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Sunday, October 30, 2011

Review: "Work Matters"

TITLE: Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work
AUTHOR: Tom Nelson
PUBLISHER: Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2011, (213 pages).

The dichotomy between work and faith continues to be a challenge for many. Pious Christians go to Church each Sunday to worship and to rest from work. When Monday comes, how does that act of faith influence the rest of the week? Sadly, many people throughout the world struggle to make the connection. Often, people see weekends as a needed break from dreary work. This book attempts to provide some answers to two big questions:
  • Is our faith making a difference in our work?
  • Is our work making any difference in the world?
The core conviction of the book is: "Work matters. A lot." Using Os Guinness descriptions of primary calling (to Christ) and secondary calling (to our work), Nelson deals the various aspects of this particular calling. We are created by God with work in mind. Through work, we continue to the productivity in the world. We steward what is given to us. Through work, we worship God.

Unfortunately, sin and the fall of man has disrupted the nature of work. Thus, work can be painful, discouraging, distorted. Some of us work too hard (workaholic). Others work too little (sloth).  For Christians, they differentiate secular work from sacred work, leading to a dualism that is unhealthy. Nelson introduces the idea of the gospel lived out in our work. When redeemed, work is not just satisfying, it transforms self and others. Nelson makes this poignant observation that if the future is bright and glorious, surely present work is more meaningful and purposeful. The key is to grasp the way our present work fits with the future vision.

"I believe Jesus' parable of the talents not only encourages us to gospel readiness, but also encourages us to more seamlessly connect our Sunday faith with our Monday work." (70)

The way ahead begins with a 'new attitude to our work.' Anchored on the risen Christ, we pursue excellence. We let our work be witness for God. We seek God's approval more than men. As a result, our work will shape our beings. Nelson makes other observations which is rather useful for the technological world. Instead of multitasking our work, why not focus on relationship building through mediation or simply relating? Why not see obstacles as opportunities to grow? Use our workplace as an outlet to witness. The workplace is a great opportunity to be salt and light in the world.

Toward the end of the book, the author talks about giftings, work related challenges, and the temptations that seek to derail the believer. The last chapter of the book talks about church, and how the church can play the important role of bridging the Sunday-Monday divide. This can be done through teaching about vocation, equipping, collaborating, and celebrating the diversity of vocations all work roles are appreciated.

My Comments

There is nothing significantly new about the ideas in the book. This does not diminish the importance of the need to teach about vocation, and that our work matters not only to God, but to our wholesome body and soul development. It matters because God created us to make it matter. God created us to steward the earth. God gave us the opportunity to be thankful about our work, and to use the work as a way to honour God. This book benefits the young graduate or someone working in his/her first job. It brings together many references to good literature written by gurus such as Os Guinness, Miroslav Volf, Tim Keller, John Piper, Dorothy Sayers, and many others. The bibliography is a useful reference list for further reading and research.

I like the way the author understands the cultural contexts, the technological world, and the struggles of the Church goer. In one convenient volume, one learns quite a lot about work, vocation, and the Christian faith. For those of us who do not have time to read through so many different books about vocation, this book is certainly one that can be a guide to a very huge but highly important subject.

Work matters because God feels that humans matter. Amen.

Ratings: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me free by Crossway Publishers and NetGalley without any obligation for a positive review. The comments given are mine.

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