“Ken, I used to think medicine was the highest profession. So when you decided not to pursue medicine, I was really disappointed with you. But my brother’s death has made me alter my thinking. Ministry is an even higher profession than medicine. We doctors eventually lose all of our patients, no matter what we do to alleviate their suffering and heal them. And when we do, it is only you pastors who will be able to help those who are in pain.” “Wrong again, Uncle”
findingJoy@Work1 Toronto, Canada 1 October 2005
In the Beginning, God Worked “Every entity incorporated by the state should serve the needs of society in an ethical and economically healthy manner.” (Dennis Bakke, Joy@Work, 2005:247) • God worked as God created • Universe, then humankind (Imago Deo) • God assigned us to manage Earth (living things and resources) • Gave us authority and capability to work • Gen 2:6 – We exist to WORK (implied)
Work Itself Isn’t the Goal of Life • Created to have a relationship to God and to honor God • Work is one way we honor or “glorify” God • First Job Description: “To manage Earth and all that comes from God’s creation” • Includes ideas, services, and products • We honor God by furthering God’s creation. When we approach work as worship, God is glorified and pleased with us.
Work That’s Pleasing to God • All kinds of production and management are God-honoring • If the work is seen by the worker as something accomplished for God and meeting a need in society, it is pleasing to God. • Work that results in things that are worthy for society can be acts of worship to God, just as sacred as raising children, teaching school or ministering to the least and the lost.
All to the Glory of God • 1 Cor 10:31 “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to glory of God.” • All work and play should be done for God • Doing work with a willing spirit, enthusiasm and pride in the results • God doesn’t differentiate among types of work. Half-hearted efforts and sloppy work do not honor God. • Expected to use best efforts, talents, and skills in very task, regardless of its apparent importance
Is Ministry the Highest Calling? • No evidence to support this opinion • Bezaleel: first person in Bible who was “filled with the Spirit of God” (not Moses or Joshua) • Not a priest or religious leader • Artist, designer, master craftsman, later a contracting executive (wilderness tabernacle) • Most biblical heroes had secular jobs • Abraham > real estate developer • Jacob > rancher • Joseph & Daniel > high gov’t officials • Esther > beauty pageant winner • Lydia > cloth manufacturer
Joseph & Son Construction, Inc. • “Carpenter” = builder • Construction trades (stone or masonry) • Nazareth just 4 miles southeast of Sepphoris • Upscale Greco-Roman city of 30,000+ on E/W trade routes • Moneyed city full of Jews, Greeks, Arabs, Romans • Destroyed around time of Jesus’ birth • Rebuilt during His business-building lifetime • Herod Antipas’ capital for Galilee • Jesus later avoided Sepphoris • Must have worked with his team in Sepphoris
Every Christians’ Two Callings • Use talents and energy to steward the Earth’s resources to meet their physical needs and those of others. • Present the good news of Christ’s redemption and all its implications to people everywhere. • Called to both of these jobs though time and effort invested may not be equal. • Both of these jobs are part of our requirement to seek His holiness • Both require prayer, study, reflection and humility
Four Lessons to Align Work & Faith • Always embrace our dual vocations (managing God’s creation & spreading His Good News) • The calling into ministry doesn’t automatically rank higher than the work of farmers, executives, homemakers, administrative assistants, politicians, artists, teachers, factory workers or investment bankers • God may call us to work for Him in a “secular” setting and that is no better or worse than being called to work in a church or ministry organization • If I see my work as a mission for the LORD, my attitude and behavior at work are likely to change in a markedly positive way
Working as Christians in the World • Challenge creating parallel Christian working worlds • Encourage gifted people in church-related enterprises to at least consider switching to secular settings where their faith may have a bigger impact • Challenge Buford’s “success to significance” thinking • Nearly every kind of work is significant if it’s consistent with the person’s calling and the person is working to glorify and worship God • Challenge “give something back” guilt-trip • If I saw my work as God intended, I would not need to give something back because I would already be working to meet the needs of others and my own in the process
Three Questions • To what degree do you appreciate your work as a high and noble calling from the LORD? • Which vocational paradigm does your church employ? • Highest calling is to be a pastor, missionary or to serve in a Christian organization and the rest are working stiffs who are called to support those in ministry? • God calls everyone to high and noble work, some in a Christian context, most in a non-Christian one? • How does this change your understanding and appreciation of your work? How might you become a more God-glorifying and better steward of Earth’s resources and more obvious follower of Jesus at work?