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

  • Those Whom God Uses to Heal. These days more than ever, those in the medical field are looked at as true heroes. Our friend Russell Gehrlein writes from a biblical and theological perspective to encourage those whom God uses to heal, as well as those who are on the receiving end of their valuable work.
  • The Motivation of a Leader. On this month’s Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast, Stanley visits with Patrick Lencioni about his new book The Motive and the motivation of a leader.
  • Vocation and the Epidemic. Gene Veith writes “Vocation is not just about how we make our living.  It’s about how God works through human beings to care for His creation.  It’s about loving and serving our neighbors in our multiple stations of life.”
  • Remembering the Working Poor in the Time of Coronavirus. Daniel Darling writes “Perhaps our national pain will be a catalyst for God’s people to remember that the gospel is the great leveler, the cross the place where you are not defined by what you do but by who you are in because of what Jesus did. Ironically, it may be this season of social distancing that will be used by God to bring us together.”
  • Plan for Something Greater Than Retirement. The last chapter of life is not retirement. No, something greater is to come. We need to start planning for something far beyond the reach of our 401(k) plans. It’s a suitable word from John Piper in this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, to upper-class Americans, and to prisoners serving life sentences at Angola, the largest maximum-security prison in the US.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf
  • Snippets from Os Guinness’ book “The Call: Finding and Fulfilling God’s Purpose For Your Life”

  • Rethinking My Daily Rhythms. Jeff Haanen writes “When I step back and look at the things I can’t control, and look squarely at the things I can control right now in my life, I can re-engage my family, friends, and my work.”
  • Leaders, Pace Yourself During the Quarantine. David ‘Gunner’ Gunderson writes “If you’re helping any group, business, organization, or church through this worldwide disruption, I can’t tell you this strongly enough: pace yourself.”
  • Now is the Time to Reimagine Faith and Work. Denise Darling, Elaine Howard Ecklund and Deidra Carroll Coleman write “This may be the optimal time for pastors and faith leaders among us to help us reimagine what it means to integrate faith and work. In unsettled times people are often open to new ways of seeing and imagining things.”
  • How and Why Your Work Still Matters. Tom Lutz and Heidi Unruh write “What do you do if your job is affected, but not directly related, to the crisis response? Rather than grasping for a sense of normalcy, we can be encouraged to hold on to our sense of purpose.”
  • Treading Water: One Independent Worker’s Reflection in the Time of the Coronavirus. “Treading water is hard work. It’s sitting down at my computer when I can, putting on my noise-canceling headphones, and blocking out the chaos of having two young boys at home. It’s doing good work for the clients to whom I am contractually obligated right now. It’s doing thoughtful analysis, creative instructional design, excellent writing, and compassionate teaching. And it’s giving myself a break when I get tired, and permission to be adequate instead of perfect.”

Quotes about Faith and Work
Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week

  • Serving others is the only valid motivation for leadership. Patrick Lencioni
  • Despite what our culture leads us to believe, vocation is not self-chosen. That is to say, we do not choose our vocations. We are called to them. There is a big difference. Gene Veith
  • God has placed us right where we need to be and empowered us with all the skills we need to do our work for His purposes and glory. We must shine the light of Christ in dark places and become part of His work to bring common grace to all who are made in his image. Russell Gehrlein
  • Work is not burdensome when you do what you love, for people you love. Dan Doriani
  • Great leaders don’t think less of themselves; they just think of themselves less. Mark Miller and Ken Blanchard
  • The more responsibility we shoulder, the more time we need for contemplation before our Father. Charles Swindoll
  • Mentor leaders add value to the lives of others and make the lives of other people better. Tony Dungy
  • If we can restore the collective attitude that leadership is meant to be a joyfully difficult and selfless responsibility, I am convinced that we will see companies become more successful, employees more engaged and fulfilled, and society more optimistic and hopeful. Patrick Lencioni
  • Work has dignity because it is something that God does and because we do it in God’s place, as his representatives. Tim Keller


FAITH AND WORK BOOK REVIEW:

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller with Katherine Leary Alsdorf. Penguin Books. 288 pages. 2012
****

I read this book for the first time shortly after it was published in 2012. It was the first of now dozens of books that I have read about the integration of our faith and work, and still one of the best I’ve read, perhaps second only to Dan Doriani’s recent Work: It’s Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation.
Keller tells us that in the beginning, God worked. Work was not a necessary evil that came into the picture later, or something human beings were created to do but that was beneath the great God himself. God worked for the sheer joy of it. Work could not have a more exalted inauguration. The book of Genesis tells us that work was part of paradise, as God commissioned workers to carry on his work.
Keller writes that work is as much a basic human need as food, beauty, rest, friendship, prayer, and sexuality; it is not simply medicine but food for our soul.  Without meaningful work we sense significant inner loss and emptiness. People who are cut off from work because of physical or other reasons quickly discover how much they need work to thrive emotionally, physically, and spiritually. In fact, he tells us that work is so foundational to our makeup, it is one of the few things we can take in significant doses without harm. The loss of work is deeply disturbing because we were designed for it. According to the Bible, we don’t merely need the money from work to survive; we need the work itself to survive and live fully human lives.
Keller tells us that work is not all there is to life. You will not have a meaningful life without work, but you cannot say that your work is the meaning of your life. If you make any work the purpose of your life—even if that work is church ministry—you create an idol that rivals God.
He addresses different common ideas about work – first, that it is a necessary evil.  The only good work, in this view, he tells us, is work that helps make us money so that we can support our families and pay others to do menial work. Second, we believe that lower-status or lower-paying work is an assault on our dignity. He contrasts that with the biblical view of these matters, which is utterly different. Work of all kinds, whether with the hands or the mind, evidences our dignity as human beings—because it reflects the image of God the Creator in us.
Work has dignity because it is something that God does and because we do it in God’s place, as his representatives. We learn not only that work has dignity in itself, but also that all kinds of work have dignity. He tells us that no task is too small a vessel to hold the immense dignity of work given by God. We were built for work and the dignity it gives us as human beings, regardless of its status or pay.
Keller tells us that work is our design and our dignity; it is also a way to serve God through creativity, particularly in the creation of culture. If we are to be God’s image-bearers with regard to creation, then we will carry on his pattern of work. He writes that a biblical understanding of work energizes our desire to create value from the resources available to us.
Keller discusses our calling, indicating that our daily work can be a calling only if it is reconceived as God’s assignment to serve others. He addresses the concept of vocation and how it changed during the Protestant Reformation when Luther taught that God calls every Christian equally to their work.
Keller addresses many helpful topics in this book, such as how the gospel impacts our work: loving our neighbors through our work; making a name for ourselves; Christian worldview implications and idols in fields such as business, journalism, arts, and medicine; wisdom on choosing our work, rest, and many more.
The book concludes with an Epilogue which tells how Redeemer Presbyterian Church made vocational discipleship—helping people integrate their faith and work—a major focus of its overall ministry. The authors encourage every church to develop something similar that fits its own context, something that has been a dream of mine for my home church.
Throughout the book, Keller uses scripture and stories to helpfully illustrate the points he makes. This would be a good book to read and discuss, especially with co-workers.
Below are 20 of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • Our work can be a calling only if it is reimagined as a mission of service to something beyond merely our own interests.
  • Simple physical labor is God’s work no less than the formulation of theological truth.
  • Through our work we bring order out of chaos, create new entities, exploit the patterns of creation, and interweave the human community.
  • We are to see work as a way of service to God and our neighbor, and so we should both choose and conduct our work in accordance with that purpose.
  • The gospel frees us from the relentless pressure of having to prove ourselves and secure our identity through work, for we are already proven and secure. It also frees us from a condescending attitude toward less sophisticated labor and from envy over more exalted work.
  • There may be no better way to love your neighbor, whether you are writing parking tickets, software, or books, than to simply do your work.
  • All jobs—not merely so-called helping professions—are fundamentally ways of loving your neighbor.
  • Your daily work is ultimately an act of worship to the God who called and equipped you to do it—no matter what kind of work it is.
  • There will be work in the paradise of the future just like there was in the paradise of the past, because God himself takes joy in his work.
  • We have to ask whether our work or organization or industry makes people better, or appeals to the worst aspects of their characters.
  • One of the reasons work is both fruitless and pointless is the powerful inclination of the human heart to make work, and its attendant benefits, the main basis of one’s meaning and identity.
  • We either get our name—our defining essence, security, worth, and uniqueness—from what God has done for us and in us, or we make a name through what we can do for ourselves.
  • The gospel worldview will have all kinds of influence—profound and mundane, strategic and tactical—on how you actually do your work.
  • To be a Christian in business, then, means much more than just being honest or not sleeping with your coworkers. It even means more than personal evangelism or holding a Bible study at the office. Rather, it means thinking out the implications of the gospel worldview and God’s purposes for your whole work life—and for the whole of the organization under your influence.
  • Work is a major instrument of God’s providence; it is how he sustains the human world.
  • Christians should place a high value on all human work (especially excellent work), done by all people, as a channel of God’s love for his world.
  • Christians must remain absolutely committed to an understanding of human rights based on the image of God.
  • We all work for an audience, whether we are aware of it or not. Christians look to an Audience of One, our loving heavenly Father, and that gives us both accountability and joy in our work.
  • To violate the rhythm of work and rest (in either direction) leads to chaos in our life and in the world around us. Sabbath is therefore a celebration of our design.
  • In the Christian view, the way to find your calling is to look at the way you were created. Your gifts have not emerged by accident, but because the Creator gave them to you.

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.

Here are a few takeaways from Chapter 17: The Signs of the Times:

  • Having heard God’s call and responded, our task is to seek to listen to God’s call, to follow God’s call and way of life, and to act on behalf of God’s great purposes of justice and freedom in righting the wrongs of the world.
  • There can be no question that discerning the times in which we live is to be part of our task in following God’s call.
  • Our calling and desire is to be like King David, a person after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22). And thus, to so think and live, and to read the signs of our times, that in some small way it might be said of us, too, that we have served God’s purpose in our generation.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 39 years and a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Before retiring I served as a manager at a Fortune 50 company; I'm a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary and in leadership at my local church. I enjoy speaking about calling, vocation and work. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinders themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony and Achiever, and my two StandOut strengths roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book and 2 Corinthians 5:21 my favorite verse. Some of my other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul, The Prodigal Son (originally titled A Tale of Two Sons) by John MacArthur and Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I enjoy Christian hip-hop/rap music, with Lecrae, Trip Lee and Andy Mineo being some of favorite artists.

3 thoughts on “FAITH AND WORK: Connecting Sunday to Monday

  1. Pingback: Those Whom God Uses to Heal | Reflections on Theological Topics of Interest

  2. So glad I found this post, Bill. I am a workplace chaplain and our men’s minstry group has spent considerable time studying how to make God known in the workplace. I look forward to reading more of your blog. Blessings.

    • Thanks for the encouragement and for reading. There’s a lot of helpful resources about faith and work and leadership on our site (book reviews, articles).
      Many blessings,
      Bill

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