Ideas Have Consequences

How The Bible Impacts the Workplace: with John Beckett

June 23, 2022 Disciple Nations Alliance Season 1 Episode 28
Ideas Have Consequences
How The Bible Impacts the Workplace: with John Beckett
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

We, as believers, are called to be God's agents to advance His Kingdom on earth. In order to do that we must extricate the sacred-secular dualism in our minds and understand that Jesus is Lord of all areas of life. We are to live out God's Word in our lives and vocations. When work-related problems arise, do we lean on conventional wisdom, or do we ask God how we should address it? When we learn to listen to Him and go to His word for guidance, we bring His Kingdom into our vocation, and the results will be revealed over time. In this episode, we discuss this with a true leader and practical pioneer in the area of integrating faith and work, businessman John Beckett, author of Loving Mondays: Succeeding in Business Without Selling Your Soul.


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John Beckett:

Work can be a perfect expression of God's purposes for a person's life.

Luke:

As Christians, our mission is to spread the gospel around the world to all the nations. But our mission also includes transforming the nations to increasingly reflect the truth, goodness and beauty of God's kingdom. Tragically, the church has largely neglected the second part of her mission, and today, Christians have little influence on their surrounding cultures. Join us on this podcast as we rediscover what it means for each of us to disciple the nations and to create Christ honoring cultures that reflect the character of the living God.

Scott:

Hi, and welcome, again to the Disciple Nations Alliance podcast, Ideas Have Consequences. I'm Scott Allen, president of the Disciple Nations Alliance. And today, we are really honored to have a special guest, John Beckett, with us. And we are excited to have a conversation about how do you bring the principles of the Bible, the truth of the Bible into every area of our lives, and specifically in the case of John and the work that he's doing, into business. But I'm sure we're going to learn a lot that's going to apply to people even outside of business today. I'm joined today by Darrow Miller. By my co workers, Darrow Miller, by Dwight Vogt, Shawn Carson, and Luke Allen is with us as well. So guys, it's great to see you and to be back with you. And John, just such an honor that we can spend some time with you today. So thank you for taking time to join our podcast, I'd like to, as we begin, just do a brief introduction here. Well, it may be a little bit longer than brief, but just a little introduction for our listeners so that they know who you are. And we've known you, John, for several years now. And you know, I would just simply say it in terms of personal connection, John's been a friend, a supporter, an encourager but also an example to us of somebody who really, in some ways exemplifies what we're trying to help the church do around the world, which is live out their faith in every area of their life. Live out their faith "coram deo". To put it into practice in a way that has real influence on shaping a culture locally, and nationally, even globally. So John is... He was born and grew up in Elyria, Ohio. And he is a graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology—MIT graduated in 1960. John, that's very impressive to me. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and mechanical engineering. And after graduation, he worked as an engineer in the aerospace industry. So he's, in addition to other things, a rocket scientist. He joined his father, and a small family owned manufacturing business in 1963, became president of that business in 1965, and is now the chairman of the RW Beckett Corporation, and has helped to guide that business, to global leadership in the manufacture and sales of engineering components for residential and commercial heating. John, maybe you can talk a little bit about the scope of that business. I think my notes might be a little bit out of date, but I know that what I see here is that you have annual sales of about $100 million, and over 600 employees. So that's quite a sizable business for sure. In addition to his work as a businessman, I consider John to be an elder, not just for a church—a local church—but really for the Church in the United States. He's very active in all sorts of different ministries. He's on the board of directors of Cru: Campus Crusade for Christ. He helped to found Intercessors For America, which is a national prayer organization. He's a founding board member of the King's College in New York City, and I'm sure there are many other things that I could say John. You've just really extended yourself in terms of your wisdom and your leadership to the entire Christian community and especially the evangelical community. And you've touched our ministry, our small ministry in a way that's been such a blessing as well. So you know, I just want to appreciate you for your leadership in the church, in addition to what you're doing in business as well, John, I'm going to just ask you to fill in some gaps or anything else in that bio that you'd like to share with us as we get started today?

John Beckett:

Well, thank you, Scott, it was so impressive to hear all of that, I don't know. And I'm sure there

Scott:

It is impressive.

John Beckett:

Some of the gaps are not necessarily positive, but he's given the rough architecture of it. And it's been an amazing journey. I would just say, before we get into specifics, how much I admire what you're doing, as you pointed out, the relationship with Darrow especially goes back decades. And I just appreciate, while we honor differences in the body of Christ, that's how we get sharpened, I think, in some ways, the degree of alignment that we have in terms of philosophy and worldview is such an encouragement to me. I view you as thought leaders on a global basis, who have taken some of the key issue points in the Christian life, especially in this matter of integrating faith together with the rest of life. And you're both pioneers and people of such significant influence. And so that's been a basis on which we've been drawn to you and to your work and to your example. So while some of us are meeting here, for the first time, I feel that our hearts have been joined for a long time.

Darrow:

Very much so. Very much so, John.

Scott:

Well, John, I think when I was visiting with you recently in Ohio, I had a privilege of spending some time with John and his family, his daughter, his son, who's running, helping to run the business, and other members of the family. I was just so struck by how powerfully and practically you've integrated truths from the Bible, really powerful and beautiful truths from the Bible and principles from the Bible into your family, but also your business. And that I really would like us to talk a little bit about that, because I feel like still, for a lot of Christians, this is something that I think almost everyone is going to say, yes, we acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus. I know very few Christians that wouldn't say something like that. But practically, we've been coming out of a time in the history of the church, especially in the West, where Christians have kind of lived in two worlds, a faith world, if you will, that centers around church and Bible study and personal piety or matters of personal holiness. But that world sometimes can be very disconnected from what people might term the secular world, the world of politics and of business and entertainment, and pretty much everything else that happens outside of church and Sundays and personal spiritual growth, evangelism and these kinds of things. And as a result, this is really why the DNA I think, in some ways our calling is been to try to help the church to move away from that and move back to a practical orientation of the Lordship of Christ over everything, over every part of life, in a way that helps the church to have a real positive influence and really honor Jesus, in everything that we do. We're concerned that the church is having very, you know, the church may be growing around the world, but not having the kind of influence, especially on culture and society that we would want to see it have because of this—what some people have termed the sacred/secular divide. I guess I'd like to start, John, with just a question for you on that. You, as I said, you really strike me as somebody who doesn't have that divide at all. I was wondering if that was always the case for you? Or if that was something that you would say yeah, at some point, I did think that way. I did have kind of a divided mind. But then it changed. Can you tell us a little bit about your own personal history on this particular subject of the sacred secular divide?

John Beckett:

Well, it certainly was not something that was there in my genetic code. I'll guarantee you that. In fact, I think as with most people, coming to this idea of a full integration of faith in the rest of life is a difficult concept, and one that we come into kicking and screaming. Because the forces that mitigate against it are so strong, we can talk more later perhaps, about the impact of Greek thinking on this. But we are all creatures, especially in the West, of the dualism that came out of a worldview that is really antithetical to the biblical worldview. In my own story, Scott, right along through both high school and college, I felt a tug toward some kind of ministry. That was in tension, with the reality that I felt I was hardwired toward engineering and the sciences. And so there are various ways in which I tested the concept of going into ministry as a vocation, each time the door closed. And that left me both puzzled and encouraged because even though I thought that might be the right thing to do, it wasn't truly where my heart was. My heart was more toward engineering, sciences, business. And so I basically was following doors that opened, including an early invitation to join a large aerospace firm. A specific invitation to go into an aspect of the aerospace world, not with that firm, but another that was doing some pretty cutting edge stuff. And even there, I had this notion that it was second best. Even though I enjoyed it, I felt I was in a spot that I was called to, I thought I was probably disappointing the Lord on some basis. And so, it took a kind of breakthrough revelation to see this differently. I was reading this morning about the conversion of the apostle Paul, and Spurgeon, commenting on that said, he thinks probably conversion is much more dramatic for most people, maybe not quite in the same way as the Apostle Paul. But it isn't just a walk in the park kind of change in attitude. There's usually something much deeper going on. And in my own case, that was precipitated by two events in pretty close succession months apart. The first one is the death of my dad, who I just begun working with a year earlier. And the second was a horrendous fire that ripped through our small manufacturing company, and just about destroyed it. Well, these two incidents really had the effect of helping bring me to the end of myself. And so my spiritual transformation was linked with some challenging experiences in the workplace. And so, as I came out of that, I still had this nagging dilemma that I should be doing something that was a higher calling. And I really took this to the Lord in a way that I was just starting to become familiar with—what's the role of prayer, what's the role of seeking guidance—and I had a strong sense that the Lord spoke to me during that period of time and in essence, he said, John, I've called you into business. I want you to do it with all your heart. Well, even the idea of a call to business was kind of foreign language to me, but it was my Apostle Paul moment. It was something where I just felt that I was grabbing hold of something that was fundamentally different than I had been thinking. And I recall my response at the time was something along the lines of: this sounds awfully good to me. If I'm called to business, I'm going to do with all my heart and do this faithfully. And so those were the birth pangs of coming into both a relationship with the Lord but also the beginning of an understanding that there was such a thing as serving God in the workplace. Much to follow, but those were the early experiences that helped shape this whole process.

Darrow:

How old were you at that time, John?

John Beckett:

I was in my mid 20s.

Darrow:

Oh my, okay.

Luke:

I friends thanks for listening to this episode today. As always, we're really happy that you are here. Today I have a really special announcement that I'm excited to share with you. If you consider yourself a fan of Ideas Have Consequences or if you enjoyed an episode and you want to take an easy next step to dive into the topics, we have a fantastic new resource that we are excited to share with you. With the launch of this episode, we are now posting an entire landing page on our website for each episode of this podcast. These landing pages have everything we think you'll need to explore each episode in further detail. On them, you'll find the full episode in written text so that you can read or follow along as you listen. And the text we've organized into chapters so that if you want to go back to any specific portion, now you can do that, and easily navigate back to those sections. We've also pulled key quotes from the podcasts and included social media graphics that you can share with your friends. Or if you'd like to just share the entire page with someone it's a great way to introduce them to the topic and give them a way to explore everything they need to know before committing to listening to the podcast. I hope each of you takes a minute to tap on the link down in the show notes and scroll through this episode's all-things-podcast page to get a better idea of how helpful it can be for you. I'll continue to share about this landing page in future episodes, but for your time sake, let's jump back into this amazingly practical discussion with our honored guest John Beckett.

Scott:

John, it sounds like there, it wasn't a book that you read or a sermon, it sounds almost like God spoke to you directly about this. Is that...

John Beckett:

Well, I think for some that's kind of a scary proposition. And it's not something that I can say is everyday or even common experience. We could soften it a bit by saying there was a strong impression on my heart. Maybe the same idea, but it had all the nature of a breakthrough for me. It was just a different way of thinking.

Darrow:

Did you as I recall from your book "Loving Mondays", you were influenced by Francis Schaeffer. Is that correct? Or is that a projection on my part?

John Beckett:

Francis Schaeffer maybe was an indirect influence because he had a great understanding of these worldview matters. The specific individual and book that helped me—not here at the outset, but as I began growing in my understanding—was a book by Christian Overman. And at the time, that book was clearly—

Darrow:

Really?

John Beckett:

Yeah, yeah, it was called "Different Windows". It's subsequently been renamed. But it was sent to me by a friend. And he unpacks this whole concept of Greek dualism and its effect on Western culture. And what that did was to start putting the philosophical understanding underneath this impulse that I had that we shouldn't be leading bifurcated lives. It was very influential. And it was driven home by the imagery he uses in that book of the Greek worldview and the Hebraic worldview, radically different. But when I saw that, I think the way I phrased it in my book, Darrow, was, if I hadn't been a proper Episcopalian, I would have done cartwheels. I mean, it was all kinds of radical adjustment in my thinking. And the diagram just brought it all home to me. The idea of upper and lower versus being aligned with God or not aligned with God. It was such an exciting and liberating shift in views for me. And that then started forming the philosophical underpinnings of how I would practically integrate these two worlds together.

Scott:

You know, I think I mentioned, John—we got to know Christian at the time that he had just published that book, I think it was called "Differences that Shape Our Lives" or... I'm trying to remember the name of that book.

John Beckett:

Oh, that's closer to the follow-on title. I don't know why he changed the title. I thought the first title was great. He called it "Different Windows". Now it's, "Influences that Shape Our Lives" or something like that.

Scott:

Yeah, exactly. That was a breakthrough book. It was very influential, not just to you, but to many others. And it led us into a relationship with Christian as well. And yeah, I was just emailing Christian last week. We count him as a real close friend and colleague, so.

John Beckett:

Well, the three of us are joined at the hip. Now. I think maybe what is a bit unique about our story, as I've walked this out over the years, is that much of what is being written on this topic is coming from either academic or theological perspectives, both vitally important. And in a way Christian would be an example of that as an educator. And maybe what I've been able to bring to the party here, Scott, is that I was in the arena. And so if we look at the concept of proving out ideas, our company was like a laboratory. I mean, when I got involved with my dad, we were 12 employees—by the way, we're right around 1200 now—and so, if you can picture walking into a laboratory, we had a real world context in which to start walking out these ideas. And when I wrote "Loving Monday," I realized that in some ways, we were pioneering this understanding from the practitioners perspective.

Scott:

Absolutely.

John Beckett:

And so that was a distinct privilege to be able to do that. Not that there hadn't been many before me who had tried to bring their faith into the workplace. And I think of JC Penney, for example. I think of, well, even in their own way, John Rockefeller was a person of faith and yet how much connection there was with his work, I don't know. But there have been others who have sought to walk faithfully as believers in the workplace. But that's not quite the same as trying to practically integrate the two, where you take a biblical truth and say, how does this apply in a workplace situation? Or the inverse, you take a gnarly workplace situation and say, well, how does the Bible speak to this? And you start trying to reconcile these from a practical standpoint, that maybe was not something that I found any precedent for when I started this journey?

Darrow:

Can you unpack that a little more, John, because I think what you've just said is incredibly important. There are a lot of godly men and women in business. But it's this understanding, I think, that you've just articulated that's so critical.

Scott:

Exactly. If I could add on to Darrow, John. I think this is exactly where we wanted to go in our conversation, it was to get to, what were those principles from the Bible and how did you put those into practice? If you could choose two or three that you brought in that really made an impact in your business? I think the more practical, the better. Because I agree with you, John, just to step back for a quick second. I think when we started our ministry, I think a lot of Christians hadn't thought much about the sacred/secular divide. They were just living in it. Swimming in the fishbowl, if you will. Over the years, we've seen people get it like, oh, they recognize oh, we been kind of trapped in this kind of dualism, this Greek dualism. So there's an awareness now that there wasn't, let's say, 10 years ago. But it's one thing to have an awareness, it's another thing to actually live it out and put it into practice. And I think this is really the cutting edge for so many Christians or evangelicals now, as I understand it. But I don't really know how to walk it out or put it into practice. And this is where I really think you're ahead of folks and providing an example. So this is really where I'd like us to go here for a little while, if you could talk a little bit about this.

John Beckett:

Yeah. And in a way, we can't dismiss too quickly the tentacles of the Greek worldview in answering this question. Because even with myself, I'm continually brought up short. Even today, you know, maybe 50 years later, I'm continually brought up short by the influence of dualism in my own thinking. It runs so deep in our culture. And so when we talk about taking a different approach, there's kind of an ongoing process of surgery involved in that where we have to extricate ourselves from a mindset that is deeply entrenched. I'm going to come back, but again, just reading about the Apostle Paul, and I was trying to unpack in the sequence of events. After his conversion, he headed off to the backside of the desert for three years. And I was a little bit confused about this, because when you read the Acts account is lett down in the basket, and then the next phrase, he's going to see the guys in Jerusalem. Well, in Galatians, the letter to the Galatians, he said, I didn't talk to anybody. And I went off for three years. Well, you just think about the unlearning and repackaging of all that was going on. I mean, this was a learned scholar. And he had to unlearn so much and build a whole new framework in his thinking. And the great Apostle Paul said, it took me three years before I could even get to the point where I can start testing some of this against other people. Well, in the same way, this ideology is so deeply entrenched, that is hard to extricate. Now, I'm going to come back to the practical question that you're asking, because I think there's a practical approach to it. And it starts with the letter P. And that's "Problems." Let me expand on that. When we come up against a dilemma. (And I'm narrowing this to the workplace, it can be in any context.) We come up against a problem, we have a choice at that point, what are we going to draw from to try to resolve that problem? And at that juncture, the two primary options for the believer are to draw from what we know, conventional wisdom; experience; what we've learned academically; whatever, or to say, God, how should I be thinking about this from your perspective? See, that's a very critical distinction and a very important question. Most of us don't ask it. And myself included in that. I just go to this reservoir of experience and knowledge and so forth. And, and yet, we don't take that pause. For the apostle Paul, it was a three years pause. We don't take a moment pause and say, Well, God, what's your perspective on this? And once we start asking the question that way we poise ourselves to hear something from him. It may come through a scripture, it may come through an impression, it may come through somebody else commenting to us in a way that helps us think about it. But that's the pivot point. That's the point at which we set our minds to hear from God or just do it in our own strength. And I just find that that's not so natural thing to do as we might think, to ask God, what's your perspective on this?

Darrow:

That's so helpful, John.

Scott:

I think that's especially true, John, for us who are Americans, because we are a can do kind of people. Just, you know, it's kind of built into us. And so to take that time and to really ask God, show me, is... I agree with you and your allusion to the Apostle Paul here and his time, I think it was Arabia, it says. I know Darrow brought this to my attention in my own Christian walk, and that made a huge influence on me as well that Paul, the great Apostle Paul, the great Pharisee, the Great Leader of the Jewish community there in Jerusalem, he had to go down to this totally out of the way place, out in the desert and start making tents. That's when he started making tents, something completely different, and just listening to God.

Darrow:

To have his mind begin to be transformed. That is the critical thing, because he had a Greek mind at that point. And now he's confronted with something, the totalistic, the Hebrew mind. And what does this mean? And he goes to the desert, to reflect on this. It's incredibly powerful.

Scott:

Before you go on, John, I think we've been making allusions here as well to the Greek mind. And I think for some of our listeners, that might still be confusing, and I think it might be just good to take a quick second and just talk about that. You know, the Greeks and especially philosophers like Plato, their philosophy, or their worldview, was such that they would divide reality into kind of this perfect spiritual realm. And then this worldly, not fallen, but imperfect realm. So they were the ones that had this kind of, you might call it a dualistic worldview. This is from a Greek mind, a Greek philosophy. Now, a lot of Christians when they hear this today, they go, Yeah, that's right. That's the way. There's this kind of perfect heavenly realm. And then there's this fallen, secular, earthly realm. But actually, the Bible doesn't back this kind of thinking. The Bible says, God created everything the heavens and the earth. And he created all of it good, right? It's all his kingdom, it's all his realm, he rules over it all. There isn't really this higher and lower. Now after the fall, right, we have a kind of a split, between the fallen world and Heaven. But there's not this kind of divide between this perfect and this imperfect realm. And so I think it's just good that we just take a second and remind people that we've been so shaped by this Greek way of thinking that we have to return to this biblical way of thinking where Jesus is Lord overall, and Heaven and Earth, physical and spiritual, all of it is his realm. It's his kingdom that he rules over.

John Beckett:

Well, you people have thought this through so thoroughly. And I don't know that there's that much I can add to it. What I took from Christian Overman's exposition of this was, first of all, how far back it went in Greek culture, maybe 1000 years before Christ. And then secondly, that over time, and you mentioned some of the Greek philosophers who held to this view, it morphed in the forms that it took, even being reflected in the pietistic movement, AD. And that, ultimately, it emerged into these terms that we use contemporaneously, of secular and sacred. Those may not have been the terms that were used initially. But the sacred realm as you've so well described it, Scott, is that is that upper room, that's the one that is spiritual. And the secular world, by contrast, is not fundamentally spiritual. And so when it came to placing vocations into these upper and lower strata, there were vocations that always made it into the top strata and there were always religious or religiously-oriented vocations. Work always fell in the lower sphere.

Scott:

Business. Science. Yeah, exactly.

John Beckett:

And so from that, even from a Christian looking at this can kind of get to the point where work is unclean. Work is the sweat of your brow. Just something we have to do to earn money or whatever it is, Right, we work to put bread on the table. right. But there isn't this notion in this worldview, that work can be a perfect expression of God's purposes for a person's life. And somehow, even the theologians can overlook what a Nehemiah did, as the cup bearer to the king. Or what a Joseph did, as an administrator in a vast kingdom in Egypt. Or what Daniel did, secular work for several different heads of state, and on and on. Or even what Jesus did for maybe three or four times the length that he was a rabbi, working in a carpenter shop. And so, you know, and there's just so many other examples, when you start looking at these scriptural giants in this way. So often there are people of the marketplace. And so we've infested our whole way of thinking with a view that is distorted. And that's just led us down many, many false pathways that push back against the whole idea of bringing these two worlds together.

Scott:

I think the greatest tragedy, in some ways, of this whole way of thinking, John, is that when you have these two tiers— the Bible, the truths of the Bible, then apply it only in one of those two, the upper tier or the spiritual tier—and the Bible then doesn't apply to business, to science, to politics. And so the people that are Christians that are working in those realms go to other sources of knowledge or other sources of how-to practical know-how, in terms of how they do their work. Now, when I was writing "Loving Monday," I consulted with a And the result of all of that is they conform to the culture, whatever the culture is, in those areas, whatever the dominant culture is. Almost certainly non-Christian. And so they have these kind of divided lives. But so that's what we really want to get away from, we want Christians to not have a person who was meeting with Christian business people all divided life and to have an influence for Christ, in their businesses, and in every area. And so John, with all of that, I really want to get into that practical side for you and for the work that you've done as a practitioner, as you've said. over the country. And he got right in my face when I said I Talk to us about that. What were the ways, what were the principles from the Bible that you brought into business? And I know, you could just talk and talk about this, but if there were two or three major ones, and then how did you put those into practice? What did that look like in your business that was going to write about principles. And he put his hand made it different?

John Beckett:

So I'll just take one for example, and you cited it earlier, Scott, that God is God of the whole earth. Another up to his own neck. And he said, everywhere I go, people are headed up to here with principles. What they want is life! And so it was a lesson to me that while the principles are way of saying that is that he owns everything. All that we critical, and all of this, it's really the practical application have is his, however we phrase it. Now we start translating that into our work. Our company may have my name or or other of them that matters. And so when I cite principles—and I shareholders names on the stock certificate, but who owns that company, ultimately? And if we can bridge that divide, and realize that the business is in fact his, it's at his think they're absolutely critical, they're like the disposition to guide it, if he chooses. To take it down, if he chooses. To prosper it if he chooses. And if we can walk in spinal column of our body—it's the outworking of those that harmony with Him and obedience, there won't be a wrong answer to that application of the idea that it's his. We fall into the trap when we say, Yeah, on theory, it's his, but really, we really matters. know we're in control.

Scott:

He's turned it all over to us, right? Yeah. Yeah.

John Beckett:

Yeah. So I think most of your listeners would agree with the concept, you know, Psalm 24:1, "the earth is the Lord's and all it contains." Good. Okay. Now, what's that mean when it comes to what's in your bank account? What's on your time schedule? How does that apply practically? And, of course, my tendency, and most is to grab it back and control it ourselves. So, yeah, you have the underlying principle. But then, you have its practical application. Another that I might mention is, as I understand the heart of God, it's to bring his kingdom to all the earth. And we say that in the Lord's Prayer, don't we? "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it isn't heaven?" Well, that's really a very radical thought. It's the idea that there is a place, we'll call it heaven, where there's a divine blueprint, there is a divine intent, and to somehow see that expressed in the time space world in which we live. And the more that we can be vehicles through whom that occurs, the more we're going to see the practical outworking of what Jesus gave his disciples, we call it the Lord's Prayer, Thy kingdom come, thy will be done. On this created fallen earth, as it is in heaven. Well, that's a mission field all on itself. That can take any person who seeks to follow the Lord in such a multitude of directions, all of which can be service to the Lord in His kingdom. And that certainly includes the workplace.

Darrow:

The thing that you just said, the picture you created there, John, was so powerful. I know this, but I have never heard it said so crisply and clearly. Today, Christians are so much thinking about going to heaven, and getting out of this world and going to happen. But you said, in heaven there's a divine blueprint of what God intends for Earth. And we have been called to Christ to begin to manifest in our own lives that blueprint here on Earth. It just flips the whole thing around from how we currently think. It's powerful.

John Beckett:

Well, you know, we have such a limited window into that period of time before the fall, of what God intended. But part of the imagery there is God walking with man in the garden. And there was perfect peace and harmony. Everything was filled with awe and wonder and beauty, including the relationship between man and God. That's as close as we get in the early account to what he intended. And, of course, that was corrupted in the fall in ways that I think we only dimly imagine the consequences of. And so in a way, Darrow, we've spent the years since then trying to claw our way back into that relationship that was lost. And it was permanently impaired in a way that only Jesus could address and bridge. And so the advent of God's own son coming on Earth, and building that way back, was absolutely seminal, and the human journey, and why it's so critically important to be properly aligned with with God's Son, Jesus Christ. Because that then starts to make possible the concept of heaven coming on Earth, it's through Jesus. And he just must essentially be involved in every aspect of that process. So we talked about the divine blueprint. It now becomes possible for that to be translated into the world that we're living in the Bible, truth from cover to cover is the surest way in which we can start to gain insights into how that happens. And a big part of my journey, gentleman, has been coming to see just how practical a book the Bible is when it comes to these matters. Just how relevant it is. It's not just a depository of the truth, it is the truth. And maybe I can cite one little example that was kind of early in my work experience, but we were having a conflict between two employees. And I happened to be reading Matthew 18, at the time, that tells the process—if you have odd against your brother, go to him. And you know the story, if he won't hear you, go back with another. And if they won't go back, then make it a church matter. Well, is there a practical application to that in the workplace? We decided to find out, we took the two people who had a conflict with each other and put them in a room and said, you have something at odds with each other. See what you can do to work it out. And, you know, as an hour, at least the two came out hugging tears and so forth. They'd had a significant misunderstanding, they got it clarified, and a relationship was healed that remained healed for the rest of their decades working for our company. And so it was a practical application, go one on one with a person; don't go talking to other people; don't write emails, memos; blasting somebody on social media; go talk with the person. I mean, it's so practical, but it works. And I would say 90% of interpersonal resolutions, could, if not fully healed, significantly addressed just by that process. Well, that's the practical application of a biblical truth.

Scott:

John, if I could just throw in a couple that I observed just in my brief time at your company, and I'd love to have you comment on them. One was, you have a stated value of excellence, that's I think right at the top of your list that we really value excellence. And I know that comes from the Bible, the idea that whatever we do, whatever God calls us to do do it with your whole heart, right? As if you're working for God and not for man. And then of course, that gets worked out in terms of your actual product. There's an excellence to it. If that's one, this idea of excellence in the way you brought that from the Bible into the work you're doing, and the other is that I noticed right away, it was just the way you see your employees.

John Beckett:

The phrase that we use there, Scott, is "Profound respect for the individual." Respect is often a term that's used in corporate core values. But that can mean many things to many people, especially in our current culture. So we frame that a little differently by saying profound respect for the individual. Well, once we started unpacking that, we can go back to the idea of men being created in God's image, and the inherent dignity that we have as his creation. Now when we start looking at other people through that lens, we see a person regardless of their outward circumstances, appearance, etc. As somebody who's created in God's image, how can we disrespect that person? So we tried to take that concept and make it live among our people.

Scott:

How do you do that, John? Explain some ways that you do that, that maybe would be different from a company that doesn't have that perspective on human beings, that sees people as employees, as maybe widgets, to kind of maximize input or whatever it is.

Darrow:

Or clogs in the machine.

Scott:

Clogs in the machine, or whatever it is, right? Yeah.

John Beckett:

Which is, unfortunately, traditionally the view of workplaces going all the way back to making bricks in Egypt, to making cars in Dearborn. We've had to extricate ourselves from that. And fundamentally, it involves appreciating the dignity of each individual. There are activities and programs that can reinforce that. I don't know if Scott, when you're there, did we walk back to our fitness center. We have a very comprehensive fitness center. Well, that's not just for show, it's to underscore the fact that we care about people's health and wellness. And then right next door to that within our corporate campus, was a first class educational room, where we are seeking to enhance people's thinking and capacity, understandings that are necessary to innovate and create and to solve problems. So here, just in those two rooms are kind of symbolic of physical well being, mental well being. Well, it's not too much of a stretch to say, "Well, what about the spiritual side of this?" And so that may be expressed in Bible studies that occur or other ways in which people can be fed spiritually. So that translates then into policies, what policies do you have that respect family? That respect the special challenges that mothers of a newborn might have? That accommodate people's needs when crises come up, and they're in their families? So out of those fundamental understandings come policies and practices that enhance human dignity. At every possible opportunity, even the work itself. Do you have a safe workplace? The other a few years back, we had gone three years without a reportable accident, which in a manufacturing environment is pretty rare. Well, that didn't just happen. We have a committee of people who are constantly finding ways to improve the safety in the workplace. And they're implementing 50-60 ideas a year to make the workplace safer. Well, that's respecting the individual. And so, I don't know if I'm getting your question.

Scott:

I think the day I visited your son, he's doing a lot of the—I think he is the President now?

John Beckett:

He's CEO of the company now.

Scott:

So he's the CEO, he had just come back from an employee's birthday. And it was a it was a factory workers birthday. And you know, and I remember you saying, you made this comment, probably just off the top, or on the side, you said, that is just the impact, the fact that the CEO of a company of this size would recognize a person on the factory floor and celebrate their birthday, remember their name. These kinds of just treating them, just as you said, as precious individuals, you know, they're going to remember that when they go home, and they talk to their wife that night or things like that, and I thought wow, it was just a small thing, but it to me, it was really profound as well.

John Beckett:

Well, thank you for observing that. Yeah, and a culture which is in many ways devalued people so much, it is the little things that people take away from it and count. And basically, it's a way of saying, well they care. We're not just a digit. We matter.

Darrow:

John, for people who are listening to this podcast, who are struggling with dualism in their own life, maybe they're beginning to see, oh, I am to live before the face of God in my work as an engineer, as an artist. What, if they were to come to you and say, you said some very practical things. Where can we get more of this? What would you answer them? How

John Beckett:

I probably send them to you. Well, I can tell would you answer them? you, I'm so glad that Christian Overman book is still in print now under a different title. But getting hold of this different view, I think is really very critical. Because then we have a basis on which we can challenge the way in which our whole culture is saturated with Greek dualism, and say, well, that that doesn't fit. We watched the opening of the Olympic Games, and we see Greek thought, permeating this international festival, we say, well, that doesn't make sense, we shouldn't be going through these ceremonial activities that are just one step short of mythology. And then we look at what's coming out in much of the cultural world, whether it's music or art, and our souls get offended by some of the language we hear. Some of the imagery we see and say, that doesn't make sense. That's not reflective of God's kingdom. And so, inwardly, we are causing our thought processes to be different, and our lifestyles to be differentiated, from where the world is. It's hard. It's hard. It's hard raising children who are so influenced by the culture. But it takes a certain tenacity, to say no to the world, and the way it pressures us to be different, in the right kinds of ways. To be different in our language and our thought, and how we love people instead of use people. And you know, there are just so many practical applications, but it begins with our saying, I'm a kingdom person. I was set on this earth as part of God's kingdom. I'm accountable to him. He's the source of my life and strength, and to the best of my ability and with his help, I'm going to live my life in a way that aligns with his purposes for me. And so the separation from where the culture is going, is a necessary part of walking separately. I think multitudes are coming to that conclusion in our school systems, for example, and saying, we're not going to release our children to the culture of this age, with all that's pumping into their young minds. We're going to have to come at this differently somehow. And just many examples like that, where we have to be careful how we walk.

Scott:

Well, John, I want to pick up on that and maybe going just a slightly different direction in just the few minutes that we've got left here today, but we've mentioned your book more than once and Luke, let's make sure we put this up so we can direct people to to John's excellent book. The title is "Loving Monday, Succeeding in Business Without Selling Your Soul." And I believe John, this was published... I'm not sure when it was first published. I'm looking at an edition here on Amazon. That was 2006. I think this wasn't the first edition.

John Beckett:

Yeah, it came out initially in '98.

Scott:

'Ninty-eight. And one of the things I just have to say is that, since this book has come out there really has been a movement of evangelicals and Christians who've sought to integrate business and faith, their Christian faith, but you are really on the front end of that. So if you want to read a pioneering book that was kind of leading the way, this is the book, and I really can't recommend it enough. I know Darrow, it had a big influence on you, and the writing of your book on this subject "Lifework." And so anyways, we want to recommend that book.

Shawn Carson:

Hey, John, can I be so bold as to ask you a question? Because obviously, everybody who works for you isn't a Christian.

John Beckett:

Right.

Shawn Carson:

But you're living into the kingdom as an owner and operator. How do you work that with your employees to disciple them into kingdom mentality? Is there a story or two that you could share? That's pretty transformative.

John Beckett:

There are those stories. I wish they were every day. Yeah. But back to the more basic question that you ask. Shawn, I just completed training in small groups in a percent of our companies, I guess, involving 300 or 350 employees, in which we took groups of 20 to 25. And we spent an hour and a half in each group talking about our core values. And Scott correctly identified excellence, and the profound respect for the individual. And the third is integrity. So I really had the privilege of unpacking these concepts in a workplace context, and an each case, I was able to bring them back to the biblical roots behind them. And I'll give you an example of that and it's actually one that Scott cited on excellence. I said the very first book of the Bible talks about God and creation. And he makes a comment at the end of each day of creation, that it was good. And then on the seventh day was very good. So in a way, he was getting himself his own first performance evaluation. On the days of creation, he was commenting, but he was speaking about a moral value of his own creation, and he called it good. And then, in the New Testament, we have the example of Jesus. And there's a point at which somebody says of Jesus, he does all things well. And I just add on how that phrase has impacted me. He does all things well. But then I try to contextualize it by saying, "Can you imagine the furniture that he made when he was a carpenter? I mean, move over Chippendale, because here is a chair, a table, a yoke that was made by the master himself, and he had this incredibly high standards." Anyway, my point is that in each of these values, (and there could be many more,) if they're enduring, they have a biblical foundation to them. And that's an opportunity to talk about the undergirding ideas behind them. So that's one way in which we tried to do it. As to stories, one that occurred fairly recently was—we have we have interns working for us, we're in Elyria, Ohio—by the way, it's Elyria Scott. Many people mispronounce that.

Scott:

I mispronounced it. Yeah.

John Beckett:

That's okay. Your pronunciation is more recognized. We're 90 miles from Toledo. And so we have a partnership with the University of Toledo and we get engineering students from there. Well, we had a young lady from India, who hadn't seen her parents for more than two years because of COVID and all. And she was working for our company as an engineer. And we had a little presentation before Christmas. And I made a few comments there. And she said, can I speak to you further about it. Well, the long and short was that she and my assistant went into my office, had a wonderful conversation, and she came back the next day at our suggestion, and said she'd like to learn more. I gave her a little pamphlet on the heart of the gospel. Well she made a commitment to Christ, right in my office there, in the workplace. And it was because her heart was hungry. She was open, the timing was right for her. And so it was a beautiful moment. And you'd like to say that happens a lot. But I think it's often at times of crisis and challenge that people are more open. And we just sensed that this might be the right time for her. And so indeed, it was.

Scott:

John, you were talking just a second ago about the culture. And I kind of wanted to turn you attention a little bit away from just the practical application of biblical worldview in business and talk about the culture a little bit right now. Especially from the vantage point of the fact that you you sit on a number of boards of really prominent Christian organizations. You've got your finger on the pulse of the evangelical church and the culture right now, that's happening in the United States. These are challenging times. The culture is being shaped pretty profoundly by what now is called kind of the "woke" ideology. And I guess what I'd like to ask you, John is as an elder of the church, if you will, do you have any words for the church—a challenging, kind of prophetic word, if you will, for the church right now, in the culture at this time. I'd love to hear any thoughts that you have on that.

John Beckett:

You mentioned the woke culture. And I think at different times in our nation's history, we could cite whatever the diversion of that moment was in a similar way. You know, it was true in the New Testament, and in the churches that Paul visited and founded, in some cases, that there was this centrifugal force toward what he called another gospel. And I've observed, Scott, that it isn't necessarily a direct confrontation with the true gospel. But it's something that gets added on. And people could argue that there are aspects of critical race theory or some of the contemporary ideologies that have value, and help us in an understanding of some cultures and the challenges they faced. But it becomes the main thing. And so as it's added on to the heart of the gospel message, there's a risk that it becomes the dominant message. Through an emphasis, it becomes the main thing. And I think that we can see that being applied in a number of different areas of our culture today. And that's why we have to be very careful with what we say is the truth. Because "the truth plus" is probably not the truth. "The truth plus" is going to be some diversion from the truth. And so that takes discernment, it takes biblical understanding of what God's design really is. Because these "added-to's" become an aberration that are directly opposed to the gospel. That's where they end up. And so a clear example of that, for example, would be the Marxist ideology, which just fundamentally is opposed to the whole idea of God and his government. It's another government, it's another gospel. And so I think we just have to be very alert to this. Jesus said to His disciples, at a point regarding the destruction of the temple, he said, the day will come when even the elect are deceived. And, you know, that has caused many people to fear, correctly so. But a Bible teacher years ago, said the antidote is also in the Scriptures. And it's found in Second Thessalonians, that they had a passionate love for the truth. That was the antidote. That the way to avoid error is to have a passionate love for the truth. And so that just keeps bringing us back to the Word of God's. The Word is truth. And that's where we have to stay rooted. So when we look at a church that is misdirected, weakened, in some ways, emaciated. You also see a church that is biblically illiterate, and not being intentional about doing anything about that. So we're getting what we deserve, in a way. If we don't go to the source of truth, we're going to be candidates to accept the lie. And so this is playing out writ large in our whole culture. And it's something that probably is as great a issue concerning the future of the church in the nation, as any single thing out there. We got to where we are, because we were people of the book and people with the truth. And as we wander away from it, we just pay a very steep price for that.

Darrow:

That is so powerful, and so true, John, thank you. I wanted to just respond to a couple of things you just said. What we're faced with now is a diversion. And there is a culture of the kingdom. But we are diverted from the culture of the kingdom. And it is a another culture that is shaping the framework of our lives today. And it is a diversion. And we need to move back to the culture of the kingdom, and you have expressed this so well in the last hour. But the other thing, and you've just mentioned this, a lot of what's happening is rooted in biblical thought. Compassion. Where does that come from? It doesn't come from a secular ideology. That is a word born out of Scripture. Justice is a word born out of the character of God and out of Scripture. The Imago Dei, as you've talked about the application of that in your workplace, the significance of human being. It's right out of the scripture. But there's been a diversion where people have taken those words, and put them in another context and used those words, because they're compelling words, and they use them in another cultural context. And that's the diversion.

John Beckett:

Well, that's so clearly and so well said, Darrow. And it's why we need both the Word and the Spirit, don't we? Yeah. We need the Holy Spirit, who is continually helping us understand truth. And so the Word all by itself—and you're so right, these concepts like compassion and justice, these are biblical concepts—but if we don't safeguard them, they get hijacked.

Darrow:

And if we don't understand they are rooted in Scripture and the importance of Jews just said, of being students of the book. It's just sort of laissez faire. And we lose the significance of the words that are the heritage out of the book.

John Beckett:

You know, if I can say to your readers, something that was put to me decades ago, as a personal challenge, it was to take up the challenge of reading the scriptures for at least five minutes a day. Now, at the time, that seemed like a simple thing to do, but because it was put in the form of a challenge, and I like challenges, I took it on. Was that easy? I can tell you. Initially, it was like pulling teeth to follow that discipline, but I've made a commitment, I was going to do it. And at a certain point, it didn't take that long, the duty became a delight. And that simple practice (and it's no longer five minutes a day,) but that simple practice of being committed, in the same way that we're committed to other daily duties, including our physical meals and other disciplines, that can be life transformational. Because each day that we're spending some time in the word, we're building on our understanding of these foundations that help us right through the day. I mean it's so practical when we have that exposure, and then allow that framework, that mindset to help shape our decision-making through the day. So maybe there will be somebody listening to the podcast, who will say, Oh, that sounds like a good idea, I'm gonna take that pledge too. Well, you'll never regret it. I can say after some, I guess it's 35 or 40 years since I made that pledge, you will never regret making that commitment.

Scott:

John, this is a great place to end our discussion today with that challenge, and also your challenge to be people that cling tightly to the truth, with a passion, with a love for the truth. And I think increasingly, if I could add to that, just a courage to speak it out into our places of work, or wherever we have an influence. And especially when we're confronted with lies of various sorts in the culture, not to keep it hidden away, but to have the courage, motivation of love for other people, because there's nothing more loving than God's word and the truth, to speak it out and to be witnesses in that way. So thank you for those really powerful words for us and for the church here in the United States and around the world in these in these challenging times that we find ourselves in right now. And thank you, John, for your beautiful example of living out the truths of the Bible. In your family, I can see the fruit of it in your own family. And of course, I can see the fruit of it in your work. So thank you, for that example for us and for the church. So...

John Beckett:

Oh, we're honored by your observation, Scott, and the Christian life is a delight and a challenge all wrapped up in one. But it is so rewarding when we're walking with the master, and that's really what we're talking about. The term in the Scriptures was "the way". It wasn't religion. It was way of thinking and a way of walking in a relationship. And that's what we want to move to. Not cold, starchy religion, but a vital relationship with the Savior. And that's what he wants for us. Inch by inch, we're hoping to regain that territory back for our culture.

Scott:

Well, I think God has not given up on us yet, so we just need to be faithful. John, thank you so much for the time it's just such an honor.

John Beckett:

Yeah. With you as well, the work that you're doing. God bless you.

Luke:

Thank you for listening. Ideas Have Consequences is brought to you by the Disciple Nations Alliance. For more information about our ministry, you can find us on Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube. Or you can check out our website which is disciplenations.org. There you will find free online training courses, books, blogs, and hopefully everything else you need to continue to think biblically about everything.

John Beckett’s Journey
Integrating Faith into the Workplace
The “Greek” mind
Principles and Practical Applications
Being Different from the World
Personal Stories
“Woke” Culture