The Faith Component of “Faith and Work”
I was at a business person’s breakfast recently where a man shared his story. It contained a familiar refrain and an implicit slight. After coming to faith as a young and successful businessman, he was led into a ministry career. He shared how over the years this involved ridiculous steps of faith and each time God came through.
This is a familiar trope—surrender to Jesus, leave business. (There are actually two implicit slights in this: 1)”ministry” is the work of the truly spiritual and 2) rewarded steps of faith come to those who chose that path.
After he was done, a fancier closed the morning by filling in the gap: faith wasn’t just for the ministry guy, as Wallstreeters faced a tough year, faith was for them too. In this post, I address our allergy to real-time faith at work and it’s necessity for bridging the vocational divide for all of us.
Where This Fits in the Flow
This post is part 4 of a series on the vocational divide—the disconnect between one’s faith and work. This disconnect is a personal experience and a systemic relational and institutional divide. Living in the divide damages people, workplaces, families, and churches. The divide is driven by a number of forces, and three areas must be addressed to bridge the divide: thought, rhythms, and systems. In this post, I address the first of two thought/belief changes: it’s the change where we embrace the necessity of daily faith.
Faith, The Coin of the Realm
Jesus was looking for people who would trust him. There’s at least 6 times in Matthew and Luke’s Gospels, where Jesus expressed frustration with his disciples lack of faith(Matthew 6:30, 8:26, 14:31, 16:8, 17:2, Luke 12:28).
As the author of Hebrews tells us: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). He goes on to say that without faith it’s impossible to please God. Faith by its nature is the opposite of 100% certainty. Faith is assuming an outcome without the actual reality. Faith is speculative. And faith is what God wants from us yet I find it a struggle to rely on him for what really matters to me. Success at work is one of those items in the really matters box. There’s a powerful irony to those places and areas of life where we seem to be allergic to trusting God.
The Unavoidable Presence of Faith
Work, career, business, all involve faith. It takes faith to invest in an education (often with enormous debt)—faith in your ability to complete the degree and faith in the market to provide a job when one is done. Many of us trust our hard work, our instincts, other people, investments, education, connections, and markets to work in such a way that we will succeed (or at least keep our jobs and lifestyles). We exercise faith every day at work, faith in something. So
Faith is always part of work, career, and business, why not put that faith in God?
Jesus explained that God our father knows what we need. If we’ll trust him enough to put his agenda first, he will take care of us (Matthew 6). So here’s a thought shift that can bridge the vocational divide: “My work life will require active faith in Jesus. I will not have it all figured out, iced, or sown up. In some cases my ‘ideal career track’ will be jeopardized by following him. I should not expect the happy ending to always be locked up or obvious. But God cares, so I can trust him. I can trust him more than cold calculus, resume sculpting, or pulling all the right career levers.”
How About You?
Do you embrace the need for realtime, active, daily trust for your life at work? How have steps of faith paid off? What aspects of your work or career are most difficult to trust God with?
Related Posts: The following posts encourage transformation of our thinking and beliefs about work.
Faith and Work Resources: I keep a current and curated list of great resources related to the faith and work conversation follow this link: Resources on Faith and Work
About the Author: Dr. Chip Roper writes Marketplace Faith from New York City, where he is the director of Marketplace Engagement at the New York City Leadership Center. You can learn more about him here. Chip is available for speaking, consulting, and speaking engagements. Inquire via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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