The Gospel and the Lagos Worker

In his helpful book Mastering Monday, John Beckett identifies five themes which should be considered in our attempt to demonstrate God’s kingdom in the workplace. They are Purpose, Values, People, Stewardship, and Serving. These all are nurtured by the Gospel.

The Gospel gives us a clear purpose for our work; we serve Christ and extend his kingdom through what we do.

The Gospel gives us an ethic centred on love, and this guides all the steps we take and the decisions we make.

The Gospel reveals that people are God’s priority (and should be ours, too). It was for people – sinful, broken people – that Jesus hung on the cross and died.

The Gospel reminds us that our lives, skills, and talents belong to God. We are simply stewards. So as we clock in at the office, apply our minds to a problem, or contribute to a project, we are offering back what God has given to us in trust.

Finally, through Christ’s teaching and his atonement, we are taught to lay down our lives for others through serving (John 15:13).

We will focus on the two themes of People and Serving.

People

The Gospel will lead us to value people above profits. Whether we work in risk management, financial planning, or customer service, it is people ultimately that we are serving. Sadly, the ambition and drive in most workplaces tend towards the opposite. The lust for power and prestige means that people are often trampled upon. In a bid to be seen as ‘performing’, managers will exhaust their subordinates. In a bid to cut costs, organizations will refuse or delay payments to vendors for services rendered. And even employees will offer shoddy service to customers. Likewise, the daily pressure to thrive in a competitive environment often leads us to focus solely on the ‘bottom line’, without regard for the humans who are involved in shaping it. It helps to remember that without people, whether as employees, customers, or vendors, there would be no business.

 Serving

John Chapter 13 is a remarkable chapter of the Bible. We have a stirring message proclaimed not merely in words but through vivid action. Shortly before his crucifixion, as he gathered with his disciples to celebrate the Passover, Jesus inverted the social pyramid. He took a towel and a bowl of water and washed the feet of each of his disciples. Contrary to social custom, the teacher became a servant to the student. Then he instructed them to do likewise.

We are called to serve others through our skills and talents. As Peter wrote, ‘As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace’ (1 Pet. 4:10).

In the words of John Beckett, ‘Serving is integral to how God wants his kingdom on earth to function.’ And we see this in Jesus’s instruction to the disciples in Mathew 20:26:

 “Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant”

In a city like Lagos, with its craze for prestige and lust for wealth, the message of Christ is profoundly counter-cultural. Lagosians seek to be recognized and celebrated. We want to move up the ladder of career success, not pick up a servant’s towel. But that is precisely what the Gospel implies. In light of the death and resurrection of Jesus, to work is to serve.

So how do we go about this? We can start by noting the following:

As an employer, I should serve my employees, helping them to become their best selves. For we both have one master, which is Christ.

As a trader, I should offer goods of high quality to my customers.

As an executive within an organization, I should realize that I am serving the company by offering my skills and talents.

The Gospel leads us to understand that, ultimately, it is not my CEO or the customer whom I am serving, but Christ.


This article was first published on City Church Lagos.

Should I Trust God When I Can’t Find A Job?

“Failing to get a job after 1,000+ applications can only mean one thing: Never trust your work experience and education. They will definitely fail you. But above all, never put your hope in anything or anyone besides Jesus Christ.”

This post from Pew Theology is a helpful reminder that our help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.


Learn why you should trust in the Lord and lean not on your understanding even when you are unemployed and in debt. Discover the power of resting in Christ.

Source: Should I Trust God When I Can’t Find A Job?

Truths of Calling

For the past several years, the theme of Calling has been very dear to me. I have increasingly come to see that it is a crucial truth for escaping the humdrum of modern life. As such, I am always on the lookout for books which help to clarify what it’s all about and provide much-needed guidance to all who are seeking to uncover the mystery. And, lately, I read Os Guinness’s masterpiece on the subject. It is at once thorough and lively, learned and interesting, with a continual focus on the Saviour who obediently surrendered to his Father’s call. His book is a delight to read and a feast to relish. I can do little more than offer his points on calling which he carefully develops throughout the book and hope they stimulate you to get the book for yourself and devour its nutrients.


Calling is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion and dynamism lived out as a response to his summons and service.

When something more than human seeking is needed if seeking is to be satisfied, then calling means that seekers themselves are sought.

The notion of calling, or vocation, is vital to each of us because it touches on the modern search for a basis for individual
identity and an understanding of humanness itself.the call

Our primary calling as followers of Christ is by him, to him, and for him. Our secondary calling, considering who God is as sovereign, is that everyone, everywhere, and in everything should think, speak, live, and act entirely for him.

God normally calls us along the line of our giftedness, but the purpose of giftedness is stewardship and service, not selfishness.

A life lived listening to the decisive call of God is a life lived before one audience that trumps all others – the Audience of One.

God’s calling is the key to igniting a passion for the deepest growth and highest heroism in life.

The notion of calling is vital to the modern search for a basis for moral responsibility and to an understanding of ethics itself.

The call of Jesus is personal but not purely individual; Jesus summons his followers not only to an individual calling but also to a corporate calling.

Calling reminds Christians ceaselessly that, far from having arrived, a Christian is someone who in this life is always on the road as “a follower of Christ” and a follower of “the Way”.

The reverse side of calling is the temptation of conceit.

The truth of calling touches closely on the link between giftedness and desire and the almost inescapable temptation of envy.

Calling, which played a key role in the rise of modern capitalism, is one of the few truths capable of guiding and restraining it now.

Calling is the best antidote to the deadly sin of sloth.

Calling directly counters the great modern pressure towards secularization because the call of Jesus includes a summons to the exercise of the spiritual disciplines and the experience of supernatural realities.

Calling directly counters the great modern pressure toward privatization because of its insistence that Jesus Christ is Lord of every sphere of life.

The Christian view of Work

A secular worldview, that is, an outlook on life that fails to take God and his revelation into account, distorts work in either of 2 ways. It could see work as a meaningless but necessary burden which we have to bear in order to survive, or it turns work into an idol – the sole purpose of a person’s existence. Work and not God becomes Lord.
work

The first view considers work as a curse; we do it because we have to. We cannot so much as bring passion to it. Do your work, receive your pay, and enjoy it on the things that really satisfy. The second view goes in the opposite direction. Career advancement becomes all a person lives for. Everything, including relationships, are simply tools to push us further on the career ladder. These views are not merely different ways of relating to work, they issue in different understandings of the nature of work itself.

The Christian worldview has a high view of work. We find the origin of work at the dawn of Creation. God had made man, planted a beautiful garden, and placed man there to take care of it (Gen. 2:15). Some verses earlier in Gen 1:28, God had given humanity (the combined team of man and woman) a charge to develop and extend creation. This charge has been called the Cultural Mandate, and it denotes humanity’s divine assignment  to complete and perfect the work of Creation as partners with God. Given these considerations, work thus takes on a new look. Far from being a mere necessity or a cursed burden, and far from being a platform for self-worship, it is a means by which we fulfill our task of developing the universe under God. Instead of a burden, it becomes a privilege. And instead of exalting ourselves, work becomes an avenue for glorifying God and serving others.

With the onset of sin,  however, the exercise of work is frustrated. Much of it now comes with toil and suffering. Nevertheless, where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. Under God’s common grace, he keeps knowledge alive and limits the effects of the fall. And with the coming of Jesus the Redeemer, we are renewed and empowered to serve one another with the grace we have received from Him (1 Pet. 4:10).