Category: Vocation

Time-Magazine-The-Me-Me-Me-GenerationWhether directly connected with our passions or not, God calls us first and foremost to do the next thing well, to his glory, with all of our might, says John Stonestreet. Short of this awareness, we risk “Christianizing” a sense of entitlement.

Christians are guilty of inculcating false expectations to their young as well. For at least a couple of generations, Christian colleges and other educational institutions, with the noble intention of communicating the biblical concept of “calling” being more than full-time ministry jobs, have taught students to look at their own giftedness as the key (sometimes the only key) to discovering “God’s will.” I must confess my own guilt in this regard.

Of course, there’s certainly truth to the idea that the Lord has gifted us in unique ways to serve Him and that we can discover these gifts through our passions and use them for His glory. Remember Olympian Eric Liddell’s wonderful line from “Chariots of Fire”? “God has made me for a purpose, for China. But he’s also made me fast, and when I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”

While the biblical picture of calling and vocation includes our giftedness, it also includes things like sacrifice, persecution and an awareness of the needs of my neighbors. Jesus said that those who follow him carry crosses. Paul said that anyone who wishes to follow Christ will be persecuted. (Remember, Liddell died in a Japanese prison camp.)
It’s really only Christians in the West, especially America, who have had the luxury of dwelling on the question, “What has God made me to be, and what is my calling?” Unfortunately, along the way, we’ve missed other lessons about calling that our brothers and sisters around the world are forced to learn.

Read more . . .

“It needs to be our job to envision a different future for the church in which we teach our young people to compete in the arena and be so excellent that they cannot be denied — to be shepherds.” -Gregory Thornbury

In a recent lecture at the ERLC’s 2016 National Conference, Gregory Thornbury, President of King’s College in New York City, challenges the church to “stop talking about culture and engaging culture” and begin sending competitors into the “heart of the arena,” whether in finance, business, the arts, politics, or otherwise.

“I am concerned that the rightful teaching of grace in our churches may be producing a slacker generation that will damage our witness in culture for coming generations,” Thornbury says. “We need to recover the work ethic that made the people of God who they were in every cultural situation.”

That ethic, Thornbury continues, can be spotted in the shepherd motif of the Biblical story, beginning with the story of Cain and Abel. While Cain simply accepts the curse on the ground, operating cynically from the scarcity of a fallen world, Abel “understands that the human being is created in the image of God and part of the cultural mandate is to subdue the earth.” Cain toils, but Abel deploys.  (more…)

6cdb603ec737f3efb860aedefd6e4b88In the newly translated Pro Rege: Living Under Christ the King, Volume 1, Abraham Kuyper reminds us that Christ is not only prophet and priest, but also king, challenging us to reflect on what it means to live under that kingship in a fallen world.

Written with the aim of “removing the separation between our life inside the church and our life outside the church,” Kuyper reminds us that “Christ’s being Savior does not exclude his being Lord,” and that this reality transforms our responses in every corner of cultural engagement, both inside the church walls in across business, educations, the arts, and so on.

Kuyper was writing to the church in the Netherlands over 100 years ago, but over at Gentle Reformation, Barry York helpfully connects the dots to the American context, particularly as it relates to the current debates over religious liberty and our lopsided emphasis on worship within the church.

“You can sing whatever you want in church, but you can’t come out of church and act on those beliefs—at least not with any special protection from the law,” York writes, pointing to a recent doctrine from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. “That legal viewpoint—already put into action in recent court and regulatory rulings—threatens public funding and tax breaks that now support Christian colleges, K-12 schools, poverty-fighting organizations and other charities.” (more…)

Young Americans that are unemployed have worse physical well-being than their employed elders, according to a new survey.

Gallup and Healthways surveyed people in 47 high-income-economy countries for two years on physical well-being, which they defined as having good health and enough energy to get things done daily. Their survey classified responses as “thriving” (well-being that is strong and consistent), “struggling” (well-being that is moderate or inconsistent), or “suffering” (well-being that is low and inconsistent).

The survey found that in the U.S., age has less of an influence on physical well-being than employment status—and unemployment has a particularly significant effect. Young adults (age 15-29) that are employed reported the same level (31 percent) of well-being as employed older adults (age 50 and above). But young adults that are unemployed have lower well-being (26 percent) than older adults who have jobs.
(more…)

Blog author: dpahman
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
By

In an Acton Commentary two years ago, I wrote about the significance of toil:

In the midst of the now-common Christian affirmation of all forms of work as God-given vocations, the image of Sisyphus, vainly pushing his boulder up a hill in Hades, only to watch it roll back down again, might serve to remind us of the reality of toil, the other side of the coin. While human labor does have a divine calling, we do not labor apart from “thorns and thistles” and “in the sweat of [our] face” (Genesis 3:18-19).

As for the good side of work in general, I can’t think of a better illustration than this clip from For the Life of the World:

This shows the amazing reality of how everything we interact with is the fruit of the labor of others. It connects us to them and ought to inspire a deep gratitude for that fellowship.

But then there’s Sisyphus. (more…)

The oxygen masks dropped as the plane began to drop in altitude and lose cabin pressure. As he and his friends applied the masks, Reid Kapple began to wonder if the end was near.

Thankfully, the plane stabilized and landed safely, but for Kapple, a pastor in Kansas City, the experience stuck with him. A few months later, during a sermon series at his church on faith and work, Kapple was reminded of the mask and how great a contribution a small product can make to the common good.

“The Lord was doing something in my heart and mind by granting me this kind of imagination for the way in which the work of literally millions of people serves to bless me and make my life better,” Kapple says. “I was immediately reminded of the oxygen mask.”

Kapple began to see the bigger picture of work and creative service in the context of widespread economic exchange. In a new video from Made to Flourish, he tells his story. (more…)

“Our problem [with education] today is not to enforce conformity; it is rather that we are threatened with an excess of conformity. Our problem is to foster diversity.” –Milton Friedman, Capitalism & Freedom

800px-France_in_XXI_Century._SchoolThe education reform movement has set forth a range of strategies to combat the leviathan of public education. Yet more often than not, those solutions are couched only with boilerplate about the glories of markets and competition.

There is plenty of truth behind such rhetoric, but as Greg Forster outlines in an extensive series of articles at EdChoice, a revival in education policy and educational institutions is going to require much more than free-market talking points and surface-level solutions.

“It’s not that the things we’re saying are wrong,” he writes. “We just aren’t getting to the heart of the matter because we are not challenging our nation to re-ask itself the big questions about education: What is the purpose of education? Who has final responsibility for it and why?”

Indeed, while our aversion to technocratic solutions has prodded us to focus on things like improving accountability, expanding competition, and removing barriers to information, many of the subsequent reforms have fallen prey to the same technocratic temptations. As Forster reminds us, in education, “technocracy fails more importantly because it is based on a wrong understanding of what education is for.” (more…)