Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Odd Man Out


I mentioned last week that, about 20 years ago, I was involved in a ministry here in St. Louis called Salt & Light Fellowship. It was led by Jerram Barrs, director of the Francis Schaeffer Institute at Covenant Seminary (Francis Schaeffer had a strong St. Louis connection and had actually pastured a church here.).

The fellowship met weekly at local churches, and it included both a group discussion and lecture time. The idea was reclaiming the culture, and our studies and discussions focused on both the Christian impact on culture historically as well as reclaiming the culture. We spent several weeks talking about work, and Dr. Barrs surprised than a few of us when he said that all work is seen as holy by God (likely with a few exceptions – some work is nothing short of evil).

His point was the church had divided life into the sacred and secular – and “sacred” work was more important to God that “secular work.” That simply wasn’t true, he said.

The two years I spent in the fellowship transformed my ideas about work. While the world would always disagree, I came to understand that the janitor was just as valuable in God’s eyes as was the CEO, and the reason was that both were made in God’s image. Both deserved respect. Both were ultimately about doing God’s work.

And so was I.

This isn’t how most workplaces function. This isn’t how many Christians function in the workplace. Dividing the world in secular and sacred allows us to leave the sacred at the workplace door. We can be different at church because, well, you have to do what you have to do to succeed in the workplace.

This doesn’t mean you pester your colleagues with sermons and leave tracts in the bathroom. What it means more than anything else is to see your work, and perform your work, as if it were an offering to God. How would God react if you dropped your work, and how you performed it, in the offering plate on Sunday?

That understanding changed my life – and my work life. It didn’t mean I became a workplace angel. I still screwed up, made mistakes, got angry when I shouldn’t and otherwise behaved like the usual sinner (I should phrase that in the present tense). But the understanding had an impact, and it slowly changed my behavior and my thinking. It’s still changing my behavior and thinking.

There’s a cost for this, of course. Jesus talked about it. It’s not surprise when, at best, we’re considered the odd man out. The conscientious objector. The “spiritual one.”

But it make a difference. A significant difference. And that’s the point.

“Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly ministration,” says A.W. Tozer in The Pursuit of God. “Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there.”


Led by Jason Stasyszen and Sarah Salter, we’ve been reading Tozer’s The Pursuit of God. Today’s discussion concludes chapter 10, “The Sacrament of Living,” and concludes the book. To see other posts, please visit Jason’s site, Connecting to Impact.

A special thanks to Jason and Sarah for their faithfulness in posting the links and leading the discussion for the last 20 weeks. 

6 comments:

Russell said...

I the end it is our faith played out in the workplace, it is our ability to convey love In our everyday lives that has the most impact on the lives of others.

Jay Cookingham said...

Amen brother! We are ALL missionaries...everywhere we go we have the opportunity to share the Good News.

nance said...

I understand where you are in the talk of faith and work. I understand the message. But, i'm not into it because i think it is muddies the picture of faith by speaking of work as the 9-5 industrial world experience.

As i see it, work does not start and end in work-place time, just as faith does not begin and end in church time.

nance said...

I understand where you are in the talk of faith and work. I understand the message. But, i'm not into it because i think it is muddies the picture of faith by speaking of work as the 9-5 industrial world experience.

As i see it, work does not start and end in work-place time, just as faith does not begin and end in church time.

SimplyDarlene said...

Seems like this piece of yours should also be over at THC, sir Glynn...

be who God made us
to be
at home, work, and play

in thought, word,
and deed.

Blessings.

jasonS said...

I very much like the idea/thought of putting our work and how we did it for the week into the offering plate. Would God be pleased with the level of excellence and giving? Would He wonder why so little? So good to understand that everything we do in our work and living can bring Him glory and fill Him with joy at our faithfulness. Thanks so much, Glynn. So appreciate your addition to all these discussions.