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The Gift of Work -> Chapter 4: You Are Here. God As Our Reference Point

thought-leadersIntegration. A whole person whose whole life flows out of and reflects a common core. A complex and beautiful tapestry, whose many and seemingly unrelated threads combine in a single yet endlessly creative and generative work of art.

gift-of-work1Many of us who share a Christian spirituality struggle to relate our faith and our work. They seem to function in separate categories, and that’s just fine with us thank you very much. The links our religious leaders suggest (be ethical, strive for excellence, convert co-workers, etc.) feel like a reach and we intuit the deep disconnect.

Bill Heatley suggests an insightful and helpful alternative. Instead of two separate compartments that need to be connected, he offers God as the reference point out of which and from which all of life flows.

To the extent that we are familiar with, deeply connected to, and highly interactive with this one who is the reference point, so will we be able to contribute richly and benefit deeply wherever we choose to show up in life… at work, at home, in relationships, in the midst of challenging issues, in unexpected opportunities, playing on the floor with our kids, reworking our budgets during an economic crisis, or fighting for government services with a system that doesn’t really care, just to name a few.

God’s given us a compass. To keep asking for a map and directions is to miss the point. Having God as one’s reference point doesn’t answer the questions or solve the problems or tell us what to do. In familiar, connected, interactive relationship with God we get our bearings, renew our resources and recenter ourselves. The results of which are the clear minds, caring hearts, energetic spirits, creative inventiveness, and collaborative resourcefulness that the free and responsible human person needs to choose well, engage fully and live meaningfully.

Give this chapter a close read. Heatley suggests concrete practices that will help you move God from being one of many isolated categories of your life to your central point of reference.

Join the discussion! What did you think of Chapter 4? What is your experience with God as a reference point versus God as one of many components of your life?

Each Friday I post my reflections from one chapter of The Gift of Work by Bill Heatley. If you are just joining the discussion now, welcome! Catch up on the entire series here.

One Response to “The Gift of Work -> Chapter 4: You Are Here. God As Our Reference Point”

  1. T.E. Brown Says:

    This was a very fine chapter, my favorite in the book so far. Bill Heatley has been building his case, chapter by chapter, that work is a critical sphere of God’s blessing for self and others. He’s done a great job of bringing out Luther’s insight that “vocation” is not just for a select group of jobs or careers, but extends to every kind of work we do. This means that the milk maid’s work is as import as the Secretary of State’s.

    Heatley discusses some of the “loving structures” God has put in place for us. These include cosmic as well as social structures. For instance, with “time and space” God gives us structure in which we can handle events sequentially, “one thing at a time and in the present moment of God’s eternal purpose,” (p. 83). Notice that the present moment thus becomes the location of God’s presence.

    Rediscovering God’s loving presence in our daily lives means we can capture again the sense of wonder in the world. There’s a underlying spirituality here that’s worth reflecting on. And our wonder should permeate every aspect of our lives, not least our work. I don’t see this as a prescription for toil-less work, but it can turn us toward a place where God will begin redeeming the toil.

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