Thursday, February 25, 2016
Four things to consider about Faith at Work.
If you follow Christ how does that shape your work? Does it make a difference? Can it make a difference? We need to throw away the sacred/secular divide that says faith is for church and work is secular... the church contends with the notion that faith is private saying that faith must express in the public square. That probably looks very ordinary, speaks to motivation, purpose, attitude.
This is incomplete but a beginning...
I'm intended to work and my work is good.
God's design for this world was for humanity to work, to classify, to write poetry, to work the land, to cultivate and civilise... so that a wilderness is transformed into a formed and filled world, a garden city. Work, however grand or mundane can contribute to that. I should ask myself - how my work can do that? And perhaps, whether there's a way I can do more...
The only things out of bounds are those which would go against that mandate - though seeing that is probably not always easy to discern. Paul says to early followers of Christ - stay where you are, do the work you've been doing... and if you don't work then you shouldn't expect to eat. Whether selling products in a shop, practicing law, educating, running a business, cleaning toilets, engineering submarines - do your job!
In a fallen world work is hard and frustrating. This should be no surprise and should be part of my consideration of what it will take to work, and how it's likely to feel.
In Christ, I have the motivation of the creation mandate to spread God's goodness through this world - and a renewed motivation to do my work for a fresh audience.
Working itself is good, and what we work at can be good too.
If I don't want to work - let me repent. If I'm prone to overwork - let me repent.
I need to grow.
Some of my work is with students - and many of those in our church are spending significant time and energy on professional exams. This could be cold careeerism or it can be the pursuit of the first goal- to work. Study is an end in itself as a part of forming and filling me as a person, but also as a contribution to the formation and filling of this world. How can I stretch myself to contribute more?
In a fallen world there are limits on how far I can go, there's weakness... and there's the need for realism about who I am vs. my boundless ego and selfish ambition.
In Christ, I want to be more like Christ, and to participate in life in his world, not just for myself but for others.
If I don't want to grow - let me repent.
I am able to work.
By nature and nurture I have abilities, talents, gifts... things that I can do. Others can do the same thing, though some can't. If I can work at a certain level then I probably need good reason not to. If my circumstances, health etc. limit me I can also rest in a reduced capacity... or live in the tensions of the various demands that mean I can't do the maximum in every direction. I recall someone I met who embraced celibacy in part so he could pursue academia unwaveringly... not necessarily a bad move to make. I might be able to play the first team but am I better off playing in the third team - a bigger fish in a smaller pond... to gain more respect, or should I have the humility to be the worst player on the team because someone will be.
In a fallen world - sin and sickness and self-destruction effect what we can do. I may be unable to work.
In Christ, there's a new opportunity to do something - whether mundane or extraordinary. And I can embrace the ethical challenges of working in complex situations, with many questions unanswered and held in tension. Value doesn't come from ability nor from fulfillment which liberates me to accept where I find myself.
If I don't want to do what I can do or can't do what I want to do - let me repent.
I am interested in this.
This is a beautiful, colourful, meaningful world. And what's in front of me has been given to me to work on. Why shouldn't I be interested in that? It's amazing the things that fascinate some people - but what an opportunity to form and fill a small part of this world...
In a fallen world, beauty is broken, desire is damaged, I'm bored by things that are amazing.
In Christ, my heart is renewed, my mind being conformed to Christ. A light shines in the darkness.
If I'm not interested in what I'm doing - let me repent. If my interests are self-serving - let me repent.
Not the only considerations for faith at work, but at least some.
Image - Chris Brown - Creative Commons