Unlike Other People

In recent years much has been marked by many debates in Congress, increasing campaigns by Presidential hopefuls, and a vast array of movies characterized by special effects. We have also seen the passing of influencers and among them is John Stott, whose influence has been profound and whose example is inviting and intimidating at the same time.

Let me give a personal note. In the early 1990’s I heard John Stott preach at All Souls in London. I was a college student and the impact was enormous. I was new to the Christian faith and seeking like mad for knowledge and understanding. After the message, I promptly visited the bookstall, purchased ‘Basic Christianity’ by Stott and read it until the binding failed. Over ten years later, I helped lead a group of high school students to London and I brought them to All Souls for worship on the Sunday morning we were in the city.

On Doing Good Work

What does it mean to be a working writer and teacher?

Work is a good thing – one of the best things in my life, I have found: to do good work, work that uses my mind and imagination and strength to the fullest. Writing is a great joy in this regard: seeing ideas take shape before me, discovering more fully what I really mean even as I write.

Work is a good thing, instituted by God before the Fall: Adam tended the garden (and thus did good work in the cultivation of beauty – something to aspire to). It was not work itself that fell to Adam and Eve as a curse upon their sin and expulsion from Eden, but toil – that aspect of work that is unfruitful, depressing, grinding, depleting.

In our fallen world, even good work has its elements of toil.

What is work?

I declared these past 10 days Take Your Wife To Work Week. My husband works for an international humanitarian organization and travels quite a bit.  Due to my old job responsibilities it was never an option for me go with him.

As I made the transition to my new role in the university, we quickly realized there was a window of time for me to travel to Costa Rica with him.

It didn't hurt that we tacked on a couple days to the front end to relax at the beach.  However, we soon found ourselves at Nate's boss' home ready to begin our work week.  I figured if you have to lesson plan, what's the difference between my home office or working in a different country with my husband?

My other companions on this trip were textbooks - leadership, spiritual formation, writing - along with other "fun" reads like Wendell Berry and John O'Donohue. As Nate sat for long planning meetings, only breaking for meals.  I found myself diving into outlining, reading and lecture writing. Ten hours later I had finalized a syllabus and planned two lectures. I had learned new presentation software and done mental gymnastics in order to translate ideas to a new generation of students.

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Not In Vain

Years ago as a pastor exhorted his audience to be more involved in the Church, he stated, "It's different for me because my job is ministry, but what ministry are you doing?"

 I quickly recoiled as I couldn't make what he was saying align with my experience. My job wasn't a "ministry job", but that didn't make my job not a ministry. My job put me into regular contact with non-believers who I strived to point to Christ. My job gave me the opportunity to represent Him through the work I did and the way I managed my team. While I wasn't paid to spend time in the Word or to tell others about Christ, it didn't mean that wasn't my responsibility. And it certainly didn't mean that I had to leave those things at the door when I walked into work. 

The truth of the matter is that I think more people need to consider their job a ministry, rather than less. This isn't to say that people shouldn't be involved in the Church, they should be; Scripture is explicit about that. But that's not the only place ministry occurs. And to think it is, gives us an excuse to shutter the eternal work that God may want to accomplish through our employment.  It reduces our usefulness, and makes how we spend a majority of our time, a vain and senseless exercise. God can use the plumber just as much as the preacher. What matters is not the title, but the offering. What matters is not the position, but Who the work is done for.

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American Idolatry

The fact that we have a television show called American Idol is a bit of an indication that we don’t really know what an idol is – or what our attitude toward one ought to be.

I will confess, I am sufficiently behind the pop-culture curve that I have never actually watched American Idol, but because I do not live under a rock, I am familiar with what the show is about, and how it works. (Call it cultural osmosis.) As far as I can tell, it’s a harmless and entertaining show.

I do find the name interesting, however. American Idol. Who will be the next Idol? Lots of people want to be an idol – and millions more are eagerly waiting to find out whom they will idolize next.

But what really is an idol?

An idol is anything that we worship other than the one true and living God.

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