Friday, July 13, 2012

J.B. Wood’s “At Work As It Is in Heaven”

I’ve read a lot of books about business over the years. I’ve read about searching for excellence, managing in one minute, the seven habits you need, moving cheeses, the business wisdom of Abraham Lincoln, outliers and tipping points, the art of the long view, blinking, charisma, emotional intelligence, learning, influence and trust.

And then, starting about two years ago, a whole new genre seemed to appear – faith at work, or how to live your faith at work. Tom Nelson’s Work Matters is one of the best ones (I reviewed it here last December). There are others. But what I hadn’t found was a book on work and faith that spoke directly to me, someone who has worked most of his life in the corporate world of offices and cubicles, shareowners and corporate executives, hierarchies and networks.

Until now. J.B. Wood’s At Work As It Is in Heaven: 25 Ways to Re-Imagine the Spiritual Purpose of Your Work fits the bill, and fits it precisely. It speaks to the workplace I’ve occupied for going on four decades. I recognize the context and the language (that’s language, not jargon; Wood managed to escape the corporate jargon trap).

Most importantly, I recognize the struggle of living one’s faith in the workplace. This isn’t a how-to guide on how to evangelize with tracts and mini-sermons at lunch, or hold Bible studies with like-minded colleagues. Instead, Wood deals with the reality of day-to-work – meetings, politics, ambition, work, problems, issues, encouragement and discouragement.

The book is comprised of 25 readable essays, each covering a different subject. Many of the essays started their life as articles at The High Calling, but Wood has edited and emended them, adding new information and insights.

And the lessons are basic and bedrock: how to say praise, how to lead away from yourself, how to deal with adversaries, how to listen, how to allow yourself to have a really bad day, how to see yourself as more than a job title, how to accept grace for your mistakes. (The only lesson missing is how PowerPoint is a satanic invention, but maybe that will be a sequel.)

Collectively, these essays answer the question, “What is the purpose of your work?” The answer is the same answer to the question, “Why do you attend church,” and “Why do you sing hymns,” and “Why do you give money to your church,” and “Why do you support missionaries.” And the answer to all of those questions, including the purpose of your work, is to glorify God.

One of the most valuable lessons of the book is not explicitly stated. This is not a book about J.B. Wood’s work experience, or his life. He leads away from himself, and he leads to us, the people who occupy the offices and cubicles, the people who struggle to live their faith where they work.


Wood blogs at Shrinking the Camel.


David Rupert said...

I read the book over the last two days and agree.It's very readable and applicable. Well done JB :)

nance said...

good review, mr. young.
i have downloaded the book and looking forward to reading it. i like to see what a wide range of people say about faith in their life.

this morning it was reading david's words in the psalms. it is amazing to recapture some of his thoughts.

diana said...

A triple thank you today - first, for this wonderful review - I'm going to read it soon and will also order it for my husband's Kindle. Second, for the lovely vignette about lunch with your DIL and grandsons. And third - for switching out the black background here. A HUGE help to those of us with astigmatism problems - so much easier to read this version. And it looks great, too.