Daily Encouragement Net
“Encourage one another daily” (Hebrews 3:13).
Daily Encouragement Net is devoted to encouraging followers of Jesus Christ.
Agora - Ministry in the workplace
“Agora” is the Greek word for “marketplace”. These brief articles are intended to encourage and equip those with a desire to minister in the workplace.
Articles to encourage for service
I recently attended a business conference and heard an owner of a company make an interesting observation. He was asked regarding business integrity and his relationships with his customers and he said, 'We see our customers as a mission field."
We so often refer to the mission field as being in some other country or a different part of our own country like the inner city or Appalachia. We often think of it in terms of the church’s work and that can be so limiting. In my own personal mission statement I use the phrase “to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity.”
Where is our influence? I may give to a missionary cause or I might faithfully pray for a missionary and thus have some influence, but my primary influence is among those whom God has providentially placed me among. Of course that’s my family, my neighbors and special ministries the Lord may have called me to serve. But it certainly must include our work!
God has “seasoned” the workplace with millions of His followers. Some of you are in companies where you can identify many others in your company who follow Christ. Others may feel they practically stand alone and in certain parts of the country and world this may be the case.
You are surrounded by people who need the Lord, who are on a slippery precipice leading to destruction. God can use you and wants you to identify with Him. For some this will lead to mockery. May the Lord give us boldness to take a stand! As the saying goes, “If you don’t stand for anything you’ll fall for everything.”
Stephen C. Weber
Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men". You want to let your light shine where you work. You recall that our Lord Jesus said in the Great Commission to "go into all the world" and surely that includes not only the missionary in Africa but you at your appointed mission field. You recall that the Apostle Paul wrote, "making the most of every opportunity" (Ephesians 5:16) and you want to do just that. You recall that the Apostle Peter wrote, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15).
Jesus said, "Let your light shine before men" (Matthew 5:16). You have providentially been placed next to men and women in your place of employment. They may already have a familiarity with the Gospel truth; they may not. They may appreciate your stand; they may not. They may be receptive; they may not. Your call is to be obedient and to let your light shine before them.
Stephen C. Weber
"When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd" (Matthew 9:36).
A fundamental perspective asking what motivates us in regard to our interest in evangelism and ministry. I believe this issue is especially vital in marketplace evangelism.
Consider the amount of time spent around fellow workers. Likely more than anyone apart from your immediate family and probably in some cases more! Consider the variety of people that are around you providentially that you would not by choice associate with. In fact you can probably think of some pretty obnoxious fellow workers.
So motivation is very important in service for Christ in the marketplace. There are two clearly Biblical motivations: 1) Obedience to the great commission, 2) a genuine compassion for people reflecting the character of Christ.
Let’s consider compassion and Christ demonstrates it so powerfully in the Scripture text at the beginning of this article. Is this how we see people? The Greek word for compassion is "splagchnizomai" which means "to have the bowels yearn" i.e. (fig.) feel sympathy, to pity. (We get spleen from the first part of this word.) People desperately need to know that someone genuinely cares about them. Some have this care properly expressed in a loving home and church but so many, many are now disconnected from these God-ordained primary sources of love and care. Broken homes abound. Just consider those that you work around. How many have been impacted by a broken home?
God has strategically placed you where you are. Do you see your fellow workers as Christ sees them? Let us genuinely care!
Stephen C. Weber
Recently I was speaking to a CEO at one of a company and he pointed out that he had read that increasingly one’s place of employment is taking on a place of influence surpassing that of the family and church. Although he certainly was not seeing this trend as positive, it is realistically the world we live in. People are less and less connected with the traditional, God-ordained institutions that nourish and support, namely the family and church. Broken marriages and homes are taking their predictable toll. And now so many are only casually connected to a church. I heard recently that George Barna notes that in America some 10 million who claim to be Christian are unchurched.
The lack of connectedness that so many experience is both a tremendous obstacle and a great opportunity in sharing our faith with our fellow workers. We have been strategically planted to bear witness to God’s plan and love for them. So what does this have to do with our witness and ministry in the workplace?
It is imperative that we strengthen our own home and church life. These God-ordained institutions are not going to be replaced, although so many are disconnected from them in the complete crumbling of society as we know it. We will be weak for ministry if we are not receiving the support at home and church.
We must in both active and passive ways demonstrate our love for God, our family and our involvement in our local church.
Without pride we must recognize the emptiness that they are experiencing (perhaps unknowingly) as they seek to find the fulfillment that only God offers in other ways.
They need our love and concern expressed in a genuine friendship.
I am certainly aware that some reading this are from a broken home themselves. Be assured that God can use you in a very wonderful way as you express your experience in the reconciliation process!
Stephen C. Weber
"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up" (Galatians 6:9)
One of the most important Scriptural concepts to learn is that there is an unknown period of delay between sowing and reaping. In agriculture this is known as germination. The farmer plants the seed and is by no means alarmed the next morning if he goes out and observes the field and sees no sprouts. He understands that there is a period of germination.
The same is true in our sowing of God’s seed, but when it comes to sowing God’s Word the period of germination varies greatly per individual. I’m convinced we do a lot of sowing that results in a harvest that we never see on this side, as someone else has the joy of reaping. (Also keep in mind when you have reaped (lead a soul to Christ) very likely many others have sown the seed of truth in their life.
A friend named Tom told me this story. For many years he witnessed at work both by his lifestyle and, as opportunities arose, by verbal expressions of his faith. Frankly he saw very little fruit for his labors in the large factory in which he worked. Several years ago he moved on to another job. But just couple of weeks ago he received a call from a former coworker that worked with him 13 years ago. This worker had received the Lord and called to tell Tom of the impact he had had on his life thirteen years ago. Now Tom does not recall this man showing any particular interest in spiritual things. What a thoughtful act of encouragement for this new Christian to track Tom down to tell him!
Only God knows the answer to these two questions. Our call remains faithfulness and obedience!
Stephen C. Weber
“Workplace Minutes” (A series of one minute radio spots)
Hello this is Stephen C. Weber with the Daily Encouragement Net workplace minute. A friend of mine told me this story. For many years he witnessed at work both by his lifestyle and, as opportunities arose, by verbal expressions of his faith. Frankly he saw very little fruit for his labors in the large factory in which he worked and several years ago he moved on to another job. Recently he received a call from a former coworker that worked with him 13 years ago. This worker had received the Lord and called to tell Tom of the impact he had had on his life thirteen years ago. Now Tom does not recall this man showing any particular interest in spiritual things at the time. This illustrates a spiritual truth, "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up". So stay faithful out there in your witness for Christ. For more information on this subject please visit us on the web at: www.dailyencouragement.net
Hello this is Stephen C. Weber with the Daily Encouragement Net workplace minute. One of the great places for ministry is where God has providentially and strategically placed you to work. Here in America virtually everyone is in near proximity to another Christian in the workplace. What a powerful force as believers let the light of Christ shine through them in an authentic expression of their faith in word and deed. Yet so many tend to compartmentalize their faith, essentially practicing a Sunday only religion. But the apostle Paul wrote a great verse directed to believers in a workplace context, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (Colossians 3:23). Let me encourage you to actively live out your faith at work. For more information on this subject please visit us on the web at: www.dailyencouragement.net
Hello this is Stephen C. Weber with the Daily Encouragement Net workplace minute. Effective evangelism and ministry requires both a consistent walk and a clear talk. This is especially true in workplace ministry where people see us many hours throughout the week. So often it seems there is an attempt to have one without the other. Consider how workplace ministry differs from other types of ministry within the church or to a prison or even out on the streets. In most ministry contexts we can put on the ministry hat for the task at hand. In workplace ministry a consistent walk is absolutely vital. How often a poor lifestyle witness has hindered the cause of Christ. Paul’s counsel to the Philippian believers is so needed today. "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." Are you conducting yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ? For more information on this subject please visit us on the web at: www.dailyencouragement.net
Hello this is Stephen C. Weber with the Daily Encouragement Net workplace minute. Effective evangelism and ministry requires a clear talk. In workplace ministry a clear talk is also vital. The observation of one’s lifestyle, however godly, will not save anyone. In fact other religious and even non-religious expressions may present a commendable life. We must be capable and confident in expressing the truth claims of Jesus Christ. We must know what we believe and why we believe it. Peter challenged Christ’s followers to, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have". Answer translates the Greek word "apologia", from which we get the English word apologetics or the defense of the gospel. Indeed we need to be capable of verbally defending our faith and look for opportunities to do so. Faithful follower of Christ. Indeed let us walk our talk and talk our walk! For more information on this subject please visit us on the web at: www.dailyencouragement.net
Hello this is Stephen C. Weber with the Daily Encouragement Net workplace minute. I would like to focus on another caution that I believe needs to be underscored in workplace ministry. Don’t overly focus on your own local church. I certainly believe every Christian ought to be a part of a local church and certainly should not be ashamed of the local church they attend. But workplace evangelism should focus on Christ and the need for salvation. If your fellow employees sense you’re primarily trying to get them into your church they may back off. Certainly speak positively about your church (and don’t air its dirty laundry, which virtually every church has). But also speak well of other local churches and ministries that are proclaiming Christ’s truth. When earnest seeking begins or a decision is made you’ve laid the groundwork for a visit to your church if you’ve been enthusiastic and positive about it. For more information on this subject please visit us on the web at: www.dailyencouragement.net
Hello this is Stephen C. Weber with the Daily Encouragement Net workplace minute. I would like to focus on another caution that I believe needs to be underscored in workplace ministry. Don’t be argumentative. Certainly assertiveness and boldness are needed but an argumentative approach will rarely leads anyone to faith in Christ. If there is a belligerent attitude on the part of the one you’re witnessing to, back off, pray and let your light shine in other ways. They’ll be watching you. For more information on this subject please visit us on the web at: www.dailyencouragement.net
Hello this is Stephen C. Weber with the Daily Encouragement Net workplace minute. I would like to focus on another caution that I believe needs to be underscored in workplace ministry. Don’t major on minors such as doctrinal or cultural distinctives and other areas in which earnest Christians may not agree on. Focus on the fundamental need to repent of sin and turn to Christ for salvation. Remember that you are likely one of several that the Lord is using to impact this individual. I believe the church would be much more effective if we would leave the doctrinal differences for inhouse and focus on the fundamentals in evangelism! For more information on this subject please visit us on the web at: www.dailyencouragement.net
"For the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts" (1 Chronicles 28:9).
What motivates me? This thought recently occurred to me in my ministry. I also had to periodically examine my heart in this area when I served as a pastor. I believe the question is well before us in whatever type of ministry we are a part of. You are in ministry. God has providentially placed you in the little corner of His world you occupy. And He has placed others in that corner as well. You work around some of them. What motivates you?
Particularly for those of us in vocational service, we have a responsibility to our church or ministry to do a good job. In a sense we are compensated for practicing the following two motivations.
Stephen C. Weber
"Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ" (Philippians 1:27). "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (1 Peter 3:15).
Effective evangelism and ministry requires both a consistent walk and a clear talk. This is especially true in workplace ministry where people see us many hours throughout the week. So often it seems there is an attempt to have one without the other. Consider how workplace ministry differs from other types of ministry that may take us from church to church or to a prison or out on the streets. In most ministry contexts we can put on the ministry hat for the task at hand. (Not that we shouldn’t be wearing it all the time!)
In workplace ministry a consistent walk is vital. How often a poor lifestyle witness has hindered the cause of Christ. Paul’s counsel to the Philippian believers is so needed today. "Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ." Are you conducting yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ? Conduct translates "politeuomai" which means, "to behave as a citizen".
In workplace ministry a clear talk is also vital. The observation of one’s lifestyle, however godly, will not save anyone. In fact other religious and even non-religious expressions may present a commendable life. We must be capable and confident in expressing the truth claims of Jesus Christ. We must know what we believe and why we believe it. Peter challenged Christ’s followers to, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have". Answer translates the Greek word "apologia", from which we get the English word apologetics or the defense of the gospel. Indeed we need to be capable of verbally defending our faith and look for opportunities to do so.
Faithful follower of Christ. Indeed let us walk our talk and talk our walk!
Stephen C. Weber
“Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
Many reading this are geographically located where we were rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles this last weekend. Of course we that follow football know that story! However an interesting feature is that the outcome of the game had a direct business impact. Yes, indeed, snack food processors would have a had better sales if the Eagles would have made it to the Super Bowl.
The lesson we can learn from this is the importance of knowing the specific needs of companies and making that a matter of prayer. (Now admittedly the above illustration may not be the best examples. After all, it seems rather petty to pray for a particular team so that more chips might be sold.)
However each company faces particular challenges and these challenges impact each employee. Being aware of these problems and praying for them is part of the way we express our care. And as we show interest or give a word of encouragement this can be so reassuring that our expression of care is more than merely generic. But rather we are aware of the specific issues that particular company is facing.
Of course our care is primarily focused on the individual but we need to be mindful of the specific business challenges that companies face and make these a matter of prayer and interest.
Stephen C. Weber
“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved” (Acts 27:20).
In our work we deal with people going through all kinds of difficult circumstances in life. Since we work out in the secular world we need to use special sensitivity and await receptivity and openness as we seek opportunities to share Christ. I am confident that we all deeply believe Christ alone is the foundational component in the solution to any need we have.
I recently received a call from an individual I have befriended in the course of my work who is experiencing a very heavy blow in life. You have all talked to people like this I am sure. We talked for a few minutes and he shared with me that it seemed to him that his situation seemed hopeless. On the basis of the absolute integrity of God and His Word I assured him that there is hope. That’s one of the tremendous blessings of being a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The above Scripture text is the account of a horrific storm. Consider the phrase, “we gave up all hope of being saved.” What utter despair there must have been on that boat as even the experienced sailors recognized the severity of the situation. They, along with the chronicler Luke, who wrote the book of Acts, considered the situation hopeless. But Paul, who had earlier warned them not to take the journey, had a powerful word of hope and encouragement for the crew. No life would be lost, only the ship will be destroyed (27:22). And that’s exactly what happened.
Consider those you are ministering to who are in the midst of a severe storm. It may be a health crisis, a family meltdown or a financial catastrophe. In despair some surely sense, “it’s hopeless.” We go into the marketplace with this message. There is hope!
That’s our message. We can confidently assert it to each one we care for regardless of the apparent hopelessness of their situation. There is always hope, as we serve the God of hope. Brooksyne and I will pray as we send this message out and urge each one to receive it and then pass on this Biblical benediction to many others in our service. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13).
Stephen C. Weber
“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22).
My wife Brooksyne and I are both involved in ministry. Wherever you go, there are hurting people that we often find very receptive. Recently a lady whom Brooksyne had been reaching out to shared, “I think it’s wonderful what you and your husband do.” It’s always nice to hear an encouraging, appreciative word isn’t it?
But like any other form of ministry we do have some interesting moments and Brooksyne had quite an experience at a large company. I’ll let her tell it:
“I came upon a place where normally two women occupy the desks in an enclosed room. The room is secured so to gain entry one must knock on the door first. Peering through the glass in the door I observed that the first woman was not at her regular desk. At the second desk to the left of the door a woman was sitting with her hands resting on the desk. She was in uniform along with the required hair netting and safety glasses, so it was hard to identify her, although I knew it was not the usual woman who occupied the desk. Upon closer observation I noticed that her mouth was agape (really open!) and that her eyes were closed.
“I became concerned about knocking because I didn’t want to startle her or embarrass her by her knowing I saw her sleeping in such an unlovely position. I stood to the side of the door and knocked, hoping to give her time to rally herself to a wakeful position and answer as though she’d not been sleeping. There was no response so I peeked through the window again. This time I became really concerned considering this woman was actually dying or was already dead, as I could not detect any movement whatsoever. Now I was in a dilemma for I felt that I must get help, but I would feel foolish if she was just asleep.
“At that point another employee saw me and asked me if something was wrong. I nervously told her I was afraid this woman was in trouble, so she peered through the glass. With a chuckle she looked at me and said, “She’s a dummy we use to practice CPR.” Imagine how foolish I felt! I’m sure that story will circulate in that company and it had already reached the office building by the time I returned.”
Two lessons in the story:
1) Really care. When I shared this story with the HR director she noted that it really showed the my heart!
2) Make every effort to have some type of interface by greeting and speaking to each employee.
Stephen C. Weber
I have an old-order Mennonite businessman that is a friend. I visited with him and he was interested in sharing with me about his faith background and I was sure interested in learning more. Generally the “Plain” people are rather private about their religious practices.
Among other distinguishing practices he does not believe in owning a motor driven car and pays a driver to take him to work each day, which is about 30 miles. While at work he gets around on a bicycle. However he uses a horse and buggy when he’s in his own vicinity and to get to his own church.
He was telling me that his group used to grow tobacco and use it freely without any conviction problems until the adverse health issues were known. He recalls as a child the men would smoke big cigars on the way to church and then stick the half-smoked cigar in the spokes of the buggy while in church only to resume to smoke the same cigar when they got out. They would also put a big wad of chewing tobacco they had been chewing on the post where they hitched the horse. They stored it on the post while in church and resumed chewing on the same wad when they got back out!
Well, every group has their practical jokers. It just happens that a wad of partially chewed tobacco looks like the deposits the horse make (do you get the picture?) So the practical joker would just make a little switcheroo and replace the partially chewed tobacco with the horse droppings. My businessman friend told me he indeed recalled of times when unsuspecting men put the replaced item in their mouths!
Two lessons in the story:
Stephen C. Weber
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
There is a song I've enjoyed lately with a recurring phrase "It's gonna be worth it." That's something we need to really hide in our hearts. We may at times wonder if our service is really making any difference.
One of my favorite movies of all time is the holiday classic called, “It’s A Wonderful Life”. I hope you have all seen it. George Bailey is discouraged and considering suicide. Due to his Uncle’s forgetfulness the accounts come up short and he goes to mean old Henry Potter for help. Potter notes the cash value of his life insurance policy and says to George, “You’re worth more dead than alive." Clarence, an angel that was sent to help George, jumps into an icy river knowing that George will jump in to save him. After the rescue Clarence grants George’s wish that he had never been born. As they go back into Bedford Falls (now Pottersville) George sees how different things were since he hadn’t been born. His life had made a tremendous difference. Clarence tells him it’s amazing how each life touches so many others. I believe that’s true.
Those of us living for Christ are called to impact the world around us for His cause. As husbands and wives are to demonstrate unity in our love for one another. As parents are to raise our children in the training and instruction of the Lord. As ministers we are to “preach the word”. We are right out there in the midst of a hurting world. Like George Bailey, at times we may wonder if we really are making any difference. We have faithfully “preached the Word”, and demonstrated the care of Christ, yet have seen little response and receptiveness.
The perspective we must have is the future harvest promised in Galatians 6:9. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” We do at times become weary in doing good, don’t we? At times our service just doesn’t seem to making much difference as far as we can see. But what power in that middle clause, “at the proper time we will reap a harvest." That “proper time” (“due season” in the KJV) will most assuredly come and it will be worth it all. Don’t give up, you’re life lived for Christ is making a difference.
Stephen C. Weber
"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers" (1 Timothy 4:16).
Consider with me the last phrase in this verse. On the surface it seems to contradict other Pauline teaching regarding salvation. We all know we don’t save ourselves. That’s fundamental theology. We know we’re saved by God’s grace. But (regardless of standard version) that’s not what Paul seems to be saying here in our daily verse. So what does he mean? Let’s take his words seriously even though they may make us think a bit.
A standard safety announcement on commercial flights has to do with the oxygen masks. The flight attendant explains to place the mask on yourself first, then any children that are with you. Initially this seems to be contrary to the "others first" ethic. However, it’s altogether proper. By assuring that you stay conscience you’re able to help those around you who may be unable to place the masks on by themselves.
I believe that’s the focus of this verse spiritually. We must stay spiritual fit to faithfully influence for Christ and eternity. We’ve all seen examples of those that don’t and it’s effect not only on them but also on those around them. When a minister fails many are affected.
Staying spiritually fit is a daily endeavor. A rich experience at a Promisekeepers rally, Minister’s Conference or other special function may very well be a part of our spiritual mosaic, but real fitness is a result of our day by day walk with Christ. Are you staying fit?
Let’s thus watch our life and doctrine closely. What a scandal when a minister fails to keep the faith and commitment to the call. "God, help us to persevere today!"
Stephen C. Weber
"Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" (Hebrews 12:1b).
This week let me take the opportunity to encourage my fellow believers. On Monday I spoke to one of you who is going through a particularly challenging time. We in ministry know that we are certainly not immune to discouragement!
This last Monday was the 107th running of the Boston Marathon. When we lived in New England we had several opportunities to attend the Marathon. I ran competitively while in high school and have appreciated several Scripture references that use the race as a symbol of the Christian life such as the portion I quote above.
I last attended the marathon in April 2000 when we purposefully viewed the race from “Heartbreak Hill.” This hill is not particularly steep, but comes at a psychologically difficult time, for the gentle grade wears at the weary runners. We were there about an hour before the first race participants came through.
The first contestants were not runners, but wheelchairs, who had a fifteen-minute head start from the runners. The hill was a particular challenge to these superb athletes and the grimaces were very apparent as they lowered their heads and gave it all they had to make the grade. The din of crowd rises as each one comes through encouraging them to keep on going. One was so weary the chair started to roll backwards and what a thrill to see him regroup and surge forward at the shouts of encouragement from the crowd. Brooksyne and I both had tears in our eyes as several of them acknowledged a pained expression of appreciation.
The first runners were a group of Kenyans who hardly even looked tired! We stayed at our place for about an hour and then walked back to the city along the course for over a mile. By this time there was a steady stream of runners, which continued all through the afternoon. The crowds of spectators got even larger as we walked along closer to the city and I find it remarkable that these runners had the benefit of shouting encouragers virtually the entire marathon course! The cheers are non-discriminating and merely urge the runners to keep on going.
Here’s a spiritual application for spiritual runners, who join me in "running with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Encouragement is vital and we can all encourage our fellow runners. The spectators at the Boston marathon virtually all had no motivation except cheering on a fellow human being attempting to reach a tremendous goal; that of finishing a marathon. Only a relative tiny handful of the elite runners had a realistic chance at actually winning the race in each class. The goal of most of the 18,000 was to merely finish. In this Christian race there is no single winner, but we desire that all of our fellow runners make it to the finish and encourage them as we run along and we ourselves receive mutual encouragement.
At the crest of heartbreak hill the runners get their first glimpse of the stunning Boston skyline where the finish line is. One encourager’s sign read, "Heartbreak is over, you’re on your way home". What a powerful spiritual reality. So often at the crest of our own spiritual heartbreak hills we also get a glimpse of the finish line. Following the call to "run with perseverance the race marked out for us" Hebrews 12 goes on to say, "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus" (v. 2). He’s the ultimate sign of our finish!
Keep running today my friend; you’re on your way home!
Stephen C. Weber
“Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
I am on the Lancaster County National Day of Prayer Task Force and we had a wonderful Day of Prayer last Thursday. I hosted a tent encouraging prayer for that part of the world so many of us live in dealing with our work. I have a deep conviction that this is so often an area where believers fail to appropriately express and live out their faith. I feel this is true regardless of whether one is a business owner/leader or an employee. I developed a succinct prayer guide to assist participants in focusing their prayer.
* Wisdom in making right decisions.
* Strength & courage to act in integrity, often against the tide.
* Reflecting Christ in the manner in which the business is operated.
* Justness in treatment to employees.
* Commitment to a Biblically-based work ethic.
* Expressing their Christian faith in maintaining a good testimony both in word and deed.
* Opportunities for specific presentations of the Gospel.
* A commitment to proper priorities in regard to God, family and work. *
In expressing the "righteousness that exalts a nation" it's vital that the teachings and standards of the Scriptures impact every area of our life, including our work! Truly we need "righteousness at work."
Stephen C. Weber
We've sure been getting a lot of rain here in South Central Pennsylvania. But as I prepare to send this newsletter Wednesday evening the sun is shining!
Brooksyne and I enjoy gardening and lawn work and this reminds me of several spiritual principles. Certainly our Lord Jesus often used agricultural analogies to illustrate spiritual realities. Perhaps one of His most famous teachings along this line is the parable of the sower found in all three synoptic Gospels. Anyone who has done any type of gardening or farming can easily understand the physical part of this teaching. By God’s Spirit we can understand the spiritual part.
Our goal in gardening is an abundant harvest. We have tomatoes, green peppers, onions and my favorite, cilantro. At this point they are but tiny plants, but we believe we are going to have fruit for our labors! With proper care these tiny plants will grow and we’ll enjoy the increase. Let me share three Scriptural principles that can be applied in our work for Christ.
1) “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness on you” (Hosea 10:12). Prior to planting our garden we had to prepare the ground for the sowing. This is quite a job with no immediate reward. It’s the same in our own lives and ministry. Much of what we sow now in righteousness will not result in a harvest for some indefinite time. However, the preparation of the soil in our lives and that of others is absolutely essential. How our hearts can become cold and hard! We need to regularly pray, “Soften my heart, Lord, soften my heart; from all indifference set me apart.”
2) “Remember that the person who plants few seeds will have a small crop; the one who plants many seeds will have a large crop” (II Corinthians 9:6). We are seeking to use a relatively small part of our yard to its maximum by planting many seeds and yielding a large crop. In the spiritual, Paul is specifically speaking of our financial resources, but the principle applies to all we give to God. A more traditional version of the above verse reads “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, he who sows generously will also reap generously.” May God help us all to be generous with our lives and His promise is that we will reap an abundant harvest.
3) “Some of the seed fell among weeds which grew up and choked the plants” (Matthew l3:7). Jesus explained this dynamic by elaborating “The seeds that fell among the weeds stand for those who hear the message, but the worries about this life and the love for riches choke the message and they don’t bear fruit” (Matthew 13:22). I don’t know about you, but I hate weeding! However, a good harvest requires regular weeding. It’s the same way in our own lives. We must regularly tend to our spiritual nature and take care of the inevitable weeds by confessing our sin to God, repenting and committing to a lifestyle of obedience to God’s Holy Scripture.
I am looking forward to a good harvest of homegrown vegetables. Perhaps you have a garden and also anticipate tasty "fruit for your labors." However, of much more importance is the fruit of the Spirit developing in our lives and passing that on to others in our ministry. By applying the above principles we can do our part to see this fruit develop!
Stephen C. Weber
“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Philippians 1:23).
In the last several weeks two Christian leaders, whom many of us have benefited from, have gone on to be with the Lord. Larry Burkett, who had a ministry especially focusing on godly stewardship died earlier this month. Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ, died this last Saturday. He had a significant influence in my life since I received much of my early Christian discipling through this ministry.
These men indeed fought the good fight, finished the race and kept the faith. I have been so blessed by their faithful service to our Lord. Bill Bright shared some interesting perspectives when he knew the time of his departure from this life was near. “The most important moment in anyone’s life as a believer is the last breath because the next breath is in heaven. To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. A Christian can't lose, if we live, we go on serving Him. That's an adventure. If we die, we're in heaven with Him, and that's incredible."
All who serve the Lord need to keep this perspective. However one aspect of our work is that in many cases we see people when they are doing relatively well in life. They are not ill as in hospital chaplaincy, imprisoned as in prison chaplaincy or the unique phase of life that most military chaplains deal with. Surely we presume (and certainly hope) that most who come to church have some type of spiritual interest, but this is not necessarily the case in the workplace. The focus is on the “now” and the “now” may just be pretty good.
The Apostle Paul’s perspective on life and death expressed briefly in the daily Scripture verses is so liberating. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” After his conversion on the Damascus road he had experienced the great joy of living for Christ. It wasn’t by any means an easy life but many millions since have testified to the joy of serving the living Christ. Indeed, “life is worth the living just because He lives.”
Yet Paul realized “to die is gain.” The word translated “gain” has the sense of advantage. In fact a few verses later Paul says, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far” (Phil. 1:23). Several years later Paul, knowing his time was near, writes “the time has come for my departure” in his final letter to Timothy. What a solid resignation of assurance I see in these words as he faced the martyr’s death, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7).
Today, what a joy it is to follow Christ and to have a deep, abiding assurance of His steadfast, unfailing love. And when the time comes for our departure we indeed “gain" and are better by far!
Stephen C. Weber
"I have finished the race" (2 Timothy 4:7).
I listened to some of Bill Bright’s Memorial Service. (Bill Bright was the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ and had a long, faithful ministry for our Lord.) The service began with a powerful song that I had never heard before. One line in the song especially grips my heart. It seems to be written from the perspective of a life drawing to a close.
Now the shadow is long.
And the race is near the end.
Yet the years I share with you have just begun.
I desire to finish well.
For I’ve always longed to hear from you.
The words from your own lips.
“My friend, well done.” *
Recently I shared a sermon which expounds on the Apostle Paul’s final written words recorded in 2 Timothy 4. In this passage Paul knew the time of his departure was imminent and lists three retrospective assurances he had as he looked back on his life.
1) “I have fought the good fight.”
2) “I have finished the race.”
3) “I have kept the faith.”
Today all of us who have placed our faith in Christ are running the race. Some of us are just beginning, others have been on the journey for a while and still others know that the time of departure is near. Let us all with renewed determination commit to faithfully serving our Lord and finishing well!
Stephen C. Weber
We are part of a great team in seeking to impact the Kingdom of God. We are just one component, although a very important one, as we seek to let Christ’s light shine in the Marketplace.
A friend told me of visiting with another employee whose son is in jail. She was very distressed and wanted someone to visit him. Of course we can make jail visits but they are very time consuming. Just going through the security process can take hours. I have a friend who is a chaplain at the jail. I called him and he told me he would contact another chaplain to make the call. This was a good use of resources and of course the jail chaplain will be able to make regular follow-up calls. He can develop an ongoing relationship with the young man.
Do not see opportunities to refer or pass off care as inadequate. Often I believe that is just what we should do. Foundationally I believe if we can get people connected to a local church and under the care of a faith-filled, Bible-preaching, Christ-honoring pastor we are fulfilling God’s order. That’s where they will make the additional connections that lead to stability and growth. I appreciate that a note on the witnessing report has to do with our influence in this regard. It’s great to see activity in this area!
In pastoral ministry we tend to measure results by seeing people we influence coming to our church. We can have expectations for growth imposed on us by boards and denominational officials. We may tend to see our effectiveness in ministry and “success” based on the people we get into our church. I suppose this is inevitable and it’s a wonderful thing to have a growing church but we can forget what it’s all about, and that is building God’s Kingdom.
As you make develop relationships see your role as a referrer. That doesn’t mean that you won’t continue to have an influence or at times have ministry opportunities. But it sure means that we must see ourselves as no less effective when our role was merely pointing them to or facilitating care by others.
Stephen C. Weber
When I first moved to Lancaster County from New England I made a lot of visits and had the potential of meeting several thousand people all at once. That was very challenging as I really had a hard time in my mid forties getting to know about all these people, particularly having only the short interfaces typical of worksite visits. But I sure tried.
I recall meeting one lady in particular who had come back to work following open heart surgery. I showed interest and inquired about her progress periodically in follow-up visits. I never recall necessarily having a substantive discussion with her. I lost regular contact with many of the folks I initially regularly saw, including the above employee. However it happens that this is one of the places my wife, Brooksyne regularly visits. Last year when I had my health trial this employee took a special interest in my well-being and regularly asked Brooksyne about me. She told Brooksyne she would sure like to see me stop by.
I had the opportunity to so and stopped in to greet her. She greeted me like a long lost Uncle and again expressed interest as to how I was doing. We chatted for a few minutes and I thanked her for being so caring.
In today’s fast paced world so many of our encounters with others are brief. It may seem like that we can make no difference in such a situation, but that is mistaken. Even the briefest expression of genuine care in Christ’s Name can have an impact. Expressing care is a means of authenticating our interest and follow-up is so important.
Several recent examples from my ministry:
· A man shared with me regarding his youth ministry in a storefront church. I asked him where the church was, as I would like to drive by and pray for his ministry. He told me and I did. In another visit I was able to encourage him by letting him know I had done so.
· A lady who had broke her leg playing volleyball. Follow-up visits with a brief inquiry as to how she was doing.
· A man whose grandson had been in an accident.
In whatever way you serve look for opportunities to share care and follow-up. It’s virtually always appreciated! Then the verbal witness of your faith will have a much more effective impact.
Stephen C. Weber