Wondering how God defines a successful businessman, husband and father? Join Todd Wagner for the first in a 4-part series on what makes a real man.
Real Men and Their Sons
Real Men and Their Daughters
Real Men and Their Wives
Real Men and Their Work
Good morning, guys. This is The Real Men's Club, part 2: what a real man does and how he relates to the world he's in. We did spend some time last year talking about the things in our world and society that are challenging us and hindering us experiencing life as we were designed to experience and lead out as men. That absent or abusive father wound is one that haunts a lot of guys. We dealt with that in depth.
That really is the basis for where we're launching off today. We're going to take a look in these next four weeks at… Really, take a look the next two weeks and then give you an opportunity the two after that. This week, we're going to look at a real man and work and what a perspective that a guy who has overcome society's shove and push and the things that hinder us from living life as we should as men…
What it looks like when that kind of guy overcomes an abusive or absent daddy and how that can drive us and motivate us, what a guy who's on top of some of that should look like in relationship to work. If you would humor me by letting me pray for us, I'll do that, and then we'll dive in and get us on our way on time.
Father, we are grateful that we can gather like this and take a look at what you have to say about how we should view work, this thing that is unavoidable in all of our lives. Just teach us, instruct us about what our view of it and our response to it should be and how we handle the frustrations of it. We just pray that we'd encourage each other today wherever we're at in our process, that we would be real men.
In other words, that we would really live with all of the challenges this world faces us with in the way you intended us to so we might experience the life you have called us out of darkness into for our good and your glory. We pray that that would happen. I thank you for these guys, Lord, your work in their life in such a way that they would at least come and consider these things together with us this morning. We're grateful for them and we're grateful for you and the opportunity we have to learn from you now, amen.
Let's start by acknowledging this: work is not a curse. I know a lot of us think it is, but it's what we do because of who we are. Work is something that was originally there in God's design. In Genesis, chapter 1, right from the very beginning, it says:
"'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, ' [This is what I want you to do.] Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, [rule over it] and subdue it…'" Basically, "Manage this world in the same way I manage all of the universe."
Part of being made in the image of God is that we are stewards of responsibility. We are sovereign over something, and we have a responsibility for something. If you happen to be an individual who works out there right now as a rancher or as a farmer… Not very many guys in this room are. There are a few landscape architects I know are in here, different folks who work on the land and over it and things like that. That's the original profession.
We all talk about what the oldest profession is, but that's not true. The oldest profession are guys who worked the land and had a responsibility and a stewardship over it. Now, as our land has evolved, if you will, and become "civilized," there are different jobs and responsibilities we've also embraced, but we need to remember work is not a curse. It's not something we do because we are cursed.
In fact, what's interesting… If you go back and look at the original language, Hebrew, the word abodah is the Hebrew root word that forms the word work and also the word worship. In other words, how we live our lives in relationship to our responsibility, our vocation, if you will, can be seen as a part of who we are, made in the image of God, and God wants us to live and walk in his image. As we do that, that is a form of worship. I'm talking Worship with a capital W, not the small worship that many of us think of that involves a Sunday morning time or activity.
Work is not a curse; it's part of who we are and what we do. You can see there in Genesis 2:15, "Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it." The reason that's important is because if you know your Bible at all, it's not until Genesis 3 that there is this issue that enters into the world called rebellion, where men said, "You know what? I'm going to live and work the way I want to live and work, disregarding the way God told me I should live and work in relationship with him."
You'll see that we have been given responsibility and a work long before sin came into the world. This is not a sentence; this is a part of who we are, and how we are going to respond to this opportunity or this responsibility determines whether we're real men or not, the men we were created to be or not. In fact, let me show you one other thing. Not only is work not a curse, but there are certain Scriptures that tell you that if you don't work like you should, you are, in fact, a cursed man.
Look at what it says in 2 Thessalonians 3:10. Paul writes, "For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either." This is important. Individuals who are not willing to work… What we have developed in America is very much an entitlement society where it's others' responsibility to make sure you eat, that you're given shelter and clothing, whether you can work or not, and that's a problem. That creates all kinds of problems in society, many of which are thick in our culture.
Now, there are certain people, because of disease or disability or other issues, who are not able to work, and it is the job of a compassionate, loving, just, kind, God-informed people to provide food, shelter, and clothing for those individuals, but just because somebody says they don't want to work doesn't mean we should make sure they have food, clothing, and shelter.
In fact, the Scripture said, "Let their stomach work for them." Let their hunger inform their sluggard's way of life and drive them to a place where they are disciplined by their circumstance if they won't be informed by wisdom. So, work isn't a curse. Work is a privilege, a responsibility, and an opportunity, but what we do with that is what takes us away from our core and maybe sometimes pushes us to a place of crisis.
Let me just say this as we start. Because work is related to worship in the original languages, it tells us a lot about who we are. The way we work says a lot about who we worship. How we lead and serve at work says a lot about who leads us and who ultimately it is we serve. I'm trying to give you this morning a theology of work, if you will, an informed study of what God says about work, and we're going to look at how we're doing in light of this.
Some of us are probably more comfortable with that previous meaning, though it's obviously hyperbole and over-the-top exaggeration in terms of the way we view work (and some of us are trying to find our meaning through work) than the way God wants us to find work. But how we lead at work or how we work at work and serve others at work says a ton about who we say God is and what his Word has to do in our lives.
Work is worthy of our very best. There are too many times that there are individuals who, because they think they're spiritually minded, treat their particular vocation or their particular job as less important than maybe what they think is going on in their areas of spiritual leadership and influence, sometimes even spiritual service. They are people who, it has been well said, are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good. May it never be.
You can be doggone sure, one guy said, that there were no crooked chairs, if you will, coming out of that carpenter's shop in Nazareth. I see my buddy Brad over there. He's a builder, and because of Brad's relationship with the Lord, he ought to build the best houses in town, because the way he goes about his work should reflect his understanding of his stewardship of giftedness and opportunity to serve other people as he is employed by them to put them in a structure that is what he said it was going to be.
I see my friend Fred out there who's a doctor. The way Fred cares for people should not just be to run them through like cattle so he can fight the insurance companies and get $10 from them, but Fred ought to care for those folks and treat them as individuals if he's responding rightly to who God says he is. The way we serve people at work, the way we lead people and employ people at work, says a lot about, ultimately, how we view people and whether or not how we view people is informed by how God views people.
You can see what it says in Colossians 3:23-24. "Work [hard and cheerfully] at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people." Because you are. "Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ." His point there is "Listen. Don't be somebody who is only going to work hard when you're being watched, as if you work only for those who are supervising you and paying you. That's not who you're working for."
Humanly speaking it is, but ultimately, your Master is somebody who's always with you, always aware of what's going on, and will always reward you when you live with the dignity and honor and integrity that a person who knows and loves God lives with. It has been well said that character is who you are when no one is looking. The way you work, the way you fill out your expense reports when you know they're not going to be audited, says a lot about who you think leads you and who it is you think you serve.
Men who are led by Christ ought to lead others as he leads us. There is a mindset out there that you take labor plus materials plus capital and that's what gives you produce. There are a lot of folks who will tell you that when you look at your company, your greatest resource is people, but what I will tell you is that God doesn't see people as resources; God sees people as people.
If you're an individual who's given stewardship over other folks and all you see them as is some factor in an equation, some resource, like finances or fuel, to be depreciated and dumped when you have an overflow of it, and you just factor folks into that as part of your equation to be productive and profitable, then you ought to question what's informing your leadership.
God doesn't see people as resources; God sees people as people he loves and cares for, people he has a desire to grow, people he has a desire to unleash to the maximum of their potential, to participate in a way that is significant in allowing them to contribute and develop meaning. When you think over how you're leading your organization, how you might lead your family, but specifically when you look at work…
When you would ask your employees how they enjoy where they are working, do they see themselves at a place where they can grow and develop? Do they see themselves as an individual who is contributing in a significant way to the team? Do they see themselves as people who are empowered to make decisions and make a difference or do you just tell them to shut up and do their job and you'll make the decisions, and you'll pay them the minimal amount you have to so you can advance your purposes?
What you want to do is look at the way God works with humanity. He doesn't tell us to find some little task that he's going to cram into our corner and make us do it. What God wants us to do is develop those to the maximum of our potential. Every single one of us has a unique design God wants to unlock in relationship with him and allow us to significantly contribute to significant things, to eternal things.
One of the things we're trying to do right here at Watermark is to make sure this is the best working environment anybody has ever had, and we have some major challenges toward that end. We'll talk about what some of those challenges are in a little bit, not the least of which are related to the fact that sometimes the folks who are leading us here don't lead like they love and serve Christ. Meaning, me.
At times, I can get to things where I'm just responding viscerally as opposed to in a spiritually informed way, and I have to go back at that moment and say, "Hey, I need to ask your forgiveness for the way I just handled that." You want to go through and ask your employees, as we do here, "How are you doing? Do you feel like you're heard here? Are you communicated to here? Are you a significant part of the overall picture here? Do you feel like you're part of the team here? Are you being developed here?"
We have a list of seven or eight things that we're in constant dialogue with those who are employed and are a part of what happens here, saying, "Would you help us work with you in a way that would make you feel like you love where you work?" because that's the way God designs it, especially when we work underneath people who are leading the way he leads us. Look at what it says in Colossians 4:1. He says, "You slave owners must be just and fair to your slaves. Remember that you also have a Master who is in heaven."
What God is saying is, "Look. Just because you're in a position of authority right here, you need to realize you're not the top of the food chain. I don't care if you have your own business. I don't care what you are right here. You're still accountable to somebody who's going to supervise or evaluate you in the way you lead other people. You have to master who's going to have conversations with you about those you have stewardship over right here." Is your workplace, underneath your leadership…?
Is there a community of trust, of freedom, of empowerment, of opportunity, of integration, of oneness and community? If not, it ought to make you question whether you're leading the way the one you know, if you know Jesus Christ, if you know God and have a relationship with him, wants you to lead. If not, whether you know Christ in a salvific way or not and have come to grips with your own sin and hardness of heart, here's the reality. People ask me this all the time. "Todd, how come I see so many folks who are not 'Christians,' who have a better marriage than folks who profess to love Christ?"
I say, "That's an easy question to answer." I answer it this way: "Because sometimes there are people who live with wisdom principles and are informed by what God says should speak into our relationships, our marriages, in the way we interact with one another, who do a better job of applying those wisdom principles than folks who maybe have acknowledged they have a hard heart and a sin heart and have asked Jesus Christ to deal with that but who don't, then, on a continual basis, avail themselves to God lovingly speaking into their lives."
I have a good friend who is one of the senior leaders at Southwest Airlines. This particular good friend was also an elder at one of our better-known churches in the Southwest. He told me, "It is an embarrassment to me that my company that is led by a very secular man is more Christian in its principles and more loving in its practices with its employees than the church I am an elder at that is renowned for its biblical focus."
It shouldn't surprise you that Southwest Airlines is consistently voted as one of the best places in our country to work, because the elements God says we ought to have in our relationships with one another are high values in that company that are consistently monitored and consistently evaluated and corrected to be brought back on that course with that, whereas too many times places that say they love God and honor him don't implement those things into their execution.
So, why are some "non-Christian" marriages better than "Christian" marriages? Because sometimes nonbelievers do a better job of living with the practical wisdom God says will bring them the fruit of success than sometimes even folks who have acknowledged the corruption of their heart and their need for a Savior but don't embrace what their Savior has told them. I'll give you an example from my life. By the grace of God, there haven't been very many. This is a great place to work right here, because we work hard at it.
In fact, Southwest Airlines, about three years ago, did a huge consortium for churches all over the country, where there were literally hundreds, if not thousands, of folks from churches who went over, and Southwest Airlines put them on a four-day training time, explaining how they can create a work environment that will bless their people. Do you hear that? Southwest Airlines worked with a group called Leadership Network to train churches how to create environments that would bless their people.
We were encouraged that when we sent some folks to go to that for a couple of days, they came back and said, "Every time we got into a small group and folks started to go, 'This is revolutionary the things we're doing over there,' and they said, 'Let's talk about how we can flesh that out,' every time, in my group, I had a chance to go back and tell them how we were doing these things and how they've fleshed out in the context of a local church."
They came back, and we're constantly working to improve and to evaluate, but by the grace of God, because Southwest Airlines doesn't have the keys to these things; God's Word in Scripture and God's model for us does, we came away from there feeling like we had a lot to offer and encourage others with. But there are times, like a couple of weeks ago, when Hurricane Katrina hit and we were trying to mobilize our team here to serve in every way we can…
We have empowered people to make some decisions and to jump on task and get going and not have everything be too centralized. Some folks with the right spirit, with the right heart, were trying to do some things that, frankly, weren't informed by experience or maybe even thought through in terms of how it would impact others, but they were doing it out of a good heart. They were the right mistakes to make. Specifically, it was tied to how everybody everywhere said, "Hey, listen. These people need clothing. These people need basic elements."
Word got out that we need to bring things certain places. You guys saw down at Reunion in the news, how it was like a huge flea market. Everybody was dropping all kinds of stuff there to where they literally put police up and said, "You are not allowed to bring anything down here and dump it off anymore." Salvation Army shut down its distribution centers and said, "We don't need any more clothing. We need money and cash to start to feed these people and get them into safe housing and lodging."
Well, we had some folks here who meant well but had missed some communication we had given to them, and the next thing you know, word got out around this area that this was now going to be a place that was going to be a distribution center. So folks were just showing up, just dropping stuff off here. I had conversations with three or four different folks on staff about why we're not taking any clothing, because we were down at Reunion. We were working with the Red Cross and Salvation Army. They said, "We don't need clothing."
But somebody else was thinking on their own, and they said, "You know what? We're going to do this, we're going to get clothing, and we're going to serve these people" out of a good heart. Anyway, we had caught several of these folks and had good communication with them, but one of them we didn't, and the next thing you know, a lot of our staff is here hauling huge piles of clothing (most of which you wouldn't wear if it was given to you; that's why people were glad to give it) up and down the elevators, storing it on some of our floors that weren't finished.
So I got the phone call. "Todd, this is what's happening. Clothing is being dropped off here. What should we do?" I realized at that moment I hadn't had a chance to share with everybody some of what was going on, so I sent out an email, but the email started this way: in all caps, "NOBODY…" Watch this. This is genius. How about this for leadership?
"NOBODY has the authority to approve anything on our campus that is outside our normal operation WITHOUT consent from the B Team," which is what we call some of the folks who help oversee our thing. "And the B Team will consult with the Operations Team and elders as necessary. The current drop-off crisis at our office is a perfect illustration as to why.
Decisions are always best when made in tandem, not in isolation by any one department or staff member." Which is to say, "Like the idiot who made this decision without talking to me, the bright and informed one, who works well in conjunction with other people." Then very sweetly, "Thank you. Your loving pastor, Todd."
Now, I can tell you that email does stand out over the emails I've sent over the years. I sent it quickly just to avoid some of the miscommunication, but I'll tell you something else I did. I sent that inappropriately. There are some folks here who love me and love our culture, and they came to me and said, "Hey, Todd. That's not the way I think we want to lead here, and you know that. That hurts our culture." I said, "You're fired. Next. Come on in here."
After I lost three staff members, the fourth one survived. No. We got everybody together, and I had to ask their forgiveness and say, "Look. Here's why I did this. My heart was not to be as demeaning as it was. I can tell you all day long I was just trying to make sure we didn't create more work for ourselves, but that still does not excuse the tone of that email and the lack of thought that went into it before I hit 'send.'
No matter how quickly I needed to get the word out, there was a better way to work it. Even worse, it made it look like we're neutering you when all we've asked you to do is own things, make a difference, contribute, and lead and not be in some bottleneck organization where you have to make sure that somebody up here thinks you're trying to do the right thing when in a moment of decision you're motivated to serve. Will you forgive me, and can we go back to working the way we did?"
Now why do we lead that way? Because that's the way God wants us to lead. We lead still in relationship with him, informed by him, not in isolation but in community, but when people make decisions out of a good heart, how are they treated? Look at this. "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
What I have to ask myself on a regular basis is if someone led me the way I'm leading them or if somebody served me or worked for me the way I'm working for them, would I be blessed or bothered? The Golden Rule Jesus has given us to "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you…" Ask yourself, "Okay. In my leadership at work, am I treating the folks who are underneath me as resources that are expendable, and I'll just move them out and bring another resource in if it doesn't go well, or am I loving them as an individual person, caring for them, developing them, trying to unleash them, making them feel a part of this?"
That's the way I want to be led. That's the way God leads me. Think about the difference and gap in aptitude and in intellect between God and me. He says, "Todd, I want to develop you to the height of your potential so you can participate with me in something that is going to have eternal profit. I want you to be a part of the team, not just take orders, snap your heels, and just say, 'Shut up and go do it.'" That's the way I want to be led and, by the grace of God, am led by him, and that's the way he wants me to lead others.
I want folks who work hard even when I'm not looking. Do I work hard when no one is looking at me and I'm not being audited or evaluated or in a public setting? See, when you work that way, you're worshiping and you're saying who leads you and who it is ultimately you serve. We want this mindset: Work is not something we go to. Work, in a nutshell, based on all I just said, is someplace where we show who we are.
The reason I didn't say the place is because it's just one of the aspects of our lives. There are many other areas in our lives. This is a significant mindset for you. Work is not someplace you're going to go to here in a few minutes. Work is just another one of the many places that you're going to show who you really are in the way you interact with people, serve people, care for people, lead people, and honor people with a hard day's effort. Who leads you? Who do you serve? Work is one of the places that's on display.
Work has become toilsome, though, because our world is out of whack. This is just a fact. Work is not a curse, but work today is a little bit more work, if you will, because our world is out of whack. God gave Adam a job in Genesis, chapter 2, before sin ever came into it, but because of sin, things have gotten more difficult. Here's the passage in Genesis 3:17-19. Take a look at it with me.
"Then to Adam He said, 'Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, "You shall not eat from it"; Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.'"
Here's the reality: Work has been made more difficult because of sin. It's more tiring. Relationships are now flawed. They are not mutually submissive and others-centered. You're going to work with manipulative people who exploit you, not folks who are going to be naturally concerned for your best interests. Because of that, it takes more toil in the context of work. Because of that, there are conflicts that rise up. Because of that, there is insecurity. Because of that, there's a lack of teamwork, a lack of synergy.
There's a competitiveness and a Darwinistic mindset, where I'm going to survive at the expense of you, as opposed to being others-centered, mindful of other people, and doing everything we can to make sure they are cared for, loved, and advancing with me, as a team, never at their expense but treating others as I myself want to be treated. This world is flawed now, and because of that, it has become much more toilsome. Let me spell that out for you.
We toil because of who we are and because of who we work with. That's just expounding out what it means that now, because sin has entered into the world, at times we lead out of our flesh. At times we lead out of our anger. At times we lead out of our pride. At times we lead out of our insecurity. An insecure, prideful, angry leader is going to be a difficult individual to work with and work for, and you're going to have employees who are not going to be unleashed underneath that.
Likewise, if you're working for somebody, even if they are loving toward you, you are bent toward shortcuts, toward laziness, toward compromise. You're bent toward self-advancement and not the community you're trying to partner with. That makes it difficult to work with you. Even when you're loving other people, you're going to be working with people sometimes who are going to be that way toward you, so it becomes more toilsome.
We toil also because of what we want work to be. Now what do I mean by that? Work is going to always be a burden to you when you ask it to be something it was never designed to be. Work is a worthless idol. Less than 10 percent of Americans, according to a survey they did in a book called The Day America Told the Truth, are satisfied in their work, but the truth is if you make work that which will ultimately satisfy you, you'll never be satisfied with work, because work has never been intended to be our god.
What work provides for us was never intended to provide for us ultimate satisfaction. There are things that happen when we go to work that are very satisfying. There are fruits of our labor that bring us satisfaction to a certain point, but not ultimately. At the end of the day, everything on this earth has an unsatisfactory nature to it because it is not what we were ultimately designed to live with and be satisfied. The only thing that ultimately satisfies us is our relationship with God.
To work hard and have success is a good thing, but if all you work for is fame, is being celebrated, is material reward, you can have every single one of those things and be a very unsatisfied individual. I thought about last night. We saw the Triplets go into the Ring of Honor. Those guys have not just won Super Bowls but now have been recognized amongst their peers as the guys who were at the center of that keen success.
But now that they're in the Ring of Honor, now what? Now they wait to see if they're in the Hall of Fame. Once they're in the Hall of Fame, then what? I hearken back to a great quote I read after the Cowboys won one of their early Super Bowls, when Charlie Waters was talking to Cliff Harris in the locker room right after they won the Super Bowl. They were talking to each other, and they kind of looked at each other and went, "Now what?"
A reporter looked at them and said, "What do you mean, 'Now what'?" They both said the same thing. "You know what? We fought our whole lives to get here, and now that we're here, it's kind of disappointing, because what's next?" Disney World, by the way, has jumped all over this. You guys know where I'm going with this. Right?
Disney World has said, "All right. Here's where you go. When you've gotten to the pinnacle of your career and you've just been named MVP of the most testosterone-driven sport on the face of the planet, that isn't enough, but guess what. Lucky for you, you can go to Orlando." So they say, "Tom Brady, you just passed for 300-some-odd yards and threw three interceptions. You're a Super Bowl MVP. What are you going to do now?"
"I don't know. There really isn't that much satisfaction here, but I can go to Disney World." And they make a commercial out of it. How many of y'all spent $6,000 to $10,000 on a Disney World vacation? A bunch of you. It was great, wasn't it? There was a certain satisfying element to it, but at the end of the day you kind of went, "Now what am I going to do?"
They ought to get folks walking out of Disney World and say, "Hey, you just spent $10,000 staying at the Floridian. Now what are you going to do?" "I want to go to SeaWorld." That would be a great commercial for them. How about this? Work is more toilsome for some than for others. Why? Because some are toiling for the wrong reasons. That's the idea. There are some of you who have this idolatry of work, so you are working it out, because it can never satisfy.
You think the reason it's not satisfying is because you're not working hard enough. You don't have enough clinics. You don't have enough branches. You don't have enough franchises. You don't have enough employees. You don't have enough profit, so you're going to stay there and burn that midnight oil and burn ulcers into your gut until you can get that, because you think that next thing is going to make for you what you ultimately want. So it's going to be more toilsome for you than for others.
I guess it was two weeks ago we sat up here with my friend Bob Rowling who is the fiftieth wealthiest person in the world. Bob sat up here and very humbly talked about how there's a lot of sovereignty to getting him to that place, but as we interviewed him in our business luncheon, one of the things Bob said was, "Let me tell you something about money. Money will help you zero in the areas of character and relationship quality in your life."
He said, "You have tons of money?" He goes, "I have a lot of friends who have a lot of money but who have a horrible character and zero relationships and are not very happy people, but they keep on grinding, thinking that somehow more industry, financial success will cover up that hole in their heart in a way they were not designed to have it covered up. A flawed character will never give you peace. Broken relationships will never give you peace."
Some folks toil more than others because they keep working this thing called work, wondering why they haven't gotten peace yet, when they're trying to make it something it was never designed to be. Some of us toil more than others because we have an unhealthy dependence on job association, people who cannot get out of a job they know they're not designed for because they love that job because it brings them a certain amount of respect or a title or a position they thrive from.
They like the fact that they are in a certain profession that gives them notoriety and acceptance. They love it when they're someplace that somebody says, "What do you do?" and they get to say, "I am a…" They're miserable in their job, but they can't leave it because they have an unhealthy dependence upon their association with that job. Some guys toil more than others because they have an unhealthy dependence on their compensation, what we call golden handcuffs.
"I hate this job, but I'm making so much money I can't leave this job, because I have to continue to have this job to pay this mortgage, to get these things that, frankly, don't give me the peace I want, but I want those things, because I think those things surely someday are going to kick in and give me what I want. So I can't leave this job, so I'm toiling more here than others. Even though I know this isn't what I should do, I can't leave it, because it's providing so much for me." Look at 1 Timothy 6:8-12.
"If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things…" They're lousy gods.
"…you man of God [live like you know him] , and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses." In other words, live a life that's marked by wisdom and not by where the world is continuing to offer you a carrot that will never satisfy.
There's a great little story about two guys who were interviewing for a job. They happened to be lawyers. The partner at the firm asked, "Why do you want to be a lawyer?" The one guy said, "Oh, I want to be a lawyer because I have great respect for the law. I knew I wanted to be a lawyer because I care about folks who are suffering from injustice. I love the Constitution. I'd die for it. I want to work for fairness and equality and help people prosper and survive. That's why I've always wanted to be a lawyer."
The second guy walked in, and he said, "Tell me about your story. Why did you want to be a lawyer?" He said, "I want to be a lawyer because of my hands." The guy said, "Because of your hands? What do you mean?" He goes, "Yeah. I looked at my hands one day and realized there wasn't any money in either one of them, so I wanted to be a lawyer." Now which one of those two do you think ultimately enjoyed what he did?
First Timothy 6 is right. It certainly couldn't have been the second, because no matter how much you fill your hands up with whatever your profession is, it's never going to give you what you want. Some guys are really toiling. They're wondering, "What am I not doing right to get the rest I want to get?" Well, when you make work that which you worship or your idol, it's never going to happen.
Unhealthy fear of what might happen if we leave our job. In other words, I don't want to trust tomorrow. I'm not really sure. If I really live and begin to be a person who trusts God and follows the design he put in me and I release my job association and don't worry first about compensation, I'm not really sure I can trust that. Some of us are toiling in the wrong place, and this ties itself to that.
Here are some things I wrote down that are little principles I try to live by. When folks say, "Man, I'm trying to figure out what I want to do," I tell people all the time… By the way, I tell this to guys whatever they're looking to do. There are a lot of guys who get down to, for instance, Dallas Seminary, a place where I spent some time. I look at these guys, and the heroes of that business school, if you will, are guys who have written books and who stand in large pulpits and have churches that look a certain way.
The reality is there are some guys down there who love God who God never intended and designed to be primary leaders in a local community, who God never designed to be primary communicators before large groups. If they think that's what's going to make them successful in their service of Christ, they're going to be miserable. So are the people, by the way, who are going to be led by them and taught by them, because that's not the way they're wired.
I tell men, "Know who you are, be who you are, and like who you are." Some of you are designed to play different roles, and those roles are just as important as the roles Swindoll or David Jeremiah play. You need to make sure you find out what your peace is, embrace it, and accept it. I ask them, "What do you love? What are you good at? Do others affirm you in your sense of being good at it?"
I wrote down six or seven questions I always encourage guys to ask as they try to sort through "Who am I? How am I designed?" Those who pursue prosperity without regard for who they are, what their attributes and aptitudes are, are never going to be people who experience the peace God designed for them. It's just a reality that you may never have a church where you are the "senior leader," and that's okay. You can be just as honored by God if you'll just do what he created you to do and quit trying to be something you're not.
The same thing is true in every area of leadership and business. I tell guys all the time, "Do not do what I do. Don't go into ministry unless you can't do anything else." What I mean by that is don't go into vocational ministry unless there's some stirring in your heart, that whatever it is you would do would always find you with some unholy discontent because you know there's a special call on your life to do this other thing.
Here's the reality: if you are led by Christ and serve him, you're in ministry, and your job is just as significant as your pastor's job. You can be as much of a steward and worshiper and spiritually minded person working at Walmart as you can at Watermark. In fact, I wrote this down as I was thinking about this the other day. I said we're not called to be in vocational ministry; we're called to be spiritual in our vocation.
I want to let you guys out there know today… Do you love God? Don't say to yourself, "I need to get out of my job and start doing some vocational ministry." No, you don't. Just be spiritual in your vocation. You guys get to go to a mission field and love folks who walk into your office, whether it's a patient or whether it's somebody's home you're building or somebody you're working for, somebody who's calling you on the other end of the phone or somebody you have to call.
Be spiritually minded in the way you love and honor and serve those people in a way that'll make them thirsty, in a way that'll make them curious about why you are compassionate, why you are a man of character, why you are a man of consideration, why you are others-centered. Don't think there is a call to be vocational in your job, that you need to be in ministry with your vocation, but be more spiritual in whatever your vocation is.
Ask yourself those questions. If you knew you'd succeed at whatever you attempted to do, what would you do? Who do you ultimately work for? Are you working for your father to show him that you're a success? Are you still trying to overcome that father wound? He said you'd never amount to anything. Is that why you're working so much? That's a bad reason to work. Are you working for your boss, that somehow he has replaced your father and you need him to validate you, so you're driven to work in an unreasonable way because what you really worship is the affirmation of a man?
Are you working for your self-worth and validation? Wrong reasons to work. What skills have people told you again and again you possess more than most? What past jobs or responsibilities have brought you the greatest joy and satisfaction? What are your goals? Are they consistent or inconsistent with God's goals for you? Ask yourself those questions, and don't make your work more toilsome because you're working for the wrong reasons or in the wrong place for the wrong reasons.
All right. Let me make this comment quickly. It is right to leave your job when where you are is keeping you from where you should be. In other words, there are certain jobs that are going to call you out of some places that God says you're never supposed to compromise as you worship him at work. When your worshiping him at work impedes your ability to worship him as a follower in other areas, then you can be sure you're not worshiping him at work.
Let me say it to you this way. Folks ask me sometimes, "Todd, is there anything God can't do?" I tell them, "Yes, there is." What God cannot do is violate his character. In other words, he will never be loving at the expense of justice. He will never be merciful or gracious at the expense of holiness and righteousness. God always has these two things in perfect balance because he is good and right, and if we're his people, if something we're doing over here is keeping us from being something he has told us we should be over here, then we have it out of whack and out of balance.
If our work is keeping us from where we should be…actively involved in our home, shepherding our kids, having presence with our family, directing our family, having energy for them, creativity in the way we love them and serve them…then whatever we think we're doing over here that's honoring God is dishonoring to him, because we are bailing out on what he has called us to over here. You need to change if not your job, the way you are attacking your job.
You'll never overcome that hole, and no matter how much you think that just being faithful over here will somehow impress God and you can't be faithful everywhere, you need to know something. You need to be faithful everywhere he has called you to be, and that might mean what you're calling faithfulness over here is really a self-driven fantasy and an escape for you from the hard work of leading well over here in this other area.
You need to leave your job or at least leave the way you're looking at it, adjust it and refocus it, if you are not where you should be in terms of home, in terms of ministry, in terms of a healthy balance, in terms of sharing community and life with other people. Secondly, when where you are is asking you to be who you should not be. What do I mean by that? Is where you're working asking you to exaggerate the truth, to manipulate, to outright lie, to misrepresent, to compromise? Then you're at the wrong place.
Is it asking you to promote things into other people's lives that are not ultimately good for them? Then you're in the wrong place as a person who should do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind consider others as more important than yourself. Here's another one: you should leave your job when where you are threatens who you want to be. In other words, where you're working puts you in compromising positions and situations or fuels your weaknesses.
If you're a guy who struggles with pornography, you'd better not have a job that travels a lot and throws you in a room with SpectraVision. You can compromise and rationalize that away all day long, but I'm going to tell you what. That's going to show up. If you think you can handle it on your own, you're wrong. If your job is putting you in a place where you're consistently having to spend time with people of the opposite sex and you don't have the ability to wisely create environments where you can handle that, you're in the wrong job.
If you're in a job that fuels your lust for money and financial success or national prominence and you can't handle that and balance it and have a healthy perspective, you're in the wrong job. Prudence would have you get out of it. Look at what it says. "The prudent sees the evil and hides himself, but the naïve go on, and are punished for it." Or it says in Proverbs 27:12, "A prudent man sees evil and hides himself, the naïve proceed and pay the penalty."
You can keep telling yourself all day long, "I'll get over this. I'll overcome this. It won't be that bad in my life," but I want to tell you what. That little cub of desire you're toying with will grow up into a lion that will devour you. If you're someplace where you realize you're starting to mess with a beast you shouldn't mess with and your job requires it, wisdom would have that man walk out of that cage before it grows up to a lion that chews him up.
Facing the frustrations of work like a man is part of what makes us real men at work. What do I mean by that? Well, one of the things that makes us real men is that we're not guys who are always looking to cut a better deal. The "grass is greener" syndrome. "Everybody else has a better job than me. That is a better corporation than this one. Everybody else has a better wife than me." So off you go.
Every job has its innate frustrations, and if all you do is bounce around from what's the prettiest and best looking or what you hope is better on the other side of the fence consistently, you're not a man who models commitment and faithfulness. If you leave a job in unresolved conflict or in anger, if you burn bridges because you can't handle the frustration of living in a toilsome world that is out of whack, you're not a real man.
You ought to do your job before you do what Moses did, who didn't like the way things were going in Egypt so he just murdered somebody and hightailed it out of there. That's not facing the frustrations of work like a real man faces it. You ought to stand up for injustice. You ought to with a controlled integrity speak out to those injustices, even if it costs you your job, but you don't leave with unresolved conflict or in anger.
You communicate like somebody who loves that person and say, "I will not continue to partner with you if this is going to be the way we continue to roll out leadership in this company." If they say, "Fine. That's the way it's going to be, and you need to move on out" and you've done your job to try to spare them, then you can leave with integrity, but a real man faces the frustrations of work like a man, not like a coward, not like somebody who lost control of his emotions.
What do you do if you're in the wrong place and you're frustrated? You get proactive. That's what a real man does. He's not passive. He takes action. He seeks wise counsel from others early. He doesn't go through it alone. He confronts the people who are causing the frustrations. He doesn't complain about them behind their backs. He shares with those people directly. He doesn't slander them behind their backs.
He trusts that God will take care of him. He won't give up because he's threatened by what the outcome might be. He listens to things he's doing that might be frustrating for other people. He learns. He doesn't just leave. He maintains his integrity. He's not worried about maintaining his position. He's willing to lose his job over his self-respect. That's what real men do.
They make sure they're not being unrealistic. They get the log out of their own eye. They make sure they're not being overly picky or petty. They alter their expectations or serve wholeheartedly while they're still in their situation, and they excel while they're in that situation; they don't just exist. While you're waiting for your job to change, remember who it is you still work for.
Let me tell you something. Do you want to be a man? You apply those bullet points in the way you face the frustrations we all have. Don't have this illusion that "I just married the wrong gal" or "That guy has it easier." "Boy, if my wife maintained her body the way that guy's wife maintains her body, I'd do better in marriage." No. Go through those bullet points in those same scenarios.
Let me close with this, because this is going to set us up for what we're doing the next couple of weeks. Providing for your family, guys, includes more than just providing them with funds. Too many guys say, "Well, what do you want? Do you want me to work less? Do you want to move? Do you want to dress like that still or not? Do you want to drive that car or not?" Do you know what that wife will say to you?
I've never had a woman in all my years walk into my office and say, "I want to tell you, Todd, this guy has loved me. He has been tender toward me. He has made me a priority in his life. He has cared for me. He has nurtured me and cherished me. He has romanced me. He has been in every way a man should be loving toward me, but look, I drive a Buick, and I am through. I don't want anything to do with this guy. I live in a 3,000-square-foot home. I can't stand him. I want a Lexus. I want 10,000 square feet. I want a pool. I want nicer clothes. I can't stand this anymore."
I've never heard it once, but you wouldn't believe how many Lexuses have been parked out here, how many folks who are driving from zip codes where people think if they just lived they'd be happy have told you, "Hey, I have all of those things. I'd give them all up if this guy would just provide for me the way he swore to me on that day he'd provide for me. I don't want his funds; I want a family."
Look at this verse in 1 Timothy 5:8. "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever." Here's my point: providing is not just funds; it's attention, it's time, it's love, it's leadership, it's presence, it's direction. I'm going to read you one email, and then we're done. Watch this. I shared something like this awhile back, and then I got this email right afterward from a buddy who goes here.
"Three years ago, the day after my first child was born, I quit a job I passionately loved, a job that fit my gifts like a glove. The decision to quit that job was the greatest and godliest decision I ever made. I took a less time-consuming job three years ago that I enjoy but don't love, and I thank God for that frequently. You see, God doesn't have tunnel vision, and as I look at his hand in my life with the broad vision he has for me, I see my job's role in this season of my life so much broader than the 9-5 time frame.
In this season of my life, God has blessed me with a job that now provides incredible flexibility and very little travel. Sure, I'm not climbing the career Mount Everest I once climbed, but he has given me so much more. For example, I've noticed in the past three years, I've been able to be a part of the following as a direct result of my job benefits. I've flown to New Orleans on a weekday to hang with my dad, give him a Bible, convince him to read the Bible, and, with much help from God, for the first time in 45 years interact with him about spiritual things.
I've had breakfast or lunch with an atheist friend weekly for three years and ultimately watched him begin praying with his younger daughter, begin studying the Bible with me, and watched him convince an old friend that she shouldn't have an abortion. I've read the Bible and prayed with my kids almost daily. I have time to take the daily phone call from my 2-year-old son to hear him describe in intricate detail all of his bathroom experiences. I watch my son try to turn every stick into a snake and call down frogs and locusts from the skies." Hey, how much would you pay to get that job?
"I take a much more active role at my church and see so many lives change that the stories begin to flow together. I can't even count them. I date my wife weekly and have the time and energy to do life with her daily. I really get to know her and see the fabric of her heart. Todd, I could go on and on about all of the awesome things I've been blessed to experience over these past three years.
Very few, if any, of these memories have occurred at work, but God through his providence put me in a job that has allowed for so many of them to happen, and his providence was leading me in my heart to discipline myself to leave the one I was in to be the man I know I needed to be. If I had followed my own selfish desires, I doubt if any of these things would have happened, and there would be a bit less treasure stored up in heaven.
I don't know if he will have me in this job for another week or another decade, but I do know that if I follow his promptings I will always be in a job that will allow me to bring maximum glory wherever he desires and provide for my family." What's amazing about that email I got seven months ago is that same individual who took that job three years ago is the reason Watermark was given the opportunities it was down at Reunion Arena.
That individual was able, with flexibility in his job, to leave his job to organize us and to serve the Red Cross and the Salvation Army and the city of Dallas in a way that they're still talking about it, because this guy had a job that gave him the flexibility to say, "I'm going to take my leadership, and for the next three days I'm going to be here, and I'm going to mobilize and facilitate people here."
Because of that, we've been able to do things in terms of ministering to lives down there in the Reunion Arena that folks don't normally get to do, and that's the least of it compared to what his son and what his wife says about him. Now he still has struggles, but he has work squarely in the crosshairs of where God wants it to be. Let me pray for you.
Father, I pray that we would too and that we would order our lives in such a way that work would not be more toilsome for us than it should be. I pray for guys in this room for whom work is a toil because it's a god to them, and they keep trying to throw more of themselves at it, but it won't satisfy.
Lord, that you would deliver them from the love of things, the love of position, the love of fame, the love of increase, and you would lead them to a place where they have a love of you and begin to order their life by faith, knowing that the plans you have for them are plans for welfare and not calamity, plans to give them a future and a hope, plans that will allow them to have their children sing their praises and their wife speak about how they're blessed to be yoked to this man, not who is professionally successful but who is purposefully secure in God's ways of wisdom. Would you increase that in all of us?
Father, we thank you that every one of us has a chance to go out of here and abodah, to worship today in the way we love, in the way we serve, in the way we lead, in the way we flee from things that will entangle us. I pray that there would be 400 real men who would walk out of this room who would be salt and light in this city, who would spur each other on to love and good deeds, and it would be a glory to you and a blessing to those we bump into.
Father, in doing that, we know that we will experience the life you've intended for us. We thank you that while we get to enjoy all that, there is food, shelter, and clothing to abound in our lives. May we never live for the food or the shelter or the clothing but learn to live for you and experience the blessing that goes with it, amen.
(Fall 2005) There is a different Men's Club in town - a place where men of strength and integrity are willing to face the truth even if it involves pain from present or past troubled relationships or circumstances. At this club there are men who are willing to live their lives with honor. Men who are responding to a noble call. A call to live for a something greater than their own pleasure, prominence or gain.