I led a four-week class at our church addressing calling, vocation and integrating our faith and work. Using the Center for Faith and Work at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City as our model, we aimed to:
- Equip men and women of all backgrounds to develop and apply a worldview for work that better serves their profession and industry.
- Connect men and women within a field and across industries to inspire and challenge thinking and behavior with an aim towards personal and cultural flourishing.
- Mobilize men and women at large to become agents of change for the common good through existing and new institutions. Find the gift that work presents us: a place with the ability to renew hearts, communities and the world.
Each week, I would teach for half of the class, including reviewing a resource list handout (books, blogs, organizations and conferences on integrating faith and work). I shared my faith and work journey, what the Bible says about work and how I integrated my faith and work as a leader in a Fortune 50 IT department. The second half of the class was devoted to a panel discussion with representatives from the following groups:
- Stay at home Moms
- Women in the workplace
- Men in the workplace
- University professors
- Medical professionals
I asked each of those participating in the panel discussion these questions:
- What is your name and primary vocation?
- Please share what it is like to be a believer in your particular vocation?
- How do you approach your vocation differently than a non-believer in your organization might?
- Has your faith ever caused problems for you in the workplace?
- Have you ever been asked to do something in your role that you felt conflicted with your beliefs?
Here are a few reflections from these sessions:
- Diversity of experiences. As you might expect, the experiences and responses of the panel recipients varied a good deal. For example, of the three stay at home Moms, one was a relatively new Mom, one had three children and one was the Mom of grown children.
- Of the men in the workplace, two were business owners and had more freedom in sharing their faith in the workplace, while two worked in large organizations which limited what they could say or do regarding their faith. One of those men, in a sales position, recalled a time in which his boss scheduled a trip to a strip club and how he responded to that.
- Living by faith in the workplace can have consequences. One participant who works in a large organization spoke about how attending seminary with a desire to preach negatively impacted his ability to get a leadership position, as his leadership didn’t feel that he would be around the organization for very long.
- Most of the panel participants felt that the vocations that they were in were ones that they had been called to by the Lord.
- Those in the medical professional field felt that it was very easy to bring their faith to work. An emergency room nurse spoke of easily being able to show Christ’s love to the her in an area where everyone is broken.
- University professors spoke of their passion for their particular area of expertise (economics, chemistry and music history). One professor mentioned however that even in a vocation he felt called to there were still some aspects of the work that was hard and that he didn’t care for on a given day due to the fall.
These are just a few reflections from the class. How we integrate our faith with our work, or as pastor and author Tom Nelson says “Connect Sunday worship to Monday work” is very important. As I mentioned in the class, I’m amazed at how many excellent resources (books, blogs, organizations and conferences) there are that address this topic.
I would recommend that you do something similar to what we did in your church as well. Most of us spend much more time in our workplaces than we do with our families. Talking with others about how to do that in a way that pleases the Lord would seem to be time well spent. Please reach out to me if you have any questions about our class.
Also, please share with us if you are doing, or have done, anything in regards to faith and work in your church. We can all learn from each other.