Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

The Sacred Meaning of Everyday Work by Robert Tribken

The Sacred Meaning of Everyday Work by Robert Tribken. Faith and Enterprise Press. 304 pages. 2023

In this book, Rob Tribken, the executive director of the Center for Faith and Enterprise, deals with both the positive and negative aspects of work. Shalom is a key concept in the book. The author tells us that in the Bible, shalom involves completeness or wholeness and is meant to encompass all aspects of human life. He writes that the concept of shalom can help us see the connection between the practical and spiritual aspects of our work and can remind us that we are working toward a better world for ourselves and others. Understanding the sacred meaning of our work will help us understand its deeper purpose and how it contributes to the greater good.
The author writes that he believes that many people are insufficiently aware of the contribution their work makes to the well-being of others and the greater good. He states that if we cannot see the religious or spiritual value in our work, then we not only cut ourselves off from the resources of our faith or spirituality in our work, but we also confine them to relatively small, restricted areas of our life. Among the many topics addressed in this book are shalom, sin, forgiveness, repentance, misfortune or adversity, character development and strengths, virtues, prayer, spiritual practices, pursuing excellence, calling, harmonious and obsessive passion, and leadership. I particularly enjoyed the author’s discussion of calling and of spiritual practices which could be done in the workplace.
The book draws insights from the Bible. In addition, the author quotes from several psychologists, not something you would normally find in a book about faith and work.
The author includes three appendices:
Appendix A: Work in the Bible
Appendix B: Work in the Twenty-First Century
Appendix C: Spirituality and the State of Flow
Appendix D: The Opportunity for Churches – a helpful addition to the book.

This book covers a lot of ground in the faith and work arena and would be a welcome addition to your library.
Below are a few helpful quotes from the book:

  • There is something about prayer that seems to center us and helps us think clearly and make good decisions.
  • Calling is a multidimensional concept that reflects our human desire for meaning and purpose.
  • Working with a sense of calling can have substantial benefits. Most of us would expect to work with a greater degree of purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction. I would expect that we would also be more productive, energized, and resilient.
  • People who work with a sense of calling tend to be more committed to their work and their organization, have greater clarity of purpose, and are more likely to experience greater meaning and satisfaction in their life overall.
  • Calling is not only an individual issue; there are very real benefits for an organization if a larger proportion of its members see their involvement in this way.
  • Developing a calling will almost always take a lot of time, patience, trial and error, and reflection.
  • People will be more effective, happier, and motivated when they are using their gifts in productive ways.
  • The need for competent, virtuous leadership is especially critical during times of crisis. During these times, there can be a particularly stark contrast between honest, effective leadership, and weak, dishonest, or foolish leadership.
  • A key goal of shalomic leadership is to establish an environment where people can thrive as they contribute as active participants to the organization’s goals.
  • An appreciation for the dignity of all individuals underlies the shalomic organization.
  • When we can put people into positions where they can use their initiative and creativity, we are more likely to move toward shalom, for everyone’s benefit.
  • Work is important and makes an essential contribution to shalom. But our work must be conducted in an ethical manner and in a way that contributes to human well-being.