Jeff Haanen

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TheologyWork

Video Release: Eugene Peterson on Vocation

On New Years Eve, 1868, Andrew Carnegie sat alone in his room in the St. Nicholas Hotel in New York. Only 33 years old, he had already been successful beyond his wildest dreams. That year he made $56,110 and had accumulated $400,000 in assets. But his heart was restless.

New Years Eve was a time of sober reflection for Scottish Calvinists. Though an atheist, Carnegie the Scot picked up a pen and wrote that night, “To continue much longer overwhelmed by business cares and with most of my thoughts wholly upon the way to make more money in the shortest time must degrade me beyond hope of permanent recovery.”

Though he delayed in taking action, that night he committed to get a thorough education, take part in “public matters especially those connected with education and the improvement of the poorer classes” and “choose the life which will be the most elevating in character.”

For many of us, New Years is a time to examine our lives and make plans for next year. Many of us have questions about our work. What am I called to? If it’s not just making money – what’s the purpose of my work? What if I don’t like my job? These are tough questions for any of us. Many of us need a guide.

Today, on New Years Eve, we release four short interviews of Eugene Peterson’s wisdom on work and vocation. If you find yourself with a moment of quiet reflection before 2015, watch these brief videos and ask yourself the questions below. Take time to write in a journal your answers and what you might change in 2015 about your work, your family, or how you spend your time.

I wish you a Happy New Years, and a heart that finds its rest ultimately in Him.

The Role of Work in the Plan of God from Denver Institute on Vimeo.

  • Peterson says that taking a Sabbath “activates” and renews our work. How does weekend rest and worship influence your motivation to work on Monday?
  • In what way is your job “creation work” – work the participates in the creative work of God himself? Could your work next year be more creative?
  • Peterson mentioned that many people feel like they don’t have any worth unless they’re making money. Have you ever felt this? If so, why do you think this is?

 

Cultivating Vocation from Denver Institute on Vimeo.

  • Peterson said that some write poems, but others are poets; some have jobs as doctors, but others are doctors 24 hours a day. What has God made you “24 hours a day?”
  • Do you have mentors in your life who speak truth you need to hear? Are you mentoring others? 
  • What practices can you integrate into your weekly rhythm in 2015 that help to cultivate a sense of vocation or divine calling? What activities hinder your ability to hear God’s call? 

 

Suffering in Work from Denver Institute on Vimeo.

  • Peterson says: “Not many people have the ability or the opportunity to have a job that fits them.” Does this describe you? Are there ways to be faithful to Christ in your work even when you’re suffering?
  • Peterson’s dad was a butcher. Though he didn’t particularly enjoy his work, he had “contempt for the hackers who just wanted to get through the day as fast as they could.” Have you felt this way before? Is there a way to serve with excellence even in a job you don’t particularly enjoy? 

 

Busyness, Sabbath, and Work as a Gift from Denver Institute on Vimeo.

  • Do you find yourself so busy that you feel like you don’t have any control of your life? Why is this?
  • What role does technology play in our busyness? What does a truly restful Sabbath look like for you?
  • Peterson says, “Work is a gift.” How might your attitude change toward your work if you truly believed that your daily work was God’s gift to you? 
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Work

What’s Wrong with, “Do What You Love”?

 

We’ve said it for so long to graduating college seniors it’s become almost gospel. Do what you love. Do what you’re passionate about. Don’t settle for just a job. Follow your dreams. But is this wisdom or just hot air?

Gordon Marino recently wrote an op-ed for the New York Times about his experience at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. In contrast to the college students who came into his office, “rubbing their hands together, and furrowing their brows,” wondering if they should become doctors, philosophers, or stand-up comics, many people in Northfield delivered papers at 5am or became roofers. Marino’s own father worried very little about “doing what he loved.” He worked at a job he hated for most of his career in order to take care of his family.

The rub, says writer Miya Tokumitsu, is that the “do what you love” ethos is actually elitist because it undermines work that is not done out of “passion.” Moreover, it severs the traditional connection between work, talent and duty. The vast majority of the world’s workers are not working because they love the job, but instead are simply providing for their loved ones, and they had little choice in the matter.

Kate Harris of The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation & Culture has aptly pointed out that in today’s culture, the word vocation has been twisted from its original meaning of living one’s entire life in response to the call of God. Instead, for many it refers to an ideal job, one that forever seems over the rainbow. In my own experiences in Denver, I’ve found this to be the case as well. Mentioning the word vocation elicits a range of responses, mostly involving: “I feel called to…” or “I don’t feel called to…” The emphasis is on our personal feelings, self-fulfillment, and career preferences, not necessarily on hearing and obeying the voice of God.

Throughout its usage in Christian history  vocation has rarely if ever meant “do what you love.” More often than not, the call of God was actually a call to suffer for the sake of others. Moses was called from the desert to free the Israelites from slavery, only to be burdened with the task of another 40 years of wandering the desert with a bunch of grumblers. Jeremiah was called to suffer as a prophet to the nations; a calling he rued later is his life. (“Cursed be the day I was born! May the day my mother bore me not be blessed!” [Jeremiah 20:14]). Paul was called to be the great apostle to the Gentiles, and God tells him through Ananias, “I will show him how much he must suffer for my name,” (Acts 9:16). Not exactly “do what you love.”

Of course, the biblical idea of calling is not for sake of suffering, it’s for the sake of Christ, and for the sake of serving others. This is why Tokumitsu’s critique is so ripe. There is a historical connection between being called, and using your gifts to serve the needs of others. For some this means doing what you love. But for most, it means doing what you must. It means using your skills to bring value and life to your community.

Is this life, this call to do what you must, inherently unsatisfying? I don’t believe so. My mother was a public school teacher in Hopkins, Minnesota for 35 years. Her days were long, and when she came home, she cooked, brought us to basketball practice, and most nights corrected papers for her third graders until she dozed off. Did she love it? Many days, yes. All the time? No way. Being a single mother supporting two kids is a life of duty and a life of service. It’s not one of self-actualization. But in the giving, my mother made a huge impact on the lives of my sister and myself.

Ironically, when we think about work, chasing after our own happiness will never bring us happiness. It is in serving others and pointing beyond ourselves that happiness is tossed in along the way. To find happiness, forget about passion. Give yourself to what the world needs. Or better yet, give yourself to God, and let him use you as He sees fit.

At the conclusion of Christopher Wright’s magisterial The Mission of God, he says, “I may wonder what kind of mission God has for me, when I should ask what kind of me God wants for his mission.” Exactly. But be prepared, this just may not be a job that you love.

This article first appeared on the Missio blog at The Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture. 

Illustration by Leslie A. Wood

 

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Work

What would you ask Eugene Peterson about your work?

 

If you could sit down with Eugene Peterson, the author of The Message, and ask him any question about your work or career, what would it be?

This fall, Denver Institute for Faith & Work, along with Cherry Creek Presbyterian, New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Littleton Christian Church, and Bloom Church, is hosting a special dinner for the residents of Colorado.  The dinner will feature several short video clips of Eugene Peterson answering your toughest and most honest questions about calling, theology, and career.

To get the video, this Spring we will be traveling to Eugene Peterson’s home in Montana to ask him your questions about work, vocation, career and the Bible. And so before we go to his home, we want to hear your heart and thoughts. We will be collecting questions from you for the next two week on anything related to calling, work, career and the Christian faith. The top three questions will both actually be asked to Eugene Peterson for the video recording and will earn you a free dinner this Fall.

So, if you were sitting next to Eugene Peterson, what would you ask him about your work?

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Theology

Satisfying Work in the New Jerusalem

 

What’s heaven like? In Isaiah 65, God promises to create new heavens and a new earth, to undo a world of suffering and renew his beloved Jerusalem.

“See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy.”

So what will this new Jerusalem be like? And is there anything we can do now to better reflect this new world? Isaiah 65 gives four key features of the new heavens and earth in this passage – and one that we hardly ever mention:

  1. Long Life. In the new Jerusalem, there will no longer be infants who live just a few days, or people who do not live out their years to old age. Untimely, tragic death will be no more, and life will reign (Is. 65:20).
  2. Peace and Justice. “The wolf and the lamb will feed together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox…They will neither harm nor destroy on my holy mountain” (Is. 65:25). There will no longer be violence or destruction. Peace and justice will flow in the streets – and even the fields – of the new Jerusalem. Strong and weak, powerful and powerless, will sit at the table of fellowship, a vision not much different from Dr. Martin Luther King’s vision that one day “on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”
  3. Renewed Family. No longer will women “bear children doomed to misfortune” but instead God will bless families and their descendants (Is. 65:23).
  4. Satisfying Work. Because we so rarely mention work in the context of heaven, I’ll quote Isaiah 65:22-23a at length: “They will build houses, and dwell in them; they will plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat. For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands. They will not labor in vain.”

There are two things to notice about this passage:

  1. The structure of the passage is built around Genesis 3 and 4. The new heavens and earth is a reversal of the effects of the Fall. Death was a result of sin (Gen. 3:19, Rom. 5:8), and Isaiah states God will reverse the effects of death with fruitful life (Is. 65:20). God curses both childbearing and work as a result of sin (Gen. 3:16-19), but both the family and work are restored in the new heavens and earth (Is. 65:22-23). Finally, one of the most devastating effects of the Fall is violence. Genesis 4 – when Cain murders his brother Abel – prefigures a world of injustice and bloodshed; Isaiah 65 envisions wolfs and lambs living side-by-side in peace.
  2. Satisfying work is at the center of the new heavens and earth. The reason God’s chosen ones “enjoy the work of their hands” is because the can live in the houses they built, and enjoy the fruit of the vineyards they planted. The very opposite of this is “laboring in vain” and having others live in the houses they built, and others eat the vineyards they plant. Now, I think the immediate context of this passage is a promise that foreign armies would no longer rule over Israel, and essentially plunder their wealth (homes and vineyards). But nonetheless, this passage makes it clear that seeing and enjoying the work of your own hands is central to shalom, to peaceful communities. (Ecclesiastes makes similar statements about the curse of toiling so that others might enjoy your work, and, conversely, the divine blessing of finding satisfaction in your work [Ecc. 2:17-18, 3:13]).

In this post, I wanted to just lay some biblical groundwork for discussing further questions about satisfying work down the road. But for now, I’d really like to get your feedback on a couple simple questions:

What makes for satisfying work? Or, perhaps more easily answered, what do you think are the core features of frustrating work? In what situations do you say, “That was a good day’s work?”, and when do you lament, “I accomplished absolutely nothing today?”

(Note: Thank you to Robert Gelinas and Colorado Community Church for asking us [the congregation] to memorize this passage. It’s well worth our in-depth reflection.)

Photo: Jerusalem Sunrise

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Work

Reengaging America’s Workers

 

Generally speaking, most Americans either hate their jobs or are just simply “checked out.” A recent Gallup survey showed that of the 100 million Americans working full-time, 70 million were either “not Engaged employees” or “Actively disengaged.” That means only 30% of Americans were “engaged employees.” What do these categories mean? Gallup defines them as:

  • Engaged employees work with passion and feel a profound connection to their company. They drive innovation and move the organization forward.
  • Not Engaged employees are essentially “checked out.” They’re sleepwalking through their workday, putting time – but not energy or passion – into their work.
  • Actively Disengaged employees aren’t just unhappy at work; they’re busy acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.

In 2012, 30 percent of American workers were ‘engaged,’ 18 percent were ‘actively disengaged,’ and the majority – 52 percent – were not engaged at all. The bottom line? America’s workers are generally bored or unhappy.

So what has caused such widespread dissatisfaction? Some note that 30-somethings today will be the first generation since the Great Depression to make less than their parents. Timothy Eagan at The New York Times doesn’t think it’s wages, but bosses that are the problem. Most companies tacitly “promote a view that everyone is replaceable” and don’t spend enough time focusing on the strengths of employees, says Eagan. Nor do they allow enough “flex-time.”

Eagan concludes, “Regular praise, opportunity for growth, and the occasional question from a higher-up of a lower-down about how to improve things would go a long way toward getting the checked-out to check back in.”

Though Eagan certainly has a good point here, I think he’s missing something more basic. People long for both creative work and deep sense of purpose. Re-engagement happens when both of these factors are built into a company or organization.

First, creative work happens when there is a deep connection between thought, activity, and relationship. For example, when an author writes a book, she (1) conceives of the book in her mind, (2) does the hard work of actually producing a book and works with a publisher to get it to the shelves, and (3) receives feedback about her book from the audience.

The modern world, however, has aggressively separated thought, activity, and relationship into different categories, and thus different jobs. Many jobs are simply a list of tasks that neither originate in the mind of the worker nor are ever really embraced by the worker. With the advent of the franchise in post-WWII America, millions of jobs became systematized, offering highly specific tasks (predictable products at lower cost) but jobs that don’t care much for the creative input of employees. What became important was the doing – not the thinking. “Thinking” will be left to management. Unfortunately, this kind of separation leaves people quite literally “checked out” from their jobs. They don’t need their minds anymore. Of if they do, they feel not like they’re not challenged or encouraged to engage both thought and activity, mind and body.

Moreover, huge swaths of the American economy are run by workers who have little if any connection to the outcome of their work. They occupy one small step in a global production chain, but never see their product influencing the life of another. The typical example is of a factory – pulling a lever or assembling a table leg hundreds of times a day. Not only is the repetitiveness of the job soul-squelching, but the worker can’t have the satisfaction of seeing the car or table being used by a family – and then hearing how they appreciate the work. Satisfaction at work is found in this third element of work – relationship. We need to see the work of our hands providing a valuable service to a customer. Without this experience – well, we see what we’ve got today – widespread disengagement.

So what can be done? If you lead a company or organization, provide each employee with these three elements of creative work – significant say-so in the work that is to be done (thought), an intentional and significant responsibility to turn the employees own ideas to realities (activity), and intentional interaction between the employee and the actual person who uses the product (relationship).

Second, workers need a deep sense of purpose.  Several years ago, Howard Gardener did a study on what constitutes “good work,” that is, not just high job performance ratings, but work that contributes significantly to the communal good. Gardner found three elements were key for good work:

  • A strong sense of moral commitment to the larger purposes one brings to a job
  • A professional ethic exemplified by those doing early job training
  • Lineages of worthy models from the past with whom one identifies in working toward the future.

In Hugh Heclo’s masterful On Thinking Institutionally, he summarizes this model of good work as “being around and identifying with people who model and reinforce one’s appreciation for institutional values.” In short, being in a company of moral purpose, not just high returns, makes for meaningful work.

For example, take Denver Schools of Science and Technology (DSST). Their founder, Bill Kurtz, often speaks of a “values-based culture.” He expects employees and students alike to know school values – courage, curiosity, respect, hard work, etc – and to live them out. In so doing, he has created a culture that does these things well: teachers are committed to the moral purposes of the school (offering an excellent STEM education to inner city students in a context of ethical integrity) and a lofty professional ethic (all new teachers get a month of training in June to introduce them to DSST’s values and expectations).

DSST is consistently one of Denver’s best places to work because employees have a mission (not just a job) and they are willing to commit themselves to the moral good the  institution they are a part of.

So, action point? If your company is motivated only by the bottom line, and you’re expecting to motivate employees only with greater compensation packages, you’re in trouble. Especially among Millenials (I’m one of them!). A deep sense of purpose, of accomplish a greater good to which the company or organization is committed is fundamental to employee engagement.

Conclusion: To overcome America’s widespread on-the-job boredom, leaders will need to rethink how their institutions are organized. Jobs descriptions will need to be re-written around two focal points: creative work and moral purpose.

Photo: Office Desk

Discussion Question: Are you “checked out” of your job? Why do you think this is? Or do you have employees who work for you that are disengaged? How can both creative work and a deep sense of purpose change how you organize your department or company?

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TheologyWork

Volunteering for Justice or Working for Justice?

 

Homelessness, immigration, poverty, access to health care, pollution, sex trafficking, educational reform, mass incarceration – the justice issues of our day are seemingly endless. The good news is that many evangelical churches are not only addressing these issues, but are encouraging their congregations to get involved. But as a whole, churches have adopted very limiting strategies for living out Amos’ (and Martin Luther King’s) cry to “let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream.” This is what I mean:

Typically churches will address a topic like poverty in a sermon series or at a conference, and afterward they will encourage participants to do one of two things: (1) donate to a local ministry, or (2) volunteer. If pastors can manage to convict hearts of the unacceptable injustices of our world, and that’s a big if, the “ask” is to give money or to go and volunteer once a month cleaning graffiti or packing food boxes.

Now, volunteering through a nonprofit to serve the poor is good. And so is giving money.  However, it leaves the other 45 hours of a parishioners work week untouched. On the church level, we’ve largely overlooked the centrality of work for bringing about justice.

Let me illustrate. A classic justice text is found in Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah, and most of the minor prophets, issue thundering critiques of injustice. But what kind of situations were the prophets addressing? Here are a few examples from Micah:

(1) “Both hands are skilled in doing evil; the ruler demands gifts, the judge accepts bribes, the powerful dictate together what they desire – the all conspire together” (Micah 7:3). Political rules were corrupt, accepting bribes and using power to advance their own interests. What’s the implied call to action? Volunteer through a local organization? Or is it a call for those working in government to maintain the highest ethical standards, never forgetting the weak whom the LORD cares for?

(2) “Am I to forget your ill-gotten treasures, you wicked house, and the short ephah, which is accursed? Shall I acquit a person with dishonest scales, with a bag of false weights?” (Micah 6:10-11). The critique here is of a business culture that has a single bottom line: maximize profit. Dishonest scales and false weights cheat consumers out of a fair price. Again, what’s the action point? For those who work in business, turn from dishonesty, set fair prices, make quality products, and let justice before the LORD drive business practices.

(3) A final example from Micah: “They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them. They defraud people of their homes, they defraud them of their inheritance” (Micah 2:2). Here the powerful take the fields and homes of the powerless. Again, I’d ask, how should we best address issues of predatory lending, affordable housing and even homelessness? Should we not first talk to Christians in finance, mortgage, and lending and see if we can’t build practices that get and keep the poor in affordable homes and restrain the temptation to “covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them?”

The point is simply this: pastors need to shift how they tell their congregations to get involved in justice issues to include both volunteerism and work. Volunteerism is good – America’s civic culture has always been strengthened by volunteers. But at work is where Christians (1) have far more time to address justice issues and (2) are in positions of influence to actually change structural realities.

For example, after a sermon series on immigration, why not encourage small business owners to hire immigrants as a practical way to show concern for the foreigner (Ex. 22:21)? In education reform, can we encourage teachers to spend extra time with students who struggle to read because God wants all young people to be able to read and hear his word? Could we encourage city officials to adopt environmentally friendly policies to care for God’s creation? Couldn’t we even encourage employees at gas stations or fast food restaurants (those without ‘power’) to serve customers as they would serve Christ himself, or be courageous and name the idols that drive unethical practices?

On a practical level, for pastors this means different sermon illustrations. It means different tables in the foyer that, for instance, gather Christian engineers to talk about building a beautiful, environmentally friendly, and community-building neighborhoods. It means publicly praying over your “royal priesthood” and commissioning them to be salt and light in the workplace. It means seeing your congregation not as a crowd of potential volunteers, but as teachers, nurses, construction workers, hotel employees, and marketers who have been called by God to bring about truth, beauty and justice through their vocation.

It means deeply believing James Davison Hunter’s words: “Fidelity to the highest practices of vocation before God is consecrated and in itself transformation in its effects.”

Discussion question: For pastors and ministry leaders, how might “working for justice” versus “volunteering for justice” change your calls to action?

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Work

Meaningless jobs?

 

What might Christianity say to those who are “stuck” in entry-level, hourly jobs? What can we say to those organizing clothes at The Gap, steaming espressos at Starbucks, or selling laptops at Best Buy?    High ideals are perhaps not hard to find in medicine, law or social work. But what about the rest of us who deliver juice, sit at the front desk, or just find ourselves trying to get by? Are these jobs just “meaningless” ways to earn money, or can there be ways to apply the Christian faith here too?

Two conversations I recently had shine light on this very question. Jim is an architect. Today he designs homes and hospitals with one other partner in Denver. As we grilled out and watched our families play by their apartment pool a week ago, I asked him about his work.

He explained to me that his firm was built on biblical principles. “What do you mean ‘biblical principles?’” I had to ask. He explained that it primarily meant an attitude of genuine service toward their clients. Because they’re driven not only by the bottom line, he’s free to design what his customers genuinely need. He also said it influences how he does his work; buildings are spiritually formative. To that end, he regularly asks, “How will this design influence my client’s day-to-day life?”  Besides service and the spiritual dimensions of design, he also accepts projects for nonprofit clients like Colorado Coalition of the Homeless.

“Jim,” I asked, “But what would you say to an entry-level architect that has no influence, and must simply serve the bottom-line in a larger corporation?” Jim replied, “Yes, that was me for several years. I would say find ways to create value. When I was an intern just trying to get my license, I worked in a huge corporation. But when a task was given to me, I found ways to do it with distinction and create value for both my boss and my clients.” The projects given to him turned out better than his boss expected. It was that attitude that gave Jim the reputation and relationships that set the foundation for his firm today.

Jim didn’t change the corporation, but he decided where he did have influence, and started there. His influence had a leavening effect on his small circle of clients and co-workers his first years after college. Jim created value through doing excellent work and serving the needs of others – and eventually his influence grew.

Dave is a bus driver. A dear friend from church and a wise follower of Christ, Dave told me he was laid off from his job of testing car emissions a few years ago. When he left his shop, he took a job driving a bus for special needs children. His new job was highly interpersonal in nature – a vast difference from his previous work. Although it was an unforeseen career move, Dave applied his Christian faith in bold ways.

Over burgers at a recent cookout, he recounted to me, “One day, I spoke to other bus drivers about our jobs. So many people just see this job as a paycheck. But I said to them, ‘When a kid walks onto your bus, each and every one of them is important. They’re not just a paycheck – each of them has a unique story and life. We have a responsibility to greet them with a smile and take care of them.”

“What was their response?” I asked. His jaw dropped, visually showing me the dumfounded responses of the other bus drivers. “They had never thought about that before.”

Dave had influence over the students he saw daily and on the network of other bus drivers he knew. In a job where it was just about getting the route done, he insisted that all people, including children with special needs, are made in the image of God – and through his words and example spoke a shocking gospel to his co-workers. Like Jim, Dave knew he actually did  have influence, and he used his influence to speak truth and serve.

So, how should we counsel those who are in “meaningless” jobs? First, decide where you do have influence. Then, give both clients and customers the benefit of work well-done, an ennobling experience fitting for image-bearers, and, most importantly, words of hope.

Discussion question: In what ways have you seen others bring meaning to a “meaningless job?” In what ways have you shared the gospel through your work?

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Work

Peace in Your Work

The last two weeks have been overwhelming. In addition to my normal job (admissions director), I’ve taken on the task of planning a major 2-day conference. I didn’t fully know what I was getting into. Setting schedules, contacting speakers, arranging technology, coordinating volunteers, planning facilities, writing web content, arranging a live stream, and promotion. Promotion. We’ve contacted, it seems, everybody. And yet, my heart has been restless.

When I fall asleep, I think about the details. When I wake up, I worry if we’ll have a good turnout. My mind has nearly been ruled by this work. When I come home, I feel ashamed that I’m only able to give partial attention to my beautiful wife…and my beautiful family.

This morning, I sat next to my wife (and my one-week old daughter), and said, “You’re going to have to help me with this. I enjoy this work, but I have no Sabbath. Not just on Sunday, but this conference is taking me over. I need boundaries. I need peace.”

She sent me a text message this morning:

My love. You know it’s never really about how hard your work, or how much you get done; it’s about how God chooses to work. ‘Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to him be the glory’ Eph. 3:20.

God has given you good work to do, but work with freedom and peace because he has already won!

This is exactly what I needed to hear. Praise God for godly wives! When the frantic worry creeps in, the worry that I haven’t done enough, or that things won’t turn out – that worry comes from not understanding the gospel. This is what I had missed:

(1) God has already accomplished the great work of salvation on the cross. Peace comes when I realize that the most important work has already been done. I’m free.

(2) God is at work today, in and through my work. The “work under the work”, as Tim Keller calls it, arises when I erroneously believe that it’s only me at work here – me against the world! This is not true. God himself is working in not only planning this conference, but in gathering people and using it to bring about change in hearts. And he is able to do WAY more than I can ask or think or imagine. He is mighty. And He is working today in ways I can’t even imagine.

Christians must plan God into their strategic plans. That is, they must fully trust that He will show up, and that if he doesn’t things won’t work out. No contingency plans, but a deep trust that God is a person who is alive in this world, in human history, and in our lives. “Waiting on the Lord” is a strategy. Perhaps the best strategy.

Jesus himself said we can do nothing apart from him (John 15:5). Surely, we can (and the world does) accomplish all kinds of work without Christ. But nothing of eternal value, nothing that will survive the refiner’s fire (1 Cor. 3:13) will survive if it’s not done with Jesus.

Today, I go back to work. The resurrected Son of Man works alongside me. I have nothing to worry about. I still work hard – and long hours. But I work with a deep peace.

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