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.
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.