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The Gift of Work -> Chapter 7: The Nucleus of Change

thought-leadersWe conclude our discussion series on The Gift of Work this week with Heatley’s closing reflection on the powerfully influential, yet carefully boundaried place our jobs have in our lives.

gift-of-work1Being an enthusiastic proponent of the gargantuan significance there is in the body of believers being scattered throughout the workplace, I’ll begin there. Heatley identifies this potential influence as “informal authority.” I believe this influence lies at the crux of the free and responsible stewardship of our lives. What it means at work is that within the context of our job itself, our profession, our field, we have a creative and redemptive role to play. We participate in the content and direction of medicine, law, education, fashion, entertainment, public safety, architecture, research, art, etc. etc.

We do not need to avoid immersing ourselves in the issues of our job in order to avoid absorbing the values of the world. If in our efforts not to lose our way by making too large an investment in our jobs, we risk missing our callings by making too little an investment in our jobs.

Having said that, Heatley wisely warns against searching for aspects of life in one’s job that one’s job can never provide. Hence the boundary. Valuing family, other communities, other forms of service, rest and reflection all build and sustain a healthy, whole human person.

We want our lights to shine, but we do not want them to burn out. We want to make a difference for God by being one of his in our respective jobs, but we want to do so in a way that makes us and those around us more fully human, not less.

What was your main take-away from this chapter?

Thanks Bill for a great contribution to the many believers desiring to show up at work both fully engaged in the task at hand and fully participating in God’s redemptive work in the world.

Each week I post my reflections from one chapter of The Gift of Work by Bill Heatley. If you are just joining the discussion now, we are concluding our discussion today. Catch up on the entire series here. Next week join us as we begin reading Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality by Henry Cloud.

2 Responses to “The Gift of Work -> Chapter 7: The Nucleus of Change”

  1. T.E. Brown Says:

    Good reflections, Karl, on this chapter and all the way through! And I’ll second Karl’s acknowledgment to Bill Heatley for writing “The Gift of Work.”

    In Chapter 7, Heatley unpacks a diagram (from Dallas Willard) in which “Job” is founded on “Ministry/Calling,” which in turn is founded on “Work,” which in turn is founded on “Life.” Our life is what God is ultimately interested in. Work involves the entirety of what we do for good. So Ministry is built on top of Work. Finally, Job is built on top of Ministry.

    The danger comes when we flip this upside-down. Instead of our Life being the foundation upon which we build Work, Ministry and Job, our Job ends up in the foundational position. This flip-flopped existence is a recipe for disaster, and a common ailment in our world.

    “The Gift of Work” helps us set our foundation straight, as it were. When we build our life upon God, everything else takes its place in proper order. Christians in the work place have a vital contribution to make as persons who have their priorities, and foundations, in the right place. Or, they should. Heatley invites those of us of faith to live out the implications of what we believe by allowing God to be our all-in-all. It’s a powerful and important challenge. And I’d add, it’s a potentially subversive challenge. Imagine what can happen in the workplaces all around us when we put first things first!

  2. Karl Edwards Says:

    What’s particularly powerful for me is the deference and respect given to the believer as the responsible one before God. Instead of putting forth an ideal, conceptualized, “God-pleasing,” behavior-based prescription for how all believers work-lives should look, it’s a more matter of building a strong foundation upon which infinite expressions of faithfulness, vocation, careers, roles and jobs can (and will) emerge.
    Now to the task of inspiring the community of faith to embrace the stewardship of our lives!

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