Vocational Ethics

KingdomCallingMy father-in-law recently lent me Amy Sherman’s book, Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good. Sherman describes tsaddiqim of Proverbs 11:10 as just or righteous people, “the people who follow God’s heart and ways and who see everything they have as gifts from God to be stewarded for his purpose” (p. 16). These people “steward everything–their money, vocational position and expertise, assets, resources, opportunities, education, relationships, social position, entree and networks–for the common good, for the advancing of God’s justice and shalom” (p. 17).

Major sections of the book are devoted to four major ways Christians can use their vocational skills to work for peace and justice in the world–bloom where you’re planted, donate your skills, launch your own social enterprise, participate in your church’s targeted initiative. I haven’t yet finished reading the book, but the emphasis throughout appears to be on how our jobs and the skills we develop in our employment settings can be used for the kingdom. I appreciate that her focus is on God’s peace and justice rather than on our own career advancement.

In the introduction Sherman asks a series of pointed questions:

Are we engaged in efforts that are relevant to the groans of creation and the cries of the poor? Are we producing disciples whose work is contributing to profound transformations that set people to dancing in the street? Have we joined King Jesus on his grand, sweeping mission of restoration? In cooperation with him, are we bringing foretastes of justice and shalom–or are we largely engaged in mere charity? (p. 20)

Today’s devotional posted on the White Estate website speaks to these same questions and themes. Commenting on Mark 12:30, Ellen White states

To every one is committed some special endowment, for which he will be held responsible by the Lord. Time, reason, means, strength, mental powers, tenderness of heart–all are gifts from God, entrusted to be used in the great work of blessing humanity….

The essential lesson of contented industry in the necessary duties of life is yet to be learned by many of Christ’s followers. It requires more grace, more stern discipline of character, to work for God in the capacity of mechanic, merchant, lawyer, or farmer, carrying the precepts of Christianity into the ordinary business of life, than to labor as an acknowledged missionary in the open field. It requires a strong spiritual nerve to bring religion into the workshop and the business office, sanctifying the details of everyday life, and ordering every transaction according to the standard of God’s word. But this is what the Lord requires.

Religion and business are not two separate things; they are one. Bible religion is to be interwoven with all we do or say. Divine and human agencies are to combine in temporal as well as in spiritual achievements.

Questions

  1. Do I currently see my job as being important in the eyes of God?
  2. How can I use my skills to bless people in my place of work–coworkers, customers, clients, vendors, etc.?
  3. How might I use these skills to bless people outside of my working hours? Who could benefit from my expertise, either directly or through training?
  4. Are you surprised Ellen White says it requires more grace to be a mechanic for God than to be a foreign missionary? What do you think about this comparison?
  5. In addition to reading Kingdom Calling, what other things can I do to learn how to use all of my strength for the kingdom of God?
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