All posts by Christen

Business and the Calling of God.

“Many are called but few exhibit the quality of called-ness” – Jesus

This may not be exactly how you remember the quote, but it conveys the meaning more accurately than most word-for-word translations.

Jesus is saying that calling is not a special quality available to just a few people, it is the norm. God has a purpose which becomes a calling for every one of us, because as a Father God wants us to be the best we can be. The problem is that too many of us don’t realize we’ve have been called.

I believe that part of the reason for this is that we separate our thinking into sacred and secular … If you’re a missionary or charity worker you are probably called by God, but if you run a Costa franchise or work for the finance team of a pharmaceutical company, well that’s just where you earn the money to support those with a real calling. In this way of thinking doctors and teachers are a grey area, worthy professions so the people who do them might be called.

The trouble is this style of thinking has put the cart before the horse, before mankind needed saving, and therefore missionaries and charity workers, God had commissioned us to be fruitful and to steward the resources He had given us. The world of work was a sacred vocation,  the only thing that is purely secular is Sin!

If we change our perspective, we can see that any job or work situation has the possibility of expressing the quality of called-ness. That doesn’t mean you can be anything that you want to be, calling leads us down one path rather than another. But if we follow His leading we will find ourselves in a place where we can advance Jesus’ Kingdom. In fact the mission of God has always advanced through peoples everyday work and business.

The Galilean Capital of Sepphoris, 3 miles north of Nazareth, the city on a hill built by Jesus in the first three decades AD.

Jesus’ day job was as a builder, not as a carpenter as tradition has led us to believe, (note: the Greek work “Tekton” is a builder as in “Archi-tekton” which is a master-builder or “architect” in English).

Being a builder infused so much of who Jesus was and still is today, building His church. You hear it in the first accusation made against Jesus, that He would pull down and rebuild the temple in three days. You catch it in his wisdom, “don’t start building a tower before you’ve calculated the cost”. And you hear it in his prophetic teaching, “my Fathers estate has many buildings and I’m going to prepare a place for you there!”

But it is interesting to also note how other people jobs and businesses opened doors for the kingdom and provided a platform or foundation for ministry too.

Jesus ate the last supper in the upper room of an estate that also owned a working olive oil business. Gethsamane means oil-press. The early Church tell us the last supper was eaten at the home of John Mark the Gospel writer, and it tells us that he was the lad who ran away naked from the soldiers when Jesus was arrested. John Mark was no doubt sleeping out in the outbuildings of the families Olive Oil business as so many adults where in town for the passover!

John the disciple also had property in Jerusalem which tradition ties to his business activity selling the fish that had been brought down from Galilee. This base and the related commercial activity meant that John new the staff at the nearby Priest’s palatial complex and this got him access to Jesus trial in the High Priests mansion. John’s house also acted as a gathering place for Jesus’ family in the days immediately after Jesus trial and execution.

Paul the apostle used his trade as a leather worker  to fund his missionary work, (“tent maker” is a term used for more general leather working just as “saddler” is is English). But it was about more than just money, the tools he used for his work actually became a part of his missionary outreach. So people would take the aprons and sweat clothes Paul was using during the day to people who needed healing. There was no conflict of interest between Paul’s natural gifts and vocation and his missionary task.

In planting the church at Ephesus Paul used the school of Tyrannus as their public building. The school would have been a private lecture hall used for a variety of purposes, most Greek cities had these halls, often attached to Gymnasium’s. So Tyrannus’ business assets became the means by which the Ephesian church was established..

Right the way through the New Testament the kingdom grows and spread through the resources of business owners and trades people. Lydia traded in purple fabrics, Luke probably traveled as a ships doctor etc.

And so it is through history… God want’s to bless the work of our hands. We can display the quality of called-ness whatever the details of daytime employment. In fact we might not be able to show that quality in any other way.

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Why the West End?

Bugsy PosterI love London’s West End, my first ever paid work was in the West End, I was part of the stage crew on the musical “Bugsy Malone” at the Her Majesty’s Theatre on the Haymarket. I was technically still at school, I would head up to the West End as soon as school finished, I had to skip games on Wednesday afternoons to cover the matinee performance. Now here I am over thirty years later writing this blog at the Salvation Army Hall on Oxford Street and I still think the West End is one of my favourites places in all the world.

Now if you work in local government then the term “West End” has a tight and precise definition, it is a local ward in the borough of Westminster covering Mayfair and Soho. But most of the World uses the term “the West End” to define a broader area defined more by the sense of life and energy that revolves around its world famous landmarks than by boundary line on a planners map. From Big Ben and Tratrafalgar_square_mediumfalgar Square through Soho and Piccadilly Circus, up Regents Street and across to the Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner, The West End buzzes with life 24 hours a day.

Perhaps that is why it was recently found to be the worlds most expensive place live and/or rent office space, beating even Tokyo into second place. Of course if you can afford to live here you get some of the worlds best and most famous shops, (Selfridges, Hamleys, Fortnum and Masons etc), some of the worlds best Galleries and Theatres, and your neighbours include the royal family in Buckingham Palace; and the prime minister at 10 Downing Street.

SH outline2The idea of living here would for most people simply be a fiction, oh did I mention that the West End also contains the most famous fictional address in history, 221b Baker Street, the home of Sherlock Holmes.

But the idea of working here is a reality for thousand upon thousands of Londoners A 2012 report by the commercial estate agents CBRE stated that the central West End area had 86,600 businesses and the periphery had and additional 25,750 businesses. That is over 100,000 businesses connected to an area that only has 30,000 residents in the officially defined ward. In 2013 the West Commision noted that: “It has the largest and most diverse concentration of jobs to be found anywhere in the UK” .

Which is why we are trying to develop West End Wednesdays!

As a support and ministry to those who spend most of their waking hours here even if they don’t technically live here. Whatever sector, however permanent of temporary we want to create an oasis of spiritual life at the heart of the commercial reality.

We are re-starting from small beginnings, but there is a world of need and opportunity, we are not looking to detract from the work of people’s home churches but to help people connect with Jesus and their calling right in the place where most of their life is lived.

The West End is argueably the most culturally important location in Britain and if you are working here, however grand or small your job might seem to be, it is very possible that Father God has put you here. We want to help you know your calling, because who knows if you weren’t put here for such a time as this!


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The Real Deal

MmillerToday’s news was dominated by the resignation of Maria miller from her post as Culture Secretary . It’s not my intention to debate the rights and wrongs of her case, nor pass judgment. But as I watched the news this morning the Sky News reporter  made an interesting observation. She commented that the resignation was as much a consequence of Ms Millers reaction and response to the investigation into her expense claims, and the brevity of her apology (when it was found they where in error) as it was to do with any perceived or real wrong doing.

Maria Miller had behaved in a way that annoyed people and made them believe she had something to hide.

She had behaved defensively.

We all do it and yet we are distrustful of others when they do it too. When we are aware we are being defensive we tend to be aware of the wounds and wants we are protecting from pain or manipulation. But we also know that defensive behaviour is associated with having to hide and so when others do it they appear dishonest and shifty.

It’s a pattern that goes back to the beginning. After eating the fruit Adam hears God in the Garden and hides. When God asks “Where are you?” Adam replies honestly by saying “I hid because I was afraid”, but when God probes the root of that fear, “Did you eat the fruit…?” Adam defends himself by pointing at Eve… “It was the Woman!” … Then promotes himself by pointing out God’s mistake, “…that you gave me”.

We avoid blame by self promoting and self protecting.

We all have things we want to hide, whether real sins or simply vulnerabilities that we don’t want others to exploit. So we get into the habit of hiding ourselves, even from our own scrutiny at times.

We put on persona’s and that we think will make us more attractive and trustworthy to others, but in truth they separate us. We where made to want to know and be known by others. So we are willing to follow the authentic and real…  position and power can coerce you to follow them but they are no-where near as effective in leadership as the heart connections that come from feeling you know someone and that they know you. The theory is easy but to be authentic and real requires vulnerability and openness. And that takes courage.

So it is easier to adopt behaviour patterns that justify our hiddeness. But today’s events where a clear example of how these behaviour habits can undermine our best intentions and shut doors to us that our skills and abilities should have kept open.

It says of Jesus that he entrusted himself to no one because he knew what was in people, John 2:24. yet at the same time people didn’t feel he was hiding himself from them nor was he defending himself or setting himself over them. So it must be possible to be real and still be private.

I guess authenticity is a quality not a technique, it requires courage and peace in the inner-self, both works of these are works of the  Holy Spirit. But the benefits of this confident vulnerability are more than simply personal. Being the real you opens up opportunity, it brings what the Bible calls favour.

It is one of my favourite things to help people encounter Jesus in ways that release this attractive quality of favour in them. Favour  allows you to lead others without coercion; it lays the foundations for business; and it  attracts promotion and responsibility at work.

Favour comes as the Spirit brings courage to the inner-self. That stops us needing to promote and protect.

By all accounts Maria Miller was competent and her errors where found to genuine not malicious, but her refusal to co-operate nor be candid when questioned over her affairs have prevented her being who she could have been.

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First proper blog post

This is my first post for our new web-site… I’m aiming for at least one a week from now on.

So where to start. Well why the West End… In the borough of Westminster… There is a personal answer to the question, and a strategic one too. So first the personal one.

west endAbout three years ago I woke up knowing I had had a dream and as I woke up I heard a voice say…”It is about Windsor and Westminster” I mentioned the dream to my wife but did nothing about until two weeks later I received an invite to the Houses of Parliament, to attend the windsor castlenational Prayer Breakfast. From that point I found Jesus opening all sorts of doors for me in the Westminster Area.

Now I live in the borough of Windsor an Maidenhead so I found myself regularly in both the places referenced in my dream.

So that’s my personal reason for being involved in West End Wednesdays… I want to see a forum here in the heart of the UK’s cultural, commercial, civic and spiritual centre that supports people in their working life and service of these institutions. Over the last couple of years Jesus has opened doors for me into parliament, government, church and commerce in the West End/Westminster area.

And from a strategic point of view it should be clear already that the West End of London is where so much that shapes the nation originates. Buckingham Palace is here; the theatre and entertainment industry is based here; actually my first ever paid employment was on the stage crew at Her Majesty’s Theatre on the Haymarket; Parliament, Government and the Old Bailey are all here.

The City of London is a global force when it comes to finances, but the City of Westinster if a global force on so many different fronts.

Now if we are going to change our nation it will not be by taking control of these secular high points for Jesus, it will be by people called as salt and light operating in these arenas by faith. So it is people we want to support, people who bring a different spirit and authority into rooms and meetings that decide outcomes for thousands.

In my next post, I’ll start thinking about what the Kingdom looks like in each of the fields.

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