Gospel-Centered Work: Becoming the Worker God Wants You to Be by Tim Chester. The Good Book Company. 2013. 111 pages
Dr. Tim Chester is a director of the Porterbrook Seminary, and a leader of The Crowded House, a church planting network. I’ve read several “For You” books written by Tim Keller from The Good Book Company, and this is the first book of Tim Chester’s that I’ve read. It’s an excellent resource for those looking to connect their faith and work, a passion of mine.
Although you can read the book by yourself as I did, I would recommend reading it with someone else or better yet in a group. I think you will get even more out of the book by doing that. Each chapter contains the following helpful sections:
Consider this. A scenario—often based on a real-life situation—which raises some kind of dilemma or frustration in our working lives.
Biblical background. A relevant Bible passage together with some questions to help you think it through.
Read all about it. A discussion of the principle, both in terms of its theological underpinning and its contemporary application.
Questions for reflection. Questions that can be used for group discussion or personal reflection.
Ideas for action. Some ideas or an exercise to help people think through the application of the principle to their own situation.
Chester asks the reader to consider what it means to live for Jesus in the workplace, and states that we need to connect Sunday morning and Monday morning.
Many think that work is a necessary evil we have to endure. But Chester states that work is commended in the Bible as a good thing. It is both a privilege and a blessing. That is why we find satisfaction and fulfilment in work.
Chester talks about working as if Jesus were your boss, something that John Piper first helped me think through years ago and was emphasized more recently in the fine book The Gospel at Work by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert. Chester writes that Christians have rediscovered that work can be done for the glory of God, stating that we glorify God when we give credit to Him for what we achieve, rather than claiming the credit for ourselves.
I appreciated Chester’s discussion of work and rest. He writes “Some people rest to work—the only value they see in rest is making work more productive. Some people work to rest—the only value in work is earning an income to enjoy leisure. But according to the Bible, work is good and rest is good.” He wants to help us achieve a balance between work and rest.
He addresses a number of helpful topics related to work, such as busyness, conflict, being a witness for God in the workplace, and ways in which churches can support Christian workers. A few suggestions that I appreciated on the last topic were:
- Visit people in their workplace to see where they work, meet their colleagues and pray for them in context.
- Have a regular “window on the workplace” when you gather as a church, in which someone talks about their work and shares prayer needs.
- Send a regular email to workers in their workplace with a brief “thought for the day”.
- Routinely include application to the workplace in sermons and Bible studies.
This was an excellent biblically based look at work. Highly recommended.