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  • Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Restorative Readings: The Old Testament, Ethics, and Human Dignity
    Pickwick Publications

    Foreword by Walter Brueggemann, my chapter is entitled 'In conversation: The Old Testament, Ethics and Human Dignity'. A superb resource edited by Julie Claassens and Bruce Birch

  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Entries in Work (8)

Sunday
May012016

A blessed workers' day - the joy and struggle of work, and the greater good

A blessed workers' day to all those who have the privilege to work, for those who long to work, for those who find joy in their work, and for those whose work brings life. Blessings to those who work to survive, to those who are faithful in spite of struggle or hardship. Blessing to the workers and work seekers. May our work make the world a better place. May we commit our creativity, energy and our time to the work of justice, peace and love, and may it be seen in the things we do and make.

"What we would like to do is change the world--make it a little simpler for people to feed, clothe, and shelter themselves as God intended them to do. And, by fighting for better conditions, by crying out unceasingly for the rights of the workers, the poor, of the destitute--the rights of the worthy and the unworthy poor, in other words--we can, to a certain extent, change the world; we can work for the oasis, the little cell of joy and peace in a harried world. We can throw our pebble in the pond and be confident that its ever widening circle will reach around the world. We repeat, there is nothing we can do but love, and, dear God, please enlarge our hearts to love each other, to love our neighbor, to love our enemy as our friend"

- Dorothy Day, Founder of the Catholic Worker Movement.

Thursday
Jan022014

The dawning of a new era - Stellenbosch University

Today a new era dawned in my ministry and working life - on the 2nd of January 2014 I arrived at Stellenbosch University at around 7.50am to move into my new office in the Faculty of Theology.  

Yesterday my appointment as Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology and Ethics (with a focus on Public Theology) came into effect! I am truly grateful for this magnificent opportunity to serve the Church and society in the academy!

I am so excited about what the future holds in this new post! For some years I have been attached to the faculty as a staff member in Ekklesia (the Center for Leadership and Congregational) - however, this new post is as a full time academic with both undergraduate and post graduate teaching and research responsibilities.

I will be teaching Ethics and Systematic Theology and will have a particular focus on the Church's role in the various 'public' spaces of society (politics, economics, health care, education, the arts and many others).  This is where most of my attention and energy has been focussed in the last decades.  The Unashamedly Ethical and EXPOSED 'Shining a light on corruption' campaigns have aimed at precisely this, to support and empower the Church for making a positive contribution to the transformation of the nation and the world.

So, today I moved my stuff from my 'old office' in the Ekklesia side of the faculty building into the 'faculty' side of the building (which is pictured above - I took this photo about three years ago.  Isn't it a beautiful building?) Each of the departments are clustered together, and I am in the section for Systematic Theology, Church History, Ethics and Ecclesiology. It is a beautiful sunny office with rows and rows of book shelves and lots of wood - befitting the historical look of the Kweekskool buildings.

My prayer for this new sesion in my ministry is that I will have an opportunity to serve both the Church and the nation in developing critical though and ideas, useful tools, and well trained people who can bring about transformation and the renewal of society for the sake of justice and grace.

I am inspired by the following quote from a speech that former President Nelson Mandela gave at the Methodist Conference in Umtata on 18 September 1994:

One cannot over-emphasise the contribution that the religious community made particularly in ensuring that our transition achieves the desired result. The spirit of reconciliation and the goodwill within the nation can, to a great measure, be attributed to the moral and spiritual interventions of the religious community.

Now that a major part of the journey towards democracy has been traversed, new and more difficult tasks lie ahead of us. For, political democracy will be empty and meaningless, if the misery of the majority of the people is not addressed.

The Church, like all other institutions of civil society, must help all South Africans to rise to the challenge of freedom. As South Africa moves from resistance to reconstruction and from confrontation to reconciliation, the energy that was once dedicated to breaking apartheid must be harnessed to the task of building the nation.

I would appreciate your prayers for me, and of course also for Megie, Courtney and Liam, as this new phase in our lives takes shape.

I will remain the Chairman of the Board of 'EXPOSED - Shining a light on corruption' as our team works towards the G20 meetings in Australia in November 2014.  In addition to that I will also serve on one or two other boards (Unashamedly Ethical, the Power Group Charitable Trust, Half Time and Alpha).

Monday
Jan092012

Thankful to be going back to work

I am back at work today after a great vacation with my family.

I am thankful for the privilege of having work. It is a blessing to be able to meet my family's needs, to apply my abilities in service of the world, and to give expression to my passion in service of Christ.

I am thankful! Here is a prayer that you may wish to pray as you go to work.

 

O God, sovereign Lord over all creation, without whom all purposes are futile, grant me today the assistance of your Spirit. In all the surprises and changes of life, may I fix my heart upon you, so that your eternal purposes may be fixed in me.
In the name of Jesus, who came to make your eternal purpose clear. Amen

- A guide to prayer for all God's people (Upper Room Books, 1990)

 

 

Thursday
Mar032011

Hard work and utopia - a personal confession

I found this quote deeply challenging. I have so often fallen for the individualist, consumerist, hedonistic culture that pervades the first world.

Like so many others, I secretly believe that somehow I can gain happiness, prosperity, and good will without sacrifice and hard work. Indeed, living for others takes courage and discipline. Looking out for the needs of others and choosing to deny your own is a deliberate choice - it is costly.

We are not asked to subscribe to any utopia or to believe in a perfect world just around the corner. We are asked to be patient with necessarily slow and groping advance on the road forward, and to be ready for each step ahead as it become practicable. We are asked to equip ourselves with courage, hope, readiness for hard work, and to cherish large and generous ideals.
- Emily Greene Balch

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Tuesday
Feb082011

Realistic elongation and your perfect day. 

Work-Life balance is an important topic.  I hardly know a person who does not struggle with some aspect of it.  There are some who need the rest because they work too hard, and others who long for work to be able to pay their bills and meet their obligations.

In my own life I have constantly struggled with work-life balance.  The real misnomer in that is of course that work is part of life!  It is not as if I balance my work off against my life.  The two are one.  However, what I constantly battle with is finding a realistic rhythm that can sustain the needs of my family (and my own physical and ego needs) yet allow enough space and time for true and authentic life with my God, wife, children, and friends.  I never have enough time for deep prayer, uninterrupted and unhurried conversation with my wife and kids.  I seldom feel energized or free enough to truly be free for play.  Even when I am not working I am thinking about work.

I have some friends who strive for absolute freedom.  This is a wonderful desire, but I think that it could disconnect one from your what is realistically possible.  It is not possible to live one's life without making some measure of compromise towards the needs, desires and demands of others.  As a parent I have had to learn that my sleep patterns are less important than my children's sleep patterns.  As a husband I have had to learn that my mood and desire frequently need to give way to my wife's needs and mood.  As a citizen of a country I have had to learn that my will must sometimes take a back seat to the greater will of the people.

Realistic compromise is the name of game!  Now of course you don't want to compromise to such an extent that you never achieve what you want or need - I had a relative who died before he retired because he had planned to 'start living' when he had enough money to do so.  That is the opposite extreme.

Nigel Marsh (tip of the hat to my psychologist friend Phil Collier who pointed this talk out to me!), the author of the wonderful book 'Overworked underlaid' (no that is not a typo), presents this very informative TEDx Talk, in which he discusses the delicate balance between work and daily life.  He offers the following advice (well, at least this is what I gleaned from his talk as 'advice'):  

- Write out your ideal day.

- Then realise that it is unlikely that you will have that specific day too often.

- Then plan to 'live' the elements of that day over a realistic time span.

In other words plan a 'realistic elongation' of your ideal day!  By doing this you will have some plan to work towards that removes the pressure of having to have a perfect day, every day.  At the same time you should have measurable instances of blessing, freedom and unhindered choice.  Yet, you will also allow enough space to fit your life into the lives of others.  This concession is not only necessary, I believe that in the long term we shall find that we cannot simply live our lives for ourselves.  Some of the most rewarding experiences I've had in life are things that I would not necessarily have chosen for myself.  Yet, by 'giving' a little I have met wonderful people, learned new things and seen magnificent places.

What do you think?  How do you manage 'work life balance'?

Tuesday
Mar162010

Transform your work life

Yesterday I sat in another meeting where a prominent business person asked 'how can I transform my worklife into something more than just a job?' It is a common question!  Some people ask this question because their job is not satisfying, others ask it because they know that life is about more than just waking up, working, going to bed, and starting all over again!

Gretchen Rubin's quote continues to live in my mind:

While the days are long, the years are short! (Gretchen Rubin)

So true!  There must be more to life than just working for a salary (as important as that is).  Most of us grow up longing to do something significant, something that brings great joy, blessing and fulfillment.

This friend shared his frustration about his local church with me - he is a top business analyst with years of training, a wealth of experience, and the kind of skill that most businesses would pay thousands to have access to!

When he asked his pastor to help him to find some ministry through which he could express his love for Christ, and also use his gifts, he was encouraged to join the men's group that does 'parking duty' on a Sunday morning before and after the services. Sure, he may find some companionship and friendship there, but he would not find expression for his gifts and abilities in that setting.  When Graham Power, one of the more prominent business persons in South Africa, came to Christ and was a member of my congregation I was faced with a similar dilemma!  What do you do with someone like this?  My temptation was to get Graham to join my leaders meeting - however, I know now that he may have joined out of a desire to honour Christ.  But, the challenge of helping to run a suburban Church would never have been enough for him!  The small mindedness of members, the unrealistic budgets, and the limited staff would soon have left him frustrated.  Thankfully Graham discovered that his ministry was in his work place; his work life was the time that God wanted to use to transform his business, tranform his industry, touch the nation and eventually the world.

It was clear that my friend's church didn't think that he could have a ministry on Monday!  His pastor suffered from the same problem I had - my members should use their gifts within the ministry of our Church!  If only his minister could realise that he is already gifted, has a network of relationships, significant influence, and great passion and commitment to Christ.  All that he needs is some encouragement, a few good ideas, a few basic tools, and he could impact hundreds, even thousands of people through his work life!

He could certainly help ministries to understand how to manage their finances, or perhaps where they could invest some of their income to generate additional funds to grow their work. He certainly has a keen understanding of economics, policy and working with teams in complex situations.  Moreover, he could be taught to pray, share the Gospel of Christ, understand the basic principles of justice, economics and the values of God's Kingdom.  Through these basic things he could influence choices, help to transform systems and see that God's will is done IN the Church AND in the broader community!  Everybody wins!

How I wished that our new book, 'Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling' was already in print!

I would gladly have given him two copies - one for his pastor to read to get some understanding of the theology of ministry in the marketplace, and a few ideas for helping his business people to discover and work towards their calling. He could also have read some stories of other business people who have undertaken the journey of seeking to serve Jesus every day of the week, not only on a Sunday!  In doing so they have found joy, blessing and peace through serving Christ where they are every day - in their work place.

I'd love to hear some of what you do as a minister in your work life or your work place. How do you find ways to establish God's Kingdom, to express His love, and to work for healing and transformation from Monday to Saturday? I'd also like to hear from some pastors and ministers who are doing creative things in their Churches that help business people to find and live out their calling.

So here's what I'd like to ask you:

  • What do you think God's plan is for yourworking life?
  • What do you think God would want a working Christian to do (other than do their job well!) in the hours that they're are work?
  • Pastors, have you got any insights on a 'theology of work' that you would be willing to share?

I am often in situations where I get asked to help business people to integrate their faith life and work life - I am fortunate to be part of a Church that takes this form of ministry serioulsy. But, I'd love to get some creative ideas, theological insights, and practical advice to share. So please add a comment below! I'd love to hear from you!!!

Lastly, please keep an eye open for our book (I have included a copy of the cover image below). It will be in stores on the 10th of May 2010.  I met with the marketting team from Struik Christian Media today - they have some incredible stuff planned for the book!  Radio, Video, and Print interviews and marketting.  A great launch (I'll let you know about that - drop me a line if you'd like to be invited.  It will be in May in Cape Town).  If you'd like to pre-order a copy please drop me a line and I'll make sure that we get a copy to you as soon as they are in the stores.

Here are a few endorsements for the book from some friends:

 

Graham Power and Dion Forster have finally brought the role of the marketplace into the prominence it deserves! When you read the Bible, it soon becomes obvious that the focus of the ministry and outreach of Christ was nearly exclusively on the marketplace. If you are looking for the secrets of how to succeed with your faith in your workplace, then ‘Transform your Work Life’ is for you.
– Dr Bruce Wilkinson, author of The Prayer of Jabez
We can never pay enough pastors and missionaries to evangelise the world! It will happen when the rest of us realise the church is not a building to go to, but a vast multitude of people called and commis- sioned by God to take the good news where we ‘spend most of our time and energy’. This book will turn your world upside down and inspire you to believe God for church to happen where you are! You are about to go on a great adventure!
– Floyd McClung, All Nations (Cape Town)
At long last we have a book that affirms our daily workplace as a primary place for us to live out our faith. Few people are better placed and more equipped to show us the way than Dion Forster and Graham Power. I pray that this book will enable many individuals the world over to see their work as a means of dignity, love and provision, both for themselves and their neighbour.
– Rev Trevor Hudson, South African Pastor and Author.
People often ask, “What is my calling?”. The answer is partly simple: the majority of us are called to the marketplace. The interwoven stories of Graham and Dion will encourage you to make your occupation your vocation, your job a ‘beroep’, in the true sense of the word. I highly commend these good friends to you; read their story so that your heart will be en- couraged, your mind renewed, and your spirit emboldened. God, being a lawyer, understands legal precedent, so what he has done for them he can do for you and me if we walk in similar obedience. Make their story a springboard for your story. ‘But, he is successful and if I had his money I could also serve God,’ you may say. Don’t ask for money like Graham – ask for humility like Graham. Don’t ask for a ministry like Dion’s, but minister with all that you have, right where you are. Don’t wait for one great thing to do, but take the next step of obedience. I am delighted that Graham and Dion are challenging us to integrate our work and faith so that we can be a part of the extraordinary company of ordinary marketplace people who are extending the kingdom through daily business.
– Brett Johnson – President, The Institute for Innovation, Integration & Impact, Saratoga, California

 Please join the facebook page for 'Transform your work life' here to interact with other Christians in the workplace and keep up to date with news about the book. 

Tuesday
Mar022010

Long days, short years

I recently read a great book called 'The Happiness Project' by Gretchen Rubin. It is well worth reading.

In the book she has a line that has stuck with me - 'While the days are long the years are short'. This is so true! I think it is a modern proverb (in the sense that a proverb is a short sentence that is based on long experience).

I have been burning the candle on both ends for some months now. My days have been long (today I started at 4.30 and will end my last meeting after 10pm. Yesterday was pretty much the same). Part of the challenge is that there is so much to do. But it is also complicated by the fact that I work with people in so many countries and time zones... I frequently have very late, or very early, Skype calls and conference calls.

So, the days are long. Yet at the end of each week I cannot believe bow quickly it has passed. The months are flying by at a rate of knots!!!

So, I realise that I must make the most of every day. But I must do so wisely! So yesterday afternoon I took an hour from 4-5pm to go home and play trains with my son and help my daughter with her homework. It is important to make the time to be with my kids and wife because the days pass far too quickly!!

Psalm 90.12 has some great advice. The Psalmist asks God to teach him to number his days so that he can gain a heart of wisdom (to remember that every moment of life is precious helps us to make the most of every moment by choosing to do things that truly matter).

My kids and wife are important - so today I am mindful of the fact that while the days are long the years are short!

How do you keep the balance between work and personal life? I'd love to hear your feedback!

Well, time to put the iPhone away - I'm about to do a presentation on the network of Christian Forums at Frieda's on Bree for a great group of Christian businessmen.

Monday
Feb082010

21 Ways to Pray at Work

A friend on facebook (H-K-R) shared this great link from beliefnet - 21 ways to pray at work.  

There are some wonderful resources here to add a new level of significance and purpose to your daily work life! Remember that Paul admonished the Colossians saying, “Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” (Col 3.23).

We spend so much time and energy in our work environment, why not invest that time wisely by taking the hours you spend at work to a deeper level of commitment? 

Here's my input on some of the steps they share:

 

  • The workday doesn’t start when you walk into the office, it starts when you wake up. Start by thanking God for the job you have.
  • Ask God to bless the people among whom you work, and the place in which you work.
  • Pray that God will make you a good steward of your time and resources of your company.  As Christians at work we should offer a clear witness through our commitment to our work.  Mark Twain once commented that you should "live such a good life that when you die even the undertaker will be sorry!"
  • Pray that God will use your communication to communicate God's love and care for the people you interact with (whether that be your manner on the phone, the way you deal with a difficult client, or the tone of an email).
  • A simple exercise is to choose to pray through your 'address book' or phone list. I do this - I take just 10 minutes each day and pray for a few persons on our company phone list.  Amazingly I pray for each of our office staff by name every second week. It changes my interaction with them, and I trust that God uses my prayer to bless and help them.
  • Be willing to pray for those who lead your organisation.  Pray not only for them, but for their family and home lives.  Executives often face great pressure.  God can use you to transform their lives (James 5:16)
  • Before meetings ask God to guide you and give you calm and peace.  Let God guide your thoughts, your words and your interactions.  During the meeting listen for God's guidance through the words and inputs of others.  Be sensitive enough to hear God's voice, and brave enough to speak.  Your voice mayy be the one that God wishes to use to change a situation or bring a solution!
  • It is worthwhile praying that your organisation will be a just and good steward of the resources they have been entrusted with.  Ask God to guide your leadership to make wise and generous choices that will help to transform society.
  • Practice MBWA during your lunch break.  What is MBWA?  It is different from an MBA (Masters in Business Administration), MBWA stands for 'management by walking around'.  Try to connect with as many people as possible in a sincere and significant way during your free time (remember not to steal time from your employer, so use our time wisely!)  Friendships build trust and allow you to offer care, help and prayer to those in need.  I can bet you there are many people in your sphere of influence who are longing for someone to connect with!
  • In God's Kingdom few things happen in isolation - we were made for community.  So, find likeminded colleagues to pray with during the week.
  • When you have to travel for work pray that God will protect your family and give them patience.  Pray that God will protect you and keep you from any form of sin or temptation, returning you quickly and safely to your loved ones.

 If you have any ideas or inputs to share I would love to hear from you!  How do you make the most of your workday as a  Christian?