The Gift of Work
Rebecca Duff Good (MA[BS], 2005) serves with InterVarsity (IV) as a graduate-school chaplain at Johns Hopkins University and other Washington D.C.-area graduate schools. Some years back, when she was serving at Harvard, she participated annually in their Graduate School Christian Fellowship’s “Ordination to Daily Work.” For thirty-five years, family, friends and professors have celebrated this tradition of commissioning and praying for Christians transitioning from the academic world and into the workplace with a vision to be emissaries for Christ.
Rebecca worked with Christian students to help them view their work with more than a “do your job like a Christian should and therefore all work is God’s work” attitude. “Although that is also true,” Rebecca points out, “God is using our work to ‘sign post’ his future kingdom. It’s not just about how we do our work but also what we do that matters to God. There is gospel power in our work not only in those with whom we share the gospel and how honestly we work, but also in the very subject matter of our work itself, such as lawyers bringing justice; doctors helping to heal; teachers having opportunity to serve ‘the least of these’; violinists showing forth the beauty of God’s world. All this work points to God’s big-picture will for His people and the character of the coming kingdom. I think this perspective matters deeply.”
Rebecca says: “I highly recommend Amy Sherman’s book—Kingdom Calling: Vocational
Stewardship for the Common Good (IVP). It’s excellent. In it Sherman argues that in Proverbs 11:10, the tsaddiqim (‘the righteous’)—the people who see all they have as God’s gifts to be stewarded for His purposes—pursue their vocations with an eye to the greater good.”
God at Work: Readings
DTS Hebrew professor Dorian Coover-Cox (MA[BS], 1984; ThM, 1988; PhD, 2001) says: “Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were, by Leland Ryken, debunks popular myths about Puritan beliefs and practices and provides an invigorating review of living Christianly. What people think they know about ‘the Puritan work ethic,’ for example, is largely mistaken.”
Doug Sherman (ThM, 1984) and William Hendricks (ThM, 1984) wrote Your Work Matters to God. In this book they demonstrate the importance of carpentry, tent-making, fishing, and a host of other careers that fall outside of the “paid ministry worker” category. The book helps men and women see the many ways to influence coworkers.
New resource: Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work, by Timothy Keller. This work shows how God calls believers to express meaning and purpose through our work and professional lives.
DTS Book Center operations manager Kelly L. Stern recommends John Milton’s sonnet, often titled “On Blindness.” She writes, “Milton, limited in his ability to craft words after going blind, wrote,
‘“God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait.’”
Also worth pondering: Dorothy L. Sayers’s essay, “Why Work?” in her book Creed or Chaos?