By / Aug 25

Sally Lloyd-Jones joins Russell Moore to talk about her bestselling children's book, The Jesus Storybook Bible. Lloyd-Jones shares ways for parents to engage the hearts and minds of their children with the beautiful story of the Gospel. 

By / Feb 5

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. -1 Corinthians 12:13-20

It was a short list, just a few “plumbing” things that needed to be fixed before the closing on our house. “I can do that; no need to call a plumber,” I said to my wife. A week later, the bill from the plumber was over $900…obviously, plumbing is not mycomparative advantage. Why does comparative advantage even matter? Because it’s an important tool for thinking biblically about faith, work, and economics. In my first article in this series, I suggested five tools that should shape and support our thinking and decision-making, and help us build a holistic biblical worldview. By using these tools, we can take biblical principles and apply them to various contexts we encounter in our daily lives. These five tools are:

  1. Personal Vision – understanding who God has created you to be and what he has called you to do.
  2. Gifts and Talents – understanding your comparative advantage.
  3. Wisdom and Knowledge – understanding that as Christians we trust Scripture as our only authoritative source for faith and practice.
  4. Stewardship – understanding that we are accountable to God for what we do with everything that he has given us.
  5. Biblical Self-Interest – understanding that obedience to God’s call on our lives is in our own best interest.

After examining the first tool, “personal vision,” today we want to turn our attention to “gifts and talents.” This involves understanding your comparative advantage. The Apostle Paul makes it clear in the twelfth chapter of I Corinthians that we were not made to do everything by ourselves. We are not independent or completely dependent. We are interdependent. Paul’s beautiful illustration of the human body establishes a foundational principle that we are each uniquely created with different combinations of gifts and talents, both spiritual and material. These gifts and talents are what economists call “comparative advantage.” Anne Bradley, in her paper, “Why Does Income Inequality Exist?,” writes,

“If I had to possess all of the gifts in a fallen world, I could never accomplish anything. The market is a God-given construct, a methodology for exercising our gifts, and through our unique contributions whether they are through the church, the business world or motherhood, we can make a contribution to the common good.”

God intends for us to use our gifts and talents to glorify him, serve the common good, and further his kingdom in all we do at our churches, in our families, within our communities, and at our jobs. A proper understanding of our comparative advantage can help us to achieve those things effectively.

  • Comparative advantage means it’s better to capitalize on your strengths than to improve on your weaknesses.
  • Comparative advantage means we work better if we focus on what we do best, and work with others who are also focusing on what they do best.
  • Comparative advantage is the reason why diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams.
  • Understanding your comparative advantage is how you can best make a difference.
  • Knowing your comparative advantage does NOT mean always committing to doing just one thing.
  • Comparative advantage helps us understand why we can do what we do best, even though there are others who can do it better.

Comparative advantage is not just a boring economic concept. As we will see in my next post, it is an incredibly powerful tool for helping us understand the world and making better decisions–like calling the plumber first.

That reminds me, I have one more thing to fix on the roof…


Five tools for thinking biblically about faith, work and economics

Why is personal vision important?

Discovering your personal vision

This article originally appeared on the website of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics.

By / Jan 29

Alice came to a fork in the road. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” responded the Cheshire Cat. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the Cat, “It doesn’t matter.” – Lewis Carroll, Alice In Wonderland

As I wrote in my last post, discovering one’s personal vision is perhaps the most vital activity in which a person can engage. It is one of the most important keys to finding your path in life and identifying the mission which you have been called to follow. Having a clearly articulated personal vision statement gives one a template of purpose that can be used to initiate, evaluate, and refine all of one’s activities. As Douglas Groothuis writes in his book, Truth Decay,

In this toxic cultural environment, the Christian needs to know who they are and who they serve. They should be crystal clear on what they are summoned to know, who they are summoned to be, and what they are summoned to do before the face of God. As postmodernists vainly pose and preen for effect, experience and power, Christians can and must lodge their identities firmly in the transcendent reality of the triune God. 

Having established the importance of a personal vision statement, how do you develop one? What are the characteristics of a well-developed statement? Your personal vision statement should be:

  • Written down.
  • No more than a single sentence long.
  • Easily understood by a twelve-year-old.
  • Able to be recited by memory.
  • A unique description of who you are in Christ.
  • A statement that creates priorities.
  • A statement that produces a plan of action.

Your personal vision statement is adaptable. It is not meant to be written once and blasted into stone. While it rarely changes, you should set aside some time on a regular basis to review your personal vision statement, as well as your career, job, and goals. Make adjustments as necessary. You’ll grow, and your vision statement will, too. It will hopefully develop more clearly as you learn more about God and yourself. Your vision is the center of the target, a guiding image of what God has created and called you to be. It is a reason for your existence, guiding you in the decisions you make and the directions you take.

Your personal vision, however, does not include the distinctive ways you intend to accomplish your purpose. Many people write an additional personal mission statement and additional goals to help them focus on achieving their vision. These are typically much more robust than a simple personal vision statement. When writing your personal vision statement, remember that God made and redeemed you for service in the here and now. Proverbs 16:3 reads “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Who you are is a clue to what he wants you to do. Frederick Buechner famously wrote,

The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.

Here is an example of my own personal vision statement:

God has called me to be a teacher and a coach to help others more successfully run the race of life (Hebrews 12:1-3).

Though it is important, writing a personal vision statement requires a great deal of thought about one’s purpose and abilities. The following resources may help in this endeavor:

I hope these help you craft your own personal vision.


Five tools for thinking biblically about faith, work and economics

Why is personal vision important?

Discovering your personal vision

This article originally appeared on the website of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics.

By / Jan 7

“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” – Proverbs 29:18

In the first article in this series we began exploring five tools for applying biblical principles to all of life, including how we approach work and economics.

Personal vision is the first of the five tools, or mental models, we want to discuss. It starts with understanding who God has created you to be, and what he has called you to do.

The Basis of Personal Vision

King David writes in Psalm 139:13-14, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

A closer look at the original Hebrew text for this passage tells us that we are created with great reverence, heart-felt interest and respect. We are unique, set apart and marvelous in God’s eyes.

The Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesians in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God has prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Not only are we uniquely made, but God has created and equipped each of us to do something very special. Our salvation is not just a bus ticket to heaven, but an invitation to participate in God’s redemptive plan to rescue humanity and the physical universe. N.T. Wright, in his book The Challenge of Jesus: Rediscovering Who Jesus Was and Is, puts it this way:

Our task as image-bearing, God-loving, Christ-shaped, Spirit-filled Christians, following Christ and shaping our world, is to announce redemption to a world that has discovered its fallenness, to announce healing to a world that has discovered its brokenness, to proclaim love and trust to a world that knows only exploitation, fear and suspicion…The gospel of Jesus points us and indeed urges us to be at the leading edge of the whole culture, articulating in story and music and art and philosophy and education and poetry and politics and theology and even–heaven help us–biblical studies, a worldview that will mount the historically-rooted Christian challenge to both modernity and post-modernity, leading the way…with joy and humor and gentleness and good judgment and true wisdom.

The Purpose of Personal Vision

Discovering your personal vision helps you understand who you are in Christ, your talents and your comparative advantages. It helps you know how to create the greatest value for yourself, your family, your church, your community and your work for the glory of God. A personal vision should do many things, including:

• Motivate us.

• Give us great purpose.

• Give us direction.

• Be something that matters to us.

• Lead us to the right strategy.

• Serve us and the common good.

Our personal vision is the clearest description of our calling, what God has made us to do in this life. It should constantly remind us of the unique way in which God has chosen us to fit into his great plan of redemption.

In fact, one of the great joys of being a Christian is that you have the confidence of knowing that you personally fit into this great plan. While the specifics of our lives and callings may vary, we share a common purpose: to bring the principles of God’s kingdom to bear in every area of life. Our personal vision ties us to this common scriptural goal.

Unfortunately, many Christians live lives devoid of a personal vision, or embrace one given to them by the culture – one that is incompatible with the call God has placed on their lives.

Without a vision from God we perish, as Proverbs 29:18 points out. We become fatigued in our walk with God and we become demoralized, living with no sense of purpose. Discovering and developing a personal vision for your life is an issue of great importance.

In my next article I will share some practical ideas to help you discover and develop your personal vision.


Five tools for thinking biblically about faith, work and economics

This article originally appeared on the website of the Institute for Faith, Work, and Economics.