Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Book review: Tom Nelson- Work matters

Work Matters: Connecting Sunday worship to Monday work
Tom Nelson
Buy this book

There is an unfortunately common misconception around in the Christian community that Christians who want to be God pleasing in their employment should become missionaries (preferably overseas) or be in some other type of “professional” ministry employment. This view also suggests that jobs outside these categories are second rate and only valuable so far as they allow people to fund ministry or mission and provide evangelism opportunities. I recently found myself at an event where such a view came up several times. Having come to the conclusion that ministry and mission roles are important but probably not what I have been called to at the moment, I left feeling frustrated and a little unsure about my direction.

Tom Nelson’s book Work Matters provides a good corrective to such views, arguing for the legitimacy and spiritual value of “normal” jobs for Christians. He explains how working is linked to being made in the image of God and how the biblical story of creation, fall and redemption shapes how we think about work. I think shaping an exploration of work around these themes is helpful because it affirms the importance of work within God’s plan for us and also gives a realistic but hopeful picture of the challenges and possibilities of work in a fallen world. He goes on to talk about how work is not just something we do to fund worthwhile activities outside it, but can be a means for us to grow spiritually and make a positive contribution to the world.

One thing that struck me in this book that I had never really thought about is how Jesus worked. When we think about God creating things we tend to think of galaxies but while on earth it wasn’t below Jesus to create tables. No was it below him to face the challenges of what was probably a pretty normal workplace. I think that is really encouraging.

As I am currently job-hunting, I particularly appreciated the section on facing unemployment. I found his advice on remaining as spiritually, emotionally and financially healthy while unemployed to be compassionate and wise.

I strongly recommend this book. I think most Christians will find it helpful but I think it will have particular value for college students or recent graduates considering what career direction to take and for those who struggle to see the significance of their work.

Review copy courtesy of NetGalley and Crossway