I have read dozens of books about work from a Christian perspective, and Dan Doriani’s book Work: Its Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation is the best of them. It is theologically sound, and at times, I found it challenging. The book studies work, but he tells us that it especially aims to promote “good work”.
What is “good work”? Is all work good, and worthy for the believer to participate in? As we will see, the answer to that is no. For example, in the book, Doriani states that mindless work crushes the soul. He tells us that too much Christian instruction on work urges disciples to be faithful in the work assigned to them, but not enough people consider, “Should we be doing this work?”
Along this same line, on his program The Briefing, Albert Mohler talked about professions (law, engineering, medicine), that believers and their children may not be able to be a part of in the future. Specifically, he asked how long Christians can genuinely hold to Christian convictions and stay in the medical field. You can listen to that discussion here. Continue reading
Dr. Doriani is a respected seminary professor (who I enjoyed two classes with at Covenant Seminary), pastor and theologian, and this may be the best book I’ve read on the subject of work from a Christian perspective. It is comprehensive, grounded in scripture, and at times, challenging. It also covers some aspects of work that I have not found in others books in the genre.
Here are 25 good quotes from the book:
- The union of love and justice brings out the best in workers.
- One may have an occupation without a vocation.
- A job pays the bills; a calling fits our gifts and interests.
- No honest calling is morally superior to any other.
- Work is the chief place where we love our neighbors as ourselves.
- At work, we have the greatest capacity to care for the hungry, the thirsty, and the sick.
- Scripture speaks most often of faithfulness, not fulfillment, in labor.
- God gives everyone a role as well as a place of service.
- If, by faith, we consecrate our work to God and aim to love both our coworkers and our customers, we serve the Lord and he remembers it.
- Everyone tastes disappointment at work, but work remains meaningful if we accept our God-given roles and support others in theirs, even when we are disappointed.
- All labor is equal in some ways but unequal in others.
- Every morally good task has dignity, whether the laborer sweeps floors or runs a company.
- The goal, the ideal, is to serve God with our highest and rarest gifts.
- Whether our lot seems humble or exalted, let us work with all our heart, for the Lord knows and rewards all faithful labor.
- We should serve God, restrain evil, and advance love, justice, and mercy at work.
- The Lord teaches us to work, then pause to sleep, eat, pray, and rest each week.
- If the Lord, the Creator, rested, then so should we. But Western culture presents many obstacles
- In the Western mind, we work five days to earn the right to rest and play on the weekend. But God tells believers to start the week with rest before we work. In Scripture, rest is a gift, not a reward.
- For employer and employee alike, to rest one day in seven is to live by faith.
- Reformations of work are ordinarily the spontaneous result of faith.
- The command to love our neighbor as ourselves can steer so much of our behavior at work.
- Pastors hear that the church should operate more like a business, but the church is the antithesis of a business. Like Jesus, it gives away its services.
- It is possible to “work heartily” for the Lord, in all ethical, life-giving occupations.
- All honest work is sacred when devoted to the glory of God.
- Work is sacred if it follows God’s law, if the motive is love for neighbor.