“One of the most offensive and soul-damaging phrases in the Christian community is “full-time Christian work.’ Every time it is used it drives a wedge of misunderstanding between the way we pray and the way we work, between the way we worship and the way we make a living. One of the achievements of the Protestant Reformation was the leveling of the ground between the clergy and laity. Pastors and butchers had equal status before the cross, homemakers were on a par with evangelists. But insidiously, that level ground has been eroded as religious professionals have claimed the high ground, asserted exclusive rights to ‘full-time Christian wiork,’ and relegated the laity to part-time work on weekends under their pastoral or priestly direction … This professionalization of religion is an assault on the integrity of the Christian community.” (p. viii)
Strong words indeed! The authors, R. Paul Stevens (Professor Emeritus of marketpalce theology and spirituality at Regent College) and Alvin Ung (Fellow at Khazanah National Board, a national investment agency in Malaysia) write passionately about the integration of faith and work in this carefully structured series of brief essays.
Stevens and Ung explain that their motivation for writing is because, ‘… we long to take our souls to work, to be attentive to God’s presence in the midst of a busy and intense work life, and to be gradually transformed into loving and holy persons while we work.”
Chapters 1-9 deal with the nine soul-sapping struggles of working life, Chapters 10-18 discuss the nine corresponding life-giving fruits of the Spirit, and Chaptes 19-27 outline nine parallel outcomes of the transforming work of the Spirit.
So, for example, Chapter 1 looks at pride (being imprisoned within yourself as No 1); Chapter 10 encourages the cultivation of joy (feeling the exhilaration of having God as No 1); and then Chapter 19 examines continuous prayer (experienceing contunuous communion with God).
Subsequent posts will summarise each of these helpful chapters.
This book would be an excellent resource for small groups, perhaps a group of Christians wanting to work out together what it means to be an influence in the workplace.
Stevens, R. P., and Ung, A. (2010). Taking Your Soul to Work: overcoming the nine deadly sins of the workplace. Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eerdmans
Murray Wright (Transforming Work Project Officer)