Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

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Faith and Work News ~ Links to Interesting Articles

  • What Do High School and College Graduates Need to Hear? Russell Gehrlein offers insights that inspire graduates to take their Christian faith into their workplaces, schools, the military, or wherever God calls them to learn and serve.
  • Overcoming Shame in the Workplace. Hugh Whelchel writes “In an environment where we’re evaluated on our performance, expected to succeed, rewarded for results, and scolded for mistakes, it’s no wonder the workplace is a prime breeding ground for shame.”
  • Work. Our work will be far more rewarding and our rest far more renewing, the more we can keep the boundaries between work and rest high, clear, and distinct. Watch this short video from David Murray.
  • Women, Work, and the Home: What is a Biblical Measurement of Success? Carolyn McCulley writes “Women are to look at all they have received—the gifts, talents, time, opportunities, relationships, and capacities—and determine how and when to invest them across the full arc of a lifetime.”

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Work: It’s Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation by Daniel M. Doriani
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life

  • How the Sacred-Secular Divide Impacts the Church. Hugh Whelchel writes “By demolishing this dichotomy, we realize that God cares about everything we do. Our response to God’s power and glory can come from every thought, word, and action if we steward all we have to his glory and honor.”
  • How to Live Your Faith at Work. In this episode of the Gospel Coalition podcast, Justin Buzzard helps pastors can equip their people live out their faith in the workplace.
  • Exploring Common Practices for Faith and Work in Local Churches. Jeff Haanen shares four practices that intersect with four distinct areas of congregational life: corporate worship, pastoral practice, discipleship/spiritual formation, and mission/outreach.
  • Dismantling the New Sacred-Secular Divide. Jessica Schroeder writes “We must take care, in moving away from the sacred-secular divide, not to move into what some are calling the “new” sacred-secular divide. Though not as blatant as its predecessor, its insidiousness can be dangerously more difficult to detect.”
  • Be a Gospel Signpost Through the Work of Your Hands. Hugh Whelchel writes “How has God designed and called you? Do you see your work as a “signpost” to point people to God’s picture story? How can you give others a glimpse of shalom through your work?”
  • Gaining Perspective in a Quarter-Life Crisis. Hugh Whelchel writes “The quarter-life crisis can be attributed to two great lies our culture promotes among children in school, students in college, and professionals in the business world. The first great lie is, “If you work hard enough, you can be anything you want to be.” The second great lie is like the first one, yet possibly even more damaging: “You can be the best in the world.”
  • The Parable of the Good Samaritan Part 2: Business. Matt Perman writes “If you do it for Christ, the work you do is good and pleasing to God. Though we don’t often recognize it, your work is doing far more than just providing for yourself and your family. You are actually part of God’s own long-term solution to keeping your nation out of poverty, or lifting it out of poverty if you are working in the developing world.”
  • What the Image of God Means for Our Dignity and Work. Art Lindsley writes “Every person is created in the image of God, full of dignity, with unique talents and gifts to use for the glory of God in their work. One reason why so many Christians fail to discover their vocation is because they don’t fully understand what it means to be made in the image of God.”
  • My Faith at Work on Capitol Hill. Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra interviews Dominique McKay (press secretary to Senate Majority Whip John Thune of South Dakota, the No. 2 Republican senator in Washington, D.C.), about her work on the Hill, the pressures she feels as a Christian, and how her church ministers to ambitious women.
  • Eight Steps Along the Path to Wisdom. Art Lindsley writes “If we are to pursue our callings to the best of our ability, we need to obtain wisdom.”
  • Bivocational Ministry Through a Faith and Work Lens. Hugh Whelchel writes “In his book The Call, Os Guinness suggests that we have four secondary callings of which vocation is one. Our obedience to our primary calling to Christ can be seen working itself out in four distinct ways through these four secondary callings. They are our calling to human family, to the church, to community, and to vocation.”
  • Why Worship Involves Risk-Taking. Tim Hoerr writes “He wants to see us use our talents, gifts, personality, and experiences in order to serve and glorify him, even if that means taking actions that make us vulnerable or uncomfortable.”
  • All men were created to busy themselves with labor for the common good. John Calvin
  • Talent is a gift, but character is a choice. John Maxwell
  • There is no ideal place to serve God except the place where He has set you down. Eric Alexander
  • You will not have a meaningful life without work, but you will lose yourself if you say work is the meaning of your life. Tim Keller
  • The shop, the barn, the kitchen, and the workbench become temples when men and women do all to the glory of God. Charles Spurgeon
  • Work is the most logical and likely place where Christians should be making the greatest impact. Luke Bobo
  • We are wired to mirror God through creation and restoration, and in so doing to leave people, places, and things better than we found them. Scott Sauls
  • The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why. Bob Smart
  • Christians operating with a sense of joy, purpose, and mission in their work are integral components of irresistible faith. Scott Sauls

Work: It’s Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation by Daniel M. Doriani. P&R Publishing. 248 pages. 2019

I have read a few dozen books on work, integrating faith and work, taking our faith to work, etc. This new book by Dan Doriani, a respected seminary professor (who I enjoyed two classes with at Covenant Seminary), pastor and theologian, may be the best yet. It is comprehensive, grounded in scripture, and at times, challenging. (See my article about some of those challenges.)  It covers some aspects of work that I have not found in others’ books in the genre.
The author, who told me that the book has been 18 years in the making, has interviewed hundreds of people about their work over the years, either while working on this book, or as the pastor of a local church. His aim in the book is to engage all who want to practice love and justice in their work. He states that he especially writes for two kinds of people. The first kind doubts the value of their labor. The second kind of person is one who yearns to do significant work, and dares to think their work can change their corner of the world.
The author grounds all work in the person and work of the triune God. He also has twelve principles that guide the book, with one principle standing behind them all. He writes that a biblical theology of work begins with the character of God.
The book is organized as follows:

Part 1: Foundations: This section defines work, summarizes the biblical teaching on it, and explore the most influential theories of work.

Part 2: Faithfulness: This section addresses core topics: calling, faithfulness, work amid hardship, and the rhythm of work and rest. This was my favorite section of the book.

Part 3: Reformation: The final section explores the way in which Christians strive to reform the workplace or society at large. This section offers a theology or apologetic for the project of attempting to bring reformation through work. This section includes a few interesting case studies of those who have brought reformation to their work.

Appendix: The appendix offers biblical principles for ten common fields of labor.

The author has twelve principles that guide the book, with one principle standing behind them all. He writes that a biblical theology of work begins with the character of God. The book studies work, but the author tells us that it especially aims to promote good work. He proposes that good work has five elements: need, talent, disciplined effort, direction, and correct social appraisal.
Helpful “Discussion Questions” are included at the end of each chapter, making this an excellent book to read and discuss with others.
I highlighted a large number of passages in the book. Below are 15 of my favorite quotes:

  1. Our work shapes and defines us.
  2. All work is important, but leadership is more important.
  3. Too much Christian instruction on work urges disciples to be faithful in the work assigned to them. Not enough consider, “Should we do this work?”
  4. Leaders should ask themselves: Is the work I oversee good? Should it be redesigned, strengthened, or even abolished?
  5. Some work is perfectly legal but utterly immoral.
  6. To do good work, we need more than skill, persistence, and good motives; we must do good to “the other,” who receives our efforts.
  7. The statement “Whatever you do, give it your best effort” is simplistic at best and misleading at worst. Some tasks do not merit our best effort. Human energies are finite, and we should preserve them for demanding and consequential tasks. Why give our best to sweeping floors, dressing toddlers, raking leaves, or grading elementary school book reports?
  8. We are creative because the Creator made mankind in his image.
  9. Workers who are intent on reforming work must be willing to suffer for their cause, as Jesus did.
  10. Through our work we shape the world, but our work also shapes us.
  11. Work and vocation are not identical. Vocation entails service in the place where God has given gifts and a desire to make a difference in this world.
  12. At work we serve God and neighbor, but we also benefit personally when we challenge ourselves and hone our skills.
  13. It is not sufficient to assert that our work glorifies God. A truly good act follows God’s laws, conforms to his character, and has proper goals.
  14. In all our work, we strive to bring credit to God’s name.
  15. When love and justice meet in our work, we can find direction even in the hardest decisions.

Faith and Work Book Club – Won’t you read along with us?

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life by Os Guinness is the best book on calling for the Christian that I have read. The first time I read it was in Dr. Douglass’s wonderful “Spiritual and Ministry Formation” class at Covenant Seminary in 2013. In 2018, on the 20th anniversary of the book, Guinness published a revised and updated edition.
This week we’ll look at: Chapter 4: Counterculture to the Core. Here are a few highlights from the chapter:

  • When Jesus calls us to follow him, all that contradicts his call, all that contradicts his Lordship over all our lives, has to go.
  • We in the West are rarely a threat and hardly a challenge to our surrounding countries, and the major reason is that, for all our numbers, we are weak because we are worldly. At point after point after point, we have been almost assimilated to our surrounding cultures. We have therefore lost the distinctiveness that makes us the salt and light Jesus called us to be.
  • It is time to make a break, not to retreat to any monastic option, but to break from the ways of the world in order to engage the world more faithfully and effectively.
  • Christians have a duty to be different.
  • The call to break is inherent in God’s call, and it provides a bracing challenge for all who take calling seriously.

Next time, we’ll look at Chapter 5: God’s Grand Global Project.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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