A “Theology of Work” in 12 bullet points

A “Theology of Work” in 12 bullet points November 21, 2014

By Drew Cleveland. Originally posted at the Kern Pastors Network Resources blog.

This pastors network is “dedicated to growing the numbers and influence of pastors and churches that are actively integrating faith, work, and economics for ministry that produces human flourishing“.

The “theology of work movement” has produced a wide range of excellent resources to lay out the biblical and theological foundations and outgrowths in churches and daily life. These include biblical, academic, pastoral, tradition specific (Pentecostal, Reformed, Wesleyan, Lutheran, Southern Baptist, Reformed Baptist), practical, and even big picture video-based storytelling! By God’s grace, his people have rediscovered the vital connection of our faith to the whole of life. And for most people, the whole of life is spent working!  We believe that loving God and loving neighbor is intricately connected to a life of fruitful work.

Why “fruitful work”?

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

-Colossians 1:3-14

And yet, despite all the robust and varied resources that exist on the theology of work, sometimes you just need a few condensed bullet points to capture the big picture. If that’s the case, check out these essential elements of work:


  1.  Work and worship are integral in God’s creation plan; work should be done with excellence as an act of worship and love of neighbor.


  2.  Work is central to the image of God both as a reflection of God’s attributes (love, creativity, joy, etc.) and as stewardship over creation.


  3. Work is a primary means of spiritual formation and discipleship; if we don’t integrate our faith with our work, our discipleship becomes a leisure time activity.


  4. Work is intrinsically good, even though it is always instrumental in some respect.


  5. Work is ordered by God’s unique calling in each person’s life.


  6. Work is essential to a satisfying and sustainable life.


  7. Work serves people – customers, co-workers, organizations, households, communities, and the world.


  8. Work is primarily good because it contributes to human needs, not because we are compensated – although supporting your household is one way to serve human needs.


  9. Work is infected with toil and frustration; persevering through these is why work is essential for building character.


  10. Work must be properly understood in relation to the Sabbath, rest, reflection, and enjoyment.


  11. Work doesn’t just move stuff around, it creates value for households and communities.


  12. Work is made for community; through the cultural system of economic exchange, cooperation, and competition our work creates a ripple effect that benefits millions.


    This piece began with a reference to  “faith, work and economics.” What’s economics got to do with it? For 12 Elements of Economic Wisdom click here!

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