GODâ€™S PLEASURE AT WORK & THE DIFFERENCE ONE LIFE CAN MAKE An Introduction to Faith, Work and Purpose
Dr. Christian Overman with Chris Hare
ISBN: 978-0-9975330-4-0 ©2016 Christian Overman Published by Ablaze Publishing Bellevue, Washington, USA Cover design by Tim Kordik ALL RIGHTS RESERVED Unless otherwise noted, Scripture verses are from the New King James Version, ©1982 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Responses to the live seminar
GOD’S PLEASURE AT WORK “God’s Pleasure At Work changed my negative attitude concerning the numerous daily problems of my managerial position to accepting them as positive challenges through a better understanding of the biblical worldview.” Dr. Richard McCoy, Clinical Professor and Chair, University of Washington School of Dentistry “…a terrific presentation, great graphics, and profound ideas.” Dr. Al Erisman, Co-founder, Center for Integrity in Business, Seattle Pacific University “While worldview language is being used in all of the Christian world, it is rare to find such a terrific worldview resource which helps Christians understand, interact in, and engage the real world of their everyday lives…Christian and Kathy Overman, and their ministry, Worldview Matters, and especially their seminar, God’s Pleasure At Work, does this.” John Stonestreet, President, the Colson Center for Christian Worldview “Husbands and wives often live their days in radically different worlds. God's Pleasure At Work has given us an inspirational framework to connect, to encourage and inspire each other.” “Monday has more meaning now.” “I am more aware of the awesome opportunity that I have to fulfill God’s purpose in my life through my work.” “This is impacting my plans for employment.” “If I had taken this course years ago, I’d still have my business.” “Revolutionary!”
Table of Contents Quick Start How this Book Came to Be Foreword by John D. Beckett
PART I: God’s Pleasure At Work 1. Why Worldview Matters 2. How Worldview Shapes Culture 3. The Most Convincing Lie 4. Eliminating the Sacred-Secular Divide 5. Viewing Work Through a Different Lens 6. Have You Ever Seen a “Secular” Color? 7. God’s Co-Worker 8. Personalizing the DADI Question 9. “But Doesn’t the Bible Say...?” 10. The ATII Question 11. Four Wheels of Work 12. Business As Mission
PART II: The Difference One Life Can Make 13. The Big Picture 14. Made in the Image of God 15. What Drives Modern Thought? 16. The 20th Century Turn 17. The Upside of Postmodern Times
18. Spiritual Influence at Work 19. Responding Rightly When Things Go Wrongly 20. The Difference One Life Can Make 21. “But I’m Just a Hairdresser!” 22. What in the World is the Kingdom of God? 23. The Biblical Worldview Finder 24. Vital Friends and Parting Thoughts For further study About the author and about Worldview Matters®
TOOLS and RESOURCES Throughout this book, various tools and resources are introduced that are necessary for completing exercises given in the text. Some of these tools and resources are Word documents to be filled out with a computer. Some are .pdf documents to be filled out by hand. Wherever these tools and resources are mentioned in the text, a link is provided which (when used with a computer connected to the Internet) will allow you to download the document free of charge. This link takes the reader to a page provided by Worldview Matters ® containing 23 free resources: http://www.biblicalworldview.com/Godspleasure.html Tools and resources include: 99 Truths about Work, Economics and Human Flourishing 101 Biblical Worldview Truths (courtesy of The Biblical Worldview Institute) The DADI Plan The Awesome Activator The Activity Contextualizer The Conversation Starter The Truth & Baloney Detector The Biblical Worldview Finder
NOTE: This .pdf sample of the e-text contains major portions of 6 chapters (#1, #4, #7, #14, #21 and #23). To order the complete e-text, visit http://www.biblicalworldview.com/bookstore.html
Quick Start A word to students: How will your faith provide a compelling motivation and purpose for your work as a banker, a plumber, a bus driver, a homemaker or a civil servant? If you plan to be a pastor or a missionary, this question may be easy to answer. But for other occupations, maybe not so easy! This course is designed to get you thinking about this important question. But the question is not just for a future time in a future job. The question applies as much to your present work as a student as it does to your future work as a banker, plumber or homemaker. As students, your primary work, for now, is learning. Your work involves writing papers, reading books, memorizing lines for the school play or playing an instrument in the band and doing science experiments. As students, you are not just “treading water,” waiting for “real life” to start. You’re in “real life” right now, doing hard work! While there is no pay for your current work as a student, it is work nonetheless, because work is not something we do just for pay. Your work also includes washing the dishes and taking out the garbage at home. These tasks, too, can be more than “chores.” This course will help you understand how you can bring significant meaning to any kind of work. The fact is, your work truly matters to God. All of your work. God’s Pleasure At Work & The Difference One Life Can Make helps followers of Christ to connect their everyday work with their faith, in practical and meaningful ways, and thereby bring extraordinary purpose to what they do. More than this, it helps individuals to think about how their daily work connects with the common good of the wider community. If this curriculum is used in Christian schools, it may be part of an existing Bible class, a personal finance class, an economics class, or part of a career education track. Your teacher may have you read the text between class sessions, or the text may be read aloud when you are together as a group. Perhaps this course is part of a homeschool study. Regardless of your setting, the viewing of the video clips is essential for this curriculum to “work.” Questions for discussion are sprinkled throughout the text as “Talking Points.” But you are always free to create your own “Talking Points.”
To those who are through school: Although this curriculum is designed first and foremost for students, God’s Pleasure At Work & The Difference One Life Can Make is suitable for adults of any age and stage of life. This curriculum may be used in small groups, such as a group of friends meeting for caffe lattes on Saturday morning, a book club, a church small group meeting on Tuesday evenings, or employees getting together during the lunch break.
It may also be used as a basic training course for Christian school teachers wanting to incorporate theology of work, economics and human flourishing into all subjects in a seamless and natural way, from early education through the university. May the Lord richly bless each of you, whether student or professional, as you focus on aligning your faith with your work, in whatever kind of work it may be, bringing extraordinary meaning and purpose to your daily work as the very work of God.
Participant Guide: The 48-page color hard-copy edition of Worldview Matters’ God’s Pleasure At Work Participant Guide is highly recommended as a supplement to this course. This guide contains material not included in the e-text, to make your learning experience an even better one. For more information, call 425-246-5386.
The God’s Pleasure At Work Participant Guide is the perfect way to keep your notes organized, to personalize the curriculum, and to have on your bookshelf for easy future reference.
How this Book Came to Be I didn’t know it at the time, but God’s Pleasure At Work & The Difference One Life Can Make really began when I was asked to take the role of principal in a Christian school where I had taught for several years. In preparation for this unexpected role, I enrolled in a Master of Education degree program at Seattle Pacific University, with an emphasis on philosophy of Christian education, under Dr. Albert E. Greene, Jr., who at one time was my 5 th grade Principal in a Christian school he founded. Dr. Greene helped me to understand the essential role the biblical worldview plays in “thinking Christianly.” For his contribution to this course, and for his example as a mentor and friend, I am especially grateful. During the fourteen years I served as principal, I worked with classroom teachers on the art and science of making connections between all academic subjects and the bigger picture of a biblical worldview. During those years, I wrote a book on biblical worldview for my staff and our upper level students. That book, Assumptions That Affect Our Lives, is recommended as a companion text for this course, or to be read as a follow-up. Another recommended book for follow-up is LifeWork, by Darrow L. Miller. Following my years as a school principal, I enrolled in the Doctor of Ministry program at Bakke Graduate University, focusing on Theology of Work. Here I was introduced to the thinking of Ray Bakke, Dennis Bakke, Lowell Bakke and others. My doctoral project was the God’s Pleasure At Work live seminar. Later, I was privileged to participate in Chuck Colson’s Centurion Program. This intensive, one-year program was created by Mr. Colson to equip followers of Christ “to think Christianly in order to apply biblical truth to all of life and to engage and shape the culture out of a biblical framework.” During this experience I was inspired to put the God’s Pleasure At Work live seminar into book format. I am grateful to Chuck Colson for his personal encouragement, as when he wrote the following to me: “As the cultural sweep toward postmodern thinking continues to infect our educational institutions, homes and churches, the need for what you are doing is greater today than ever.” These kinds of words keep me going. Eight years later, some forty years after I first started teaching in the Christian school where it all began, it occurred to me that the live seminar material I had developed during my studies at Bakke Graduate University would be especially suitable as a course for students. This is when I put God’s Pleasure At Work into its current form as an e-curriculum. For help in understanding what a biblical worldview is and why it is important, I am indebted to numerous authors and educators, most of whom I have never met, such as Francis Schaeffer, James Sire, Albert Wolters, Nancy Pearcey, Marvin Olasky, Herbert Schlossberg,
Harry Blamires, Ronald Nash, David Noebel, Frank Gaebeline, H. W. Byrne, William Brown, Gary Phillips, and Timothy Evearitt. For help in understanding how the biblical worldview relates specifically to work, and to education, I am indebted to such authors and practitioners as Stephen Graves, Thomas Addington, R. Paul Stevens, Doug Sherman, William Hendricks, Ken Eldred, Os Hillman, Max DePree, Don Flow, Darrow Miller, Dennis Peacocke, Al Erisman, Michael Baer and Glen Schultz. I also want to thank those who contributed to this course via video or phone interviews, including John Beckett, Jack vanHartesvelt, Gary Starkweather, Al Erisman, Lowell Bakke, Bonnie Wurzbacher, Aila Tasse, Nancy Pearcey, Phil Cooke, Paul Stevens, David Carlson and Chuck Colson. I am grateful to Katie Sisco for her superb editing and proofreading. Katie, you are the best! Many thanks also to my friend Chris Hare for his extraordinary ability to connect ideas and develop colorful illustrations, in language that is fitting for students. Chris, your creative mind is one of a kind! The book would not be the same without you! Much appreciation goes to Tim Kordik for designing the cover and for getting the text prepared for e-publication. Thanks, Tim! Finally, words cannot express enough gratitude to my extraordinary wife, Kathy, who since 1970 has been my constant companion, most helpful critic and vital friend. Thanks, Mâ€™luv! Words cannot express how I feel about you!
Christian Overman, M. Ed., D. Min. Author, Assumptions That Affect Our Lives, and, The Lost Purpose for Learning Founder, Worldview MattersÂŽ
Foreword by John D. Beckett I had been leading a rapidly growing manufacturing business for over 15 years when a friend gave me Christian Overman’s first book, then titled Different Windows (now titled, Assumptions That Affect Our Lives). As an engineer by training, I remember thinking, “I don’t know that I can wade through all this stuff about Greek philosophy and its impact on culture.” By this time, however, I had become serious about applying biblical Christianity to my work. Maybe this book could help. And frankly, I wanted to respect the counsel of my friend: “John, you really want to read Overman’s book. It’s great!” Am I ever glad I did. To say Different Windows revolutionized my thinking would be an understatement. As I finished it—the well-worn pages now replete with underlining and marginal notes—I thought, “if I weren’t a proper Episcopalian I’d be doing cartwheels right now!” Simply, yet profoundly, Christian unpacked for me the radical difference between the way Greeks viewed the world—beginning a thousand years before Christ—and the Hebraic (biblical) worldview. This wasn’t a stuffy history lesson. It was both relevant and practical. It demolished the subtle yet pervasive idea that my involvement in business should be viewed through both secular and sacred lenses. God didn’t intend that I would be one person on Sunday, another on Monday. Later, I found Overman was in good company, as I began gleaning from such towering worldview thinkers as Abraham Kuyper, Francis Schaeffer and A.W. Tozer. Tozer, in particular, struck a vital chord when he wrote in The Pursuit of God: One of the greatest hindrances to the Christian’s internal peace is the common habit of dividing our lives into two areas—the sacred and the secular. But this state of affairs is totally unnecessary. We have gotten ourselves on the horns of a dilemma, but the dilemma is not real. It is the creature of misunderstanding. The secular-sacred antithesis has no foundation in the New Testament. I have wondered, “could I have been a business success without the help Overman provided in my understanding of worldview?” Perhaps so. But meeting business challenges without this perspective would have been like going into a boxing ring with one arm tied behind my back. I believe I might still share the nagging struggle I see with so many folks in the marketplace—viewing my daily work as secondary to my “real life” as a believer. Christian could easily have stopped his pursuits after writing his first book. If he had, we would still be better for his initial exposition on worldview. But to our great benefit he continued to develop, refine and repackage the message. I am particularly grateful that in God’s Pleasure At
Work he has targeted the workplace. For too long, those of us in business have behaved as though our work falls outside God’s interest or involvement. Now, because Christian took the next step, you have in your hands the finest and most practically helpful publication ever produced on this subject. I truly believe the marketplace, and all it touches worldwide, will be propelled into closer alignment with our God and His purposes— and will be enormously more fruitful—as we lay hold of these timeless truths. So fasten your seatbelt. Be prepared to challenge “traditional” thinking. Learn to see the world as God sees it. Then watch for the explosion of His favor in your life and work in ways you never imagined. John D. Beckett Chairman, The Beckett Companies Author, Loving Monday and Mastering Monday
PART I: God’s Pleasure At Work Chapter One
Why Worldview Matters
Click or tap here to watch the introductory video “Critical Issues” Approx. 4 minutes
Watch video #1 GPAW Welcome by Chuck Colson Approx. 1 minute Welcome to God’s Pleasure At Work. I’m glad you are taking this step. Maybe it is a required school course and you really had no choice in the matter, but welcome anyway! Maybe you are through school and taking this course with a group of workplace participants. There are many advantages to taking this course as a group, where you can discuss the practical applications together. Relationships deepen as you find out what your friends are thinking as you explore ideas together, particularly when your group shares a common occupational affinity, such as a group of students. (Yes, students have an occupation. It’s called learning.) Groups other than students who might be using this curriculum may include health care workers, CEOs or homemakers. Frequent Talking Points are included in the text to provide focus for discussions. Feel free to create your own Talking Points. Why limit yourself to what is in this text? Some of the Talking Points have been written in a way that will require you to imagine yourself in a particular occupation you do not have. Stretch yourself! Imagine yourself in that work position and prepare yourself for what may be ahead. OK. Let’s get started!
BRING MEANING TO YOUR WORK To really know and experience God’s pleasure at work, we must understand God’s reasons for work. To really understand how work can be as significant for a plumber as it is for a pastor, it helps to understand why work—all kinds of work—is truly significant to God. For a number of years, Bonnie Wurzbacher was the Senior Vice President of Global Accounts for the Coca-Cola Company. In a phone interview I had with Bonnie, she reminded me of a familiar story of three bricklayers. The story is in video #2, below. Bonnie then went on to tell me what she needed to know before she could truly see how her work “fulfills and advances God’s purposes for the world.” Listen to what Bonnie Wurzbacher shared with me by viewing this short video clip: Watch video #2 GPAW Bonnie Wurzbacher on Bringing Meaning to Work Approx. 2 minutes As Bonnie pointed out, we don’t find meaning in our work, we bring meaning to our work. For a pastor to bring meaning to his work by seeing how this work “fulfills and advances God’s purposes for the world” is not very difficult. But for a Coca-Cola corporate executive to bring meaning to her work by seeing how this work fulfills and advances God’s purposes for the world is quite another thing! Exactly what kind of “theology of work” or “doctrine of vocation” allowed Bonnie Wurzbacher, a business executive, to see her work as fulfilling and advancing the purposes of God for the world? And how did she come to embrace the idea that “there is no secular and sacred split?” We’ll understand more about what she meant by “no secular-sacred split” as we go along. But first, let’s examine some faulty assumptions that have had a profound effect on the way most Christians think about work. Examining assumptions is important, because this is where decisions start, and actions germinate. All of our actions, including our actions at work (whether it is the work of a student, a homemaker or an executive with an international company), are guided by deeply held beliefs we rarely examine or bring to the surface. Yet, these deeply held beliefs subconsciously guide our everyday behavior at work─no matter what kind of work we do. Talking Point: Thoughts and actions in the workplace come from “seeds” we often don’t realize have been planted in our brains. What thoughts or actions might result from “seeds” like these: “Success is to become a millionaire by the age of 40 and retire.” Or, “The only truly worthwhile work is to do the work of a pastor or a missionary.”
When your group is together, participate in the short memory exercise below. First, you will be asked to memorize a picture. When you view this picture on video GPAW #3, try to remember as many details as you can. Allow every detail to be burned into your memory. Near the end of the video clip, a particular part of the picture will be circled. This is an important part of the memory exercise. You will understand why later. Watch video #3 GPAW Visual Memory Exercise Approx. 1.5 minute We’ll come back to this memory exercise later, but first, let’s talk a bit about workplace values and behavior. Below, are three concentric circles. Notice the word “behavior” in the outer circle:
Behavior is what is said or done, and it’s also what is not said, and what is not done! In the context of the workplace, the behavior of an auto mechanic revolves around such things as repairing what’s broken, servicing moving parts, analyzing engine problems, ordering supplies, learning new automotive skills and communicating well with co-workers and customers. The behavior of homemakers revolves around things like conflict resolution, money management, taxi service, child education, nutritional science and organizational management. Student work behavior has to do with things like writing papers, practicing lines for a drama role, or doing math assignments. In the business world, it’s contracts, marketing, public relations, the company’s “Strategic Plan” and “Procedure Manual” that deals with issues at the behavior level. But the big question is: what guides workplace behavior?
To get to the “driver” behind workplace behavior, we have to go deeper than behavior itself. Most people who want to see good practices in the workplace agree that values provide a “driver” for workplace behavior. Notice the word “values” in the second circle, directly above the word “behavior.” For some workers, the value of a weekly paycheck keeps them behaving in certain ways. [They show up for work, and they don’t forget to pick up their check on Friday afternoon!] But most companies don’t want the value of a paycheck to be the most important value governing workplace behavior. That’s why many companies and organizations hang their “Core Values” in a nice frame on the lobby wall. What are some typical values identified by companies? They include excellence, integrity, leadership, justice, respect, trust, and truthfulness. Many companies and organizations have a formal document called “Guiding Principles,” or “Core Values,” and virtually all companies have a “Mission Statement.” These documents explain to employees and executives alike what the company values are, and these documents provide a platform upon which the company’s Strategic Plan and Procedure Manual rest—at least in theory. But values don’t come out of a vacuum! Behind values is something even more basic. Something that answers the “What for?” question. It’s one thing for an organization or a company to identify “excellence” as a core value, but it’s quite another thing to determine why excellence is a core value. When we push the “why” question back as far as we can, we eventually arrive at something essential for giving meaning and significance to work: worldview beliefs. Notice the word “worldview” in the center circle above. Here’s the key thought to remember so far: People’s workplace values and most important workplace behaviors are based on their view of what’s really real: their worldview. For followers of Christ who want to “fulfill and advance the purposes of God for the world,” and who want to align their workplace behavior with God’s purposes for their work (inside or outside of school), it is critical to look beyond values to a much deeper level, to the worldview ideas that shape and govern those values. Identifying specific biblical truths and discovering how these truths can generate significant workplace values and meaningful behavior is what the God’s Pleasure At Work course is about. A biblically-informed worldview provides a “germinating seed” for meaning, and “staying power.” This is why a person’s worldview matters! When Bonnie Wurzbacher understood the ramifications of the biblical worldview for her daily work at Coca Cola, and she realized there is no “sacred-secular split,” she also recognized how her work actually “fulfills and advances God’s purposes for the world.” This epiphany occurred because her “what for?” questions were answered.
To get to the heart of the “what for?” issues, let’s define the word “worldview” and give some examples of how a biblical worldview dramatically shapes the values that influence human behavior—on or off the job. DEFINING WORLDVIEW A basic definition of “worldview” is: “A comprehensive framework of beliefs that helps us to interpret what we see and experience and also gives us direction in the choices that we make as we live out our days.” (Richard Wright, professor emeritus, Gordon College.) Christianity is a worldview. But so is Buddhism. So is Hinduism, and so is Marxist Leninism. Each of these worldviews, as with all other worldviews, answer five basic questions about what is really real: 1. Who or what is the ultimate authority or highest power, and what is the nature and role of this force or entity? 2. What makes up all the stuff of the universe, how did it get here, and is there more to it than meets the eye? 3. Who are human beings, what gives them value, what happens when they die, and how do they know what is true? 4. How do people determine right and wrong? 5. Is there a reason and purpose for all that exists? Whatever people consciously believe (or assume to be true) with respect to these five critical questions will determine their worldview, which will in turn shape their values and influence their behavior. Talking Point: Which of the five worldview questions above do you think plays the most important role in shaping the values and behavior in your particular work? (Remember, if you are a student, your primary work is learning.) Why? Behavior is often a focus of the media. Values are sometimes discussed, but worldview assumptions are rarely mentioned. Yet, everyone has a worldview, even if they’re not able to recognize it or articulate it for others. The God’s Pleasure At Work course is about understanding biblical worldview premises that specifically relate to work, and then aligning those premises with your workplace values and behavior that can ultimately renew the community and transform culture. But before we get to these biblical premises, let’s talk about some faulty premises that have had debilitating effects upon followers of Christ in the workplace when it comes to seeing how the work of a plumber…
Eliminating the Sacred-Secular Divide When we hear the word “worship,” we often think about what goes on at church on Sunday mornings. So it might sound a bit strange if I were to suggest to you that a man building a house could be engaging in worship!
I don’t mean he might be humming a hymn while he is swinging his hammer. I mean he could be engaged in authentic worship by swinging the hammer itself. I’ll go even further. A man building a house could be engaged in more authentic worship than a man singing a hymn at church on Sunday morning! For if while I’m singing a hymn my mind is thinking about the fishing trip I’m taking next Friday, or the football game I’ll be watching that afternoon, but while I’m building a house on Monday morning I do this work “heartily as unto the Lord,” I am not worshipping in the former scenario, but I am worshipping in the latter. Authentic worship depends on what’s going on inside my head and my heart. To understand how building a house can be authentic “worship” requires a clear definition of worship. If we can rid our minds of Western dualism long enough to give some serious reflection to the meaning of “worship,” we can realize how physical work may truly be a spiritual activity. The body and the soul should not be divorced in our minds. It is entirely possible to engage with the temporal, material world in such a way that our engagement is direct service to God. And it is possible (I should say desirable) for humans to be engaged in spiritual worship by means of the physical body interacting with the material creation. In Romans 12:1 (Revised Standard Version) Paul writes: “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” This isn’t difficult to imagine when we think of singers using their vocal cords to sing to the Lord, or clapping our hands to the beat of a lively chorus at church. We can also see it in King David dancing before the Lord with all his might.
But could “presenting one’s body as a living sacrifice acceptable to God” also include the physical action of building a house? Could sanding a hardwood floor be a spiritual exercise as well as a physical one? Could it be a true act of worship? Talking Point: Could it be? If so, how? Col. 3:23 tells us: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…” (New American Standard Bible). Clearly this Scripture teaches that our physical labor (and mental labor) is to be God-centered, and God-directed. A man building a house “as for the Lord” t r u l y could be participating in worship every bit as much as a man singing in church. Maybe more so. The fact is, work provides countless opportunities to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, “holy and acceptable to God,” which is nothing less than a spiritual act of worship. Try doing this the next time you mow the lawn, or wash the dishes. The man who builds a house “as for the Lord” is the man who is building the house as though Jesus were to be the resident. Let me say it again: he is building the house as though Jesus were going to live in it. He is taking the wood, the hammer, and his job of shaping the house and turning it into something both functional and beautiful for the glory of God. Now that’s worship! This changes the man’s focus from simply “doing a job” and “getting a paycheck,” to “building a cathedral.” This is the man who is truly bringing meaning to his work. Of course, this way of thinking doesn’t just apply to the person who does the physical labor of b u i l d i n g a h o u s e . It applies just as much to the people behind the scenes, such as the bankers, architects, makers of tools, sellers of building materials, and so on. Every participant at every level of the process can be engaged in authentic spiritual worship if the work he or she does is done “as for the Lord,” coram Deo, which is Latin for “before the face of God.” Talking Point: Are you convinced that your work can be authentic worship when it is done “as for the Lord?” Exactly how can your particular work (at school or at home) be done “as for the Lord?” IDEAS HAVE CONSEQUENCES Here’s an idea that could have extraordinary consequences for the course of history, if we take it to heart: the physical world has significance for God—and thus for us! Work is governance or stewardship over some aspect of God’s temporal and material world. Work brings order to unordered things, it brings shape to shapeless
things. Most importantly, work is a means by which we engage in the First Commission God gave to human beings. Most of you are probably familiar with the Great Commission, in Matthew 28, where Jesus sends his disciples into all the world to make disciples. But what is the First Commission? The First Commission is found in Genesis 1:26-28, where God said: “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule…over all the earth.” In chapter 2 of Genesis, verse 15, we see God following through with His plan: “Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden, to tend and keep it.” In Genesis 1:26-28, we see exactly what God had in mind for human beings when He created Adam and Eve. Let me say that again, so you can savor the full weight of what Genesis 1:26-28 is actually telling us: We see the specific role and function God had in mind for humans before He created us. What role did God have in mind for humans, even before He made Adam and Eve? What purpose did He have in mind? What intention was behind His creation of human beings? Specifically, God had the privilege and responsibility of governance of His creation in mind, when He said: “Let Us make man in Our likeness and image, and let them rule…over all the earth.” Stop and think deeply about this. We were created to govern over the Blue Planet and everything in it. This includes water (both salty and fresh varieties), air, electricity, sound waves, light, lead, uranium, silver, rubber, maple trees, money, fish, birds, cows, carrots, copper, fingers, thumbs, arms, feet, real estate, sweet potatoes, soybeans and every derivative thereof, including plastic and dyes [thank you, Dr. George Washington Carver], as well as digital images, smart phones, e -books, ships, cars, airplanes, glue, paper, antifreeze, pencils, ice cream and cake! Humans were made to rule over whole systems, too, because without systems, governance over things cannot take place: civil systems, legal systems and economic systems are all required. But let me be very clear here. I am not suggesting some sort of political rule by the Church over the State. Christ’s Second Coming will address this matter. Nor am I suggesting some sort of Christian “Sharia Law” be imposed, or that Christians take exclusive control of all cultural institutions. Nevertheless, as individual followers of Christ, we are all to “occupy” until He comes again, even if it is in an incomplete way. This certainly includes bringing the rule of God to bear in our various occupations as we live out the implications of our faith, with humility and intentionality, in the context of our daily work, whether it be in the home, the school or the public square. The idea that Christians should take exclusive control of all cultural institutions such as government, law and the arts is a bogeyman often described by the terms dominion theology and dominionism. These terms are attributed to sociologist Sara
Diamond, who is said to have coined them in 1989. Yet, as Gagnon and Humphrey point out in the April 6, 2016 issue of Christianity Today, even Jewish journalist Stanley Kurtz has called this “conspiratorial nonsense.” Lisa Miller called the accusation of dominionism “the paranoid mot du jour.” It is a boogeyman. Yet, the Bible is very clear that God created human beings with the intention that they govern over all that He created and sustains (see Psalm 8). This necessitates economists, judges and legislators. God’s overarching purpose for human beings to govern well over all things provides extraordinary purpose for education and a remarkable incentive for learning. At least, it should. There is great significance in the fact that God created us in His likeness and image, and then commissioned us to rule over His creation. The only reason we are able to govern and rule over the material world is because we have been equipped to do so as image-bearers of God. It is important to note that the “tending and keeping” Adam did in Eden occurred prior to the entrance of sin in the world. Work is not the result of sin. Work is not a curse! Work was part of God’s original intention for humanity long before sin entered the picture. Our work is just harder because of sin. But God entrusted people with “tending and keeping” right from the start. The First Commission is sometimes called the “Cultural Mandate.” Why? Because it is a mandate to create culture out of the material world that God spoke into existence and commissioned us to govern. God int ends for us hum ans t o make something of it. Because of the entrance of sin into the world, and because this earth that God has created is going to be burned someday (I’ll come back to this later), some may ask, “Why should we bother to polish brass on a sinking ship?” Why should followers of Christ be concerned about governing over the fallen, broken world of physical matter? Why should we be concerned with making buildings, growing tomatoes , manufacturing computers and raising families? We should concern ourselves with governing over this physical, material world because God created and commissioned us to do exactly that! To answer the question “Why did God make human beings?” is not terribly difficult. The answer is right in the first chapter of Genesis: He made us to rule over the world of matter. Of course, this doesn’t answer the big question, “Why did He create us to govern over the world of matter?” This is more of a mystery. But knowing we were created for the express purpose of governing over the Blue Planet is enough knowledge for us to deal with for now. It will keep us busy for quite a long time.
The Big Picture Piece we’re talking about here is: “The First Commission given by God to humans is to govern over all the earth.” This Big Picture Piece encapsulates one of the most profound ideas of Scripture: We were created in the likeness and image of God so that we could rule over this physical, material world. And when we work, we are putting our likeness of God to work in fulfilling our primary job description. Talking Point: Specifically, how does your work serve to fulfill the First Commission of Gen. 1:26-28?
A HIGH VIEW OF THE PHYSICAL WORLD A high view of the physical world and our role in it led the ancient Hebrews to take a much different view of physical labor than the ancient Greeks. The next video clip will help explain what I’m talking about: Watch video #8 GPAW A Positive View of Matter Approx. 2 minutes
The fact that in Jesus’ day a rabbi was expected to know not only the Law of God, but also be proficient at a physical trade is significant. As I wrote extensively in Assumptions That Affect Our Lives, Westerners have been more influenced by the ancient Greeks than we realize. In general, we, like the ancient Greeks, tend to elevate the “thinking professions,” such as lawyers, doctors and college professors, and not give as much honor to those who do manual labor, working with their hands. We tend to elevate the work of those who are in “the ministry,” and not give a lot of honor to those whose ministry is providing excellent floors for people’s homes, or sinks for people to brush their teeth. At Jesus’ baptism, when the Father declared, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,” bear in mind that at this point in His life, Jesus had not preached a single sermon to the masses, nor healed a single person, nor done a single miracle.
I dare say God the Father was as well-pleased with Jesus the carpenter as He was with Jesus the teacher/miracle-worker. Talking Point: Do you agree with this last statement? If you do or do not, support your position biblically. Jesus spent about six times as much time doing carpentry work than He did preaching and teaching. In either case, Jesus did His work “unto God.” Jesus said He only did what the Father showed Him to do (John 5:19-20, 30; 8:28), and this cert ainl y included at least sixteen years (or more) of work as a carpenter. CHANGING OUR MINDS In order for Christ’s followers today to actually believe that God can be as pleased with people doing carpentry as He is with people preaching, or feeding the hungry, we must rid ourselves of Platonic dualism. The next video will get you started: Watch video #9 GPAW Detachment from Matter Approx. 2 minutes The mixture of Platonism with Christianity eventually led to a religious dualism in which all of life was divided into higher and lower spheres. Today we call things in the upper sphere "sacred," and things in the lower sphere, "secular." In the “sacred” compartment of life, we put things pertaining to the spiritual, eternal realm of “God’s affairs,” or “things related to religion.” In the “secular” compartment of life, we put things pertaining to the physical and temporal realm of “man’s affairs,” or, “things not related to religion.” Now, some might say, "Isn't this the way it really is? Doesn't the sacred part of life have to do with things like prayer, Bible study, singing hymns, evangelism, and the church? Doesn't the secular part of life have to do with Monday-through-Friday work at Microsoft, or at Starbucks, or at school ?” I once looked up the word “secular” in a dictionary and found it defined “secular” as “not related to religion.” And in the same dictionary, “religion” was defined as “a system of beliefs centering on a supernatural being.” Now, let’s think this through a bit. If all physical matter is held together (right now) “by the word of His power,” can there be any sphere of reality that exists in a vacuum, separated from God’s awareness and power? Is there any part of life that functions “on its own?” Is there any part of life not related in some way to the centrality
and supremacy of Christ? Can there be any part of life that doesn’t pertain to “God’s interests? Is there any “secular” world?” Talking Point: Is there a “secular” world? Support your position biblically. Whether people acknowledge it or not, or whether they realize it or not, Christ is the center of everything. And He doesn’t need our permission to be so. Jesus is Lord of all, whether people recognize Him as such or not. And if this is true, then I submit to you there can be no place called the “secular” world. If this sounds a bit odd to your ears, the next v i d e o may help clarify things: Watch video #10 GPAW Where is the Secular World? Approx. 3.5 minutes Here’s what Dallas Willard had to say about the supposed sacred-secular divide in his book, The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives: "There is truly no division between sacred and secular except what we have created. And that is why the division of the legitimate roles and functions of human life into the sacred and secular does incalculable damage to our individual lives and to the cause of Christ. Holy people must…take up holy orders in farming, industry, law, education, banking, and journalism with the same zeal previously given to evangelism or to pastor and missionary work." If we want to rid ourselves of dualism, I suggest we…
God’s Co-Worker We have considered God’s awesome grace in continuously sustaining the realm of matter, upholding it “by the word of His power,” and we have considered t h a t He extends His “common grace” to men, women, and children, whether they accept and embrace Him as Lord or not. This “common grace” manifests itself in countless ways, from providing plants to produce oxygen for us to breathe…to positioning the earth a perfect distance from the sun…to giving us the daily food we eat. Did I say “giving” us daily food? Yes. But not directly. You see, God could have chosen to deliver the food to our front door Himself, fully cooked, but instead we see a long human chain that links the farmer to the soil, the truck driver to the marketplace, and the grocery clerk to the cash register. All along the way, from one end of the chain to the other, human beings are engaged in the First Commission, whether they realize it or not. If we continue to follow the chain out the grocery store door, we find men and women who spend 40-60 hours a week at jobs that generate the dollars paid at the cash register. And if we go back once again to the other end of the chain, to where the farmer meets the soil, we discover that in the plants, sunshine and rain, things are happening that only God can do. Thus, in the final analysis, it is God who is ultimately to be thanked for giving us our daily bread. And this explains why most followers of Christ take a moment to thank Him before they put fork to mouth. As humans, we have been designed and commissioned to work. It is a good thing to work. But this process is not only a human one. We are really co-workers with God. The milkman delivers the milk that comes from cows and grass that God sustains. Furthermore, it is God who is sustaining the very body and breath of the milkman! The process that God uses to give you your next breakfast is a delightful dance between Himself and human beings. He sustains the milkman who provides the drink, the farmer who provides the eggs, and the baker who provides the bagel. These are all means by which God fulfills His design for food, His love for people, and His intention for humans to work with Him to accomplish His purposes in the earth. In this chapter, we’ll look at a great scientist who was able to engage in God’s pleasure at work because he fully understood his role as a co-worker with God. He ignored the “sacred-secular divide,” and, with the help of God, came up with 300 products from the peanut, and 118 products from the sweet potato! I’m referring to Dr. George Washington Carver, who worked with God in the laboratory, which he affectionately called, “God’s Little Workshop,” where he unlocked the secrets of legumes, managing God’s stuff and employing his God-given gifts and abilities for the benefit of humanity. Take a look at this video clip to learn more about this remarkable man:
Watch video #15 GPAW An Introduction to Dr. George Washington Carver Approx. 4.5 minutes Talking Point: What was most impressive to you about the video clip you just viewed?
Photos courtesy of Prentice Herman Polk Photograph Collection, Auburn Avenue Research Library, Atlanta, Georgia. A major cable TV company did a one-hour documentary on the life of George Washington Carver in which they referred to Carver and his accomplishments as a “modern marvel.” In the entire program, there was not a single mention of Carver’s faith, other than when one of Carver’s former students, an elderly gentleman, alluded to Carver’s faith in a very brief interview. I once taught the God’s Pleasure At Work course to a group of businessmen. After I shared about the work of Dr. Carver, one man in the group said he was a student at Iowa State
University, where Carver earned his degree in agriculture and became the first African-American faculty member. The man went on to say that while Carver and his work were prominently displayed at the university, there was no mention of Carver’s faith. Amazingly, this vital aspect of Carver’s life was omitted from the displays at the university. This is an example of the secularization of history. With a little research, one can find several books that reveal the essential element of biblical faith in Carver’s life. Two such books are, George Washington Carver: His Life & Faith in His Own Words, by William J. Federer, published by Amerisearch, Inc., St Louis, MO., and Fruits of Creation by John S. Ferrell, published by Macalester Park, Shakopee, MN. From these two books, I discovered the following: In a letter to some friends in Montana, written at the age of 26, Carver wrote: “Oh how I wish the people would wake up from their lethargy and come out soul and body for Christ.” He continued: “Let us pray that the Lord will completely guide us in all things, and that we may gladly be led by Him.” (Federer p. 23) In a speech given at the age of 59, Carver said: “God is going to reveal to us things He never revealed before if we put our hands in His.” (Federer p. 53) Carver locked the door to his lab when he was creating things. He claimed, “Only alone can I draw close enough to God to discover His secrets.” (Federer, p. 53) He wrote a letter to Rev. Lyman Ward, in which he included these telling words: “Pray for me please that everything said and done will be to His glory. I am not interested in science or anything else that leaves God out of it.” (Federer p. 56) At age 60, Carver wrote the following to Robert Johnson: “Living for others is really the Christ life after all. Oh, the satisfaction, happiness and joy one gets out of it…I know that my redeemer lives. Thank God I love humanity; complexion doesn’t interest me one single bit.” (Federer p. 57) At age 63, he wrote: “Man, who needed a purpose, a mission to keep him alive, had one. He could be…God’s co-worker…My purpose alone must be God’s purpose…As I worked on projects which fulfilled a real human need, forces were working through me which amazed me. I would often go to sleep with an apparently insoluble problem. When I woke the answer was there.” In the same letter he declared: “After I leave this world, I do not believe I am through.” (Federer, p. 67-68) At the ripe age of 75, he wrote to Rev. Haygood: “…if we do not take Christ seriously in our every day life, all is a failure because it is an every day affair.” (Federer p. 84) Carver once remarked: “The secret of my success? It is simple. It is found in the Bible, ‘In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.’” (Federer p. 86) And he said of his daily walk with the Lord: “…all my life I have risen regularly at four o’clock and have gone into the woods and talked with God. There He gives me my orders for the day.” (Ferrell, p. 58) He
further proclaimed: “How I thank God every day that I can walk and talk with Him.” (Federer p. 61) We can all thank God that Carver walked and talked with the Lord, because we have all benefitted from that relationship. Carver’s ability to make seamless connections between his daily work and his faith is a model for us all. When it came to Carver’s work, he was able to find God’s pleasure in it because he knew God, and he knew what God’s Word has to say about the meaning of work, the purpose of work, and what success in the work-world really looks like. Because he knew God and His Word, Carver, like John Beckett, was able to make significant connections between the truths of the Bible and his daily work as a botanist-chemist. This is an opportunity we all have: to make relevant and significant connections between the truths of God’s Word and our daily work. It’s one thing to know what the Bible has to say in general terms, but it’s another thing to apply it specifically to our daily work. But if every follower of Christ were to do this, as Carver and Beckett have done, the world would be a much better place. “SECONDARY CREATIONS” GLORIFY GOD WHEN WELL DONE This is God’s world, even in its fallen, broken condition. It is God’s creation that we’re surrounded by, and it is God's stuff we're taking into our hands when we form and shape anything. He not only created it out of His thought in the beginning, but He owns it and sustains it all now. And He commissioned us to manage all of it, even in its fallen and broken condition. We are called to “tend and keep,” as only His image-bearers can. Carver modeled this in a remarkable way. As God’s designated Earth-Tenders, we are designed to make “secondary creations” out of His “primary creation,” even if what we create doesn’t last past Wednesday. A good chef creates works of culinary art that may not last more than a few hours. This glorifies God innately, because a good meal is the outworking of the chef’s image-bearingness, whether the chef realizes it or not. The chef is a “secondary creator,” ruling well over salmon, rice pilaf and bleu cheese. And through this act of imitation, God is glorified. Even if the chef doesn’t realize it. In using the term “secondary creation,” I do not mean to imply that creations made by human beings are “second rate.” I simply mean to say they are made out of God’s primary materials. While God created things out of a vacuum, humans made in His likeness and image “create” things out of something first materialized by God. We make something of God’s stuff. And I believe God delights in seeing us do this ! Few of us will make plastic out of soybeans. But as God’s designated EarthTenders, we can fulfill God’s intention for us to govern over all things when we mow the lawn, cut hair, fix automobiles, and negotiate the sale of a house. We can fulfill God’s intention and purpose for making us when we create good legislation, play a violin, or write a book, ruling well over words, sounds and ideas. It is our honor to govern well over all His stuff. And through these acts of imitation, when people’s
“secondary creations” align well with God’s nature, character and purpose, He is glorified. This applies to all legitimate forms of work, whether making cars, light bulbs, or computers. Whether building roads, skyscrapers, or furniture. Filling cavitie s. Washing clothes. Feeding the family...and the dog. Governing well over all things to the glory of God is our calling and honor as designated Earth -Rulers. THE DADI PLAN TOOL I’d like to give you a life-long tool which will help you make significant alignments between your faith and your work, much like George Washington Carver did. This tool is called, the “DADI Plan.” Let me explain how it works, and then I’ll give you a link to a blank DADI Plan you can fill out for yourself. “DADI” is an acronym for DISCOVER, APPLY, DEVELOP and IMPLEMENT. The DADI Plan starts out by asking this question: With respect to my work as ______________________ what can I “DADI” (Discover, Apply, Develop, Implement) in connection with the biblical view of God, Creation, Humanity, Moral Order or Purpose? As you can see, there is a blank to fill in. That’s where you put whatever kind of work you do, or whatever particular aspect of your work you want to focus upon. For example, if you are a student, you can fill in the blank in a general sense with “my work as a student,” or more specifically with, “my work as the goalie of the soccer team,” or, “my work as a member of the school band.” If you were a plumber, you c o u l d fill in the blank in a general sense with “my work as a plumber,” or if you were a plumber who submits bids on large construction jobs, you might want to focus on that particular aspect of your work and fill in the blank with something like, “my work as a bidder on large plumbing jobs.” If George Washington Carver were to write out a DADI Plan, I think he may have filled in the first blank with, “my work as a botanist,” or, more specifically, “my work as an innovator of new products from plants.” The best way to learn how to use the DADI Plan is to look at an example. With this in mind, I have filled out a DADI Plan as though I were George Washington Carver, based u p on what I know about the man from books written about his faith. Understand, however, that this DADI Pl an I have creat ed “for C arver ” is only an educated guess. To start his DADI Plan, Carver first has to identify a specific challenge, vision or opportunity he wants to align with the biblical worldview. He narrows this statement to about 25 words or so. In this case, I have imagined Carver’s “challenge/vision/opportunity” to be stated like this:
I want to bring about positive economic opportunities for southern farmers. Step 1 is for Carver to figure out exactly which aspects of the biblical worldview directly relate to his challenge/vision/opportunity. He identifies key biblical truths that will provide a foundation for his work, a reason for his work, and/or guidance for his work. In this part of the DADI Plan, Carver writes down what he has been able to DISCOVER from Scripture that relates to his desire to bring about positive economic opportunities for southern farmers. He writes these truths as “I BELIEVE” statements: I believe God created plants, and He intends for humans to govern over them. I believe humans have a responsibility to govern over plants in ways that are resourceful and beneficial, without waste or abuse. I believe God shares His secrets with those who wait on Him for direction. Step 2 in the DADI Plan is for Carver to figure out how these biblical truths could be applied to his work as an innovator of new products from plants. For the sake of illustration, I have imagined how Carver might have wanted to apply his beliefs to his work by writing the following visionary ideas in the APPLY section of the DADI Plan, written as “I COULD SEE” statements: I could see co-working with God to create new products from peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans that are beneficial to humans. I could see helping to generate new economic markets for these products. I could see demonstrating my love for farmers by teaching them how to rotate cotton crops with plants that will revive the soil, such as peanuts and soybeans. Step 3 in the DADI Plan is to figure out what training, discipline, or preparation must take place in order to successfully fulfill the I COULD SEE statements in the APPLY section of the DADI Plan. In Carter’s case, I imagine he would have written something like the following, in the DEVELOP section, as “I MUST” statements: I must turn my attention to chemistry and add it to my knowledge of botany. I must continue to make prayer a regular part of my day, to hear God’s secrets about plants, and discover ways to make new products from them. I must educate farmers about the importance of crop rotation. I must find new markets for products created from plants.
Step 4 in the DADI Plan is to determine specific action steps. In Carver’s case, I imagine he would have written something like the following, as “I WILL” statements in the IMPLEMENT section of the Plan: I will combine my knowledge of botany with my knowledge of chemistry in the laboratory. I will rise early and seek God for His directives daily, and set aside time to be alone with God in “His Little Workshop,” listening to what He has to share with me about creating products from peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans. I will develop a “School on Wheels” to go to the farmers and teach them first-hand how to rotate crops successfully. I will establish a center at Tuskegee Institute for the development of renewable resources from plants, and contact Henry Ford to urge him to use plastics from soybeans in his production of automobiles. To see the full Carver example of a completed DADI Plan, go to http://www.biblicalworldview.com/Godspleasure.html and click #22. Before you write out your own DADI Plan…
Made in the Image of God What does it mean to be human? For such an important question there seem to be a lot of answers floating around. Some helpful, and some not so helpful. Are we simply forms of finite matter existing in time and space? Are we just an assortment of chemicals? Or is there something more? Is there a characteristic that qualifies “humans” to be “human?” The Bible provides a remarkable answer to the “what does it mean to be human?” question. In Genesis 1:26-28, we read: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them rule…over all the earth…’” Here we see God choosing to create something unique. He decides to create rational beings that actually resemble Himself! And He decides to give these beings a purposeful assignment: to rule over planet Earth. Think about it. Human beings are made in the likeness and image of God, and given a specific job description. This has remarkable significance for our daily work. As humans, we have been set apart for a singular purpose on this planet. God chose to carry out His purpose through us! He made us in His likeness and image so we could. BIG PICTURE PIECE #4 Big Picture Piece #4 is: Man and woman were specially created in the likeness and image of God, thus setting us apart from animals and giving us a basis for intrinsic value and inherent worth. [Gen. 1:26-28; 9:6] Every human is knit together in his or her mother’s womb by God, and all people continue to breathe outside the womb and are held together by “the continuing word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:3) By virtue of creation, all people bear the image and likeness of God, no matter what their state of disrepair. Some have conjectured that after Adam and Eve sinned, God gave mankind up as a botched job, and turned us over to Satan. Yet even after the Fall, the Bible affirms the fact that humans have unique value as image-bearers of God, in their fallen state. This is clear from Genesis 9, where God spoke to Noah and his family as they emerged from the ark. God said, “Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man.” In spite of the fact that we have all been affected by sin and its consequences, all of us bear the image and likeness of God by virtue of His creation. This includes every co-worker
(classmate), customer, or client. It includes people with every kind of disability, both mental and physical. Think about this for a moment! Even our most difficult customers and co-workers possess innate value, because each one is created as an image-bearer of God, and thus they are worthy of profound respect, regardless of their behavior. Talking Point: How does this last paragraph relate to your workplace, be it classroom or shop? Is there anyone you work with that you might need to view in a different light? ALIGNING FAITH WITH WORK Being made in the likeness and image of God is the determining factor of human identity. It sets us as far apart from the ape as from the ant or a plant. But the big question is, what practical difference can recognizing people as image-bearers of God make in the workplace, whether that workplace is at school, home, church or the community? (Remember the four wheels of work we discussed in Chapter Eleven of Part I: God’s Pleasure At Work.) One person who answered this question well can be seen in a specific company: The Herman Miller Company. This company is the second largest manufacturer of office furniture in the world. It has been named on Business Ethics’ “100 Best Corporate Citizens” list, and on Diversity Inc’s “Top Ten” list. It received the “Sustainable Leadership Award” at the CoreNet Global Summit, and the Chicago Museum selected the Herman Miller Celle Chair for exhibit. Max DePree served as the CEO of the Herman Miller Company for many years, following his older brother, Hugh, and his father. In the interview that appears in TDOLCM video #7, you will hear some important clues about DePree’s worldview. His comments reinforce the basic premise of this course, namely, that it’s our worldview that drives our values that influence our behavior and create culture. This is true whether that culture is the culture of a home, the culture of a company, the culture of a community, or the culture of a nation. Watch video #7 TDOLCM Max DePree on Belief, Values and Behavior Approx. 2.5 minutes Max DePree provides further insight into his biblically-shaped worldview in a book he wrote, titled, Leadership is an Art. In this book, DePree helps us to understand the relationship between what we believe and what we do in the workplace. Below are a few statements from DePree’s book that are pertinent to our discussion here: “Understand that what we believe precedes policy and practice.”
“Our value system and world view should be as closely integrated into our work lives as they are integrated into our lives with our families, our churches, and our other activities and groups.” “I believe each person is made in the image of God… this belief has enormous implications.” “God has given people a great diversity of gifts. Understanding the diversity of our gifts enables us to begin taking the crucial step of trusting each other.” DePree believes every Herman Miller employee (Christian or not) bears God’s image. This means God has given each employee unique gifts intended to be exercised for the benefit of all. This belief has deeply shaped company management policies at every level of the organization. One of the goals of the Herman Miller management approach is to release and encourage the gifts of each employee. DePree holds that “what we believe precedes policy and practice.” This awareness has led him to ask how he could intentionally align his biblical worldview with company policies and procedures. The key: intentional alignment. Anyone can profess to believe that God made employees in His likeness and gave each “a great diversity of gifts.” But to intentionally connect those beliefs with the daily realities of running a business puts them to the test. The joining of faith and work happens right here. Does this process require rocket science? No. But reaping the rewards of doing so requires some careful attention. It begins with identifying specific biblical truths followed by spelling out the workplace values these truths call for. Having identified these values, we can more intentionally move toward specific behaviors that flow from them. Let’s take a look at how this worked in DePree’s case. Two specific biblical truths that DePree aligned with his work at the Herman Miller Company are: 1) God creates all humans in His own likeness and image 2) God gives great diversity of gifts and abilities to people, which are to be freely exercised for the benefit of all These are DePree’s starting points. And from these starting points, certain specific workplace values were identified, namely: 1) Respect the contributions of all workers, at all levels of the company
2) Recognize and encourage the gifts that are resident in all members of the company (DePree says, for the purpose of “liberating and enabling these gifts”) 3) Hear and consider the ideas of all employees (DePree says, for the purpose of “encouraging contrary opinions and abandoning ourselves to the wild ideas of others”) 4) Tolerate risk and forgive errors But identifying values is not the end of the matter. Unless these values are “fleshed out” in the policies, procedures and practices of an organization or company, the process of alignment is merely an academic exercise with little practical effect. In DePree’s case, certain management practices of the Herman Miller Company became standard operating procedure, based on the above values, specifically: 1) Making it a regular practice to ask open and honest questions that elicit substantive input from co-workers 2) Taking the input from all employees very seriously, whether it comes from executives or custodians, and moving upon those ideas that warrant action In DePree’s book, Leadership is an Art, he lists a number of specific questions that he made a practice of asking his management team. These questions validated the worth of the individuals he was asking, and opened opportunities to freely express opinions. They are questions designed to elicit open dialogue. For example: “What are a few of the things that you expect most and need most from me?” “If you were ‘in my shoes,’ what is one key area or matter you would focus on?” “What significant areas are there in the company where you feel you can make a contribution but feel you cannot get a hearing?” “In the past year, what, from the perspective of integrity, most affected you personally, professionally, and organizationally?” Talking Point: What do you think of these questions? Would you feel comfortable asking such questions of those you will lead? Would you feel comfortable asking these questions of a spouse? As a student, what questions would you like to be asked? Where did Max DePree get his worldview? The answer to this question is as significant as his ability to align the biblical worldview with his work. Listen as DePree explains his training in TDOLCM video #8:
Watch video #8 TDOLCM The Education of Max DePree Approx. 1 minute While very few of us have an opportunity to be the CEO of a global company, many of us will have the opportunity to be parents. We don’t know what kind of work our children will grow up to do. We cannot control such matters. But we do have control over whether or not our children will be raised in a home where a biblical worldview is nurtured in their hearts and minds. We don’t have to be seminary professors to do this. Parenting is critically important work, and we can certainly experience God’s pleasure in it. Yet homemaking in the U.S. today is work that is grossly underrated, much to the detriment of our entire culture. It is my hope that all homemakers (present and future) going through this curriculum will understand that the principles discussed in this course are as relevant to the work of homemakers as they are to the work of CEOs, civil leaders and accountants. Talking Point: Why do so few families today do even a small portion of what the DePree family did with respect to biblical training? Are the reasons for not doing so valid?
The other significant thing to underscore from video #8 is the fact that knowledge of Scripture plays a critical role in aligning biblical faith with one’s work. It seems like stating the obvious to say that in order to align the biblical worldview with our work, we must know what the Bible says. The Bible is the starting point for aligning biblical faith with work, and there is no other starting point from which we can begin. How can we possibly make intentional alignments between our workplace behaviors and the biblical worldview if we do not know what the Bible has to say? We are currently living in an era when the knowledge of Scripture is not valued by many. Up until 1962, many of U.S. State schools included Bible reading as a normal part of education. In addition, many parents sent their children to Sunday School where they were exposed to the Bible, even if the parents themselves were not believers. But those days have faded, and the necessity for personal Bible study is greater than ever. The next time you read a portion of Scripture, ask yourself what it has to do with your workplace. How does it relate to your co-workers (classmates)? How does it relate to whatever occupies your time and mind most of the work day?
Talking Point: The chart below summarizes the alignment of two biblical worldview beliefs with work values and behaviors practiced by Max DePreeâ€™s company. How might these two biblical beliefs be translated into specific values and behaviors in your work? If you were to create a chart like the one below for your own work, what would it say?
THE AWESOME ACTIVATOR The Awesome Activator is a variation of the DADI Plan tool you were introduced to in Part I: God’s Pleasure At Work. It is based on the same idea, but put into the form of a “mindmapping” exercise some people may prefer. To print out a hard copy of the Awesome Activator to fill out by hand, use a computer connected to a printer, go to http://www.biblicalworldview.com/Godspleasure.html, and click on item #14. The “Questions for Contextualizing Work” are essential. This resource is located here. On the first page of the Awesome Activator, you will see a circle inside a large box. The first step is to write whatever work activity you want to focus upon inside that circle, then do some “brainstorming” about how the bigger picture of a biblical worldview relates to that work activity. Write these connections in “bubbles” around the work focus, connecting them to the focus with lines, as illustrated below. Of course, this sort of “brainstorming” requires that you have a well-developed understanding of what a biblical worldview actually is. After all, how can a person determine how the biblical worldview relates to a particular activity if the biblical worldview itself is fuzzy? Once again, use the resource called, “101 Biblical Worldview Truths” available at http://www.biblicalworldview.com/Godspleasure.html, item #6 or #7 (long or short from). Also, use “99 Truths about Work, Economics and Human Flourishing,” available at the above website, items #2 and #3. If you were focusing on the work of washing dishes, for example, your Awesome Activator might end up looking something like the example below:
On the second page of the Awesome Activator, you will answer the same three questions that appeared in the DADI Plan. These three questions are shown below, with answers given related to washing dishes: 1. Ways I could see myself applying Biblical Truths (as shown in the outer bubbles) to my endeavor (shown in the middle): I could see washing dishes as an act of loving service to my family, and it could be a direct expression of my love for those who are closest to me. I could see washing dishes as an act of service to God Himself, and as fulfillment of His commission for me to govern over all the earth—including water, soap, cups and plates. 2. Skills I must develop (or preparation I must make) in order to succeed: [Training? Discipline? Research?] I must be convinced that dishwashing is the will of God for me, and that He wants His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven through me in this way. I must be conscious of the fact that when I am washing dishes, I am doing work that God wants done. I must keep in mind that I am washing the dishes as though Jesus were going to eat on them. I must fully realize that I am loving and serving God and others through washing dishes. 3. Action steps I will take: I will put a little sign near my sink that reads: “Here I directly serve God, love others, and fulfill my role of governing over the material world.” I will use my dishwashing time as a time of practical discipleship, putting my faith into action in a very real and practical way. I will wash dishes regularly and consistently “as unto the Lord,” in a timely and organized fashion. Whether you prefer to use the DADI Plan or the Awesome Activator is a…
“But I’m Just a Hairdresser!” When you get into the adult workforce, you have to get used to the question that inevitably comes up when you meet someone new: “What do you do for a living?” Or, has anyone asked you, “What will you do after you graduate?” If society assigns great value to your work, you might be eager to share about your job, your position, and your accomplishments. Or what university you plan to attend. But if you consider your job to be less than important, or you’re going to a trade school instead of a university, perhaps you dodge the question. Society has created a workplace hierarchy and assigned more value to some jobs and less value to others. But as followers of Christ who want to serve with intentionality in the Kingdom of God, we need to see the significance of our work and the work of others from the perspective of Christ Himself. To do so, it is important that we understand what it means to do “the work of the Lord” in the context of whatever work we do, as Paul told slaves in Col. 3:23. So far we’ve looked at some remarkable examples of faith at work in the lives of such notable people as Max DePree, Don Flow and Jack vanHartesvelt. Two are CEOs of large companies, and one a multi-million-dollar negotiator. It is easy to look at those examples and think, “But I’m not a CEO. I’m not making multi-million-dollar hotel sales. I’m just a student…a clerk...an assembly line worker...a homemaker.” Yet none of us are in a position to minimize the difference we can make in the world when we integrate our faith with our work in practical and honest ways. Let me introduce you to Paul Stevens, author of an excellent book on the theology of work, called The Other Six Days. For many years, Paul Stevens taught courses on theology of work and “everyday life” at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, where Don Flow attended. Later Stevens became a professor of Theology of Work at Bakke Graduate University, where I did my doctoral studies. With Paul Stevens’ help, let’s explore the meaning of “Theology of Work,” and see how the work of a hairdresser can truly be as significant as the work of a CEO, a multi-million-dollar negotiator, or anyone else, starting with TDOCLM video #17: Watch video #17 TDOLCM “But I’m Just a Hairdresser!” Approx. 2.5 minutes
But can we really go so far as to say that the work of a hairdresser is “the work of God?” Really? This begs the question, “What exactly is the work of the Lord?” Let’s hear more from Professor Stevens. Watch video #18 TDOLCM What is the Work of the Lord? Approx. 2.5 minutes Here is what Gene Edward Veith has to say about it, in his excellent book, God At Work: “Our work is a participation in God’s creation.... Ruling, subduing, multiplying, causing plants to grow, making things—these are what God does, and yet God gives them as tasks to human beings… God has chosen to work through human beings, who, in their different capacities and according to their different talents, serve each other.” Randy Kilgore put it this way, in his Marketplace Moments newsletter: “God created a world that functions on order; and requires labor for its tending. He created you and me to be a part of that order, to do that labor. Even when our acts at work don’t seem to have eternal significance, their very rendering fulfills His original commission to humans to tend His creation.” Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship and BreakPoint, summed it up like this: “On the sixth day, God created human beings—and ordered them to pick up where He left off!” Based on these statements, one would have to conclude that the “work of the Lord” includes not only styling hair, but also repairing automobiles, doing lawn care, filing invoices, manufacturing furniture, being a student, building houses, homemaking and turning soybeans into printer’s ink! And it includes preaching sermons and feeding the hungry, too. Talking Point: Do you agree that “the work of the Lord” includes styling hair and repairing automobiles? Can you see your work as “the work of the Lord?” Why or why not? For some, all this might be a bit much to swallow. M ost Christians tend to think it is the pastor and the missionary who do the real work of the Lord. But let’s listen to what Professor Stevens has to say about this: Watch video #19 TDOLCM Will the Real Minister Please Stand Up? Approx. 2 minutes Have you ever heard a Christian say: “Someday I’ll quit my job and go into ministry!”
If you think about it like Paul Stevens does, I hope you have a bucket near you when you hear it. The next time you hear someone say this, try asking if he or she is thinking about going into law enforcement or politics. Law enforcement or politics? Yes. Consider the apostle Paul’s exhortation to Christians in Chapter 13 of his letter to the Christians in Rome: “For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God… For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil… For because of this you also pay taxes, for they [civil authorities] are God’s ministers…” [NKJV, emphasis added] Three times Paul refers here to civil authorities as “God’s ministers.” Are they doing the work of the Lord? Absolutely! Do they realize they are doing the work of the Lord? Some may, many don’t. You can be sure that in 1st century Rome, there were very few civil servants who understood they were doing the work of the Lord. Nonetheless, they were. Does it matter if they realize they are God’s ministers? No. They are still God’s ministers. They are doing the work of God, whether they realize it or not. But what a joy it could be for followers of Christ who go into this field to actually realize they are God’s ministers, and doing His work! Of course, there are times when civil leaders do wrong things. They don’t always fulfill their roles rightly. When they tell us to do something contrary to Scripture, we must obey God rather than men. This is when we may be thrown to the lions. CAPITAL HILL GUILT Nancy Pearcey, author of Total Truth, writes about Christian youth who come to Washington, D.C. with a case of “Capitol Hill Guilt.” I caught up with Dr. Pearcey one day by phone, and asked if I could record her comments for your benefit. She kindly obliged. Her story aptly summarizes much of what I’ve been trying to communicate throughout this curriculum: Watch video #20 TDOLCM Dr. Nancy Pearcey on Capitol Hill Guilt Approx. 3 minutes Imagine what would happen today if thousands of followers of Christ went into civil service with the total realization that they were going into ministry, doing the work of the Lord! I am not suggesting an “ecclesiocracy” here. I am not suggesting that civil government be run by the Church! I am suggesting that individual followers of Christ…
The Biblical Worldview Finder In certain kinds of occupations, it isn’t possible to experience God’s pleasure at work. If you’re managing a brothel, or selling drugs, you need to find a different occupation if you want to experience God’s pleasure at work. But, on the other hand, you may be engaged in a legitimate type of work and yet feel misplaced, and therefore having difficulty in experiencing God’s pleasure at work. Dr. George Washington Carver was highlighted in Part I: God’s Pleasure At Work as a man who truly experienced God’s pleasure in his work. But as Booker T. Washington, the head of Tuskegee Institute said, Carver was a poor administrator. It would have been a mistake for Booker T. Washington to have placed Carver in a role of administration. And it would have been painful for Carver to work as an administrator. That kind of work just didn't match his strengths or his passions. Carver was best suited for the laboratory, and that's where he experienced God's pleasure best. But even if we are doing work that fits our strengths well, every job has "chores" that drain us. No matter what kind of work we do, there are unpleasant aspects of the job we have to face. As a student, there are assignments you don’t want to do, and this won’t stop when you are out of school! If you have a job that “energizes” you 60% of the time, consider yourself blessed! But if your work only energizes you a very small percentage of the time, you may do well to consider alternative work. [Of course, for students, dropping out of school is not an option. If you are having trouble seeing the purpose of school, learn to bring meaning to your work as a student.] Thankfully, God has gifted certain people to counsel and guide others toward the kind of work that best fits the abilities and strengths God has given them. If you are wondering what work might best fit your strengths, I suggest you meet with a qualified guidance counselor to discuss this one-on-one. MANY PEOPLE DON’T HAVE THE LUXURY As it is with students, many people don’t have the luxury of changing jobs. Many people around the globe are just glad to have work—any kind of work! I remember standing on some waterfront docks in Jakarta, Indonesia with Ray Bakke and fellow students from Bakke Graduate University. We watched as men hauled lumber off large sailing ships (that’s correct, wind-powered ships with no engines) by hand, individually carrying one long, heavy beam at a time on their shoulders. They worked like this for 12 hours, from 6:00am to 6:00pm, at a pay rate of $9 per day. I took the photos below:
You may feel like the kind of work you are doing has a lot of “chores” in it. But for some people around the globe, the entire workday is a chore more difficult than you can imagine. As I watched these men at work in Jakarta, I asked myself, “If I was doing what these men are doing, could I really experience God’s pleasure at work?” It was a test of my theology of work!
But when Paul wrote in Col. 3:23, “…whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord…,” he was writing to people who didn’t have the luxury of taking an aptitude test to find a better job fit. He was addressing slaves who had no choice about what kind of work they did for their masters. Bearing Paul’s words in mind, it is safe to say that what we do is not as much of an issue as the attitude with which we do it. I believe any follower of Christ can fulfill his or her primary calling through any kind of work, as long as that work is legitimate and does not violate the will of God. Did I say “primary calling?” Yes, I did. But when I use the term “primary calling” here, I’m not implying that some people are “called” to be butchers, others are “called” to be bakers, and others are “called” to be candlestick makers. While it is true that God calls people to fulfill certain tasks (as in Acts 13:2, where the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them”), a divine calling into a specific occupation is not normally mentioned in Scripture. While it is clear that Paul was “called to be an Apostle” (Romans 1:1), the Bible does not tell us he was “called to be a tentmaker.” Yet he did make tents, even as an Apostle. No matter what varied occupations we may have, all followers of Christ have the same primary calling. While we may be concerned about having missed our “best job fit” (in terms of matching our strengths with our work), we shouldn’t be concerned about having missed our “calling.” It is clear from Scripture that God’s primary calling is the same for all of us. And the wonderful thing is, we can fulfill this calling through any kind of legitimate work! Even slaves were assured by Paul in I Corinthians 7:21-23 that they could fulfill their calling in Christ while yet remaining slaves. The issue is not the kind of work we do, but whether we are fulfilling our calling to follow Christ in whatever work we do. ALL FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST ARE CALLED TO THE SAME THING All followers of Christ are “called to be saints” (Romans 1:5-7). All followers of Christ are “called into the fellowship of Jesus” (I Cor. 1:9), and all followers of Christ are called to “follow His steps” (I Pet. 2:21). Among other things, this calling involves being conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:29), and letting our light so shine before others that they may see our good works and glorify the Father (Matthew 5:16). We can fulfill this primary calling while flying airplanes, driving trucks, sewing jackets and managing investment funds. We can fulfill our calling in Christ, whether we wear a blue collar, a white collar, the collar of a cleric, or no collar at all.
No matter what kind of work we may do, the biggest question is not, “Am I in the right place, doing the right work?” but whether we are responding the right way, with the right attitude, in whatever work we do, even when we are working like a “slave.” [Students may feel this way when working on certain assignments they don’t like, but are required to do by teachers. Or working on certain jobs they don’t like at home, but are required to do by parents.] Talking Point: Do you sometimes feel like a “slave” in your work? When do you most feel this way? If you are not able to change your job or your work assignment, do you feel you can still fulfill your calling in Christ at work? If not, why not? When do you think it would be appropriate for a follower of Christ to look for a different job fit? Whether or not we feel like a slave, or a misfit, there are certainly “chores” in our work that are unpleasant, stressful, and just plain difficult. These may be times when we wish we were in another line of work. It is in these times that gaining perspective is especially important. But it is also in such times of pain that getting perspective can be really hard. THE BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW FINDER Sometimes, when things are troubling me, I find it helpful to get perspective by specifically putting whatever issue is bothering me directly into the context of the Bigger Picture of a biblical worldview. I do this by using the twelve “Big Picture Pieces” that have been identified in the two parts of this curriculum. We have looked at eight Big Picture Pieces in The Difference One Life Can Make, and four others in God’s Pleasure At Work. Now is a good time to present all twelve Big Picture Pieces together in sequence, so we can see how the overall chronicle of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration flows. Below are the twelve Big Picture Pieces of the biblical worldview as highlighted in The Difference One Life Can Make, and in God’s Pleasure At Work: #1 CREATION: 1. The entire universe was spoken into existence by the Designer-Creator’s willing choice. 2. God caused all things to first appear, and He continuously sustains all things throughout the present. 3. The Creator-Sustainer is a personal Being. 4. Men and women are specially created in the likeness and image of God, with intrinsic value and inherent worth.
#2 FALL: 5. God has put in place non-optional, non-negotiable laws for our good, and when we disregard them, we hurt ourselves and others. 6. Since the Fall, human beings have experienced an internal problem with sin—a natural “bent” to go our own way rather than God’s way, and to be a law unto ourselves. #3 REDEMPTION: 7. At the cross, Christ took upon Himself the sins of the human race in order to bridge the relational gap between us and God, and to provide a way of forgiveness through faith in His death on our behalf. 8. Genuine freedom is the internal self-control that comes from self-government under God through the enablement of the Holy Spirit, regardless of the circumstances. #4 RESTORATION: 9. We live in a fallen world, which is not the way it was originally made to be, but we do not live in a forsaken world. 10. The earth and everything in it remains God’s own possession, and therefore it has great significance. 11. The First Commission given by God to humans is to govern over all the earth. 12. God purposes to do His will on earth as it is in heaven, and by His grace, He will work through redeemed people to bring His light to every sphere of life. The above biblical truths make up what I call, The Biblical Worldview Finder. I hope this doesn’t come across too simplistically, and I don’t want you to see it as a “Steps to Success” gimmick, or a substitute for prayer and counsel from others. But I’d like you to view The Biblical Worldview Finder as a kind of “thought prompter” you can use to gain perspective on a particular crisis or difficult situation facing you at work (school or home). Or when you’re just not liking your work. The object of using The Biblical Worldview Finder is to take time to look at a particular issue or workplace challenge through the lens of the biblical worldview, or, in the context of the larger biblical chronicle of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration, so the “pieces of life” can be understood in light of God’s Bigger Picture. A “piece of life” may be a big mistake you make, being chewed out by your boss, or a co-worker who rubs you the wrong way, or someone saying something untrue about you,
getting laid off, or, as in the example you will consider in a moment, being overlooked for a promotion. Some difficult situations may be a signal that it is time to find another job (we must recognize that God sometimes speaks to us about job changes through difficult circumstances). But more often than not, God wants us to appropriate His daily grace in the middle of the difficult circumstances. Francis Schaeffer once wrote: “The basic problem of the Christians…is that they have seen things in bits and pieces instead of totals.” I think he was saying we can’t see the forest for the trees. We don’t see the “total” picture that a biblical world-and-life view provides. Certainly, the most important “total” that we can consider, when we are trying to make sense of the “pieces of life,” is the Big Picture of Creation, Fall, Redemption and Restoration— the biblical worldview. That being said, I’d like you to practice using The Biblical Worldview Finder in connection with a real challenge facing Ivan, a follower of Christ who was overlooked for a promotion at work. Ivan’s true story is found in Chapter 5 of a book called, Faith Dilemmas for Marketplace Christians, published by Wipf and Stock Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, titled, “A Thumb on the Scale of Justice.” To hear what happened to Ivan, and his response to it, view TDOLCM video #23: Watch video #23 TDOLCM Ivan’s Story Approx. 2.5 minutes Ivan’s problem is the same one we all have, of not being able to view the “pieces of life” in the context of a much larger whole that will help us to interpret the pieces properly, and act accordingly. I’d like you to put yourself in Ivan’s shoes. Imagine being passed over for promotion and being deeply hurt or angry. (Or imagine having not received the lead role in the school play, while thinking you are by far a much better actor than the person who was given the role.) Then imagine sitting down and using the Biblical Worldview Finder to get perspective. Consider each of the twelve Big Picture Pieces, thinking about how each aspect of the Big Picture might have helped Ivan to respond differently than…
About Christian Overman: Dr. Christian Overman holds a Master of Education degree from Seattle Pacific University, where he studied under Dr. Albert E. Greene, Jr., with an emphasis on Philosophy of Christian Education. He holds a Doctor of Ministry degree from Bakke Graduate University, with an emphasis on Theology of Work. He also studied under Chuck Colson, in the Centurions Program. Dr. Overman served as principal of a Christian school for fourteen years, and has been teaching courses on biblical worldview contextualization since 1980, for audiences in Europe, Africa, Asia, Central and South America, as well as in North America. He is the founder of Worldview Matters®. Christian and his wife, Kathy (married since 1970), reside near Seattle, Washington, USA. They have four adult children and twelve grandchildren.
About Worldview Matters®: Since 2000, Worldview Matters® has been helping followers of Christ to recover from secularized thought, and to make relevant and practical connections between the biblical worldview and everyday life. As an educational service organization, Worldview Matters® assists followers of Christ in living out the implications of biblical faith in the context of the workplace, the home and the school, with special focus on elementary and secondary schools. Training is provided via the on-line course called, Increase Meaning: A Wholistic Approach To Christian Education. For more information, visit www.biblicalworldview.com.
About Chris Hare, co-writer: In his own words, “I'm one part strategist, one part creative director, and one part writer. I've gotta say, I love what I do. Outside of work, my greatest passions are my family, my faith, fly fishing, helping people navigate chronic physical and mental pain, and helping small local businesses succeed.” [Note from Christian Overman: The credit goes to Chris Hare for the corny jokes in this book, and many of the imaginative mental images found throughout the God’s Pleasure At Work curriculum. Thanks, Chris!]
Published on Oct 7, 2016
A free examination copy containing selections from 6 chapters of "God's Pleasure At Work & The Difference One Life Can Make: An Introduction...