The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert. Zondervan. 152 pages. 2014.
The authors state that one of the greatest needs in the church is an understanding of how our daily work according to God’s Word ties in with God’s ultimate purpose in the world. They contend that on one hand, we find ourselves overvaluing work to the neglect of our health, our families and the church. In this way we make our jobs an idol. On the other hand, we undervalue work in a culture that fosters laziness and glorifies retirement. In this way we can slip into being idle in our work.
Traeger and Gibert offer helpful questions for us to ask about how our work fits into God’s intention for our lives:
- Is my work shaping my character in a godly direction?
- How can I do my work, not just as a way to put food on the table, but as a sold-out disciple of Jesus?
- What’s the point of work in a Christian’s life? Is there any meaning to it beyond providing goods and services, making money, and providing a living for ourselves and our families?
- Why does God have us spend so much of our lives doing this one particular thing?
The authors state that our jobs are one of the primary ways God intends to make us more like Jesus, and that the New Testament has some things to say about what we should think of our work (Ephesians 6:5,7, Colossians 3:22-24).
They tell us that no matter what our job is or who our boss is, what we do in our jobs is actually done in service to King Jesus. That is the big idea of the book – that our work has purpose and meaning because we are ultimately doing it for the King. Who we work for is more important than what we do.
The authors aim is to help Christians see more clearly why God has given them work to do and how they might be thinking about work in sinful ways. They hope to help believes forsake both idolatry and idleness in favor of a more biblical way of thinking about work as service to King Jesus.
I appreciated sections in the book about how to choose a job; how to balance work, church and family; how to handle difficult bosses and co-workers; and what it means to be a Christian boss.
Helpful “For Further Reflection” sections are included at the end of each chapter. I used this when reading the book as a part of a book club recently.