Thursday, March 08, 2007

On Work and Vocation

I've come across a few quotes on vocation by notable Christian leaders (mostly old, dead guys) that I thought were interesting (HT: Washington Institute). You're probably familiar with some of them but they offer timeless wisdom and are worth revisiting:

On whether our daily work is "spiritual":

"...The work of a Beethoven, and the work of a charwoman, become spiritual on precisely the same condition, that of being offered to God, of being done humbly "as to the Lord." This does not, of course, mean that it is for anyone a mere toss-up whether he should sweep rooms or compose symphonies. A mole must dig to the glory of God and a cock must crow..."

C.S Lewis, Weight of Glory

"...A cobbler, a smith, a farmer, each has the work and office of his trade, and yet they are all alike consecrated priests and bishops, and every one by means of his own work or office must benefit and serve every other, that in this way many kinds of work may be done for the bodily and spiritual welfare of the community, even as all the members of the body serve one another..."

Martin Luther
(aka the Reformation Guy)

On how we are to work:

"...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..."

John Calvin (aka Mr. Five Pointer)

On the quality of work we should produce:

"...No piety in the worker will compensate for work that is not true to itself…. work must be good work before it can call itself God’s work..."

Dorothy Sayers

On Christian discipleship and work

Not an old, dead guy, but ever insightful is Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in NYC. In a paper on how a church can successfully engage a city culture, he writes about the need to integrate work and faith. He also says this:

You can't just disciple people on how to be Christians in their private lives (e.g. prayer, witnessing, Bible study). Center-city people don't have much of a "private life." If you are in finance, or art, or acting or medicine, your vocation dominates your life and your time. Discipleship must include how to be distinctively Christian within your job, including how to handle the particular temptations and ethical quandaries, and how to produce work in one's own field from a distinctly Christian world-view.

How are you distinctly Christian within your job?
What does it mean to produce work in our field of work from a distinctly Christian world-view?


Ted Gossard said...

Andre, Great quotes and thoughts here.

I certainly want to do all to the glory of God. For me this involves hard (often times) factory work, for RBC Ministries.

It's a great cause, and that helps. I can do well, and I try to do that always.

I would like to see my stewardship in gifting be used differently. Maybe the right word here is, better.

Work is in itself a blessing and so central a part of who we are as humans, created in God's image.

Good to think on. Thanks.

andre said...


Thanks for your thoughts on this. I'm grateful for the little snippets you offer here and on your blog of how you negotiate your worklife for the glory of God.

Your high view of work is so commendable and encouraging. It's not all about our gifts but we do have gifts and abilities and we should use them "better" (as you've termed it).


Bob Robinson said...


I've added you to my blog roll for Friend of Kuyper. Friend of Kuyper is a blog that connects with blogs like yours. Thanks for your post at Vanguard Church.

andre said...


Thanks for the connection with Friends of Kuyper! Let's keep in touch.


L.L. Barkat said...

It often fascinates me that most of Jesus' life was spent working, in home and community. And even when he began "ministry" it was a work of healing, feeding, loving.

Which is to say, whenever I take the attitude of healing, feeding, loving throughout my day, I believe I'm being Christian as I should be.

andre said...


Healing-feeding-loving. What a great picture and framework with which to do your daily work. Thanks for sharing this.

The Gyrovague said...

I would strongly recommend you read a book called The Church in the Workplace by C. Peter Wagner. I do not agree with everything he says, but it is really a very good look at Christians in the workplace over the next 20 years.

andre said...


Thanks for the recommendation. I've always associated Peter Wagner with church growth movement. I'll have to look into your recommended book.