About This Blog

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

"The Gospel At Work" (Sebastian Traeger & Greg Gilbert)

TITLE: The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs
AUTHOR: Sebastian Traeger & Greg Gilbert
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2013, (160 pages).

This is a surprisingly good and useful book on vocation, work, and ministry. Some books cover topics of faith and work with a greater emphasis on good works and ethics. Others cover the topic with theological depth that appeals more to scholars and less to laypersons. Still, there are those that promise a lot but disappoints at the end. This latest effort looks the same at first, but offers a unique take on what it means to let the gospel guide our work. The key idea is this. We have only one employer, and that is God. We have only one calling, and that is calling to God. In fact, it is not what we do but who we work for that makes all the difference. This one big idea drives the entire focus of the book.

When the authors make use of the phrase "King Jesus," it reminds me straightaway of another brilliant book called "The King Jesus Gospel." What Scott McKnight was able to do for evangelism and outreach everywhere, Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert manage to do the same for workplace and faith ministry efforts everywhere. Traeger and Gilbert's years of experience in both the marketplace as well as in ministry settings have lent an additional layer of credibility to this latest book. Beginning with a focus on what our primary motivation for work is, Traeger and Gilbert help us fuse this with the greatest commandment to love God, love people, and serve all. In all things, the way to witness is to shine forth God's character in all things we do. This one tip trumps all other detailed methodologies or strategies that can be unwieldy and confusing.

What I really appreciate is the way the authors warn readers about the dual threats against the living out of King Jesus focus. They created a brilliant visual of an arrow, sandwiched by the pits of idleness and idolatry. Slacken in our faithfulness and we fall into the pit of idleness. Overly engrossed in fruitfulness risks plunging oneself deeper into idolatry. Thus, the guiding principle is to make sure we avoid idleness by sustaining our faithful living throughout, and to refrain from idolatry by being measured in our push for fruitful living. In helping us recognize the promises and perils of working in this fallen world, readers will find this a very intuitive guide to recognize when to push and when to pull back. Once we catch the main point, the rest of the motivations and methods in the book becomes more tightly knitted instead of scattered offerings. This is important because living for God is not about compartmentalizing our lives into neat pockets or drawers. It is about integration of work and purpose with faith in God as the guiding principle for all.

The scope of applications are far and wide. There are tips for Church and family, friends and colleagues, work inside as well as outside our regular places.  In choosing a job, readers will find it a helpful list of "must haves" versus "nice to haves." We will recognize that all those questions and struggles about finding the right job, making ends meet, or enjoying what we do, are but secondary concerns. What is primary is godliness in everything we do, faithfulness in whatever we do, and bringing glory to God in all that we are and are doing. There is a chapter on how we relate to bosses and our co-workers to see them not as obstacles to our promotion or job security, but to see them as people loved by God. Some helpful tips include:
  1. Determination not to complain or grumble about our work
  2. Happy submission to authority by remembering it is God we submit to
  3. Humble acknowledgment of duties and authority knowing that Christ himself had done the same
  4. Compete with integrity, that we do not focus on taking people down, but holding Christ up.
There is also a chapter on how to be a Christian boss that should appeal to people who runs their own business or entrepreneurial endeavors. The guiding principles include honouring God with our authority, using our power to bless others, awareness of the ease of power abuse, sacrificial service, imitating Jesus, be Gospel motivated and grace empowered. The chapter on sharing the gospel at work is a call not to be too afraid of sharing the gospel when the opportunity presents itself, and not to be too insensitive to push down the good news to those who are resistant. What is needed is to be ready at all times, to be sensitive to Spirit-led moments, and to build good relationships for the gospel to flourish. As expected, the authors assert once more that full-time work is not more important than regular work outside the Church or Christian borders. The key thing is to see how God, our Employer is deploying us. Some are deployed for Church work. Others are deployed for work in secular settings. The key thing is that we are all members of the same body and workers for the Same Boss.

I am excited to recommend this book highly as we kick off a brand new year 2014!

Do check out their website here for more resources.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Zondervan and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment