FamilyLife Today®

Empowering Your Child’s Career Dreams: Jordan Raynor

with Jordan Raynor | February 2, 2024
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Jordan Raynor guides parents in demonstrating the sacredness of every aspect of life and work, encouraging a purposeful approach connected to God for their children.

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  • About the Guest

Jordan Raynor shares 5 strategies for modeling a purposeful work life to your child, demonstrating how to infuse life with God for extraordinary impact.

Empowering Your Child’s Career Dreams: Jordan Raynor

With Jordan Raynor
|
February 02, 2024
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Jordan: Seemingly ordinary, seemingly secular work is the primary way that God delivers extraordinary blessings to people, right? At the most foundational level, that’s one of the ways our work matters to God; that He’s using it to answer the prayers of people all around the world.

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com.

Ann: This is FamilyLife Today!

Dave: Welcome to FamilyLife Today’s Friday Five.

Ann: I love Friday Fives.

Dave: Why?

Ann: Because it’s fun, and it’s a great way to have our guest show off and give us some very practical ways to implement their book. This is going to be a fun one.

Dave: Our guest today, he is sort of a showoff, isn’t he? [Laughter] Jordan Raynor is. This guy—

Ann: —no, he’s not!

Dave: Jordan, you are so talented [that] anything you say is like, “Man, now he’s just showing off.” You are so—

Ann: It’s just gold.

Dave: It’s gold.

Jordan: By God’s grace alone!

Dave: You don’t bring silver or bronze. You bring gold.

Ann: Jordan Raynor is back with us. Jordan, welcome back to FamilyLife Today.

Jordan: Thanks; Friday Five?

Ann: Friday Five.

Jordan: This sounds fun.

Dave: We’re going to call today’s Friday Five, “Five Ways to Help Your Kids Capture a Vision for Meaningful Work.” The good thing about that is we only have to come up with two. You have to come up with three.

Ann: But parents are thinking, “Yes, I need this! My teenagers need this. I can’t wait to hear what you have to say.”

Dave: I mean, you just jotted some thoughts down in the last couple of minutes. Give us one.

Jordan: This is off the fly. Who knows how good this is going to be!

Ann: It’s going to be good, Jordan.

Jordan: This is what I’m doing with my kids.

Dave: This will be your next book.

Ann: You have—you’ve been married how many years?

Jordan: I’ve been married 13 years to my beautiful bride, Cara. I’ve got a nine-year-old, Ellison; seven-year-old, Kate; and Emory, who we adopted at birth four years ago, so my three little girls.

I’d say the number one thing that I’m doing and would encourage our listeners to do is to tell God’s story about work. Your kids are going to hear lots of messages from the world about work: “Work is a meaningless means to an end,” “Work is drudgery,” “The only jobs you’re going to love would be video game designers.”

Ann: —or influencers.

Jordan: —or influencers, right. God’s story for work is rich and very, very good— practically.

Dave: A lot of parents hear you say that and think, “I don’t know that story. I’ve heard it’s bad.”

Jordan: That’s a lie.

Dave: “Work is a curse.”

Jordan: That’s a lie that Satan wants you to believe. Let me give you and your kids three passages of Scripture to talk around the dinner table and maybe memorize.

Number one: Genesis 2:2. It says that God Himself worked. Genesis 1, He works with His words; Genesis 2, He works with His hands planting a garden in the east. So, that’s number one. Genesis 1:28, the first commission God gave to humankind—the first gift that God gave to humankind—is the gift of work: to be fruitful, increase in number, fill the earth with culture, subdue it, and rule it for His glory.

The third verset I would encourage you to memorize is Ephesians 2:10, which reminds us that the Great Commission doesn’t cancel out the first commission. It’s a both/and. Ephesians 2:10 says “we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus,” i.e., redeemed and saved. Why? “For the good works He prepared in advance for us to do,” [Paraphrased] which is Genesis 1:28, making culture.

Dave: So many of us think ,when we hear Ephesians 2:10, the good works are all spiritual.

Jordan: Yes.

Dave: We only connect that to church work, to missionary work. You’re saying good works are work.

Jordan: I’m not saying that! Paul’s saying it. [Laughter] Paul had Greek words at his disposal that we translate to mean evangelism and prayer and other spiritual tasks. That’s not the word he uses here. When he says that we are “God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works,” the Greek word for “good works” is “ergon,” which according to every concordance I’ve ever read, literally means work, task, and employment.

Paul is saying part of the purpose of your salvation is to go back to work tomorrow, go back to school tomorrow, go back to your chores tomorrow; only this time do those tasks under Jesus’s lordship rather than your own.

Dave: Wow!

Ann: Good one! Let’s hear yours, Dave.

Dave: My first thought was a way to give your sons and daughters a vision for meaningful work is to love your job. I don’t know if that’s the right way to say it, but I remember one of the best things I was ever taught about preaching—not being a pastor, but the actual sermon—was a little phrase I’ve never forgotten, and I’ve taught thousand of preachers the same thing—

Jordan: —I’m writing this down.

Dave: —“Run to the pulpit.”

Jordan: That’s good.

Dave: In other words, the congregation, when you’re preaching—and it could be leading a Bible study; it could be anything—when you’re speaking, they should think, “This dude ran to the pulpit. He was so excited to share this. He met with God this week, and he got something from God that he was bursting! ‘I’ve got to share what I found in God’s Word this week. Here we go.!”

Again, you can’t make it up if you don’t feel this way. But I think you want to take your kids on the worksite with you. Take your son to work day; take your daughter to work day. It should be, “Take your missionary to work with you,” because they’re a missionary.

They’re going to do something like what you’re doing, or different because they have different gifts; but you want them to find something they love that God’s made them to do. Eric Liddell: “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” [Chariots of Fire] He’s a good runner? Then run. Whatever it is God’s made you [for], and there’s pleasure when you do it. Don’t tell him “Well, you can’t do that unless you pass out some tracts and you talk about Jesus the whole time you’re there.” No, just do it, because you’re really good at it! And honor God when you do it ,and find joy in it. That’s meaningful work.

We think it can’t be meaningful unless it’s spiritual. No. If you’re finding joy there that means people around you are finding joy, because they’re watching somebody joyful in what they’re doing. It gives work dignity.

Ann: It’s funny, but going along with that, my mom—I’ve said this earlier—was one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met in my life. She loved working hard to the point where, she was stay-at-home mom, but our house—I mean, woo, this woman could clean; she could cook. Everything she did.

Dave: Rake the leaves.

Ann: She was ironing our underwear, people. She was extreme—extreme—and loved it. I remember, because of her joy when she did it, she’d sing, she’d hum. I remember I wanted to be with her because my mom found it so invigorating and satisfying. So, I remember thinking, “I can’t wait to clean.”

Jordan: Yes.

Ann: I started doing it when I was four. She would teach me all of her songs. When people talk about cleaning a lot of people think, “It’s such drudgery.” I think because my mom modeled such joy in doing it, I still have that in me. It’s almost therapy. I pray while I’m cleaning. I like the “before and after.” I wanted to give that away to my kids. I think that was mine, too.

Dave: She did it; that’s great.

Ann: She totally did it.

Jordan: Can I talk to the listener who does feel like their work is drudgery?

Dave: Yes.

Ann: Yes.

Jordan: One of the greatest blessings of this new book that I wrote, so far, has been hearing from a few early readers. I’ll give you one example: this guy who works at Trader Joe’s. He does not love his job, but when he read in The Sacredness of Secular Work Psalm 37:23, [which] says that “the Lord delights in every detail of [his] life,” he wrote to me and he said, “I found unprecedented joy in stacking a wall full of apples today, because for the first time in my life, I understood that that act mattered to God and He tells me to work hard.” See Colossians 3; see Ephesians. “So, I want to do that as a means of making Him smile.”

Even if you don’t love your work right now, I pray that that truth, that every moment of your life has the potential to contribute to God’s pleasure, will cause you “to run to the pulpit.”

Dave: That’s good.

Ann: One of the things you said earlier, Jordan, that I think is a really good application with that is, you talked about you have this thing whenever you go through a doorway at work or whatever you’re doing, it’s a reminder; is it to pray?

Jordan: It’s a reminder of God’s presence and, oftentimes, that will lead me to pray. But the broader principle is [to] find some physical action you do every day: walking through doorways, making a cup of coffee, or buckling your seatbelt—I don’t know what it is—and try to discipline yourself to get into the habit of “Every time I do this thing, I will be reminded that God is with me wherever I go. And if He is with me wherever I go, He cares about whatever I do as I’m going in those places.” I’m more likely to sense His presence, to remember His presence, and to do my work “as unto the Lord rather than for man.” [Colossians 3:23]

Dave: The tassels on the robes of the priests in the Old Testament.

Jordan: Yes!

Dave: I’m saying that because, when I was just getting into Christian work as a young pastor, we would play in softball tournaments on the weekends with a bunch of Christians. Our coach, who was the pitcher, would say, “I’m going to give you a visual before every pitch to remind all of us why we’re out here. It isn’t just to win softball games. It’s to honor Christ and the gifts He’s given us.”

He referred to the tassels on the—they would look at them and remember who they are and who they’re serving. Wendall would just lift the ball up like that, just above his head just for a second. It wasn’t showy. Nobody else even noticed it; but I’m playing shortstop, and I’d see that ball go up and I’d think, “Okay, what I do right now matters. How I play matters. My attitude matters. It isn’t just to win a game! I am literally doing meaningful work, and it’s called softball right now.” [Laughter]

Jordan: Yes, yes.

Dave: Many people would think, “That’s just a throw away.” No, not if you’re doing it unto the Lord. It matters.

Jordan:  Yes, yes.

Ann: It’s good for parents to remind their kids of that. “This matters to Jesus.”

Jordan: Yes.

Dave: Okay, we’ve got two!

Ann: Okay, Jordan, you’re next.

Dave: Your turn, Jordan.

Jordan: Alright! I would encourage you, the next time you sit down for a meal, to talk about all of the different jobs. Get your kids imagining all the different jobs that God used to put that food on your plate. Scripture tells us that God provides for our needs; that includes our physical needs. He gives us our “daily bread,” but He isn’t making manna rain down from the sky anymore. He is working through the miracle of ordinary work, right?

So, I think as you do this—I do this with my kids sometimes. If we’re eating breakfast, and there are waffles and bacon, I’ll say, “Hey, how did God give us this food?” My kids will say, “Oh, He made the wheat, and He also made a farmer to go harvest that wheat.” “And somebody to water that pig that made my bacon!” (or whatever); “Somebody to go pick those eggs.” What it does is, it helps them see that work—seemingly ordinary, seemingly secular work is the primary way that God delivers extraordinary blessings to people, right? At the most foundational level, that’s one of the ways our work matters to God; that He’s using it to answer the prayers of people all around the world.

Dave: Alright! Believe it or not, we’ve got three.

Ann: Okay, yes.

Dave: “How to Give Your Kids a Meaningful Vision of Work.”

Ann: Work is really important to me. I love it, and I wanted our kids to love it so much, but we did a lot of work together. We had—they had businesses. One, we did a deck business, where we were refinishing decks. I helped them. You helped them with that, too, Dave. We had a lawn business as a family.

Dave: These weren’t really great businesses [Laughter], but we did it.

Jordan: They didn’t have to be. That wasn’t the point.

Ann: C.J. bought his car—

Dave: —that’s true.

Jordan: That’s legit!

Ann: Yes.

Dave: His first car—

Ann: a—as a 16-year-old, with the money that he saved. That was something that he felt really good about. I, though, had this expectation that they would work the way I worked. So, you know, this one time we were working on this yard, and I [shouted], “Come on, guys! Let’s go! Have a good attitude! Attitude is everything!” And they were like, “Oh, mom!” [Laughter]

Our one son, man! He was dragging the shovel behind him, you know? And I’m basically running. I’m running to my job with a smile on my face. I must have been the most irritating parent. [Laughter] I would get so mad, [shouting], “What kind of job is this? This is laziness, and this is a bad attitude!” So, I would fire them about five times per day. I probably scarred them.

Dave: I would hear [shouting], “You’re fired! [Laughter]

Ann: I just—Jordan, I didn’t have your book yet. I hadn’t understood what this could mean.

Jordan: I fire my kids, too. Let’s be clear, okay? [Laughter] That nine-year-old has been fired a couple times.

Ann: One of the things I wish I had done is appreciate the way in which they worked and how they were wired. I’m just kind of like, “I’m going to work as hard as I can and do it the hard way.” One of our sons was totally [saying], “Mom, why are you doing it that way?” I said, “Because I’m a hard worker! That’s why!” And he—this one time (I think I’ve shared this before), I told them, “Guys, we just got toilet-papered last night [a prank]. I want you to go out and pick up all the toilet paper.” And there’s so much, Jordan.

Jordan: Yes.

Ann: It’s everywhere. So, I give them a garbage bag, and everybody is out there picking up the toilet paper, but one son. I went up there, and I said, “What are you doing!?” He was sitting on the garage floor. He has a skewere (like a kebob skewer), and he has duct tape. He’s taping this skewer to the end of a broom handle. I said, “What are your doing?” He said, “Mom, I’m creating a thing to pick up the toilet paper.” I said, “Just--! Everybody’s almost done! Go out and pick it up with your hands and put it in the garbage bag!”

He said, “But this way is much more efficient.” And I didn’t appreciate it! Think about it. He’s being creative.

Dave: He’s being a creator.

Jordan: Yes, for sure.

Ann: He’s being a creator.

Jordan: Yes.

Ann: He’s creating a device. He would do that stuff all the time, where he said, “I don’t want to do it the traditional way. I want to create something new, better, and more efficient.” And now, if I were looking back, I would say, “Look at you go, man!”

Dave: Yes.

Ann: “There’s something in you that’s an inventor. You’re creating new ways to do things instead of the old way.” I wish I had just clapped. [Clapping noise] “Wow! Who cares how long it takes? You have this whole new vision.” I wish I had done that more.

Dave: Yes; and today, he’s a grown man, and he’s basically in a job doing that.

Jordan: That’s so cool!

Ann: [Laughing] He is doing it!

Dave: The way he’s wired—

Jordan: —that’s beautiful.

Dave: —you know, he loves his job. It was always there, you know?

Ann: Yes.

Dave: You’re right; as parents, we need to celebrate who God has created our kids to be. And, at the same time, teach them to work hard.

Jordan: Yes, for sure.

Dave: Sometimes, they can use that as an excuse not to do anything.

Jordan: I’ve got a seven-year-old who does that, yes. [Laughter] I love you, Kate. I love you.”

Dave: Alright, so we’ve got “Five Ways to Help Your Kids Capture a Vision for Meaningful Work.” I think we’ve got four.

Ann: Okay, Jordan.

Jordan: Bring us home?

Dave: Yes, bring us home!

Ann: Yes.

Jordan: One thing we’re doing with our girls is trying to introduce them to serious followers of Jesus who are doing seemingly secular work. I don’t want the only vocations my kids ever see Christ-followers doing to be the pastor on our stage or the missionaries we support on our refrigerator. We’re trying to introduce them to “Mrs. Bethany,” who’s a killer CEO, or my friend, “Mr. Justin,” who plays wide receiver for the Kansas City Chiefs; how they glorify God in doing this work. And missionaries and religious professionals, but trying to strike up conversations that are age-appropriate, to explain what these people do day-in and day-out; just the basics of their job at this age (my kids are nine, seven, and four).

Just so they can see: “Okay, I see this person at church every Sunday, and yet, they’re out in the world doing ‘this thing,’” right? One day, the world is going to tell them it’s secular, and I want them to see at a very early age, “No. It’s very sacred. Very serious followers of Christ do all sorts of work for God’s glory and the good of others.” Having those conversations, having those people over for dinner, and getting them to talk about what they spend 50 hours of their week doing.

Ann: I think, too, Jordan, to go along with that, to give your kids a vision when they’re little, as they’re teenagers; to create this anticipation: “I can’t wait to see all the things God put in you—”

Jordan: —yes!

Ann: —of gifts, but also ideas; how God will use you to do something really special.” That doesn’t mean just Kingdom work, because that’s true; but just like, “You’re going to do something one day that will impact people [by] the way that you do it.” I started that when our kids were about two: “Oh, I can’t wait to see everything inside of you!” And they would say, “Is it a present?”

Jordan: [Laughing] “Is it chocolate?”

Ann: Yes, exactly! I would say, “No, but there’s something you’re going to keep discovering and learning about yourself. When you discover who God made you to be and why He made you—[Emotional] There’s nothing better than discovering this God who loves you so much that He put certain gifts inside of you.”

Jordan: We talked about Ephesians 2:10. It says that “we are God’s handiwork.” Some translations say “masterpiece.”

Ann: There it is!

Jordan: “Created in Christ Jesus to do good works that God prepared in advance for us to do.” I’ve read every commentary I could think of on this verse, right? A lot of them say there are really two implications of this. In general, the works God prepared in advance for us to do is the first commission that we see in Genesis 1:26-28, to make culture. But because we are each individual masterpieces—

Ann: —yes!

Jordan: —there’s a specific work that God has planted inside of us; a specific masterpiece that we are to create. Telling our kids that we’re excited to see that—I’ve honestly never thought about that. I love that so much!

Ann: You can put it in your next book.

Jordan: There you go. It’s the next one. There it is. There’s a great kid’s book in that. I love that idea, Ann.

Dave: Well, you did say—I think it was actually a couple days ago, you said—“If the God of the universe lives in this temple, our soul, everywhere we walk is holy work.”

Jordan: Yes.

Dave: You know, you walk into a workplace, and you’re walking into a spiritual workplace, whether it’s packing bags or whatever you’re doing. Play that out a little bit more, because I think if a Christ-follower understands that, it changes every day, because each day becomes somewhat of an adventure.

Jordan: Think about Moses at the burning bush. He sees this fire here, and God says, “Take off your shoes. You’re standing on holy ground.” What happens at Pentecost? This fire is hovering over people’s heads; His Holy Spirit indwells us. Now, everywhere we step is that holy ground, right?

I say this on the very first page of The Sacredness of Secular Work: that word “secular” (and we talked about this a few days ago) literally means “without God.” But you and I have the Holy Spirit with us wherever we go. The only thing we need to do to make our schools sacred ground, to make the playground sacred ground, to make the grocery store and the office and your Zoom meeting sacred ground, is to show up and set foot in those places. Nothing is secular, and everything is sacred for those of us who are following God fully.

Now, clearly, some work is out of bounds for Christ-followers, right? But I’m going to assume our listeners are not exploiting the poor explicitly in their work. So long as we are living unto God, and we are truly seeking His Kingdom first, then everywhere we step is holy ground, just as that ground was holy ground for Moses back in Exodus. [Exodus 3:5]

Dave: Yes, and I would say, if you want to help your kids get a vision, that’s what you teach them.

Ann: Oh!

Dave: Just keep saying that—

Jordan: —yes.

Ann: —yes.

Dave: —over and over, and modeling that. They’re going to walk out of your house someday with a mission

Jordan: —yes.

Dave: —because they understood: “Jesus is with me wherever I go.”

Ann: Even going to school, Dave. Think about that.

Dave: Yes.

Ann: We’re so afraid, “Oh, I’m so afraid that the atmosphere of the school is going to impact you negatively.” Jordan, when you paint that picture: “The God of the universe lives in you, and as you walk into the school, He’s walking in and through you!”

Jordan: Amen, amen.

Ann: It’s like, “Oh! If He’s in me, then I impact others.”

Jordan: Amen; yes.

Ann: So, it creates this—and one of the things our kids have told me recently is, “One of the things you used to say to us, Mom, as we went out the door to our public schools was, ‘Hey, be careful.’” He said, “To me, that’s like saying, ‘Hey, you might fail. You probably will fail.’ I wish you had said, ‘Man, you’ve got this!’”

Jordan: Yes.

Ann: “You’ve got this! You’re going to go into that school—” See, I needed to hear [your] message. “Oh, yes! He lives in you! The God of the universe, the Creator of all heaven and earth, lives and abides in you. You’ve got this.”

Jordan: Amen.

Shelby: “You’ve got this, girls!” You know, I’m going to start saying that to my seventh grader and my fourth grader here. I love my daughters, and I honestly get a little bit scared when I think about where the world is today and what kind of messages might penetrate the hearts of my kids. But Jesus is bigger! He is! “You’ve got this!”

I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson with Jordan Raynor on FamilyLife Today. Jordan has written a book called The Sacredness of Secular Work. And you can pick up a copy at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can click on the “Today’s Resources” link in the show notes. Or feel free to give us a call. Our number is 800-358-6329; again, that number is 800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”

You know, one of the most important relationships that we have here at FamilyLife is the relationship with our partners. Those of you who give monthly to the ministry of Family and make this ministry possible. I would love to invite you to become a partner with us as well. It’s easy to do, and when you become a monthly partner, you get some exclusive benefits, including a free Weekend to Remember® gift card for you and your spouse to be able to attend a Weekend to Remember marriage getaway at the location and time of your choice. In addition to that, you’ll have access to our new, curated topical library of some of the most compassionate minds across the ministry, amongst many other perks that you get for being a partner.

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I want to ask you to pray for the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway that’s happening now through Sunday in Grand Rapids. Go ahead and pray for those couples, that God would use this event to draw them closer to each other and, of course, closer to God. With over 40 events across the country, the Weekend to Remember is still happening between now and the spring, and there’s still time to find a location near you.

You can find that at WeekendtoRemember.com. Look up a date and a location that works for you and your spouse, and draw closer to one another as you get closer to Jesus.

Now, coming up next week, we’re going to discover biblical insights, personal experiences, and really empowering perspectives on unity and strength in relationships. It’s going to include Ann Wilson, Meg Robbins, Jamie Ivey, and Vivian Mabuni. We hope you’ll join us for that next week.

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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