Strangely Warmed

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Happy Monday everyone, (see, it’s working already); and welcome to our weekly book club discussion. We’re getting to know John D. Beckett better--hearing more of his story. This week we are discussing chapters 4-7 of his book Loving Monday: Succeeding in Business without Selling Your Soul.

In these chapters we learn about a series of trials Beckett faced early on as CEO of R.W. Beckett Corporation.

First, a devastating fire rages through his factory. Amazingly--though the damage is considerable--key machinery and necessary records are left intact. The company is able to fill every customer order on time. Then, a potentially fatal accident involving his one-year-old daughter ends up harmless. And finally, as his company grows, Beckett is faced with the possibility that his company will unionize. By using Biblical principles he is able to avert this and strengthen his bond with his employees.

Many people would give up at this point. But not Beckett. He sees a bigger challenge.

To me, keeping the business going became more than economic necessity. It was a cause. I didn’t realize it at first, but Dad’s death, then the fire, convinced me this business had to continue. For whatever reason, and whatever the company’s destiny, I had been set at the helm. As painful as these experiences had been, they were producing an understanding of larger truths--truths which would be essential in achieving that destiny.

Beckett’s faith was being refined. His dependence on God deepened.

Though Beckett’s faith is steadily growing through all of these experiences, he recognizes that there is a “wide gulf” between this new faith and how he lives it out at work. He sees the two as unrelated. His wife and her family become his role models for how to reconcile these two worlds.

Wendy’s dad was an Anglican minister…Her mother was an active church leader. But it wasn’t their credentials that made the impact. It was the natural way their spiritual views were integrated into the rest of their lives. They seemed to joyfully live and breathe their faith.

Yet, he continues to struggle with questions.

This faith business defies logic, and I’m not about to put my brain on a shelf. I need to understand more… I don’t want to become one of those, I concluded, recoiling from my image of the stereotypical fundamentalist Christian--blindly accepting, dogmatic, unimaginative and just plain not much fun.

Ouch! If this is what someone who calls himself a Christian thinks of Christians, then no wonder we have a PR problem.

Have you ever met someone who feels this way about Christians? I know I have. And no amount of arguing or debate could change their mind.

But you know what did?


Beckett finds this out in his faith journey too.

For myself, there came a time in my late twenties when God, in his grace, broke through the doubts I’d had for so many years. It really wasn’t my doing, other than a willingness to make room for him. Nor was it based on my getting my act together--getting all scrubbed up so I could be somehow “good enough” to be acceptable. Rather, God himself took the initiative--almost as if he were extending his hand in love to me…finally, I accepted his initiative, laying down my fears and reservations. Where I had resisted before, I was now more open to a relationship with him.

John Wesley called this feeling of surrender “strangely warmed”. Beckett identifies with this description, recognizing it comes not from him, but from God.

…I realized I was no longer a casual acquaintance, living in a distant country. In a wonderful way I had become one of his--as though I had become a member of his household, part of a new family…it was like a struggle that had finally ended.

Finally, Beckett realizes that his two worlds must be joined to create one seamless life. Next week, will find out more about the specifics of how he integrates his faith and work worlds. Let’s read all of Part Two: The Big Picture for our next discussion. That will be chapters 8-11.

Questions to Ponder:

  1. Can you recall specific times when trials and difficulties either helped you to develop a dependence on God or caused you to fall into doubt and frustration? Describe one.
  2. Read James 1:2-8. What should be our attitude toward trials?
  3. Looking back over your life, describe a few experiences that revealed God’s invisible hand at work. Were you able to recognize his activity at the time?
  4. As God is calling you into a fuller relationship with himself, what types of “death” have you personally encountered?