Are we experiencing an epidemic of dishonesty? (I admit I watch more news than I should—that’s another story.) But even if you don’t tune in to the numerous cable news outlets you know it’s true. We have a problem with veracity these days from the corporate boardroom to the halls of state, to the classroom, to the bedroom, the truth is getting harder and harder to find.
Since the fall, the entire human race has struggled with prevarication, myself included. I told some whoppers from my earliest years, like when I told some kids my father was a Texas Ranger. But I’ve never been very good at convincing others when I stretch the truth. Now, a new study explains the possible connection between my bank account and my less than stellar ability to convince someone else of a non-reality—even when I want to.
A recent posting on msnbc.com entitled “People in power make better liars, study show,” uncovers a startling finding—dishonesty comes more easily to those at the top. Maybe that’s why many get to the top.
Now that’s a scary thought when you consider the choices lawmakers are making in Washington—and Beijing for that matter. And what does this mean for what’s left in our retirement funds invested in publicly traded companies? Even the MSN contributor recognizes the precarious situation this puts us in.
The issue of integrity is at the heart of the predicaments these powerful men find themselves in. An organization’s health often hinges on the trustworthiness of its leaders, ethics experts say.
I wish I could say this finding didn’t apply to Christians or even churches, but experience tells me otherwise. We all have a problem with the truth at times. And it hurts everyone, including the liar in the long run. It may get you to the top faster, but then the bottom can come at light speed. Ask Bernie Madoff, Jeffery Skilling, Bernie Ebbers, John Edwards, Martha Stewart, or Tiger Woods.
Thank goodness there is one place where truth prevails, God’s Kingdom. We have a God with a solid grasp on reality. And he never holds back the truth, unpleasing as it may sound to those of us who want to create our own reality.
In his latest post (10/2/09) at the Cardus website “Building an Economy of Communion“, Bruce Webb asks a thought provoking question,
Is there no way to change the business mindset so that profit is not seen as an end in itself, but as a means to address social needs?
While profit is a moral good in and of itself, a casual reading of Scripture tells us that our business better be about more than that or our accounting before the Lord of the Workplace will be uncomfortable to say the least. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the account I will give before Christ for the work I do. I think it’s something Christians need to ponder.
I would love to know what you think about the business model Pope Benedict proposes in his recent encyclical, Caritas in Veritate. Webb summarizes it at Cardus (a much easier read).
My wife Kathy recently began blogging for AOL’s Parent Dish. She offers great information for Family Managers who want to make their home a great place to be. But, it’s not surprising that her editors ask her to give her blogs an economic twist. Not a bad idea at a time when everything else sounds trivial compared to the economic realities we experience daily.
The economy is even making it into the pulpit. And I say thankfully so. We need to hear what the Bible says about what we’re all thinking about. A friend send me a copy of John Piper’s sermon from February 1, 2009 entitled the same as this blog. I highly recommend it for anyone not wanting “to let a good crisis go the waste.” Here are “some” of reasons for this economic downturn according to Piper:
- He intends for this recession to expose hidden sin and so bring us to repentance and cleansing.
- He intends to wake us up to the constant and desperate condition of the developing world where there is always and only recession of the worst kind.
- He intends to relocate the roots of our joy in his grace rather than in our goods, in his mercy rather than our money, in his worth rather than our wealth.
- He intends to advance his saving mission in the world—the spread of the gospel and the growth of his church—precisely at a time when human resources are least able to support it. This is how he guards his glory.
- He intends for the church to care for its hurting members and to grow in the gift of love.
What do you think?
Click here to listen, read or watch.
Have you heard this old adage? “A person wrapped up in himself makes an pretty small package.” The same is not only true for persons, but for any organization as well, especially the church.
The day before the election Robert Geyer and David Ruper asked a jarring question. Robert is a business executive and David is a communication professional. They write about the intersection of faith and life at Red Letter Believers. Their question was simple:
“Is it possible that big government thrives because of a little church?”
I think they are onto something. It’s not little church size-wise though. It’s little church vision-wise that’s the problem. Could it be that as church leaders have gotten wrapped up in themselves, they have forgotten their mission to the world? Is it right to blame government when the church (we Christians) has neglected to do it’s job?
While those of us who mistrust “big government” contemplate what happened on November 4, it might be more productive to reconsider the impact of “little church,” and what we can do to be a little less wrapped up in ourselves for the next four years.
Read Red Letter Beleivers blog.
The Sunday before Labor Day is a natural opportunity to remind people that God is present everywhere and cares about what they do on Monday just as much as He is present and cares about what they do on Sunday. Here are some ideas and resource links for emphasizing this message:
- Have people dress in their work clothes for church.
- Consider a commissioning ceremony to affirm and pray for your congregation’s impact for God’s Kingdom in their workplace.
- Use Colossians 3:22-4:6 as the text for a sermon about work. (There’s an outline on page 153 in What God Does When Men Lead).
- Launch a “God in the Workplace” sermon series. Christianity Today and The High Calling have teamed up to create a resource of sermon outlines on the workplace. Click here to download.
- Ask people to write on 3×5 cards the names of workplace colleagues for whom they are praying. Commit to pray for these individuals as a pastoral staff.
- Begin the habit of praying for workplace concerns in the pastoral prayer each Sunday.
If you are a pastor, the average executive sitting in your congregation on Sunday morning thinks your world and his world are vastly different. Having worked on both sides of the pulpit, I can tell you that there are of course differences, but leading a church with multiple staff members is not as different from leading a business as many think. Nonetheless, most business leaders don’t see the relevance of what you say on Sunday to their work–with devastating results to their spiritual lives.
I encourage you to check out a blogsite I recently discovered. In four recent posts entitled “Shrinking the Camel” you’ll hear an executive’s frustration in his attempt to connect his Monday work to his Sunday worship. Here’s a sample:
“In all the years that I have been a Christian, I have never been exposed to a framework for exploring career growth and financial security in the context of Christian spirituality. It seems like there is a huge gaping hole in the Christian sub-culture that leaves ambition, career and the pressures of the workplace out in the cold, out in the spiritual hinterlands or subject to the devil’s domain.”
You’ll Find the Shrinking Camel here.
I try to read several blogs on the workplace regularly. One is Wally Bock’s Three Star Leadership Letter (http://blog.threestarleadership.com/). Today Wally referenced an interview with Steve Martin that interigued me. At the end of his interview Charlie Rose asked Martin about the advice he gives to people who want to be a success in show business. Martin’s reply was “Be so good they can’t ignore you.”
I couldn’t help but consider how profoundly simple and biblical his advice was. Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see a man skilled (gifted) in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.” Colossians 3:23 says, ” Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” It sounds like doing our very best at our work is pretty important to God. Makes you wonder why we don’t hear more sermons on this topic doesn’t it. I think Dorothy Sayers was right when she wrote, “The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.”
People pay attention to good work well done. It not only paves the way for success in your career and pleases God, it opens the door for spiritual influence. If we want people to pay attention to our faith, we have to first pay attention to our work. Work at your work with “all your heart” and people will notice. And as Steve Martin says, “They can’t ignore you.” Work at it “with all your heart as for the Lord” and people won’t be able to ignore your faith either.
Read more about becoming a spiritual influence at work in Going Public with Your Faith. To order a copy click here.
4 Comments »
- Thanks for thinking my blog is worth a read, Bill.As Paul Tillich said, “The test of a religion is its ability to transform lives.” It’s another way of stating the lesson of James 2:18. “I, by my works will show you my faith.”Comment by Wally Bock — March 7, 2008 @ 8:34 pm |Edit This
- Wally, interesting how Biblie references to work or works are thought of as referring to church work or “good deeds.” The quality of our daily work shows our faith as much as feeding or clothing the poor.Comment by Bill Peel — March 7, 2008 @ 9:12 pm |Edit This
- Bill,Last week I was speaking at a leadership conference for men in the Philadelphia area. These were guys who are committed to leadership at home, at work, and in their churches. A conversation arose regarding the origin of work. It turns out that some were laboring under the burden of work as a consequence of sin. (We’ve probably all heard someone grit their teeth in the pulpit and proclaim that as truth).Yet in Genesis 2:15, scripture states clearly that “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” That was before the fall. As such, it completely changes the spiritual nature of work and how one can begin to view it properly.
For those not gifted at teaching or evangelism (in the traditional sense), “Being so good that they can’t ignore you” offers a witness–and an opportunity to witness–5 days a week.
Comment by Steve Roesler — March 13, 2008 @ 12:40 am |Edit This
- Steve, I find the view that work is a consequence of sin all to common among Christians, thus they have no idea what God wants to do through them in their work. I hope that you will take a look at “Going Public with Your Faith.” There are all kinds of ways men and women without the gift of evangelism can be highly spiritually influential in their workplace.Comment by Bill Peel — March 13, 2008 @ 10:14 am |Edit This
In this blog I’ll address the fourth Big Idea that can change the way we do church.
Big Idea Four: Being a person of spiritual influence is every Christian’s calling, not just the responsibility of a gifted few. The greatest communication success story in human history is how the gospel message spread across the Mediterranean world. Followers of Jesus grew from a few hundred on the day of Pentecost to more than six million people by the end of the second century. That’s an amazing number, considering the only media were word-of-mouth encounters and hand-written letters.
The evangelists of the first century were the nameless thousands of men and women who followed Jesus without fanfare or notoriety. Even the Apostles were quite ordinary men. Before they were biblical heroes, they were someone’s neighbor just trying to make a living. They were street-level men with a noble mission that moved them beyond their fears and beyond themselves. Yet while their efforts were important, more important was the attitude of ordinary Christians, who recognized that sharing the message of Jesus was everyone’s mission. The gospel spread like wildfire from house to house (the workplace of the day) as men and women personally gossiped the gospel to friends, relatives, acquaintances, colleagues, masters, slaves, students, teachers, customers, shop owners, and fellow soldiers in their everyday networks.
Because ordinary men and women lived out and then shared the gospel with their colleagues, customers, and clients in their workplace, the early church grew as it did. If men and women in the workplace today seize the spiritual opportunities they have and work together to have an impact for Jesus, who knows what extraordinary things God will do with the ordinary workplace moments they give to Him.
These four Big Ideas are discussed in detail in Going Public with Your Faith. To order a copy click here.
4 Comments »
- Hi Bill, you recently picked up on a blog post I made about workplace witness. Thank you for connecting. Over the past few years I’ve been trying to develop principles and ideas that make evangelism more achievable for the non-evangelist, much of which connects with the principles in your book.
Here in the UK, the workplace is often undervalued and misunderstood when it comes to reaching and influencing people for the kingdom. Thank you for your insights and the help they are in developing the process of change that needs to happen if we are going to make the most of the larger part of most people’s waking hours.
Comment by Richard — February 11, 2008 @ 3:09 am
- Richard, I didn’t realize you were from the UK. I’m sure you are aware of the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity and Mark Greene. I met with them last year when I was in London. Also, you may want to connect with the Christian Medical Fellowship (http://www.cmf.org.uk/). Kevin Vaughan there teaches a course for medical professionals entitled The Saline Solution which I co-authored and formed the basis of Going Public. Kevin is very “keen” on these ideas and a good friend.Comment by Bill Peel — February 11, 2008 @ 8:28 pm
- BillWonderful piece. I used it to springboard to a piece called “What’s my excuse” found over at
It’s amazing that God used such ordinary people to spread the first century message. I wonder what is holding us back from a similiar success today?
Thanks for your heart and your ministry
Comment by David Rupert — April 2, 2008 @ 12:07 pm
- “ordinary Christians… recognized that sharing the message of Jesus was everyone’s mission.” In my job I study what makes word of mouth campaigns effective. People have to believe in the message. Really believe it. Enough that they can’t help but talk about it.Sometimes I wonder how many of us Christians really believe this stuff in our guts. And I’m including myself in that.Comment by Mark Goodyear — April 3, 2008 @ 9:29 am
In this blog I’ll address the third Big Idea that can change the way we do church.
Big Idea Three: Our job in evangelism is to discover where God is already at work in people’s lives and join him there. This means that being a person of spiritual influence can begin with something as easy as having a cup of coffee with a colleague, listening compassionately when a customer shares why she’s had a hard week, or doing something above the call of duty for a boss or employee who’s under the pile. We don’t need to be the office pariahs, poised to attack unsuspecting souls at the water cooler with Gospel tracts. Instead, small actions and simple acts of service in the course of everyday life have a bigger impact than the “spiritual interruptions” that we often attempt out of guilt.
These four Big Ideas are discussed in detail in Going Public with Your Faith. To order a copy click here.
In this blog I’ll address the second Big Idea that can change the way we do church.
Big Idea Two: Evangelism is a process, not an event. As I examined both the Scripture and my own experience, I stum
bled on a fact largely ignored
by modern evangelistic methods: evangelism is not an event, but a journey that takes place over a course of time as a person makes a multitude of small, incremental decisions leading to faith in Jesus.
If I had intelligently read passages like Matthew 13 and 1 Corinthians 1, I would have seen this, but I took my cues from men and women who seemed to be ahead of me spiritually, and so I accepted their idea that evangelism is all about telling the message. In John 4, Jesus makes it clear that the “harvest” (a person coming to Christ) is dependent on the “cultivation” of the soil (preparation of the heart). What this means is that each time a Christian has an encounter with a non-Christian—whether we talk specifically about Christ or not—we are either drawing or repelling a person to Christ. Of course, God wants us to intentionally seek to draw them by both our words and actions. But most people today will need to develop a trusting relationship with the gospel messenger, before they accept the message. In fact, on average, nine to sixteen individuals help cultivate the soil of the heart and plant seeds of truth before a person finally decides to trust Christ. That’s why I define evangelism as not just telling the gospel message, but helping a person take the next step toward a relationship with Christ. This is not to reduce the importance of the message in any way. It needs to be told “clear and simple.” But the seed of truth needs to fall into a heart well cultivated in order for growth to occur.
So where do we find hearts that need cultivating and where can we be most successful in this organic type of evangelism? For most of us it is in the workplace. It is here as colleagues, clients, and customers discover whether the gospel is credible by watching us—words and actions. What would happen if churches equipped people to live the good news at work as well as tell the good news? What would happen if pastors began to realize that the words, thoughts, values, and actions of their congregation Monday through Saturday were more important to the Kingdom of God than what was said and done on Sunday? It would certainly change the way we do church.
These four Big Ideas are found in Going Public with your Faith
Thanks to Rae Allen for the image.
Posted in Church, Evangelism, Workplace Faith
Tagged 1 Corinthians, CHrist, Church, cultivation, faith in Jesus, harvest, Jesus, John, Matthew, organic evangelism, process