Jeff Haanen

Category

Work

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Work

Just For White Guys?

 

Is the faith and work movement just for white guys? This question has been a mystery to me for some time. Just a cursory glance around the faith and work landscape, and you’ll find a bunch of middle class white men (with the occasional woman or Asian). So what’s going on here? Does integrating your faith and work only matter for white professionals and not African-Americans or Latinos? (For the sake of this post, you’ll have to excuse some generalizations.)

I think Maslow might be able to help explain this quandary.

Anybody who’s taken an introduction to psychology course will have heard of Abraham Maslow (b. 1908). He’s famous for proposing a hierarchy of needs that explains human motivation, organized into a neat little pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid are the most basic physiological needs: food, water, oxygen, sex. One layer higher is the need for safety from, for example, illness or danger. Above that came needs for self-esteem, love, intellectual stimulation, and beauty. At Maslow’s apex is “self-actualization” – the need to engage your skills and talents to reach your highest potential.

After World War II, Americans became the wealthiest people in human history. In the 1950s and 60s, satisfying the needs for food and shelter became almost universal.  The expectation of comfort became the norm. In the late 20th century, millions were “liberated” to pursue self-actualization. And work was where self-actualization was primarily sought. As early as 1962, Maslow said,

“All human beings prefer meaningful work to meaningless work. If work is meaningless, then life comes close to being meaningless.”

As we approached the 21st century, more people rejected being “Organization Man monoliths,” as Daniel Pink has pointed out in his book Free Agent Nation: How America’s New Independent Workers Are Transforming the Way We Live. They sought to venture out for themselves in record numbers, starting new businesses and organizations, hoping to find that their “true self” through meaningful work.

For the time being, let’s bracket the inherently idolatrous nature of looking to work to find your sense of purpose (perhaps the topic of another blog post). Instead, let’ s bring the issue of race into the picture. Twentieth century America did not bless all ethnic groups evenly with wealth and comfort. African Americans lived under the thumb of institutionalized racism even years after the civil rights movement, and struggled for years to acquire the kind of jobs, and thus material comfort, that their white counterparts did. Today, it’s mostly Latinos who occupy the bottom rung of the socioeconomic ladder; they make even less than blacks per capita across age groups.

All that to say this: while white guys were wondering about their purpose in life, blacks and Latinos were just trying to survive. When I was a pastor of a Latino congregation, it wasn’t terribly surprising that questions of existential despair or vocational fit never arose. Dignity and providing for the family trumped “fulfilling the cultural mandate.” Getting a job and paying rent was a bit higher on the hierarchy of needs.

To be fair, faith and work ministry exists globally in the form of business as mission (BAM). The reason business is so important is because buying and selling provides human needs like food and shelter. The Lausanne Movement has a thriving BAM arm and is comprised of people from every race under the sun.

Historically speaking, it’s no wonder that faith and work ministry looks like a project that’s “just for white guys.” It’s not tough to see how history produced different motivations for work among different ethnic groups. It would be wise to remember Maslow when teaching about faith and work to those from different cultural or social backgrounds.

But I believe the “just for white guys” stereotype will soon be a thing of the past. The middle class in Latin America has been growing for decades, and China now has a thriving, middle and upper middle class workforce. There are even signs of hope for Africa’s economic prospects. In a world that becomes wealthier yet more isolated from a sense overarching public purpose, the question of meaning will continue to bubble to the surface – for Latinos, Asians, Blacks , and even white guys.

Photo by kay ef

Discussion question: So, am I right or not? Is the faith and work movement just for white guys?

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Work

When work stops

 

The Bible sets a pattern of work and rest. “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work,” (Exodus 20:9-10). Six days are for work. Produce, create, and make. Yet one day there is to be no work whatsoever. It is a day of rest, a day of worship. Work is good – but God limits our cultural production, lest it become our driving force and make us slaves once again, as we were in Egypt.

Two weeks ago I received a phone call from my step mother. There had been an accident. She and my dad were at a grocery store, weary from a long trip back to Minneapolis from the lake. My step mom went to the deli to get a small dinner, and my dad needed to use the bathroom. While in the bathroom, his gun (he regularly conceals and carries) slipped out of his hands, fell to the ground, and fired a round. It pierced a hole in his shin. My step mother had left her cell phone in her car; my dad called and received no answer. He cried for help, and finally she returned to see him reeling with pain, soaked in blood, on the bathroom floor.

My dad is okay. He needed immediate surgery, and now has an titanium tibia. Yet I was jarred by the news. The bullet could have strayed – and been deadly. In a moment, I might have lost my father. After I found out, I booked a flight on Southwest for that same evening to visit my dad at North Memorial Hospital.  I had several things planned for the next two days. But in a time like this, work stops.

It’s not quite right to say, as many do, “At the end of your days, will you really care whether you spent another day in the office?” Those who say this mean well, but it means work is ultimately meaningless. I would say to that person, “Perhaps you should have done different work.”

Yet we must say that work is not ultimate. God is ultimate. And we immortal creatures dance on the edge of eternity each day. There must come a time, ideally one day out of every seven, when we step back and consider the great expanse of lives, and what (and who) deserves our greatest attention. On January 24, that object of my attention was my father.

Discussion question: Do you practice Sabbath? If not, why? If so, how do you use your time of rest well?

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Work

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)
  • David was pulled from tending sheep and anointed king of Israel by God’s special choosing (1 Samuel 16:8-30)
  • Jeremiah, even though only a boy, was called to be a prophet to the nations (Jer. 1:4-10)
  • Isaiah, despite being a “man of unclean lips,” was sent to be a stern rebuke to Israel’s corrupt kings (Is. 6)
  • Jesus called his first disciples to leave their fishing nets and instead “fish for people” (Lk. 5:10)
  • Paul was called to “proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and the people of Israel” (Acts 9:15)

Even though the concept of a divine calling is so pervasive in Scripture, today we have largely lost some of its key tenets. I think we’ve lost at least three things.

(1) We’ve lost the sense of having a singular life task that is given to us, and us alone. When Dietrich Bonhoeffer was sitting in a Nazi prison in WWII, he worked tirelessly on what he believed to be his great life’s work: his book Ethics. This task kept him exercising, eating, and working when many other prisoners lost all hope. He felt his death was coming soon, but continued to study and write, feeling deeply that he had to complete this work before his days were done. While in prison, he wrote to his friend Eberhard that this idea of being called to a life’s work had been all but lost in his day. He would not be among those who lost such an expansive perspective on their life’s work.

(2) We’ve lost the role of weaknesses in fulfilling our calling. A pastor, who I greatly admire, recently advised his congregants on how to find their calling. He gave a three-fold test for discerning a calling: affinity, ability and opportunity. That is, (1) Do you want to do it?, (2) Are you good at it, and (3) Do you have the opportunity? This is generally good advice – if you’re missing any of these, you’re not likely to be happy in your career.

Yet I believe he’s missing the role of weakness. Frodo was the least likely person to carry the Ring to Mordor, but he was ultimately selected. Bonhoeffer was in a freezing, bare Nazi prison, yet his writings endure to this day – including his unfinished Ethics. David was the youngest son, not the oldest, Moses stuttered (and was an ex-con), and Paul was a Christian-killer before conversion. Yet each was chosen by God. This is how God works. He chooses “the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong” (1 Cor. 1:27). Calling is just as often aligned with weaknesses submitted to God than finding your strengths.

(3) We’ve forgotten that most careers aren’t vocations. On the one hand, we often confuse our calling with being successful in our careers. Leah Labresco has written a great article in First Things that blasts the destruction of intimacy and relationship in a culture that prizes success at any cost. She writes:

“Most careers aren’t vocations, so we need space outside them to grow and love. It’s possible to make a short-term decision to put life and relationships on hold, in order to make a high-intensity commitment to a cause (this is the model for the oft-touted national service draft), but it’s unhealthy to let these crisis-mode jobs give shape to your life.”

Our vocation may be to stay at home for a season, or to take a demotion for more meaningful work. To say you’re “called” to do something is not the same as saying “I will succeed at any cost. A calling is always from God, who may send us into a desert for 40 years before sending us to Pharaoh (or, like the desert fathers, he may just keep us there).

Yet, on the other hand, some completely lose touch of their vocation because of the pressures and challenges of a career. It’s one thing to be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed coming out of college, ready to conquer the world. It’s another to have experienced years of having your career not turn out as you thought, and being weighed down with a mortgage – and still to continually live out a calling.  This often takes courage – and a deep faith that this is indeed where God has called you (despite the world telling you otherwise).

We need to see our “work” as larger than our careers ( and our success in them) and yet still a central way in which we live out a commitment to Christ.

Paul writes, “For you are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which were prepared in advance for you to do, (Eph. 2:10). God has prepared tasks for all Christians to do. We are saved for a purpose. Like Frodo, we all have a Ring to bear – and a mission to fulfill.

Discussion question: What is your calling?

(Photo: “Sortie,” Keoki Seo)

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Work

Working, Pt. 1: Sharon Atkins, Receptionist

 

For the next several posts, I’m going to highlight individual stories of people talking about their work. The interviews are from Studs Terkel’s masterful book Working, a compendium of first-hand accounts of people at work: steel workers, cab drivers, farmers, policemen. As I’ve read their stories, I’ve been moved to hushed silence. The cry for dignity, the frustration, the crafting of meaning through work – this is one of the most human books I’ve ever read.

What I will do in each post is introduce the individual and his/her work, and then share a lengthy direct quotation from the interviewee. From there, I will offer some brief theological reflections on their experience.

Sharon Atkins, 24, works as a receptionist for a large company in the Midwest. As an English major, she originally looked for copy writing jobs, but employers wanted a journalism major instead. So she took a job answering phones.

“I changed my opinion of receptionists because now I’m one. It wasn’t the dumb broad at the front desk who took telephone messages. She had to be something else because I thought I was something else.  I was fine until there was a press party. We were having a fairly intelligent conversation. Then they asked what I did. When I told them they turned around to find other people with name tags. I wasn’t worth bothering with. I wasn’t being rejected because of what I said or the way I talked, but simply because of my function

“I don’t think they’d ever hire a male receptionist. They’d have to pay him more, for one thing. You can’t pay someone who does what I do very much. It isn’t economically feasible. (Laughs.) You’re there just to filter people and filter telephone calls. You’re there just to handle the equipment. You’re treated like a piece of equipment, like the telephone.

“You come in at nine, you open the door, you look at the piece of machinery, you plug in the headpiece. That’s how my day begins. You tremble when you hear the first ring. After that, it’s sort of downhill – unless there’s somebody on the phone who is either kind or nasty. The rest of the people are just non, they don’t exist. They’re just voices. You answer calls, you connect them to others, and that’s it…

“I don’t have much contact with people…You don’t know if they’re laughing, if they’re being satirical or being kind. So your conversations become very abrupt. I notice that in talking to people. My conversations would be very short and clipped, in short sentences, the way I talk to people all day on the telephone…When I talk to someone at work, the telephone rings, and the conversation is interrupted. So I never bother finishing sentences or thoughts. I always have this feeling of interruption…

“You try to fill up your time with trying to think about other things: what you’re going to do on the weekend or about your family. You have to use your imagination. If you don’t have a very good one and you bore easily, you’re in trouble. Just to fill in time, I write real bad poetry or letters to myself and to other people and never mail them. The letters are fantasies, sort of rambling, how I fell, how depressed I am…I always dream I’m alone and things are quiet. I call it the land of no-phone, where there isn’t any machine telling me where I have to be every minute…

“Until recently I’d cry in the morning. I didn’t want to get up. I’d dread Fridays because Monday was always looming over me. Another five days ahead of me. There never seemed to be any end to it. Why am I doing this? Yet I dread looking for other jobs…I don’t know what I’d like to do. That’s what hurts the most. That’s why I can’t quit the job. I really don’t know what talents I may have. And I don’t know where to go to find out…

“My father’s in watch repair. That’s always interested me, working with my hands, and independent. I don’t think I’d mind going back and learning something, taking a piece of furniture and refinishing it. The type of thing where you know what you’re doing and you can create and you can fix something to make it function. At the switchboard, you don’t do much of anything.”

On  being “networked”: Sharon had the experience of being “networked” as a press party; as soon as somebody found out her job, they deemed her unimportant. The Christians teach that all people have value not because of their work or social status, but simply because they’re made in the image of God. How often do we “network” people to advance ourselves, or simply treat people as tools to be used? Do we really talk “to” the clerk at the grocery store or the insurance representative on the phone, or do we talk “through” them, to simply get what we need and then be on our way?

On interruptions: Sharon observed that her job was affecting her ability to think. Her thoughts and her sentences became truncated because her work forced her to say something quickly and then move on to the next caller. A recent book has noted that the internet is also affecting our brains. How do the rhythms of your job – whether serving customers or replying to mountains of email – affect you ability to have a full thought?  Sharon’s mind was altered by her work, and she experienced a deep boredom through automated repetition.

On fear: Sharon was afraid to leave her job because she wasn’t even sure of what she was good at anymore. She dreaded Monday (even Fridays too), and her dreams were melting away. It’s clear that her work was the locus of a deep sadness, and she yearned for an even deeper hope.

On satisfying work: Sharon longed for another kind of work, one “type of thing where you know what you’re doing and you can create and you can fix something to make it function.” I’ll have more to say about this in future posts, but Sharon is expressing a deeply embedded desire to reflect the image of the Creator. She was born to create, to leave a physical imprint on the world as one who is herself the physical imprint of Another.

Discussion question: If you were to meet Sharon tomorrow, what hope would you offer her? What advice would you give?

(Photo: Telephone Switchboard, Robert Niles)

TheologyWork

Upcoming Faith and Work Conferences

Here are three upcoming conferences on faith and work that I’d highly recommend attending if you’re able to make it:

The Gospel at Work Banner

The Gospel at Work

When: January 11-12

Where: Gaithersburg, MD; Covenant Life Church

How much: $79 for early registration (ends Jan 7), otherwise $99

Synopsis from the website: “The Gospel at Work conference was born out of a desire to help Christians think and live differently in the workplace.  It’s designed to help Christians think biblically and theologically about their work.  What is God’s purpose for my work?  How does the gospel change my work? How does applying the truths of the gospel help me manage differently?  How does a Christian strategize and plan their career?”

Keynote Speakers: Os Guinness, author and social critic; Mark Dever, Senior Pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church; Michael Lawrence, Senior Pastor, Hinson Baptist Church; Bob Doll, Former Chief Investment Officer, Blackrock; Eric Simmons, Lead Pastor, Redeemer Church

cgrva-logoCommon Good RVA

When: January 18-19

Where: Richmond, VA

How much: $55

Synopsis from the website: “A lot of Christians are confused about how the work they do Monday to Friday connects with who they are on Sundays. Yet the Bible views our work as central to our calling and a way that we can directly connect with the mission of God…Our city needs many more Christians who see their vocations as a way to advance the common good of Richmond. Together as lawyers, doctors, business leaders, electricians, artists, and stay-at-home parents, we will gather to explore what it means to see our everyday work as a meaningful part of our Christian calling.”

Keynote speakers: Andy Crouch, author and editor of Christianity Today; Dr. Amy Sherman, Senior Fellow at the Sagamore Institute for Policy Research, author of Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good

TGC13-BannerThe Gospel Coalition 2013 Post-Conference on Faith and Work

When: April 10, 1-6pm

Where: Orlando, RL; Rosen Shingle Creek

How Much: $235 (this includes the entire conference, from April 8-10)

Synopsis from the website: “Tim Keller and several other leaders in the church, marketplace, and broader culture will focus on a variety of issues related to the Christian faith and its role in our work and vocation.”

Keynote Speakers: Tim Keller, Senior Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church, author of Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work

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CultureWork

William Faulkner on Work

William Faulkner once wrote,

“You can’t eat for eight hours a day nor drink for eight hours a day no make love for eight hours a day—all you can do for eight hours is work. Which is the reason why man makes himself and everybody else so miserable and unhappy.”

William FaulknerFaulkner gives two reasons here that illuminate the desperate need for more faith and work initiatives throughout North America. The first is a simple matter of time. Work is how we spend our lives. Eating, drinking, making love – one could add exercising, going to church, or watching football – all make up only a small fraction of our lives in comparison to work. If Christian discipleship doesn’t extend to our working lives, then it simply doesn’t touch the largest part of human life.

The second reason is more grave: work is the reason why we are so “miserable and unhappy.” I’m reminded of a quote by Dorothy Sayers on work:

“Far too many people in this country seem to go about only half alive. All their existence is an effort to escape from what they are doing. And the inevitable result of this is a boredom, a lack of purpose, a passivity which eats life away at the heart and a disillusionment which prompts men to ask what life is all about.”

Although I can’t substantiate this claim with research, I think I’m on safe ground saying that most people see work as something to escape from as soon as possible. For most, their careers or jobs are not their vocations, but simply a means to end, whether that end be money, leisure time, or another job. This desire to escape leads to “boredom, a lack of purpose, and a passivity which eats life away at the heart” – the core ingredients in Faulkner’s recipe for misery and unhappiness.

So the question is this: can we really claim to be shaping believers for Christian maturity if we never mention their work? Can we really claim to be equipping the saints for mission with an array of elaborate ministries if we ignore both where people spend the majority of their days as well as one of the great causes of frustration and unhappiness in human life?

Of course, I think Faulkner was missing a key element of work in his diagnosis, namely, hope. We are hope-shaped creatures, and the Christian faith gives us a supreme hope because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Discussion question: Do you think Faulkner is right, that most people’s jobs are a source of unhappiness? Also, do you know of intentional efforts in your neighborhood that seek to integrate faith and work in practical ways? If so, what are they? What has been helpful?

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ArtWork

Choosing to do meaningful work

 

We have to consciously choose to use our freedom well.  I’m aware of few authors who put this more pungently than Annie Dillard.

In her book The Writing Life she reflects on her work as a writer.

“Putting a book together is interesting and exhilarating. It is sufficiently difficult and complex that it engages all your intelligence…It is life at its most free, if you are fortunate enough to try it, because you select your materials, invent your task, and pace yourself.”

The freedom to create something new is the heart of exhilarating work, a fact, I would think, not lost on the Creator himself. To dream up a project, bring it to reality, and see its affect on others – this is meaningful work.

Yet there is an ugly opposite to this creative work as well. Dillard writes,

“The obverse of this freedom, of course, is that your work is so meaningless, so fully for yourself alone, and so worthless to the world, that no one except you cares whether you do it well, or ever…Your freedom is a by-product of your days’ triviality.”

This quote struck me like a dull club. When I read this I thought about my relationship to email and to web surfing. There is no lack of triviality in our culture, and in our work there are mounds of tasks we could simply leave undone, and nobody would care.

I’m reminded of Jim Collins’ book Good to Great. He advises executives to not make to-do lists, but instead not-to-do lists. Hacking away at the trivial will do more to improve effectiveness than adding to the stack of the important.

I’m also reminded of Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice Mission. At a Willow Creek Leadership Summit Conference several years ago, he pleaded with pastors to call out to God to, “save us from all that is petty.” Where is this plea today, in a world afloat with digital triviality?

One of the great verses used in faith and work circles is in the prayer of Moses: “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands – O establish the work of our hands!” (Ps. 90:17).

The context of the verse, however, is an extended reflection on the fleeting nature of human life. “Yet you sweep people away in the sleep of death—they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by evening it is dry and withered,” (Ps. 90:6-7). In the scope of eternity, the prayer to “establish the work of our hands” is built upon a knowledge of the shocking brevity of life.

Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” So here’s the question: What makes work worth doing?

Discussion question: Do you intentionally choose which tasks you will and won’t do on any given day? What criteria do you use to make this decision?  How would you define “work worth doing?”

Work

Your work matters to me

 

 Today is December 1, 2012. Today something happened that I’ll never forget.

After the 6pm service at Colorado Community Church, Terri Powell, wife of Pastor Richard Powell, made eye contact. From across the hallway adjacent to the sanctuary, she pointed to me, as if she needed my attention.

I proceeded to make small talk: “How are the Powells doing?” A brief, polite, “Good,” was all she gave me. She had another purpose in mind.

“I have a word from God for you,” Terri told me. I didn’t know what to say. I just paused, and stared at her. I didn’t know whether to be “weirded out” by charismatic Christians or to pay rapt attention. My Lutheran upbringing didn’t prepare me for this. Since I was so unprepared, I may have given her a strange vibe – all that staring. But despite my awkwardness, she proceeded.

“God says to you, ‘Your work matters to me.’ He sees what you are doing. What you are doing matters to him.”

I began to break down in tears.

It was hours earlier my wife and I had a money melt-down. Budget time, and not enough to go around. I was once again wracked with vocational doubt, and a tinge of anger. How did I get here? Why am I spending all my extra time trying to build this new faith and work organization? Will it even work, or is it just dream? I was defenseless, and I once again crumbled to pieces in my office.

But now, this lady in her late fifties had a “word from God” for me. She was sent to tell me, “Your work matters to God.” God sees my nights in this office; he sees my plans. He sees my writing. He sees all of this, and he says, “This is for me. Keep going.” What as serene joy. He knows my name, sees my labor, and he says, “This is precious in my sight.”

Terri prayed for me – as I wept in the hallway, filled with confirmation, and hope.

I’ve only had one other experience like this in my lifetime. At a conference in Quito for pastors and missionaries, several pastors laid hands on me and I had a vision. I saw a vision of the heavenly city, and a great expanse of darkness between here and there, with only a lamp at my feet. It was my call to Christian ministry and a reminder to keep my eyes focused on his kingdom…and only the next step. That day, I knew God had called me into ministry. (Little did I know the odd paths I would take from that day.)

And now God speaks to me through Terri Powell, and says that I’m on the right path, that my labors are not unnoticed, and that this is important to Him, the great Creator God. Today I heard God speak to me.

What do we do when work is difficult, confusing, and fruitless? What do we do with vocational uncertainty? The Psalmist says, “Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD” (27:14). He will speak when he’s ready. Just wait.

Discussion question: At what point in your career has God spoken to you?

Work

Welcome To My Faith and Work Blog

Welcome to my new blog on faith, work and culture. denver performing artsBetween reading Michael Hyatt’s great book Platform and starting a new faith and work organization called The Denver Institute, I’m rearing to go to write a great blog. Since the topic “faith, work and culture” can be a bit broad, let me clarify my blog’s focus.

  • What. This blog is about the integration of faith and work. Specifically, I’ll try to focus my posts on one of two categories:
  1. The “Why” of integrating faith and work. That is, Why should anybody care about integrating faith and work? This question will lead me into theology, as well as history, culture, and contemporary society. I hope exploring the “why” of faith and work will both illuminate the rationale behind faith and work ministries and equip readers to more faithfully engage culture through their work with a redemptive perspective.
  2. The “How” of integrating faith and work. If we eventually become convinced that God is calling us to serve Him through our work, then what does this actually look like? Honestly, since I’m relatively ignorant of so many lines of work, I’m excited to explore this topic alongside of you. In these posts, I will try to translate large ideas about theology and culture into practical insights for the workplace. They will be particular, action-oriented and hopefully useful. If nothing else, I hope they stimulate good conversation.
  • Who.  Who am I? Well, I’m white, middle class, American, fairly educated, and the father of 3 girls. There’s nothing wrong with that, but at the outset of a new blog, it’s not a bad idea to claim my biases. (Here’s more info about me in case you’re interested.) I write from a certain historical and social location – and my own family and work influences my thinking. But the better question is, Who is the blog for?
  1. Pastors and theologians. I hope my posts will be thoughtful enough to engage pastors and theologians with the essence of the gospel that ultimately affects all of human life. I imagine the “why” posts will be of most interest to them.
  2. Laypeople. As a layperson myself, I hope that this blog encourages, informs, and equips laity to engage in creative, other-oriented work infused by the hope of the resurrection. The “how” posts will hopefully be of most use to those actually “on the ground.”
  3. Both Christians and Non-Christians. I intend to write both for Christians and non-Christians. If my lingo is unintelligible to secularists, Muslims or agnostics, feel free to let me know.
  • When. I plan to blog 2-3 times per week, which is often enough to not get bored and lose interest, but not so often you feel inundated with posts. So, if you decide to subscribe to my blog via email or RSS feed, you know how much you’re signing up to receive.
  • What (2). A couple more thoughts on content:
  1. I’ll organize my posts in 10 categories: theology, culture, work, science, politics, economy, technology, education, art, and world.
  2. I’ll try my best to produce original, interesting content! I’ll try to keep idea recycling to a minimum (though I reserve to right to post the occasional ridiculous YouTube video).
  3. Most posts will be 500 words or less.
  4. Although most of my posts will be text and a photo, I hope to add videos and podcasts down the road.
  5. I pledge to write quality content! The blogosphere is flooded with silliness. My goal is to produce quality writing and analysis on faith, work and culture. If I fail on this front, again, I trust you’ll let me know.

As I grow older (passing 30 and 3 kids), and continue to collect years at the office, three convictions that led to this blog continue to grow in my life.

  1. Jesus is Lord. If Jesus is really Lord (and Caesar, therefore is not), as the early Christians believed, he must be Lord of all of life, and not just a narrow, privatized religious experience. Anything less is out of step with the historic Christian faith.
  2. Our work and culture desperately needs the gospel.  From my study, prayer, and experience, I’ve come to believe that there is no more urgent project than applying the gospel to public life. Our institutions and organizations need the good news, especially at a time when so much of modernity seems to be unraveling. Work is where this happens.
  3. Tidal waves of joy await those who integrate faith and work. When I once shared this idea with a pastor, he said, “It’s not often you hear the words ‘joy’ and ‘work’ in the same sentence.” I agree. But the Bible tells the story of a God who works rejoices in His work, and causes others to rejoice as well (Job 38:6). Joy lies in creative, self-less work. It awaits those who seek the One who created all things out of sheer delight.

I’m looking forward to the journey. A last word: I intend to end most posts with a question. So, here’s my first one: What has been your personal experience of bringing faith to work?

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