Theology of Work

The danger of finding our meaning at work: In extreme cases, work isn’t just rewarding: It’s religion.

WeWork’s "reputation had already been shaken by Neumann’s declarations in its filings about 'the energy of we'...and for the company’s vow to 'elevate the world’s consciousness.' ...executives got instruction from leaders of the Kabbalah Centre, whose values are loosely based on Jewish mysticism." - RNS 

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Gold in the Laundry: Finding Value in the Mundane

By M.R. Conrad, reposted from Rooted Thinking. (2020)

Bathe the children. Cook three square meals. Weed the garden. Repair the fence. Beat back the vines of the encroaching jungle. Unclog the outhouse. Patch the hole in the roof. Help the neighbors. Such was the life of missionary Mary Slessor. Far from the conveniences of her homeland, this Scottish woman found the mundane chores of daily life in Nigeria consuming her time. Is your life similarly filled with repetitive, mind-numbing tasks? Do you feel there is little value in the mundane?

Daily Monotony vs. Spikes of Excitement

As a child listening to missionary stories, I never saw this side of Mary Slessor. Yes, Slessor saved infants from being murdered. She rescued slaves and battered women. She calmly knitted while armed chiefs raged at one another. Most importantly, she introduced the gospel to areas few missionaries dared to go. However, biographies often leave out the boring parts of everyday life. They must, or you wouldn’t keep reading!

In her correspondence, Slessor candidly reported the mundane tasks that consumed most of her days. Summing up, she wrote, “So, you see, life here, as at home, is just a record of small duties which occupy the time, and task the strength without much to show for it.”1 Years passed, and her work remained a mostly domestic affair with no churches planted in her region and few converts to report.

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The Forgotten Way We Glorify God in Our Work

By Micah Colbert. Reposted from Rooted Thinking.

A Renewed Focus

Over the past few years, there has been a renewed focus in many churches on the importance of developing and teaching a theology of work. This emphasis on vocation has been long overdue. According to one study, the average person will spend 90,000 hours at work during their lifetime. That’s a mind-boggling amount of time! Needless to say, what happens during those 90,000 hours is no trivial matter.

Sadly, many Christians have entered the workplace without a biblical understanding of vocation. They might view their job as a necessary evil or simply a means to make money. The Scriptures, however, teach us that work is a vital part of God’s good design for our lives. Our work is an essential aspect of our worship. We were made in God’s image to reflect His character and glorify Him in our work (Gen. 1:26-28, 2 Cor. 10:31). Christians are ambassadors of Christ in their workplaces, shining the light of the gospel in dark places (2 Cor. 5:18). Through our work, we also have the privilege of extending God’s “common” grace to others so that society as a whole can flourish.

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Examining Our Aspirations & Worship in “The Great Resignation”

"The Great Resignation is an opportunity to reexamine priorities for those who were forced or chose to resign. Perhaps they were able to spend more time with their families, imagine different occupations, or evaluate their careers as divorced from money. The logical next step is to consider what they aspire to do with their lives." - IFWE 

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To My Surprise, I Love My Work

In 2013 I was pretty sure I’d never love my work, ever again. I’d served as a full time pastor since 2001, and though I kept some small side jobs going for fun and a little income, I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else as a vocation and finding it satisfying.

That perspective was emotional, not theological. Circumstances led to my leaving ministry, and though I made the decision, I didn’t make it happily. The transition to “a normal job” was dramatic, frightening, and depressing. Being just a bit into middle age at the time, I wrestled with the feeling that my best days were over, and my remaining years were going to be a relatively meaningless glide to the grave.

It didn’t help that my first post-pastoral work opportunity was mindless, repetitive, emotionally draining work (though with unexpectedly good compensation).

At one point, I tried to get into a dispatch job with the Wisconsin State Police. I don’t know how close I came to getting the job, but I’m so thankful now it didn’t pan out. Talk about emotionally draining work! I was not, at the time, fit to be making quick decisions with people’s very lives immediately at stake.

Sometimes grace is a closed door!

I ended up doing work that was far less interesting than dispatch would have been, but it wasn’t going to kill anyone—besides me, very slowly.

So for a while I thought everything I did after pastoring was going to be like that: sufficiently lucrative, but uninteresting, and relatively low skill.

1513 reads