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Part 19 in a series on The Work of Our Hands

How do we integrate our faith and work in a way that is pleasing to God?

We must first rediscover that our primary vocation is the call to follow Jesus. From this primary call flows our call to our churches, our families, our communities, and to our economic work. All of life is to be lived under the comprehensive Lordship of Christ (Matthew 28:18).

John Calvin writes in his Commentary on the Harmony of the Gospels

We know that men were created for the express purpose of being employed in labor of various kinds, and that no sacrifice is more pleasing to God than when every man applies diligently to his own calling, and endeavors to live in such a manner as to contribute to the general advantage. 

The call to follow Jesus embraces the whole of our lives, including our work. Our Christian calling finds no separation between the sacred and the secular. To God, what we do on Sunday is no more important or spiritual than what we do on Monday. Everything we do should be unified in obedience to God, for His glory (I Corinthians 10:31).

We must learn how to think out the implications of the Christian view of reality for our professions. Our theology of work should teach us how to think Christianly about all of life, public and private. It should teach us how to work with Christian distinctiveness.

In all of our work, we must labor as though Jesus Himself is the One we must ultimately please (Colossians 3:17). We must work diligently, striving to excel more and more (I Thessalonians 4:1).

We must also employ good stewardship by using all our gifts, at every opportunity, to serve the Lord and others (Matthew 25:14-30). We are to set our minds on our exalted King, who watches over all our labors, and takes them even more seriously than we do (Colossians 3:1-3).

We need a view of our vocations containing some constant elements, but also one flexible enough to help make sense of a world in which the nature of work is rapidly changing. It is predicted that today’s college graduates will have a number of jobs and a number of careers during their lifetimes. Some of these jobs and careers have not even been invented yet. Vocational calling will be different for each of us, and will change at different stages in our lives.

Employment is a part of life through which we express Christian discipleship; therefore, it must be done with excellence.

Excellence requires cultivation. Christians need to be practically mentored. They need to be positioned in their vocations in the most advantageous way. They need cooperation in the field from people who can encourage, advise, and advocate for them.

God changes culture through the Christian doctrine of work. If Christians live in major cultural centers in great numbers and simply do their work in an excellent but distinctive manner, it will naturally produce a different kind of culture than the one we live in now.

Change requires our identifying which cultural practices are common grace, and can be embraced; and which practices are antithetical to the gospel and must be rejected, adapted, or revised for use by believers. This must be done not only for work in general, but also for individual professions such as the arts, law, medicine, and business.

We must call all Christians to rediscover the Cultural Mandate, embracing the opportunity to influence the culture to the glory of God and the furtherance of His Kingdom. In the church, we must teach about calling and cultural influence. We must also provide vital support to cultural leaders. As Gabe Lyons writes,

We must become an integral piece of the local culture, convening and encouraging creation of future culture that serves the common good. We must become connoisseurs of good culture, recognizing and celebrating the good, true and beautiful to the glory of God and begin to lead the conversations that will shape future culture. 

Finally, we must see our work within the larger perspective of God’s plan for the restoration of His creation.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon warns Rehoboam against living “under the sun,” holding a vision derived from a purely secular perspective. T.M. Moore describes it this way:

If all you can see in your work is what goes on at your work, then you may be stuck in a kind of ‘under the roof’ perspective that keeps you from envisioning the contribution your work makes to God’s larger purposes of beauty, goodness, and truth. With a little imagination, no matter what our job…we can find reasons to praise and thank God for our work and the way it contributes to restoring uprightness to the world.

It is this larger perspective of our daily work which will help us see the significance of our labors, and gives us great satisfaction as we embrace the Biblical doctrine of work.

What are the implications of the Christian worldview for your job? Leave your comments here

Hugh Whelchel

About Hugh Whelchel

Hugh Whelchel is Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics and author of "How Then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work." Hugh has a Master of Arts in Religion and brings over 30 years of diverse business experience to his leadership at IFWE. Read More...

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