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My first real job

October 21, 2013 — Leave a comment

Following three great pieces by Karen Swallow Prior, Rebecca Warren, and Doug Sikkema, respectively, today at Fieldnotes Magazine I share the story of my first real job. Here’s an excerpt:

On a typical day at my first real job, it would not have been outside the realm of possibility to find me carrying a loveseat up a fire escape and through a second-floor living room window. Or to find me sitting in the waiting room at the Social Security office, alternately watching the ticket counter and reading a book (these were, at least for me, pre-smartphone days). Or I’d be driving a van full of children and adults listening to—and singing along with—the local Spanish radio station. Otherwise I was usually at the office, taking care of paperwork or talking clients through the ins and outs of paying their rent.

This was my routine as a caseworker in the Cuban/Haitian refugee resettlement program at the Lancaster, Pennsylvania office of Church World Service, the relief and development arm of the National Council of Churches.

Read the rest here.

We are immensely privileged even to inquire about the meaning of our work. Many of our ancestors pined for good work as they would for a lover, and remained unrequited and stricken by want. Many of our ancestors died while working in dangerous or desperate conditions. Some left good work and found none to replace it. A few, a very few, left little, crossed oceans, and found abundance beyond hope. Others worked hard or traveled to new shores and dutifully sacrificed for their sons and daughters, while their hearts and minds were elsewhere, their own dreams unfulfilled, their innermost selves left high and dry, disappointed by time’s fleeting tide. Whatever our inheritance of work in this life, we are only the apex of innumerable lives of endeavor and sacrifice. Where we have come from, the struggles of our parents, our ancestral countries, their voyages, and hardships are immensely important.”

– David Whyte, Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity

Privilege and the meaning of work

It is not only prayer that gives God glory but work. Smiting on an anvil, sawing a beam, whitewashing a wall, driving horses, sweeping, scouring, everything gives God some glory if being in his grace you do it as your duty. To go to communion worthily gives God great glory, but a man with a dung fork in his hand, a woman with a sloppail, give him glory too. He is so great that all things give him glory if you mean they should.”

(quoted in Cornelius Plantinga’s Engaging God’s World)

Gerard Manley Hopkins on work

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Recently I read Tim Keller’s latest book, Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work (Dutton), which he co-authored with Katherine Leary Alsdorf. So far, it’s the best book I’ve read on the important topic of integrating faith and work.

You may recall that in early October, before the book’s release, I shared an excerpt on common grace along with the book’s trailer.

Keller was on Morning Joe this morning discussing the book, something I’d been hoping would happen (earlier interviews on the show about his other books, like this one, have always impressed me). Here’s today’s clip:

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To see how Keller’s church in New York puts these ideas into practice, check out its Center for Faith and Work.

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Mary Andringa, CEO of Vermeer Corporation and chair of the board for the National Association of Manufacturers (she’s kind of a big deal). We talked about the influences that shaped her “theological imagination” and how it relates to the way she operates her business. If you’re of the opinion that manufacturing and theology are two unrelated entities, I hope you’ll read what Mary has to say.

The story was published late last week by Fieldnotes in two parts, available here and here.

For those unacquainted, Fieldnotes is an online magazine offering “practical wisdom for emerging leaders.” Be sure to check out the great stuff they’ve published from the likes of Alissa Wilkinson, Christy Tennant Krispin, Gideon Strauss, and others.

By the way, Mary was recently featured on NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams, talking about the manufacturing “renaissance” that’s currently going on in our country. Did I mention she’s a big deal?

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