Book Review: The Gospel at Work

How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to our Jobs

The Gospel at Work book coverWhy I picked up this book:

Zondervan sent me a postcard about this work, and promised a free six-session study guide and video curriculum at purchase. I lead a small group of millennials, and I am always on the lookout for material that might be of interest to them. The majority of the women in the group are single, but they also share another connection in that many of them were disgruntle with their jobs.

 

Who Should Read The Gospel at Work:

Christians who work in any capacity, and seek to honor God through their work.

What’s in Store for You:

I was really encouraged by this book. It didn’t take long before I realized that God was using it to minister to my feeble heart. Throughout my reading, I meditated on the following passages:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving (Col 3:23-24 NIV).

May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands for us-yes, establish the work of our hands (Ps 90:17).

This book was a humble reminder that we are often trying to establish the work of our own hands, either by making an idol of work or even being idle in our work. It begins with a challenge to consider how God may be using our work for His unique purposes in our lives.

When we understand that God is the author of all things, including our work, then we are less likely to make work an idol. We do not worship it or have unrealistic expectations of what work can do for us. The right perspective concerning our work frees us from selfish ambition, to serve others, and opens doors of possibilities for how God is using the nature of our work as part of his great story.

Likewise, idleness reveals that we have not fully realized God’s purposes for our work. It shows up in the forms of “despondency, joylessness, complaining, discontent, laziness, passivity, people pleasing, score settling, corner cutting, [or] Monday-dreading gloom (pg. 37).”

In addition to confronting our propensity to swing from idolizing to being idle in our work, the book is filled with other important contemplative questions, addressing both our motivations and challenges like:

“What difference does it make in my workplace that I am a Christian (pg. 45)?”

“How should I choose a job (Chapter 5)?”

“Is there a better way to love your employees than by praying to the King specifically for them (pg. 121)?”

“How can I share the gospel at work (pg. 125)?”

The main idea of this book is to share that “the value of our work isn’t…found at all in the particular thing we do; it’s found in the fact that whatever we do, we do it for our King (pg. 136).” We work for Jesus! And that reality changes the way we view our work.

  1. Working for Jesus gives you freedom to worship God through your work.
  2. Working for Jesus gives you freedom to serve others wholeheartedly.
  3. Working for Jesus gives you freedom to trust God in your work.
  4. Working for Jesus gives you freedom to rest from your work.
  5. Working for Jesus gives you freedom to do your work well.
  6. Working for Jesus gives you freedom to have joy in your work (pages 52-57).

This book is filled with scripture references, theological reflection, and practical application. The “Further Reflection” questions and scriptures at the end of each chapter makes it a great resource for small group discussion or co-worker coffee talk.

 

My personal take-aways?

God used the early topics of this book and the scripture meditations to convict me of my attitude, not only about my own work but my husband’s work as well. We both work hard. Rarely am I compensated for my work; however, given the delays and proposed incomes for several areas where I was to be paid, I was starting to feel like people were taking advantage of me. Likewise, my husband has assumed additionally responsibilities at work for months in which he has not been financially compensated. It wasn’t fair, and my justice meter had already skyrocketed because of other injustices taking place in the world. I was not content and growing more frustrated as the days went by.

God continued to provide and remind me of my misplaced trust. He also reminded me of the reason that we work. We work to honor Him and not to please humankind. We diligently work to glorify Him whether we are compensated on this earth or not. God is the one who faithfully establishes the work of our hands.

Perhaps the most enjoyable section of the book for me was the challenge to “Learn to Put God on the Table.” The nature of my work has changed drastically in more recent years, but I recall putting God on the table when I was in work places that invited any kind of coarse conversation. I also recall times when I wish I was bolder in sharing the gospel and my faith in the workplace. People freely talk and rant about all kinds of things in the office, and Christians can take those opportunities to change the conversation with the good news, personal testimony, a word of thanks to God, and even offering to pray. We are called to share our faith in public, even in the workplace.

 

Quotable: PERSPECTIVE

“If God doesn’t give you an opportunity to do a certain thing, then he’s not calling you to do that thing, at least not now (pg. 82).”

“A gospel-centered perspective on our work changes the way we think about our boss, as well as the way we think of our coworkers (pg. 107).”

“No matter how important you think you are and no matter how lowly the task you’ve been asked to do, you have never—never, never, never—stooped as low as Jesus stooped to save you (pg. 110).”

 

Twitter-worthy:

“The answer to the fleetingness of life…is simple: Live your life with reference to the One who is not fleeting.” #GospelatWork @greggilbert

“It is a rare and powerful witness not to complain at work.” #GospelatWork @greggilbert

“What matters is doing the work your King has given you to do—and doing it well.” #GospelatWork @greggilbert

 

Official Website: For conferences, book information, study guide, videos, and other resources

The Gospel at Work

 

Next Up on This Topic:

Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work. Author: Timothy Keller

Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good. Author: Amy L. Sherman

 

How do you view the nature of your work? Does it matter that you are a Christian in your work place?   

 

© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2014

 

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