Week 2 of Faith & Work at The Point Church in Seymour, Indiana swerved into a less inspiring “work theology” revelation: work is broken. You probably didn’t need a biblical scholar to tell you this, your own experience informs you every day.

Work was created perfectly, but we experience it imperfectly. Work isn’t the result of sin, but it is corrupted by sin. This is where we live.

The bible has a lot to say about the brokenness of our work, and in turn, what we can do about it. I hope this both challenges and inspires you.

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My friends at The Point Church in Seymour, Indiana invited me to teach a 4-week series on the intersection of our faith and the work we do in the “secular” world each day. What God’s Word has to say about this subject might surprise you.

When we work, we “image” God, we cultivate His creation, and we love our neighbor. I hope this encourages you as your alarm clock goes off tomorrow.

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Last week I sat in a hotel conference room in Dubai for a three day meeting with the following list of people:

• The head of the Russian Pentecostal Church who oversees a Gospel movement that stretches across 11 time zones.

• The pastor of a multi-site South African Church of 30,000 people and two of his staff who are leading a Gospel-restoration movement that is transforming cities.

• A German church-planter and businessman who started 50 congregations throughout Deutschland and is launching business models to support them.

• The leader of an European ecumenical movement that is drawing hundreds of churches together across England for the sake of city renewal.

• The pastor of a 6,000 member Kenyan church and Bishop in the Kenyan Assemblies of God who is building self-sustaining revenue models through schools, housing, and retail that support his church and meet the needs of the community.

• The pastor of a massive Ugandan congregation that cares for 4,000 mothers infected with HIV and their children.

• Two French pastors that are having unheard of Gospel impact on their cities in a post-Christian culture that has long replaced Christianity with secularism.

• The President of a global-impacting missions organization and chairman of a major Christian University.

• The oldest grandson of a famous American evangelical preacher (you would know very well) and acting pastor of a large church in Florida.

• The 80-year-old founder of a global missions organization that has tangibly taken the Gospel to millions of children across the world.

• The pastor of the largest church in India.

• A half dozen other brilliant pastors, missiologists, and organizational leaders.

ª (Oh, and I can’t forget my “Pastor-preneur” brother-in-law who leads a fantastic congregation in Bloomington, Indiana).

Needless to say, I instinctively felt small. Very small. Even as I typed this list my flesh fought back the feelings inferiority. What am I doing in this room? What stories do I have to share that can possibly measure up to what these men are accomplishing? How will the work of my hands ever make that kind of impact? As we obsess and compare within certain circles, it’s easy to shrink.

But throughout the course of our three days together, various members of the aforementioned “superstars” (my word, certainly not theirs) shared insights on the book of Nehemiah, the tumultuous and inspiring story of the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls after years of lying in rubble. Each citizen was given a designated section of the wall to rebuild, and therein lies our answer.

Each of us has been assigned a portion of the wall to rebuild. Our portion.

When I feel small, it’s because I’m focusing on someone else’s portion. Someone else’s calling. Someone else’s work. My responsibility is to the work of my hands.

If you’re feeling small today, I challenge you to recenter your attention on what God has called you to. What can you touch? What can you impact? What can you restore? Because all of it – all of us – are vitally important to the overall work at hand.

Now get back to rebuilding.

Life is full of pain. It’s inevitable (Jesus Himself promised it). Some inflicted by others. Some the result of bad choices. Some the result of random tragedy. Some the unavoidable product of living in a broken world.

Since pain is a clear certainty, my prayer is that God would never let me waste it.

The last few years have been a season of pruning. For those of you not familiar with botany or its scriptural analogy to our lives, that simply means a cutting away of dead or overgrown branches so that the healthy and desired fruit can continue to grow and flourish. These seasons are necessary, but they’re in no way enjoyable.

As we pursue God, the byproduct isn’t always warm fuzzies. In fact, when we begin to place God in His proper place in our lives, the immediate fallout is usually the painful exposure of countless “false gods” we didn’t even know we’d been trusting in for so long. The destruction of these idols is the most loving thing God could ever walk us through. It’s also feels similar to root canal without novocaine.

From a job and friendships that had become my identity, to placing my hope in the stability and strength of family (oh, didn’t I tell you, these idols can be made of beautiful things, too), to the classic belief that money is the source of my security. One by one over the past few years, God has shown me the futility of my misplaced trust, as these good things I had made into supreme things crumbled under the weight of what they were never intended to be.

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And now God has another imposter in His sights. A unique one of sorts:

I want my kids to trust in me.

I didn’t say trust me. I said trust in me.

As a father, I want the absolute best for my kids. This is a beautiful, God-given instinct to provide and protect, to pave the way and become a life-long source of wisdom and help. But I’m realizing my limits, and it’s terrifying to me. They need things I don’t know if I can provide. They’re asking questions I don’t know how to answer. They’re beginning to have problems I can’t solve. So I lose sleep. I stare at the ceiling. I battle anxiety.

I want to be their go-to. I want to be their source. I want to be…their idol.

And God shines a light on the next effigy in my trophy case.

“You want them to trust in you. I want you to teach them to TRUST IN ME.”

My role as an earthly father is to reflect and point to the Heavenly Father, but sometimes I try to usurp the leading role for myself like I’m starring in the next Marvel movie. I’m not their savior. I’m here to put their hands in His hands. I’m here to lead them to Jesus. And that means telling them how much I need Him, too. That means showing them how the Gospel destroys my idols, including my desire to become one of theirs.

I can’t be my kids’ Source. But I can ask them to trust me as I teach them to trust in Jesus.

Are Things As Bad AsThey Seem?

A few months ago we started opening every staff meeting at our company by sharing “wins.” Big wins, small wins, it doesn’t really matter. Just something positive and encouraging to set the tone for our time together.

Surprisingly, this proved to be much more difficult than I expected. Even when prompted for the positive, our conversations just seemed to instinctively divert back toward something that was not working properly and needed to be fixed.

Identifying a problem was natural. Celebrating a win was hard work.

But we determined to contend for the good things first. Once we’ve properly celebrated, then we can focus on the difficulties with a sense of healthy perspective. The world isn’t actually collapsing in around us. There are good things happening. We are making progress. We just proved it!

It’s subtly changed my outlook on things and (I think) the overall tone of our times together. Which got me thinking…

What if we made that same pact with each other when it came to sharing our thoughts on social media?

If our newscasts replaced “it bleeds it leads” with opening storylines of beauty, hope, and restoration.

If dinner conversations with the family always kicked off with the day’s successes?

Life’s tough, and the world is a scary place. There are endless challenges to meet and gut-wrenching problems to solve. But I wonder how much worse things seem simply because we’ve forgotten how to celebrate?

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”

‭‭—Philippians‬ ‭4:8-9‬ ‭MSG‬‬