MY KINGDOM FOR A PORSCHE
Patrick Dodson is the director of Media Village Europe. This institute is part of YWAM´s University of the Nations under the College of Communication. Patrick has worked with YWAM for over 20 years and lives with his wife Heather, and their four children in Altensteig, Germany. Their unique work in YWAM, which includes consulting, training and media production, has given them much exposure to the business community.
A friend of mine works in marketing at Porsche. Her job is brand development and she loves what she does. She´s done a DTS, worked with Mercy Ships and also at other YWAM bases. When she returned to Germany, that was what opened up for her – a Christian marketing Porsche 911´s and Cararra´s. What a job, eh?
About a year ago we were talking about the excellent opportunity she has working in such a great company. I asked her if she had developed a theology of branding? "A what?" she asked. "You know, a biblical understanding of the function and application of brand development," I said. She had never thought about it. The job was pretty well defined by an established business practice. She was simply doing that job.
I asked how she brought her Christianity into the workplace or how she walked with God in her job. She told me about prayer for her fellow employees, how she was trying to get some Christians together in the company and about her own spiritual life. I pressed a little further, “What about what you do for almost 50% of your time – brand development? How are you addressing the many challenges you face every day with God´s principles?” We both saw that we needed to work on this area of our lives.
Since then, we have spent more time discussing how to work this out and how God can be more involved in our everyday lives. It´s quite a challenge.
THE KEYS AND DETAILS OF THE KINGDOM
Most of us get the big stuff. Repentance, forgiveness, stay right with God, help the widow and the orphan, stay connected with other Christians These are the keys of the kingdom. We know what it takes to get and stay saved. This has been the emphasis of the church for the last 100 years.
What´s hard is working the details. Reconciling all things. Finding the ways of God for those small but significant everyday occurrences we find ourselves in, like an argument with one of our children, dealing with a client on the phone, or solving a problem in production or finance. There probably 10 - 20 issues we face each day where we are slightly or greatly out of our depth. And while this should be great fodder to take us to the Word and presence of God, we tend to naturally resort to how our fathers did it, or to our company’s operating procedures. You know, the way things have always been done.
When we are naturally really good at something, or are following the basic principles of God in business – especially in making and in maintaining good relationships – these things can lead to financial blessing and a decent working environment.
But there´s more.
What we are missing is the Kingdom of God. Getting saved is only meant to be the entry to the Kingdom, not an escape route from the pain and complexities of a world to be endured, then left burning behind. Remember, God´s original intention was not the cross. It was the garden. The cross provided a way for us to return. The real question is, how do we live in the garden?
I have to say that we have not dealt with this issue very well in YWAM. Most of our training and mission has been focused on getting people saved and helping them stay that way. We have not prepared people to live in the garden, praying for God´s kingdom to come here on earth as it is in heaven. It´s no wonder then that when a person leaves YWAM and gets into family life, a job, their place in the community, that they are not totally sure how to apply the ways of God. Our model is rather skewed.
THE TIMES ARE CHANGING
I have heard that it takes three generations to bring about long-lasting change in society. Our fathers (natural and spiritual) brought us an understanding of the broader purposes of God´s kingdom. Loren Cunningham, Bill Bright, Tom Marshall and others, prophetically gave us the ability to break out of this narrow focus of mission, into an understanding of building God´s kingdom. The second generation (that´s most of us) have the super-hard job of application. What does the kingdom look like? How do we walk in it day by day? What are the detailed principles, ways, statutes, and laws of God that work in every facet of life? The things that God said that if we followed... blessing, life, multiplication, relationship and success would result. Our children (the third generation) will have the benefit of our pioneering and should establish the ways of God naturally in their personal and family lives, in their communities, in their businesses, in politics and so on.
But now back to us. We have a vacuum in terms of historical understanding of knowing the detailed ways of God and how they apply in our jobs and society. A lot of us live in ´Babylon´ every day and we are trying to figure out what Daniel knew. You are no longer in YWAM and surrounded by those ´happy people oblivious to the real problems of every day life.´ How does it work here? Let me share a few things about Daniel.
1. He knew God had led him to Babylon (Dan. 1). It was God who allowed Judah to be led into captivity and it´s my assumption that it was not just about punishment. We must keep in mind that the ´earth is the Lord and ALL it contains´ and that He is after the ´reconciliation of ALL THINGS.´ God had purposes for the Babylonians and Daniel had a place in this. What has God led you into?
2. Daniel knew the ways of God in detail. As a Hebrew he had to study the rich depth of the Torah and how this applied to everyday life in family, agriculture, business, government and diet. Diet? Yep. How often are you reading and discovering the detailed ways of God in Genesis or Deuteronomy?
3. Daniel knew who he was. He was secure in his personal, spiritual and national identity. Even in captivity, he knew his place and how to walk in it. This led to amazing opportunities over 70 years and four rulers. Identity is such a crucial issue for us to work out, in God. How´s it going in your life?
The net result for us here is that God has us in the world for a very good purpose and it´s not just to fill our churches. God wants to reconcile all things and we have a lot of scope and work to do. And this comes down to how we spend our lives every day. Now at the center of this life is our family. I believe when we get this right, the community and nation follow. But there are a lot of great resourses that cover this area. I would like to finish with a strong tool for developing an understanding of the ways of God in what you do with most of your time.
BUILDING A THEOLOGY OF YOUR LIFE
I was in Los Angeles in June meeting with around 15 people who were working in the field of film and television. A lot of these excellent people had been in YWAM and we were doing a three-day workshop on the same question as this article. Now that we know that film is a valid expression of life and mission in God, how do we walk it out? Wanting to isn´t enough. If we lacked getting Daniel´s kind of depth at home, school, in the church or in YWAM, how can we establish this ´on the job?´ Here´s what we came up with.
This is a simple system that you can work out over time to develop a theology of what you are doing at work, as a mom, in training, etc. The idea is to get detailed understanding about the field God has led you into so that you can transform that area on two levels: relationships and structures. Let´s say for example, that you are a film director...
1. What does the nature and character of God teach you about your field? Who is He (God of light, Master story-teller) and what is He like (dynamic, creative, true)? How can you apply this to your field? When we take our area of work and look closely at the person of God, we often get a different perspective on what we are doing. He reveals other aspects of Himself when we seek Him in this way.
What this does is validate what you are spending your life on. The church has basically focused on gifts like pastor, teacher, prophet, apostle... If this was it, everyone else gets the ´ministry of helps.´ Helps? Remember, these were the gifts for those called to the ecclesiastical domain. Those who God set aside to minister to the rest of the body so they could be equipped for their ministry. So when you look to the nature and character of God, you see how much He loves what you are doing and how this reflects Him, or should.
2. What does the word of God say about your field? Go through the scriptures and see what He has said about what you are doing. Now you won´t find many verses about directing film but there is tons about story-telling, parables, human nature, conflict, theatre, drama... The word is a rich resource for everything pertaining to life and godliness.
What this does is give you authority in your field of endeavor, plus the necessary words from God that build your faith in the practice and detailed application of your daily work. I did this with Proverbs and the field of communication. In that one book there was 10 full-size pages full of scriptures just about communication. Talk about a head start in the field!
3. What has God revealed about your field through His creation? What can you learn through what has been made? For instance, everything in creation doesn´t add, it multiplies. It´s in harmony with itself, never dominates or wastes resources. What creation teaches is a businessperson´s life manual. For the film director, there are the properties of light, color, balance, symmetry and the amazing human dynamic.
This brings life and balance to our understanding. The Greek Gnostic influence that weighs heavily in western society brought about a split in our thinking in regards to many things, but God´s creation took one of the biggest hits. We have left the material world behind in search of a better spiritual one. God gave us this incredible resource and even when judgment comes, He will give us an even better one. How does it relate to your field? Get this and you will get a lot.
4. What can we learn about our field from history? What has gone before us in both the negative and positive examples? In terms of film, how have stories shaped cultures, what were the means of transfer, how has the imagination and visualization worked in the past? How can we capture that through modern storytelling methods?
This adds depth to our field. We are no longer working in a vacuum but joining a greater cloud of witnesses in our field. Ignorance kills us and when we seek a broader understanding of our field through history, we strengthen our understanding of what God has been doing for centuries and therefore can better understand our place today.
5. Where are the pressure points today? What are the key areas in your life or work that are undergoing the most work? Often, it is these places where God is trying to speak into our need and reveal Himself. Identify these areas and look at the four things above to see where the details of the kingdom apply. This is often a great place to start in this process listed above. It gives immediate application and a relevant starting place.
By the way, if you would like to go through this with your company or organization, I would be glad to send the materials we used in LA or run a workshop with your group, just email me.
YOUR MISSION, SHOULD YOU ACCEPT IT
FastCompany is one of the best business publications I read. Life@Work is also a great Christian business journal. One thing I notice in both is that they are not only tackling the ´detail´ issues, but they are also networking others to build each other up. FastCompany has cell groups that meet in cities around the world sharing principles and practices. Life@Work has a great website for sharing stories and concepts. If there is one advantage to our digital, easy to travel world, it is networking. I want to encourage you to consider how you can network with others to expand on what God is doing in your life, build one another up and share these lessons as God leads.
Let me close with another request. We are working hard in YWAM to bring the details of the kingdom into application in our training, work and lives. I know God has given many of you lots of lessons and principles through your families and work. We need you to be part of what God is doing in YWAM and I encourage you to stay connected. Bring the principles back, the struggles, the challenges and how you are handling them with God. We have a role to influence and train the next generation in what you are doing today. Please help us prepare them with the lessons you are learning. But at the same time, do the homework as stated above. Go in depth for the ways of God and let´s see His kingdom expand until He returns. That´s when the work and fun really begins!