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Posted by on Jun 22, 2017 in business, Economy, Theology, Work | 5 comments

The Quiet Unraveling of Work in America

The Quiet Unraveling of Work in America

  On July 16-19, I will be presenting a brief paper at the Christian Economic Forum in San Francisco entitled, “The Quiet Unraveling of Work in America: Three Economic Challenges and What Christian Leaders Can Do.” The CEF Leadership collated the conference papers into a book, and kindly provided a PDF of my paper for distribution. The content of the paper is below, and the PDF can be accessed by clicking the link above. The Quiet Unraveling of Work in America Three Economic Challenges and What Christian Leaders Can Do On August 1, 2007, the I35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis looked like any other bridge in America. Commuters stuck in rush hour were waiting impatiently, talking on their phones, and assuming they would get safely to their destinations. Yet at 6:05 p.m., a strange noise was heard underneath the bridge. Suddenly it collapsed, sending 111 vehicles and 18 construction workers plummeting 115 feet into the river. In total, 13 people were killed and 145 injured in an unexpected tragedy....

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Posted by on Jan 17, 2017 in Faith and Work Movement | 0 comments

Work, Profession, Job, Vocation, Occupation, Career or Calling?: Getting Clear on Language About Work

Work, Profession, Job, Vocation, Occupation, Career or Calling?: Getting Clear on Language About Work

  “I think I’m gonna quit. I just don’t feel called to this anymore.” “You don’t just have a job, you have a vocation!” Really? It feels more like I need a vacation.   “Some people have a calling,” my father said to me. “But most of us just have a job.” “Profession? Sounds like what rich people do. ‘Round here, we just work.” This is just plain confusing. Work, profession, job, vocation, occupation, career and calling. What exactly are we talking about here? Does vocation and work mean the same thing? When is a job a career, or just a job? Am I working if I’m not getting paid? Do I really have to be called to every task I do at work? Or is it ok to be called to something completely different than my 9-5? Why does it feel like the hardest work I do is at home, and I go to work to rest? The language we use around work – especially among Christians –...

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Posted by on Jan 28, 2016 in Work | 0 comments

Guest Column for the Boulder Daily Camera: “Moving west for meaningful work”

Guest Column for the Boulder Daily Camera: “Moving west for meaningful work”

This article first appeared in the print edition of the Boulder Daily Camera on January 27, 2016.  Erik Nelson, a former VP with a large financial service company, is on the hunt for meaningful work. He recently moved from Texas to Colorado to find a job in the nonprofit sector, hoping to discover a career with more than monetary benefits. But after a few months, his search became a maze. He recently asked me, “Honestly, can work be anything other than mundane, routine,  and pressure packed?” In other words, isn’t there more to life that working a 9-5—and then escaping to the mountains for the weekend? Like the 19th century gold rush, Erik is one of thousands of people are flocking to Colorado. As the economic center of the United States shiftswestward, cities like Boulder are brimming with new faces – especially millenials. We seem to be following Henry David Thoreau’s prophetic words, “Eastward I go only by force, but westward I go free. This is the prevailing tendency of my...

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Posted by on Feb 3, 2013 in Work | 3 comments

What we’ve forgotten about vocation

What we’ve forgotten about vocation

  There is a scene in J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic The Fellowship of the Ring where Frodo Baggins meets Lady Galadriel, an elf queen. She leads him to look in small bowl of water, called the mirror of Galadriel, that tells the future. After seeing the demise of the Shire in the mirror, the Lady says about his great task of destroying the Ring, “For if you fail, then we are laid bare to the enemy…For the fate of Lothlórien you are not answerable, but only for doing your own task.” The movie version of this scene adds her saying, “Frodo, if you do not do this, it will not happen.” Frodo was called. He had an appointed task that was heavy with importance, and if he, the Ring Bearer, did not do it, it would never happen. The idea that people are called by God to do a task is deeply biblical. Some examples: Moses was called by God to bring the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery (Ex. 3:7-10)...

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