Recently, I was thinking about business and life, and I realized that I tend to have many daily reflections of the work I do. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t reflect on my work every day, 24/7, but I’ll notice when specific ideas start to come up more during certain times, usually when I’m having an issue in the company or when something is off in my work life and needs fixing.
Even though I’ve written about these principles in past articles, I want to give you these “semi-daily reflections of work”again because of the relevance they have had in my life at certain times and seasons. I think it’s safe to assume that they may be relevant to you as well.
Daily Reflections of Work #1: The Power of Together
It’s doubtful we would even know the name C.S. Lewis without J.R.R Tolkien and the Inklings. These men met regularly at The Eagle and Child, a pub near the campus of Oxford University, to talk about life, theology, and their developing writing projects. Some of the greatest literature of the 20th Century was birthed from the conversations and connections consistently forged around pub tables and on long strolls through the quaint streets and perfectly manicured gardens of Oxford, England.
Albert Einstein transformed the world of physics, yet it’s not unreasonable to question whether E=MC² would have every been discovered had it not been for Marcel Grossman and Michele Besos. These friends spent countless hours together over evening meals and walking commutes to and from work, talking,dreaming, questioning, arguing. A portion of Einstein’s genius only emerged through his interaction with friends.
This Reality Is Personal, Too.
When I was younger, I longed to be a songwriter. I possessed the musical chops, but it wasn’t until I met my friend Nathan that the collision of our talents and passions began to produce fruit. We wrote close to 70 songs in the 8 years we worked together.
My daughter was a decent basketball player, but when she finally connected with the right culture, coach, and teammates, her talent exploded beyond anything we had ever seen from her before. The fullness of her abilities was drawn out within a solid community.
When The Stone Table partnered with 6 churches to raise money for a vital North African missions project, the collaborative energy led a majority of these pastors to blow away any of their previous fundraising goals. Collaboration released new energy. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Together makes us better.
Why Don’t We Work That Way More Often?
Part of my daily reflections of my work and The Stone Table’s emerging vision, is to cultivate a creative workspace where like-minded businesses, entrepreneurs, and leaders can work in proximity to one another – bounce ideas, cross-pollenate, argue, problem solve, eat, walk, mentor, and learn – together. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, who is your Michele Besos? Who are your Inklings? Who’s your Nathan? Your full potential will never emerge if you only work alone.
Daily Reflections of Work #2: You Don’t Have to Be a Celebrated Entrepreneur for Your Work to Matter
I worked in the mailroom at Word Records when I was in college. I was a student at Belmont University, ground level for a lot of starry-eyed artists looking to break into the Nashville music scene. This mailroom gig gave me a chance to rub shoulders with some of the movers and shakers in the Christian Music industry of the early 90s.
I enjoyed the work. It was mundane, but hey, I was 19 years old and technically working “in the music industry.” I wasn’t recording albums, but at least I was putting some pizza money in my pocket.
Work That Matters
I never asked myself how this work was glorifying God. I was delivering mail in little carts, what could that possibly have to do with God’s glory? But I was wrong, or at least ill-informed. All work is a divine opportunity to fulfill The Great Commandment, to worship God and love our neighbor.
I wish someone had helped me connect the dots back then.
This type of “mundane” work doesn’t get any press in today’s culture. No one builds a viral YouTube following by just faithfully showing up and being committed to an 8-5 gig for 40 years. In fact, our culture shuns these kinds of jobs.
We mock the drudgery in movies like Office Space.
We lament years “wasted” in the rat race.
We romanticize those who throw off conventional responsibilities and spend a year riding their bicycle across Europe.
And there is some truth to these stereotypes. Some of us dodge the call of God for the safe choice and miss out on the colorful potential His life has to offer. But I fear more of us are missing the beautiful opportunity God has afforded us through the everyday mundane work Western culture has taught us to disdain.
And I think that’s a shame.
You don’t have to start some celebrated nonprofit to matter in God’s Kingdom. You don’t have to be an entrepreneur to do truly important work. You don’t have to own the business to make an impact.
Our daily reflections for work here should be that sometimes the most courageous work you can do is to embrace your chance to glorify God and love your neighbor through what our culture has deemed a mundane job. Every day, God allows us to partner with Him through our work, from the corner office or the mailroom.
It doesn’t matter whether the culture celebrates your work or not. Start seeing your job through the lens of God’s story instead of the American Dream. Whatever you put your hands to today can be used to glorify God and love those around you. This is your calling for this moment. Don’t waste it!
Don’t buy the hype. Be faithful to what’s in front of you. It’s a sacred opportunity.
Daily Reflections of Work #3: The Gospel Redeems All Things, Even Business
Big Business gets a bad rap in the postmodern West, and perhaps rightfully so in some instances. All cultures have their idolatries, and the sinful hijacking of capitalism tends toward the worship of excess, comparison, pride, and an “I win, you lose” mentality.
Unfortunately, we’re often guilty of defining things by their abuses instead of contending for their original design. The same is true here.
Many today fall victim to bitterness and jealousy and cast aside business as just another self-centered mechanism for getting as much as possible from other people. You have money, I want that money, and I’m going to use every means I know how to get you to part with it, all so I can buy bigger houses, flashier cars, expensive jewelry, luxurious vacations, more, more, more. This is the caricature of every evilcorporate type you see depicted in television and movies today.
And you can certainly find plenty of real-life examples to validate these assumptions. But is that really what business is all about, or did we allow something beautiful to be tainted by people who wield it in a broken way? I can use the same knife to ends someone’s life or perform life-saving surgery. It’s not the tool that’s broken, it’s a problem with the end-user.
At its core, business is about giving not getting. Serving not acquiring. Good business is about adding value to other peoples’ lives, and in turn, we are compensated for that value. We make money by enhancing the existence of those around us. The more value we add, the more money we can make.
Are there inequities? Are there abuses? Of course! Idolatrous, sinful people have a bad habit of breaking good things. But the daily reflection for work here is that doesn’t change the fact that good business is about partnering with God to humbly serve His precious Creation. That’s true for you if you work in the corner office or the mailroom like I did.
It’s time to flip the script. It’s time to let the Gospel redeem the original design of our everyday work!