others and meet their needs?

 3. What’s your biggest challenge in allowing your faith to flow into and inform your work?


Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips

Pastor, Christ Community Church
www.ironleader.org
paul@cccwnc.com

“Daniel: Who’s on top?” – Leadership Lesson – Spence Hackney

“Daniel: Who’s on top?” – Leadership Lesson – Spence Hackney

Spence Hackney did an excellent job leading us through the life of Daniel and learning from his leadership. Take a look at his lesson below:

Daniel: Who’s on Top?

For context, it would be wise to familiarize yourself with the first half of the book of Daniel (chapters 1-6).

In bullet form, here is what happens in the first half of Daniel:

  • Daniel witnesses the fall of Jerusalem
  • Daniel is taken to Babylon
  • Daniel has the gift of interpreting dreams, and hears God
  • Daniel encounters 3 Kings in his life
    1. Nebuchadnezzar – He dreams of  a statue of bronze, iron, gold and clay that would be destroyed. The dream symbolized Nebuchadnezzr’s fragile kingdom. In response, he builds a gold version and makes the people worship it in an attempt to symbolize that his kingdom would live forever. He disagrees with God’s word even though he knows his power.
    2. Belshazzar – He throws an enormous party and serves wine using the cups from the temple in Jerusalem. A floating hand mysteriously appears and writes on the wall in response. Belshazzar is killed that night.
    3. Darius – He makes a law that the people could only pray to him and to no other god. Daniel gets thrown into the lion’s den over this. God miraculously saves him.

Nebuchadnezzar and the other two kings were in love with themselves. They loved the power. They loved the wealth. The loved the women. They would do anything to get it. I think that Nebuchadnezzar would have had a guy like this around his palace somewhere:

Ridiculous, right? I don’t think any of us would employ someone to tell us we’re #1 before we go to work every day. But let me tell you a personal story that may help you see that it isn’t all that far fetched. This is a story of failure in my life that came as a result of believing I was #1. I wrongly believed I was on top.

First, a little background. In 2012, I went to India to work with Alpha Ministries. It rocked my life. I saw the church planters who were willing to lose everything and endure grueling torture and hardships to take the gospel over the next mountain. I felt like I was in the presence of spiritual giants. I knew what they were doing mattered and I wanted in. However, they shuttled me around in a van with the curtains drawn for fear someone would attack us, so it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t ever going to be as effective as they were on the ground. However, to grow their ministry—take the gospel further—Alpha needed prayer and financial resources and God made it clear to Tara and I that our role would be to provide both. And that we were to do it by expanding our small web design business. I’d been doing web design and digital marketing for over a decade, but had kept it pretty small. God revealed, however, that if I would scale the business up we could support ministries like Alpha in substantial ways. So, in January 2013, Proclaim Interactive was born. Since then he has grown it 25-35% a year and from 2 employees to 11. And I have to give God all the glory—He did it!

But recently it started to feel like I did it…

Last month I had a huge deal implode that I had been working on for over 6 months. The details aren’t important, but just know it would have redefined Proclaim and my own life in a big way. I was certain it was from God and then, it unexpectedly blew up in a heartbreaking way. I was dejected and crushed. I couldn’t understand what went wrong.

When I started reading Daniel a few weeks ago I saw parallels between the book and what I was living through. I could identify with how Daniel felt—dejected and crushed—as he was led away from the ruined walls of Jerusalem. Reading Daniel’s story helped me tremendously to get my life back into the correct orientation, as study of the Word often does. You see, my core problem is that God was no longer on top in my life. I had started to think of myself as #1. I had started to worship the gift and not the Giver. John Piper says that the ultimate deep sin is loving anything more than God. I had done it. Even if I would have said He was on top, I was living and thinking like I loved a whole number of other things more than Him.

As I repented and prayed through the situation, it became clear that I had slipped in several key areas:

  1. I was proud. I had great pride in what I had done. but the truth was, I hadn’t built Proclaim, God had. Likewise it was His to do with as He pleased.
  2. I also had substantial confidence in my own abilities. I thought of myself as wise and had begun to think of myself as the “secret sauce” that was going to make everything work out.
  3. I had quit depending on the Lord’s guidance. Even if I looked to Him for the overall direction, I’d stopped depending on Him to walk me through the details. I thought I could handle it.

I needed to confess these things. Confession is the key to humility. I had to confess my pride (and a couple of other sins as well) before God and let Him deal with it as He saw fit. Afterward, it felt like He had done “spiritual surgery” on me.

So, as I am speaking to you this morning please understand my heart. I’ve recently blown it spiritually, but I’ve been forgiven and restored. My desire is that by being transparent about my failure, you’ll avoid it in your own life.

Let’s look at the real teacher here to learn how to keep God on top.

Benefit of Making God #1 – Hearing His Voice

Before we go further we need to stop here and say “so what.” How does putting God first practically help us? I know the Bible says to, so we should do it, but is there any practical benefit to doing this? Does it change our lives here on earth and for all eternity in heaven?

I think that the answer is plainly seen in Daniel’s life. You see, Daniel had the ability to hear God. The kings, the most powerful men in all the land, had to come to Daniel to hear what the Lord was saying. Daniel heard from God personally in many ways. He was normally able to hear God’s voice and direction without the need for a preacher or prophet to tell him.

Daniel could hear the Lord personally and directly because he put God first. Loving God more than anything else and putting Him first allows us to hear God because it restores a right relationship. We intrinsically know this is the case. If we have a relationship that is out of whack it’s really hard to truly “hear” the other person. I remember as a boy thinking that I was “hot snot” when I was 15. I was a better driver than my Dad. I was smarter than him. I knew what girls wanted better than he did. I had a cooler car than his big old suburban. I was pretty sure I was superior in every way. I remember him trying to talk to me and I would completely tune him out. Why? Because our relationship was all turned around. (Now, when I was 16 I wrecked the car, bombed calculus and got dumped by the girl, so the situation sort of corrected itself!) And frankly, I think that’s sort of what God has done that to me in the past few weeks, corrected my situation. And though I wouldn’t have admitted it at first, now I’m grateful. I’d rather have a right relationship with God than anything else. I’ll trade everything else I have to hear his voice!

Loren Cunningham, the man who founded Youth with a Mission (YWAM) and the Mercy Ships, was a man who clearly and personally heard God. You can read his story in “Is that Really You, God?” and see how God spoke to him as YWAM was forming. It’s fascinating. Whenever Loren Cunningham talks about hearing from God he says that it starts with “Acknowledging the Lordship,” which is college educated language for “Putting God on Top.” It’s that simple. If the Lord isn’t on top, you’re not likely to hear from Him reliably.

So how do we keep Him on top? Let’s see how Daniel did so that he could hear from the Lord:

Expect that failure may be required

Daniel’s story begins with failure. Jerusalem had finally fallen to Babylon. God made it clear that this was because the Israelites had cheated on Him by loving other gods. God’s people are scattered as slaves and outcasts throughout the surrounding lands. Daniel ends up in Babylon because he was deported from his home as a sort of royal servant.

I’ve had a whole bunch of failures in life, the most recent was the failed deal I spoke about. They were all heartbreaking. I am sure that Daniel was heartbroken over God’s people’s inability to obey God. However, there was amazing benefits to witnessing this failure first hand.

Failure gives us a real understanding of the misery of living outside of Christ.

I propose that it is Daniel’s eyewitness account of the failure of the Jews to love God and put Him first that defines Daniel’s life. Above all else Daniel did one thing exceedingly well. He loved God more than anything else. Period. End of story. Daniel didn’t want anything more than he wanted a relationship with God. He had seen first hand what happened when a country falls in love with something else. He had lived through the destruction. He had seen the blood on the ground. He had seen the starving babies in the mother’s arms. He had a real, visceral, tactile understanding of what it looked like to fall in love with something besides God.

Failure maintains humility because you understand that it can happen to you

Failure means you have the opportunity to give Christ the glory when He carries you through it. Christ is most glorified when He helps me, not when I help Him.

Put God first in the little things as well as the big things

This all started for Daniel because he didn’t want to violate God’s rules by eating the king’s “rich food.” I can totally see myself justifying this. “But God, I didn’t have any choice, it was all there was to eat…”

My pride started with little things. These were good things too…not evil. It was the percentage increase in this year’s P&L over last years. It was being able to give my old Jon boat to a friend. It was getting to donate significantly to Alpha. These grew into me thinking that I was pretty wise. It grew into me putting my wisdom on a pedestal and worshiping it.

Little things grow into big things.

Little things indicate that your attitude is wrong.

Little things are practice for when the big things come.

Daniel acknowledged that everything he had came from God

Daniel never tried to interpret dream without God. He stated repeatedly that God was the source of his power.

For myself, my wisdom became my power. I started to think that I earned what I had by making good decisions. Where did my wisdom come from? God’s word. Any power I had came from God.

Maybe, like me, you struggle with pride. If you need to confess it, now is the time. If you think that you are humble, ask God to search your life. Ask God to show you what you love more than Him and confess it.

  • Proverbs 18:12 Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
  • Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
  • Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
  • James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
  • I John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

I was recently convicted that men are terrible at sharing the truth about what they’re dealing with. When someone asks “how’s it going” I almost always respond with “awesome!” Many of us walk around thinking that everyone else has it all together and that we don’t, so we keep our problems all to ourselves. But this isolates us from the body of Christ. I’ve been working on being honest with those close to me and I hope you’ll do the same.

 

-Spence Hackney

Questions

  1. Who is “on top” in your life right now? Is there anything that gets more love than God?
  2. What are the “little” things in your life that may be indicating that God is not on top?
  3. What failures in your life have given you humility before God?
  4. Do you publicly acknowledge that your abilities and knowledge come from God?
  5. Do you hear God’s voice clearly and personally?

 

Friends and Brothers,

Paul Phillips Signiture

 

 

 

Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church
www.ironleader.org
paul@cccwnc.com

How I Work: An Interview with Trevin Wax – TGC

How I Work: An Interview with Trevin Wax – TGC

Iron Leaders, for the next few weeks leading up to 2017, I am going to send you some articles on time management or productivity.  The Lord teaches us to number our days and that our days are like a mist so we want to use our time wisely.  I hope you benefit from these articles and prepare to get the most out of 2017. Read How I Work: An Interview with Trevin Wax

Paul Phillips Signiture

Paul Phillips
Pastor, Christ Community Church
www.ironleader.org
paul@cccwnc.com

Leadership Lessons From the Shackleton Expedition

Leadership Lessons From the Shackleton Expedition

“Real leaders, wrote the novelist David Foster Wallace, are people who ‘help us overcome the limitations of our own individual laziness and selfishness and weakness and fear and get us to do better, harder things than we can get ourselves to do on our own.'”

Read the full essay by Nancy F. Koehn.