On October 9, the Andreas Center and Dordt College hosted Q Commons, an event on one night in 60-plus cities across the United States and around the world as a coordinated effort to advance the common good in the communities to which we are called to live. The event included presentations from three national speakers via simulcast and three local speakers–Amanda Bahena (Christianity, Immigration and Sioux County), Matt Drissell (Why Small Towns Need Art), and Justin Schuiteman. Each local speaker had nine minutes to share their thoughts and wisdom with the participants. Below is the written form of Justin’s presentation.
In Os Hillman’s book The 9 to 5 Window: How Faith Can Transform the Workplace, he makes some interesting observations about the gospel:
Jesus made 132 appearances in the NT and all but 10 were in the marketplace.
45 of the 52 parables had workplace content.
What do these facts tell us about Jesus? Jesus showed up in extraordinary ways in the ordinary rhythms of life. Of our waking hours over 50% is spent in the marketplace. Do you view work as your primary mission field? Many times we view our mission field as outside our business and in turn we do all of our “spiritual things” outside of our business and our faith doesn’t match up with our life at work. I have been as guilty of this as anyone. We, as people in business, have a tremendous opportunity. The world is looking for an example, someone to be like or emulate. As we interact within the same environment, facing the same challenges, and having the same struggles, we can show others what the incarnate life of Jesus looks like right in front of them.
So what is the problem? Why are we not taking this seriously?
I believe we are looking at the wrong mirror. When we wake up and look in the mirror we look at our outward appearances and that makes us think everything is alright. We look at the mirror of others around us who tell us that what we do and what we have is who we are. The mirror we need to be looking at is the Word of God. Our identity needs to come from Christ. We need to look at this mirror and not walk away and forget what it says we should do, like it says in James, but we need to find our identity in Christ and do what it says!
When our identity is consistent, our rhythm works a lot better. We are not having to have our different friend groups based on different interests such as weather friends, sports friends, TV show friends, and so on. God doesn’t want us to just start a spiritual group where we only talk about spiritual things, but God wants us to infuse him in all of these groups. My identity to my kids is “baldy”, to people at work it is “plant nerd”, to others it is “idea guy,” and most people know me as not normal. What if all of the sudden I grew hair, I lost my plant mojo, didn’t have a single worthwhile idea, and became normal? Who would I be? What 3 things are you known for? What would happen if God took those away?
Along with my wife, almost four year ago God placed a desire in our hearts to open up our home through foster care. Within 6 months our “kid population” in our house grew from 1 to 5. My identity as super-60-to-70-hour-a-week-super-worker ended and I barely put in 40 hours a week. I felt like my identity turned to super slacker. I struggled greatly with this identity change and still wrestle with it today. But God was and still is challenging me to find my identity in God. Jesus didn’t let other people around him define who he was and what he should do. He climbed down the ladder of success all the way to the shameful death on a cross.
So how do we solve this identity problem and come up with a solution to fit business as mission into our everyday life?
Abide in Christ
When I am abiding in Jesus it seems as though my life has rhythm and flows. There are opportunities around me I see and take advantage of because I am in touch with the Spirit. In John 15:4 it states “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” Fake fruit tastes like us. Our fruit without Christ tastes horrible! Rather, we should start abiding in Christ and make real fruit. Abiding in Christ means sitting at Jesus feet and doing some “inefficient worldly things” like pray, read the Bible, and worship in everything.
If we are all created in God’s image we should love everyone equally. One of the best ways to love people is to be fully present–not checking your phone, looking who else is around, thinking what you are going to say next, or what you have to do next. I love to ask people about their stories of who they are. It is very life giving. Start loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. Don’t you think it would shock and surprise our neighbor and kind of freak them out? I think so, because I love myself quite a bit. How many people’s stories have you heard in the last week? Do you even care?
Reinvent Some Rhythms
It is not about creating new programs or things but about reinventing the everyday rhythms we have in life already.
Prayer: There was an older gentlemen who came into work awhile back and caught me in the midst of my busyness. I ended up taking some time to talk with him and in the midst of talking to him he shared his wife had cancer. I felt prompted to pray for him, so I asked him if I could. He smiled big and said “I would really like that.” So I placed my hand on the desk in front of me and started to pray. Five seconds into the prayer I felt these fingers interlocking with mine as the older gentlemen decided to hold my hand. So I continued to pray all while opening one eye to scan if anyone was watching. Why do I share that story? We always say we are going to pray for people and we usually don’t. But what if prayed for people on the spot? And let’s not pray with one eye open worrying about what people will say. Let’s live unashamedly for our first love: Jesus! I believe we will have more opportunities like this if we are praying unceasingly throughout the day and truly in touch with the Holy Spirit.
Conversations: It is incredibly hard to change what you talk about with people you are familiar with and have been in relationship with for a long time. You seem to have your own language, tell the same inside jokes, talk about “comfortable” things. We are afraid to change the conversation and risk making a good relationship turn awkward and bad. I have found quite a few people around me desire, though, to move from “comfortable” to talking about what matters on a deeper level. These relationships have gone from good to great.
Discipleship: There was two young men who started working with me around five years ago. What started initially as me training them in plants, customer service, pulling weeds, and other things, evolved into so much more. We started reading books together, reading the Bible, talking about what was going on in our life. It became almost a natural discipleship. Too many times we want to limit discipleship to a one hour a week thing with someone outside of our normal sphere. Discipleship wasn’t meant to be a program. Look around work to see who you could disciple more naturally within the normal routine of your day. One of my friends says you need to look for FAT people when doing discipleship. We should look for people who are Faithful, Available, and Teachable.
Eating: I read a great book called Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. In the book, the author wrote about using our meals to network and learn our way to success. While reading the book I had this idea: “How can I use my meals to challenge and encourage myself spiritually?” A couple of weeks later I emailed a missionary named Matt who had this fire and love for Jesus that I wanted to learn more about. You see I loved Jesus, but I didn’t seem to really have that fire. We had lunch and shared Jesus-stories together. I was so encouraged and challenged by how Jesus was at work. I have continued to have lunch with various people and it is one of the things that really gives my spiritual life some gumption. We have 21 meals a week. How do you use this time to encourage and challenge yourself and others spiritually?
Let’s abide in Christ, love others, and be faithful where God has planted us in our business and in our life in general.