Preparing for "Work" Series
October 17, 2007, 3:11 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’ve been continuing to read and study in preparation for an upcoming series on “Work” with respect to the Gospel. In my study, I’ve come across the following quote, written by William Diehl in a book called Christianity and Real Life :

In the almost thirty years of my professional career, my church has never once suggested that there be any type of accounting of my on-the-job ministry to others. My church has never once offered to improve those skills which could make me a better minister, nor has it ever asked if I needed any kind of support in what I was doing. There has never been an inquiry into the types of ethical decisions I must face, or whether I seek to communicate the faith to my coworkers. I have never been in a congregation where there was any type of public affirmation of a ministry in my career. In short, I must conclude that my church really doesn’t have the least interest whether or how I minister in my daily work.

In the church, I think it’s safe to say that people aren’t thoroughly equipped to apply their belief to work because there is often a dualistic mentality in the church, where we separate the sacred from the profane, the holy from the unholy, the in from the out. Therefore, the everyday attitudes of Christians towards work are heavily influenced by the dominant values of the society.

In light of this, I’m really looking forward to this series…as I desire to see Immanuel more effective engage the world around and live out the Gospel in everything…


2 Comments so far
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I am really happy that you’re addressing an issue that’s not usually discussed in church – about Christians and work. I don’t mean to side-track you from your preparation, but having spent my entire career so far in the corporate world, I have found that Christians – and I am not exempting myself – usually fail in our witness for Christ in one or more of the following areas:

1. (You’ve already mentioned this in your post) We separate the secular from the sacred by wearing two different hats – one at home /church and the other at work. We may not get involved in the “unchristian” things our colleagues do, but we do not do the ordinary Christian things we normally do at home or church either – like praying quietly before lunch or before a meeting or hesitating to say that God healed us of an illness or to say that we went to church when asked about our weekend – all to avoid being seen as religious in a rational, secular world.

2. We are workaholics – working all the time – to the detriment of our health, our family and our church, indicating that our first priority is our work, our career and money, thus again showing a disregard for our Christian testimony.

3. Or just the opposite – we perform our work below the level of expectation, thus appearing to be incompetent – once again jeopardizing our witness. This could be due to our not doing our best at work, not producing excellent results at all times, not pushing ourselves to achieve more or to learn new skills. We excuse our mediocrity by justifying to ourselves that since we are not of this world we do not need to give of ourselves more than needed to just get by and since our allegiance is to God, we need to conserve our time and efforts for His work.

4. We may witness boldly with our tongue, but disregard our own integrity thus exposing our hypocrisy – damaging our witness – when we fudge on our resumes, bloat our project plans or expense receipts, deceive our supervisors by working hard only in their presence, join others in speaking ill of our managers, take extended lunch breaks and coffee breaks and find other ways to use our time unwisely, steal company resources meant for office use only, etc.

While point #3 concerns lack of knowledge, point #4 is about lack of integrity and we need ample doses of both wherever we work – corporate world or not. This reminds me of something Samuel Johnson wrote “Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.” I have not only watched other Christians indulge in such practices, but I have to confess that, if I look at my own career, I have not been completely “unimpeachable” either -I have failed in each of these areas at some point or the other.

Comment by Abey

i have heard one-shot messages on the topic of work before. i know the main points of what a Christian ought to be like at work.

but i find myself going to work like a zombie – totally disconnected from any purpose other than to make a living. i can hear what God is calling me to as a Christian in the marketplace but i have such little desire to live it out. this is my main problem – not that i don’t know what i should be doing but the desire/power to do it.

Comment by pk

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