How the essence of work and society are being eroded
By Brett Johnson
December 2021. I had no idea work itself would be under attack in 2021 (going into 2022) when I worked on two books about work. We are on the knife-edge of a complex issue that could turn out well, or it could be a disaster. “The Great Resignation” – how quickly the labels stick. A Microsoft survey indicated over 40% of employees want to quit. The national numbers are evidently bigger. But why are people resigning in droves, and what are they resigning from? Is this a pandemic-induced-wakeup moment for society about priorities and meaning, or are government handouts an opiate causing lethargy and dependence? The answers are complex.
Some are ditching dead-end jobs and taking on more meaningful work like the single mother with three children who was terminated when the pandemic closed the restaurant where she worked. Through a cousin she learned about a...
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
It was December and I was preparing for our annual planning meetings. This is easier to do when the year has been good and there is money in the bank.
This particular year I was half expecting criticism from my colleagues because things were not as good financially as they could have been. I sensed that people were fatigued and were looking for a change. Before the meetings began I sought God and I comforted myself in the Lord, and this phrase is what turned it for me: “my honor depends on God.” Not on the Profit & Loss, not on the bank balance, not on external success, and not on the esteem of my colleagues, but on the Lord.
As it happens, it was not the most jovial of planning retreats. There was somewhat of an air of criticism. I led us through Psalm 62 and we pondered its meaning. Only afterward did I realize that people were critical, but of themselves, not of me. They had...
…this leaning wall, this tottering fence. Psalm 62:3
Let’s face it, we all have days when we feel like we are about to fall over. There are times when we think we are bound to become just another fallen layer in the archeology of life. King David knew that if he didn’t collapse because of his own frailty, then there were plenty of people who were happy to help him crumble. “How long will you assault a man? Would you throw him down—this leaning wall, this tottering fence? They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place…” How did David deal with this opposition? Rather than try to pump himself up, he made sure his frail fence was located in the right place.
5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
The question is not...
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better…” Luke 10:41, 42
One of my memories of a rēp Venture in South Africa is of Errol Smith “hanging” at the location where we gathered. After months of work leading up to the Venture, he expressed his joy in just being there, seeing what God was doing, and soaking up God’s presence. On a regular day, my guess is that Errol is as good a Martha as you can get. The good news is that he can flip the switch and be a Mary too. There are multiple types of work, and there is nothing wrong with being busy. Busyness is not the same as hurriedness, says Dallas Willard. We can be busy on the outside yet unhurried on the inside. Likewise, we can be calm on the outside, but internally we have checked out of conversations because we are distracted and at the next venue already. The question is not...
If a man is lazy, the rafters sag.
We sat at lunch one day with a team from our office. It was a farewell meal for an intern who had joined us for three or four months. He was a very likable chap, had a bright mind, and was a genuinely nice guy. For our part, we had put him in tasteful accommodations, given him a car to drive, had him participate in some interesting projects, and given him exposure to life in Silicon Valley when all was well in Dot.com land. So at the end of it, all my wife asked, “What did you learn from your time with us?” His answer caused more than one person to nearly choke on their Chinese food: “I don’t like maintenance.” That was it. The grand conclusion from the twenty-year-old on what he had learned from his work stint: maintenance sucks.
The first to respond was our Information Technology manager (who, incidentally, spent most of his day maintaining other people’s computers). He gently explained...
The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
I Timothy 1:5
In the introduction to this letter, Paul tells Timothy his work assignment: “command certain men not to teach false doctrines.” Later he says (in verse 8), "We know that the law is good, if one uses it properly." There is a sharp contrast between a genuine movement of God, which has at its core "love, which comes from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith," and the complex formulation of institutions built around laws and structures and complexities made up by man.
As we deal in business, we will write contracts, deals will be signed, and plans will be made. In all of these things let us remember to have "love, which comes from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith."
Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Ephesians 6:13 (NLT)
We like to think of amazing accomplishments, great acts, momentum, and being on the offensive. But there are seasons where it is enough to just come out on the other side still standing.
“…so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet.”(The Message)
When suffering leads to perseverance that chisels out character that ekes out hope; when we have stared through the difficulties to the God-faced possibilities; when our knees have wobbled and our toes curled ‘round the clods’; when the day of evil has come — "and after you have done everything, to stand." Sometimes just showing up and standing is enough. The harvesting will come on another day.
Not as a contrast, but to preserve us from hopeless hanging around, while we are standing there are things we can do. Standing naked will not suffice. There is apparel even for...
There’s a difference between perpetually pontificating and persevering. The editor of the Manchester Guardian once said, “Comment is free; facts are sacred.” Every day billions of opinions are tweeted as facts. Zillions of sage advice tweets and posts might give the impression that there are billions of people doing amazing things. I too have opinions. While I am not prone to untamed tweeting I am in danger of confusing perseverance with pontification. It is one thing to hold an opinion and quite another to back it with the actions that lead to an outcome.
A little phrase caught my eye: “You need to persevere.” Like many of you, I am in the midst of planning for the next calendar year. This usually involves several months of revisiting old mind maps where I listed an unreasonable number of things I hoped to work on, then tweaking them for the coming year. I have done this long enough to know the difference between dreaming and planning. It is...
they are ripe John 4:35
When Jesus ventured into non-friendly territory he encountered a thirsty woman, turned her town upside down, and gave his disciples a wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee lesson. “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” He saw the opportunities, but they saw the obstacles.
"My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
What do you see in your workplace? Is it an environment where people are neutral to spiritual things? Perhaps you see it as disinterested, not caring much about God and all that...
Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan.
And Dan, why did he linger by the ships? Asher remained on the coast and stayed in his coves. Judges 5:17
Not that long ago the New York Giants won their 10th consecutive away game, an NFL record. Winning on the road is tough. There were “away game” players in Scripture with catchy names such as Barak, Benjamin, Ephraim, Issachar, Napthali, and Zebulun. They all played an away game, won, and their names are recorded in history. Let me set the context. Israel had been oppressed for twenty years, and their leader, a woman prophetess names Deborah, called on the nation’s leaders to fight their enemies. The opposition was formidable, but God had given an instruction, and Deborah passed it on.
“The Lord, the God of Israel, commands you: 'Go, take with you ten thousand men of Naphtali and Zebulun and lead the way to Mount Tabor. I will lure Sisera, the commander of Jabin's army, with his chariots and his...