One simple way to help people integrate faith, work, and economics is through gratitude. You do not need to wait until you have read three or four books on the subject, preached a sermon series, or attended the latest conference on these themes. You can begin by simply taking a moment to stop and consider what you are thankful for. Thankfulness often shows honor and respect for work performed.
As I write, it’s a cold afternoon in northeast Ohio, and so I am thankful for the hot cup of coffee next to my computer. I am thankful for farmers in Central America and Indonesia who harvested the beans. I am thankful for organizations that verified that the workers received wages, and certified this product as fair trade. I am thankful for airplane pilots and truck drivers that transported this coffee to my town. I am thankful for engineers that designed my coffee maker, and made it idiot-proof so that I cannot leave it on indefinitely and needlessly waste energy.
What more shall I say? Time would fail me in telling of employees that protect my debit card from theft so that I can make purchases, of those that work with ceramics to make coffee mugs, of mechanics who kept the planes and trucks running, and of mothers who gave birth to them all. I am grateful for the economic web of human relationships and the good exchange of their honest work which creates opportunity, builds character, provides for families, and allows far-off people like myself to enjoy a simple cup of coffee. Each person in the system serves the community with their work. But they may also have much to teach us about life, holiness, and the gospel – if we have ears to hear.
Matt Smethurst over at The Gospel Coalition recently posted a story about the influence of a cook named Mary King on the life and ministry of Charles Spurgeon. Even if you do not share the Gospel Coaltion’s theological distinctives, I hope you can see the power of an integrated faith through their story. One of my main takeaways was the lifelong gratitude that Spurgeon expressed for the influence of this simple cook, thus honoring and respecting her work.
- How can you encourage people in your congregation to see opportunities in their various vocations to worship God and impact others, as did Mary King?
- How can you show honor and respect for the work of others that enables you to fulfill your calling as a pastor?
From the Kern Pastors Network. Image: Jennifer Woodruff Tait.