Brent was the general manager of a manufacturing company. In spite of only being in his early 30s, he was responsible for over 250 employees and was generating $3 million per month of gross sales.
During the second day of a Heaven in Business workshop, he received word that he was $87,000 below the budgeted net profit of $300,000 for the month (almost 30 percent)! Normally he would stop everything he was doing and completely focus on doing whatever was necessary to achieve or exceed the budget targets. However, in exploring a partnership with God at work, he chose to lean into what his senior partner could do.
Brent switched off his phone and walked into the event. He focused on resting with God rather than the problem at hand. At the end of the afternoon session titled “The Performance of Rest,” Brent turned his phone back on and found two texts and one email.
The first text reported the company had an over-accrual of labor for the previous month, and $40,000 was being credited back to the current month.
The second text reported that an employee, budgeted to cost another $20,000 on sick leave, had suddenly turned back up at work, fully functioning, to the surprise of the management.
Brent then opened the email. It detailed an idea that came from an employee on the manufacturing shop floor. His idea would result in completing a job four weeks ahead of schedule and contribute an additional $35,000 to the month’s income!
Within a few hours, a 30 percent deficit became a surplus. Brent was shocked that when he did the opposite of his instincts and rested with God, the problem was solved so easily. Even better, Brent was gaining confidence in his partnership with God at work and learning His ways of performing from rest.
God has offered to partner with us in our lives on earth. He is not talking about just turning up on Sundays at your local church; He wants to be with you in every aspect of your life. Assuming you spend three hours at your local church on a Sunday, that leaves another 98 percent of your week He still wants to be involved with. “God wants us so badly that He has made the condition as simple as He possibly could: ‘Only believe.’” Smith Wigglesworth (Plumber by trade, friend of God by occupation, 1859–1947).
In His offer of partnership, God brings a lot to the table. You get ALL of Him. That’s like having a billionaire philanthropist super-genius as your devoted and loyal business partner. It’s not an equal offer, not even close! What does He get out of it? People throughout history have struggled to believe this is for real. Even King David said:
“When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you set in place—what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them? Yet you made them only a little lower than God and crowned them with glory and honor. You gave them charge of everything you made, putting all things under their authority.”Psalm 8:3–6 NLT
This is a crazy offer from our perspective. Would you offer to unconditionally involve yourself in someone else’s life, making all your resources available, knowing that they are completely incapable without you? Most people don’t believe the offer, so they don’t even test it out. Others desperately want to access His resources but try to do it on their own terms. The Holy Spirit lives in every believer but rests on few because few have made Him a place of rest (see Isaiah 66:1). What will you do?
So what does God bring to the table? What does a partnership with Him look like?
The standout difference from an ordinary partnership includes peace, rest and access to the impossible (wisdom, power, resources, etc.). In this chapter I want to talk about rest: the performance I get from living from the rest that my Partner provides.
Performance is intimately connected to identity. If I don’t know who I am or Whose I am, I will perform in order to obtain identity (value). I can only live from rest if I am secure in my identity of knowing that I am a child of God and that He is my source of increase. Typically, people obtain value or identity by what they do. Notice when you meet someone for the first time, the most common question is, “What do you do?” We judge who people are (identity) based on what they do (or don’t do). The harder someone works or the higher ranking the position, the more value society places on the individual. We even establish our salary and pay systems on this basis. In my role as a bank manager, I had performance-based compensation. The more results I achieved, the more I was paid. This is not necessarily bad, but it reinforces an internal culture that my identity is based on what I do.
In a partnership with God, it is different. I get to work from rest, not for rest. I live from identity, not for identity. What I do comes from who I am and Whom I am with. Before I even get out of bed in the morning to start my day’s work, I am already loved, accepted, valued and significant because I belong to God.
My own journey of learning to live from rest has taken decades, and it’s not finished! To give some context, I tend towards more of a Type A personality. On the DISC behavioral assessment, I test at 70 percent Dominance, 100 percent Influence, 70 percent Steadiness and 4 percent Conscientiousness. According to Jason Hedge of LaunchableLeadership.com, this means “my performance style is fast paced, active and I’m driven to action in order to influence my environment and those around me.” That means I don’t naturally find it easy to sit still. Work is fun for me.
Add a religious upbringing to all that, and you get performance on steroids. Religion without relationship drives you to attempt to work for something that is a gift. I had the unconscious belief: “If I work hard and perform my best, I will succeed, be accepted and feel good about myself.”
Initially, my external results reinforced my internal performance-based identity. I left school at 17 and did a two-year cadetship on a large training farm in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand (with 20 farm cadets, some horses and dogs, 12,000 sheep and 500 cattle). During this time, I won the prize for “Top Junior” and then “Top Academic Senior.”
I went on to university, where I performed to obtain first class honors in agricultural science, specializing in agricultural business management. During my final year, I won a scholarship that led to employment with New Zealand’s leading agricultural consultancy firm at the time.
The consultancy business had what was called a “One Ton Club,” which was recognition for consultants who reached a certain amount of net chargeable fees. I hit this by year three, and my boss was super impressed with my performance; I just needed to “do the time” and acquire a few gray hairs for my influence to grow in the industry.
Not satisfied with waiting around for my influence to grow, I changed occupations to become a relationship manager with New Zealand’s leading agricultural bank. My job was to manage the needs of a portfolio of agricultural and horticultural business clients. Within three years, the portfolio doubled from $50 million to $100 million as the economy was booming. I was also chosen to be a participant in the Kellogg’s Rural Leaders Program that develops emerging agribusiness leaders to help shape the future of New Zealand agribusiness and rural affairs.
On the back of my rising business performance, I was also growing in influence and responsibility in my local church. I was on the board of trustees, led worship, and ran a finance course as well as a men’s discipleship group. I was also doing mission work in Uganda, helping develop microfinance and orphan programs, as well as leadership development in a regional network of churches.
If that’s not enough, at the time my wife and I had three children under the age of five. I married well!
But then things changed. In spite of believing in faith, doing my best and confidently telling my work colleagues a promise that God had spoken about increased business for the year of 2005, I lost one of my biggest clients—a $2 million deal. The next year, I lost a $4 million client. Even though I continued to get performance bonuses and recognition from the bank, I was starting to wake up in the night anxious about the results.
Then in 2007, I lost my largest client ($6 million portfolio). They were purchasing another property and chose to go with a competing bank. I was shocked. It didn’t make sense. This was personal. This client was the training farm on which I had been a cadet. As a consultant for them, I had developed and implemented a government-funded training program that significantly upgraded the previous training. They were my friends! In spite of hearing them say it was just a business decision, it meant more than that to me. I took their decision personally.
My thoughts were going wild. “If God is with me, how can I be losing? How can it be that I am walking in faith and right relationship and working with excellence, yet not performing?”
Cracks were appearing in the foundation of my identity. I was waking up in the night anxious about my performance. Anxiety is evidence of an inferior kingdom. Evidence was being revealed that my identity was based on what I did rather than who I was, or Whose I was.
One evening after about three months of this, as I was getting into bed and again complaining to my wife about my performance woes, she said, “You need to sort this out!”
“What do you mean?” I said.
“You need to get with God and sort out why you are taking this so personally,” she responded. Apparently she had been saying this to me for the last three months, but I’d only just heard it. So I listened to my wife and went back into the living room to “sort it out” with God.
Initially, I just paced the floor and started to tell God all the things that had happened and how I felt so ripped off. “Where were You when these things happened to me?”
The next thing I knew, all this pent-up emotion started to come up from within me and leak out my eye sockets. “What was wrong with me??!!” It was like I was experiencing each of the moments of “loss” again, but this time as I knelt on the floor, I could see the feet of Jesus standing beside me and feel His Presence with me. He was with me! I suddenly had a revelation that He was with me.
This exposed the lie that had been hidden under my anxiety. I believed that God is good and is the source of my success, so if I’m not succeeding or performing, God must not be with me. Wow, that sounds really stupid now, but that’s the case with most lies that we believe. The truth is God is with me, period. In spite of being a follower of Jesus for over 20 years, I’d just had the heart revelation that God is WITH ME—it even happens to be one of His names (Emmanuel)!
You cannot fully experience that God is with you until you have the opportunity to experience the opposite. You cannot learn to trust God until you have the opportunity not to. For you to be more than a conqueror (see Romans 8:37), you must have some monumental challenge to overcome. I was coming to terms with this fact that very night!
When I finally got to bed, nothing had changed externally, but I finally had a greater peace inside.
During this time, I was reading John Wooden’s book Wooden on Leadership. He took a University basketball team to national victory ten times in twelve seasons. Everything changes in twelve seasons—the players, the conditions, even the rules. So what John Wooden did was legendary. He understood the principles of performance and success. Yet he made this statement that rocked me: “My value is not based on winning or losing but in knowing I gave my best.”
I had been basing my value from my winning or losing. I was now having a revelation about my identity. My significance, satisfaction and security—my identity and value—come from being with Father God. It is His Presence with me that gives me value.
So do I not care about losing a client or something that doesn’t go to plan? No way! I give my best, period. I expect increase. I expect the miraculous. But I am unmoved. My value is not based on the external results but on my internal connection with my Father, God. As King David said (paraphrased from Psalm 16:8):
I have made my resolve to set my heart continually on Heaven;
because I am continually aware of Your Presence, I WILL NOT BE MOVED.King David (Psalm 16:8)
My internal shift was so significant that people around me noticed. Within two months, a brand-new role came up at the bank: a regional new business manager. The role involved travelling and leading the region in training and acquiring new business. Would you have promoted the individual in the branch who had lost the most business? Probably not. Yet, God has a sense of humor in that I was given the promotion and new role. Not only that, but in between accepting the role and actually starting the new position, a $10 million deal basically walked into my office. Did I look good or what?!
But no longer was my identity based on the outcome; my identity and value were based on the fact that God was WITH ME.
I am still on a journey of learning to live from rest, but the life I now live is well beyond what I previously experienced. The favor, connections and influence astound me. My expectations for the future continue to increase exponentially compared to what I could have imagined five years ago. But in all the highs and lows of the journey, I’m learning again and again that my significance, my Source and my satisfaction are found in His Presence. When I live from that identity, knowing I am His and He holds me and that I get to live from rest, then literally nothing is impossible!
1. Download and work through the checklist/activation from Doug Hignell
2. Read or listen to my book God With You at Work – see chapter 2 (page 45) for ‘notes’ on the Performance of Rest and my personal bumpy story coming to this revelation.