Last month I presented a three-hour address at my church entitled “Called to Work: How We Should View and Do Work.”
Here’s the outline:
1. What are some popular views on work?
1.1. Work is awful.
1.2. Work is meaningless.
1.3. Work is everything.
1.4. Work is money.
1.5. “Secular” work is inferior to “full-time Christian ministry.”
2. How does work fit in the Bible’s storyline?
2.1. Work at Creation
2.2. Work under the Curse
2.3. Work under Christ
2.4. Work in the Consummation
3. For what purposes should we work?
3.1. We should work in order to glorify God.
3.2. We should work in order to glorify God by providing for our basic needs.
3.3. We should work in order to glorify God by serving others.
3.3.1. We serve others by providing for our own needs.
3.3.2. We serve others by providing for the needs of our family.
3.3.3. We serve others by supporting our pastors and missionaries.
3.3.4. We serve others by giving to those in need.
3.3.5. We serve others by doing good to humanity in general and our community in particular.
3.4. We should work in order to glorify God by having meaningful and fulfilling lives.
3.5. We should work in order to glorify God before non-Christians.
4. How should we view work?
4.1. Hate sin and its effects, but don’t hate work itself.
4.2. Distinguish between wholesome work and sinful work.
4.3. View work as stewardship.
4.4. Don’t idolize work.
4.5. View “secular” work and “full-time Christian ministry” as equally important.
4.6. View blue-collar and white-collar work as equally important.
4.7. Value unpaid work.
4.8. Reject the retirement-mindset. [While explaining this point, I showed this three-minute video of John Piper addressing young people.]
5. How should we work?
5.1. Work heartily and sincerely as for the Lord, not other people.
5.2. Work hard; don’t be lazy.
5.3. Work hard, but don’t overwork.
5.4. Work shrewdly, but don’t work dishonestly.
5.5. Be ambitious, but don’t be greedy.
6. How do we know what specific work God wants us to do?
8. Recommended Reading
- Nichols, Stephen J. What Is Vocation? Basics of the Faith Series. Phillipsburg, NJ: Presbyterian & Reformed, 2010. [31-page booklet.]
- Piper, John. “Making Much of Christ from 8 to 5.” Pages 131–54 in Don’t Waste Your Life. Wheaton: Crossway, 2003.
- Ryken, Leland. Redeeming the Time: A Christian Approach to Work and Leisure. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995. [By far the single most helpful resource on work I’m aware of. Academic treatment, not popular. Written by an English professor at Wheaton College.]
- Veith, Gene Edward, Jr. God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life. Wheaton: Crossway, 2002. [Explains how vocation includes all of life; follows Martin Luther.]