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Work

Bring God Into The Conversation At Work

One way to bless your coworkers this week is to help them see how their work is connected to God’s work.

Christians are often reluctant to have conversations about God with non-Christians because it feels like they are trying to sell them something or force a connection with God that the listener isn’t interested in.

What if you spent less time trying to help non-Christians make a connection with God and more time pointing out ways they are already connected to God?

Without even realizing it, irreligious people are already doing ‘godly’ work. They are doing work that aligns with the kind of work that God does. In the sermon this past week we talked about three kinds of work that God does and ways that we do the same work as people created in his image.

GOD'S WORK

  • Creative Work — brining something new into existence
  • Providing Work — meeting needs and sustaining creation
  • Redemptive Work — restoring and healing what is broken

GODLY WORK

  • Creative Work — envisioning, designing, or developing a new product, service, or art form
  • Providing Work — meeting people’s needs through goods, services, or relationship
  • Redemptive Work — fixing, healing, or restoring what is broken

You have coworkers who are already doing this kind of ‘godly’ work and they don’t realize it. What if you simply pointed out the connection they already have to God?

You could bless a coworker this week by telling them what you admire about their work and mentioning how it aligns with what you know about God. This is a simple way to begin a conversation about God and bless someone at the same time.

5 Ways Your Faith Can Influence Your Work

Keller argues that we have to view our work through the larger Biblical story of Creation > Fall > Redemption > Restoration. If God is the creator of all things, and if through Christ all things are made new, that process of restoration must include our work.

Joseph Sunde provides a good summary of Keller's five points:

1. “Faith gives you an inner ballast without which work could destroy you.”

If our identity is in our work, rather than Christ, success will go to our heads, and failure will go to our hearts. I’ve highlighted Keller’s thoughts on this previously.

2. “Faith gives you a concept of the dignity and worth of all work, even simple work, without which work could bore you.”

The people who do the simplest kinds of work are, as Martin Luther wrote, “the fingers of God.” Because of this, doing our work well, or being the best at what we do, is one way to be Christian in our work. Justin Taylor and Greg Forster recently wrote on this point in the context of bus driving.

3. “Faith gives you a moral compass without which work could corrupt you.”

Unless your work is grounded in and guided by a Christian moral framework, you will be prone to selfish and short-sighted decision-making that will eventually harm you in the long run, whether in customer/client relations, productivity, profitability, or otherwise.

4. “Faith gives you a world and life view that shapes the character of your work, without which work could master and use you.”

Here, Keller points to the difference between what we might call work with our hands and work with our head. Being a Christian pilot will most typically mean “land the plane,” Keller explains, while being a Christian elementary school teacher “depends on what you think a human being should be and what you think would lead to human flourishing.”

5. “Hope.”

Christians can press forward in cultural transformation knowing that all will one day be fulfilled. “If you’re a city planner, there is a New Jerusalem,” Keller says. “If you’re a lawyer there will be a time of perfect righteousness and justice.” The way we view the not yet will inevitably impact the way we respond in the here and now.

Does God Value a Minister More than a Grease Monkey?

One man has a bible in his hand, the other has a wrench. Who is doing God’s work?

In many church circles doing “God’s work” is associated with doing ministry—you know, sharing your faith, serving in Sunday school, feeding the homeless. But the bible defines “God’s work” much more broadly than we do.

This week I met Mike. He lives in Danville with his wife and three kids and he loves motorcycles. He used to run a car dealership making good money, but the questionable ethics of car sales ate away at his soul. He passion for motorcycles so he made the decision to start restoring old bikes.

Today he buys rusty, discarded motorcycles that have fallen out of commission and he cleans them up, fixes them up, and gets them back on the road. Some would see the move from a management position at a large organization to a mechanic laboring in his garage as a slide down the ladder of successful or significant work. But is it really?

The Bible says that God created the earth perfectly. Adam looked around the Garden of Eden and may have felt like a man who walked into a showroom of shiny bikes, hot off the assembly line. The world was flawless. But then things went terribly wrong. Because Adam and Eve rebelled against God and rejected his perfect authority everything began to deteriorate. Rust. Cracked cylinders. Dead batteries. Warn brakes.

But God chose not to toss the earth on the scrap metal heap and start over. He sent Jesus to begin a process of restoring what is broken in our world. One day Jesus will return and announce, “I am making all things new!” (Rev. 21:5). And he will do just that. He will restore the world to the state of its original perfection.

God is in the restoration business.

So is Mike.

God works with the world. Mike works with motorcycles that are a part of God’s world. There is no questions about it, Mike is doing divine work whether he realizes it or not. He takes broken-down motorcycles that will rot in scrap piles and restores them to their original beauty and usefulness. They serve a purpose again, whether it is transporting someone to a job where they can contribute to society, or taking them along the backroads where the beauty of creation is enjoyed.

Everyone of us has been created by God to reflect his values in our work. We can do that well with a bible in our hand or a wrench in our hand.

Questions for Reflection:

If you live in Walnut Creek, you don’t have to work at one of the Walnut Creek churches to do God’s work. How does your work already reflect God’s character?

If you live in Danville, you don’t have to work at one of the Danville churches to do God’s work. How does your work already reflect God’s character?

Called by God . . . to Business

In his book Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller recounts the story of why Mike Ulman took the position of CEO of JCPenney.

It wasn’t for the money. It wasn’t for the recognition.

MIke was retired from a long and successful career in management when he was offered the position and he was reluctant to go back to work. However, a conversation with Starbucks founder Howard Schultz changed his perspective. Shultz said to Ulman, “This opportunity is made for you. They need to put service back into the mission of that company, and you’re the guy to do it.” Ulman came out of retirement to take the role of CEO because he saw an opportunity to reorient twenty-five thousand retail employees to seeing that their work matters and that serving their customers is an honorable career.

He believed that God called him to serve as the CEO of JCPenney.

God calls each one of us to serve the world. That calling to serve the world could be in any number of arenas: teacher, banker, realtor, preacher, engineer, and so on. It is unbiblical to think that only “spiritual” work can be a calling from God endowed with purpose. “Secular” work can be a calling as well. God cares for the both the spiritual and material well being of all people.

In 1 Corinthians 7:17, the apostle Paul writes, “Nevertheless, each person should live as a believer in whatever situation the Lord has assigned to them, just as God has called them.”

Paul is telling new Christians that it isn’t necessary to change what they are already doing—construction, business, commerce, house cleaning—in order to fulfill God’s purposes for them as a Christian. In fact, Paul identifies the dignity and purpose of their present work by using the words “called” and “assigned.” Elsewhere, Paul says that God has “called” people into a saving relationship with him and “assigned” them spiritual gifts to do ministry. Paul uses the exact same words in 1 Corinthians 7:17 to refer to social and economic tasks. These too are callings and assignments from God.

Keller drives the point home: “Just as God equips Christians for building up the Body of Christ, so he also equips all people with talents and gifts for various kinds of work, for the purpose of building up the human community.”

When we can see our daily work as God’s assignment to serve the people he loves and further their flourishing, we can engage that work with a deeper sense of dignity and purpose. And the degree of dignity and purpose in our work is not tied to the nature of the assignment, but to the nature of the One who has assigned it.

This sets Christianity apart from other religions that place people into castes and assigns them different values based on their position in life. Christianity uniquely endows both the CEO of JCPenny and a Stock Boy at JCPenney with great dignity and purpose, according to his calling.

How would your perspective on your daily work change if you saw it as your calling from God to serve the world?