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

  • Work as Blessing, Work as Curse. Scott Cormode writes “The important distinction is not between Christian work and secular labor. The important question is this. Are you doing what God has called you to do? And is that labor an extension of the giftedness God has planted within you?”
  • Gently Glowing Bushes: When Your Calling Isn’t Obvious. Bill Haley shares seven key questions to ask when we’re seeking God’s will for out next step and general direction.
  • How to Fix Your Work Life Balance. Paul Tripp writes “Your work is your calling, but it is not your life. Work gives you dignity, but it is not your hope. You are created to work with diligence, but work is not the ultimate reward.”
  • Integrating Your Faith With a Job Search. Russ Gehrlein, author of Immanuel Labor—God’s Presence in Our Profession, recently was a guest on the radio program, Community Bridge, a Family Radio Network program and podcast. Below is a partial transcript of that conversation, which you can listen to in its entirety here.

Click on ‘Continue reading’ for:

  • More links to interesting articles
  • The Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week
  • My Review of Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Goodby Amy L. Sherman
  • Snippets from the book Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy by Matthew Kaemingk and Cory B. Willson

  • The Multi-Directional Leader. On this episode of the Gospelbound podcast, Colin Hanson talks to Trevin Wax, author of The Multi-Directional Leader about how unity and truth can still triumph in a divided age.
  • The Sanctity of Labor. On this edition of Renewing Your Mind, R.C. Sproul explains that work is sacred and we are called to labor diligently to the glory of God.
  • Skip Ryan: Embracing the End of Success. “On the Working with Dan Doriani podcast, we often get to hear stories of people who have had a lot of success in their work. While Dr. Ryan has had many successes in his work as a pastor and a professor, he has also experienced some significant setbacks. Skip’s career was majorly detoured when he became addicted to narcotics, but in his failure, he discovered a renewed love for the grace of God. If you find yourself struggling with perfectionism, shame, or the burdens of leadership in your work, this will be well worth a listen.”
  • Called to Lead. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace is available in both a paperback and Kindle edition. Read a free sample (Introduction through Chapter 2).
  • How to Find Purpose in your Passion with Dana Spinola. On this episode of the Crush Your Career podcast, Dee Ann Turner visits with Dana Spinola to discuss what it looks like to find purpose in your passions.
  • What Christ’s Finished Work Means for Our Everyday Work. John Pletcher writes “Take heart! Christ’s finished work on the cross and his triumphant word, tetelestai, supply all the grace we need to press on, work hard, and finish strong.”
  • Lead Conflict for Good. Howard Graham writes “Whether we are in the corporate boardroom, a committee meeting, or discussing an important matter with a family member; God’s word teaches us to engage conflict in love.”
  • Moral Authority. In this episode of Minute with Maxwell, John Maxwell tells us that the highest level of authority you can have as a leader is moral authority.

Top 10 Faith and Work Quotes of the Week

  • Work done in the belief it is all up to us becomes a joyless, deadly grind. Only those who know that salvation comes by sheer grace, not our efforts, have the inner dynamic of grateful joy that empowers the greatest efforts. So, the joy of the Lord is our strength. Tim Keller
  • If God has called us to do ordinary work, and if it is work which He wants done in the world, then He will indeed be present in it. Russ Gehrlein
  • We are here to glorify Christ in our daily life. We are here as workers for Him, and as workers together with Him. Let us see that our life fulfills this purpose. Charles Spurgeon
  • The problem of the workaholic, for example, is not that we love work too much, but that we love God too little, relative to our career. Tim Keller
  • Being unstuck is ultimately a positive concept. It is getting the right things done through obstacles again and again for the good of others and the glory of God. Matt Perman
  • God calls unable people to do important things because ultimately what he’s working on is not your immediate success, but that you would come to know him, to love him, to rest in his grace, and to live for his glory. Paul Tripp
  • A life whose purpose is rooted in positive influence and impact is far more likely to be remembered and celebrated. Dee Ann Turner
  • Vocation entails service in the place where God has given gifts and a desire to make a difference in this world. Dan Doriani
  • Christians cannot think that their role in life is strictly to build up the church, as crucial as that is. They must also, as neighbors and citizens, work sacrificially for the common life and common good. Tim Keller


Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy L. Sherman. IVP Books. 273 pages. 2011
****

I first read this book for my “Calling, Vocation and Work” class at Covenant Seminary a few summers ago. It was my favorite of the four books we had to read that week, and I’ve since read it a second time. In the book, Amy Sherman discusses “vocational stewardship”, which she defines as “the intentional and strategic deployment of our vocational power-knowledge, platform, networks, position, influence, skills and reputation-to advance foretastes of God’s kingdom.” She writes that for missional congregations the desire to rejoice their cities, vocational stewardship is an essential strategy. To accomplish their big vision, they need to capitalize intentionally on the vocational power of their members. This book is intended to help missional leaders do just that. While this is a book primarily for pastors and ministry leaders, the author’s hope is that these leaders will hand it out to individual congregants who are struggling to integrate their faith and work.

The book is divided into three main sections:

Part One: “Theological Foundations” provides the biblical underpinning for both the “foretaste-bringing” mission of the church and the strategy of vocational stewardship.

Part Two: “Discipling for Vocational Stewardship” provides practical how-to guidance for church leaders.

Part Three: “Pathways of Vocational Stewardship” gets into the meat of vocational stewardship.

The author tells us that the average Christian professional sitting in the pew hears little from the pulpit or in Sunday school about how their life with God relates to their life at work. She states that we must do a better job of inspiring our members about the role they can play in the mission of God and equipping them to live missionally through their vocation.

What I most enjoyed in this book were the examples from churches that the author included, and the lessons they had learned. She tells us that any church serious about vocational stewardship needs to designate a specific individual or team, paid or unpaid, that devotes time and energy to the work of equipping the laity. She states that pursuing the journey of vocational stewardship as a church is not about “three easy steps and you’re done.” It’s an evolving process that looks different at different times and contexts. And it’s not one-size-fits-all, and it takes time.

The author includes helpful appendices on key theological terms undergirding vocational stewardship, as well as a discussion guide for congregational small groups.

There is much to learn from this excellent book. It would be a good selection for churches to read in book clubs, and then apply what they have learned.

Below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

  • Congregants in our pews need to know that they should-and can-connect their workaday world and their faith.
  • The righteous ask God to help them maintain “clean hands” on the job by refusing to lie, cheat, steal or engage in a workplace sexual affair.
  • Pastors need to remind their people that they can indeed, though Christ’s power, be different kinds of workers than the nonbelievers around them.
  • A vital part of vocational stewardship for the common good is a focus by believers on transforming the institutions in which they work.
  • Work-pleasurable, fruitful, meaningful work-will be an eternal reality.
  • Church leaders should inspire their congregants to choose jobs that, to the greatest extent possible, offer them the best opportunities for directing their creative talents toward the end of advancing shalom for the common good.
  • The sweet spot is that place where our gifts and passions intersect with God’s priorities and the world’s needs. To the greatest extent possible, Christians should seek to work there.
  • To inspire people with a robust understanding of work, church leaders may need to exhort congregants to examine whether they’re in the right place vocationally.
  • Our work is fundamentally about serving others. Congregants who deeply grasp this are more prepared for vocational stewardship than those who don’t.
  • Made in God’s image, we have talents from him and authority to use them. We have vocational power. And it is God’s gift.
  • Congregants need to understand that wherever they are, regardless of their status, they can probably do at least one thing that advances kingdom values like justice or beauty or compassion or economic opportunity or creation care.
  • In all the spheres where we work-education, business, government, media, law, arts and more-we are agents of restoration.
  • Believers who participate intentionally, thoughtfully, strategically and creatively in the missio Dei through their daily work taste more deeply of God.

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

Work and Worship: Reconnecting Our Labor and Liturgy by Matthew Kaemingk and Cory B. Willson

Drawing on years of research, ministry, and leadership experience, in this new book Matthew Kaemingk and Cory B. Willson explain why Sunday morning worship and Monday morning work desperately need to inform and impact one another. Together they engage in a rich biblical, theological, and historical exploration of the deep and life-giving connections between labor and liturgy. In so doing, Kaemingk and Willson offer new ways in which Christian communities can live seamless lives of work and worship.

Here are a few takeaways from the second half of Chapter 5: The Pentateuch Bringing Work into Worship:

  • The pervasive presence of work and workers in Israel’s “worship feasts” reveals a variety of insights into our own contemporary challenges of faith, work, and worship.
  • The dearth of work-oriented celebrations is having serious emotional, ethical, and theological consequences in contemporary Christian workers.
  • It would not have occurred to Israelite workers to draw clear, hard, or systematic lines of causation between their working and worshiping lives. Their work and their worship would have regularly trespassed the cognitive boundaries that modern Westerners have erected.
  • We find little evidence in the Pentateuch of a systematic, abstract, or theoretical “theology of work.” There is a simple explanation for this perceived oversight: the Pentateuch’s theology of work was already deeply embedded, enacted, and embodied in its practices of worship.

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence ~ married to my best friend for more than 40 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.

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