The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert. Zondervan. 152 pages. 2014.
The authors state that one of the greatest needs in the church is an understanding of how our daily work according to God’s Word ties in with God’s ultimate purpose in the world. They contend that on one hand, we find ourselves overvaluing work to the neglect of our health, our families and the church. In this way we make our jobs an idol. On the other hand, we undervalue work in a culture that fosters laziness and glorifies retirement. In this way we can slip into being idle in our work.
Traeger and Gibert offer helpful questions for us to ask about how our work fits into God’s intention for our lives:
- Is my work shaping my character in a godly direction?
- How can I do my work, not just as a way to put food on the table, but as a sold-out disciple of Jesus?
- What’s the point of work in a Christian’s life? Is there any meaning to it beyond providing goods and services, making money, and providing a living for ourselves and our families?
- Why does God have us spend so much of our lives doing this one particular thing?
The authors state that our jobs are one of the primary ways God intends to make us more like Jesus, and that the New Testament has some things to say about what we should think of our work (Ephesians 6:5,7, Colossians 3:22-24).
They tell us that no matter what our job is or who our boss is, what we do in our jobs is actually done in service to King Jesus. That is the big idea of the book – that our work has purpose and meaning because we are ultimately doing it for the King. Who we work for is more important than what we do.
The authors aim is to help Christians see more clearly why God has given them work to do and how they might be thinking about work in sinful ways. They hope to help believes forsake both idolatry and idleness in favor of a more biblical way of thinking about work as service to King Jesus.
I appreciated sections in the book about how to choose a job; how to balance work, church and family; how to handle difficult bosses and co-workers; and what it means to be a Christian boss.
Helpful “For Further Reflection” sections are included at the end of each chapter. I used this when reading the book as a part of a book club recently.
Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles
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- J.I. Packer on Vocation. In reading Leland Ryken’s wonderful new biography of J.I. Packer J. I. Packer: An Evangelical Life, I read about Packer’s passion for calling and vocation. Here Justin Taylor shares some brief Q&A’s with Packer about vocation.
- The Rising Third Wave of Productivity Presents the Church with Another Massive Leadership Opportunity. Glenn Brooke writes “We’re living at the front edge of this third wave of productivity. Christian leaders are beginning to recognize that what’s old in our history is new again. We can and should be leaders and guides for others as this wave approaches.”
- Does God Care about the Work You Do? Watch this one minute plus video from Bonnie Wurzbacher, about whether God cares about the work we do. Wurzbacher was at the time of this video Coca-Cola Company Senior Vice President, Global Customer Leadership and is now Chief Resource Development Officer at World Vision International.
- ‘What Is My Mission?’ – The New IFWE Bible App Reading Plan. Kristen Brown states that the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics (IFWE) is “pleased to announce that we’re releasing a new Bible app reading plan What Is My Mission?, a series that addresses the gut-wrenching, life-questions we’ve all struggled with: “Isn’t there more to life?” and “What am I here to do?”
- Stop Working for the Weekend. Barnabas Piper writes “We don’t work to rest and play; we rest and play to work. That’s how God made us. We are designed to work, and because of that design we should find great satisfaction in the activity of working. We may not love our particular jobs sometimes, but we should always love work.”
- The Most Unremarkable Thing Leaders Do. Dan Rockwell writes “The most unremarkable thing leaders do is worry about themselves.”
- Does Family Compete with God’s Calling for My Life? Elizabeth Moyer writes “How does family fit into our job description? Family is a vehicle for us to fulfill the cultural mandate and the Great Commission – to multiply, have dominion, and make disciples.”
- Daring Destinations, Part 2. In this episode of the Andy Stanley Leadership podcast, Stanley concludes his conversation with author and CEO Cheryl Bacheldor on how to make bold decisions that drive superior performance.
- Regrets. In this “Minute with Maxwell”, John Maxwell states that our greatest regrets come over things we haven’t done.
- The Top 100 Socially-Shared Leadership Blogs of 2015. There are several leadership blogs on this list that I am not familiar with, but plan to check out.
- Good Leaders Have a Limp. Steven Graves states that most remarkable leaders he knows carry a limp. He states that a limp “is a scar that comes from getting in the ring with God. A limp is the spiritual, emotional, mental, and even physical (at times) recognition that we are not the supreme agent of life.”
- Is Christian Business Offensive to Non-Christian Employees? Chris Patton writes “If you are in a position where you want to step out and make it clear that your business is a Christian company (without being offensive), then I have some advice. These are the steps I would recommend you take as you move forward. Don’t skip any of them or you could make it more difficult in the future.”
- Mastering the Art of Creating Accountability. Dan Rockwell writes “Short-sighted leaders use accountability to pressure people. The context of pressure is resistance.” However, useful accountability is “drawing out the best in others.”
- Procrastination. In this “Minute from Maxwell”, John Maxwell talks about putting off things that they should do now for a later time.
- Balancing Work and Family: 3 Tips for High-Achievers and Entrepreneurs. Andy Andrews writes “For you overachievers, if you always feel the need to be working, what if you could shift your perspective so that when you’re with your family, you’re actually working on your family? Make the time count.”
- Are you a Leadership Hoarder, Lender or Giver? Scott Cochrane writes that how you answer this question will go a long way to determining what kind of impact you’ll have.
- Succeeding with Three Challenges that Derail Leaders. Dan Rockwell shares the three challenges and then how to succeed with them.
- An Artist’s Struggle Between Faith and Obscurity. Bethany Jenkins interviews Laura Waters Hinson, a documentary filmmaker, about her work.