Posts Tagged 'Transform your work life'

Please pray, and join us, for our conferences in Malaysia

On Wednesday I’ll be boarding a flight from Cape Town to Malaysia where Graham Power and I will first be heading via Kuala Lumpur to Sibu to speak at the Methodist Prayer gathering (with some engagements in Kuching along the way). I had the immeasurable privilage of speaking at the 2007 prayer gathering (it was during this time that I first fell in love with Malaysia and her wonderful people!)

Malaysia has a very special place in my heart – I have been back a number of times since then, and will be there twice this year.

Then, on the 29th we head back to Kuala Lumpur to meet up with Steve Johnstone (the international coordinator for Unashamedly Ethical) to speak at an Unashamedlly Ethical conference (see the brochure and video below).  Please find the full details of the conference here.  I would love to see there if you’re in the area!

On the 5th and 6th of May we go on Penang for another Unashamedly Ethical Conference. Please find full details of that conference here.

The Unashamedly Ethical movement challenges individuals and organisations to make a stand for values and ethics.  We are convinced that we will never be able to deal with systemic poverty until we address systemic corruption. Please consider joining us by committing yourself to values, ethics and clean living here – Unashamedly Ethical online.

I will also be doing some seminars and workshops with pastors and business people on the topics of ‘ministry in the marketplace’ and ‘practical social transformation’ (based in part on the book that Graham Power and I wrote together called ‘Transform your work life‘)  If you live in Malaysia and would like to order a copy of the book please visit Canaanland here. If you live elsewhere in the world please get your copy here.

Prayer requests

Please could you support us in prayer.  Here are some prayer pointers.

  • Please pray for our hosting committee in the Methodist Church in Malaysia who will host us for the first part of our visit (particularly Bishop Hwa Yung and his leadership team)
  • Please pray for our hosting committee from the NECF – close friends who are doing incredible work in the Church and the marketplace.
  • Please pray for Graham, Steve and I while we’re away.  Also please pray for our families.
  • Please pray that the Lord will use us and that He will create wonderful opportunities for us to bless, encourage and partner with our Malaysian friends in bringing about renewal and transformation in the Church and world of work.

Thanks so much!  I’ll be posting updates as regularly as I can to my twitter feed and will post to my blog blog as often as I can.

Transform your work life to be published in the USA!

It is with great excitement that we can tell you that ‘Transform your work life‘ will be released in the United States of America in June 2011!

We could not have asked for a better partner than Rusell Media!

Russel Media has a broad reach in the United States with a great emphasis on innovative marketing and communication mechanisms.

Moreover, Mark Russell, the founder of Russell Media, is himself a marketplace minister and theologian. Mark has a PhD from Asbury Seminary, having done his research on business as mission. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book, ‘Our Souls at Work‘, and ‘The Missional Entrepeneur‘.

Transform your work life‘ will go through a slight redesign and update to make it suitable for the American market.

Our intention is to launch the book during the Global Day of Prayer conference in Jacksonville between the 9-11th of June 2011.  Graham Power and I will be in the USA in 2 weeks time to visit some ministry partners and speak at various events in Jacksonville, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  Then we’ll be back in the USA in June for the Global Day of Prayer conference and the Global Day of Prayer itself.

So, please keep an eye on this site for more details as they unfold. Please also keep Mark and his team in your prayers as they prepare the book for its American release.

What does the Gospel ‘feel’ like?

In our little book ‘Transform your work life‘ (written by Graham Power and myself) I wrote:

God longs for Christians to get practical and creative about making the ‘good news’ real for the people… We should not be asking ‘what does the good news sound like?’, rather we should ask ‘what does the good news feel like, and what does good news look like?’

What does the Gospel feel like!?  That is quite a challenging question!  It has lingered in my mind for some years now as I have tried to bring an experience of the ‘good news’ of God’s Kingdom to the people that I live with, work with and encounter in my life’s journey.

Worship on Sunday is critical – as John van de Laar rightly points out it is the orientation that should shape the rest of our week.  The exact quote from his great new book ‘The Hour that changes Everything‘ is this: “How you worship defines how you live

The question for this post is, however, what kind of worship does God require for the other 166 hours of the week?

Here’s an excerpt from chapter 3 of ‘Transform your work life‘ –

Did you know that Jesus had a ‘mission statement’ for his ministry on earth? You can read it in Luke 4:16–21. It is interesting to see that all the things that Jesus came to do were practical, tangible expressions of God’s love for the world. I have heard so many sermons on this passage that I sometimes forget just how practical Jesus intended his ministry to be. When Jesus said He had come to bring ‘good news to the poor’ (Luke 4:18) what do you think He meant? Let us approach it from a slightly different perspective: what is good news for a poor person? I have been in need a few times in my life, and I can tell you when you are poor good news is not a sermon! It is good news when you have food and money to pay your bills, it is great news when you get a job that pays you a salary with which you can support your family and yourself.

One of the big failings of the contemporary church, and that means you and me, is that we do not always bless the people around us in tangible and visible ways. When someone is ill we say things like, ‘I’ll pray for you’ – while this is an expression of care, I can assure you that the person would feel so special and loved if you took them a meal! I know that God longs for Christians to get practical and creative about making the ‘good news’ real for the people around them. We should not be asking ‘what does the good news sound like?’ Rather, we should ask ‘what does the good news feel like, and what does good news look like?’ This is Jesus’ way!

As you think about the people among whom you work, what would be truly good news for them? Is there a single mother who is battling to make ends meet? Perhaps you have a co-worker who is struggling to cope with his workload, or maybe someone whose child is ill – what could you do to make the ‘good news’ visible and tangible for these people?

Sometimes it is the simplest things, like a phone call, or a visit, that make people feel loved and cared for. At other times you will need to be a little more creative and sacrificial in what you do.

So, here’s my question – what does the Gospel ‘feel like’ in your context?  What can you do to help the people you love and meet experience the Gospel before you speak to them about it?

 

Business as Mission

It is always humbling to have an article published! I am particularly grateful that my article on Business as Mission was published in the September Lausanne World Pulse!

It deals with a subject that I am passionate about!

I’d be grateful if you’d read it here and encourage others to do the same.

Thanks!

Dion

Jesus – monk or manager? The answer could change your life!

When you think about Jesus, what kind of minister do you think he was?  This may sound like a strange question, but it is important to answer it honestly!  I have come to see that most Christians tend to think of Jesus more as ‘monk’ than as a ‘manager’!

Some of the people that I spoke to thought that Jesus did similar things during his ministry to what their pastor does today (he preached, he cared for the sick, he nurtured people, he built a community).  Now of course that is partially true – a great deal of what pastors do in their congregations today is modelled on the ministry of Jesus.  However, it is a mistake to limit your understanding of Jesus’ ministry to such a narrow understanding.  The problem with seeing Jesus in this way is that it becomes difficult to imagine that Jesus did the kinds of ‘ordinary’ things that you and I have to do each day!  Somehow this ‘religious’ view of Jesus and his ministry creates a measure of separation between our everyday lives, and particularly our everyday work lives, and the life and work of Jesus.

In fact, I’m sure that like me you may have heard some sermons preached in which the impression is created that Jesus is antagonistic towards the marketplace!

Our picture of Jesus and his ministry is shaped by years of reading, learning, and thinking about the saviour.  I have found that sometimes I need to see things from a slightly different perspective in order to discover new opportunities and possibilities for my faith life.

Let me illustrate it to you in this way.  Recently a friend attended a course on ‘listening’ for a counselling program he is running.  The facilitator placed a serial box in the middle of the table around which the participants were sitting.  He asked each of them to tell the others what they saw.  Naturally there were various descriptions of the box depending on where the participants were sitting.  Some saw the front of the box, while others saw the back.  Some could see part of the front and one side, while others could see part of the back and the other side.

What you will read next is simply an attempt to look at Jesus’ life from a different angle, an angle that might help you to feel closer to him in your everyday worklife.

Biblical scholars tell us that Jesus lived for about 33 years (from his birth to his death on the cross).  During those 33 years the synoptic Gospels record that Jesus only spent 3 years of his life, from age 30-33, doing the kind of ministry that makes most people view him as a wondering monk, or Rabbi (Hebrew teacher or priest).  Have you ever thought about what Jesus did with the rest of his life?  Did Jesus only start loving people, praying for them, caring for their needs, telling them about God when he turned 30?  Of course not!  While Jesus may only have started his public ‘teaching’ ministry at around 30 years of age (Lk 4:14-15), we know that he was already displaying the evidence of his special nature and calling as a young boy.  Luke says ‘And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.’ (Lk 2:40).  How would others have known of his wisdom unless he was saying and doing wise things?  How would they have known that God’s grace was upon him unless he was already displaying God’s grace in his words and actions?  In fact the clearest evidence that Jesus was already engaging in ministry as a boy is to be found Luke 2:41-52, the account of Jesus engaging the priests in conversation in the temple.  Once again this passage ends with Luke noting, ‘And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.’ (Lk 2:52 NIV).

So, we can be sure that Jesus was a minister, even as a young child – (Lk 4:49) Jesus notes that he is about his Father’s business.  As we discussed in chapter 4, to be a minister means to ‘act under God’s authority’.  It is assumed that Jesus would have been about 12 years of age when this incident in the temple took place, and as Luke points out he continued to grow in stature, getting recognition from others, and found great favour with God and other people.

This simply means that Jesus was in a different form of ministry from at least age 12-30, than the kind of ministry he did from age 30-33.  What kind of ministry was Jesus engaged in for those 18 years?  Mark’s Gospel gives us an insight into the primary way in which Jesus’ community viewed him during that period, ‘Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?’ (Mk 6:3 NIV).

Jesus’ contemporaries recognised him first as a businessman – a carpenter – and then only later as their teacher and saviour.

It is important to note that Jesus didn’t do carpentry as a hobby.  In the ancient near east a boy would take up his trade as a teenager, normally learning the skills and techniques that he would use to support his family in years to come.  Since Joseph was a carpenter, Jesus followed the same trade.  So by the time of Jesus begins his public ministry (Lk 4:15) he had spent almost 20 years applying his trade.  Of course it is not surprising that his contemporaries found it difficult to relate to him as their saviour, since some of them would have bought Jesus’ products!  Perhaps they had a table, or a door, or some farm implement, that Jesus had crafted for them in their house.  Furthermore, Jesus clearly knew his trade well, since we can see that he uses the metaphor of a wooden yoke, something that a skilled carpenter would have made many times, to illustrate the blessing of living a life under submission to God (see Matt 11:29-30).  As Ed Silvoso rightly points out in Anointed for business, Jesus parables are full of examples that show his understanding of business and the marketplace:  construction (Matt 7:24-27), wine making (Lk 5:37-38), farming (Mk 4:2-20), tending animals (Mt 18:13-44), management and labour (Matt 20:1-16), return on investments (Matt 25:14-30), crop yield (Mk 13:27-32), and management criteria (Lk 12:35-48).

Just as Jesus encountered people with the knowledge of business then, he wishes to encounter you with the knowledge of your daily work today!  Jesus understands the pressures of working with people, the challenge of creating something that one can market and sell in order to earn a livelihood.  Jesus knows how to deal with customers and suppliers, how to manage a workflow and juggle priorities in order to remain in business – he did it for 20 years of his life.  And, the remarkable thing about it is that we’re told that while he did this he continued to grow in wisdom and favour with both God and people!  Jesus understands what it means to be a minister in the marketplace.

Central to Jesus ministry in the marketplace was the understanding that he needed to obey God’s will in order to effectively establish God’s Kingdom on earth.  Notice that Jesus mission statement is very practical, it deals with poverty, health care, criminal reform, debt, justice and God’s loving favour (Lk 4:18-19).

You can read more about Jesus and the workplace in ‘Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling” you can download the first few chapters here, or purchase a copy of the book at Christian Republic or at Wordsworth and Exclusive books.

Christian republic has a special running – you can get the book for just R88.00 and that includes a free leather type journal.

There is more than this! Finding blessing at work!

On a Wednesday morning we have a prayer group that meets from 6h30-7h30 at our company. It is a wonderful gathering that fills me with hope, connects me with my faith, and offers support and encouragement for the week. But, it also allows me to see many of our staff arriving at work to start the day.

It is pretty sobering to see people arriving for work, knowing that they have 9 hours ahead of them, and many of them don’t look energised, let alone blessed, by the prospect of being at work.  I can understand some of the practical considerations that make going to work difficult – the mother of a newly born baby who longs to be with her child.  That father of a sick wife who arrives at work worried about how his wife is feeling.  The person who has to face a difficult boss, and those who don’t particularly enjoy the tasks they are to do in order to earn an income and survive.

Indeed, work can be difficult – but, the good news is that there is MORE to work than just working!  There is an immeasurable opportunity to find blessing at work by allowing God to use you to BECOME a blessing at work.  And, it may be much simpler and easier to do than you think!

Listen to this interview between Particia McNaught Davis from Radio Helderberg and Dion Forster (broadcast on the 15th of June 2010 – 8mb MP3) and you may just get a few insights to help you to discover that your work life can be transformed into an extraordinary calling.  Something that you look forward to, because there is a sense of incredible significance and purpose in what you’re doing there – you are sent by God to achieve His will in that place, among those people, and within those systems!  Indeed, ‘work can be worship’ (Col 3.23-24).

You can also download the first few chapter of the book Transform your work life:  Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling‘ and read all about Graham Power and how God is using him in business, and also about Dion Forster – a pastor who has been sent by God to work in the marketplace.

You can purchase copies of the book (with a free leather journal) for on R88 (just over US$10) atChristianRepublic.  Or if you’re in South Africa you can pick up copies at Wordsworth books, Exclusive Books, CUM books etc.