Around these COVID 19 times, ministry has shifted to digital. As a student worker, I no longer have the special opportunities to be with students. But thank God for WhatsApp, et al… Recently, one student friend (we call him S for the sake of my writing), asked me a question. I, C, owe to Him this article. I hope you enjoy and learn from our conversation as you spy into our inbox.
[27/04, 20:29] S: Could you please help me understand, basing on Scriptures, how different professions that Christians undertake play a role in God’s kingdom.
[27/04, 20:29] S: Could you cite for me some of the ways that Christians undertaking these professions can be able to use their professions in ways that give God glory.
[A day later] C:
Hello Brother. Sorry for this delayed response. But I thought that I should give some thought and study to your question. I must say that this question is good.
I think the crux of the matter is in the inherent value of work, which is not seen lately in most teaching and preaching. Let me give a brief introduction so you can get my answer better.
The general assertion by many is that work is a curse or at least a result of the fall/sin. I think you know that this is not the biblical position. You know, that in Genesis 1 and 2 (before the fall), God had already given work to man. It’s even better to note that God had planted the garden himself (Genesis 2:8). So he is a worker. Also that man was not working so that he gets food; it seems he already had food (Gen 2:9). It appears that work was in the initial picture of how things ought to be. Was it to be one of the expressions of Adam’s likenesses to God? For example, the naming of all animals?
It’s good to point out that sin as in Genesis 3, increased difficulty and futility in work. So that work is now hard, and not just an expression of worship.
Two things have been commonly taught, and rightly so. These are;
- The type of workers we ought to be – honest, ethical, caring, faithful, salt-and-light types.
- That we should support “ministry” through the income we earn. Also that we should “do ministry” at our workplaces.
But they do not sufficiently present the biblical notion of work. I have alluded to the fact that work has intrinsic value in itself. It is dignified. It is a good thing. And I mean all work – from preaching to sweeping, ruling to teaching, all work; as you will see below.
The bible admonishes us to do all to the glory of God; whether we drink, what ever we do (1 Corinthians 10:31). I may fall short of specific scriptures about all work, but consider these thoughts from Amy L Sherman in the book Kingdom Calling (you can borrow the book when you come back to campus. Only bring it back once you are done. Just so you know, many books, once lent, never return.)
He says that God’s labours include the following;
- Redemptive work which are God’s saving and reconciling actions. They include evangelists, teachers, pastors, counselors, peacemakers, writers, artists, producers, songwriters, filmmakers, etc.
- Creative work which is God’s fashioning of the physical and human world. This has to do with human creativity. God invited us to be co-creators (only that he created from nothing, we create from something say a table from timber…) They include the arts – sculptors, actors, painters, musicians, poets, architects, designers, etc.
- Providential work which is God’s provision for and sustaining of humans and the creation. This is all that God does to maintain human life in an orderly and beneficial manner. Those we have; policymakers, shopkeepers, farmers, fishermen, drivers at the Mat, bankers and brokers, professors, janitors, IT Specialists, etc.
- Justice work which is God’s maintenance of justice. They are obvious – judges, lawyers, police, prison wardens, chief, Mzee wa nyumba kumi, all participate in the work of maintaining justice which I know you remember is God’s major concern in the Prophets of the Bible.
- Compassionate work is God’s involvement in comforting, healing, guiding, and shepherding. Doctors, nurses, paramedics (all these three, especially at these times), therapists, social workers, community workers reflect his labour.
- Revelatory work which is God’s work to enlighten with the truth. They include preachers, scientists, teachers and professors, journalists, scholars and writers.
My response is already too long, but I have to mention one last thing. It is important for us to notice that this is God’s world, not ours, and that we are only stewards. Then it will make sense to see ourselves as God’s hand, where ever we are, whatever we are doing as his own arm; “working and keeping Eden” (Genesis 2:15).
Let me know what you think about my response. I hope it begins to answer your question, or that it at least reframes it for my understanding.
We have had a good discussion with S. He Hope’s the answer will be useful to you too.