An Introduction to the Faith and Work Movement
When I entered college, it was not my intention to become a pastor. I started on the pre-med track with some chemistry courses (which I enjoyed), but eventually I went into the undergraduate school of business because I realized I wasn’t a big fan of life sciences. A business degree seemed safe and marketable to future employers, and my father and others on his side of the family had made careers in the marketplace or serving financial functions within government institutions. After college, I spent about two years working in New York City in investment banking, and I then moved back to Columbus and worked in personal wealth management for another two years. About this time, because of my experience in a class I was taking through our church, I sensed that God wanted to me to go to seminary. This led to a graduate degree in theological studies and my current role as a pastor at Grace Polaris Church.
This background is the lens through which I view the now-prominent Faith and Work movement, which in some ways is an extension of a decades-long trend in our culture toward decompartmentalization (notice that nobody seems to want a “closed-concept” living space). Church leaders, noticing the tendency for Christians to segment their lives into secular and sacred buckets, have begun to study and promote a more holistic view of the Christian life, in which our calling as followers of Jesus extends into every sphere of life: work, family, recreation, and so on. This is not a new idea at all, nor was the call of Christ ever a Sabbath-only thing. Due to our cultural climate, however, the emphasis is timely and necessary. My own work experience in the marketplace and as a pastor makes the integration of faith and work a personal topic, even as it is simultaneously a matter of theological interest to me.
Most readers of this post will agree that Christians should live all of their lives in a manner pleasing to God, not just offering Him their explicitly spiritual activities (Romans 12:1,2). Our trouble seems to be in figuring out how this works. Many work environments inherently discourage employees from discussing matters of personal significance. Relationships in the workplace are checkered with conflict, jealousy, pride, vindictiveness, and selfish expectations. Individuals all over the country and the world feel unfulfilled in their jobs, and many are underemployed or unemployed.
This is why we begin today a series of posts called The God of Faith and Work. In the series we will investigate the nature of work, the dignity of work, the purpose of work, and other such topics. Work easily takes up more than half of our waking hours (more on this later). Our purpose on this blog is to help you live a life of intentional disciple making, and if so much of life involves work, then there is a huge overlap between our work success and our disciple-making success.
To get things started off, here’s a simple assignment: Find a coworker or someone whose work life resembles yours somewhat, and ask this person what drives him to approach work as he does. This is an easier question if you can affirm the person for some good work characteristic you have seen in him, and ask him what motivates him to act this way. See how the Lord leads the discussion, and leave us a comment below to let us know how it went!
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