Month: May 2009

REVIEW: “Finding a Job God’s Way: Moving into the HOV Lane of Your Career”

David Rawles (Hannibal Books), 224 pages

“Finding a Job God’s Way” offers hope and help for anyone seeking career fulfillment. In the prologue Rawles writes: “We conduct our workshops and seminars to help people learn practical applications to find their dream jobs and achieve their highest career ambitions.”

The book is appropriately characterized by one reviewer as “a moral compass for job-seekers.” Though Rawles offers spot-on advice regarding the gamut of issues related to a job search, his treatise explores and defines requisite aspects of assessing, understanding and applying the God-ordained combination of one’s skills and desires in a manner that offers personal satisfaction and spiritual reward in finding the right job.

Well-salted with sage wisdom from the Bible and advice from seasoned, notable people who’ve succeed in their own career journeys, the book doesn’t view spirituality as an afterthought to one’s career path. Rawles believes spirituality is foundational to one’s career choices as evidenced by the book’s title and the numerous, contextual Bible verses that pervade the pages of his offering.

Chapters are divided into numerical sub-points?58 in all to be exact. Varying in length, the sub-points usually extend from two to four pages, thus increasing the impact and readability of each point. Add to that a concise writing style and conversational content, and “Finding a Job God’s Way” transcends the textbook-ese of similar books because the copy floats off the page as though you’re listening to a beloved friend’s counsel.

In the first chapter, “Healing and Equipping,” Rawles advises readers with sincerity and aplomb on the touchy issue of an unpleasant job history. Simply put, Rawles says to move on?forgive and forget?while noting that anger, bitterness and vengeful attitudes are not the building blocks of a successful job search. In a separate chapter, he suggests ethical ways to handle past occupational unpleasantries.

Regarding resumes, cover letters and interviews, Rawles’ traditional advice offers exceptional practicality. Considering interviews specifically, Rawles’ observations on non-verbal communication in the chapter “Powerful Hidden Language” suggest that eye contact, smiles and enthusiastic hand gestures add energy to the conversation and punctuate one’s words memorably. He further advises that tone-of-voice, leaning forward, and nodding at appropriate times reveal attitudes and the job-seeker’s level of interest.

As is typical with the book, Rawles notes biblical examples to get readers to consider non-verbal communications such as when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, King David danced, Peter jumped from the boat, Jonah turned toward Nineveh, and when Jesus stepped from the tomb.

“Many examples exist in which body language says more than words can ever say,” Rawles writes.

This book offers excellent fodder for youth leaders and parents of teens who want to give high-schoolers the proper perspective and biblical motivation for career choices. It could serve as a guide for small group study regardless of the age of the participants.

Whether preparing for a first-ever interview or looking to leap up the corporate ladder, reading Rawles’ book is job one?which will make finding the next one that much easier.

REVIEW: “The Christian’s Career Journey: Finding the Job God Designed for You”

Susan Britton Whitcomb (JIST Works), 308 pages

If there’s but one word to describe Susan Britton Whitcomb’s discourse, it’s detail.
Other reviewers offer apt words of assessment like biblical, inspirational, interesting, invaluable, practical, helpful and a must-read. But the overarching descriptor of “The Christian’s Career Journey” is detailed. Readers will benefit from the insights and expertise that have earned Whitcomb top-rank among her peers, and will have at their fingertips one of the most complete job search guides with a Christian perspective to be found.

Packed comfortably and completely into 14 chapters, the book is divided in three sections:

? “Responding to the Call”;

? “Creating Your Campaign and Creating Your Career Marketing Documents,” and;

?”Executing Your Job Search.”

Each section is punctuated with sub-topics that educate the reader with in-depth information, and with text boxes offering relevant quips and tips. Also included are what Whitcomb dubs “Pocket Prayers,” which relate directly to the text’s and job-seeker’s objectives. For handy review each chapter concludes with “10 Quick Tips” that provide an overview of the chapter.

Whitcomb devotes the first section, “Responding to the Call,” to make the biblical case that God equips and calls people for specific purposes, and bolsters this position by citing Bible passages regarding 10 persons God called upon himself for significant tasks. She also posits, however, that God is initially more interested in one’s availability than ability. Significant to her position is what she notes are God’s four purposes for work, three of which are: a faith-growing experience, training to increase one’s capacity and influence, and the opportunity to reflect God’s image.

The second portion of the book provides workable tools to help determine career choices and craft effective job searches. Whitcomb advises how to formulate “SMART” career goals, with SMART as an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-specific.

Of particular interest in this section is Whitcomb’s counsel about creating a career brand, which for the work-a-day Christian starts with Christlikeness. Branding also includes the abilities, attributes and advantages that comprise the job searcher’s desired reputation to be used in self-marketing, and represent the unique combination of skills and competencies that draw premium salaries. Whether planned or impromptu, readers will learn how to communicate their brand effectively and succinctly on paper or in person.

The book’s final section is replete with information on job search strategies, mistakes and misconceptions to avoid, maximizing active and passive job searches and more. Whitcomb doesn’t treat the requisite resume and interview components with tip of the hat. Rather, her pen bears hard on the paper, inking every detail necessary to encourage and equip readers to make each word?whether written or verbal?carry significant weight and count for all it can.

Whitcomb doesn’t shy away from talking about money, but enables readers to cash-in on her five truths of salary negotiations that will spawn strength, confidence, integrity and optimism.

Concluding the book is an appendix listing the contact information of more than two dozen certified career coaches from across the U.S., and a helpful topical index. Before reading the want-ads, read “The Christian’s Career Journey” by Susan Britton Whitcomb.

Career counseling ministries pool resources to help churches minister to job seekers

PLANO?Pastors and lay leaders from four states gathered for a conference at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano on April 25 to get equipped with tools to start ministries to some of the more than 13 million unemployed American workers.

“We haven’t seen this many people experience job loss in 25-30 years,” said Lynn Guillory, founder and executive director of Career Transition Ministries Network (CTMN), which organized the conference. “It’s a tremendous harvest field out there and a tremendous opportunity.

“We use ‘job-seekers’ in a rather generic way to mean those who are underemployed, unemployed, misemployed or even nervously employed,” Guillory said.

Since 2000, CTMN, a nonprofit parachurch ministry based in Dallas, has offered free weekly meetings and weekend workshops that go beyond teaching job skills by ministering from a biblical perspective to those in career transition. But as unemployment numbers hit unprecedented levels, CTMN’s leadership became burdened to do more.

“It was apparent to our ministry that we were uniquely equipped to recruit more workers for the harvest field by providing churches with a ministry model to quickly establish a ministry that addresses the needs of the millions who are unemployed,” Guillory said.

CTMN partnered with the Christian Coach Academy, Crossroads Career Network and Crown Financial Ministries to put on the conference. Leaders were given resources to help them create a Christ-centered, biblically based ministry model, where the gospel is presented, believers are encouraged, and job seekers are taught cutting-edge job search skills.

Guillory, a professional in the human resources industry for more than 35 years, opened the conference with an appeal to church leaders to see career transition ministry as a harvest field for the kingdom of God.

“If you’ve looked at people who have experienced job loss, you know that many times they are harassed?harassed by corporate America, harassed by work and the pressures of this world?and many are dispirited because they have never come to faith in Jesus Christ,” Guillory said.

“While we want everyone to be gainfully employed, I think we must focus on the real opportunity. We believe that it is our job to walk with a job seeker through that trial called ‘job loss.’ We believe it’s a faith journey because we’ve seen many people come to faith in Jesus Christ.”

Not only does Guillory see it as a ministry of evangelism to the unsaved, but he also considers it a ministry of encouragement to believers.

“Christians are losing their jobs, as best as we can determine, at the exact same rate as unbelievers, because while the Bible is full of promises, nowhere in Scripture do we find a promise of employment stability,” Guillory said. He said churches must not overlook the opportunity to minister to church members during such difficult times.

Susan Whitcomb, author of “The Christian Career Journey” and president of the Christian Coach Academy, encouraged conference attendees to create ministries that show love to job seekers and help them see their work as worship.

Using the acronym J.O.B., which stands for Journey Of Becoming, Whitcomb said employment is a “journey of becoming more like Christ. It’s a setting for us to know him and make him known even if we’re in secular environments.”

Jim Symcox, a member of Parkhills Baptist Church in San Antonio, attended the conference to gain knowledge for how his church could start a ministry to job seekers. About six months ago, he sensed the Lord was leading him to help create such a ministry. Having nearly 20 years of recruiting experience, Symcox believes God wants to use difficult economic times for his glory.

“I don’t think our recession or depression is by accident,” Symcox said.

“It may be God’s desire to create such hardship in people’s lives that they are drawn to him. They’re in such pain that they start seeking hope, and they start seeking help, and we know that Jesus Christ is the answer to these things.”

Although pastors and lay leaders came from Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, Guillory hopes to provide the training to more than 5,600 churches across the country. A DVD of the conferen

Home-based student ministry book released

The following is a transcript of an interview with Ken Lasater, SBTC church ministries associate and the author of the newly released book study titled “Home-Based Student Ministry: Leading a Student Ministry Focused on the Family.”

Published by the SBTC, the study is based on extensive research of parents whose children have been actively involved in church life from youth through young adulthood. Lasater spent 23 years in youth and music ministry before joining the SBTC staff. The book is available at sbtexas.com/hbsm ($14.99 plus $5 shipping).

How did you get involved in tackling the research for this book?

There has been a lack of resources in Southern Baptist life for involving parents in student ministry. It’s been a need for a long time and it’s been on a lot of radars, yet we still lacked a working model for that to take place.

Also, there have been many voices out there questioning the role of the youth minister and even questioning whether or not it’s even biblical. We needed to answer, “If there’s going to be a student minister, what can he do?” And then, “what might that ministry look like?”

Several studies show that about 70-80 percent of students are not attending church after high school?at least for a few years. How much did that trend influence the writing of this resource?

It really didn’t help form this material. But what the statistics caused was a question as to whether the youth minister role is valid or not. It was because of these statistics and the decline in baptisms that caused a second look at how youth ministry was being administered and the recognition that there were ministry approaches that were not building the church, not reaching students, not hanging on to students. And so the statistics indicated there was a problem.

This material grew out of a completely different perspective. What really began this material was asking the question, “Who really has the answer to these problems? Who can guide us in the right direction?”

What about statistics that show that multiple positive influencers in a student’s life make a difference in whether or not he is a lifelong disciple?

That comes from several studies, and it’s not just students. It also applies to new church members?that they need more than just one or two connection points. They need to be immersed into a community of believers who are involved in each other’s lives in a positive way.

Who is the book written for?

The book has been mailed to churches for the pastor and the student minister. It provides how-to information for the student ministry leader. This material will show how to implement an effective student ministry that will keep the parents connected and involved. But it also puts the parents back in charge of the discipleship. The student ministry may choose to do a lot of that teaching through Sunday School, discipleship classes and other means, but it does put the strategy in the parents’ hands. It puts the tools in their hands. They are kept abreast of what the studies are going to be so they can discuss that in the home. In a lot of churches it is the pastor who makes the decision on the ministry approach, and so this resource is for the pastor as well.

What did you learn in preparing the book?

We didn’t want to ask the general culture about where we are as a church culture. All of the studies had already shown there was a decline in baptisms, that students were failing to stay connected. We didn’t want to find that same information again; we already knew that.

But what we wanted to find out was, who was doing it right? Who was turning the tide? Who has corrected this and who is bringing about the kinds of results we want everybody to have? And so the question was, what are we going to shoot for? And we wanted as the end product students who are connected to the church all through high school, through college and into young adulthood. Students who are prepared to become leaders. Students who are supportive of their church staff. We wanted to find students who want to develop other students who love the Lord and are committed to the Lord. And so we started with those criteria.

These are the kind of students we want to have. And the only place to go to ask the right questions were the parents who had produced those types of children. And so we identified these parents and asked them very pointed questions?27 questions?each with nine possible responses.

We asked them about who is responsible for the spiritual discipline of the student? Who is responsible for the character development of those students? Who is responsible for the biblical instruction, for the biblical worldview? Even questions like who is responsible for your student’s recreation experience in the context of the church setting? The survey really revealed some pretty surprising results.

Mexico missionary: Come if called

When Mexican federal police showed up on his front lawn in response to a threat against his family, International Mission Board missionary Douglas Cantu (not his actual name) knew it was time to relocate. The violence associated with the drug cartels in Mexico had been evident in the region?drug-related deaths and gunfire?but there had been no direct threats to the well-being of Cantu and his family until that night.

Escalating violence between the four major Mexican drug cartels has, in some regions, spilled over into the civilian population and is having a chilling effect on mission teams’ travel across the U.S. southern border. But, said missionaries on both sides of the border, with strategic planning, good communications with Mexican nationals, and a healthy dose of common sense, smaller teams can still safely venture into Mexico and continue their ministries with local congregations.

“We don’t want to scare them from what God has called them to do. But be cautious and get as informed as possible,” said Cantu, who now works in the region of Mexico called “the Heart of Darkness” where less than 1 percent of the population is evangelical Christian. God can work amid the drug war, he said.

Terry Simons, chief deputy in the Victoria County Sheriff’s Department and a former Texas pastor, called Mexico a “war zone.” He said the rise in border violence became most evident in 2000 with the emergence of the Zeta gang, the enforcement arm of the Gulf Cartel. The leader of the Zeta gang, Gregorio Sauceda Gamboa, was arrested April 29 in Matamoros, just across the border from Brownsville, according to Associated Press reports.

Simons, who helped coordinate mission trips into Mexico from his church in Quemado, said there is a high risk for the traditional mission teams that populate the Texas-Mexico border each summer. Although mission teams have not been targeted, his concern is with the overall level of violence in some regions.

“You can’t pick where a criminal element will choose to have a gunfight,” he said.

Daniel White, pastor of First Baptist Church, Eagle Pass, just blocks from the border, said the one thing the narcortaficantes (drug traffickers) can’t do is shoot straight. Use of an automatic weapon is not a skill they have honed and much more than the intended target can get hit.

“When you have war in your city there is going to be collateral damage,” White said.

The city of Piedras Negras, he continued, is controlled by the Gulf Cartel and the April 26 assassination of its newly appointed Police Chief Arturo Navarro Lopez is evidence of such Mafia-style manipulations. The city is run by elected officials but many of those authorities White accused of being ultimately beholden to the cartel.

The violence and intimidation tactics are nothing new to Scottie Stice, who served as a church planter in El Salvador for the IMB and is now an SBTC field ministry strategist. Dealing with and avoiding the cartels were part of the landscape of living in Central America.

“It’s not a new concept,” he said. The menace has simply migrated north to the U.S. border.

CHANGING STRATEGIES

With reports of drug-related violence along the Texas-Mexico border, mission teams once destined for their annual cross-cultural ministries are reconsidering their options and sending teams out of harm’s way. Pastors who coordinate mission projects along the border from Brownsville to El Paso report the number of teams they will be working with this summer is down significantly.

First Baptist Church, Brownsville, plans and coordinates mission trips into Matamoros and the surrounding region through its Missions Outreach Center.

Thirty teams filtered through the facility last year but that number, MOC Director Dwayne Spearman said, is down to 10 or 11.

Mike Due, a Port Arthur pastor, said the number of teams he usually directs into Mexico is down by half. As of May 1 only 10 teams are scheduled to venture south. That decline is representative of the decisions being made across the U.S. regarding missions work in