Blog - Grasping Vocation

Getting Beyond Status Quo

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The other day, I googled on the phrase "jobs on everyone’s mind” and received 1,150 hits. When it comes to work, people worry about it, watch movies about it, spend their best waking hours doing it, love it, hate it, and politicize it. And people talk about work everywhere—except in most churches.

It has been 65 years since Dorothy Sayers wrote "Why Work?” In that essay, she said, "In nothing has the Church so lost Her hold on reality as in Her failure to understand and respect the secular vocation. She has allowed work and religion to become separate departments, and is astonished to find that, as result, the secular work of the world is turned to purely selfish and destructive ends, and that the greater part of the world’s intelligent workers have become irreligious, or at least, uninterested in religion. But is it astonishing? How can anyone remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life?”

In her book, Kingdom Calling, Amy Sherman writes, "The average Christian professional sitting in the pew hears little from the pulpit or in Sunday school about how her life with God relates to her life at work. She may receive general guidance about being salt and light in the spheres of her life, including her workplace. Overall, though, her church offers little specific guidance about why her work matters, how God can and does use it, or how her vocational power can be stewarded to advance his kingdom. . . . Lacking this guidance, some Christians simply ‘turn off’ their faith at work; they function as ‘practical atheists’ on the job. They have no vision for what it means to partner with God at work, to bring meaning to their work or to accomplish kingdom purposes in and through their work. . . . We need to get beyond the status quo.”

 What will it take for the church to "get beyond the status quo”? I recently conducted a 41-question survey of 60 Christians concerning their everyday work. One question asked, "Before you went into the work world, did you receive any biblical instruction on choosing a job?” The choices were much, some, and none. More than three-fourths of the respondents checked none. One person commented, "I would have loved it. More instruction would have saved me a world of heartache and humiliation at doing a bad job at work and justifying it as a necessary evil for doing ‘God’s work’ off-hours.”

An email from the late Chuck Colson’s Centurions program included a link to a video in which Colson said, "We have to work to bring Christian truth to bear in every single walk of life.” For millions of Christ-followers, everyday work is a major walk of life (claiming perhaps 40-50 percent of waking hours). Walking the talk in the work world raises many seldom-addressed "how” questions. For example:

How can we prepare young Christians at the outset of their working lives to make occupational choices in keeping with God’s giftings and callings? How can Christians learn to mutually encourage each other in ways appropriate to the workplace setting? How does God use experiences on the job in the process of shaping us spiritually? How can Christians develop the right faith-walk/faith-talk ratio in relating as workplace neighbors to those who are not seeking God and even actively resisting him? How should the motives of a believer differ from reasons the world presents for getting up and going to work?

Now for a "what” question. What is your church doing to equip believers to respond biblically to such challenges in the 21st century work world?

Comments (3)

David Rupert (5/17/2012 5:32:41 AM)
This is really telling. We train our kids for money, for sex, for a healthy prayer life -- but not for work?
Victor Russell (5/20/2012 9:56:44 AM)
Sayers was right when she asked "How can anyone remain interested in a religion which seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life?" Peabody 's book follows up with practical guidance on how to continue being that 'scattered seed', that blessing to the world, the other 90%. Who wants to be a shaft of wheat that is only growing 10% of the time? Who wants to generates only 10% of the potential kernels of wheat that its DNA was genetically programmed to produce? Work is that place from which most Americans derive their shelter, food and medicine. The message of learning to spread the good news there and be a blessing there, is timely and timeless.
Ngetzu (7/8/2012 4:58:22 AM)
I have done a "mission" trip to my own city, as well as a number of other ciites in the U.S. never to another country. I have noticed one pattern here, and that is that the higher the socioeconomic level, the less time people generally have for MOST truly meaningful things including everything from spending quality time with their children, to making sure that they are going to heaven when they die. They are more focused on GETTING more THINGS instead of what really matters. Many people in the U.S. are so materialistic that they don't want to hear about God, or listen to Him. God might tell them they're doing something wrong or even that He wants them to take time off work and go to the slums of Mexico and minister to the people there!!! Also, Christianity has become one of the few things in the U.S. that you can still hate without losing your PC status. Christians here are portrayed as fanatics/freaks because of a few people who SAY they are Christians and then go do bad things.In Mexico many people grow up without being hardened against God and Christianity by their society as most do here. Yes, their poverty level may make them more open to Christianity they don't have all the material things in the way to distract them from Christ. They are also more willing to take the time to listen to someone who wants to talk to them about Christ. Is it any wonder that people who want to make a difference go to Mexico and other poor countries? They can make a difference for these people both physically and spiritually!References :

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