Vocational Ministry — Interview with Lou Huesmann

Recommended: The current issue (October, 2014) of Leadership Journal (subscription required) has an interview with Lou Huesmann, senior pastor at Grace Brethren Long Beach.  In it he talks about how his view of pastoral ministry has changed over the years, and especially about the importance of vocational ministry.  A key quote, from near the end:

We cheer what a person is called to do outside the church.  When someone starts a new business, or takes a risk, or tries something new, we’re going to be interested in what they are doing, and we’re going to celebrate it.  I think this is why people are thriving here.  They realize we love what they are doing.”

We need more of this.

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The Role of Congregations in Faith/Work Integration

Baylor University sociologists Jerry Park, Jenna Rogers, Mitchell Neubert, and Kevin Dougherty released a new study looking at the role of congregations in encouraging healthy work attitudes.  Their study uses data collected from 1022 respondents in Baylor’s National Survey of Work, Entrepreneurship, and Religion conducted in 2010.

Park and his team looked at affective organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and entrepreneurial behavior, as measured by Monty Lynn, et al.’s, Faith at Work Scale.  The scores on these values were compared to the ratings on a Congregational Faith at Work Scale that measures the value the respondents believe their place of worship places on their daily work, and to measures of church attendance.

The study found that for affective organizational commitment and job satisfaction, there tended to be higher ratings if the respondent’s congregation places a higher value on work and the respondent has higher involvement with the congregation (as measured by attendance).  If either element is missing (less importance placed on work or lower attendance) then there appears to be no positive benefit.

The results concerning entrepreneurial behavior were more difficult to read.  Entrepreneurs on average tend to be more religious but attend worship services less frequently (possibly due to time pressure), making it harder to draw the same types of comparisons.

The conclusion seems to be that churches can help people have a healthier relationship to their work if the church places a high value on the members’ daily work and if the members attend frequently.

The study (“Workplace-Bridging Religious Capital: Connecting Congregations to Work Outcomes”) was published in the Summer issue of the Sociology of Religion (Oxford University Press), pp. 309-331.  Unfortunately, it is behind an expensive paywall.

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Business as Mission Conference – Partners Worldwide

Partner’s Worldwide international business as mission conference Marketplace Revolution ’14 is coming up on October 30 and 31, in Grand Rapids.  Business as mission activists will be coming from a large number of countries to swap ideas and listen to speakers.  More information is available at www.partnersworldwide.org.

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Staying Calm in Crisis

Travis Bradberry, the author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, has written a very worthwhile  article called “How Successful People Stay Calm”.  The article covers some of the basics of stress, and then lists ten practices people use in times of crisis to stay calm.  You might have run across some of the ten practices elsewhere, but as Bradberry says:

“Some of these strategies may seem obvious, but the real challenge lies in recognizing when you need to use them and having the wherewithal to actually do so in spite of your stress.”

This is certainly true.  Many of us know of practices that can help deal with stress, but the key is remembering to use them when they are actually needed.  Stressful events have a way of grabbing our full attention in the moment; perhaps keeping Bradberry’s list handy would be useful.

Bradberry’s article is available here and recommended.   The Center for Faith and Enterprise page on dealing with stress, with reference to the resources of faith and spirituality, can be found here.

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How to Keep Employees

Goldfish Escaping TankAndy Kessler of the Wall Street Journal has written an interesting article based on an interview with Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn.  There are several key insights from Hoffman; one involved keeping innovative and adaptive employees in the newer heavily networked and fluid economy.

For a company in the newer environment, a key to innovation and adaptation is having employees who are themselves innovative and adaptive.  But how do you keep them?  As Hoffman says, “what everyone knows is that when you hire someone, there is a good chance that they will eventually be working for someone else.”  And the employees know this.

The counterintuitive answer may be to keep investing in the employability of employees. The more ambitious employees will probably know that improving their employability is important for their long run growth and success.  They will tend to stay if they have an opportunity to improve their skills and expand their responsibilities and challenges within the company.  As Kessler puts it:

“Adaptive employees keep companies vibrant, but those same employees are much more likely to stay if they know they’ll get to keep adapting, gaining responsibility and expertise.”

 I suppose in some ways this has always been the case — innovative and adaptive employees have usually been cognizant of the trade offs between staying and leaving for new opportunities.  The difference now is that with LinkedIn and other forms of networking the company walls have become much more porous, at least for the more marketable employees.  In some ways it has become easier for companies to build human capital quickly, but harder to keep it.

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Christians for Liberty Conference

Norman Horn, the founder of LibertarianChristians.com, has announced the first annual Christians for Liberty Conference, to be held August 2, 2014, in Austin, Texas.  Horn has been writing about Christian libertarianism for several years, and does good work.  More information is available at libertarianchristians.com.  I would attend if I could.

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Spirituality for Busy People Seminary Class

The new Theological Seminary of the West will open in Southern California in September, 2014; one of its first courses will be called Spirituality for Busy People.  The seminary has asked friend of the Center for Faith and Enterprise Shelley Irvine and myself to teach the class.  The class will be held in the Pasadena area on Tuesday seven evenings between September 16 and December 16.  For more information, send us an e-mail at class@faithandenterprise.org.

New Class: Spirituality for Busy People

New Seminary Class


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Serious Business: Why It Matters (Article by Tony Mulkern)

We are pleased to offer on our Work as a Calling page (link) an article (link) by CFE friend Tony Mulkern on the value of business and business vocations. (Serious Business: Why It Matters).  Tony summarizes some of the arguments made by Michael Novak during his CFE sponsored speaking tour a few years ago, and then concludes with his own advise to business owners:

“When you wonder if it is all worth it, remember that you are a symbol, an example, and one of the drivers of a free people freely creating wealth, a society, and a world in which all can pursue their dreams, consistent with the freedom of others.”

More from Tony can be found at http://mulkernassociates.com/the-executive-compass

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Neil Gaiman: “Make Good Art!”

A friend passed along a link to the Neil Gaiman commencement address that has received a lot of attention on YouTube.  I can see why — Gaiman makes a strong and inspiring case for devoting ourselves to “make good art”.  A highlight is when he goes through a litany of things that can go wrong in our lives, and his response to each is “make good art”.

If I made the speech to the graduates I would probably insert a little more respect for practicalities like earning a living.  But Gaiman is right — we need to make good art, which in some vocations translates to “do good work”.  Seeing our chosen work as good, and as art, and engaging it fully, can go a long ways towards re-establishing a healthy life.

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Some Hope!

A couple of weeks ago I flew to Florida to attend the wedding of a nephew.  Meeting and interacting with people in their twenties gave me a big shot of hope.  To see these “kids” establishing themselves in various ventures and careers was really encouraging — they will do well, if we don’t overburden them with various restrictions (and debt!).

On one of the flights, I set next a elderly Chinese immigrant (now a U.S. citizen and a surgeon by trade). He made an interesting observation — that he was always moved when he flew into a city at night and saw all the lights and abundance.  As he put it, we are a naturally energetic and productive people who create prosperity — if we are left alone to do so.  I think he is right; our children will prove it, if we let them.

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