Jeff Haanen

Category

Work

Work

Your work matters to me

 

 Today is December 1, 2012. Today something happened that I’ll never forget.

After the 6pm service at Colorado Community Church, Terri Powell, wife of Pastor Richard Powell, made eye contact. From across the hallway adjacent to the sanctuary, she pointed to me, as if she needed my attention.

I proceeded to make small talk: “How are the Powells doing?” A brief, polite, “Good,” was all she gave me. She had another purpose in mind.

“I have a word from God for you,” Terri told me. I didn’t know what to say. I just paused, and stared at her. I didn’t know whether to be “weirded out” by charismatic Christians or to pay rapt attention. My Lutheran upbringing didn’t prepare me for this. Since I was so unprepared, I may have given her a strange vibe – all that staring. But despite my awkwardness, she proceeded.

“God says to you, ‘Your work matters to me.’ He sees what you are doing. What you are doing matters to him.”

I began to break down in tears.

It was hours earlier my wife and I had a money melt-down. Budget time, and not enough to go around. I was once again wracked with vocational doubt, and a tinge of anger. How did I get here? Why am I spending all my extra time trying to build this new faith and work organization? Will it even work, or is it just dream? I was defenseless, and I once again crumbled to pieces in my office.

But now, this lady in her late fifties had a “word from God” for me. She was sent to tell me, “Your work matters to God.” God sees my nights in this office; he sees my plans. He sees my writing. He sees all of this, and he says, “This is for me. Keep going.” What as serene joy. He knows my name, sees my labor, and he says, “This is precious in my sight.”

Terri prayed for me – as I wept in the hallway, filled with confirmation, and hope.

I’ve only had one other experience like this in my lifetime. At a conference in Quito for pastors and missionaries, several pastors laid hands on me and I had a vision. I saw a vision of the heavenly city, and a great expanse of darkness between here and there, with only a lamp at my feet. It was my call to Christian ministry and a reminder to keep my eyes focused on his kingdom…and only the next step. That day, I knew God had called me into ministry. (Little did I know the odd paths I would take from that day.)

And now God speaks to me through Terri Powell, and says that I’m on the right path, that my labors are not unnoticed, and that this is important to Him, the great Creator God. Today I heard God speak to me.

What do we do when work is difficult, confusing, and fruitless? What do we do with vocational uncertainty? The Psalmist says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (27:14). He will speak when he’s ready. Just wait.

Discussion question: At what point in your career has God spoken to you?

Work

Welcome To My Faith and Work Blog

Welcome to my new blog on faith, work and culture. denver performing artsBetween reading Michael Hyatt’s great book Platform and starting a new faith and work organization called The Denver Institute, I’m rearing to go to write a great blog. Since the topic “faith, work and culture” can be a bit broad, let me clarify my blog’s focus.

  • What. This blog is about the integration of faith and work. Specifically, I’ll try to focus my posts on one of two categories:
  1. The “Why” of integrating faith and work. That is, Why should anybody care about integrating faith and work? This question will lead me into theology, as well as history, culture, and contemporary society. I hope exploring the “why” of faith and work will both illuminate the rationale behind faith and work ministries and equip readers to more faithfully engage culture through their work with a redemptive perspective.
  2. The “How” of integrating faith and work. If we eventually become convinced that God is calling us to serve Him through our work, then what does this actually look like? Honestly, since I’m relatively ignorant of so many lines of work, I’m excited to explore this topic alongside of you. In these posts, I will try to translate large ideas about theology and culture into practical insights for the workplace. They will be particular, action-oriented and hopefully useful. If nothing else, I hope they stimulate good conversation.
  • Who.  Who am I? Well, I’m white, middle class, American, fairly educated, and the father of 3 girls. There’s nothing wrong with that, but at the outset of a new blog, it’s not a bad idea to claim my biases. (Here’s more info about me in case you’re interested.) I write from a certain historical and social location – and my own family and work influences my thinking. But the better question is, Who is the blog for?
  1. Pastors and theologians. I hope my posts will be thoughtful enough to engage pastors and theologians with the essence of the gospel that ultimately affects all of human life. I imagine the “why” posts will be of most interest to them.
  2. Laypeople. As a layperson myself, I hope that this blog encourages, informs, and equips laity to engage in creative, other-oriented work infused by the hope of the resurrection. The “how” posts will hopefully be of most use to those actually “on the ground.”
  3. Both Christians and Non-Christians. I intend to write both for Christians and non-Christians. If my lingo is unintelligible to secularists, Muslims or agnostics, feel free to let me know.
  • When. I plan to blog 2-3 times per week, which is often enough to not get bored and lose interest, but not so often you feel inundated with posts. So, if you decide to subscribe to my blog via email or RSS feed, you know how much you’re signing up to receive.
  • What (2). A couple more thoughts on content:
  1. I’ll organize my posts in 10 categories: theology, culture, work, science, politics, economy, technology, education, art, and world.
  2. I’ll try my best to produce original, interesting content! I’ll try to keep idea recycling to a minimum (though I reserve to right to post the occasional ridiculous YouTube video).
  3. Most posts will be 500 words or less.
  4. Although most of my posts will be text and a photo, I hope to add videos and podcasts down the road.
  5. I pledge to write quality content! The blogosphere is flooded with silliness. My goal is to produce quality writing and analysis on faith, work and culture. If I fail on this front, again, I trust you’ll let me know.

As I grow older (passing 30 and 3 kids), and continue to collect years at the office, three convictions that led to this blog continue to grow in my life.

  1. Jesus is Lord. If Jesus is really Lord (and Caesar, therefore is not), as the early Christians believed, he must be Lord of all of life, and not just a narrow, privatized religious experience. Anything less is out of step with the historic Christian faith.
  2. Our work and culture desperately needs the gospel.  From my study, prayer, and experience, I’ve come to believe that there is no more urgent project than applying the gospel to public life. Our institutions and organizations need the good news, especially at a time when so much of modernity seems to be unraveling. Work is where this happens.
  3. Tidal waves of joy await those who integrate faith and work. When I once shared this idea with a pastor, he said, “It’s not often you hear the words ‘joy’ and ‘work’ in the same sentence.” I agree. But the Bible tells the story of a God who works rejoices in His work, and causes others to rejoice as well (Job 38:6). Joy lies in creative, self-less work. It awaits those who seek the One who created all things out of sheer delight.

I’m looking forward to the journey. A last word: I intend to end most posts with a question. So, here’s my first one: What has been your personal experience of bringing faith to work?

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