June 23, 2015 • Life for Leaders
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth . . . And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.”
For many years of my life, I have been involved in what has been called the “faith at work” movement (now, more often, “faith and work”). At the center of this Christian movement is the conviction that work is essential to our lives, our calling, and our purpose for being. “Work matters to God” is a mantra among my colleagues in so-called marketplace ministries.
For decades, the faith and work movement thrived on the periphery of Christian life. Most churches offered little to support members in relationship to their daily work. Most pastors never preached on work, except perhaps to warn listeners about the dangers of materialism or other temptations of the workplace.
But, in the last decade or so, interest in the relationship of faith and work has skyrocketed among Christians. Faith and work organizations have flourished. Dozens of books have been published on the subject. A recent survey found that a substantial majority of Protestant pastors preached at least one sermon on work within the last year. The “Work matters to God” slogan can be found on the lips of church leaders and members in an unprecedented way.
But, I wonder, is this recent interest in faith and work just the latest fad? Will its popularity be eclipsed when then next trend comes down the pike? Or is the centrality of work to life and faith really an essential truth, one that we should emphasize year in and year out, no matter how popular or unpopular it may be? Does our work really matter to God, such that this message deserves to be preached, taught, discussed, digested, and embodied in Christian lives and communities throughout the world?
I don’t want to devote my life to something just because it’s fashionable. Rather, I want my life to be built upon and centered in what is true, lasting, and essential. If work really matters to God, then I want to continue to care deeply about this truth and its implications. If I’m just riding a voguish wave, then I’d just as soon get back to what’s really important.
I expect you feel similarly about your own work. If God really cares about it, then you’ll want to discover what difference this makes and how your faith can transform your work. If “work matters to God” is just the latest fad, then you don’t want to waste your time and energy.
I am convinced, as you might expect, that God does indeed care deeply about work. My conviction of this truth has grow in the last two months as I have studied and meditated upon Genesis 1-2. I believe that the creation story in Genesis makes the centrality of work abundantly clear. But, before I point to what I have seen in the text, let me invite you to think about it yourself. In tomorrow’s Life for Leader edition I’ll share some of my own observations.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
What in Genesis 1-2 suggests that work does indeed matter to God?
According to the creation story, how important is work in God’s plan for the cosmos?
How important is it in God’s plan for human life?
Gracious God, may our lives be built, not on the shifting sand of faddishness, but rather on the solid rock of your truth. May this be true, Lord, when it comes to our understanding and practice of work. Teach us how to think about our work. Help us see work from your perspective. May what we do in our work, how we do it, and why we do it honor you. Amen.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.