A Man finds a called and abundant life at work

Find an abundant life at work

Our work lives can mess with our christ-mindedness.

This means our goals at work can get in the way of Godly ambition and desire. Case in point: everything around us says to measure who we are and the success of what we do by the accolades we receive or the connections we have. These ideas can affect the abundant life we were meant to experience in Christ.

Fulfillment at Work

…but there are empty men with many accolades and full men with none.

Fulfillment has little to do with trophy rooms.

Think of your labor as a holy container.

Your work is a vessel full of love, whose sole purpose is to be poured out as an offering back to Almighty God. The way you work is your response to God for giving you work in the first place. The more you respond to God in love, the more meaningful your work will become.

If you feel an emptiness or lack of meaning in your work, consider whether you see your labor as a love offering to God. 

Evidence of Abundance

Do you want evidence that your work has become worshipful? Assurance that your calling is manifest? Confidence that your work-purpose is being redeemed? If you do, then pause to assess what meaning you presently receive from your work. This is your barometer. 

You were designed to increase in good work. Your sacrifice and your success, spiritually speaking, are intimately tied together.

You were designed to increase in good work. Your sacrifice and your success, spiritually speaking, are intimately tied together.

Pierce Brantley
Calling: Awaken to The Purpose of Your WOrk

You’ll bring new power into your day when you live from this kingdom dynamic. The sovereign principles that govern your calling and the work connected to it will be unlocked. The unique blend of anointing and Spirit-talent the Lord has given you will be unleashed, as well. In fact, if you learn to labor in this special type of love, to work out your salvation in your work, you will bring a new measure of abundance into both your life and your career. 

Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). 

Put another way, he came to break the eight-to-five.

Portions of this post are excerpts from the book Calling: Awaken to The Purpose of Your Work

Can a "dead-end" job still have a calling?

Can a “dead-end” job still have a calling?

You know how people say, “Hey, shut the door—were you raised in a barn?” 

Well, I really was raised in a barn. (But I do shut the door after myself. Usually.)

I grew up in the East Texas “piney woods.” Literally in a barn.

The living situation was supposed to be only temporary, of course. We thought we’d live in the barn on the property until our family’s ship came in, and then our house would quickly be built. For seventeen years, we waited on Providence to provide, but that ship never did come in. 

Houses, I learned, rarely build themselves.

That barn was completely exposed to the elements. The summers were sweltering, and it wasn’t uncommon for a snake to be found in a shaded corner of a room.

One summer, a hive of bees paused their migration and spent three days in the rafters.

Winters, conversely, were colder than your fridge.

A Thankless Job

One of my first jobs was mowing.

That always struck me as odd. At first, I thought that mowing the grass around the barn would keep the grasshoppers out of our living areas.

But it didn’t.

I mean, the barn was surrounded by knee-high grassy acreage, and cutting the grass didn’t keep the critters out. In fact, many of them would jump toward the barn to avoid the blade. But what else does one do with so much grass and time?

In those early years, as I worked our fifteen-acre yard, something surprising happened: a bond grew between me and the Lord. As I mowed, I worshiped and I listened. And God met me in my work. 

A relationship grew out of a seemingly pointless task, and that made all the difference in what I was doing. It might be hard to believe about a young boy and yardwork, but I actually began to look forward to cutting paths in the wilderness. To spending that work time with God. It was an exodus for an East Texas boy.

Most Christian men who long for purpose in their work lives start by praying for Sunday to spill over into Monday. Our hope is that we’ll be able to splash a little sanctification from our time at church onto those around us at the workplace. For many men, this lasts only until things just need to get done. Then it’s back to business as usual. Whatever he got from Sunday morning is helpful all the way up until crunch time, when he may find himself trading in the pew for pragmatism. 

Praise God that our work story doesn’t have to end there.

Here’s what’s possible for your work: you will be clay in the Holy Potter’s hand, you will know that everything you commit your hands to will result in his divine craftsmanship. You will come to the place where you’re not pushing yourself to go to work, but that the work itself will be propelling you. You will see that the vessel you want to be is exactly the vessel you are being molded into. 

If that sounds good to you, the question you must ask yourself is: Am I engaged with what he’s molding me to be? 

God has a work-life for you

Knowing the answer removes every condemning thought and doubtful question. Is this the right job? Did I make a wrong turn in life? Is there a reason so-and-so is more successful? A man given to the Lord will be used for a higher purpose, because he’s being made into his Maker’s desired image. You are uniquely made for the task at hand.

We have to understand that “work” is not a job—it is an attitude toward a job. Hopelessness comes when you confuse the two. 

“work” is not a job—it is an attitude toward a job. Hopelessness comes when you confuse the two. 

Pierce Brantley
Calling: Awaken to The Purpose of Your Work

There are no dead-end jobs in Christ. You haven’t missed your calling.

We need to have our minds renewed by Christ until we can see this. When this renewal happens, we see meaning grow from the mundane. We find joy in a job description. Our calling isn’t the work itself but is the kingdom purpose in it. God has a specific assignment for you in whatever it is you do as your job—a mission within your work.

Portions of this post are excerpts from the book Calling: Awaken to The Purpose of Your Work

A Christian Man in search of his calling in life.

Have you missed your calling?

The best I could do was a Sharpie marker. 

It wasn’t shoe polish, but it would get the job done. Besides, you could really only tell the difference when the sun shone down on them directly. My other shoes had had the soles re-glued a handful of times and they still kept falling apart. The separating backs made an obnoxious clapping sound as I walked and would introduce me anywhere I went. So, old as they were, these shoes and their sharpie-spotted polish would have to do for the time being.

Perfect or not, I had places to go. 

For a kid of thirteen, this felt like a lot of resolve. My circumstances were not going to dictate my actions, even if I had been raised in a barn. I was going to control the situation as best I could. The personal pride was genuine too—it was as if my ability to mend my shoes translated into the power to keep life knitted up, as well. 

Our work lives can feel like that. Work is forward momentum in the face of uncertainty.

We step boldly into our work, even if the work itself is not exactly what we’d like it to be.

We can imagine a better future, sure.

We might even believe God himself has a better idea in mind.

But how do we find it?

Maybe it’s best just to keep walking forward, hoping things will get better.  

After all, a little bit of spit-shine will go a long way to polish your outlook. 

Yes, work is a part of life.

But there’s a secret to work that most Christian men haven’t discovered. 

Paul knew this secret. Elijah and David too. But most men never find it. Many can identify the itch, but they simply can’t scratch it.

The itch troubles you like a gentle prod, a niggling little thought that the work you do during the day isn’t everything it’s meant to be. You feel as if you’re missing something when you clock in and clock out. Your work doesn’t get the job done spiritually, you could say. Nor is it very fulfilling. 

That’s the itch, and it can lead to a great discovery. But it’s also really easy to dismiss, even if it’s right. 

So, men continue to endure the daily grind, missing out on the faith and secret strength that could overflow in their work. This results in a whole generation of Christian men who work hard but don’t know why. Or, worse, who never learn the real work they are called to do. 

Which is a tragedy.

There is so much at stake and so little time to stake a claim on a calling too. 

There is hope, however, for the man who wants to know what God might give him to do with the few days he’s been given. So long as you haven’t stopped working, it’s never too late to find the purpose of your work.

Our ancient fathers of the faith had learned the secret of meaningful work. They knew what was required of them. They could see the purpose in their work a mile away. This faith gave them a life of biblical proportions. In part, because they knew how to focus their energy. They knew the work they were meant to do. This assurance gave them all the courage and foresight they needed during the day. It helped men like Moses, Daniel, and Joseph be diligent in everyday jobs and to participate in more eternal outcomes than the average Joe. 

The secret can be yours, as well.

The principles of work they employed are available to you. My prayer, brother, is that you learn them, love them, and use them to partner with the Almighty in incredible new ways.

You can discover the special and specific work God has for you. Best of all, you can move into your calling at any job, with any boss, at any place in life as well. 

Pierce Brantley

God hasn’t passed you by. He has a race for you to run—and that’s true even if you feel disconnected from the race. Neither is God upset with your circumstances. Just because you might feel hopeless now or unsure about the future, it does not mean that the Almighty doesn’t have a great work life for you. 

He is for you, after all.

There is no end to God’s kingdom, no shortage of his strength. God has a massive treasury of power and goodness, and He draws freely from that supernatural bank account to support his sons and daughters. These riches are meant for more than Sunday mornings or a few mountaintop moments over the course of a lifetime. The goodness of God has practical, eight-to-five implications for every man who wants to know what it looks like to live in partnership with the Lord. 

And no, you don’t need to become a pastor, worship leader, or minister to get access to this supernatural bank account. The agency of the Almighty extends to any man who wants the joy of gainful employment with the Lord. 

There are no “collar colors” in Christ.

Only men who work with the Lord and those who don’t. The men who don’t can only wish for great stories.

The men who do actually have them. 

Portions of this post are excerpts from the book Calling: Awaken to The Purpose of Your Work

Easter and Christian Consumerism

Chocolate Crosses for $6.99

Recently, I went to the store to buy some Easter candy for my wife.

This was a serious mission. I don’t have to tell you that Peeps weren’t going to get the job done.

As I skimmed the aisle for some Christ-centered Cadbury, I was struck by a small box of chocolate crosses. The crosses were competitively priced at $6.99.

That’s $3.49 per cocoa crucifix. A bargain.

What struck me, however, was not the price, but that the cross was consumable.

All the torture was taken out of it. The cross was perfectly packaged, ready for me to enjoy.

I could enjoy two crosses if I wanted.

It’s unnerving. If only for the fact that it made me reflect on what I consume.

There are many parts of Christ’s life of which I could partake.

But often, it’s easier for me to do the opposite.

I can simply consume Christian *things* for lack of preparation.

I can have a meal without Jesus at the table.

I can have a kind of fast-food faith.

I’m provoked by Jesus’s own words about what to eat:

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

John 6:53

Christ invites us to partake of him entirely.

No discounts. No bit-sized beatitudes. Only Christ, fully consumed.

There is an open invitation at His table; to enjoy his presence and power. Christ will enrich every part of your life. Even the simple things. But there are no chocolate crosses in the Christian life.

We must take up our cross and follow him — undiscounted and undeserved.

Ready to Awaken Your Calling?

Discover it just like Joseph, David, and Paul.

Fruit of The Spirit at Work

How to Access The Fruit of The Spirit at Work (7 Revelations)

On my 13th birthday, I had to dig a sewer line for the barn into which my family was about to move. The job was supposed to be a rite of passage. Some tribes make young men go out in the desert, some make them fast in a deep pit or get bitten by killer ants, but mine decided to combine all these things into one, man-making experience. If this didn’t put hair on my chest, nothing would (it did burn the hair on my nostrils but that’s a different story).

The pole-barn-home had no restrooms to speak of, unless you wanted to take a walk into the woods, and we were too far out in the country to access any kind of city water tower. This meant our only option was to get access to a conduit, a source, that would flush the negativity from our lives. So, armed with my Sony Walkman and a fresh sense of resolve, I got to digging.

This digging process is how most of us approach the fruit of the spirit — i.e. the virtues that exhibit Christlikeness. We know we need something to move the negativity from our lives, but we’re in the worldly wilderness; so most of us do what we know: we start digging, searching, and praying for those virtuous attributes so we can navigate our day and work-life in a godly manner.

But here’s the rub:

We want the fruit of the Spirit.

We need the fruit of the Spirit.

Often times, though, we do not feel as if we have a good grasp on the fruit of the Spirit.

That’s what I want to talk about today.

In my experience, there are seven “growth spurts” we go through before we truly exhibit a nature that looks like Christ. Consider them mini revelations. Lowercase R.

I want to share them with you because I believe they have the power to transform how we see the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control). Most important though, they let us walk in grace at our jobs.

Okay, let’s jump in. I think you’re going to enjoy this.

Consider Galatians 5. This is our proof text.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23

 

1st Revelation — Asking & Producing

In most circles, we identify being a good Christian with the fruit of the spirit. Perhaps that’s no surprise. We know that If we have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, or self-control than we can infer that we must be doing something right.

In this way, we see the virtues as a “beatitude barometer.”

It’s how we measure whether we are in-tune with the Christian walk.

When work is hard, when we get stressed, or when the boss yells at us, we start asking God for “the fruit” instead of producing “the fruit” — in part, because we know a good Christian is supposed to act “Christian.”

Needles to say, this thinking, while well-meaning, won’t get us very far.

Asking for the virtues or trying to produce the virtues will only leave you drained. So drained you might not even feel like trying anymore if the situation is intense enough.

 

2nd Revelation — Law Making

Notice the end of Galatians 23: “Against such things there is no law.”  When we try to produce these virtuous attributes by forcing them, we make the fruit of the Spirit a law for ourselves, contradicting scripture (against such things there is no law). This is the crux of it all. This approach actually gets in the way mentally of living out the virtues.

Consider this: if you focus your energy on whether you have “spiritual fruit” you will end up feeling condemned; you will tell yourself you don’t measure up. You will ask yourself why you are not more virtuous than you are presently.

This is true of asking for virtue as well. Asking God for virtue, while not evil, is not effectual. He doesn’t want grin-and-bear-it workers who’s only real connection to him is whether they are virtuous. That’s not a relationship. Of course, that’s not to say he doesn’t want us to live a moral life. He does. But the approach is what’s important.

Asking God for virtue, while not evil, is not effectual. He doesn’t want grin-and-bear-it workers who’s only real connection to him is whether they are virtuous.

When we abide in Christ, the true vine, there is only one natural outcome: the fruit of the Spirit. When we don’t abide with him, we spend our entire Christian life trying to be good instead of letting good work flow through us.

Said another way, the “sap” of the Savior is what gives ongoing life to your calling. See John 15:5. We can’t turn the fruit of the spirit into a spiritual law. It just won’t work.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

John 15:5

 

3rd Revelation — Ends and Means

I think we all get that…but it presents another problem.

Joy can’t pour concrete. Self-control can’t give a sales presentation. Goodness won’t get the job done.

And this is the heart of the problem.

We tend to think (almost subconsciously) that both the means and the end of the fruit of the Spirit is the fruit itself. Meaning, if we are virtuous, we’re winning. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Spiritual fruit, which is the evidence of the Holy Spirit, is the residue of God-connected life and work.

4th Revelation — Good Work, Good Fruit, Good Testimony 

This cart-and-horse mentality is the reason Christian testimony will often fail in the workplace.

We’re actually supposed to be focused on the work!

Which, granted, can feel counter intuitive.

Let me explain: most Christians strive to demonstrate God is within them by their virtue (just trying to be kind or gentle), but then the actual work they do does not testify to knowing God. Their daily work ends up being lack luster because they’re pre-occupied with being a good Christian (forgetting that good work only comes from the wisdom of God and insight from the Holy Spirit).

Consider this analogy: If we think of our relationship between virtue and vocation as a car, the work you do is actually the engine. Not the fruit. Rather, the fruit of the Spirit is the paint job on the vehicle’s body. (Hold on..don’t stone me for heresy yet… 😉 )

The virtues make your daily life and work attractive to those outside the car.

But…if you’ve ever tried to drive a car without an engine, it doesn’t matter how good-looking or attractive the vehicle is.

The car cannot take you where you might want to go. Even if you wish it could.

This is exactly what many non-christians think of the Christian lifestyle. They don’t understand how the Christian virtues make that much day-to-day difference. And without those spirit-filled activities demonstrating the power of the Christian walk, you can see how they sort-of have a point.

Someone who doesn’t know the Lord can only measure what they know.

They don’t have a grid for the Christian life. But they sure do for daily work.

 

5th Revelation — Fruitful Work

From an outside perspective, Christian testimony often falls short.

To the lost, there may be something attractive about Christianity, but the stuff under the hood, the work we do, can often lack excellence; let alone be Godlike.

So believe it or not, it is hard for people to take the “church stuff” seriously.

And here are the facts: we aren’t a light if the light in us can’t illuminate, with revelation, the daily work in front of us to do.

For that matter, if our focus is on virtue, on trying to have a peaceful, patient, joyful disposition here’s what will happen:

You will communicate to the world that you’re trying to be a good Christian. And no one wants you to try and be a good Christian.

You end up looking like a washcloth wrung for water. There’s nothing left to drip out.

 

6th Revelation — Divine Inspiration

So how do we let the fruit of the Spirit come as a result of testimony? And not a burden or barometer? Consider what God says about himself:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

There’s something under the surface of this verse. Simply put: God has a completely different perspective about our work than we do. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways (his approach) higher (more insightful) than ours.

He has wondrously different wisdom, knowledge, and perspective about how to go about daily life and work.

But normally, we don’t ask him.

Or we only bring him into the situation when we feel anxious.

This isn’t really “abiding” as scripture encourages us to do.

 

7th Revelation — Abide With God

So how then, do you abide with God at work? How do you stay in the vine, so-to-speak?

Two ways: 1) Ask God for his ways (i.e. his approach) towards how he would help you go about your work. 2) Then, ask God what his thoughts are concerning your work.

How does he see you and this particular work situation in light of what he’s called you to do, and the way in which he wants you to love other people? Remember James 1:5:

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

James 1:5

This is the key!

In Christ, you have full access to God’s ways and perspective and he is more than happy to help you with practical, day-to-day stuff. You can receive his divine revelation on how to do you work when you cast your cares to him and intimately involve him. You are sharing your life with him after all.

AND THEN what will happen?

You can’t help but be peaceful. You have a plan.

You can’t help but be joyful. You know how to do the job.

You can’t help but be kind. You’re a better leader than everyone in the room because you have empathy for a situation which only God could have shown you.

As scripture says: “Against such things there is no law.” Against such testimony of divinely inspired work, so full of both the wisdom and the way of God, there is no objection. There is no condemnation. There is no judgement. Your work is a self-evident truth and testimony to the nature of God!


Hey guys! If you’d like to grow more in your calling and discover the specific work that God has for you, I want you check out my new book Calling: Awaken to The Purpose of Your Work. You’ll unwrap the hidden work God has for you to do, the calling on your life, and you’ll also hear how I left the barn (physically and spiritually).

Awaken to the hidden purpose of your work!

Pre-order “Calling” today.

do who christians commit suicide go to hell?

Do Christians who commit suicide go to hell?

Jarrid Wilson was an inspiration to me. He and I worked on Sermons.com together, he helped me launch Power Love Sound Mind, and he taught me a lot about the publishing industry and marketing. He was generous, authentic, and kind. He never kept secrets and would pick up the phone whenever you needed him. If anyone had a pastoral heart, he did. His passing is a shock to me. The world has lost one of the greats — a Christian who didn’t need to lie about their struggles. A man who was happy to know God and simply trust him to do what only God can do — namely, save us.

Which is why the subject of suicide gets me so worked up. Forgive me if I get a little passionate in this post. I’m going to take some liberty. Call it righteous anger if you want — or don’t. I don’t really care. Quite frankly, there is a lot of mis-information and very bad theology about suicide, and for me, there is one, and only response that is appropriate. For this reason, any time we lose someone to this horror, I believe it deserves the full weight of our attention.

So I want to set the record straight with a question that comes up every time this happens. It shouldn’t, but it does.

The question is this: Do Christians who commit suicide go to hell?

In order to answer this question, we need to start at the very beginning of God’s story of redemption.

So let’s begin. The Bible sets a bar:

“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”

That bar, for everyone, is high. Very, very high.

This bar is high in the past. This bar is high in the future. This bar is always unobtainably high. Even a virtuous person, by virtue of not being God, would fall short of God’s standard and glory. They’re not God. How could they share in something that doesn’t belong to them?

Which is where the concept of sin comes in to play.

For the record: sin, in shorthand, is anything that cools the kiss of freedom in our lives. The “size” of the sin is not significant. Each and every one of them, without Christ, separates us from our Maker in similar ways.

So for this very reason, a gift was given for the sole purpose of mending separated souls. And that gift is free. It always has been. It always will be.

Most of the time, we call this gift salvation. This is the name given to God’s good gift, through his son, Jesus.

We could talk a lot about how wonderful this gift is. But the heart of the matter is this: “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die.

Here’s The Full Verse

There are some things that simply can’t be earned by a Human. We call one of those things grace. Grace is one of the favorable conditions of Christ’s contract with us. “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” as the Good Book says. You can’t earn it. You can only receive it.

But let’s be clear…

If you never got frustrated in traffic again, if you never lied again, if you never did another bad thing AGAIN it would remove no less doubt in the mind of God about the lack of his glory you possess without him.

At best, we’re drowning in our own dogma.

But to God’s credit, we’ve all been given a life raft called “love” to keep us from sinking.

“God is Love” as scripture says. Subject and verb.

In this sense, dog paddling in the middle of the ocean is only impressive if it gets me to shore. Which it wouldn’t. In the same way, I don’t argue my goodness with God based on my ability to swim around sin. I simply enjoy the raft for what it is.

In the same way, we don’t waste time measuring sin.

We’re awash in it without Jesus.

Sure, we could say otherwise. We could say that one bad thing is worse than another bad thing. But what good would that do? If we really do believe the Genesis story, then we know that eating the wrong fruit was enough to condemn a man and woman to death and to hell. So if we do want to compare apples to oranges, it’s best not to measure the fruit of our own lives.

The bar, my friend, is high. Most High.

So on to the subject of suicide.

There is one sin that the Bible says is different. Just one.

Not murder. Not sex. Not stealing.

Jesus tells us about this sin in the books of Mathew, Mark and Luke.

We’ll stick with Matthew for now.

For sure, I tell you, all sins will be forgiven people, and bad things they speak against God. But if anyone speaks bad things against the Holy Spirit, he will never be forgiven. He is guilty of a sin that lasts forever.” Jesus told them this because they said, “He has a demon.”

Mathew 3:28-30

If I’m in the raft, there is only one thing that pokes a hole in it. And even then, Jesus never says what the consequences are. After all, his nature, as a loving God, doesn’t suddenly change.

But let’s say, as some do, that suicide is murder. And that you can’t say “I’m sorry” or repent after the act (since no one ever has mixed emotions about anything).

Which by the way, is saying that correlation is causation. Which we would never say. But let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that the cause is correlated correctly.

It’s a jump. But who doesn’t like a trampoline?

Okay. So, the next important question is this: what is the biblical definition of murder?

Jesus had some thoughts:

Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
1 John 3:15

I’m no gymnast, but that bar seems really high.

Does that mean that gossip is attempted murder?

By Jesus’s measurement, I’d say so. But I’m not a Levitical-law-lawyer. That’s a different bar exam.

Someone who was, however, is King David. David “a man after God’s own heart,” who gave Christ the honorary name Son of David, killed a man in order to sleep with his wife. And then he lied about it. But we’ll just ignore this for now.

No, wait. Let’s go a step further.

Let’s run a scenario. Let’s say that two people, in full knowledge and belief of the gospel, died.

One person committed suicide.

The other gossiped, and was hit by a bus.

Neither one had a chance to apologize for their actions. Is Saint Peter turning both of them away at heaven’s gates? (Since when is Peter a lobby boy anyway?)

Since we aren’t measuring the amount of wild oats someone sowed, I’ll let you answer the question for yourself.

New question.

Which verses say that I have to name every sin before I die in order to be saved? Which amendment to the Christ-constitution do I need to be aware of? Also, what does this perspective imply for people who died in a coma, or who were medically sedated when they passed? Is Alzheimer’s capable of undoing the Almighty’s work? Does being scared while one is drowning mean they are without faith?

Should we write new sin rules for every edge case? We can…but there are LOTS of them.

Where then, do we draw the line? I’ll ask it again, where do we as Christians draw the line?

Jesus, if you’re interested, did draw a few in this account.

But I digress…

We are told God never “leaves us or forsakes us” here. And also here. I personally don’t think we need a verse to know that, but it’s nice of scripture to say so nonetheless. Is there another lost gospel where I can find an exception? Perhaps the Q Document or some lost Dead Sea Scroll?

We could just take this from an entirely different angle too and look at the verses that cover the sin of suicide. But…there are…drum roll….zero.

Zero verses that address the topic.

Zero ancient laws for it.

Zero Sermon-on-the-Mounts about the magnitude of the subject.
Which, by my guess, is probably by divine design.

In fairness, the Bible does tell us a few stories where suicide is mentioned. Let’s take a look at them real quick.

One was with a King named Saul. One with Judas Iscariot. The Bible never takes a position on their behavior though.

Saul killed himself because he was about to be killed. Judas, after he realized what he had done to Jesus, gave back his blood money and killed himself in sorrow. Which no one would ever say was an appropriate response except for the fact that some do because of what he did. So. That’s awkward.

But these guys have tainted stories. So let’s look at someone whom we consider a saint. Samson.

Samson, Israel’s judge, killed himself.

He intentionally made a building fall on himself as a last-ditch effort to settle a score with some Pagans. He killed himself on purpose – with the purpose of killing other people. Double whammy. We could argue that he was forcibly blind and imprisoned so it was justified – but we won’t. We could also say he was a kamikaze. But we won’t say that either.

Hebrews 11, The famous Hall of Faith chapter of the Bible, mentions Samson as one of the great people who model faith in action. Because, in general, he was. Also awkward. When Romans says that “neither life nor death” can separate us from the love of God I guess it applies to Samson too.

So where does this idea that suicide is the Chutes-and-Ladders of Hell (horrible game idea) come from?

Since it’s not in the Bible, we have to look somewhere else.

Specifically, Augustinian and medieval theology. The latter was a mix of superstition with Greek and Roman ideas neatly packaged into something we call cultural bias.

In point of fact, during the time of the Roman Empire, Christians sometimes had a habit of committing suicide if they thought they were going to be martyred or if their community was being martyred. These Christians were honored and celebrated. Not that this is an appropriate response, but it was a very normal one at the time.

For example, in the martyrdom of Bishop Carpus, a by-standing woman named Agathonike, saw the elder executed while his friend, Papylus, was burned. This woman was not, however, under arrest or even thought to have committed a crime. But as she watched her Church family die, she exclaimed “this is the meal that has been prepared for me!” and throws herself onto the fire. Agathonike’s self-immolation is not a one-off event either.

When a Christian philosopher named Ptolemy was executed, two other Christians volunteered to die with him — just to show support. One of them, named Lucius, is even celebrated with his own feast every October 19th. Again, no one in today’s modern church would support this behavior, and I for one, would never condone it either. However, before the church made new rules and traditions about suicide, it was not always seen as it is today.

The reality is that the religious lie that suicide is a one-way ticket to hell is evil. It’s not supported by scripture and it doesn’t have a leg to lean on. Surely, dying in sin is one thing, but in Christ, you are a new creation.

Again, this doesn’t make light of suicide. It is tragic and damaging and wrong. But it is also hateful to pass judgement on someone who loved the Lord, led many to Christ, and pastored the Church.

One more thing. Just to put a nail in the coffin of this evil idea. If someone, who knew and loved the Lord, who genuinely struggled with mental health, who prayed to be healed, who was prayed over to be healed, who battled and surrendered their life to Christ and believed him for restoration, was not healed — who, who, who would be to blame? Would you blame God? Of course not. Or maybe you would. But either way you slice it, many people, even many people I know have asked God for healing in the area of depression or severe anxiety and he does not remove it.

This does not make God uncaring. Nor does it belittle the faith of the person seeking God. It simply means that God is in control, knows those who know him, and has made his grace sufficient. The thorn may be in their side, but death has no sting.

Ultimately, there is one thing we do know about suicide. Suicide is a tragedy. A tragedy that happens to 34,000 people a year. *Nearly* once every 15 minutes.

Like you, I would forgive my friends of any tragedy – whether they caused it or not. I’m sure I speak for most when I say that you would likely do the same. So then, are we more forgiving than God? Or is God a calculator – continually moving numbers to settle our balance sheet? If God is a calculator, then so is salvation. And everything is a game to get on God’s good side.

Which as we know, is the opposite of what scripture tells us:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 8:38-39

So are we convinced that death doth not part? I think we have to play some serious mental games to say it does.

Julie Cerel, a board chair of the American Association of Suicidology and a psychologist told USA today:

“Having depression and being in a suicidal state twists reality. It doesn’t matter if someone has a wife or is well loved, they get so consumed by the depression and by the feelings of not being worthy that they forget all the wonderful things in their lives.”

The Bible has two thoughts regarding how we should act towards those who have a twisted state of reality. One is in the New Testament; the other, is in the Old.

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
Romans 12:15

You shall not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block before the blind, but you shall fear your God: I am the Lord.
‭‭Leviticus‬ ‭19:14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

​Leviticus, if you’re curious, is not being literal. Israel didn’t have a problem with people cursing other people who had Otosclerosis. They also didn’t have a problem with people putting Stumble BlocksTM in front of the blind. These phrases are idioms. Idioms which ask us to have a practical empathy for each other; to make an effort to understand the pain and depression other people feel.

For the person who struggles with severe depression, they are in many ways blinded by the way they feel. They are also, in many ways, lied to by the enemy. It is not something they can stop stumbling over any more than a deaf person can be told to simply listen up.

The position of the Christian, is always to try and be the hands and feet of Jesus. This doesn’t change, if heaven forbid, someone passes from this life by their own hand. At the very least, we don’t speak ill of them. At best, we pray for and support their families in the wake of their absence. Mourning with those who mourn.

The Almighty knows those who know Him. If ever there was a time when someone needed a loving God, you can imagine it would be in their darkest moment. Much like many of us.

My heart breaks for Jarrid, his wife, and his family. The church has lost a dear brother and friend of the faith. He will be sorely missed. But we will see him again. You can be sure of it. Pray for his family during this difficult time and hold those you know who struggle with depression a little closer. In this way, you honor his life and what he stood for.

Also, please consider giving a gift to Anthem of Hope, the non-profit Jarrid started to bring awareness to mental health.

http://anthemofhope.org

If you or someone you know struggles with thoughts of suicide, call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255

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What was Solomon’s smartest decision?

Solomon was a smart guy. He built Jerusalem’s first temple. He wrote three books of the Bible (this one, this one, and this one). He was also the wisest and wealthiest (estimates say up to $2.1 trillion 😵) King in the Old Testament. Solomon, by all accounts, was a capable decision maker. He was a guy who knew how to get things done.

But he didn’t start out this way. He was a man who grew in maturity just like the rest of us. He had to lean on the Lord and others throughout his life in order to be effective.

Which is why I like him.

I’m a big believer in stewarding the small stuff. Sweeping the edges of the floor as much as the center. I believe if you can’t be accountable for small things, then the big dreams are just that — dreams.

If you can’t be accountable for small things, then the big dreams are just that — dreams.

Solomon started with a similar posture. At the beginning of his kingly-career, he asked the Lord for wisdom instead of wealth. He stewarded a “step one” decision.

“Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” Solomon said.

His humble request set him up for a lot of success in life – and some very surprising management decisions too.

Let’s look at one now.

As wise as Solomon was, he had one particular trait that outshone the rest. If you were to ask me, it held all the rest of His wisdom together. This was a “one ring to rule them all,” type of thing.

It starts in the Sheba story – wherein a foreign Queen decides to see for herself just how smart this Solomon guy actually is. A fair question between royalty, I’m sure you’d agree.

Let’s start here:

“And when queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings that he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more breath in her.”

1 Kings 10:4-5

We could spend hours talking about someone’s breath being taken away based on food and clothing. I was at Walmart the other day and I had a similar reaction. The jury is out on whether it was the Holy Spirit.

But let’s focus on the list. The Queen of Sheba (Shelby for short), was most affected by the way the King managed his house. Out of all the ways he demonstrated leadership, the most surprising one was that he had officials.

Which begs the question: why does the smartest, wealthiest, wisest man in the world need advice?

He was literally the “smartest guy in the room.”

It’s fascinating. But there is actually a very profound reason to account for why he made this decision.

The reason begins with good counsel.

Regardless of our roles or jobs in life, we are all in need of good counsel. This is true whether we are owners of a business, entry-level employees or executives in ivory towers. Placing ourselves under authority, under someone’s else’s oversight, is the quickest way to promotion, protection, and long-term success.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.” Proverbs tell us. Ironically, these could very well be the words of Solomon – echoing his life to us from the pages of his personal experience.

Solomon’s posture towards people and the authority they could lend him was what made him wise. He knew what he didn’t know. Not only that, he also had the humility to let others inform his ignorance.

His posture towards authority is what made him the wisest man on earth.

Solomon’s posture towards authority is what made him the wisest man on earth.

There is a myth that promotion equals less oversight – that the higher we go up a ladder, the more decisions we can make in isolation.

This is how great men fall.

If you’re a manager, if you own your means of income, or if you oversee a venture of any size…even just your cubical, you must seek to be under authority. Even if you simply lead yourself – a profound urgency should rest in you until you’ve found the right counsel to place yourself under.

If you haven’t done so yet, start building a master list now – an inner circle of confidants that can support you both spiritually and practically.

Find other men that can Father you and inform your decisions making process. Ideally, find one man for each type of authority you have over others.

If you shepherd people, find someone to shepherd you.

If you lead in business, place yourself under the counsel of someone that knows the market better than you do.

It doesn’t matter what you do…do not rest until you find good counsel.

Failure to do so is the reason why some men’s blessings become Basheba’s. Case and point.

We all need someone who can tell us “no.” A person who can call our bluff and inform our ignorance. This side of heaven, no one outgrows the need for it. And this becomes truer the more successful we become.

The ability to accomplish a job is not the same as walking in humility. But the inverse is true. Walking in humility is what makes us capable of more capacity.

The ability to accomplish a job is not the same as walking in humility. But the inverse is true. Walking in humility is what makes us capable of capacity.

The more we understand, and the better we are at what we do, the lower we must become.

Make a list of men you can trust today.

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Find God at Work

How to Get Godly Inspiration at Work – The Daniel Principle

You’re stuck. You check a few blogs. Watch a few YouTube videos; maybe even look to see how someone else has done the job — but no good ideas come to you. The lights are off in the imagination department and you can’t finish the job.

Have you been there before? Have you ever needed to get a job done, but not known how to do the work?

Welcome to the club. That’s every man.

Have you ever needed to get a job done, but not known how to do the work?

Every guy, if he’s honest, will have a time or two when he’s run out of ways to solve a problem. I’ve had plenty. But that earlier question won’t solve our challenges on the job. Even though — you probably could find some workaround — you’re resourceful.

The better question to ask is: how should a Christian guy solve his workday problems while he’s on the job?

There are lot’s of “could’s” for this question.

You could research the problem.
You could seek out creative inspiration.
You could even read a leadership book for good measure.

I bet you’ve tried a few of these and have still run up dry some times.

Me too. But there’s a better (more practical) way.

Let’s take a cue from Daniel in the Bible to see how we can solve our own modern-day work problems when we’re stuck. Here’s his short story:

But Daniel resolved in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or wine. So he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself.

Now God had granted Daniel favor and compassion from the chief official, but he said to Daniel, “I fear my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. For why should he see your faces looking thinner than those of the other young men your age? You would endanger my head before the king!”

Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief official had set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given only vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearances with those of the young men who are eating the royal food, and deal with your servants according to what you see.”

So he consented to this and tested them for ten days. And at the end of ten days, they looked healthier and better nourished than all the young men who were eating the king’s food.

Daniel 1:8-16

Okay. So let’s talk biblical context first.

Here we find Daniel, recently enrolled in a new job, being made ready to serve in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar. The Bible actually says that he was supposed to “be trained for three years” before he started his new consultation gig.

But apparently, he has credentials which you might think qualify him already. Those being:

  • Gifted in All Wisdom
  • Knowledgeable
  • Quick to Understand
  • Handsome (Not sure how that’s a skillset but cool)

None of those qualities mattered, however, when it came time to do the new work he’d been assigned.

Instead, he acts on principle. Particularly towards his relationship with God.

He could’ve relied on a strong jawline and a high IQ to prepare for the job — but instead, he chose to honor his God.

He “resolved in his heart that he would not defile himself with the king’s food or wine.” This resolve was linked to the fact that Ol’ Nezzy opposed God’s people and plans. (Some theologians suspect Daniel, full of insight, knew he would have to eat off stolen silverware from God’s temple of which Babylon recently invaded…)

Knowing the King’s worldly position, Daniel decided that it would be better to honor God first, and then let that inform how he would solve his work-life woes.

From that position of honor, Daniel makes a request: “Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given only vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearances…” he said to the King’s Chief of Staff.

His Babylonian boss relents. And the plan pays off (plus now, he has a beach body).

“And at the end of ten days, they looked healthier and better nourished than all the young men who were eating the king’s food.” the Bible says.

His decision to honor God, and then make a decision from that position, allowed him to work from a place of wisdom. That little feat of his was just the beginning of the incredible work he did in Babylon.

Neat. So how does this apply to you and me?

Consider this verse from Isaiah:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.

Isaiah 55:8

God’s thoughts and ways are naturally (or…supernaturally) wiser, smarter, and more informed than ours ever could be.

So, when you and I don’t know what to do, we’re in a good position.

We simply need to ask God for wisdom. You could offer a simple prayer like this:

“God, I need your perspective. What do you think about this problem and how would you go about solving it? What are your thoughts and ways of approaching this task?”

He already has an answer.

Next, it’s good to remember that, with God, everything is relational. We’re made to be in a relationship. This includes our work-life. To that end, part of how you can remain worshipful on the job is by honoring that relationship through the act of bringing matters directly to him; similar to our scriptural-colleague Daniel. This is how you partner with the Lord during the workday.

Better still, God made a promise to help you and I in our jobs whenever we have need:

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
James 1:5

This promise should give us peace. In Christ, there are no bad questions. Neither are there questions without wise answers.

In Christ, there are no bad questions. Neither are there questions without wise answers.

Asking for wisdom, in this way, has been my go-to for years now. And God has never failed me in my petitions. If anything, it’s fun and I look forward to asking him for help. I’d rather involve him anyhow— he has some pretty slick ways of getting things done, I’ve learned.

So, to recap, here are the three principles to help you solve problems on the job:

Work From a Place of Honor

Allow your relationship with God to come into your decision-making process. Simply acknowledging he gave you the job and doing your best to love him through the work is a good start.

Remember: God’s Ways are Not Your Ways

Remind yourself that God likely has a higher perspective than yours when it comes to your tasks at work. Give glory to God in his wisdom and thank him for his sovereignty.

Ask for Wisdom Regularly

Ask God for wisdom. He’s really, truly, happy to give you fresh insight. And not only that, he’s promised to give you as much wisdom as you want. He’s generous and there’s no takesy-backsies with him.

When you do apply these “Daniel Principles,” there is not a single problem on the job you cannot solve alongside Christ’s confidence and peace. I encourage you to try them the very next time you get the chance. You’ll be pleasantly surprised out how your outcomes differ when you work this way.

Blessings!

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How to Find The Fruit of The Spirit at Work

Do you speak Christianese? It’s a unique language; with a platitude for everything under the liturgical sun. In fact, there are so many of these triune-turns-of-phrase you might consider removing the hedge of protection around them, if the Lord led. But I digress. Regardless of whether you like to hedge your bets, or prefer to bet on the Lord, there is one Christian word, in particular, that I don’t like to gamble on. Fruit.

Guard your heart, brother. We’re about to go full cornucopia on Christianese.

Christians have fruit for nearly every occasion. Good fruit. Bad fruit. Spoiled fruit, if you’re slipping spiritually (Bad Apostolic Apples). But these labels don’t get us far when it comes to understanding or articulating whether or not we can see the reality of the Holy Spirit transforming us and producing Kingdom Come.

I.e. fruit.

And stumbling blocks aside, we need to get practical about how to apply scripture where it speaks to the notion of producing fruit within our lives. Consider this juicy verse in Galatians:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”
Galatians 5:22 NIV

I love the verse. It’s clear.

How do I know whether something looks like God was involved or not? Easy. There should be evidence of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, and faithfulness somewhere in the mix.

But this verse is only clear on the surface. Bare with me, as I explain.

Devotion to Christ must have an output and an outcome. Scripture calls this “fruit” but it means function. After all, if you say you’ve been loving, but can’t point to the action of that love, or the effect that love had on a person, you can’t call it fruit in good conscience, can you?

Fruit is the output of anointing and the outcome of grace.

Fruit is the output of anointing and the outcome of grace. It is a combination of the Spirit allowing you to exhibit his life, while holding to the reality that no action of goodness can grow without God’s abundant will, willing it so.

So then, if your devotion to Jesus is nothing more than zeal, of passion panting after prayer, then what benefit is your relationship with Christ to the world? It’s an important question.

Think of it this way: if we say that we have the Fruit of The Spirit (and we should), there should be more than simply the spirit of our actions. There should be influence too.

How then, do we know we’re working with God, and that he is present within the labor we do during the day? This is a blog about work, after all.

Here are a few work-worthy examples:

If you say you have the fruit of love, then your capitalism will create more opportunity.

If you say you have the fruit of joy, then you’ll do your work in such a way that it provokes others to excellence and encouragement.

If you say you have the fruit of peace, you won’t panic when markets crash or customers get upset.

If you say you have the fruit of patience, then your business dealings will be long-suffering.

If you say you have the fruit of goodness, then your strategy will multiply merit.

If you say you have the fruit of self-control, then your budgets will be in the black.

If you say you have the fruit of kindness, then your customer service will be world class.

If you say you have the fruit of faithfulness, you’ll stay the course with your KPIs.

Fruit is functional. It’s produced for consumption. It brings life. It brings provision too. Ultimately, it is evidence that intimacy with God exists in a particular part of your life.

Too often, work is a part of life which gets overlooked, spiritually speaking. This vineyard bares little fruit. But ironically, the reason is often because work is so binary to begin with. Or at least we’re told it’s supposed to be that way. Get in. Get Out. Work in. Paycheck out.

But the world revolves around work. For most of us, it takes up at least a third of the day. Sometimes more.

So sadly, most of us take a task-oriented approach to work instead of a fruit-oriented one. We might work hard, but it hardly has any effect on the Kingdom. Which is a shame. But it’s not something you need to be ashamed of. The reality is most Christians don’t know how to balance their faith within the function of what they do. But the good news is, it’s actually a lot simpler then we make it.

Sound too good to be true? Here’s a simple exercise and example to help you efforts be…more…fruitful. 🥁

Start by listing out a couple of tasks or situations that need the fruit of the Spirit. Perhaps it’s a team project, a presentation which is due, or a deadline you need to meet soon. Task-wise, you likely already know what needs to be done.

So set the “measurables” aside for now.

Instead, take a moment and pray through your list and ask God for wisdom for how he would do the work. Write down what comes to your mind or what God speaks to your spirit. He will show you how to approach the work in such a way that it bares good fruit while still getting the actual work done.

I got this tactic straight from James 1:5, if you’re interested.

To wrap up, here’s a fun story of how I applied the tactic while working on a national project for a Fortune 500:

To set the scene, I was on a new team and my Managing Director was under a lot of pressure from the executive suite. Not only did they need to get a high-pressure job done, but they would also need to prove they could lead the team well too.

As a team, we’d brainstormed and planned this project well, but none of that mattered to upper management. They wanted evidence, in short order, that the team was excelling – particularly because it was such a high-profile client. To make matters worse, they didn’t want a presentation or sit-down-discussion of the details – just an instant access update of how we were performing.

“They’re flying in. They want to see something first thing in the morning.” we learned.

The news made the whole team nervous. How in the world were we supposed to prepare a presentation – especially when they didn’t want to have a normal meeting? To make matters worse, it was the afternoon when we found out about the surprise visit.

But I knew what the Bible says. God is happy to generously give wisdom to whomever will ask, and he’ll give it without any reproach at all. He loves to help out.

So I mediated on what to do.

Instantly, I was given an idea for a strategic surprise.

That evening I decided to make up a presentation that would cover an entire wall of the office. It would be overwhelming in its effect.

So after everyone left for the day, I got started on my divinely assigned project.

I spent hours, without telling anyone, creating a paper-narrative that showed the work we’d done, the ideas we had, and even a draft of deliverables for the project. The effect was unprecedented. Unable to deny.

The next day, I woke up early and got to the office a few hours before I knew anyone would be there. Armed with only stacked chairs for a ladder and large pot of coffee, I worked as quickly as possible to put everything up before my boss came in with the executive team. I almost didn’t finish in time.

But the outcome was priceless.

My boss came into the office with the executives, completely unaware of the night’s work. So when their boss saw the huge presentation for the client, they were extremely impressed, and of course, my manager was able to take credit for leading such a forward-thinking project.

The look on my boss’s face was priceless too. Later on, they told me that they could’ve cried due to the relief and joy they felt at the work that had been done. This was re-emphasized many times by happy exclamations of “I love my team!” throughout the day.

Better yet, was the long-term effect this action had on the company, my boss, the team, and my career.

We ended up getting the client for years which benefited the company. My boss was publicly esteemed by their peers, which built bilateral trust, the team’s morale went up, and I believe this action was one of the many things which led to the various promotions I received while working at that company. The fruit of love, joy, and peace was everywhere. You could point to the places where it occurred.

This is just one example of when the Lord met me in my work and fruit was produced as an outcome. Perhaps what I like most about this story the most, however, is that it yielded the kind of fruit anyone can speak to, not just the Christianese.

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How to get revelation for your business and career

Who doesn’t want to do great things? Perhaps you want to build a business, have a successful career, or make a new idea come into fruition. Any one of those desires can be noble and God-honoring. 

But if you want to do great things, or bring anything worthwhile into the world, then there is a principle you will need to apply first in order to make it so. 

This principle is part spiritual, and part systematic. Part application. Part appeal.

Let’s look at reality first, though.

Most men dream, though they may never call it as such, of doing something meaningful, and even, dare I say it – intrinsically personal with their lives. 

But not for long. 

Most will pick up their dream or big idea for awhile, then get busy and lay it down. Or if they don’t abandon their pursuit completely, then they look at the lives of men who are not, perhaps, particularly spiritual, and wonder at how they can do so well in whatever it is they do. 

This observation creates a problem.

When the gap between execution and exasperation gets big enough, which is to say, the potential to succeed is less than the will to work, then good ideas or innovative businesses never become a reality. 

But make no mistake, this has nothing to do with motivation. Hard work won’t get this train to its destination.

There is a spiritual component at play.

Consider this steak and shake:

I fed you with milk, not with meat; for you weren’t yet ready. Indeed, not even now are you ready,
1 Corinthians 3:2

With slight frustration, we find Paul, coming back to a people he’s already taught, about things which have previously been discussed, and ideas which should already have been implemented.

These adults need baby food. A Gerber God.

Now, on some level, one might expect a little more patience from the Apostle. Who doesn’t needs to be told truth more than once. After all, even Peter is known to have said “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have…” (1 Peter 1:12)

But Paul’s pain has to do with the latter part of his post; the meat of the matter. These Christians he’s addressing wanted “meat,” a heftier spiritual protein; yet they were unwilling to care for – or nurture their basic spiritual awareness and understanding when he wasn’t around. We know this because of the way in which he (Paul) responds. They wanted revelation without responsibility.

So what does this have to do with business and career? Often in life, God will happily give us a dream, albeit in the form of an innovative idea, job pursuit, or business venture. In our excitement, we take that idea and make it bigger, grander, or more pronounced. We’ll expand it to a place only day-dreams dare go; and there we are content to stay with our cloud of career. Happy, blissful, unaccomplished.

We’ll stay put in this blissful ignorance until something from outside “pops” our business-minded bubble. This often looks like a competing company doing better than ours, poor personal performance, or a previous idea you had having been executed by someone else. 

At this point, most of us wonder what we did wrong. Or worse, why we can’t get more spiritual revelation in how to succeed.

To understand how we can overcome this ambition killer, let’s look first at a common business practice, and then compare it to its spiritual beatitude.

Whenever you pursue a business venture or new job role of some kind, there are two things to always consider:

  1. Market Expectation
  2. Vertical-driven Opportunity 

It doesn’t matter if you have an entry level job, a humble small business, or hold the reins of a Fortune 500, one thing remains constant: 

There is already an outside expectation set about whatever value you think you bring. And you don’t get to define this expectation. Ever. 

It’s not because you aren’t capable of better thinking than the consumer or bossman either; it’s simply reality. The reality is there are already market drivers, or at a minimum, mental models (cognitive assumptions and biases) about how your business should perform and your job should be conducted. Maybe that’s unfair, but it’s the truth.

The implications, for that matter, can’t be overstated. A business will fail if it tries to move too quickly into a novel idea or innovation – without thoughtful consideration of what the market already expects from a similar product or service. Similarly, a well-meaning employee will fail at his job if he ignores the minimum responsibilities of his role in favor of his own ideas or conclusions (even if they’re good ones!). 

After all, you can’t rewrite the playbook until you know how the game is played.

You can’t rewrite the playbook until you know how the game is played.

Next, we can consider opportunity. When we think about opportunity, whether in the form of personal promotion at work, or new revenues from a niche, there has to be a prerequisite understanding of who is being served (boss, colleague, consumer) and what your opportunity might provide for them. 

Perhaps that’s not a revelation. 

But revelation is typically where we get it wrong as Christians. So let’s look at the spiritual side of this discussion.

Revelation is worthless, absolutely worthless, if personal stewardship is not first sovereign in the mind of the man who wants to do something great with his life. 

You could cook up the biggest business idea ever conceived, or worship and fast till your blue in the face, but if you’re not first stewarding the minimum expectations of your faith, and listening to the thresholds of your consumers or constituents, then your plans will never succeed – at least not in the way you dreamed it might. 

Why might you ask? Because there is nothing to graduate to. 

Revelation, whether it be in the form of business acumen or job expertise, is given to those who first steward the baseline expectations. The simple things. The minimum requirements, responsibilities, and revenues of which they’ve already been untrusted. There is nothing else to expect or graduate to without this first principle being applied.

Stewardship leads to revelation.

Consumer expectation leads to industry innovation.

This is the power of Jesus’ Parable of The Steward.

As I’m sure you’re aware, in the scriptural story, a manager gave his employees (stewards) varying amounts of income to invest while he was away. He didn’t give the amounts based on competency or character, simply his own sense of delight and delegation. 

But pay attention to the attitude of the poor steward. 

He takes the money (think opportunity), and actually considers a future with it, but when he finds himself unable to grapple with all the unknowns, he buries the potential he’s been given. 

His master is furious. 

“You could’ve at least put it in the bank!”’ He says upon his return.

In other words, “Why not do the minimum if you can’t see a path to momentum?”

Here’s the practical bit for us as men: 

You’re right. If you try and predict future outcomes, or bet on the best of your ideas, without first focusing on what the market and the manager already expects, then you will fail. You will be putting the cart before the horse. And you can’t win that way. The men that win, in life, in business, or in any other personal pursuit, are not so focused on seeking revelation that they are unwilling to steward the expectations already in place.

Maybe this sounds boring, but consider it a business-beatitude. 

If you want divine insight in business or career, then you must first ask yourself what you are willing to steward in order to receive revelation.

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Discover it just like Joseph, David, and Paul.