Reflecting on God's Work. And Ours.

March 2nd, 2014 | John Chandler

As we talked about vocation in our liturgy this week, we reflected on how much of the work that we do might be part of the ongoing work of God in this world. In Kingdom Calling, Amy Sherman borrows from another author to describe God’s work in six ways. Below is an extended passage from her book as you reflect on how your vocation might be made more clear in light of God’s work in the world:

In Faith Goes to Work, author Robert Banks discusses God as our “vocational model,” describing the various sorts of work he does and how myriad human vocations give expression to these aspects of God’s work…. God’s labors include the following:

  • Redemptive work (God’s saving and reconciling actions).
    Humans participate in this kind of work, for example, as evangelists, pastors, counselors and peacemakers. So do writers, artists, producers, songwriters, poets and actors who incorporate redemptive elements in their stories, novels, songs, films, performances and other works.
  • Creative work (God’s fashioning of the physical and human world).
    God gives humans creativity. People in the arts (sculptors, actors, painters, musicians, poets and so on) display this, as do a wide range of craftspeople such as potters, weavers and seamstresses, as well as interior designers, metalworkers, carpenters, builders, fashion designers, architects, novelists and urban planners (and more).
  • Providential work (God’s provision for and sustaining of humans and the creation).
    “The work of divine providence includes all that God does to maintain the universe and human life in an orderly and beneficial fashion,” Banks writes. “This includes conserving, sustaining, and replenishing, in addition to creating and redeeming the world.” Thus, innumerable individuals—bureaucrats, public utility workers, public policymakers, shopkeepers, career counselors, shipbuilders, farmers, firemen, repairmen, printers, transport workers, IT specialists, entrepreneurs, bankers and brokers, meteorologists, research technicians, civil servants, business school professors, mechanics, engineers, building inspectors, machinists, statisticians, plumbers, welders, janitors—and all who help keep the economic and political order working smoothly—reflect this aspect of God’s labor.
  • Justice work (God’s maintenance of justice).
    Judges, lawyers, paralegals, government regulators, legal secretaries, city managers, prison wardens and guards, policy researchers and advocates, law professors, diplomats, supervisors, administrators and law enforcement personnel participate in God’s work of maintaining justice.
  • Compassionate work (God’s involvement in comforting, healing, guiding and shepherding).
    Doctors, nurses, paramedics, psychologists, therapists, social workers, pharmacists, community workers, nonprofit directors, emergency medical technicians, counselors and welfare agents all reflect this aspect of God’s labor.
  • Revelatory work (God’s work to enlighten with truth).
    Preachers, scientists, educators, journalists, scholars and writers are all involved in this sort of work.