Denise Lee Yohn

With over 25 years of experience, Denise Lee Yohn is a leading authority on building and positioning exceptional brands for businesses worldwide. Denise is the Founder of the Faith & Work Journey and teaches businesses and individuals about the balance of faith and work in the San Fransisco Bay Area.

Christ Belongs in the Workplace

Denise Lee Yohn: God created us as workers. And so part of our identity is to honor him in our work. And as Christians, we have the opportunity to express and our faith and glorify him and to do his work through our work. And the only way we can do that is to bring our faith to work.

David Jones: The true biblical meaning of work is it's not just something you suffer through. It's actually an intrinsic part of who we are as human beings.

Zachary Beaver: Christ comes into the world and he now says, the kingdom of God is breaking into the world, but what does that mean for your life? What do you do with that? What do you do specifically eight to 10 hours a day at this thing called work that actually allows you to be an agent for the kingdom, like spreading those values into the world?

Denise Lee Yohn: I think as Christians, a lot of times when we think about being a Christian at work, we focus on how we share our faith with our coworkers, and that is a critically important part of our experience as a Christian in the workplace. But that's only one part, and I think that God has a much bigger vision for how you can participate in his renewing work. If you were to embrace that and you want to understand what does that look like?

So it's about being an image bearer. It's about being an artist and working with excellence and integrity. It's about being a community servant, creating products and services that actually meet people's needs. It's about participating in his renewing work, bringing peace and justice and beauty and righteousness into the world today.

David Jones: The focus is less about what am I getting out of this rather than this is the blessing that God has given me and this is the opportunity that I get to build his kingdom within this company.

Praise McKenna: The best part is that it's not that you start it, you finish it and then you're done. I feel like it's a lifelong journey.

Leading with Faith

Denise Lee Yohn: It takes an enlightened leader to say, our purpose and values are as important as our profits and performance. And so leadership can shape a culture and do that through cultivating alignment with values, shaping, organizing their company, designing their operational processes, designing the employee experience to really cultivate the kind of culture they're looking for. And so that's kind of a top-down way, but I think that culture can also change bottom up in terms of grassroots movement.

And one of the things that I think has been developing in corporate America over the last few years is this idea of employee activism and the role that employees have in shaping the priorities of the company, especially here in the Bay Area, that there are people who are literally changing the world with the products and innovations that they're creating. You think about Facebook and the connections that they make possible, you think about Google and how everyone gets their information. It's how we get from place to place. It's how we find out about what's going on in the world. Think about Apple and all the technology products that they've created. People here are creating those things and we want to make sure that the people who are doing that are Christ followers, who are faithful to God's call, who see their work as a way to bless the world, and they'll create products and services that do that.

Praise McKenna: But also there's cultural elements of the city where people start things here. They're big into achieving, they're big into success. They're big into creating too, which I think are wonderful values of this city, but how can we take that energy and focus it on bringing God's kingdom here and now how can we activate Christians who are already kind of braving it here, trying to find other believers here? How can we activate them to do that well? And even more in the workplace?

David Jones: The quality needs to be exceptional. That's really how the primary way that I integrate my faith into my work is by doing a good job because that is a form of worship.

Zachary Beaver: Especially in Silicon Valley. Really integrating their faith in work is exciting because I think there are just so many changes in advancements coming down the pike, technologically there. They're going to shift how people work and live, and those changes could be awesome, but they're not necessarily awesome. They're not specifically moral or immoral like the change. It's really the values that are going into these changes that are coming down the pipe and the prospect of having Christians shaping the values of how a lot of the value is captured, the gains distributed, and seeing profit as a very important tool for sustainable action and influence versus an end in itself. I would just love for Christians to be part of shaping the values of these technologies as they get distributed into society.

Follow God’s Lead in the Workplace

Denise Lee Yohn: I think our responsibility as Christians in the workplace is to show up the way God intended us to. And that means whatever job God has you in, he wants you to consider that your ministry. He wants you to bless others. He wants you to work towards his purposes. He wants you to do your work with excellence. And so while some people might look at pastors or missionaries, maybe even doctors and teachers as having these sacred jobs that really impact people, God sees every kind of work as a way to impact people and to advance his kingdom.

I think businesses that are serious about engaging their employees, and right now I would say every business should be serious about it. But I think that there are certain leaders who are more enlightened who realize that there is now kind of a new social contract that exists between employer and employee, where an employee is really looking at you as an employer and saying, do your values really fit with my values? Am I able to either discover or express my purpose at your workplace? Am I proud to say that I work for you? And so if you are serious about engaging employees at that level, on those basis, then you need to be doing this.

Zachary Beaver: And so it matters that we listen to him and obey him, not just because he tells us to, but because it's just more fun to. There's so much more joy and meaning that is part of your work, and it just wells you up with a greater sense of meaning, like endowed in it and your work's more fun.

Denise Lee Yohn: I think it's absolutely worth the kind of change that we are talking about, and probably I would say on two levels, God's kingdom is at stake here. Now, this is not to overstate our importance. God can do anything that he wants and he can create renewal. He can establish righteousness, he can restore justice. He doesn't need us to do that, but he chooses to use us to do that. And if we are not faithful to that responsibility, if we don't submit ourselves and work towards his purposes, how is his kingdom going to come?

We pray thy kingdom come, thy will be done. Well, that's not something that we're saying, Hey God, you go do. It's a prayer of commission and submission to say, we want to be a part of this. So I think at that level it's definitely worth it because God calls us to do that.

But I think it's also worth it at an individual level. We spend more time, most of us spend more time at work, more mental space focused on work than anything else in our lives. And if we want that to be meaningful, if we want to derive both great joy as well as purpose from that investment of our lives, we need to do this. We can't live compartmentalized lives. We can't say, oh yes Lord, we follow you, but then do our work in a very different way. I think if we want to be our whole selves and if we want to experience the joy as well as the freedom and the power that comes from that, we absolutely need to do it. So it's definitely worth it.


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