Monday, January 18, 2010

A Christian View of Work

Justin Taylor posted a quote today from Dorothy Sayers in an essay titled, "Why Work?"

The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.

. . . Let the Church remember this: that every maker and worker is called to serve God in his profession or trade—not outside of it. The Apostles complained rightly when they said it was not meant they should leave the word of God and serve tables; their vocation was to preach the word. But the person whose vocation it is to prepare the meals beautifully might with equal justice protest: It is not meant for us to leave the service of our tables to preach the word.

The official Church wastes time and energy, and moreover, commits sacrilege, in demanding that secular workers should neglect their proper vocation in order to do Christian work—by which she means ecclesiastical work. The only Christian work is good work well done. Let the Church see to it that the workers are Christian people and do their work well, as to God: then all the work will be Christian work, whether it is Church embroidery or sewage-farming.



  1. Hi, Larry:

    Fascinating musings in that post. My thoughts:

    We were designed for work. That is why we feel such satisfaction in it. God is a worker -- look at Genesis 1. He worked, and, on the 7th day of the creation week, He rested from His labor. Then, Adam, created in God's image, worked at his task of caring for and naming the created order.

    I read an interview just the other day directly related to this. In it, the interviewee recalled that in his over 50 years of following Christ, he had heard only two sermons on work -- the very thing most Christians spend all week doing. He noted that the most recent sermon that he had heard was at his home church, and his pastor said: "Work is a result of the fall." After the sermon, he went to his pastor and said, "That's not right. Work existed not only in Genesis 3, after the fall, but in Genesis 1 [as I mentioned above]."

    Too many of us live with a Genesis 3 mentality toward work (again the interviewees thoughts, not mine). I agree, and I am often guilty of Genesis 3 thinking. How often do I go to work thinking, "How few patients would I have to see today to meet my bottom line and have enough to support my family?" when I should be thinking -- and praying -- "Lord, what do You have in store for me today in this mission field that you have called me to? May all I do be done with excellence in order that You would be glorified."

    When I'm thinking Gen. 3, not Gen. 1, I am guilty of wrong heart attitudes which so easily leads to sinful thoughts and actions.

    Jim W

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Jim. I have not had a chance to preach on work, but I hope to do so many more times than 2 in the next 50 years (or however long God gives me!).

    I hope to preach on the subject of work on Labor Day weekend this year. If the Lord wills, I will.