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Why ‘Secular’ Jobs Aren’t for Second-Class Christians – Part 3

Christians desire guidance for how to integrate their God life with their work life — especially those in the business sector. In his book The Integrated Life, Christian businessman and philanthropist Ken Eldred suggests one integrative model that highlights a three-fold Christian ministry focus at the office:

1. A ministry at work: pointing those around us to God,

2. A ministry of work: serving and creating via work itself

3. A ministry to work: redeeming the practices, policies and structures of institutions.

Pointing others to God has been a traditional and important idea. Let’s also expand our horizons to include the other two, of doing our own work well and also improving our work environments. Not only does the job get done, but we can also manifest Jesus’ peace to dissolve the frustration and anxiety others may carry, serving kingdom purposes by improving the relational interactions at work.

For example, Bill Heatley, an IT professional, invited God to operate in and through him. Specifically one way to do this was by looking for ways to appreciate and support his fellow colleagues, providing space for God’s love. Heatley was involved in a project in which two departments were coordinating aspects of the project. His counterpart from the other department was a woman who was well prepared and “sweating the details,” so he could anticipate a productive meeting for the project. The only problem was that these two groups had an 18-month history of feuding and Heatley was new on the job. In light of this history, he did three simple things.

“I prayed for her. I thanked the management in another meeting, and I sent an email to her boss expressing my appreciation for her hard work,” he writes in The Gift of Work. The results were surprising — “the effect was immediate and beyond any reasonable explanations from my efforts,” he writes. Tension was eased and greater cooperation became evident between the two departments. As a result of this powerful experience, Heatley confessed, his God-confidence increased, encouraging him to look for more opportunities to make room for God at work.

Each day we can cooperate with God, fulfilling our design and destiny at work. Work is a permanent feature of God’s plan, not the result of the Fall into sin. Work was initiated in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 1:28, 2:15) and it will continue into the next age, as we serve and reign with God forever (Rev. 22:3, 5).

Regardless of our occupations as plumber, trash collector, teacher, mechanic or pastor, we cooperate with God in doing good work, as Jesus exemplified. One motivation to work is to make money to provide for material needs and share with others (Eph. 4:28; 2 Thess. 3:6–13). But there is much more. If we wish to bring all of our life under the Lordship of Jesus Christ then our day job must be included too (Luke 9:23-26). And, pastoral responsibility for preparing “God’s people for the works of service” (Eph. 4:12) includes teaching the wide range of ministries Eldred noted above to be kingdom representatives at work.

As John Knapp challenges in How the Church Fails Businesspeople (And What Can Be Done About It), “Equipping Christians for vigorous discipleship in public life may be the church’s best hope for bringing the gospel to a world desperately in need of God’s love.”

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