By Drew Cleveland, originally published at the KPN Resources blog
“…Consider just your job, the work you do to make a living. This is one of the clearest ways possible of focusing upon apprenticeship to Jesus. To be a disciple of Jesus is, crucially, to be learning from Jesus how to do your job as Jesus himself would do it. The New Testament language for this is to do it ‘in the name’ of Jesus.
Once you stop to think about it, you can see that not to find your job to be a primary place of discipleship is to automatically exclude a major part, if not most, of your waking hours from life with him. It is to assume to run one of the largest areas of your interest and concern on your own or under the direction and instruction of people other than Jesus. But this is right where most professing Christians are left today, with a prevailing view that discipleship is a special calling having to do chiefly with religious activities and ‘full-time Christian service.’
But how, exactly, is one to make one’s job a primary place of apprenticeship to Jesus?”
The Divine Conspiracy
Dallas Willard continues on to explore answers to this question in his seminal book, “The Divine Conspiracy.” The book lays out a grand vision of the Kingdom and God’s grand conspiracy to create a community of prayerful love in apprenticeship to the post-resurrection Jesus.
One of the book’s central concepts is an idea Willard calls “sin management.” We can’t “manage” sin by focusing on it, not doing it, etc. We become more like Jesus by focusing on him. Similarly, we don’t resolve social ills by managing the side effects of sin; we must focus on living the way God intended. For example, we won’t empower the poor by managing “poverty,” but by cultivating opportunity and access, creating wealth, and working together to do so honorably, sustainability, and productively.
In one of Willard’s last books, “The Divine Conspiracy Continues: Fulfilling God’s Kingdom on Earth,” Willard and co-author Gary Black take their grand vision to the street level, mapping out the practical implications for leaders in a variety of vocations – including pastoral leadership. Willard’s 2013 address to the Oikonomia Network gives listeners a good sense of his thinking as it relates to pastors and theological educators (see below). I find Willard wonderfully helpful for pastors because of his ability to communicate on multiple levels: intellectual, theological, biblical, pastoral, and practical. I highly recommend this pair of books; they are well worth the time.
Part II (Apologies for the poor audio quality mid-way through.)