All posts in Faith at Work

Elizabeth’s Story: Living Life As A Blend

As we continue our story series, I’m pleased to introduce you to a fellow author and working mom, Elizabeth Knox.  Elizabeth just released her first book, Faith Powered Profession, and she has a deep passion for helping us connect our spiritual values with our work. 

Elizabeth, please introduce yourself (and tell us the many hats you wear).

I’m a wife, new mom, daughter, sister, friend, first-time author, part-time program manager, slow runner, 4-season-loving gal. I have made Washington, D.C., my home for the last 10 years.

What key events have marked your journey?

I grew up in rural northeastern Pennsylvania – gorgeous rolling green mountains, with wonderful parents and siblings. When I graduated from high school at 17, I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to study in college. I decided to delay college for one year and I repeated the 12th grade as a Rotary Exchange student in Khon Kaen, Thailand. (At several points during my childhood we hosted exchange students so I had been introduced to the concept from a young age.) It was an amazing experience, and while I was there — in a 95% Buddhist country — I met missionaries and became a Christian.

At the end of that school year, I returned to the U.S., and spent my freshman year of college at a small university in Pennsylvania. For my sophomore year I did a National Student Exchange to the University of New Mexico (like spending a semester studying abroad, only at another school in the US). I liked it so much that I stayed! I made great friends and received a great education, but it also confirmed that I love the East Coast. So I spent a year working in my hometown and getting to know my parents as an adult, and then I attended the Maxwell School at Syracuse University to earn my masters in public administration.

I moved to D.C. right after graduate school and started working in the Defense field. After 5 years here, I saw a tall, handsome Texan at a party. We started chatting he offered to drive me the three blocks home. We sat in his car and talked ‘til the wee hours of the morning. We have been married for three years, and about 10 months ago we had our first child – a little boy who is an absolute delight!

I also have a passion for professional Christian women. Several friends and I were trying to figure out how to deal with challenging situations at work and stay true to our faith. I couldn’t find many resources on that subject at the time, so I thought about writing a book. I tested the ideas out as a Bible study with other professional women at my church, and when it worked well, I started writing. The book – which was just an idea four years ago – was just released on September 1st!

How do you integrate your faith, home, and work?

I try to remember every day that my “job” is to glorify God. Being a wife, mom, and a working professional are some of the ways to do that. And glorifying God is my motivation to do each area well. 

I try to live my life as a blend, realizing that each part of my life – my faith, my family, my job, my hobbies – all influence one another. Things I practice in one area are transferrable to another: leading a team at work and leading a small group at church use similar skills, the daily discipline of reading and studying the Bible is applicable to the discipline required to prepare for a race. Loving my family well means doing my job well. If one area is suffering, it’s not too long before other areas start feeling the strain. It motivates me to prioritize my faith, my family, my job, and my health.

What is the best advice you have ever received? 

My Great Uncle Red has been the source of some really good advice:

  • Never judge anyone by his or her first impression, but always make a good one yourself.
  • Know how to give a really solid handshake.

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Thanks Elizabeth for sharing your story!  To connect with Elizabeth, you can visit her blog  and order your own copy of Faith Powered Profession: A Women’s Guide to Living with Faith and Values in the Workplace.  (We’ll be talking more about this book in the coming months!)

Does Elizabeth’s story strike a powerful or familiar chord?  If so, please let her know.

Working Moms: Time To Dump The “To Do” List?

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Most of us have a “to-do” list.  It’s a list that consumes every minute of our day.  A list that keeps growing.  A list that never gets done.

Unfortunately, our daily “to do” list can prevent us from establishing two lists essential to our growth and sanity:

  • A “refuse to do” list.
  • A “wish” list.

In Powered By Happy, Author Beth Thomas encourages us to make these lists a priority.

1 – The “refuse to do” list 

Let’s face it, most of us get roped into things we really don’t need to do. 

When I first considered developing a “refuse to do” list I was pretty excited.  Writing it down can be even more empowering.  Here are a few items on my (growing) list:

I will not grocery shop on a Friday evening.  Our refrigerator is always empty on Friday nights.  Although I love to cook and equally love to eat, the grocery store is always a circus on Friday evening – something I’ve learned to avoid after a long week.

I will not make my children’s beds or pick up their rooms during the work week. I am not a talented task master.  But holding my kids to a list of “chores” during the work week has made life easier for me and my family.

I will not travel the day before a holiday weekend.  I have gotten stuck in too many airports. Unless it’s absolutely essential, I’m working in town before a holiday weekend.

2 – The “wish” list

We can’t spend all of our time focusing on what we won’t do.  We need to move on to more important things.  Like the wish list. Every author or leader I admire encourages us to dream.  And dream big!

Like some of you, I’ve been reading Lean In by Sheryl Sanberg.  Sanberg encourages women to have both an 18-month plan and a long-term goal. 

I appreciate this two-tiered approach.  While I’m a big fan of chasing dreams – and writing them down – we need short-term, realistic goals to move us in the right direction.  While one year is often too short, two years can feel like a really long time.  So I’ve decided to take Sanberg’s advice and tackle a few 18-month goals.

For example, I plan  to have a video series in place for Working Women of the Bible in the next 18 months.  It’s not going to happen overnight, but 18 months is within reach.  As important, I’m keeping a healthy “wish list” that I continue to revisit.

No, I haven’t dumped my daily “to do” list.  But it no longer consumes me.

What about you?  Have you ever made a “refuse to do” list?  A “wish” list?  If not, what’s stopping you? 

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Looking for a Mother’s Day gift?

Work, Love, Pray (by executive Diane Paddison), Working Women of the Bible, and Chasing Superwoman are currently selling as a bundle on Amazon!

Is There a Scrooge In Your Office?

 

Scrooge is alive and well in the workplace.

No, I’m not talking about an old man who is screwing the workers out of holiday bonuses.  I’m not talking about a boss who forces everyone to work on Christmas Eve.  And I’m not talking about a cheapskate who won’t spring for a holiday gift.

Scrooge is much more subtle.   Care to take a look?

The Ghost of Christmas Past

Remember the days when we looked forward to the “after-work” holiday party?  We even drew names for a “Secret Santa” and brought homemade cookies?   But somewhere along the line, everyone started buying gift cards and bringing store-bought cookies, and some people actually expected to get “paid” for staying after work.  And Santa got a bad wrap because he bought a few inappropriate gifts and had too much eggnog. 

Unfortunately, office holiday parties are not like Vegas.  What happens at the holiday party doesn’t stay at the holiday party.  It remains workplace legend for years and years to come.

So we canned the “after hours” holiday party.

The Ghost of Christmas Present

Welcome to the holiday lunch.  Scrooge may even host the lunch and spring for a few gift cards.  He’s just glued to his cell phone during the festivities because he has “more important” things to do.  The menu is preset, there is no mess or clean-up, and the lunch fits nicely into a 60-minute calendar invite on Outlook.  (Ok, maybe 90 minutes, but who’s counting?) 

The great thing about the holiday lunch?  We already spend too much time at work – so who wants to hang out with our coworkers after hours?  We can check the holiday party off the “list” while keeping our colleagues arms length.  And everyone gets a Starbucks card instead of a gift – because we need more caffeine to keep us productive at work!

The Ghost of Christmas Future

Holiday gatherings at work are for people who don’t have enough to do.  Forget the lunch.  Forget the gift cards.  Everyone just wants CASH!  It’s bad enough that people have to work together.  Why fake the good will? 

Christmas cheer should be reserved for our personal lives.  Who needs the jingle jangle at work?  Holiday parties decrease productivity, create tension, and just add to the stress of the season.  We’ve already had too much to eat and drink since Thanksgiving.  Just let everyone off work an hour early in lieu of the holiday lunch, and send them to the treadmill! 

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I for one am not prepared to usher in the Ghost of Christmas Future!  I’m not saying it’s easy to counter Scrooge, but let’s at least recognize what he’s up to and be intentional about sharing the joy of Christmas at work. 

Is Scrooge making his way into your workplace this year?  And, more importantly, what are you going to do about it?

[Looking for ways to share Christmas with your co-workers?  Check out Diane Paddison’s post here.]

Waiting For A Promotion: King David Can Relate

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Waiting for a promotion isn’t very fun, is it?  Especially when you’re overqualified, underappreciated, and downright stuck.  How many years does the average worker wait for a justified promotion?  5 years?  10 years?  More?

What if you were appointed to CEO today.  But then, you learned that you had to work in the mail room for 15 years and wait!  It would be a bit frustrating, wouldn’t it?  Especially if you had the skill, desire, and passion to lead right now!

Meet King David, arguably the greatest king to rule over Israel.   Yep, he can relate.

Did you know that David waited 15 years from the time the prophet Samuel anointed  him as King until the time he took the throne? 

King David can teach us a few things about delayed gratification and raw leadership.

To start, no one thought David was qualified to be a king.   His own family didn’t inspire confidence or even think he was worthy to be considered for the job.  When the prophet Samuel asked Jessie to line up his sons, Jessie didn’t even include David in the line up!  In other words, it didn’t even enter his mind that his son David could be a contender, let alone chosen King.

When David prepares to fight Goliath, his oldest brother, Eliab, mocks him, scolds him for leaving his sheep, and accuses him of being a conceited “battle watcher.”  “I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

King Saul likewise doubts David’s strength:  “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

But David doesn’t care what they think.  He cares about what God thinks.  And he shows these skeptics how to slay a giant.

So after David wins the battle and defeats the Philistines, does he take over as King?  Does he a least become King Saul’s deputy?

Hardly.  He becomes a fugative and is forced into hiding.  To wait.  (So much for royalty and fancy meals.  It’s time to sleep in caves and eat stale bread!)

During this time, David models leadership in training.  It’s called active waiting.   He doesn’t stomp around and pout.  He doesn’t try to overthrow King Saul.  He doesn’t leave the country in search of a new kingdom to rule.  Instead, he gathers his supporters.  He fights. He prays.  He respects the current leadership and refuses to take King Saul’s life, even as Saul plots to kill him.

David continues to wait– he doesn’t force God’s hand or try to manipulate circumstances – until the path is clear to lead.  Sometimes, his “waiting” is nothing more than survival, yet he refuses to throw in the towel and walk away from his destiny.  He knows God has called him to be King.

And after 15 years of active waiting, David finally takes the throne. 

It’s a promotion long overdue!

What does active waiting look like in your life?  How does David’s example inspire you to hang on?

Fruit At Work, By Chris Evans

When you think about work, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?   I’ll have to admit, I don’t think about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.  Do you?

But that’s exactly what entrepreneur and business leader Chris Evans challenges us to do.  In his new book, Fruit at Work:  Mixing Christian Virtues With Business, Evans takes on our modern-day struggle with dualism —  challenging our subtle yet pervasive belief that our spiritual lives and Christian virtues don’t apply to our daily work and business ethics.

With grace and authenticity, Fruit At Work validates a simple hypothesis:  the “fruit of the Spirit” (or lack thereof) shapes our daily work.  Fruit At Work is premised on Galatians 5:22-23, and each chapter is dedicated to a fruit of the Spirit, offering practical examples and workable solutions to our modern-day dilemmas.  For example, in his chapter on patience, Evans talks about the legitimate need to “vent” at work  – but he also advises his readers, “If you decide to write an email to vent some frustration, DON’T ADDRESS THE EMAIL WHILE YOU’RE WRITING IT or one mouse click late at night could unintentionally send your message on to its recipient!”

Fruit At Work isn’t “preachy” or self-righteous, something I personally appreciate about Evans’ writing.  To the contrary, he talks about his personal journey with humility, particularly in his chapter on gentleness.  Evans shares about his difficult decision to walk away from a successful business. “Now I was just another guy who got fired.”  Yet he learned much about his true identity in the process, producing lasting gentleness – a vital fruit of the Spirit.

Evans also helps us answer the question “why” – why do our personal virtues even matter at work?   (I recently wrote about this very topic — Does Your Personal Life Mater At Work — at The High Calling.) Evans devotes an entire chapter to trust – which he defines as “relational currency.”  We can spend, earn, bank, lend, and trade trust.   Without trust, we are useless in our workplaces.  Evans goes so far as to say that trust is the single most important skill an entrepreneur needs to be successful – something I had never considered fully.  “Now, I’m convinced what an entrepreneur (and just about anyone else) needs most to succeed in business is the ability to manage trust well.”

Thanks Chris for a great book!

[Many thanks to Lanphier Press for a review copy.]

So, what virtues come to mind when you think about WORK?