Mere Christians

David Platt (Founder of Radical)

Episode Summary

6 steps to following Jesus fully at work

Episode Notes

6 steps to following Jesus fully at work, how David’s view of the Great Commission has greatly expanded over time, and how to respond to gender pronouns in the workplace.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcription

[0:00:05.4] JR: Hey everybody, welcome to the Mere Christians Podcast, I’m Jordan Raynor. How does the gospel influence the work of mere Christians, those of us who aren’t pastors or religious professionals but who work as guidance counselors, tree trimmers, and compliance officers? That’s the question we explore every week and today, I’m posing it to David Platt.


He is the bestseller of some incredible books like Radical, Before You Vote, and this new book that I love called, Don’t Hold Back. He’s also the lead pastor at McLain Bible Church in Metro Washington DC and previously served as the president of the International Missions Board. David and I sat down for the first time to talk through six steps for how we can follow Jesus fully in our workplace.


We talked about how David’s view of the great commission has expanded greatly over time and we got into the weeds about how to respond to gender pronouns in the workplace. I think you guys are going to love this conversation with my new friend, David Platt.




[0:01:18.7] JR: David Platt, welcome to the Mere Christians Podcast.


[0:01:22.3] DP: It is really good to be here. I love everything that you are doing and trying to do through this podcast and through writing and just yes, ordinary everyday followers of Jesus in all kinds of different ways. Sorry, you’re not asking me to talk about your podcast.


[0:01:38.3] JR: Hey, you talk about me as much as you want David Platt, I appreciate it.


[0:01:42.4] DP: May God bless, yeah, the work of your hands, and as I think about people listening to this, yes, may God multiply your number, everyday ordinary Christians doing by God’s grace extraordinary things in the kingdom.


[0:01:55.5] JR: I love it so much. Hey, so I didn’t reach out ahead of time because it is Christmas time, I know we were both busy. I was in the audience for this Keith and Kristyn Getty Show in DC that you spoke at a couple of months ago. That was an incredible show.


[0:02:07.0] DP: Yeah, at The Wharf.


[0:02:10.6] JR: At The Wharf.


[0:02:11.6] DP: I’ve done that. No, I should probably give a caveat, I’ve done that show with them. I don’t sing. Actually, I take that back, one of my highlights. So I’ve done it with them, they’ve done that in DC at the Kennedy Center. This is the first time they had done it at The Wharf, The Museum of the Bible and then they’ve done it like up in New York at Carnegie Hall.


And so but at the end, so I’ve done it for a few years with them, where I just give like, you know, I mean, you were obviously there but a five-minute devotional as they’re doing all these great music stuff but then they invite everybody who has been a part of the night to come out at the end and like sing a song. So that’s where I’m like, I’ve sung on the stage at the Kennedy Center.


[0:02:50.5] JR: No big deal.


[0:02:51.6] DP: Carnegie Hall, at The Wharf. So yeah, that’s like my favorite moment in those things.


[0:02:59.1] JR: I got to say, I love The Wharf in DC. So when I was living in DC years ago, there was nothing down there but now, you guys have got this great music venue, you’ve got great restaurants. My wife and I took our three young girls ice skating there last January, it’s phenomenal.


[0:03:15.3] DP: Yeah, they’ve really done a lot. It’s interesting, there’s a lot of dynamics obviously at work there but that’s one of the things for us. We’ve lived here five years and it’s not gotten old to us like we still love coming down there. Heather and I were there that night and just kind of made it into a date night of sorts but I’m smiling as you talk about taking your kids ice skating.

[0:03:37.1] JR: Oh, it’s so fun.


[0:03:37.9] DP: Because I took my kids ice skating and it is miserable bro. Because my wife is out of town and so I took the kids and man, I‘m not an ice skater and all… none of us, except for one of my daughters is an ice skater. Everybody else was like, they do not look back with fondness on that memory.


[0:03:57.0] JR: I know that feeling. Now, I should clarify, my wife took our girls ice skating. Ice skating stresses me the heck out.


[0:04:04.2] DP: There you go, yes.


[0:04:05.2] JR:  So, I sat there with some hot chocolate and enjoyed the night.


[0:04:08.8] DP: Well, then of course, if I was doing that, I would have enjoyed ice skating, so yeah.


[0:04:12.4] JR: Hey, I mentioned this to you before we started recording. Man, my first introduction to you and your thoughts on this connection between the gospel and our work was in this forward you wrote years ago for this great book called The Gospel at Work and so when I knew we were talking today, I pulled up in my old highlights from seven, eight years ago and I still have this highlight.


I love this line. You said, “One of our greatest needs in the church is an understanding of how daily work, according to God’s word ties in with God’s ultimate purpose in the world.” Obviously, I couldn’t agree more that’s why this podcast exists. Spend a couple of minutes articulating this at a high level, David. How does the daily work of mere Christians tie in with God’s ultimate purposes in the world?


[0:04:56.2] DP: Well, I mean, in so many ways, I’m trying to figure out how to summarize that. I mean, God created us in His image and He works. I mean, has mighty works that bring glory to His name and he created us to work and so just that in and of itself, the fact that we work, that we do all kinds of work is a reflection of our creator and brings glory to Him.

That’s why one of the things love about that book is the way it emphasizes just the dignity of any kind of work. I mean, assuming it’s not sinful work but that caveat, any kind of work brings glory to God. It doesn’t have to be yeah, sharing the gospel, ministry related if I could use that term but I mean, just anything we do where it’s work and this changes, even when I talk with my kids about their schoolwork.


Like this is a reflection of who God has made you to be and then yeah, I think about the range of different professions of vocations as people listen to this and all kinds of different places to know that we, in Colossians 3:23-24 kind of way, are not serving people. Ultimately, we are doing that. We’re creating culture, we’re serving society in all kinds of ways.


But ultimately, we’re serving the Lord Jesus with what we do when we work and it just brings meaning and then you take it a step further. That’s the last thing I’ll say, I could talk a long time about this but it does open doors for the spread of the gospel in all kinds of different ways as we work in different domains and different areas, this is how the gospel spreads.


I think about Acts chapter 19 verse 10. It says, Paul was in emphasis in the Hall of Tier and he’s preaching every day and it says, he is preaching there all the residents of age have heard the word of the Lord and I love that phrase because wait a minute, I mean, he stayed in one place and all the residents of age have heard the word of the Lord.


Well, how did that happen? It’s because people were traveling through, they’d hear God’s word and spread it on all these different byways and through business, through trade. It was opening doors for the spread of the gospel. When I look at the world today, well, I look at the city I pastor, I want a city where I pastor, I want to see followers of Jesus doing really good work that opens doors for the spread of the gospel and to bring glory to his name all over the city.


Then when I look around the world, I see three billion people who have never even heard the gospel and God has opened wide open doors for workers to go to all those places and all kinds of different vocations. It’s just, may all the residents of the world hear the word through workers and different domains.


[0:07:43.5] JR: Yeah, and a lot of these three billion people are in countries that are traditionally closed off to the gospel, to traditional missionaries but boy, if you can come and help their economy, man, that door is open, right? You can come and help them, help serve them and grow their businesses. Oh, they’ll take anybody.


[0:08:01.9] DP: It’s wide open, that’s why I would not use a term like “closed countries.” Yes, closed to, closed to me with my seminary degree and as a pastor but not close to like you said, well, all kinds of teachers, engineers, doctors. I mean, so many different professions and so many creative ways even. I mean, I’m thinking about one girl. She graduated with her nursing degree, she got a job.


Instead of looking for a job here, she looked for a job in the Middle East, knowing this little gospel access there. She gets a job there and years later, she’s now the head of nursing in a significant hospital in the heart of a significant city in the Middle East and she shares the gospel. Has a bible study in her office every week with Muslims and nobody stops her because she’s really good at nursing and I just think, well, look at the sovereignty of God.


Like, for this predominantly Muslim country is paying her to spread the gospel there. So not just opening the door but actually funding the spread of the gospel there. It’s pretty awesome when you think about it.


[0:09:06.0] JR: When you’re so good, they can’t ignore you, man, lots of doors open up. They will be very curious about what you believe when you produce and serve people really well. David, I was telling you before your book Radical. It was so impactful to me when I first read it years ago. How old is the book now? 13 years, 12 years, something like that?


[0:09:25.0] DP: Yeah, it’s 10-plus years. I think 12, 13, or somewhere around there.


[0:09:28.8] JR: It’s crazy.


[0:09:29.4] DP: I can’t remember exactly, yeah.


[0:09:30.5] JR: In the book and I think this is even in the subtitle, you’re attacking the American dream in Radical but you just published this new book, which I devoured in like two days and loved called, Don’t Hold Back, that attacks what you call the American gospel. What do you mean by that term?


[0:09:45.5] DP: Yeah, so and even as you’re making kind of the connection, that was intentional 10 years ago, 10 plus years ago, I wrote a book about taking it back our faith in the American dream but after the past few years, specifically pastoring in metro DC, I’m convinced it wasn’t just an American dream that was consuming our lives.


It’s an American gospel that has hijacked our hearts and what I mean by that, so the best way I could summarize it, obviously I’d dive more into it in the book but we’ve exchanged a biblical gospel that exalts Jesus above everything in this world for an American gospel that prostitutes Jesus for the sake of comfort and power and politics and prosperity in our country and that leads to all kinds of harmful effects in the church and leads to all kinds of division and disillusionment and disengagement from the church.


So yeah, that’s why I wanted to write this book and it’s really the overflow, much like Radical was of just conviction of my own heart in the church family that I am part of as we walk through a variety of challenges to say… I’ve just talked with so many people who have looked around at some of the things in the church over recent years and thought, “I thought there was more to the church than this.”


I thought there was more to Jesus than this and I have written this book to say, there is. There is so much more to Jesus and the church and we can experience it, not better but we can experience Him but in order to do so, I really believe some things need to be different, and when you talk about some issues and not just different in those people out there but different in each of our hearts.


[0:11:27.8] JR: Yeah. As I was reading it, I kept thinking about Ephesians 2:8-10 and I would argue that one of the trademarks of this American gospel is that once I’m saved, I’m good and I’m kind of just like sitting around waiting for Jesus’ return, right? It’s Ephesians 2:8-9. Great, I’m saved by grace through faith, not by works. Without verse 10, you’ve been saved to do the good works that Jesus has called you to do and I love that you pointed this out in the book.


You kind of pass by it. I wanted you to like, dive deep into this. I’m going to ask you to dive deep into it here. You pointed out that this is the lie the Thessalonians had fallen for some 2,000 years ago. Paul addresses this exact thinking in II Thessalonians chapter three. Can you quickly break down that text for us and what it means for Christ followers today?


[0:12:13.6] DP: Well, it’s interesting when you look at the context that Paul’s writing to. I mean, the reason, well, he’s talking a lot and both first and second Thessalonians about Jesus coming back, which is something we hold on to like, we hope for but love for that to happen today but there were Thessalonians Christians who had basically said, “Okay, well, if that’s the case, then I don’t need to work” and they were not doing work. They’re not taking jobs, they’re not supporting themselves and so it’s not the only reason Paul writes this letter but he’s writing to say, “Get a job, like, work, work hard,” and all the more so if Jesus is coming back to make the most of the days we’re in now and ways that glorify God and all the ways we were just talking about and so it again, feeds into this, the broader theology of work that we see in the Bible.


That it is God-honoring and it’s loving toward God and loving toward people. It’s carrying out the great commandments when we work well and when we work out of the overflow of love for God and we work out of the overflow of selfless love for others. So yeah, there’s a lot to unpack there but that’s the essence of what I was just kind of digging into, even as part of and I think that part of the book, I can’t remember exactly —


But it deals with doing justice and really, I mean, this is a requirement from God. What does He require of us? Micah 6:8, “As His people that we do justice and love and mercy” and part of doing justice is doing good work. This is just and good and right before God and before others and so I hope even as people are listening to this right now and whatever, you know, area of work they find themselves in that they hear the affirmation of God.


That their work is good and right and just and you know, to the extent of which I trust that they’re working rightly and justly in ways that bring glory to God.


[0:14:10.9] JR: Yeah, I’m glad you brought the topic of justice because you said, I got the highlight here, you said, “I could easily write a whole book.” You’re really putting yourself in the line here, “About all the practical ways we could do justice and display kindness in the world around us” because this is part of the good works that we mere Christians are called to.


So David, talk to the barista who is listening, the entrepreneur who is listening, the accountant who is listening, and pick whoever you want, how does that person do justice within the context of their nine to five? What might that look like at a practical level?


[0:14:46.6] DP: That’s… I love that question. So the way I define justice in the book and this is really how they will flow, we, as our church family, amidst all the particular conversations about racial injustice over the last couple of years, we went through a process where we just open our Bibles and said, “Okay, we’re going to look at the gospel, the church, justice and race in the Bible.”


And I’m going to fast and pray and learn because we’re either going to be discipled by the world on these kinds of issues or discipled by God’s word and I’m zealous to in my own life and then in the lives of those leaders in all the different areas you’re talking about with all kinds of different jobs to know not what does this company, it really hit home when I was getting a medical test done at one point and I saw just all the stuff in the hospital about justice.


And I was like, “Okay, I want to make sure that God’s word is defining justice and not probably by others.” So when it comes to nine to five, so what we do, what we did is when we looked at the Bible, we see, “Okay, justice is that which is right” and so justice and righteousness really go together all over the scripture according to God’s word.


So there are a lot of things that we would say are right and in our culture that are not right according to God’s word, so that which is right for all people according to God’s word. So for all people without distinction. So for you to think about, okay, in your job, I’m going to try to make this general enough to apply to any job but certainly, to work with fairness, to do that which is so to honor everyone.


I mean, even as I say this, that sounds so basic but Jordan, I don’t think we’ve done a good job of honoring everyone. I think there’s a lot of –


[0:16:29.9] JR: Yeah, I don’t think we’ve done the basics.


[0:16:31.6] DP: Individuals and groups of people in our culture who we work with, who when they think of Christians, they don’t think of, “They honor me.” So we do justice by showing honor to everyone, by showing hospitality to everyone. Certainly, by working with integrity and honesty. Like all these things, again, they sound so basic as they’re coming out of my mouth but they’re in many ways, countercultural.


Like, we are not… we’re not accepting bribes, we’re not cutthroat, trying to… I mean, well, you get into competition, which I know is in many areas of work that’s part of the deal but how we go about competition in a way that glorifies God that is certainly not taking advantage of others, slandering others, working with humility.


When we actually do these things, like do and I would, yeah, argue that all of this is doing justice, we look very different in the workplace and it’s costly and I know there are people listening to this right now who I think about… I’ll use an example from what we were talking about earlier with open doors for the spread of the gospel in hard to reach places.


I think about some friends of mine who started a business in I’ll just say, a country in central Asia without using that specific country’s name but basically, they started this business and they would not accept or make bribes and it really hurt them financially but eventually, eventually, people started to notice, “These people do business differently.”


“There’s something different here” and that was part of the point. Like, we want to show salt and light in a different way with the way we run a business and so those are just some of the, I mean, we could keep going on and on with a variety of other things that the scripture speaks to that are good and right for the people around us in ways that are oftentimes countercultural and oftentimes, costly.


[0:18:26.7] JR: Yeah. Talk to the accountant. Let’s go a level deeper. Let’s just focus on my wife as a CPA, right? Sorry, Kara, we’re calling you out and she’s doing her work with integrity. Does the gospel compel her to go further? Not just to do her work ethically but to look for those on the margins within her company who don’t have as powerful a voice within her company as she does? Or, who…


[0:18:52.7] DP: I love… yeah go ahead.


[0:18:53.8] JR: Yeah, no, talk about. No, go ahead, take it.


[0:18:56.3] DP: No, keep going man, I interrupted you, I was like eager because I’m loving this but yeah, I don’t want to cut you off.


[0:18:59.3] JR: No, go, go-go-go, that’s all I got, that’s all I need to give you.


[0:19:02.5] DP: Yes, yes, yes. So yes, I’m loving going deeper because there is no question when we see justice biblically. Over and over again, it’s hundreds of references to justice for the poor, the oppressed, and those who have certain disadvantages in different ways. Certainly, I mean, groups like orphans and widows and sojourners but yeah, the people on the margins.


So yes-yes-yes, to look for this and to go particularly over and above to reach those in the wrong. It’s interesting, I was just reading today and my time with the Lord this morning was on Luke one and it’s Zacharia’s prayer when he praises God and he’s talking about John the Baptist.


He praises God for visiting and redeeming his people, what’s interesting because he knows something’s coming like God’s about to move in power and Jesus is about to come but visiting, the word for visitor right there is the same word that James 1:27 uses when he talks about looking after orphans and widows and they’re distressed.


And so to visit orphans in the true religion, they got their fathers to have this pure and follow is just to look after orphans and widows. The same word or some translations say to visit and basically, the picture is God comes to us, He goes, crosses all kinds of barriers to come to us to care for us and then what we do, James 1:27, is we reflect that by doing the same thing for others. Now, there’s a specific group in mind there in James 1:27 is orphans and widows but yeah.


[0:20:37.2] JR: The concept is the same, and the principle is the same. Christ crossed all these boundaries to enter our brokenness.


[0:20:44.6] DP: To go to the margins, to go to those who are, yes, on the outside, who were most prone to be, well, either oppressed or prone to be oppressed or poor or prone to be poor or disadvantaged in different ways and so to be all the more intentional, that’s a reflection of the character of our God.


[0:21:06.3] JR: Amen. Another element of the good works God has called us to do is like, Christ to show compassion to others. You dedicated a whole chapter of don’t hold back to this, to what you call, compassionate conviction. Essentially, basically what you’re saying is, “Hey, we’re going to hold true to biblical but unpopular stances on issues such as gender, abortion et cetera, et cetera, et cetera," but do so with compassion and love and this is a question I’ve really wanted to unpack in the podcast for a while now.


Talk to the listener, David who is working shoulder to shoulder with a transgender colleague, how does that listener love that friend well and not condone their sin? What’s the line there? What does that look like in practice?


[0:21:53.9] DP: Yeah, I love that question and I love the fact that many listeners that’s like, “Yeah, that’s what I’m living in right now” because God has you there. I’m just speaking to those I had in my mind right now. Like God has you there, like God loves that person that you are working alongside so much and He loves them so much that part of the evidence of His love for them is putting you in their life.


So to see that and so then, I mean, on a very basic kind of neighbor love level, love them selflessly like, get to know them, share life, don’t just work in the cubicle next to them, like get to know. I mean, to the extent in which it’s possible, their story. Yeah, get into the extent possible and the extent they’re willing to share their struggles.

How they’ve come to certain conclusions that they’ve come through about themselves, about the world and to do that genuinely like just out of love, not like, “I’m doing this just so you’ll listen to what I say.” Like generally, love selflessly and at the same time, yes, share your heart with them and share the gospel with them and that’s where I would encourage specifically in that circumstance to start with.


We’ve already mentioned that “I just want you to know what the Bible says about you. You are dignified, you have a glory, like Psalm eight talks about you as being crowned with glory and splendor. God loves you, made you fearfully and wonderfully, and knit you together.” Like when I’m having conversations along these lines, specifically when comes to issues of gender and sexuality, I want to start with the beauty of who God has designed each of us to be and specifically them.


Not like immediately diving into, “Okay, here’s this sin.” Now yes, at some point, there is a conversation that comes up that’s, “Okay, I don’t agree with how you view gender or sexuality but here is why” and really, so my encouragement on that kind of level practically would be to as much as possible, and again, the more relationship there is, the better, it’s not just like a quick water cooler conversation but as much as possible, couch that in the gospel.


So yes, all that I was just saying here is what God made us to be and we all rebel against God’s good design in our lives. Here’s, I mean, it looks this way in my life. It looks this way in all kinds of people’s lives. This is our problem in the world and it looks different in different people’s lives but we all don’t trust God’s good design for our lives.


We don’t trust who God is and who He’s made us to be for a relationship with Him and so just at a big picture level and this is why Jesus came and then to restore us to God, to recreate us, redeem us, make us new in His image, again, as we trust in our creator more than we trust in ourselves.


Then, if I’m – so in the same way that if I’m talking with somebody who, well, just struggles with any other sin like, “Okay, and here’s how that fits into the story. Similarly here is how an unbiblical view and what I would say yeah, is an unhelpful and wrong view of gender and sexuality fits into that story.” It’s really putting ourselves all in the same plain of needing Jesus to redeem us.


I guess the last thing I would say in that is going back to the whole first part, the more relationship there is couched around that and this person knows that regardless of how they respond that you’re going to be honoring them, that you are going to love them, you’re going to be listening to them, the better, as opposed to you have that conversation and then that’s kind of it after that, to the extent at which it’s possible for you to continue to cultivate that relationship and trust God to do by His spirit what only God can do by His spirit.


[0:26:03.4] JR: Yeah, that’s good. All right, really hard follow-up question. If you want to take a pass, just tell me and we’ll edit it out. With that guiding principle, we got this question from a mere Christian in our audience recently. Do you use their preferred pronouns? Do you offer the pronoun hospitality, if you will, as a means of keeping that door open and building that relationship?


[0:26:27.4] DP: I would say the reason I would be hesitant here is because — okay, where do we have like a clear word from God on this and I don’t have a verse I can point to that says, “All right, here’s the exact answer to that question” and so that’s where I’m hesitant because this is, “Okay, has the spirit leading us to apply His word wisely to a certain circumstance?” and this is where for me as I’ve prayed through that and want to apply the word wisely and helpfully in circumstances like that, I am going to be much less likely to use those pronouns in a way that I would prefer and work really hard to use their name and not to affirm that, which I don’t think, I believe, is right and good for them and hopefully, for all of that to be couched in a loving relationship, yeah.


[0:27:34.6] JR: I get that. So by the way listeners, if you are really interested in this topic, I’m not sure where I land on this but chapter 12 of Preston Sprinkle’s book, Embodied, has been enormously helpful to me on this. John Piper would agree with everything you just said, they’re Dave and that’s basically the argument he makes in the book. Preston comes down as a slightly different side but I could see how faithful believers get to different answers to that question.


But listeners, if you’re interested in going deep on that topic, go there. All right David, part of not holding back as you talk about in the book as Christians is being fully engaged in care and not the great commission, right? But I know a lot of Christians have a very narrow view of what that looks like and from what I can tell based on the story you shared in the book, you did too. You had this meeting years ago with a leader of an international missions organization. Would you mind sharing that story with our listeners and what you learned from it?


[0:28:26.8] DP: Yeah, I would love to. So basically, I did have a very narrow view of the great commission like I thought, “Okay, make disciples. This is what I’m supposed to do as a follower of Jesus” but I was and once I heard that there were three billion plus people in the world who have little to no knowledge of the gospel that I thought, “Well, okay. I need to be a missionary then. I need to move to another nation. I need to go to those places.”


If this is what we’re supposed to do, this is the command Jesus gave us, then this is the way to play this out and so I was talking with a – I’m having breakfast with the leader of mission’s organization. I told my wife the night before, I said, “Heather, I’m going to breakfast. I’m going to tell him we’re ready to move overseas. Is that okay with you?” and she was like, “Yeah, it’s okay with me.” So we prayed because we obviously talked about that multiple times.


So I went off to breakfast, I sat down with him, and just shared my, “Hey, I see the need among the nations. I see God’s word telling us to make disciples of the nations, so my wife and I are ready to go. How do we go?” and he looked back at me and for about 60 seconds encouraged me on what I had just said and then spent the rest of breakfast talking to me about the need specifically for pastors to shepherd and lead churches where the gospel has gone for the spread of the gospel where it hasn’t gone and I was so confused.


I remember coming back afterward and Heather was like, “How did it go?” and I’m like, “I don’t know. I think the president of this mission’s organization just talked to me out of becoming a missionary” and she looked at me like really kind of disappointed like I’d blown the energy –


[0:30:01.4] JR: What’s wrong with you?


[0:30:02.0] DP: Or something, yes, “Well, you’ve kind of ruined our dream” but I am so thankful and this is where I dive into more in-depth in the book is I’m so thankful for that conversation because he put a category in my mind in that conversation that wasn’t there before. Looking back, I realized it should have been there but the category, there is a type of person who is like actually really, really passionate about getting the gospel to all the nations.


But who doesn’t become a missionary, and the more I thought about it, the more I thought, “Well, of course, there’s that category. It’s called a Christian” and this is what I love. When even as I say that and I think mere Christian like yes because like we’ve kind of created this dichotomy where if you’re passionate about the spread of the gospel to the nations, okay, you’re in this category over here.


You’re a missionary or you’re at least just kind of fanatic on that end and then the rest of us are here but if well, do you have the spirit of Jesus inside of you? Because if you do, the spirit of Jesus wants the nations and is passionate about the nations for Jesus. So if you have the spirit of Jesus in you, then you will be passionate about spreading Jesus’ glory and goodness to the nations like this is not just for a few.


This is for mere Christians, this is for every follower of Jesus. Now, it’s going to play out differently in all our lives — like I to this point have not moved overseas and I have pastored a church and God’s not calling everybody to do the exact same thing, either vocationally or in the same location. He calls us to do all kinds of things in all different kinds of different places but He calls us to do it all with a passion to see disciples made among all the nations.


That’s what should be driving every one of us and this is what I pray for all the time when I think about the church I pastor in DC, all these different people in all kinds of different places of work that is what happens when every single follower of Jesus is saying, “Okay, my life is for the spread of God’s glory among all the nations” and as you use the example, I think entrepreneur barista, I can’t remember what other examples you use but yes.


In the military and in this government job and in teaching and in engineering and then in law, like all these different domains, these are avenues where God has opened up for the gospel to spread much like what we were talking about and the opportunities to do that among the nations are more than ever before in history Jordan and we’re living in this time and place with the globalization of today’s marketplace. So let’s all live with that passion and let it change the way we live right where we are today.


[0:32:32.8] JR: Amen, I couldn’t agree more and you know but anytime the topic of evangelism comes up in the podcast, I know that our listeners can get discouraged because let’s face it, even if you’re great at making disciples with your coworkers, 99% of the time, 98% of the time at the office is going to be spent on tasks other than talking somebody through The Roman’s Road, right?


But I think the mind-shift has to be rooted in what we define as evangelism, right? Because I think we got to move to this place we’re viewing a 100% of our lives as evangelism, not just the one percent where we’re walking through a track. Can you speak to that David as an encouragement to our listeners?


[0:33:17.0] DP: Yeah, in fact, let me tell you a story that’s not in the book that I think will be helpful. It’s been really helpful for me, so now it is from a place in the Middle East, so imagine a country in the Middle East where it is illegal to share the gospel and illegal to lead a Muslim to faith in Jesus but I think about friends I know who started a business over there and the way they would put it is like we’re sharing the gospel every day.


The way they talk about it is they’re, we’ll disclose all the details of the business, but there is a manufacturing kind of component to this business and so they have all kinds of workers who are Muslim and then there are followers of Jesus, there are a few others but basically the way they describe it is they said, “Our goal is in the context of all that 98%” that you’re just talking about. The way they talked about it, well one, as we’ve already talked about like do really good work. — excellent work that reflects the character of God. So yes, doing that, and then they talked about the way they described it to me is they said, “We just look for an opportunity to weave threads of the gospel into the fabric of our everyday interactions.” So they just – I mean, when you think about threads of the gospel, think about the character of God and dignity as well as the sinfulness of people and the uniqueness of who Jesus is and what faith is, what grace is.


So these are just – and the reality that this world is not all there is, that there is eternity coming beyond this world. So these threads of the gospel, basically they talk instead of talking like I think about the conversation I had this week with a waiter who I’ve gotten to know at the table at this particular restaurant. Like I am telling him all about what God is doing in my life and I’m talking about God’s blessing as we just adopted a baby girl and this way or that way.


But just to look for opportunities to weave different threads of the gospel and then they said, “Our hope, our constant prayer is that as these threads of the gospel that we wove in into the fabric of our everyday conversations that then in that one percent, we’ll have opportunities when they’re asked, “Hey, can you tell me a little bit about that?” or they’re going through something in their life where they need some particular encouragement.”


They said there’s an opportunity to kind of bring those threads together and they have seen people come to know Jesus in that way and it was so helpful for me. I am a pastor but just in my own personal evangelism to think, “Okay, when I’m at the gym this morning doing a CrossFit workout, how can I…” as I am doing that workout, and yes, I would say 98% of what I’m doing there is just focused on working out.


But then in looking for opportunities even as I am doing that to weave threads of the gospel into the fabric of conversations and ways that set the stage for that one or two percent later when hopefully, God provides a door for that Roman road and all of that again, they come back to alongside good God-glorifying, people honoring work.


[0:36:16.6] JR: Yeah. Are you familiar with this launcher’s journal that William Wilberforce walked around British Parliament with?


[0:36:24.6] DP: No.


[0:36:26.0] JR: Oh my gosh, this has become my favorite tool full stop.


[0:36:31.5] DP: You got to tell me about it.


[0:36:32.3] JR: For sharing the gospel. So for our listeners who don’t know, Wilberforce was a member of the British Parliament in the 1700s, known most famously for no big deal, abolishing the slave trade in his lifetime throughout the British Empire but he was also like a disciple-making machine. Like his biographer say that when he entered parliament, there was maybe a handful of Christians and when he left, there were like 200, something like that and they largely accredited Wilberforce, the Lord working through Wilberforce to do it.


So his trick was a trick, it’s God’s spirit, amen but through this tool he used was a simple journal called launchers, where he would write down a list of names of people who he is praying, will come to faith in Christ and next to their name very simple prompts of conversation starters to take those conversations from the surface level to the serious and to the spiritual, right? So, like, one of his journal entries is just like, “S and misses, ask them what books they’re reading.”


“Inquire about the education of their children and whether or not they talk about faith at home. Invite them to come and hear Pastor Venn speak on Saturday at church” just like very simple prompts but hyper intentional about weaving those threads of the gospel into those conversations so that the conversations don’t stay at the surface level. So hopefully somebody’s listening and finds that helpful. Hey David, I want to close with this.


[0:37:57.0] DP: I love that and I would just add, it would be a helpful resource if somebody searched gospel threads because I ended up doing a whole series on this at one point, so Gospel Threads Radical. If you put that in I think it should come up but where it was like, yeah, how do we on a practical level like conversation like here’s language that can just be it’s super simple but it becomes intentional in our lives in a way that we’re weaving gospel threads into the fabric of our everyday conversation.


[0:38:22.6] JR: I love it. Hey, I want to close with this, you shared these six practical steps at the end of the book for listeners to follow Jesus fully in their lives, and in their work. Can you quickly share those six steps with us?


[0:38:22.6] DP: Yeah, sure. Basically, all right, to summarize as we yeah, try to put a lot of things I talk about in the book into practice is to one, cultivate a community on earth as it is in heaven to show and this is part of the beauty of the church and when I think about the different kinds of people who might be listening to this podcast like what I love about the church is you’ve got all these different people who work in all of these different places, who come from all these different backgrounds and have all these different perspective.


In many ways, looking things differently. I mean, I think about the church I pastor, there is a 100 different countries represented in this church. The only explanation for them being together and not just being together like in the same room singing songs but like sharing life with each other and carrying for each other like family, that’s only possible because of Jesus. There is no other explanation.


So cultivate community with people who don’t look like you and think like you but who have Jesus in common with you. That’s what heaven’s going to look like so let’s cultivate that kind of community here and there’s a lot of implications from that. Second, seek God. I’ll try to make this quicker, sorry I mean like –


[0:39:37.7] JR: No, you’re good. You take all the time you want.


[0:39:39.7] DP: But seek God early, late and long. I just – we are prone to seek God as a means to an end as opposed to Him being the end and especially I think about people who are driven and like to accomplish things and goals and just remember God is the goal. So how does that look in our lives for God to be the goal? Yeah, a lot to dive into there, and then third, I try to encourage people to memorize starting with a chapter and maybe even a book from God’s word and kind of build from there.


Yeah, if we’re going to hold fast to God’s word with conviction and to make sure we’re holding fast and our faith is built on God’s word and not American ideals, not that those are always totally different but they are many times different, we need to make sure God’s word is deep in us. So that’s third, fourth, to show countercultural compassion in the world. That’s where that’s just practical encouragement to cultivate the counter relationships we’ve been talking about with people, specifically people who would be prone to think Christians are adversarial to them.


To go out of our way to show countercultural compassion and share life and of course, share the gospel and the context of that relationship. Fifth, to do justice in all kinds of ways that we and I kind of practically walk through but I, praise God for ways that you are doing justice and then and I hope this conversation has even prompted it but to really pause and think, “Are there others, is there?”


I try to encourage at the end of the book like a couple, two or three other ways, in which God might be leading you to do to do justice more faithfully and then lastly, to reach the unreached. If there are three billion people who have never heard the gospel, then as we talked about like this is for all of us to address. Every one of us who has the spirit of Jesus in us, so that should change the way we pray. That should change the way we use our resources.


It should change even the way we think about the plans for our lives and our families. God may leave us exactly where we are for the rest of our lives but hopefully, He would open our eyes or hopefully we would see the opportunities we have even from where we are now and to be a part of reaching the nations and then that we would really truly be open to the fact that God with three billion people who have never heard the gospel, He’s calling some more people to go even short term but then longer in that.


To go on the wings of work to the nations and just to see what unique opportunities we have. We have done a gathering as Radical in the last couple of years with yeah, entrepreneurs and leaders and athletes and entertainers, just people in a variety of different domains saying, “How can you leverage your life specifically in your work for the spread of the gospel in the nations?” I [would] love for the people who are listening to this to just ask God that.


Really intentionally discern what would look like for me to leverage where I am, where I work, with the resources I have, and how can I play a part in getting the gospel to people who have never heard of it.


[0:42:45.3] JR: Amen, go back to number three real quick, what chapter scripture would be best for this audience to memorize, a group of Christians who is also ambitious for the work?


[0:42:55.1] DP: Okay, so the first one that comes to my mind, I’m probably going to like 10 minutes from now I’d be like, “I can’t believe I said that chapter” but I mean, it’s not going to go wrong, it’s a chapter in the Bible but the first one that comes to my mind is Colossians chapter three because we mentioned it earlier serving the Lord but there’s just really good, the beginning of Colossians three talking about the character of Christ.


I mean, clothed with Christ in the way that affects even our relationships at home and then relationships at work and then ultimately, how we work with all our hearts as we’re serving Jesus. So Colossian a –


[0:43:28.0] JR: That’s a good one.


[0:43:28.9] DP: Yeah, nobody would go wrong with memorizing it.


[0:43:31.5] JR: No, that’s exactly right. There is not a wrong answer to that question.


[0:43:35.0] DP: Yes.


[0:43:35.4] JR: Right.


[0:43:35.6] DP: But I would probably start there as opposed to like Leviticus three, so yeah.


[0:43:39.3] JR: That’s a pro tip. All right David, three rapid fire questions we wrap up every episode with. Number one, what books do you find yourself gifting most frequently these days?


[0:43:50.6] DP: Well, my favorite books that I’ve gifted most frequently a lot all the time have been Knowing God and Desiring God. So Knowing God by J. I. Packer is probably my top. I love that book, it’s just – yeah, go back and reread parts of it all the time and then Desiring God by J. I. Packer you mentioned earlier just – so those two books and then I mean, you mentioned, The Gospel at Work.


I love giving that book away specifically because yeah, I hope it’s just encouraging for people who are in all kinds of different workplaces to see how the gospel transforms the way they do work.


[0:44:29.5] JR: That’s good. Who would you want to hear in this podcast David, talking about how the gospel influences the work that mere Christians do in the world?


[0:44:36.8] DP: Well, I mean, the first name that comes to my mind as I think about that is the Sebastian, who, Sebastian Traeger, who wrote The Gospel at Work with Greg Gilbert and Sebastian and I have worked alongside each other in the past and he’s a gifted worker and loves Jesus, loves the church and I mean, a lot of that book is the overflow of his life. So I don’t know if you have ever met Sebastian or interacted with him.


[0:45:01.0] JR: I have met Sebastian, it’s been a few years since we caught up but that’s great. We’ve never had Sebastian on the show, so I can reach out to Sebastian. All right, David, what is one thing from our conversation you want to reiterate to our listeners before we sign off?


[0:45:13.1] DP: I would say because this would be the fountain from which all that flows to workers in all kinds of different domains, like make sure your ultimate goal in life is intimacy with God. Like that is what is driving you more than anything else that when you wake up in the morning that yeah, in a Mathew six kind of way, you go in your room at some point whether it’s the first thing or in some point like go in your room, close the door, pray to your Father’s unseen and your Father sees what he’s done in secret will reward you.


Like there is a reward waiting for you every day and God is the goal of your life and I’m just confident if that’s a reality in each of our lives then, well, everything else will flow from that. If it’s not, then we could be busy, even busy doing a lot of good things. It’s one of the things I talk about in this, Don’t Hold Back book is my own tendency even as a pastor to not seek God as the goal and I just man, there’s so much.


I mean, part of me wants to say, “Hey, get the gospel to the nations through your workplace” so yes, that but it really is the overflow of knowing God and His heart being your heart because you love being with Him.


[0:46:35.4] JR: Man, it’s convictive for me. David, I want to commend you for the extraordinary work you do every day for the glory of God and the good of those you serve. Thank you for not rubbing our ears but for challenging us, for putting more weight on the bar so that we might follow Christ more fully in our lives and our work and every aspect of our lives and bring greater glory to the one who has saved us.


My friends, I strongly recommend picking up David’s new book, Don’t Hold Back: Leaving behind the American Gospel to Follow Jesus Fully. David, thank you so much for spending some time with us today.


[0:47:11.8] DP: Pure joy, Jordan. Just thank you and yeah, I hope that everybody listening to this is just encouraged in where God has put them right now.




[0:47:22.8] JR: Again guys, David is incredible, even more incredible after you meet him, which is a great conversation after we got off air and just so generous with his time, taking time to pray for me and it’s rare that you meet one of your heroes and you’re more impressed after you leave the room but I’m certainly more impressed after I’ve spent some time with David today.


Guys, I hope you’re loving the Mere Christians Podcast. If you are, please go leave a rating of the show on Apply Podcast, Spotify, wherever you listen but hey, don’t pass what David said, God is the goal. He’s not a means to an end. He is the end and He is what we’re all ultimately striving for and searching for. So keep that in mind as you go about your day today.


Thank you guys so much for tuning in, I’ll see you next week.