Finding God in the Joys & Struggles of Business Ownership: An Interview with Michael Lee

20160131_004119950_iosMichael Lee, owner of Express Employment Professionals and 2016 Cascade Fellows alum, will join Gideon Strauss on September 15th to talk about how they have brought their work struggles to God.

As an experienced entrepreneur with a vibrant Christian faith, Michael takes the connection between faith and work seriously. In fact, Michael sees the business world as his mission field. Owning his own business for the past decade has been a crucial part of his discipleship.

God has revealed more of himself to Michael through the joys and struggles of business ownership. And in both the highs and the lows, Michael has experienced God’s faithfulness.

It was a leap of faith for Michael to dive into business ownership, in the first place.

Leaving his comfortable, familiar job with no clear plan for what was next was–as Michael puts it–like jumping out of a perfectly good airplane.

“I was making decent money, my boss was happy with me. But I began to feel rumblings in my heart that there was more, and that more was outside of the company.” 

“I resigned from that position without a clear idea of what I was going to do. For me, it was important that I made that jump before I knew what was next. But that was a Michael thing–I do not recommend it for everyone.”

“God was teaching me to trust his heart. He’s arranged appropriate leaps of faith for me along the way.”

As Michael felt the call to purchase Express Employment Professionals, he found himself redefining success. It wasn’t about the outcome for Michael, it was about the process of stepping out in faith and facing his fears.

“In buying Express, I knew ‘success’ was not the endgame. I was following the Spirit–I wanted more of God. If I went down in flames, so be it. But, hopefully, I could do it in a way that brought glory to God.”

Luckily for Michael, there were no flames. His leap of faith resulted in both a strengthened relationship with God and the acquisition of a successful business.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

When Express began to flounder during the recession, God used the struggle to realign Michael’s priorities and to allow Michael to relinquish control of the business.

As a newly successful business owner, Michael’s lifestyle was changing.

“I got invited to parties in downtown Seattle. I wasn’t making the best choices. I bought a nice car. Got three speeding tickets…it was probably a blessing that I got rid of that thing. The recession was a great attention-getter.”

The recession didn’t worry Michael until he realized that he was also about to lose his main client–the one pillar he’d hoped to cling to during the economic downturn.

“I did everything I could to keep that client.”

“In the midst of that difficult time, I woke up in middle of the night. Scared and full of anxiety, I started praying.”

“The Lord spoke tenderly. He asked, ‘what do you want me to do?’ I said, ‘Lord, I need you to save this client for me.’ To my surprise, he said, ‘wrong answer.'”

Reluctantly, Michael accepted God’s judgment and then spent the next half hour deep in prayer.

“I had a personal Bible study with the Holy Spirit. The Spirit said, ‘we don’t want you to ever beg for business. We want you to trust us. Pray for the best for your client; pray for our best in their lives. If that’s Express, then we will open the door. If not, then you will rejoice that it went away. You’ll never have to beg for business.'”

As Michael laid his struggles at God’s feet, he came to a better understanding of God’s heart for him and his business.

By the end of the night, Michael had peace. Even though he knew he would lose his biggest client, Michael’s anxiety was gone. He knew God was in control.

The slow in business gave Michael a chance to rebuild from the ground up, learning more about a company that was still relatively new to him. He also learned more about how to do business God’s way.

With a Biblical Literature degree from Azusa Pacific University, Michael thought he would go into the ministry after college.

And the funny thing is, I am in ministry–God just needed to expand my view of what ministry is. It’s more than just working for a church or as a missionary.”

“It was my faith that drove me into business. I saw myself as a disciple of Jesus, stepping into business because the Holy Spirit was leading me that way. And trusting that he could make me the business person he needed me to be.”

“At Express, God has called me to pastor those people whom he identifies. I’m constantly asking, ‘Lord, is this person part of our flock?'”

When asked about his experience of Cascade Fellows, Michael said his greatest takeaway was the community he developed through the program–a community with which he continues to connect today.

“Cascade Fellows was such a joy. So glad I did it. It was about community, not a religious exercise. Just last week we got together for a barbecue.”

Michael’s Cascade Fellows group even provided him with meals after a skiing accident that left him with a broken neck.

“The content was also great–challenging and encouraging. I love the format. I’m a busy business owner, but there was time. It wasn’t like school where there were tests to pass. It was about meaningful dialogue that would take place, inspired by the content.”

A concrete example of how Cascade Fellows has impacted Michael is the new spiritual practices he has developed.

“I started doing devotions at my desk. Hearing people at Cascade Fellows who do that was an encouragement to me.”

This practice helps to break down the barriers between Michael’s spiritual life and his work life.

“There’s no separation between sacred and secular. We can make spreadsheets to the glory of God, and we need wisdom for that. There’s nothing too small that he doesn’t care about it, and nothing too big that can’t be better with his perspective.”

“It was encouraging for me to see the Holy Spirit moving. Cascade Fellows is an expression of the Holy Spirit’s heart for people in the Pacific Northwest.”

“God has not forgotten us. He’s moving. As a believer, why would you not want to be a part of that?”

Michael looks forward to being an alum and continuing to develop the Cascade Fellows community that has meant so much to him.

To hear more of Michael’s story and how the Psalms of lament can be a catalyst for your work, please join us at “When Work Is Hard: Talking to God About Frustration & Disappointment at Work” with Michael and Professor Gideon Strauss.

For more information about the Cascade Fellows program, visit our website.

The “Christian” Artist: 10 Reflections from Abraham Kuyper

Maggie Hubbard Pile of Stuff I, 2016

Maggie Hubbard, Pile of Stuff I, 2016

 

The “Christian” Artist: 10 Reflections from Abraham Kuyper

The artistic legacy of American Christianity is mixed, (at best). Christians have scorned the arts as useless, wasteful, sinful, elitist, idolatrous, and self-centered. When these same Christians decide to “take back the arts” and make their own forms of “Christian” music, movies, novels, and paintings, the artistic results, once again, are mixed, at best.

What should be our response to this “mixed” legacy of the arts in American Christianity?

Abraham Kuyper’s 1898 reflections on faith and the arts in his Lectures On Calvinism are impressive in their depth, breadth, and insight on the subject. While I do not find myself agreeing with every aspect of his aesthetics, I find his speech (composed in 1898) to be extremely prescient, prophetic, and relevant for today’s discussions of faith and the arts.

It is no surprise that Christians called to the arts are ambivalent about the American church. Some feel mistrusted and marginalized. Others feel isolated and lonely, and still others feel misunderstood, frustrated, and even angry.

This week, for my reflection on Abraham Kuyper, I offer 10 pieces of advice for the Christian artist inspired by Kuyper’s chapter on “Calvinism and the Arts.” I hope that these are helpful in your reading of his lecture.

 

  1. Your Art is Not a Luxury, It is a Necessity

While some Christians have argued that the arts are a wasteful luxury – that money should only be spent on evangelism or helping the poor – Kuyper disagrees. Art, he argues “is no fringe that is attached to the garment, and no amusement that is added to life, but a most serious power.” The arts are a central part of God’s intention for humanity. Take beauty and creativity away from a person’s life and you have removed a core part of their created humanity.

Kuyper argues that art is not a superfluous “decoration” for life. To the contrary – it can help us understand what life is all about. Art, he insists, teaches us lessons “which neither science, nor politics, nor religious life, nor even revelation can bring to light.”(163) For him, a bare utilitarian vision of life which has no space for creativity, imagination, or beauty is not a life worthy of a creative and imaginative God. The arts remind us, in a world of bare rationalism and materialism, that life is about more than simply the true and the good, it is also about the beautiful. For, in “this cold, irreligious, and practical age the warmth of this devotion to art has kept alive many higher aspirations of our soul.”(143)

Standing firmly in the creativity and imagination of the Creator God himself, Christian artists should never apologize for their calling to the arts. They have a high and holy calling.

The artist creates, not because she feels like it, not because she has some extra time and money, not because a space is lacking decoration. The artist creates because her God has called her to create. This is the only justification she needs.

 

  1. Push Boundaries

Christians have historically feared artists because they push boundaries, challenge assumptions, and question the status quo. Christians in America have wrongly married their faith to a stagnant cultural conservatism that fears cultural exploration, innovation, and change.

In opposition to this, Kuyper argues that God called Adam and Eve to explore, cultivate, and develop the Garden of Eden—not freeze it in place. Therefore, he argues, Christians are not in the business of fearful cultural conservation – they are in the business of hopeful cultural exploration, cultivation, and development.

If our God is a God who loves fearless exploration and development, the arts “cannot afford to tarry at her origin, but must ever develop herself more richly… Only, the law of her growth and life… must remain the fundamental law of art for ever.” (163)

 

  1. Don’t Make “Christian Art”

Abraham Kuyper argues that the church should not have its own distinct style of “Christian art.” The church should not be in the business of controlling its artists or they art they produce. The church does not call artists – God does. The artist is responsible directly to God, and not the church. He is radically free to glorify God through his art-making. Because the artist is freed by God’s call, we should not expect one singular “Christian style” of art, but instead, a broad, messy, and beautiful variety of explorations in a multiplicity of media, addressing ever widening themes.

 

  1. Don’t Make “Secular Art”

Embarrassed by the horrible state of “Christian Art,” some Christians in the arts (in particular those called to make art out in the “secular art world”) attempt to hide their faith or ignore it. Fearful of being found out, they try to make art that is disconnected from their deepest convictions and beliefs.

While Kuyper is against “Christian Art,” he is also against “Secular Art.” He believes that “the call for a secular, all-embracing art-style, independent of any religious principle, is simply absurd.” (151) Why is it absurd? Because every song, painting, and sculpture emerges from some conviction about the meaning and purpose of life. It comes from a belief in something. Every artist must have a worldview—a core identity. The only question is, what will that core identity be?

Kuyper insists that the arts “demand a central motive in the mental and emotional life of a people.” (150) In short, if you believe nothing, you have nothing to create. Even the so-called atheist artist believes in something, if she didn’t, she would have no reason to make anything at all. Every artist has a throne that cannot remain empty. The Christian artist has a choice to make, even as she creates for spaces outside of the church.

 

  1. Don’t Be a Snob

Abraham Kuyper was squarely against the modern practice of isolating “the arts” to metropolitan museums, wealthy homes, posh galleries, graduate schools, and the realm of elite professional artists. If it is true that God is an artist, and if it is true God created all of us to long for beauty, creativity, and imagination, then it follows that the arts should be for everyone. Christians called to the arts must be aware of the cultural temptation to isolate, elevate, and patronize—and they must find ways to subvert and challenge this practice. The arts are for all of God’s people.

 

  1. Appreciate Art By Non-Christians

Because of common grace, Abraham Kuyper argues that the “arts are gifts which God imparts promiscuously to believers and to unbelievers, yea, that, as history shows, these gifts have flourished even in a larger measure outside the holy circle.” (160) Kuyper points to the fact that the ancient Greeks far surpassed the ancient Israelites in their artistic abilities. In God’s sovereign freedom he decided to bless the Greeks more than the Israelites.

If this is true, then Christians should never dismiss art made by non-Christians. If they do, they may very well be dismissing the very gifts of God.

 

  1. Don’t Copy Nature, Wrestle With It

The artist does not merely copy the garden God made. The artist explores the garden, unfolds it, dissects it, develops it, tests it, and reveals new insights about life within it. The “vocation of art,” according to Kuyper, is “not merely to observe everything visible and audible, to apprehend it, and reproduce it artistically.” (154) No, artists are called to “the noble vocation of disclosing to man a higher reality.” (153) The artist does not copy life, she wrestles with life and comes out on the other side with new insights to share, new things to reveal.

As we mentioned before, art teaches us lessons about life “which neither science, nor politics, nor religious life, nor even revelation can bring to light.”(163) Furthermore, the artist does not simply tell us what is (in the present). The artist also reminds us what we have we lost (from the past) and what could be (in the future). The artist embraces both memory and imagination.

The true artist does not copy life, she wrestles with it, she reveals it. That is her sacred calling.

 

  1. Pay Attention to the Common, the Ordinary

As a Calvinist, Abraham Kuyper believes that God cares about and saves ordinary people. God loves them, not because they have done something extraordinary, but because he intends to do something extraordinary with their ordinary lives. These so-called “ordinary” people have done nothing to earn God’s love. God freely chooses the ordinary to make the extraordinary.

So, if God loves the ordinary, the common, the mundane; Kuyper concludes that the artist should too. They should not be bored with the commoner’s life, because God isn’t. Kuyper writes,

If a common man, to whom the world pays no special attention, is valued and even chosen by God as one of His elect, this must lead the artist also to find a motive for his artistic studies in what is common and of every-day occurrence, to pay attention to the emotions and the issues of the human heart in it…to interpret for the world at large the precious discovery he has made. (166)

There is something beautiful in the so-called boring, there is something sacred in the so-called secular, and there is something extraordinary in the so-called ordinary. It is the vocation of the artist to investigate, explore, and finally reveal that hidden reality.

 

  1. There is No Such Thing As Evil Art

While many Christians have spurned the arts as evil and idolatrous at their core, Kuyper vehemently disagrees. God created the arts. God is the author of our creativity, imagination, skill, and craftsmanship. These are gifts of God. To label them the gifts of the devil is to disgrace the true giver of the gifts. “Satan,” Kuyper argues, “is destitute of every creative power. All he can do is to abuse the good gifts of God.” Any brokenness or sin that we witness in the arts is simply the perversion of something good. Evil cannot make, it can only destroy. Evil cannot craft, it can only twist.

Furthermore, the complaint that “the art world is evil” is actually a case for engaging the arts—not running away from them. Sin has not only infected the arts, it has infected politics, business, education, medicine, the media, the church, and the family. People who are called to be salt, light, and leaven in a world on fire do not run away from the blaze—they run into it.

 

  1. Approach Your Skills As Gifts (Not Possessions)

The final word of advice Kuyper would give to the artist is that they must, above all, receive their artistic gifts as gifts. Our artistic gifts are something we steward. They are not something that we own. They were given, not for our glory, but for God’s. They were bestowed, not for our personal good, but for the common good.

Strictly speaking, they are not our skills, brilliance, creativity, or craftsmanship that are on display, but God’s. Art, Kuyper argues, cannot “originate with man, for, being a creature himself, man cannot but employ the powers and gifts put by God at his disposal.” (155) Quoting Calvin, his favorite theologian, Kuyper argues that “all the arts come from God and are to be respected as Divine inventions.”

If we are stewards and not possessors of artist gifts, there are at least three practical consequences. First, we may never believe that we earned our success on our own. Second, we are in a constant state of self-learning, exploring and sharpening the gifts that God has given. Third, we do our artistic work, not out of duty, obligation, or raw ambition, but instead we create out of gratitude. Our art-making is fundamentally a responsive act of worship to the One who gave us these gifts. As the artist Makoto Fujimura remarks, “my approach to art resembles the paradigm set by a woman in the gospel who broke her jar of nard upon Christ’s feet.” May we all offer our gifts back to the one who gave them to us.

 

 

Four Rules for Faith and Politics: According to Abraham Kuyper

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I studied political science at a Christian college. Predictably, my classes were filled with passionate debates over the relationship between Christianity and politics.

Is Jesus a Republican or a Democrat? What should Christians think about welfare, abortion, gay marriage, etc? Can Christians fight in war? My liberal and conservative peers spent hours zealously debating these questions. And while we all badly wanted to put our faith first and our politics second, more often than not, the opposite appeared to be true.

I quickly realized that we came to these debates with ready-made political positions and that we wanted the Bible to back us up. We were trying to cram God into our political boxes. Christianity did not come first—it came second. Jesus was not the Lord of our politics—we were. In the end, Christianity was little more than the “spiritual frosting” that we were spreading (rather thinly) over our own political opinions.

This practice became tiring.

Near the end of my college years I came upon the work of Abraham Kuyper. And, while I didn’t always agree with every word, I downed Kuyper like a cup of cool water in a dry desert. Reading Kuyper I could step finally outside the tired right-left binary and look at American politics from a different perspective. In Kuyper I had found a third way out of the noisy and rather boring echo chamber of right versus left.

I can’t hope to fully summarize Kuyper’s political perspective here, but below I have briefly explored four critical “rules” in Kuyper’s thinking about faith and politics that are particularly poignant for our political environment today. I do my best to demonstrate what Kuyper’s critique of both Republicans and Democrats might be if he were alive today.

 

Rule #1 Recognize That All Politics Are Faith-Based

Abraham Kuyper’s first rule for thinking about politics was that there is no such thing as “secular” politics. Every political platform, party, and politician s faith-based. Every political platform rests upon on system of beliefs and convictions about the good life. Whether your politics are defined as Muslim or Christian, Marxist or Capitalist, Conservative or Liberal, Kuyper insisted that all political opinions are founded upon faith-based assumptions that cannot be proven.

The implication of Rule #1 is this: no politician can claim to have absolute access to “the truth.” No worldview, religion, or political philosophy can claim a special authority over another. Politics, therefore, is a debate. It is a contest between a variety of faiths on equal footing.

This is a humbling message for both Republicans and Democrats today, who seem to yell at one another with a God-like authority they have no claim to. Both sides forget the faith-based nature of their politics.

Republicans sometimes speak as if they have direct access to God and God’s opinions—they even dare to speak on God’s behalf sometimes! Democrats, on the other hand, can sometimes claim to be purely enlightened and rational, capable of being uniquely fair and open-minded. From their high-minded secular position they look down on “religious” voters as uneducated, irrational, and biased. Democrats forget that they too speak from a faith-based perspective.

 

Rule #2 Don’t Be Cynical or Romantic About Politics

Today’s politics suffer from two opposite maladies—political cynicism and political romanticism. Cynics argue that government is completely broken, corrupt, and oppressive. Romantics, on the other hand, argue that government is a tool for good—even political salvation. Embodying these dichotomies, Ronald Reagan famously declared, “Government is not the solution, it’s the problem!” While Barak Obama famously announced, “We can change Washington!” and “We are the people we’ve been waiting for!”

In opposition to both political cynics and romantics, Kuyper argues that both sin and grace are always at work in our political life. This did not make Kuyper some sort of middle-of-the-road moderate taking the good with the bad. No, Kuyper was both pessimistic and optimistic about political life.

Kuyper was pessimistic as he argued that sin had infected every aspect of political life. Every politician, platform, and party was influenced by sin. Placing ultimate hope and confidence in a political system was folly. Because of this, Kuyper argued that the government should be carefully limited in its authority, power, and size. He argued that it should never be allowed to become an “octopus” spreading its tentacles into every aspect of our lives. The government is not our salvation it is an unfortunate mechanism built to maintain justice and life in a violent and broken world.

That said, Kuyper did not allow his political pessimism to turn into all out cynicism. Sin, he argued, is not the only thing active in politics—grace is there too. Christians must also recognize that government is a beautiful and undeserved gift from God given to his people to restrain their evil and violence. More than that government is a gracious gift given to promote humanity’s justice and flourishing. Christians, therefore, are not permitted to complain and be cynical about political life. They must be grateful.

If both sin and grace are active in politics, we as Christians are not allowed to give ourselves over to complete cynicism or romanticism. They must approach it with both realistic suspicion and hopeful gratitude.

 

Rule #3 Choose Your Authority Wisely

Who is in charge here? This might be the first and most important political question there is. Kuyper argues that a country’s beliefs about political authority and sovereignty matter a great deal. Getting the question of authority wrong can have dire consequences.

Historically speaking, countries have bestowed divine-like political authority to all sorts of people, systems, and things. Some have given ultimate authority to kings and dictators, others to the interests of money or power. Some have given power to the workers and others to CEOs, some listen to Mohammad others to the Pope. Still other countries have given it final authority to the strongest race or to the largest and most powerful group of voters. One thing is certain, wherever a country bestows ultimate authority, that choice will have far reaching consequences.

What exactly are the consequences of our choices about authority? Abraham Kuyper provides a number of practical examples, here are two. First, Kuyper looked at the concept of “authority” in 19th century Germany and France. In post-revolutionary France ultimate authority was bestowed upon the “will of the French majority” while in Germany ultimate authority was given to the “will of the German state.”

The political consequences of these decisions were clear. In modern Germany it was very difficult for citizens to question, challenge, or limit the holy power of the German state. This ultimately came true when the Nazi state arose, no one could stop it. Newspapers, schools, churches, and whole communities were bulldozed by the German state’s unquestioned authority.

Likewise in modern France it was very difficult to question, challenge, or limit the holy power of “the French majority.” Smaller communities and leaders who stood against the French revolutionary majority were eliminated by the guillotine. In both France and Germany there was no higher authority to appeal to, nowhere else to go.

Secondly, Kuyper also compared Catholic and Calvinist understandings of authority. Catholics, he argued, tended to place greater confidence in centralized authority while Calvinists tended to be more skeptical of centralized authority. Because of this, power tended to be centralized in historically Catholic countries (Italy, Spain, and France) while in historically Calvinist countries, power tended to be decentralized (England, United States, Switzerland, and the Netherlands).

So, who is really in charge? Whether you give ultimate authority to the will of the majority or the will of the state, whether you have a high Catholic trust of authority or a Calvinist skepticism, the implications of Rule #3 are clear; the question of authority matters.

Kuyper insists that God alone deserves the title of ultimate authority. No leader, party, philosophy, race, or group of voters can claim God’s throne. Once again, this cuts against both Republicans and Democrats in different ways. It is often subtle, but both parties bestow unwarranted and unquestioned authority in our political discourse.

Democrats often speak as if progressive values and policies are “on the right side of history.” If you do not get on board you are, by implication, on the wrong side of history. “History” here is the ultimate and unquestioned authority. Republicans, on the other hand, often give unquestioned authority to things like the free market, the military, corporations, and their conception of conservative Christian culture. Both parties are guilty of putting created things on the Creator’s throne.

Once again, who is really in charge?

 

Rule #4 Life is Bigger than Politics and Money 

Kuyper argued that God created human beings to flourish and make culture in a wide variety of ways. God made human life to be rich, complex, and beautiful. Humans are called to work and rest, to make art and make babies, to worship and play, to build communities and cities of beauty and justice, and to explore the world through innovation in science and technology. In all, human beings are called to flourish and engage the world in a wide variety of complex ways. Thus, the world of politics is only one aspect of human life.

Whenever social problems arise in America today, our binary political system normally proposes one of two solutions. Democrats commonly suggest a new government program, law, or tax while Republicans commonly suggest a free market solution. However complex the social issue, both sides suggest a simple solution (either the government or the market will fix it).

Kuyper argues for a more complex understanding of human life and flourishing. In order to flourish, human beings need more than simply a strong state or marketplace. Humans need families, schools, newspapers, art galleries, neighborhoods, laboratories, hospitals, and more. Kuyper argues that this wide variety of “life spheres” are absolutely critical to our flourishing. Without these communities in our lives, something important is lost.

To put it bluntly, Democrats want to promote human flourishing by increasing the power and reach of government. Republicans want to promote human flourishing by increasing the power and reach of the marketplace. Democrats place their hope in government while Republicans place their hope in business.

Kuyper argues that while both government and business are both good and important parts of life, they are not the whole of life. More than that, both government and business become dangerous when they are given too much power.

Both government and business are spheres of life that must be limited so that the rest of life can be allowed to flourish. Families, churches, art galleries, laboratories, universities, and neighborhoods are beautiful and important parts of human life. Both big business and big government can endanger and ultimately crush these smaller spheres of life.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bad Religion at Work: Four Warnings from Abraham Kuyper

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It seems that “Faith at Work” is a hot topic these days. It is difficult to miss the widespread proliferation of marketplace chaplains, break-time yoga sessions, multi-faith prayer rooms, self-actualization retreats, life-coaching specialists, mindfulness exercises, and celebrity leadership gurus.

Here in Seattle, forms of New Age spirituality are part of the fabric of the local marketplace.

If this is the culture we live in, what then, is a Christian response to these new forms of spirituality at work?

I suggest that we turn to a rather unlikely source for guidance—a 19th century Dutch theologian named Abraham Kuyper.

In his lecture on “Calvinism and Religion,” Abraham Kuyper was particularly critical when it came to modern ideas about religion and spirituality. He argued that while these new perspectives on promised personal “enlightenment,” “liberation,” and “empowerment,” they actually led to something quite the opposite.

In the end, Kuyper outlined four modern aspects of what we might call “Bad Religion”

  1. Self-Religion
  2. Expert-Religion
  3. Partial-Religion
  4. Normal-Religion

I want to explore Kuyper’s perspective on these matters in light of new forms of spirituality in the Seattle workplace.

 

  1. Self-Religion at Work

Engaging in spiritual practices at work for the sole purpose of improving self-focus, self-empowerment, and self-actualization is a perfect example of what Kuyper might call “self-religion.” According to self-religion, spiritual practices are “useful” for making your work easier, more efficient, healthy, and productive.

Religion, in short, becomes a tool to make your life better.

While these examples might sound foreign and “New Agey” to Christians, we must admit that Christians are often guilty of using their faith and their God as well.

As Christians we often ignore God when things are going well. Then, when something goes wrong, we turn to God to fix it. Or we resolve to do more “Christian stuff” in order to fix the issue. We resolve to pray more and read the Bible more in hopes that we can use our faith to make the problem go away. The idea, basically, is that God, prayer, church, and the Bible are merely useful tools whose only purpose is to serve and help us.

This, Kuyper argues, is the essence of “self-religion.” Treating God like a divine servant whose sole purpose is to serve and glorify us. Treating the church as a group of people who exist purely to serve, empower, and inspire us.

But the gospel is not about us, it’s about God.

The gospel is not about our power, freedom, or glory—it’s about God’s. Our lives and work are a response to His work. We are an echo of His song—a reflection of His glory. The purpose of our story is to tell His.

The counter-cultural and paradoxical truth of the gospel is this. If we want to live, we must die. If we want to be free, we must submit. If we want to be filled, we must become empty.

“Self-Religion” promises liberation through self-focus, the gospel promises liberation through self-forgetfulness. The good news of the gospel is that it is not about us and it is not up to us to make the world work.

Our daily work is a small part of the much larger, much more complex, and much more beautiful work of God. It is not about us.

The gospel offers a different path to self-empowerment at work; service to others, submission to others, and glory to God.

 

  1. Expert-Religion

Seattle is a culture that loves spiritual “experts” like Yoga teachers, psychics, life coaches, celebrity authors, gurus, and holistic wellness speakers. There are many who look to experts for direction, meaning, and purpose. Looking to them for answers and affirmation, asking them how to live, work, eat, and prosper.

Abraham Kuyper argues that while these spiritual experts promise liberation, empowerment, and self-actualization, they ultimately make us dependent on them. They set themselves up as permanent mediators between people and the “truth.”

Once again Christians can fall into this trap as well. Rather than cultivating a direct relationship with the living God, we look to celebrity Christian preachers and speakers to connect us to God in new and inspiring ways. We look to worship leaders to connect us to God through the use of musical skill and emotion. We feel alienated from God and we look to Christian experts to reconnect us.

But depending on experts and mediators does not liberate or empower us—it weakens and constrains us. Rather than being empowered to live out the gospel freely in our daily work we continually run back to experts to tell us what to do, to give us the answers.

Kuyper argues that we live every day coram deo (directly before the face of God). We live and work everyday in the presence of our creator. We don’t need a priest, guru, pastor, or worship leader to connect us to God, we can meet God everyday and everywhere.

The reality is the God of the universe has established a direct and unmediated relationship with us through Jesus Christ. We were not saved by any expert. The experts can’t tell us “God’s plan for our lives.” We don’t need a sacred place, song, or leader to hear from God. We don’t need to wait until Sunday to connect to God. We can meet Him on Monday. He is Emmanuel—God with us. He’s with us in our offices as we go about our work, he’s in the board rooms and conference rooms and cafeterias and coffee shops where we go about our daily lives. God is already there. God is already speaking.

 

  1. Partial-Religion

The culture around us shouts: “Faith is something personal and private.” In this statement is the temptation to believe that religion and spirituality is something that helps us in those quiet, dark, and secluded corners of our lives. Religion is there to help us with our marriage issues or our depression. It is there to fix our alcoholism or our stress. It is there to provide us with some community when we are lonely. While that is true, the gospel does speak into these places. This is only a portion of what the gospel does.

This practice of religion is private, personal, or, what Kuyper calls, “partial religion.” The belief that religion is here to serve or fix some small dysfunctional part of our “personal” life.

Once again Christians do this as well. We speak of Jesus as our “personal” Lord and Savior someone who helps us when parts of our lives don’t work right. Jesus ends up being our personal God of the gaps. Whenever a gap appears in our lives, God is invited to fill or fix that part.

Kuyper’s critique of partial religion is that when we see him as just personal we never give God the whole of our lives, the whole of our careers, we give him the parts that are safe, that are limited, private, or personal.

The problem is this.

Jesus is not simply our “personal” Lord and Savior. He is Lord and Savior—full stop. Jesus did not come to earth to simply live in our hearts and be our personal “pocket-sized” Savior. Jesus is the lord of the cosmos who came to renew and restore all of life and all of creation.

The cosmic work of Christ means that our faith can no longer be limited to the personal, private, or partial. It has to spill out into every aspect, artery, and avenue of our public and working lives. The implications, Kuyper argues, are clear, “every labora (work) shall be permeated by ora (prayer)…Wherever man may stand, whatever he may do, to whatever he may apply his hand, in agriculture, in commerce, and in industry, or in his mind, in the world of art, and science, he is, in whatsoever it may be, constantly standing before the face of God…” (53).

God’s calling on our lives is not partial, it is holistic; touching, changing, empowering, and using every aspect of our collective beings to bring about his Kingdom in the world.

 

  1. Normal-Religion

It is common today for people to resort to spiritual platitudes like “people are basically good,” “do your best,” or “believe in yourself.”

In such a culture religion and spirituality are not concerned with radical human rebellion, repentance, and transformation. Instead modern spirituality focuses on self-empowerment and the gradual improvement of one’s life and world. When this is the focus of religion, spirituality becomes a tool for elevating one’s personal awareness and mindfulness. Life is basically OK, everything is basically “normal.” The purpose of religion is simply helping normal people become just a little better.

Christians do this as well. We all too often think faith is about “being good.” Being a Christian is about trying and trying hard. Praying harder, working harder, being good even when its hard. Ultimately, we convince ourselves that the gospel is about our effort. That if we work hard we will get a promotion, we will succeed, and God will be on our side.

In the classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a knight has had his legs and arms cut off in battle. Rather than admit defeat, he stubbornly demands that the fight continue insisting that he is “OK.” It is, after all, “just a flesh wound!”

Abraham Kuyper argues that this is the message of “normal religion.” Such spirituality looks at the broken, selfish, and rebellious state of our human hearts and world and says “it’s ok” it’s “just a flesh wound.”

But everything is not ok. Everything is not normal, It is not just a flesh wound.

According to the gospel, we are mortally wounded. We are dead in our sins. We don’t need reassurance—we need a resurrection. We don’t need a band aid—we need a surgeon.

Our culture’s message that you are basically good and just need to believe in yourself and try harder, is actually a terrifically cruel thing to say to a person. First of all, it isolates them and tells them that they can believe in nothing but themselves. Second, it tells a person that their improvement depends entirely upon them. Third, that there is no excuse if they can’t succeed. Fourth, every time they fail the only response is to keep working and self-actualizing.

This is what makes Christianity abnormal in our culture. Its message fundamentally does not make sense to a world that believes everything is “ok.”

For those who finally recognize that they suffer from more than a flesh wound, the message that you need resurrection is good news.

This does not mean that Christians have no confidence or power. It simply means that our confidence rests, not in ourselves, but in our God, who is capable of doing what only He can do: resurrect and redeem.

Conclusion

In opposition to “bad religion” Kuyper upholds that:

  • We exist to serve and glorify God. (We do not “use” God at work.)
  • We work directly with God. (We do not need experts to meet God at work.)
  • We give our whole lives and our whole work to God. (We should not limit God to our private lives.)
  • We are in need of God’s redemption. (We do not need just a little improvement, but a whole overhaul.)

A Special Invitation- April 1st Event

A Special Invitation


Is There A Calling in This Career?

April 1st / 7:30-9:00pm / Bellevue Presbyterian Church

Upper Campus UC-303

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How can we hear God’s call in our career?

You’re invited to a rich evening of discussion on the topics of faith and work, calling and career.

Kate Harris is a nationally-recognized speaker on the topics of faith, work, and vocation. She will be speaking on how God engages and interacts with us at work, and how we can have a deeper sense of calling, in our daily work.

We invite you to come and join us for this wonderful evening of conversation and learning.

The event is hosted by Cascade Fellows and is sponsored by Bellevue Presbyterian Church’s Faith+Work+Culture Ministry. There is no cost or registration. All are welcome!

Invite friends via Facebook.

 

More on Kate Harris.  Kate Harris is a nationally-recognized speaker on the topics of faith, work, and vocation. Her new book Wonder Women explores the challenges of career, calling, and family life. Kate started her career working for Chuck Colson and The Wilberforce Forum on several human rights policy initiatives and then spent several years working on Capitol Hill for U. S. Senate leadership and helped to lead the vocational ministry Faith & Law. In 2007, she left Capitol Hill to help start The Wedgwood Circle, an angel investment network to fund art that lifts up the good, true, and beautiful. In 2008, her family moved to England for her husband to pursue his graduate degree where, when not busy caring for their young children, Kate worked part-time to lead business development for a boutique project management firm. She also worked on a handful of special projects for the global consulting firm Oxford Analytica. After returning to the DC area, Kate joined staff of the Washington Institute for Faith, Vocation, and Culture as a writer in 2010. She was the director of the institute from 2011-2015. Kate graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a B. S. in Journalism and B. A. in Political Science. She is wife to a very good man and mother to their four young children.

“Is There A Calling in This Career?”

Kate Harris

April 1st / 7:30-9:00pm 

Bellevue Presbyterian Church/ Upper Campus UC-303

No RSVP / cascadia@fuller.edu

Three Dimensional Discipleship

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We are three dimensional beings. When we flatten that dimensionality – say, for example, in a photograph – something important is lost. We’ve all seen cardboard cut-out pictures of people. No matter how realistic the picture, it’s easy to distinguish the real person from the façade. So it is with our discipleship.

Human beings are made to love God and neighbor in the full dimensionality of their being. We are to do so with a keen mind, a passionate heart and a courageous will. These three dimensions – mind, heart and will – are hard to engage in an integrated way. It is easy to focus on one or even two of the dimensions and neglect the other(s).

Any one or two dimensions alone results in a distortion – a caricature – of our discipleship. A passionate heart and a courageous will without a keen mind becomes religious fanaticism.   A keen mind and a courageous will without a passionate heart becomes manipulative orthodoxy. A keen mind and a passionate heart without a courageous will becomes impotent idealism.

Reading Augustine’s Confessions, I’m reminded it is possible to engage all three dimensions simultaneously in our discipleship. Augustine modeled, however imperfectly, someone who wrestled with loving God and neighbor with all his heart, mind and will in the context of his work. His example encourages me to do the same.

Marked By Ashes: An Ash Wednesday Prayer for Work

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Photo Credit: creationswap.com

Marked by Ashes  By Walter Brueggemann

Ruler of the Night, Guarantor of the day . . .
This day — a gift from you.
This day — like none other you have ever given, or we have ever received.
This Wednesday dazzles us with gift and newness and possibility.
This Wednesday burdens us with the tasks of the day, for we are already halfway home
halfway back to committees and memos,
halfway back to calls and appointments,
halfway on to next Sunday,
halfway back, half frazzled, half expectant,
half turned toward you, half rather not.

This Wednesday is a long way from Ash Wednesday,
but all our Wednesdays are marked by ashes —
we begin this day with that taste of ash in our mouth:
of failed hope and broken promises,
of forgotten children and frightened women,
we ourselves are ashes to ashes, dust to dust;
we can taste our mortality as we roll the ash around on our tongues.

We are able to ponder our ashness with
some confidence, only because our every Wednesday of ashes
anticipates your Easter victory over that dry, flaky taste of death.

On this Wednesday, we submit our ashen way to you —
you Easter parade of newness.
Before the sun sets, take our Wednesday and Easter us,
Easter us to joy and energy and courage and freedom;
Easter us that we may be fearless for your truth.
Come here and Easter our Wednesday with
mercy and justice and peace and generosity.

We pray as we wait for the Risen One who comes soon.

Prayers for a Privileged People (Nashville: Abingdon, 2008), pp. 27-28.

In Augustine’s Confessions, Book #2, Augustine finds that ‘recalling (his) wicked ways’ to God actually brings freedom and hope. As we lament as Christian workers the ways in which we have failed, the things we have left undone, the ways we wronged our co-workers, and the sin we are implicated into as people of the fall, we too may find the God of great grace who took on our sin, so as to embrace us. We need to ‘taste the ashes in our mouth,’ as Brueggemann states above, in order to be ‘Easter-ed into joy and energy and freedom and courage.’

In light of this, how could Ash Wednesday’s lament and confession change the ways you work? What might you confess and lament about your work to God? How might God want to meet you in this?

Walking, Art-Making, and Seeing God

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In the text Art and Soul, the authors devote a chapter to ways of seeing. They conclude by encouraging readers to develop a “Christian” way of seeing, as it pertains to understanding and participating in culture. This pursuit of seeing requires disciplines through which we achieve a deep and meaningful engagement with life. In engaging life this way, we find ourselves “filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”[1] This seems like a worthy pursuit, but I find myself asking: How does one use cultivated seeing as a means be “filled to the measure” of God? What are the units of measurement? And further, how do I know if I’m full or being filled?

If “seeing” is to be linked to “fullness”, then this kind of seeing must involve more than just use of the eyes. To “taste and see that the Lord is good” requires multiple senses engaged in a practice of curiosity and gratefulness for the everyday, in which the risen Christ is incarnated. So how do I reorient myself to the mundane, ordinary circumstances of my life, so that I approach them fully awake, fully present, and ready to receive God in it and not in spite of it?

The best way I have found to do this is to go for walks. As the Apostle Paul writes, “If we live in the Spirit, then let us also walk by the Spirit.”[2] I have found Paul’s metaphor not to just be a metaphor, but also a practical encouragement. Walking gets me moving – getting from point A to point B. Movement is also occurring in between point A and point B – inside the path of a line. I do a lot of thinking while walking – about conversations I’ve had with others, things I’ve read, errands that need running, problems that needs solving. So walking is not just physically moving from place to place, but moving mentally and soulfully from place to place as well. In the walk, I am drawing lines between physical spaces, everyday spaces, and spiritual spaces, one step at a time.

A walk is, at its essence, movement. You place one foot in front of your body, shift your weight onto that foot, then bring the rear foot forward until it is placed in the front position. Thus your legs have moved, but by a single step your body has moved from one physical space to another. You find your body occupying a new space. Repeat this process a few thousand times in rapid succession, and your body is now in a very different space, perhaps another neighborhood or on the other side of a mountain.

You have moved. You can tell because everything looks different. The houses are different, the street numbers have changed, there is an Ethiopian restaurant in front of you instead of a Greek one. The other side of the mountain looks very different. Anyone who has hiked the Wonderland trail around Mt Rainier has witnessed this phenomenon – though “The Mountain” may be ever-present, from your rapidly changing viewpoint the position of glaciers move, or Little Tahoma is now on the right side instead of the left. You have moved, and your perspective has changed.

Our experience walking is a lot like how much of life is experienced. My relationship to my wife, or to my son, or to a friend, does not remain static over time. Rather it changes as we experience life together, learn about one another, and grow into shared wisdom. I think relationship with God must work similarly; that is if it is truly to be a relationship and not a set of rules. What is a relationship, but to consider oneself in relation to someone else or some other object, with the in-between being a physical position, a feeling, an understanding, a form of communication, or an action. These, for example, can be attraction or avoidance, love or loathing, excitement or indifference. Relationships are processes of movement.

So walking draws me out of the crusted shell of sedentary distraction and back into freer movement with the day. It reunites me with the relationships all around me, and I sense again a position within of the cosmos, a tiny particle in orchestra with the rising and setting of the sun, the comings and goings of others, the flittering of birds, the cacophony of automobiles. God, in the form of the Spirit, becomes present in the in-betweens. Becoming mindful of these in-betweens generates a form of seeing for me, which might be understood as fully existing; as my legs slide in sync across pavement, my lungs fill to that rhythm, and the chatterbox that is my inner monologue quiets. I enter a process of movement in which my own body, and the spaces it occupies, somehow makes sense.

John Berger wondered where heaven may lie in relation to us. Is God far away in the clouds, or across the galaxy? His conclusion was that no, heaven is not far away, but heaven is actually “infinitely close.” He says, “There is nothing baroque about it, no swirling infinite space or stunning foreshortening. To find it – if one had the grace – it would only be necessary to lift up something as small and at hand as a pebble or a salt-shaker on the table.”[3] The small and mundane point us to the way things are supposed to be, as God created them. Though heaven is certainly not found in and of these things, these things are arrows pointing us to Jesus’ rule and reign, as they are to be, here and now.

God reveals himself to Elijah not in the noisy earthquake, nor in the devouring fire, but in the gentle whisper[4]. I believe gentle whispers can be discerned from pebbles and salt-shakers, from the leaf on the ground and the crack in the sidewalk. To taste and see God means to taste the beauty in the everyday, noticing and appreciating what’s under my own feet, what my eyes take in, what I hear, what I feel and what I think. Walking connects and reconnects me to these truths so central to our faith, and central to experiencing God as he is heaven, in the here and now.

My recent artworks consider these relationships, between the steps I take, the process of movement, and the listening to whispers, within the urban grid of the city. Walking becomes like writing or drawing. The actual ink or graphite drawings I make are documentations, or illuminations, of these walks. If the walk is the line being drawn or written, then instead of making a line, I illustrate the things around the line, those buildings, trees, and street intersections that appear in my visual halo. Making these drawings is a way of seeing these walks in a different way. I take every split second of what is seen on a walk, and present them all at once. They become like cartography of my own phenomenology, a roadmap of a practice of prayer.

The processes of walking, drawing, writing, and noticing equip me with some of the discipline, alertness, and play that Brand and Chaplin outline as necessary to “Christian” seeing. Not that art-making has any kind of exclusive domain over these, nor do I think walking universally acts as a magic key to unlocking spiritual transcendence.

Perhaps seeing means bringing my own self out of hiding (or sensory distraction), into the everyday presence of the invisible and seemingly silent, but ever-present God. For Paul’s journey on the road to Damascus, that meant the removal of sight,. Without his sight, Paul then knew that God had called him. Maybe I don’t walk to see God, so much as I walk that God would see me, that I might then know the meaning of the word blessed, and to see glimpses of God’s heavenly presence here. I’m coming to see that to know oneself blessed, then, may be the measurement of fullness all along.

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[1] Hilary Brand and Adrienne Chaplin, Art and Soul, pg. 109.

[2] Galatians 5:25

[3] John Berger, The Shape of a Pocket, pg. 11.

[4] 1 Kings 19

Special Invitation – Bellevue, May 28th

A Special Invitation


Callings and Careers: 

Making Sense of Who We Are and What We Do

 

 Dr. Steven Garber. 

Bellevue Presbyterian Church. 5/28/15. 7:00- 8:30pm. 

What is your calling? steven-garber (1)Where is your career taking you? You are invited for a rich evening of discussion on the intersection faith, career, and calling.

The evening will feature an opening address from Dr. Steven Garber, a nationally-recognized speaker and author on the topic of faith, work, and vocation. Dr. Garber’s latest book Visions of Vocation charts the ways in which ordinary people in a wide variety of careers seek to serve their neighbors and the kingdom of God in and through their work

Dr. Garber’s address will be followed by reflections from some of Seattle leading voices on the question of faith and work including:

–       Denise Daniels from Seattle Pacific University

–       Al Erisman from KIROS

–       Jessica Hsieh from Cascade Fellows.

–       Jon Sharpe from C3Leaders

This public event is hosted by Cascade Fellows and is sponsored by C3Leaders, KIROS, and Bellevue Presbyterian Church. There is no registration required and no cost for this event. All are welcome to join the conversation!

 

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Bel Pres

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Faithfulness Over Balance: When Your Various Vocations Collide

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It’s a tug of war, sometimes. It’s a juggling act other times. These various calls we have, at times, tend to be at odds with each other. The board meeting is during our son or daughter’s sports play offs. We are asked to serve at church, but have just gotten back into town after a long week of travelling for work. Spouses see each other late at night or early in the morning like ships passing – going through the highlight reel of the last few days only to return again to the fullness of life the next day.

We all have these various vocations we are called into, to embody in love. These are the places we’re called to serve, the people we are to influence and be influenced by, the spaces where God places us to experience him, and worship him for all his goodness. But what happens when these callings are seemingly in opposition to each other? What happens when what we’re called to doesn’t seem to fit with our other callings?

Some have gone about talking about this through the language of work/life or work/family balance. I’m not sure that balance is a helpful word for the Christian. Balance ensues that all our time, our efforts, and our energy will be poured out in equal amounts, and that somehow we will reach a place where all these roles and calls are working in harmony with each other as a result of giving ourselves equally to them. One could chase after balance, could seek to find balance their whole lives, and never achieve it.

The language which may be more helpful to seek to embody is that of faithfulness. Asking not, how can I juggle or balance my various callings? But, how can I be faithful to God, as a reflection of his faithfulness to me, in the work God has called me to, in the passions he’s placed in my heart, in the church God has placed me in, in the family God has blessed me with, and in the friendships God has orchestrated in my life?

 

Faithfulness in our various callings can be embodied through honing in on several things.

  1. Recognize your first call is to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

We each have been called out of our sin, our selfishness, our narcissism, and called into the self- sacrifice, love, and care of Jesus. Our primary calling is to enjoy, deepen, and embody the relationship that Jesus is cultivating in our lives with HIMSELF.

This will happen in and through your other vocations, certainly, but the call first and foremost for the Christian is to follow Jesus’ example of love, service, and building of God’s kingdom on the earth. All other callings must fit under this call to Jesus himself, or our lives will be out of faithful alignment with what God has in mind for us.

How are you answering the call of Jesus to follow him today? This week? This year?

 

  1. Vocations are seasonal.

We may be called to serve in a various workplace or industry for a time. For some this may be a long time, like those who work in a company for 25+ years. For others it may be a few months or years. However and whatever that season is in length, we are called to be faithful for the season.

Even the retiree who leaves after 25+ years will be called by God to another calling, even if their paid work experience is over. Every season of call, things look differently. While at the beginning of your career you may have had young kids, as you get into the middle or late part of life, those children will require less of you, and you will be released to serve (time wise) in different ways. While in the middle of your career you may be travelling a lot, later on you may be able to stay more centralized, opening up your life to new avenues in that time and space. What we are called is to, is to be faithful in the season God has us in.

Thinking seasonally about our vocations releases us to be present where we are. Thinking seasonally about our vocations also helps us narrow down what we are ACTUALLY called to, and not just what would just be a ‘good’ thing for us to do.

What does it look like for you to be faithful at work in this season? What does it look like for you to be faithful at church in this season? What does it look like to be faithful to your family, spouse, children, or friends during this season?

 

  1. Enlist help.

We can’t all do it all and have it all. This is a lie our culture has enticed us to believe. When we follow the call of Christ in faithfulness, he doesn’t ask us to do everything, but he does ask us to do some things well and in the spirit of faithfulness. This may mean that you need to ask for help in order to fulfill the call God has placed on your life.

This can be hard, but maybe thinking of it this way will help: Asking for help may allow someone else to fulfill one of his or her vocations. Serving you or your family may be a call God places on someone’s life. Someone may be gifted by God with the love of children and can faithfully serve him through loving your kids while you are working or serving the church or giving to your marriage. Someone may be gifted with the joy of making meals- feeding you or your family may be a practical way for someone to use their gifts, giving you the extra time you need to be faithful in the ways God is calling you. Someone may have expertise in an area that you are lacking in at work. Enlisting their help, support, or advice may enable you to work in your calling in a faithful way that you couldn’t have otherwise.

What do you need right now to faithfully fulfill the call God has placed on your life? Who can you enlist to help?

 

  1. Give up the ‘shoulds’ and discern what you are actually called to.

Sometimes our vocations collide because life has schedule conflicts. But other times our vocations collide because we have said yes to too many things. Where we are called, God provides for us to fulfill those callings. Where God doesn’t call, we may find ourselves striving to make things work or for the pieces to fit into holes they never were meant to fit into.

When we say yes to something, we are always saying no to something else. If you are finding yourself saying yes to things out of obligation rather than out of a sense of God’s call, this may be why your vocations are colliding. Doing something because you ‘should’ do it shouldn’t be confused with God calling you to do it. Discerning these things can be tricky, but if you are finding more conflicts in your schedule and you are having to say no to the things and the people you are called to first, maybe it’s time to take an inventory of your calls and see which are from God and which are being done out of sheer obligation or guilt.

What in your life do you feel you ‘should’ be doing? Is it bringing you a sense of God’s provision, peace and joy? Or is it a weight you’re trying to make fit into the rest of your life?

 

  1. Live joyfully within the constraints you’re given

Each season we are called to be faithful in will come with, what Kate Harris has aptly described as, constraints. We can’t do it all. We aren’t called to do it all. But when we accept the limitations of the season we are in, this frees us up to live in joyful presence of God and those he’s called us to.

Some may see constraints as something to overcome, something to break out of, and something that holds us back. But Harris describes constraints as boundaries that hold the capacity for us to be creative within. When we don’t have all the time in the world, we are more focused. When we know we won’t be with our kids or roommates or spouses the next day, due to work commitments, we are able to live within that constraint and be truly ‘with’ them today. When we know our limits we can delegate and call on other’s resources to collaborate on projects with. Constraints hold the power of God to release us to embody the love and grace of our Savior in specific, pointed, and placed ways.

What constraints do you have in this season? How are those helpful to you? How could they be transformed to become creative outlets for your faithfulness in vocation?

 

Thinking through, praying through, and talking through these things can clarify your calls in the current season you find yourself in; enabling you to live freely and embody the love of Christ with the endeavors and people God wants you to be present with- now.

What will help you clarify the most now?