Weed-Pulling @ Work

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Mid-summer flowerbeds can be monstrously frightening. A few weeks back, dark mulch was rich and thick. Edges were crisp, and all was clean. That was late May. A mere six weeks later, ugly invaders have crept in. Early-fallen leaves, scorched by summer sun. Twisted twigs, dropped by thunderous episodes of the night. Scariest of all, prickly weeds, stray vines, and rogue tree-upstarts have taken over. What was previously pristine now appears dastardly devilish. However, last Friday morning, I overcame those foolish fears (including my sluggard tendencies). I mustered enough courage to machete my way into the sprawling plots to take on the insidious, wicked weeds. And I was triumphant! Now, the enemies have been vanquished; the beds have been beautified once again. Eden is restored (at least for this week).

I am struck with the primal necessity of tackling weeds. We were originally assigned the good work of the garden (Genesis 2:15), but such garden-work—all work for that matter—was cursed following the humans’ attempted coup d’état (Genesis 3). Thorns and thistles now spring up, yes literally—yet we dare not miss the metaphor such enemy invaders supply. The weeds and “sweat of the brow” take over what had previously been an uber-productive, marvelously creative, unencumbered workplace. All garden work—every workplace endeavor—is now a place characterized by more difficult, challenging, and even too often treacherous toil.

But greater news springs up! Because Christ’s redemption is far-reaching and will eventually transform Creation altogether (Romans 8:18-25), there is this important kingdom-work of weed-pulling. God’s grand story reveals the already-not-yet nature of Christ’s kingdom.[1] With Christ’s first coming and the inauguration of his kingdom, sin’s curse is indeed broken—AND then, there’s more to come! In all such interplay, we live with longing anticipation of all Christ will eventually fulfill, AND for now we work/serve by grace to impact all the God-glorifying, kingdom-advancement we can (Ephesians 2:10). In the here and now, we boldly work to pull weeds and make room for more creative, glorious beauty to spring up.

Wheel barrow of weeds

With such realization, there are numerous areas of daily work that might be labeled “pulling weeds.” Andy Crouch insists that “creation begins with cultivation—taking care of the good things that culture has already handed on to us.” Crouch asserts, “Cultivating also requires weeding—sorting out what does and does not belong, what will bear fruit and what will choke it out.”[2]

Allow me to suggest a poignant, mid-summer discipline for cultivating the soul and action of your daily work. Ask yourself two questions and make two answer lists.

First, what do I need to weed out of my own life and leadership habits, in order to make room for the greater work of God in me and through me? (Don’t skip this painful but highly important, personal cultivation step.) What needs yanked from your life to make room for fresh growth?

Second, what can and should be weeded from our workplace, business, or organization to make room for greater creativity and productivity? Two corollary, sub-questions: What should we stop doing in order to do the main thing of our mission more effectively? And what hard decision or proposed changes have we been putting off, but NOW is the time!?

Brilliant life-strategist Henry Cloud calls this pulling the tooth.[3] Too many of us put up with a nagging toothache for too long. Henry winsomely implores us to take action, now rather than later. Make the dentist appointment. Sit in the chair and get it pulled. Makes perfect sense for your mouth, so why not in your life and leadership at work?

Muster the courage to take action on attitudes, habits, negative people, and unfruitful team practices that really need to go. Pull the weeds, make room, and experience the joy of greater growth in your own life and your workplace this summer!

Mid-summer flower bed1

 

 

 

[1]Ben Witherington III supplies engaging discussion of such in his thoughtful work, Imminent Domain: The Story of the Kingdom of God and Its Celebration.

[2]Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering Our Creative Calling. (IVP, 2008), 74-75.

[3]Henry Cloud, 9 Things You Simply Must Do to Succeed in Love and Life. (Integrity Publishers, Nashville), 43-67.

Raising Kids, Ready to Work!

worldviewmatters

Grimy gum on sticky tile floors. Scrape it off. Stacks of boxes in the stock room. Tear ‘em down. Sloshy, overflowing trash bags from the lunch counter-café. Haul those bad boys to the dumpster. Along the way, try my best to not break the slimy bags, spilling dead French fries and greasy liquids—thus making more work for myself. (I managed such an epic fail numerous times.)

These were my wondrous tasks at my first paycheck-producing job as a sixteen year-old. I was hired to work as an after-school stock boy by a grumbly Woolworth store manager named Mr. Akers. He never cracked a smile and refused to shake hands due to his Howie Mandel style aversion to germs. Honestly, to my youthful ego, this seemed like a less-than-ideal job. However, I felt confident, ready for the challenge, and eager to succeed in the workforce.

What’s it take these days to raise kids to be ready to engage in a lifetime of meaningful work? I recently had the privilege of doing a special interview with researcher, author, and a leading expert in perspective cultivation, Dr. Christian Overman. Enjoy gleaning from his rich insights!

Christian Overman

John: “The thick thread, Christian, of your research and writing addresses worldview. Why does a kid’s worldview matter? What’s the big deal? Why is it important for parents to pay attention to their children’s worldview?”

Christian: “A worldview is what a person believes to be true about God, about spiritual things, about how everything came into existence, about what makes humans unique, about what is right and wrong, and about what gives people purpose and meaning in living. Children who believe that no God exists, and therefore there is no Personal Being ‘above all’ who knows everything done in secret, will have less of a moral dilemma with stealing—if they think they can get away with it—and be more likely to cheat on a test at school. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. It is critically important to pay attention to a child’s worldview, because it is their worldview that will shape their personal values, and their values will shape their behavior.”

John: “That makes solid sense. Worldview shapes values, and then such values lead to long-term workplace behaviors. Also, a firm grasp of what gives us purpose and meaning obviously can have a huge impact on our attitude and actions in our daily work. OK, so if worldview is that important, how should parents do their work of deliberately forming kids’ all-important beliefs and values? What would you say are the top three or four best practices parents can/should utilize in order to be more intentional about shaping their kids’ worldview?”

Christian: “On the top of my list, #1 is building into children a view of the Bible as the fully-true and inspired Word of God. An acceptance of the unquestionable authority of Scripture is critical. Of course, the Bible isn’t always easy to understand. For that reason, I recommend #2: having regular conversations about Scripture at opportune times, particularly as it relates to the real-life experiences in the child’s life. Along with this goes #3, which I’ll call the “best practice” of all: parental modeling. Kids need to see their parents living out their own respect for God and His Word, especially in the “little things” of everyday life.”

John: “Big thanks, Christian. Most of us as parents don’t just naturally engage in such intentional conversations and modeling with our kids. You’ve shared empowering tips! We’ll continue this interview in next week’s post. Great thanks!”

Want to glean more from Dr. Overman? For greater detail and further insight on intentional cultivation of a God-honoring worldview in your own life and your kids’ perspectives, I highly recommend Christian’s book, God’s Pleasure at Work: Bridging the Sacred-Secular Divide.

God's Pleasure at Work

To learn more and order your own copy, visit: http://biblicalworldview.com/bookstore.html

Watch for Part 2 of this interview in our next blog-post!

Blessings in all your endeavors this week!

Baseball, Business and Best Practices

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I was throwing in the backyard with my eight-year-old one evening this spring, and I had a flash of insight. I’m playing the best baseball of my life. I’m on fire! OK, perhaps “on fire” is a slight exaggeration, but I realized that I’m seriously playing my strongest ball ever. And this is ironic, considering I am in my mid-40s. To what should I attribute this sudden surge in skill? What gives?

One word sums it up, plain and simple: Practice.

This is now my third season helping coach Josiah’s spring-summer team. Our record is 7 and 2. We are having fun, winning games, and deliberately putting in the serious practice time on the fundamentals. The team’s head coach, Chris, drills us in two-hour practices on Saturday mornings. We all groan, but deep down, we are discovering it is actually good for us. Even when it’s not an official practice, Jos’ and I are often throwing in the backyard, plus reviewing more complex skills. I suppose it should not surprise me that my own sense of advancement is increasing.

Here is a poignant reminder that we can sense similar advancements in our faith-at-work progress as we engage in implementation of intentional, deliberate best practices. For serious standout excellence, consistent repetition is key. Malcolm Gladwell champions this principle in his hallmark book Outliers: The Story of Success (Little, Brown and Company 2008). The concept rings true in musical performance, public speaking, sports, painting, programing, and virtually every pursuit of human flourishing. So of course, the impact of practice applies in big ways for business. Passionate commitment to regular, repetitious practice will hone leaders and their workplaces, bringing God greater glory. The Apostle Paul urges us, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord . . .” (Colossians 3:23).

Michael Baer insists: “It matters how we operate our business. We are called to operate it with excellence, to use the best practices to create a great company . . . there is no Christian excuse for sloppy business habits.”[1] Such operational practices must involve thoughtful planning, an establishment of values, vision, and goals, the comprehensive design of strategic plans, and the intentional assembly of the business team.

What will you do personally this summer to pursue intentional, God-honoring practices at work? Consider revisiting your business’s core values and asking, “How are we actually acting on these?” Lead your team in a review of your primary tasks and query, “How can we serve our clients with even greater effectiveness?” Perhaps you should block out an hour alone, just to practice some fresh dreaming—pursue some God-like creativity!

James Davison Hunter winsomely declares, “In short, fidelity to the highest practices of vocation before God is consecrated and in itself transformational in its effects.”

So how are you, your team, and entire workplace being transformed through best practices? With some fresh commitment and intentionality, you can find yourself saying, I’m playing the best business of my life. I’m on fire—to the glory of God!

 

 

[1]Baer, Michael R. Business as Mission: The Power of Business in the Kingdom of God. Seattle, WA: YWAM Publishing, 2006, page 21.

Hard-Working Moms—There’s Hope!

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Fall of second grade, I proudly submitted a carefully crafted biography of my mom, composed on classic, dotted-line paper. This was a special writing project, to be displayed in our hallway for parent-teacher night. I waxed eloquent, reporting with the utmost, seven-year-old precision: “My mother does not work. She is a housewife.” Little did I know how clueless my statement was or how ridiculously male chauvinistic. Mom had to have felt like it was hopeless—all that time, her amazing nurture, and energetic hard work—what a waste. I must have seemed like a hopeless case.

Mom-hood reveals ever-deepening layers of hopelessness. After all, moms’ work is never done. School projects. Taxiing kids. Financial pressure. It all builds up and pushes down on a mother’s soul. Mom is expected to be the Chief Operating Officer of the family corporation. Along with endless tasks, moms are deeply concerned about their kids’ feelings and also each unique developmental stage. God wired moms with emotional and developmental radar, in great contrast to dads. Most guys are only slightly aware that there might be some small humans, under four feet tall, living in the house. Mix in all of a mom’s concern over her kids’ choices, friends, and future plans. Any cocktail of these ingredients yields high anxiety. Mom’s work can feel hopeless.

So what’s a mom to do? Where can moms find fresh doses of new hope in the midst of all they juggle at work? I’ll propose that several hope-filled insights emerge from a couple of women, undeniably two of the greatest moms in all of history.

BEST MOMS, EVER!

Luke’s Gospel records how Mary encountered the angel. She said “YES” to God’s plans, even though they were immensely challenging (Luke 2:38). It’s not everyday a young woman is told she will become pregnant by the Holy Spirit. There would be gossip and accusations. “Who can believe such a claim? It’s scandalous.” She was to become MOM to the Son of God! And she said, “I am your servant; May it be. . . .”

It seems that a YES to God is the essence of deep trust—genuine dependence—and the very core of faith for all of us. Will moms step boldly into what God wants? Will you listen and be receptive to God’s words, his instructions? Will you process life’s difficult assignments, hard tests, and rascally scenarios through God’s truth and his powerful presence?

Years ago, there was a mom named Susanna. She had a gaggle of ten kids with her husband, Sam. Sadly, their house caught fire and all but burned to the ground—not once, but twice. Her husband was devoted, both to God and to Susanna. However, Sam also had a very judgmental side, often expressing strong critique toward her and the children. He was also precarious with money, which made life extremely difficult for the family. Susanna constantly sought to cultivate Jesus’ values and heart, in all daily actions with her children. One of their girls, Hetty, a very bright but equally strong-willed young woman, kicked up her heals. She recklessly leaped into a brief fling with a young lawyer and got pregnant outside marriage. This caused great disgrace to the very proper and religious family. Dad disowned her, but Susanna persevered with motherly love for her wayward daughter, Hetty.

A Mom’s Integrated Prayer

This is actually a very old account, so you might benefit by hearing one of Susanna’s prayers. Each phrase reveals just how integrated she was about her daily work and how much she desired to incorporate Jesus’ heart into her own heart as well as her children.

“Help me, Lord, to remember that religion is not to be confined to the church, or closet, nor exercised only in prayer and meditation, but that everywhere I am in Thy presence. So may my every word and action have a moral content . . . May all the happenings of my life prove useful and beneficial to me. May all things instruct me and afford me an opportunity of exercising some virtue and daily learning and growing toward Thy likeness. . . . Amen.” (quoted in Richard J. Foster’s, Streams of Living Water, 237)

Susanna’s son, Jacky, became one of the foremost leaders, thinkers, and provocative communicators of his era. John, as he was widely known outside the family, left a massive footprint on the culture of his day. And Susanna’s son, Charles, is responsible for crafting amazing songs, many of which are still sung in churches today. The family name is Wesley. Their profound legacy in Christian thought and practice resulted from Susanna’s passionate aim to form Christ’s heart in all of her children.

Both Mary and Susanna’s examples point out this vital truth: Mom’s best hope is found in connecting her own heart—and her kids’ hearts—with Christ’s heart!

There was a fantastic outcome for Mary’s work, even after comically losing Jesus in Jerusalem for three days. (How do you lose the Son of God?) Luke 2:51-52 notes the holistic development. Jesus grew in wisdom, in physical height, and in favor with both God and other humans. When moms access Jesus’ heart and choose to say YES, then kids grow strong and experience whole-person development—mentally, physically, spiritually, and socially.

Don’t miss it, moms. Your kids can grow up to make HUGE impact, to touch lives and become big workers in God’s kingdom business. You might say, “My kid will never be a Wesley. And he or she certainly won’t be Jesus.” OK, but you can raise kids who grow up to work hard daily, build the next bright future, fight disease, solve hunger crises, create noble cultural endeavors, plant churches, and in a myriad of other ways, share Christ with a world in desperate need of Jesus’ grace.

Moms, we thank you. Realize it or not, your work is full of hope!

 

 

Resurrection @ Work—the Surprising Significance

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I bet you wonder. Whether you wait tables each day, help patients at the hospital, fix cars, or juggle kids plus your in-home office—whatever you do—I bet you wonder. Does anything I do in my daily work have lasting, eternal significance? The answer to this question is surprisingly, inextricably linked to Jesus’ bodily resurrection.

People readily anticipate that Michelangelo’s marvelous Sistine ceiling might last into Christ’s final kingdom. I was first introduced to the concept of future redemption for creative works in my fine arts course in college. I shrugged. I am no Michelangelo. In recent years, more scholars have posited that redemption’s reach might not be exclusively for the artists. What if your own daily work could have lasting significance, even a literal lasting, based on Creation’s “groaning for glory” and the cosmic redemption foretold in God’s grand story (Romans 8)?

Revelation 21-22 paints amazing frescoes of the eternal kingdom. Sin, death, pain, disease, tears, and all that perpetuated the curse are wiped away so all things become new. The thorns and thistles, germs and disease, ravages of war and violence, less-than-stellar work outcomes, what was done for selfish, greedy, and idolatrous reasons instead of aiming to bring him glory—all of it will be wiped clean, making way for the transformed, new creation. The prophetic prequel in Isaiah 65:17-25 also speaks of very tangible, ongoing work. Houses will be built; vineyards will flourish; financial portfolios will show great gains. There will be very earthy, ordinary stuff in this new, eternal kingdom.

Resurrection’s Long-term Significance for Your Work

You’re probably still wondering: Really? And what in the world does this have to do with the Resurrection? Consider this: Jesus’ resurrection presents a foretaste, a sneak peek at what is yet to come. After Christ was raised, he had a glorified body—a fully redeemed physical body. Scenes from Luke’s account note that it was still very tangible. His followers recognized him; he ate broiled fish; he showed scars; he could be touched; he worked to teach and enlighten, producing changed insight in others; he built a fire and cooked breakfast on the beach (John 21)—all very typical, earthy expressions. In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul argues that Christ is the first in the lineup of resurrection and redemption, and we will someday follow in that same train of redemptive resurrection. Our bodies will be raised up and redeemed.

So, a number of heavy-hitter scholars have said, “If we will have glorified bodies, AND if all of Creation will be redeemed as Paul declares in Romans 8 (after so long groaning for glory), doesn’t it make sense this must include certain outcomes of our work?” Perhaps this is why Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 15 with this passionate injunction: “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” (Explore further insights in Darrell Cosden’s, The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work, Paternoster Press, 2006.)

So What If?

People have postulated that musical scores such as Handel’s Messiah, hymns like Amazing Grace, and some colossal architecture that stands the test of time—like the Winchester Cathedral—might pass through the cleansing fire (2 Peter 3) and thus hold redeemed significance, to the glory of God.

But WHAT IF the house you constructed with solid craftsmanship, or the real estate deal you worked with amazing care and energy—to serve both God and that family that needed to move into a safer home—what if the tangible results of those labors might also last, to be marvelously redeemed? Or what about the financial planning Dale has helped our family do for the past twenty years? Or what if the life-skills counsel you supplied for that troubled teen finally came to beautiful fruition in her life, OR what if . . .

Some of you are saying, “Wow, that’s out there. I don’t know, Pletch.” OK, I invite you to simply contemplate and dare to ask, what if Creation’s redemption might truly reach that far? Remember that God’s kingdom work is humongous, and I can’t help but imagine that he has some amazing surprises in store for us. New heavens and earth, complete with the Garden-City, appear to have dimensions that already exceed our normal comprehension of distance and capacity (Revelation 21-22). What if the eventual kingdom is actually more down-to-earth than our all-too-common, Star Wars-like fantasies, where everyone is dressed in white, zooming around in heavenly outer space? What if it includes more lasting, physical work outcomes than we have ever imagined?

Perhaps as we contemplate, we can gain perspective by reflecting and joining Moses’ heart cry:

Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

Psalm 90:16-17 (ESV)

Service @ Work—It’s More than Smart Business!

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

My favorite tire store on the planet is Creamery Tire, just north of Collegeville, PA. WHY? All they do is tires, but they do “all things tires” with amazing service. Customers are in and out in fifteen minutes from the time their vehicle hits the service bay. Worker bees attack your car. Mounting and balancing are FREE. When was the last century you received such incredible tire installation? Oh, and lifetime repairs and rotating come FREE with every purchase. Did I mention I think they are absolutely the best tire shop—ever?!

I’m sure you’ve had the experience at some business—great service—and you tell everyone. Serving through our work is actually a rich, soulful concept. God’s original creation intention, when he placed the humans in the garden, was that they “work” it (Genesis 2:15). The ancient Hebrew word, translated in this verse as “work” is also translated across the rest of the biblical story as “serve” and “worship.” There is a thick service thread throughout all of God’s grand story. Isaiah 42:1-9 carries the same language, a prophecy of the Servant of the Lord. Matthew, reflecting on Jesus’ passionate healing work (yes, even his irreverent work on the Sabbath), insists that Jesus was the messianic fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophetic clip (Matthew 12:15-21).

Is it any wonder that the Apostle Paul correlated Christ’s attitude as essential to the life of a Christ-follower? He insists that Christ’s service perspective is vital (Philippians 2:3-7) and should deeply effect our actions in our workplaces. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart . . . it is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Most of us readily recognize that a superb service-orientation is smart business. Just review my rant above over Creamery Tire. What we might not as readily remember is that passionate service in our daily work matters for another big reason: When we serve with Christ-honoring passion, we reflect doggone deep discipleship. You are actually growing and living more like Christ, your Creator (Colossians 1:16-17).

On such biblical basis, Ken Eldred declares: “The real goal of business is simply this: to serve others to the glory of God. Note that this objective places one’s business activity squarely within the overriding command Jesus gave us for life—to love God with everything we have and to love our neighbors—our fellow humans—as we love ourselves.” (The Integrated Life, p. 44)

Our service-orientation should be more than noble intentions and warm platitudes. I’ll suggest the following questions to propel your service to new places, both in attitude and actions. Ask these with your key team leaders in the coming days:

  • What should we innovate, create anew and make beautiful by way of our workplace culture, in order to better serve others?
  • What do I need to embrace that’s mundane and messy, but when I do this, it blesses people, connects them with God’s love, and they rise to a higher place?
  • Where do I need to slow down—to re-think and re-format—what I am doing and how I am interacting with both people and tasks? (Am I blowing people off just to get my task-list accomplished?)
  • How should my language & attitude change to be more loving and service-oriented? Beware of doing the right things with the wrong ‘tude.

One evening, after my wife had killed it fixing this amazing meal, I insisted on doing dishes. (It seemed like the right, serving thing to do.) ‘Problem was, I was tired and stressed, and before too long, I was rushing, slamming and bamming the dishes from the sink to the counter. Suddenly, Nanc’ put her arm on my shoulder, took the dishtowel from my hands and said, “I think someone needs a timeout. Let’s save the dishes.” Beware of doing the right things, even the service thing, but with the wrong attitude.

  • How can my service EXCEL, to go to the next level? Who should I hire new and how should we supply training in stronger habits of service? Let service-orientation permeate all your planning, both short-range and long-term initiatives.
  • How can what my business is doing serve to bring justice, make right a wrong, enact God’s will, and change darkness to light? A huge Jesus-style question to use at work: What’s the hurt—how do we work with God to heal that hurt? When we ask such a question in our workplaces, we can actually start to work with God’s agenda, to change disease to health, poverty to flourishing, sleaze to holiness, bondage to freedom, and even weeping and mourning to joy and dancing.

Your service at work is not just smart business. It’s doggone deep discipleship! Let’s follow Christ’s footsteps of serving. After all, “even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

 

 

Christmas and the Blessing Business

Scrooge for Blessing Business Blog

‘Tis the season. Both the big screen and local stages portray the classic tale, A Christmas Carol. At a pivotal point in the plot, Tiny Tim share his now-famous line, “God bless us, every one!” Such sentiment served as the antithesis of Scrooge’s own humbug. Original readers of Dickens’ tale were moved by the frail yet endearing boy’s optimistic plea, and future audiences have continued to be stirred. In my own family, any characters that dare to be grumpy during December are mocked with a sarcastic “humbug!” They quickly get the message. “Straighten up thy attitude!”

Consider how Dickens’ choice of words might motivate us as leaders in our workplaces and evoke a current-day response. How often we just breeze past the word bless, relegating it for consoling nearby sneezers or impressively accompanying churchy comments. I am afraid we give it little deeper consideration for everyday application. Meaning for this rich Hebrew word bless is explained by one scholar like this: “An enduing with power for success, prosperity, and longevity. . . . a blessing that confers abundant and effective living upon something or someone.”[1] Here’s a synthesis of this definition, perhaps a bit more memorable way to express what it means to bless:

We bless when “we give more deeply so others can live more fully”—so someone or a group of people can thrive—truly flourish.

In his winsome book on business and faith integration, Jeff Van Duzer describes one of the primary aims of business —intentionally contributing to what he dubs human flourishing.[2] With such bigger perspective, leaders who are seeking to integrate their faith in holistic ways deliberately correlate their own everyday work with the potential for profound flourishing, helping greater life emerge for their employees, coworkers, clients, and other business contacts. As Scrooge discovered just in time for Christmas morning, the bottom line in business becomes even bigger than the thrill of “a lot of buying and selling.” Through intentionally giving of our time, training, coaching, money, encouraging words, a listening ear, creative leadership, and overall energy, we intentionally engage in the business of blessing!

On the Saturday afternoon before Christmas, when I was ten years old, Dad and I walked downhill to the intersection at the bottom of our road, to visit the local barber. For a brief era, we lived in this dismally depressed coalmine town—Monongah, WV. Though our own family’s finances were stunningly meager, Mom insisted both her boys look good for Christmas Sunday services. We found the barber in jovial spirits, quite talkative regarding his own anticipation of the coming week’s festivities. Dad went first for his cut, followed by my turn in the chair, which included a classic boost-up on the vinyl-covered board to raise my height. As he worked his scissors and clippers, he buzzed me with kind questions about my hopes and anticipations for Christmas week. Once my ears were lowered, Dad surrendered cash to the barber, $3 per head. Though I do not recall doing any whining or grumbling, in hindsight, I realize the joy-filled barber must have sniffed out our family’s economic condition. He placed Dad’s $6 in his register till. Then he wisped out a crisp ten-dollar bill, folded it twice and shook my hand, pressing the amazing gift into my palm. He grinned and said, “Please buy your mom and grandma something special.” He had listened, sensed, and then he blessed. (‘stunning to realize, based on inflation approximations, this was something like handing a kid a fifty today) I have never forgotten that moment of generosity.

How will your workplace be a blessing business this season? I hope we can all join Ebenezer, Tiny Tim, and the benevolent barber of my childhood. May we not only speak the blessing, but also schedule the extra moments, slow down to listen, share words of hope, risk some extra capital, and more strategically invest in people. With hearts and souls determined to help others flourish, let’s truly work with God.

“God bless us, every one!”


[1]Harris, Theological Wordbook, 132.

[2] Van Duzer, Why Business Matters  (and What Still Needs to Be Fixed), IVP, 2010.