Compassion and Character Development

“God of justice, love, and mercy” are the lyrics to a song. And this God seeks to meet our needs. Jesus says in Matthew 15:32, “I have compassion for these people…” He goes on to meet the needs of the people without them even asking, which can suggest that God sees our needs and longs to do something about it.

Yet God is inviting us to a transformative life where we become compassionate people, taking initiative, and becoming responsible self-leading adults. The work of God to meet our needs is sometimes a precursor for us to learn to trust and become responsible citizens, parents, or employees.

Jesus shows us compassion so that we might be compassionate people. That’s why I’m open to border and immigration reform that attends to both the needs of the people longing for a better life, but also done in a responsible way.

It’s also why I encourage employees to take personal and professional responsibility in order to become just, loving, and merciful people. To be compassionate is to meet the needs of those hurting, to restore them to full function, so that they might become compassionate people who serve others as restored, fully functioning people.

Practicing Becoming Like Jesus in the Workplace

Being in the marketplace is a gift to see how God is shaping and working who you and I are becoming. Most of our becoming is happening in the daily grind.

Our mindset and resolve to be like Jesus requires desire and duty. Desire is birthed out of our intimacy with Jesus. Duty is sustained by grace.

One practice that is helping me stay focused on who I am becoming is to pray in the morning, midday, and afternoon. I was eating lunch with a group of employee friends and someone made a comment about the scripture I was reading. We ended up talking about how we eat three times a day and I responded by saying that humans don’t live by bread alone, but by the very words of God.

Here’s an excerpt from a book of prayers that I read each day:

“Lord, my God, King of heaven and of earth, for this day please direct and sanctify, set right and govern my heart and my body, my sentiments, my words and my actions in conformity with Your law and Your commandments. Thus I shall be able to attain salvation and deliverance, in time and in eternity, by Your help, O Savior of the world, who lives and reigns forever. Amen.”

Tickle, Phyllis. The Divine Hours (Volume Two): Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime (p. 75). The Crown Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
link: amazon

By midday, some of us are wondering who is really Lord. Is it my manager, the company owner, the stock market? Whose really in charge? Can I, in the middle of my work day, say, “Lord, MY God and King”. Imagine what that prayer does to our hearts and minds you just got into a conflict with a coworker or your project isn’t flowing you planned it.

These written prayers, inspired by the Psalms and the Bible, help give me language to pray. They also fill my heart and imagination to see how God is at work in my life.

If you haven’t heard, God cares about the workplace, the tasks, and the people. In fact, God longs to redeem and renew each aspect of the workplace.

I’m glad you went to church on Sunday. But it’s Monday and the worshipful response now starts. It starts with simple prayers, meditation, listening, and being mindful of God’s presence shaping and forming you to become like Jesus.

Strategies for Deep Work #2

[This post is part of a book review series on Deep Work, by Cal NewPort. See post 1 for a summary.]


In Newport’s chapter titled “Rule #1: Work Deeply”, he outlines strategies and principles to help us build rituals and rhythms to do deep work that stretches our personal abilities. This first rule is about reducing and removing distractions that prohibit us from doing deep work. I outlined his first strategy (see post 1) about deciding on a Depth Philosophy. Here’s a list of the strategies (I’ll only highlight a few):

  • Decide on your Depth Philosophy
  • Ritualize
  • Make Grand Gestures
  • Don’t Work Alone
  • Execute Like a Business
  • Be Lazy

Ritualize

This strategy is about adopting rituals (actions, gestures, intentions) that help to create and maintain regular patterns of deep work. Here are some of his examples:

  • Identify where you’ll work and for how long
  • Identify how you’ll work once you start to work
  • Identify how you’ll support your work

I found this principle helpful to continue focusing on my work habits and patterns of when and where and how I like to think and create. For me, I like the morning times. It’s when my brain is the sharpest to think critically. I also don’t check emails, social media, or respond to phone calls/text messages. No tech distractions. I also like sitting in my reading chair or my patio. Both are quiet and soothing places.

“Surrounding such efforts with a complicated (and perhaps, to the outside world, quite strange) ritual accepts this reality—providing your mind with the structure and commitment it needs to slip into the state of focus where you can begin to create things that matter.”

Newport, Cal. Deep Work (p. 121). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Execute Like a Business

For this principle, Newport is now interested in HOW to execute strategy. What and how are two different set of questions. We may know that (what) we need to do, but not know HOW to execute it. For this, Newport refers to the book, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” and then summarizes each discipline.

  • Discipline #1: Focus on the Wildly Important
    • identify a small number of ambitious goals (or outcomes) during deep work hours…with a tangible reward attached to it.
  • Discipline #2: Act on the Lead Measures
    • measure your success by focusing on activities that will improve behaviors that will impact your long term goals
  • Discipline #3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard
    • have a way to publicly record and track your lead measures
  • Discipline #4: Create a Cadence of Accountability
    • review your weekly work and scoreboard to celebrate and make adjustments

Here’s one my favorite quotes from the above principle:

David Brooks endorsed this approach of letting ambitious goals drive focused behavior, explaining: “If you want to win the war for attention, don’t try to say ‘no’ to the trivial distractions you find on the information smorgasbord; try to say ‘yes’ to the subject that arouses a terrifying longing, and let the terrifying longing crowd out everything else.”

Newport, Cal. Deep Work (p. 137). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Bringing it Home for Me

So how does this apply to me? I have a few areas that require some deep work:

  • church planting
  • corporate chaplaincy
  • music

Using the church planting area, my work is to focus on discovering what the wildy, ambitious goals are for a new church. For me, my goal isn’t to get a lot of people to a church service. It’s not even to tell people what to do. Part of my work is to discover what the wildy important goals are. They seem to be connected to justice, healthy relationships, and caring for leaders who have big ideas on how to transform our city to reflect God’s love.

Resource: The Church Needs Business People (A theology of Work and Church)

First off, I’m posting this a resource and saver for some really good stuff on business and how the church has mucked it! Working within a business environment, I see the disparity between church and the workplace. I really enjoyed reading through these posts and hope you’ll take the time to read carefully through them. Michael Kruse is summarizing a book that I’ll be using for one of my doctoral courses (at some point): “How the Church Fails Businesspeople (And What Can Be Done About It)”, by John C. Knapp. I haven’t read it yet but am really looking forward to it.

We need more ways to live our lives in public ways! We need more robust, creative theology to help us do that.

Here are the series posts…read them in order:

#1 post
#2 post
#3 post
#4 post

Thanks to Scot McKnight for his work. Check out his work at his site.

Corporate Wellness – Employee Engagement

It’s beyond satisfying when I read something that’s becoming “a thing”– something I’ve been thinking about, and trying to figure out how to implement for years!

“By offering employees avenues for greater engagement, companies foster both employee satisfaction and organizational success. These can be small changes, like nurturing positive workplace relationships, or larger efforts that help employees grow both personally and professionally.”
source

One of my tag lines for the corporate chaplaincy work is “helping employees flourish personally and professionally!”

Point 1: this encouraging and validating for the future of work

Point 2: turning towards employee engagement is about having healthy systems in the workplace. People will no longer want to work for companies that are ONLY about profit. There needs to be higher incentives for engagement, community, and transformation.