In his book Work Matters, Pastor Tom Nelson writes, “For too long…I failed to grasp that a primary stewardship of my pastoral work was to assist and equip others to better connect the professions of their Sunday faith with the practices of their Monday work.”
I've come personally to identify with this admission during the last few months, as I’ve been participating in a learning community hosted by “Made to Flourish” (an organization designed to help pastors integrate faith and work). Amidst the weekly demands of sermon preparation and the ongoing work of trying to help lead us as a congregation in the path of discipleship, I believe I haven't prioritized highly enough the equipping of our congregation to live out our faith in our work.
And this is important. It’s important because our devotion to Christ is not meant to be compartmentalized to certain more “spiritual” portions of our lives. Being a child of God, being a citizen of the new kingdom, is something that must shape every moment in our day. This means that it is crucial for us to understand how we can be worshiping God as we crunch numbers with spreadsheets, as we grade papers, as we make cappuccinos for impatient customers, or as we do any other number of things (often mundane) that are a part of our occupations. We must, as Nelson writes, be able to connect Sunday to Monday.
And it’s also important because we have a responsibility to this world. If we have eyes to see, we will recognize that the community around us is the person who “fell among robbers” in Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan. Sin and Satan have stripped and beaten our world, leaving it half dead. As people with the hope of Christ, we have the opportunity to be like the Samaritan and act as a “neighbor” to our community. And one of the key ways we do this is through our work: in the work we do and the manner in which we do it, we can show mercy to our community and extend Christ’s healing presence. Our work is a high calling.
My hope is that all of this will become clearer to us in the coming year. During our annual elders retreat, we made it a central goal for this year that we as a church would grow in our ability to live out our faith in our work. My hope is that through the preaching on Sunday, through discussions in smaller groups, and through simply trying to live this out together with others, this will become true for you.