Category Archives: work

Loving our Daily Work

Most people spend most of their waking hours working. Is it possible to enjoy waking up each morning? We need a vision of work that is more than a means to an end.

Work is all meaningful and moral activity apart from leisure and rest. Paid and unpaid, labor and leadership, factory and field, home and office – it all matters to God and our world. Parenting is work! God ordained work BEFORE we fell into sin, commissioning our stewardship of the world and cultivation of creation (Genesis 1-2). Sin has corrupted our work, introducing greed and oppression, sweat and toil (Genesis 3; Ecclesiastes 4; Amos 2, 5 and James 5). 

Throughout the Scriptures, creative, diligent, and ethical work is praised. But by the third century of church history, the sacred-secular dichotomy (SSD) was introduced and “spiritual” callings and labors were deemed more sacred that “lay” or “secular” labors. Praise God for dedicated women and men called to lead the Body of Christ and initiate evangelistic and missionary efforts across the street and around the world. They are worthy of honor and financial support (Galatians 6; Philippians 1). But no member of the Body of Christ is unimportant or inferior and no good work is “secular” anymore! Romans 12:1-2 and Colossians 3: 17-24 make it clear that our whole life is worship…and since we spend most of our waking hours working, this must be an offering to God.

Friends, thank you for all your good work, seen and unseen. The Holy Spirit is preparing an awakening unlike anything we have seen for at least 200 years. And one of the keys (along with prayer, repentance, love, and unity) is recognizing that God’s mission takes place through the entire Body of Christ – most of whom work all day/week. We must close the gap between Sunday’s ecstasies and Monday’s ethics, and offer all our daily activities as worship. The same gifts of the Spirit in operation as we gather in churches and homes are available as we go out in mission…at work! In fact, we should expect more supernatural signs as we are outside of religious gatherings, for God wants all to come to faith and Jesus did not perform for religious consumers (see Mark 6 and Luke 7).

We have been involved with a variety of faith and work movements since the early 1990s and we are encouraged by the kingdom progress as ALL classes and cultures, traditions and vocations are now being honored and empowered. Charlie works for Made to Flourish (www.madetoflourish.org), where the focus is empowering pastors and their churches to integrate faith, work, and economic wisdom for the flourishing of their communities. Charlie’s work with AGTS includes leading several initiatives that integrate faith, work and economic wisdom into the curriculum and community of the seminary. AGTS will be hosting its first Faith, Work and Economics Summit on October 15 (www.agts.edu). Charlie is on the steering team for the Oikonomia Network (www.oikonomianetwork.org), a group of colleges, seminaries, and universities equipping present and future ministers with this same integration. We are honored being Board members for Vine Associates, one facet of an amazing mission lead by Brett and Lyn Johnson. They are being used by God to reimagine and refocus mission to include transforming all facets of society (see the sites: www.repurposing.biz and www.inst.net). Charlie is a Board member of Missio Alliance, another network of networks dedicated to reimagining Gospel-centered mission for the 21st century (www.missioalliance.org).  We are also participants and presenters in events sponsored by the Acton institute, dedicated to a free and virtuous society, integrating good intentions and sound economics and uniting women and men of a variety of traditions (www.acton.org)

Let’s offer our day as an act of worship, knowing that today/s discipline is tomorrow’s destiny.

Overflowing Gratitude and Joy

In a world torn apart by both natural events and social contention, offering thanks is a good place to begin healing:
Thank you for…
…Every Mom and Dad that nurtures their marriage and children.
…Every ethical business owner creating sustainable work for their employees.
…Every pastor laboring daily for the flourishing of their congregation and community.
…Every artist making the world more beautiful.
…Every aid worker and first responder in Puerto Rico, Mexico City, Texas, Florida and 100s of other locales.
…Every public official stewarding our resources well.
…Every person of conscience doing today’s work well.

Joyful today:
Today, there are public and secret baptisms with thousands declaring their faith in Christ.
Today people of all political opinions are helping millions rebuild their lives in the wake of storms.
Today, communities are rising from the ashes of generational devastation as all social sectors unite and aim for flourishing.
Today, families are welcoming children into the world.
Today, pastors are comforting the afflicted, preparing meaningful messages and leading their communities toward wholeness.
Today, millions of people of conscience are awakening to the fact that their good work – paid or unpaid, labor or leadership – is the cornerstone of a better future.
Today: grateful.

Flip the Switch: Transforming Today

2014 begins with freezing temperatures across the USA, destabilizing governments in the Middle East, mixed economic news, a gridlocked federal government, and the normal hostility of elites toward any semblance of morality and common sense. In other words, just another day in our beautiful and broken world. 

Globally and nationally the cry of the populace is simple, “We need jobs!” The desire for meaningful, sustainable work is woven in to the fabric of Creation and found in every person of conscience. In spite of stock market gains and an explosion of billionaires, most of the nation and world are not feeling hopeful. this concerns offset somewhat as we discover that abject poverty is declining at a rapid rate and millions of new enterprises are beginning every day. 
The polarized political rhetoric and the simplistic thinking of the chattering classes Left and Right is not helpful in making this next year better. It is not enough to say, “more government ‘investment’ [read here more jobs for bureaucrats]!” or “the magic of the market” [forgetting that the rule of law, access to markets and personal virtue and property rights are necessary conditions for flourishing].”
As politicians maneuver for reelection, I propose a more radical approach to our future. No, it is not a bumper-sticker or a million-person march or even an Internet petition. Let’s start a revolution of humility and service through our everyday activity. Let’s “flip the switch” in our hearts and minds and recast our work – whether paid or unpaid, public or private – as humble service to God and for the common good. 
I am not suggesting an idealistic vision that avoids the drudgery and sweat of daily labor. What I am saying is that all moral and meaningful work at its core is service and when we think this way, there is more energy and wisdom that when we just do it for the paycheck. We should agitate for safe conditions and access to markets. We must uphold personal virtue and the rule of law against amorality and anarchy. We can resist the tyranny of encroaching government by exceeding standards of conduct and creation-care. 
Every company is serving the common good when they supply good jobs. Every clerk makes a difference in serving customers that contribute their resources to the economy. Volunteers sustain our communities as they offer care and services that help people thrive, from coaches to rest homes visitation. 
For people of faith, daily work is worship, as all domains are viewed  as doxological offerings to the Lord. For people of all faiths or none, an ethos of humility and service dignifies and empowers each person and helps erode the class divisions that arrogant elites and envious masses resent so much.
Let’s transform today from the inside out. Let’s offer each person we meet love and respect. Let’s give our bosses and full day’s work and our employees the resources they need for flourishing. Together we can transcend the pundits’ polemics and make our world better one decision at a time.