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4 Stars Out Of 5
Book Review: The Gospel at Work
April 4, 2016
In "The Gospel at Work," Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert hope to engage readers in rethinking their theology of work. The main premise is an argument against idleness and idolatry that easily plague Christians in the workplace. Instead, Christian should be exhibiting faithfulness and fruitfulness in their work regardless of what type of work they are called to do. For those who see work as a necessary evil, work becomes laborious which easily leads to idleness and boredom. For those who view work as irreplaceable, their career consumes every free moment of their lives resulting in other priorities in life such as family and church to languish. The authors repeatedly urge Christians to understand that work is fruitful and godly only when we put God at the centre of it. When we aim to please God and serve others in our daily jobs, we are fulfilling God's purpose for us in our careers. Although our current jobs may not be the most satisfying in our eyes, Traeger and Gilbert urge readers to remain faithful in their current situations while looking for God to open up new opportunities. After laying a theological framework of work in the first half of the book, the latter half contains much useful advice such as pointers on how to discern whether if a job is suitable for a Christian to undertake, how to evangelize in the workplace, and how to handle situations in which one's employer is hostile. For example, the authors remind Christians that we need to actively point to Christ in our daily actions and conversations at work instead of waiting for non-Christian coworkers to ask about our faith.
I would happily recommend this book to those who may be struggling to find meaning in their work. I remember when I used to waste much time trying to figure out which career path would ultimately make me satisfied. However, the authors wisely point out that work is only 35% of our lives and the other 65% is just as important. We need to be faithful in the other roles we have in life such as spouse, parent, church member, or citizen. Moreover, no matter what work we find ourselves in, the important point is that we work for God. When we have this mindset, we will be careful in the attitude, motivation, and approach we take when we negotiate contracts, fill prescription orders, or pour concrete on the sidewalk. Instead of thinking about how a particular job makes us happy, wealthy, or satisfied, we should look to see how we can glorify God and help others in our careers. Let us not fall into the temptations of seeing work as evil or worshipping work as an idol. Rather, work is God's command, blessing, and means of grace by which we seek to proclaim Christ.
How does the gospel affect my daily life, especially in my work? How should a christian view his/her work or choose what work to do? This is what this book offers to all Christians, for those who have been working for some time or those who would start work soon.
The book first tackles 2 issues that is related to our work, idolatry and idleness, this chapter would be most apt for those who are already working, but this 2 chapters also serves as a great warning for those who will work in the future, neither idolise your work nor idle at your work. Different examples of idolatry and idleness was given in their respective chapters and I felt that it was comprehensive enough to cover almost all aspects a christian would face in a workplace. Most likely, anyone of us would likely identify with one or a few of the examples raised.
The authors then teaches how we should view and serve at our workplace, using many biblical principles the authors seeks to present especially Colossians 3:22-24 and what it means daily for us in our workplace.
For those who are looking for a job, or for those who are thinking of changing your job, the next section would be especially helpful. The authors shows several principles on how to know what work to choose. The chapter explains what the three Ã¢â¬Ëmust-haves' in the job are, and what the 3 Ã¢â¬Ëgood-to-haves' are in the job. This chapter goes across the grain of our social where what I like to do is under the Ã¢â¬Ëgood-to-have', instead of the Ã¢â¬Ëmust-haves'.
The next section then deals with an important aspect of how we can balance our life, work and service? The authors used a simple yet helpful principle to balance all these, "pursue faithfulness, then fruitfulness, but not idolatry".
The next section brings out some important points, there has been many books on how to be a good employee, but how many books have you seen on what it means to be a good employer? This section covers an area that deserves to be better served, bringing out many principles we can have that allows us to be faithful and showing Christlikeness as employees or as employers.
The last section explores the value of full-time ministry and a full-time job, the authors decides to tackle the question in terms of Ã¢â¬Ëvalue', and how we ought to re-think about the meaning of value. Lastly there is an appendix for those who are working to help us grow whilst serving in our workplace.
This book is not heavy, yet filled with biblical principles and good examples, and is definitely to be helpful for almost every christian and well worth the price. Definitely a book I would recommend to any christian who wants to understand how they can glorify God in their work.