Work That Makes a Difference by Daniel Doriani. P&R Publishing. 112 pages. 2021
This is the second book that Daniel Doriani, Founder and Executive Director of the Center for Faith and Work in St. Louis, has written on work, following 2019’s excellent Work: Its Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation (see my review here).
I took two courses with Dr. Doriani at Covenant Seminary. He has written this book to help readers find the good work God has for them and to do it faithfully. The book aims to equip disciples to serve, love, and lead in the workplace and for the common good. The book has been designed to be discussed in a community of eight to twenty people, and includes helpful discussion questions at the end of each chapter. It is designed to prepare formal and informal leaders to tackle projects that will help to effect positive change in their workplaces.
The author tells us that work is important because God created humans in his image, and he works. Our work is important and challenging because God planned it that way. He writes that the biblical view of work rests on certain fundamental principles. Twelve principles present a biblical road map, but society offers very different guides. He identifies nine influential ideas about work.
Success in our work depends on many factors. In this book, the author identifies and focuses on four essentials—principle, passion, position, and perseverance. The book includes case studies that incorporate these essentials. An Appendix on Faith and Work Projects includes the steps toward a project that could make a difference in your corner of the world.
The author tells us that good work has:
- The right motive, love for God
- The right norm, God’s Word
- The right goal, God’s glory and the benefit of neighbors
Among the subjects addressed in this short, but helpful book, are good work, work that pleases God, work to which we are to give our best effort, working too much or too little, the biblical concept of calling, faithfulness, ordinary work, volunteer work and rest.
This would be an excellent book to read and discuss with others, including in an adult Sunday School class. I recommend it along with the author’s previous book on work, Work: Its Purpose, Dignity, and Transformation.
Below are several of my favorite quotes from the book:
- Work calls for sustained effort, skill, and a resolve to reach a goal despite obstacles.
- We glorify God when we use our talents joyfully and effectively.
- If anyone has a gift that is both rare and strategic, they should recognize it, hone it, and use it gladly, if called upon to do so.
- When God bestows gifts, he expects people to use them.
- The greater our gifts and opportunities, the more the Lord expects of us.
- Work pleases God if it manifests love and brings benefits to our neighbors, whether they are nearby or distant.
- Work pleases God if it promotes the common good.
- Good workers also sort out the times when they should give their best effort. Time and energy are limited, so we complete ordinary tasks but devote ourselves to great ventures.
- Work was good in the beginning, but sin spoiled it.
- A calling is work that flows from, expresses, and deepens our identity.
- A calling is our contribution to society, the labor that makes our lives matter. At best, it draws on our gifts and experiences and becomes our life’s work, the task God prepared us to do.
- No honest calling is morally superior to another.
- Work can be exhilarating; we might do it for free. And yet all work, paid and unpaid, has its griefs.
- A believer’s first goal is not to find a calling but to find himself or herself in the callings he or she already has.
- God blesses all faithful work, in any honest job.
- Faithfulness means we don’t leave biblical morals in the parking lot when we arrive at work.
- Faithful workers strive to apply Christian principles to their work.
- We make a difference when we do ordinary work well.
- Godly leaders often have an opportunity to limit the worst tendencies of godless businesses or governments.
- We may make the biggest difference when we stop calculating and surrender to an inspired indifference to results.
- The Western mind supposes that one works five days to earn a right to rest and play on the weekend. But Scripture instructs the redeemed, at least, to start the week with rest and then to work. In Scripture, rest is a gift, not a reward for hard work.
- Most of us work too much or too little. We need to repent and start afresh.
- No matter how much we like our work, the Lord designed us for more. We need to know when to stop.
- God gave us a day of rest so we would flourish.
- For most of us, work is the chief place where we love our neighbors as ourselves.
- Through our work, we become the hands of God.