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Event Review: 4th Annual Faith at Work Conference

Hats off to Stephen Christensen and his team for making the 4th Annual Faith and Work Conference at Concordia University an all-around great experience.

Excellently organized they managed to pack seven quality speakers into a one-day event without feeling squeezed or rushed.

More significantly, all the speakers except one passed my main guest speaker test, which is that they brought quality content to the table instead of disguised pitches for their own services. Very refreshing!

The integration of work and faith is not a simple or straightforward field about which to think or speak.

I have long advocated that the primary theologians we need to help us think critically about this crucial faith context of the workplace need to be the practitioners whose lives and careers have been steeped in both the realities of the workplace and the realities of God’s kingdom. That is working people.

The speakers were wonderful examples of just those very theologian/practitioners. Business leaders who have worked out in the crucible of their own careers what it means for them to be Christ-followers when it comes to decision-making, leading others, making money, and building a career among other workplace realities.

My key take-aways:

Dondi Scumaci (Business Consultant at Dondi Scumaci, Inc.)
Dondi did a marvelous job of integrating four key areas of professional development with our calling: perspective, leadership, capabilities, and resources. In addition, she was an engaging, hilarious, articulate speaker.

What I found particularly challenging was her exhortation not to wait for opportunities to present themselves, but to reach for them. Such it is with the love command. The stewardship of our lives has been entrusted to us. We need to take the initiative to show up, engage, and act upon the love, passions and ideas that we have.

Bob Doll (Vice Chairman at BlackRock, Inc.)
Bob took the wisdom approach to his talk. Seven insights from his career and the scriptures about the perspectives and values that will result in a meaningful workplace experience.

I’m still reflecting on his recommendation to lead a “heart-motivated” life. I would add to his insight that our minds and hands get ahead of our hearts, with the observation that our culture rewards and expects us to be people of minds and hands while looking down on the role of the heart.

I suspect our hearts not only have valuable information about what directions, roles and outcomes we are best suited for, but also can help us discern whether our minds and hands are inadvertently buying into deceiving values and priorities of the culture around us.

Rich Brott (Business and Personal Finance Author)
Rich was probably the most practical and down-to-earth in his advice as he shared six lessons from the life of Joseph.

Most striking to me was the importance of being able to adjust. There can be a “long path” between one’s current reality and one’s ultimate dream, and “a lot can happen in between.” Hence, the value of acquiring the capacity to adjust. I believe developing the capacity to adjust involves growing in self-awareness, willingness to learn, determination to stay the course, and the flexibility to change one’s perceptions and plans.

Wendy Flint (Senior VP at Boston Reed)
Wendy’s personal story of challenges, faithfulness, and unexpected opportunities was full of wisdom and inspiration.

Of particular conviction to me was the admonition that “Christians need to understand their sphere of influence.”

The most qualified expert for how faith and work integrate is not some outside theologian, pastor or consultant, but the particular believer him or herself who is situated in a particular context, a specific working community, and among a combination of people, issues and actions with which they are intimately familiar.

But if I am not thinking intentionally and critically about my sphere of influence and its various components and dynamics, then I risk missing myriad opportunities to show up most meaningfully and effectively.

David Kim, Court Durkalski, and Patrice Tsague all gave great presentations as well, though, my main take-aways did not arise from these speakers. They did a marvelous job of using the power and authenticity of their own personal career stories to articulate and illustrate the lessons they learned as people of faith making a difference in their work lives. 

pecial mention goes to the conference band, Hour6.

Yes, they provided an inspiring and passionate musical component to the event. More impressive to me, though, was learning of the resourceful manner in which they secured the assignment.

Evidently they came across news of the upcoming conference on the web and contacted the planners to see if they could lead any worship component and/or perform.

With that creative and bold initiative, they incarnated many of the principles of the conference by taking hold of the stewardship of their lives, musical interests and talents, and made things happen for themselves.

Thank you
Thank you again to Stephen Christensen of Faith and Work Life and Concordia University for a great event. We’ve got you on the calendar for 2012!

On your side,

- Karl Edwards

2 Responses to “Event Review: 4th Annual Faith at Work Conference”

  1. David Rupert Says:

    Great wrap up. It sounds like a solid event that helped encourage believers to live out their faith in the workplace.

  2. Karl Edwards Says:

    David, I was impressed with the more thoughtful, critical reflection these leaders were doing about the integration of faith and work. No flat-footed exhortations to do more evangelism, stop stealing pencils, or be more compliant which has characterized the field for so long.

    I’m encouraged!

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