Wednesday, October 11, 2017

“Reintegrate Your Vocation with God’s Mission” by Bob Robinson

It was a teachable moment. 

I’d been asked to make a presentation on the company’s public affairs organization to a committee of executives reviewing all staff departments. Our own staff leader, sensing potential blood in the water, had strategically chosen to be out of town. While ostensibly described as a “review,” we all knew these sessions for what they were – presenting a defense of both staff and budget. 

We didn’t know which executives would be our review panel. When they came in, I was immediately relieved to see a man from my church. He was a church elder, and I knew he would be fair and wouldn’t let the discussion become a piranha feed, which we had already heard had happened to other groups. 

I was wrong to be relieved. Not only was he not fair, he viciously attacked me, my presentation, our organization, and our budget. It was so nasty that most of the other panel members said nothing. One executive, shocked by the viciousness, came to the defense of both me and my department.

I had had experiences before with Christians in the business world, but never one this direct and personal. And never one this awful. I told my wife later that this executive reinforced my perceptions of Christians in the business world – no better, and often worse, than non-Christians. 

Our Christian faith is not supposed to be something we discover only once a week when we walk in the church door. Faith is supposed to be lived, bringing salt and light into a fallen world. And it is to be lived in all aspects of our life – church, home, school, entertainment, sports, culture, voluntarism, and work. It’s supposed to be lived in the spaces between these areas, too, like commuting, riding a bus, buying food at the grocery store, buying a new car, and all of the hundreds of other daily activities we do.  

Bob Robinson, the founder of The Center to Reintegrate Faith, Life and Vocations, has a passion for faith, vocation, and work. He understands that faith is exercised seven days a week, not only for a couple of hours on Sunday morning. And he’s written a book, a very practical book, that helps people learn and internalize how vocation and work can be fully integrate into faith. 

Reintegrate Your Vocation with God’s Mission is a compact study of faith and vocation. Designed for group or individual study, it embraces the broad areas of Christian theology and then leads through a series of exercises of how those areas apply to the ideas of work and vocation.  

Bob Robinson
Robinson begins with the full story of the gospel, the “big picture” of creation, the fall, redemption, and consummation. He then moves to a more in-depth consideration of each area (with two chapters on redemption, “Redemption Accomplished” and “Redemption Applied”). The final chapters is “Callings,” examining the idea of vocation and what it means, how it’s understood, and how we are to undertaken it.  

This is a workbook in the best sense of the word. It’s meant to be written in, with questions asked and lined spaces for answers. And it’s meant to be discussed, to test one’s own answers and understanding against those of others. Each chapter also includes quotes on vocation from people who have studied and written about in depth, including Os Guinness, Steven Garber, Gabe Lyons, Cornelius Plantinga, Paul Marshall, and several others. 

Robinson received a B.S. degree in business administration from the University of Akron and an M.Div. degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He’s a candidate for a Doctor of Ministry in Faith, Vocation, and Culture from Covenant Theological Seminary. He’s been a church planter, a pastor of adult discipleship, and an area director for the Coalition for Christian Outreach. He and his family live near Canton, Ohio. 

Reintegrate Your Vocation with God’s Mission is an excellent, Bible-based resource for learning about work, vocation, faith, and how they fit together.  

Top photograph by John Salvino via Unsplash. Used with permission.

2 comments: said...

I have mixed emotions about this. NO, not about any vicious ad hominem attacks. They are never acceptable.
However, the owner of the firm can make the decision to align what s/he considers to be the teachings of the Supreme Being with the operations of the firm. No one else.
You (and I, if I were the employee) have an obligation (from our faith) to align our performance with our religious beliefs. But, we have no right to align the mission- or the performance of others in the organization- with our personal faith.

Glynn said...

Roy, I agree with you. My own perspective comes from working for two Fortune 500 corporations. I did not expect the corporate hierarchies to embrace Christianity and make it corporate policy. What I did expect was paying close attention to my own behavior -- what I did and said and thought needed to reflect who I was and what I believed. It was not easy. I didn't always succeed. In management reviews, I was officially categorized as a "conscientious objector," and I can't say it was off-the-mark. But when the crises hit, when things needed to be fixed and often fixed publicly, the companies had no trouble with getting the conscientious
objectors to help.