Three Kingdom Values worth Dying and Living for

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Every good enterprise has a value statement, often shared publicly with customers and clients. Values are cherished ways of behaviour. They motivate us and give us direction. IMT has three values which they wish to recommend to all who work, which incidentally spell out IMT: integrating, meaning and thriving. We believe these three values are kingdom values, worth living and dying for.

Integrating   

When we integrate, we bring things together under the purpose and presence of God: faith and work, Sunday and Monday. When we integrate, we combine our devotion to God with everyday matters such as handling money, working in an enterprise and making things. Integration destroys dualism. 

Dualism creates a hierarchy of occupations with respect to pleasing God (with missionary and pastor at the top and the financial manager near the bottom). So when people tell me they are going to leave “secular” work and plan to enter “God’s work” I usually say to them, “What were you doing before? You were doing the Lord’s work.” Through integrating we find meaning in all aspects of our life and work.

Meaning

We do not discover meaning buried implicitly in our actions, works, enterprises or ministries. We bring meaning to them ourselves or, conversely, meaning is attributed by other people. The noun “meaning” conveys “implication of a hidden or special significance,” and discovery of “purpose” (Webster).  

While we do not discover the deep-rooted meaning simply by crafting a table, making a meal or a deal, we can discover the meaning of that task by seeing how it relates to the purpose of God for humankind. We can discover meaning by seeing how we are made like God to work in community and for others, and how working is a practical way of loving our brother, sister and neighbour. We find meaning in work that fulfills longings in ourselves for expression of giftedness and talents, and work that builds up the commonwealth, the larger community. Included in this list is that through work we are able to provide for ourselves and loved ones.  

As Daniel Pink notes in his Whole New Mind, “meaning is the new money.” [i] He quotes Victor Frankl who wrote a half-century earlier “People have enough to live, but nothing to live for; they have the means but no meaning.” [ii] We are incentivized, motivated and empowered primarily by meaning. Without meaning we are the walking dead.  

If the first value—integrating—concerns the worker and the second value—meaning—concerns the work, the third, thriving, concerns the workplace.  

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Thriving 

To really thrive is not merely to be successful, rich, or famous. It is not attained by self-help disciplines. But, unquestionably, thriving is something God wants for his creatures. Proverbs 13:11 notes, “the tent of the upright will flourish.” But what does it mean to thrive? The church father Irenaeus (130-202 AD) famously said, “the glory of God is a living human being [or ‘man fully alive’].” Jesus said, before Irenaeus, “I am come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). For those of us wanting to be fully alive, this turns out to be a death and resurrection. 

How can we experience the flourishing that the kingdom of God brings? Jesus in his first sermon in the Gospel of Matthew said: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near [or is within your grasp]” (Matt. 4:17).  

Repentance is actually turning around, making a right-about-face:  

  • from darkness to light,  

  • from barely being alive to being born again,  

  • from being autonomous (your own god) to letting God be God,  

  • from orientation towards self to God-orientation,  

  • from pessimism and negativism toward what is happening in the world to embracing hope in the coming kingdom,  

  • from taking our values and life purposes from the surrounding culture to embracing the values and priorities of the kingdom of God.  

Repentance is a positive thing: turning from loving self as the centre of the universe to loving God with all our heart soul strength and mind, turning from the darkness of consumerism to the light of embracing an extravagant and joyful life.   

A British churchman, Stanley Evans, once described the person living and working in the kingdom of God as “a controlled drink, purposively intoxicated with the joy of the life which is perpetually created by God himself.” [iii] 

So embracing these values implies an invitation: come to Jesus, embrace his death and resurrection, find full and abundant life in him and you will be able to work for Jesus, find meaning in your life and work, and you will flourish now and forever. But not without a lot of trouble, at least in this life. 


References:
[i] Daniel Pink, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future(New York” Riverhead Books, 2006), 61.
[ii] Quoted in Pink, A Whole New Mind, 218.
[iii] Quoted in Kenneth Leech, True Prayer: An Invitation to Christian Spirituality (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1980), 103.

Dr. R. Paul Stevens

Dr. R. Paul Stevens is a craftsman with wood, words, and images and has worked as a carpenter, a student counsellor, a pastor, and a professor. He is the Professor Emeritus of Marketplace Theology and Leadership at Regent College, and the Chairman of the Institute for Marketplace Transformation.

His personal mission is to empower the whole people of God to integrate their faith and life from Monday to Sunday. Paul is married to Gail and has three married children and eight grandchildren, and lives in Vancouver, BC.

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