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Justice for the Common Good

Michael Gerson spoke at Jubilee Professional 2016. If you would like to attend Jubilee Professional 2017 on Friday, February 17th, register HERE. 

In an age of political turmoil, what can Christians do?

There is an underlying issue that many feel the American dream has been stolen. This comes at a time when a major economic transition has upended the blue collar economy and family structures have become weaker.

Family, community, and economic challenges are related in complex ways. All are in need of attention and understanding. Christians must stand for human dignity and common good in all of those ways.

I think this emphasis on entrepreneurship, on the proper role of government, and on strong families and communities is the great contribution of reformed Christianity to our common life.

And while it is easy to feel hopeless in times of turmoil, remember that the people regarded as heroes in our country stood for hope and unity, not divisiveness and hatred.

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How Parents Can Influence the Faith of Their Teenagers

About 60% of kids raised in the church leave during the college years. Father of four and author Dan Dupee explores this phenomena in his book “It’s Not Too Late: The Essential Part You Play In Shaping Your Teen’s Faith.” He looks at three opportunities that can help parents continue to be influential to their teen’s faith.

Confront Myths

Teens tend to give off the “I need you but I don’t want to need you” or “I love you but sort of hate you” attitude. In reality, Dan reminds parents that kids are always looking towards their guardians, even during college. Just as Jesus looked to his father, parents matter.

Create Opportunities

Parents make mistakes. Everybody makes mistakes. Dan created a list of way to create opportunities for your children within the messes and mistakes parents make. Even with imperfections that lead to suffering, we experience God’s true and beautiful grace.

Stay With It 

Entrepreneurs constantly experience triumphs and trials, they experiences periods of anger and periods of love for their program, business, or organization. Likewise, a parent’s relationship with their child will go through highs and lows. Even when they make choices that can’t be taken back, they can be forgiven.

Lastly, Dan reminds us that, “Our kids needs us to hang in there with them and invite others into the fray.”

Dan’s book is available at Hearts and Minds Books. Order a copy today!

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Bring Beauty To Light In Your Career

Work is commonly thought of as something that begins around 8 AM and ends around 5 PM. However, Jeremy Casella has made it his aspiration as a singer, songwriter, and recording artist to contribute career results that make a difference all the time.

Jeremy Casella sees the beauty of our world as the “larger activity” his work contributes to daily. Being an artist allows Jeremy to study the world and remain present, thinking of ways to bring the beauty of the world to light. He studies the work God has done all around him and strives to have records reflecting the beauty.

As with any career, Jeremy struggles. He struggles to create work being not only beautiful but also truly valuable to the community surrounding him. As a Christian, Jeremy has searched to fully understand why God has him where he serves, but he reminds us of the importance of being creative and creating new things no matter where God places us.

Jeremy reminds us how important it is to stay present in our careers and follows with the example of Jesus, who for thirty years served in ministry and remained constantly present to the world he served.

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Leadership as Stewardship

Matthew 25:21,23
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your mater’s happiness!”

This scripture passage is often used by church leaders as part of “stewardship or capital” campaigns, making the (legitimate) case that if one invests in their local congregation, it will return Kingdom dividends.

But what if Jesus had a much more personal and high risk investment he was suggesting? As leaders, what if the primary ‘talent’ God has given us to steward is who we are as His image bearers?

Stewarding one’s self is the most vital work each of has been given as a follower of Jesus. The work we put our hands to and the things we choose to invest our time and energy in, are the primary things we must steward for Kingdom dividends. The Greek word for stewardship, “Oikonomia” translates as economy or house management. Before we can steward anything else, we must manage our own house. This means doing the hard work of knowing yourself, investing in developing yourself in an intentional and focused way.

This is not navel-gazing, but rather learning who God created you to be and what your unique gifts, talents and strengths are to steward, wherever He has placed you. It guides what you say yes to, and more importantly, what you say no to. When we do not know and develop the very talents God has placed with in each of us, we are hard pressed to help others do the same.

The leadership implications of this are profound. Stewarding of self is fundamental to the work of any effective leader and not attending to this is well-intended disobedience. The consequences are harsh:

“For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness…” Matt 25:29-30

Are you stewarding who God created you to be? Are you over-extended but know there are things you spend time on that are “outside your wheelhouse”? If so, then you are ready for the steward leadership journey that matters.


This was originally posted in Man Up Pittsburgh: 2016 Devotional. For more information on Man Up, visit www.ManUpPittsburgh.org.

An Orthogonal Experience, Or How Transformation Happens Outside Of Our Comfort Zones

Photo Credit: Acton Institute

A few years ago a good friend and very wise business leader, Doug Wilson, shared with me that he required his core leaders to schedule at least one “orthogonal” experiencing annually as part of their own development. After asking him to define “orthogonal” (of or involving right angles; at right angles), he explained that real transformational learning occurs when we are outside of our comfort zone and stretched in new ways. This stimulates creative thinking and often unveils a new perspective.

Real transformational learning occurs when we are outside of our comfort zone.

A recent trip to Grand Rapids, Michigan to attend a four-day conference called Acton University, was just such an experience for me. This annual event is a program of the Acton Institute, a think tank focused on the study of religion and liberty, that brings together the best and brightest around the integration of Faith, Work, and Economics. Their vision for a free and virtuous society is embodied in the week as more than 1200 people from 50 countries, and a multitude of Christian faith streams gather to learn, be challenged, and build relationships.

Attendees at Acton University choose from 121 courses to create their own 11-course schedule that integrates economics, business, theology, and intellectual history. The course faculty includes world-renowned theologians, scholars, and practitioners, while each session has plenty of time for Q&A to engage around issues relevant to your context, country, and culture.

This year, my fourth in attending, I had the privilege of leading a group of pastors from Pittsburgh who are participating in a new project PLF launched last month called the Vocational Infusion Learning Community.

It was a great joy to share the experience with these eight men and women as we had perspectives forever changed and engaged in conversations at levels that just don’t happen in our day-to-day work back in Pittsburgh. Together we explored topics like the dignity and value of the human person, and the intersection of liberty and morality. Perhaps most of all, we formed relationships with one another and friends from around the globe who share our deepest values in working for the Lord Jesus Christ.

While there is renewed energy in returning home with new knowledge and a deeper understanding of the impact of our work, I look forward to the long-term fruit of this week in the lives of these pastors and their respective congregations.

Thank you Acton, for providing such a remarkable and transformative experience. You have blessed PLF, these pastors, and ultimately our city through your good a faithful work over these last 25 years. We are grateful.

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What Is In A Name: Why Our New Initiative is Called “VILC”

Last week Pittsburgh Leadership Foundation launched a new initiative called the Vocation Infusion Learning Community or VILC. Catchy name, right? Maybe not, but it was very intentional.

The VILC concept was launched in 2011 by Dr. Amy Sherman and Dr. Steven Garber, in partnership with the Acton Institute. The intent was to create a year-long learning experience to re-think vocation, faith, work and economics and why it should matter to the local church. That initial journey was shared by 12 pastors, each accompanied by a marketplace leader from their respective church, igniting a wave of change in these congregations.

The 2016 Pittsburgh VILC opened with a two-day retreat and an exciting group of 24 leaders from 11 churches in our region. These men and women have made the commitment over the next twelve months to open their minds, hearts, and spirits to see what God might do in their communities of faith through this work, for the common good of our cities.

So what do the words mean?

Vocation

The unique call that God places in each of us to bring Him glory and serve the common good. As Steve Garber says, “Vocation is integral, not incidental to the Missio Dei.” If this is true (and we believe it is), then the role of the church must be to disciple and help steward the vocations of their people.

Infusion

This initiative will not be simply more good information, but will provide each pastor and congregation with a practical, in-depth planning tool to transform the culture of their congregations and richly infuse it with vocational stewardship and a coherent theology of faith, work and economics.

Learning

If we ever stop learning, then we have likely stepped out of God’s will. When we recognize that learning will often push us out of our comfort zone to take risks and try new things, then we are on the path to creating flourishing for the common good.

Community

While we can absorb information and learn new things independently, we hold to a deep conviction that real transformation only occurs in the context of a community of like-minded people committed to one another.

VILC may not be the sexiest name for an initiative but it means what it stands for, and we’re excited to share the stories of transformation that have just begun. Stay tuned for updates along this journey… a journey that matters.

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Nobody is a Hero: Finding Balance When Everything You Do is Valuable

If you missed Jubilee Professional 2016 or want to relive our speakers’ insightful talks, we are making all the talks available on our blog!

Jena Lee Nardella

We often believe we should aim to be the superhero our world needs. Yet in this video, Jena Nardella speaks about the importance of loving and caring for the world every single day, rather than saving it.

Both in her career and personal life she found that striving to be a superhero could swallow her whole if she allowed it to. Her temptation as a social entrepreneur was to save the world but discovered her calling was to love and care for her part in it. As her life changed when she got married and had a baby, she learned again that she couldn’t keep up with the pace of her work and fully engage as a wife and a mother.

Jena reminds us not to lose sight of who we are and more importantly, whose we are just because of the depth of work we have taken on. Rather, enjoy the day of Sabbath, create a strong marriage, enjoy parenthood, live a life full of adventure and learning, and always remember, pole pole.

Check out Jena’s website: http://www.JenaLeeNardella.com/.

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Is it Better to Work for Government, Non-Profit, or For-Profit?

How do you measure the meaning of your daily work? Does your work encourage human flourishing? Does it make a difference?

There are three types of agencies in the world that make it their mission to improve people’s lives: government, nonprofit, and for-profit. Does one of these agencies have a higher calling? Jim Stout and Katie Tarara discuss their transition from one agency to another. Their jobs changed, but their faith remained the focal point of their journey.

Jubilee Professional educates Christians on how to integrate faith and work. God’s path for each of us is unique and diverse. There is no “right” job when it comes to living out God’s calling; you can do it anywhere.

If your calling leads you to transition agencies, don’t focus on the differences. Focus on your high calling to serve God wherever you are.

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How to Overcome the Three Challenges Christian Professionals Face

Have you ever found yourself debating with others whether you must choose between evolution and creationism? This is one of many challenges Dr. David Lewis has faced as a biomedical scientist.

Sometimes, we are made to think that we must choose between belief in creation and acceptance of the theory of evolution, or simply, amongst religion and science. In the video below, Dr. David Lewis takes our audience through the story of his scientific career as a Christian who strives to apply God to all areas of his life.

Dr. Lewis addresses the three overarching challenges of being a Christian professional by looking at them through the lens of the Gospel and using examples from his own personal career path.

Challenge of Self

Ambition is great, as long as it is not selfish ambition. Allow God to teach you how to value of the success of others in the workplace.

Challenge of Anxiety

In the bible, we discover God’s responsibility for orchestrating the events on Earth. Dr. Lewis explains to us the importance of keeping faith in God rather than reality.

Challenge of Vision

Allow your knowledge of the glory of the Lord to speak through your work and actions in the work place.

 

 

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The Role of the Local Church in Urban Economic Renewal

If you missed Jubilee Professional 2016 or want to relive our speakers’ insightful talks, we are making all the talks available on our blog!

Pastor Christopher W. Brooks.

Pastor Chris Brooks is integrating entrepreneurship into his church in Detroit. But what does entrepreneurship have to do with the church?

Why should we concern ourselves with the question of urban economic warfare?

The Moral Mandate:

“But seek the welfare of the city, where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Jeremiah 29:7

The Monetary Motivation:

The Shifting Demographic realities facing our nation, require that any institution who wishes to remain viable and relevant take seriously the need for communities, which have a high percentage of ethnic minorities, to be reached and resourced.