Successful Christian Entrepreneur Will Change the Way You View Work: The Creator in You

Mentor Mama:

Today we are going to be talking about faith and work since the beginning of time. Our guest today, Jordan Raynor, author of the upcoming children’s book called, “The Creator in You,” will be giving us a fresh perspective on the creation account from the Bible’s first book Genesis that helps readers see that the sixth day wasn’t the end of creation; it was just the beginning. Jordan has written several books that give adults insight into the meaning of the purpose and value of work. In fact, it was Jordan’s book called, “The Master of One,” that I picked up during the pandemic that has really encouraged my decision to step out of corporate America and into doing full-time ministry at Coffee and Bible Time, and so his book just taught me to imagine how different my life would be if I spent my time doing the very thing that brings me the greatest joy. I’m going to put that link to the book in our show notes as well, but I just wanted to give you that back story to let you know just how much I respect Jordan and his ministry and his value of work. In preparation for this interview, I went back and I reread the story of the creation in Genesis, and interestingly enough, I found a post-it note that I put on the page quite sometime ago which is actually a quote from A.W. Tozer, and it’s referring to Genesis 1:9, which says, “Then God said, let the waters beneath the sky flow together into one place so dry ground may appear. And that is what happened.” So that verse now Tozer says, that these twin phrases as cause and effect occur throughout the Genesis story of creation, God spoke a book and lives in his spoken words, constantly speaking His words and causing the power of them to persist across the years. And I thought this quote was just so relevant to what we’re going to be talking about in two ways: first that here we are talking about the creation story again, thousands of years later, and secondly, to see the cause and effect of God creating man, so that we can do the work that He has created us to do ultimately to bring Him honor and glory. So stay tuned for this exciting exploration into the creation of the world and what it means for our lives today, but first a word from our sponsor.

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Mentor Mama:

Jordan Raynor helps Christians respond to the radical Biblical truth that their work matters for eternity. He does this through his best-selling books: “The Creator in You,” “Redeeming Your Time,” “Master of One,” and “Called to Create.” His podcast, which is called, “The Call to Mastery,” and his weekly devotional, “The Word Before Work.” This content has served millions of Christ followers in every country on earth. In addition to his writing, Jordan serves as the Executive Chairman of Threshold 360, a venture- backed tech startup that Jordan previously ran as CEO following a string of successful ventures of his own. Jordan has twice been selected as a Google Fellow and served in The White House under President George W. Bush. A sixth-generation Floridian, Jordan lives in Tampa with his wife and their three young daughters. The Raynor’s are proud members of The Church at Odessa. Please welcome Jordan.

Jordan Raynor:

Hey Ellen, thanks for having me.

Mentor Mama:

It’s so exciting for us to have you here because like I said, we’ve known you since we started reading your daily devotional that we get, and we think your work is fantastic.

Jordan Raynor:

And vice-versa. I am new to the Coffee and Bible Time community, but I got my Bible, I’ve got my coffee, and I’m ready to go. I’m all in on the Coffee and Bible Time train.

Mentor Mama:

Perfect. Well, I just wanted to start at the beginning of your book. This is a children’s book and it is incredibly, beautifully illustrated. In the very first lines of, “The Creator In You,” you say, “in the very beginning, a longtime ago, God created the world so that we would all know that He Himself is a working God, though, you might think that sounds just a little bit odd.” So why do you think it feels odd to think of God as working?

Jordan Raynor:

Yeah, it’s a great question. Frankly, because we never preach or sing about it in our churches today, right? We talk a lot about how God is loving and holy and merciful and just and gracious. And of course, He is all of those things, but open your Bibles to Genesis 1:1, the very first thing that the God of the universe wanted us to know about Him is that He is a God who creates, a God who is, can we say, productive, a God who works. And, oh by the way, here’s what I love about this: this is totally unique in the history of world religions. Every other religion says that the gods created human beings to do the menial labor of the world, to work and to serve the gods. Only the God of the Bible says, “no, I work to serve you. To share my love with you, to share my glory with you.” And that’s radical! It gives untold dignity and meaning to the work that we do as His image bearers. And so, short answer to your question, why do we think it’s odd to hear that God works? We don’t talk about it, and that’s part of the reason why I wrote, “The Creator in You,” to play a small part in fixing that problem.

Mentor Mama:

I love how this will be teaching children from a very young age the value of work. How is God’s work like and unlike our own work?

Jordan Raynor:

This is a great question. We got to get this crystal clear, because when we say God works, we got to point out that He works totally unlike us. Genesis 1:2 tells us that the earth was formless and void, then God simply said, “let there be light,” and there was light. As I say in the book, with just a few words, He made creatures appear like: polar bears, penguins, alpacas, and deer. By the way, I still don’t know what an alpaca is. I have no idea how that got into the book, but there it is. Only God creates out of nothing. But Scripture also tells us He creates out of something. In Genesis 2, it says, that God quote, “planted a garden in the east.” So, gone is the, God said it and it was so, language of Genesis One. In Genesis Two, we see Him not just working with His words, but working with his hands. Interestingly, the Hebrew word used to describe God’s work in Genesis is this word, melakhah, which is the exact same word that Moses uses to describe human work later in the Old Testament. What’s the point? I think Moses and the writers of Scripture wanted us to see, number one, God works unlike us, but number two, He also works like us because when we understand that, we can better envision how we can work and create and live in God’s image as a means of reflecting His glory in the world.

Mentor Mama:

That’s amazing, isn’t it? I mean truly the fact that we have both of those situations that you just described: like and unlike.

Jordan Raynor:

You want to make the one true God winsome and attractive to people who work with their hands, to blue-collar workers. Tim Keller says, the God or The Bible in Genesis 1 and 2, did quote, “manual labor,” strong statement from one of the most respected pastors in the modern church. But he’s right, God’s working in Genesis 2, with his hands, and that should lead us and our kids to view the work of gardeners and garbage collectors and waiters and waitresses as equally dignified as the work of computer programmers and CEOs and pastors.

Mentor Mama:

Amen! And, really that’s what I wanted to explore more; your vision for writing this book for children. Tell us a little bit about your thought behind wanting to create this book so that kids could have it.

Jordan Raynor:

You touched on it in the introduction, you really hit on the core reason why I wanted to do this. I’ve got three young daughters: seven, five, and, two, and we must have 10 books on the creation account of Genesis 1, and they drive me nuts because they all follow this same predictable pattern that God created this on day one, He created that on day two, day 3, 4, 5, 6, the end. Here’s why they drive me nuts; day six wasn’t the end of creation. Day six is the beginning. The world was still largely blank, largely void. Day six is when God passed the baton to His children and said, go create like me, and so, I wanted a children’s book that got to day six real early in the narrative. There’s this line in the book that says, after the kids are watching God create with his words and with his hands, it says, and now you might think that our story is ending, but in fact, this is just the beginning, because God needs you to look like Him, to act and work and create with Him. Because while in six days, God created a lot, there are so many things that He simply did not, like: bridges, baseballs, sand castles and smores, God asked us to create and fill the planet with more. So, that’s the core message of this book. Yes, God created it; it’s amazing. But He passed the baton to us on day six and said, “fill the earth and subdue it.” I think when our kids get this at an early age, man, it changes the way they think about their chores or their homework or their art projects they do around the house. And Lord willing, I think it’s going to cause them to view their future work, their future careers, with God ordained purpose and joy.

Mentor Mama:

I love how you’re getting this into their hands at a young age. You’re also helping parents who haven’t thought of this yet. They have those 10 books sitting on their kids’ shelves and they haven’t thought of this aspect. What a beautiful thing…

Jordan Raynor:

This book is a Trojan; it’s a Trojan horse for parents. I’ve been writing these non-fiction books and doing podcasts for the last few years, and I just came to the place that, number one, I want kids to get it, but this is also a means of getting a good theology of work in the hands of parents who aren’t going to read a non-fiction book, who aren’t going to listen to a podcast. Somebody told me the other day, they’re like, “man, the artwork in this book is so epic, so beautiful. It’s kind of like a Pixar movie, in that it inspires five-year-olds, but it also makes 55- year-olds weep.” And I’m like a hundred percent, that’s the goal! Pixar, that’s the standard.

Mentor Mama:

One of the implicit messages of, “The Creator in You,” is that work existed before sin, and thus, it was once perfect worship yet so many adults hate their jobs today, and kids don’t like doing their homework and chores, so what hope does the Scripture hold for people who are facing those thoughts?

Jordan Raynor:

Oh man, the hope of Scripture, and we don’t see this in Genesis 1 and 2 because the world’s not broken yet, but it is that one day, work’s going to be perfect worship once again. If work was a part of God’s perfect world in Genesis 1 and 2, and God says He’s going to make all things new in eternity and the Kingdom of Heaven, that has to include our work, right? By the way, Isaiah 65 tells us this explicitly. The Prophet Isaiah is giving this prophetic vision of the new heavens, and the new earth, and the new Jerusalem and he says this in Isaiah 65:21-23, he says, “they (these are God’s people), will build houses and dwell in them. They will plant vineyards and eat their fruit. No longer will they build houses and others live in them, or plant and others eat, for as the days of a tree so will be the days of my people,” and here it is, “my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands, they will not labor in vain.” So you hate your job today, you hate your homework, that’s not the way work was intended to be, and there’s coming a day in which that’s not going to be true, a day when you’re going to long enjoy the work you’ve got to do for eternity alongside King Jesus. And if you love your work, man, let this fuel your hope, right? Heaven is not us floating on clouds as disembodied souls, doing nothing but singing for all eternity. Yes, we’re going to be worshiping forever, but worship, as we see in Genesis 1 and 2 includes the work that God and we do with our hands, so look forward expectedly to that day when it’s going to be perfect again.

Mentor Mama:

That really truly should be a tremendous encouragement maybe to people who are struggling with doing a job because they have to and it pays the bills, but hopefully, they’re also finding other outlets to use the gifts that God’s given them.

Jordan Raynor:

I don’t think God wants us to hate our jobs, we are His children, and so if there’s opportunity in this life to do something more in line with their gifts, to do something that brings others, and eventually, you joy, this is what I talk about in the “Master of One,” as, you know, Ellen; do it, but if you can’t, and for a lot of people, tragically, that’s an economic impossibility to choose what they’re going to do in this world. And for those people, I suggest going to Isaiah 65. Rest in the hope that God’s making all things new, and one day you’re going to long enjoy the work of your hands.

Mentor Mama:

Definitely. Kids love talking about what they want to be when they grow up. How do you think “The Creator in You,” will start to shape their answers to that question?

Jordan Raynor:

My hope is that it just vastly expands the horizons of which types of work can honor and glorify God. If we believe that God works, that He is an artist and a creator before He is a preacher, that should vastly expand the aperture of the types of jobs we think we can do for the glory of God and the good of others. I say towards the end of the book, create new businesses and movies, medicine, and hope, make laws or computers or a new telescope, because when you work and you make something new, you’re doing what God has made you to do. You’re showing the world what your father is like; a God that creates to bring people to light. Right? So one of my dreams of this book, and for the rest of my work, is that kids would graduate high school seeing careers as programmers, as pastors and as plumbers, as equally capable of advancing the Kingdom of God. And I think this book, “The Creator in You,” can be the seed that starts to germinate and grow that idea in our kids’ minds at a really early age.

Mentor Mama:

Absolutely. I love the example in the Bible about this obscure artist named Bezalel, and honestly, one of my favorite Bible studies I ever did was on the Tabernacle. So why don’t you share with us about this artist and what’s the story here and what does it mean for us?

Jordan Raynor:

In Exodus 31, God is giving Moses these crazy detailed plans for building the Tabernacle; further underscoring the fact that we worship a creative God who cares deeply about the work of human hands, right? And, then there’s this beautiful scene where God says in Exodus 31:1, He says, “see, I have chosen Bezalel, son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God,” Why? To make artistic designs for working. Gold, silver, and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of crafts. This is fascinating. This is the only person in the old Testament that we are told was filled with the Spirit of God. Why? To make things. And this makes all the sense in the world because as we saw in Genesis 1, our God is a God who creates and makes things, so the spirit of God doesn’t just enable us to preach, it enables Bezalel and us to create culture. And I love this; I just read this in a commentary the other day, Bezalel’s name means quote, “in the shadow of God.” It makes all the sense in the world, right? Because God’s a God who creates, so what does this mean for us? Listen, three quick things: number one, all humans are creative because we’re made in the image of a creative God. Number two, some of us like Bezalel are going to have an extra dose of creativity, and then number three, Exodus 31 and Bezalel just reminds us that creative work is God ordained work, it’s not a fringe thing. Beauty is not a, nice to have, it is commanded and ordained by the God of the universe.

Mentor Mama:

Yes, and don’t we see that, starting in God’s creation and His beauty, and so many things; animals, and places, and landscapes, and it’s just all over, and then the beauty of how God gives each person on this planet, unique skills and abilities. I was just thinking, honestly, the other day, I’m so glad that God put it within people to want to be tax accountants, because as I was pulling together all my tax documents, I was thinking, for the life of me, I could never ever do this. I’m so glad he created people that can.

Jordan Raynor:

Lord, thank you for CPAs. As somebody who’s married to one, I’m very grateful for CPAs. It’s so funny, I think we’ve gone to this place where we value utility over everything, and everything has to have a purpose, everything has to have a function. Look at Genesis 1, there’s 17,500 species of butterflies in the world. That can’t serve a functional purpose, right? But, God creates with gratuitous, needless beauty, purposeless, beauty, and that should mark the life of the church. Going out into the world and creating a new creation with excessive beauty that just points to the goodness and the beauty and the glory of God.

Mentor Mama:

Amen, Amen. Let’s talk a little bit about Jesus, as a carpenter and what does his vocation in looking at him and his life mean for us?

Jordan Raynor:

Listen, given the conversations we have in the church today, which implicitly, and I think a lot of the times explicitly, says that the work of religious professionals is more eternally significant than the work of marketers and plumbers, and the fact that Jesus spent the majority of his adult life working as a carpenter should stop us dead in our tracks. Like, God knew from the beginning of time, the ultimate purpose for Jesus coming to earth. And with that truth in view, you would think that God would’ve put Him in a priestly household like, John the Baptist, where He would’ve spent all day praying. Maybe it would’ve made sense for Jesus to grow up in the home of a Pharisee like Paul, where He could focus on studying the Scriptures all day long, but instead He placed Him in the home of essentially a small business owner where He spent His days making things with his hands, and on the surface, I think that looks shocking, but again, look back at Genesis 1. I would argue, this is the least surprising thing in all of Scripture, because the work of Jesus’s earthly father is mirroring the work of his heavenly father, and I think by putting Him in the workshop of a carpenter, God is just winking at us and saying, hey, I’m reaffirming the goodness of regular old work, and reminding you that working with your hands, is doing God’s work. And, by the way, Jesus reaffirmed this when He called His disciples. When he launched the Kingdom of God, Jesus didn’t call the religious professionals, He chose fishermen and tax collectors. What does that mean for us? It means the work you do today, it’s not secular. It’s not secondary. It is good. It is God-like, and it is the work that God typically chooses to help bring His kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Mentor Mama:

Yes, it’s so true, and I just would say to our listeners, if there’s any of you that haven’t seen “The Chosen,” this gives you a great opportunity to actually see Jesus as a carpenter, and how He is using work to sustain Himself.

Jordan Raynor:

I love the way it’s portrayed in “The Chosen.”

Mentor Mama:

Yes, it’s just real. It makes you really understand.

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Mentor Mama:

You’ve written before about the parallels between Adam and Eve gardening and Eden, which we see alluded to in, “The Creator in You,” and Jesus being mistaken for the gardener at the resurrection. So what’s the connection there and what does it mean for us and our kids?

Jordan Raynor:

I think this is the most beautiful and one of the least explored symbols in all of Scripture. John chapter 20, we read it every Easter, Jesus appears to Mary Magdalene after the Resurrection, and she turns around and she mistakes Him for the gardener. We breeze past this detail, and we keep reading, and I was talking to the theologian, NT Wright one day, and was like, Jordan, this is a hundred percent intentional, do not miss this. He’s like, what’s happening here, God is pointing us back to the first garden. Think about it, Genesis 1, God inaugurates the first creation, but He doesn’t finish it. Again, sixth day, not the end of creation, but the beginning, and He calls Adam to garden it and to fill it. Now at the Resurrection, we have the Last Adam, inaugurated the eternal Kingdom of God, and here He is being mistaken as a gardener, right? And just like the first Adam had his bride Eve, to help him cultivate and garden the first creation, Jesus, the gardener, the last Adam, has his bride, the church, you and me, to help Him cultivate the final one. And I think this symbol is a beautiful reminder of what Jesus said throughout His entire ministry, The Kingdom is not going to come in one fell swoop, it’s going to come slowly, and at least in part through the work of the Holy Spirit, working through you and me, the church. We are a part of cultivating the Kingdom, of gardening the Kingdom by telling other people that Jesus is King by fighting injustice, by making this world more beautiful. All of that work done in the power of the Spirit can be Kingdom work and as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:58 that work done in the Spirit in the Lord is not in vain. I don’t how it’s not in vain, I have no idea how God’s going to take our labor and work it into his final redemptive plans. But the promise is pretty clear in Scripture, and so I just love this picture of Jesus, the gardener, every time I see it I’m reminded, God could have brought the Kingdom full on Easter morning, just like He could have brought all the creation on day six, but He didn’t, He’s choosing to do that work through you and me.

Mentor Mama:

That is incredible, and I’ve never thought of it like that either. I mean, that’s always been a perplexing passage to me and kind of thinking, well, He’s been Resurrected and it seemed plausible that people might not recognize Him, even though Mary had walked with Him for a couple years now, so that is phenomenal. Thank you so much for sharing that. As we get to wrapping things up, what are you hoping kids will do as a response to “The Creator in You?”

Jordan Raynor:

I think immediately I want them to make something, and so the whole last third of the book, it tells them to grab a blank sheet of paper and create with their hands or draw up some plans for a lemonade stand. It tells them to roll up their sleeves and build epic tree forts and someday build cities and towers and ports. So we have actually built a website on the backend of the book that gives kids tons of free activities, so just as soon as they’re done reading, go create something great, then I think long-term, again I touched on it before, I’m praying that they remember this book when they’re teenagers, when they’re graduating high school, when they’re in college. And they remember all of the different ways that they could serve God, serve others and bring glory to God. So short-term; go make something. Long-term, I pray that every student who graduates high school or graduates college and has read this book would view their work as a full-time missionary, whatever that job is, would view their work as a means of it advancing the Kingdom and revealing the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

Mentor Mama:

Absolutely, and how about parents? So what can we do? What would you suggest in helping our kids in response to the book?

Jordan Raynor:

I think the same thing. I think one thing I’ve been thinking a lot about lately with my girls is, how do I help them understand these truths? How do I help them see the thing that they’re going to spend 45 to 50 hours a week doing for the majority of their life as connected to God’s purposes for the world, and I think we could be frankly, reading Genesis 1 and 2 to our kids, that’s a pretty good start, and then I think the other thing I’ve been thinking about is just talking about the things I love about my work. It’s easy to talk about the things that we hate. Right. And this language we use all the time, it’s like, oh, thank God it’s Friday, or mommy can’t wait for the weekend. I’m not saying we shouldn’t talk about our challenges. Work is hard. Genesis 3, the thorns, the thistles, but we also should be celebrating the good: Hey kids, mommy made a killer presentation at work today and it felt so good. Or, hey guys, dad, helped the customer solve a problem today and it just reminded me of Jesus telling us to love our neighbors as ourselves, that’s what it felt like. That kind of language, which I don’t think is hard. It’s real, real, real simple, but just talking about work in a positive light and connecting it to God’s purposes for the world.

Mentor Mama:

Absolutely. My boss is retiring on April 1st.

Jordan Raynor:

It’s not an April Fools joke, he’s really retiring?

Mentor Mama:

No, it’s not, it’s not, and he’s been there 40 years. But I think one thing that he’s done so remarkably well, and I think it just ties so beautifully in here, is that he did his work very well, but he also knew everybody personally, he cared about the people that he worked with. He invested in getting to know them. It wasn’t just get down to business, and you’re just a means to the end of getting work done. No, he took the time, and I think that for me as a parent too, that’s something that I really want to always stress with my kids, is take time to see people, ask them questions about their lives.

Jordan Raynor:

Look at Genesis 1. Human beings are the crown jewel of God’s creation, and we got to be careful here. I think a lot of Christians believe that people are the only thing that God’s going to redeem and that’s not true. He’s going to make all things new, but what an opportunity if you’re listening right now and you work in corporate America or you work serving customers, cleaning pools every day, whatever it is you do, you’re interacting with other image bearers and to cite the cliché of all cliches, you may truly be the only Jesus they ever see. That’s a heavy responsibility and a great privilege to show them what God is like by working with excellence, but also working with love. Not just love of the work, but love of the people that you’re serving in the work and taking the time to look them in the eye and care for them as people to make winsome and attractive, Jesus the King.

Mentor Mama:

Amen. That’s a great note to end it on! How can people find out more information about you, Jordan?

Jordan Raynor:

We have tons of free resources for you at jordanraynor.com, a weekly devotional that expounds upon these themes. Obviously, “The Creator in You,” you can get on Amazon or wherever books are sold, although I’ll warn you, and this is not false scarcity, we’re almost out of stock. So, if it says temporarily unavailable, go ahead and buy, get your spot in line, because my publisher is printing a lot more copies, don’t worry about that. And if you get the book, we’re doing something really fun. If you go to jordanraynor.com and plug in your kids’ names and your address, I’m going to send a handwritten, beautifully decorated sticker to them. So, it’ll say, for example, “To Ellen, May you always abound in the creativity of the Father.” I’m going to sign it, so then they can stick it right there in the front of their book. If your kids are like mine, the two things they love most in this world are number one, receiving physical mail and number two, stickers. So, we’re just going to crush it with this pre-order bonus.

Mentor Mama:

I love it. I want to encourage any of you that are listening, this book is absolutely gorgeous. It will make a huge impact on your children’s lives. We will definitely have links in our show notes. Before we go, Jordan, we ask some of our guests, just a couple questions here.

Jordan Raynor:

I love these questions.

Mentor Mama:

What Bible do you use and which translation is it?

Jordan Raynor:

I’m doing something new. I’ve been reading NIV, good old NIV for years, and it was actually my friend Mark Batterson, who convinced me to start changing things up. He reads through the Bible in a different translation every year. I was like, oh, I love that, you’re just making different connections in the Word. So, I just switched to ESV. I’m using the Thomas Nelson leather bound ESV study Bible, and I love it. It’s actually a really, really great Bible.

Mentor Mama:

Excellent. Do you have any favorite journaling supplies or anything that you like to use to enhance your Bible study experience?

Jordan Raynor:

I just use whatever moleskine journal I’ve recently received in the mail. You get a lot of those as swag gifts. So I just use a moleskine, and whatever pen I can find around the house, which if I’m being totally honest, nine out of ten mornings, it’s a Disney princess pen, so it’s a pretty manly experience at my dining room table.

Mentor Mama:

Lastly, what’s your favorite app or website for Bible study tools?

Jordan Raynor:

I used the Logos Bible app for a long time. It is pretty intense, honestly, most of the time I’m using biblehub.com, it’s so great and so rich and so many good tools there. So I love both of those tools.

Mentor Mama:

Yes. Both of those are awesome. Jordan, thank you so much for being here today. Congratulations on your new book being released the week April 19th and for our listeners, you can pick up a copy of Jordan’s book. We will have it linked in our blog and lastly, head over to the Coffee and Bible Time website for our prayer journals that will help guide and document your prayer life at coffeeandbibletime.com. Thank you so much for joining us today on our blog. We love you all. Have a blessed day.

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