More than 5,000 people jammed a sports arena for a conference featuring motivational speakers such as Dick Vitale, Tony Robbins and Colin Powell. Most of them were leaders in business. One of the speakers asked a simple question: “If you went home tonight and found that a long-lost relative had died and left you ten million dollars, would you be at work tomorrow?”
Almost in a single voice came the boisterous reply: “NO!” Friends, I can tell you, if I’d been there, I would have stood up and shouted, “YES!” So would Hugh Whelchel, who tells this story in his great new book, How Then Should We Work? Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work.
If the title How Then Should We Work? sounds familiar, well, it should. Whelchel, who is director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, drew inspiration from two men you’ve probably heard of: Francis Schaeffer, who wrote How Should We Then Live?, and our friend Chuck Colson, who, with Nancy Pearcey, wrote How Now Shall We Live? Schaeffer and Colson, in turn, led Whelchel to the teaching of Luther, Calvin and Abraham Kuyper.
“These authors,” writes Whelchel in How Then Should We Work?, “taught that the work of my hands mattered to God. They wrote that our work serves three great ends: it glorifies God, it serves the common good, and it furthers the Kingdom of God. That includes everything we do from the most significant project to the most mundane task.”
Now you may find yourself nodding your head in agreement and murmuring, “Absolutely!” But many Christians have a skewed, unbiblical understanding of work. So let me ask you: Do you find work a necessary evil? Lots of people do. Whelchel reports that 77 percent of Americans hate their jobs.
Do you hold pastors and missionaries in higher regard than you do office workers or ditch diggers? Would you, like those business leaders, quit the work you are doing right now if you were suddenly able to do so? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then you very possibly have fallen for the old sacred/secular distinction, forgetting that the Lord is King over all of creation.
Or at least you may have forgotten that work is a calling, a true vocation from God, and not just an unpleasant means to the necessary end of making money. Whelchel says that the principles he learned, and which he put in his book, How Then Should We Work?, transformed his life.
He came to realize that his daily work “wasn’t just an avenue simply to share my faith … or to create wealth to donate to missions work; it was the very thing through which I could be the salt and light Jesus called me to be. In fact,” Whelchel continues, “my vocational work was part of a larger grand story I was discovering, a story that started in the Garden of Eden and continues when Jesus returns and establishes the new heavens and the new earth.”
Yes, friends, the Lord gave us work in the Garden before the Fall, meaning work is an integral part of His plan for our good. As author Dorothy Sayers said, “… work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God.”
And, I should add, even when he doesn’t have to be there!
To order your copy of How Then Should We Work? please visit our online bookstore at BreakPoint.org.
Eric Metaxas is a co-host of BreakPoint Radio and a best-selling author whose biographies, children's books, and popular apologetics have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.
Publication date: October 25, 2012