Monday, January 9, 2012

Book Review: Work Matters

Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship with Monday Work by Tom Nelson is a welcome addition to my digital bookshelf. I have a pretty good job, but sometimes, either due to deadlines, interpersonal relationships, or other factors, Monday mornings can weigh heavy on me after a weekend doing some of my favorite things.

Nelson, a pastor, believes it’s time for us to develop a good theology of work, reminding readers that it should be an act of worship, not a four-letter word we mutter under our breath when the alarm clock sounds on Monday morning.

I once teased my wife when she was asking me about my plans for after the weekend and said, “Don’t talk about Monday as if it’s already a foregone conclusion.” The truth is, work already is a foregone conclusion, for her as a stay-at-home mom, and for me as an employee of a very large accounting organization.

In chapter one, Nelson takes us all the way back to Genesis to point out that God created Adam to work in a garden. Work is part of God’s purpose for our lives, one that is wholesome and good. When we work, we have to opportunity to worship God with our heart, soul, mind, and strength—our whole being.

Lest we assume the author must have a cushy job and no conception of how draining and frustrating our jobs can be, his second chapter deals with Genesis 3, the fall. Sin introduced a curse for us, bringing frustration and futility to our work. Yet the writer of Ecclesiastes, in all his talk on futility, says work should be something we delight in (Ecc. 3:12-13).

Though our work may be subjected to futility now, it was not always so and will not always be so. Just as Christ has redeemed us and is coming again, so too He will redeem our work. All creation groans in anticipation of His coming. That happens with our work too. But just the servant with ten talents received greater reward for his faithfulness, so we too our work on earth prepares us for greater—and more meaningful—work in eternity.

This is only the first four chapters. The book goes on to discuss the meaningfulness of our work and attacks the view that being a missionary or pastor is a high calling and other forms of work must somehow be a “low calling.” It discusses the value of our work developing Christ-likeness in us and how “common grace” and promoting the common good should be communicated by our work. Nelson’s concluding chapters address some of the challenges we face in our work, from temptations to sin to periods of unemployment. He rounds it out with a call to the reader to plug in and participate in the church and her work in the world.

Overall, the book was a helpful reminder of the value inherent in my work and the challenge to live by the axiom “The only Christian work is good work well done.” I type this in the minutes before I get ready for work on a Monday morning. I’m going to worship God through my work today. Will you?

The opinions expressed are my own. I received a digital copy of this work from the publisher via NetGalley.

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