I have been hanging around the faith-and-work corner all of my adult life. At times I tried to add catalytic thinking and enthusiasm to the category at large (like the Life@Work Magazine of old or PraxisLabs.org of late). Other times I found myself in deep research and learning from the Scriptures, the thinkers of the past, and the leaders in the present. And other times, I simply sat down on a bench and just lingered, listened, and watched people with faith go to work every day. Here's a few principles I've discovered through this process.
It seems to me that every Christian on the planet falls into one of four categories regarding the gospel/work conversation.
- Those who don’t think the gospel has any relevance or place in everyday work life.
- Those who think it does belong but believe its only footing is in the soft, private, attitude elements.
- Those who want to take the gospel to work but find themselves confused, unmotivated, or alone in that aim.
- Those who have discovered that the reach, power, and intent of the gospel can revolutionize any worker … doing any work … in any setting.
Over the last two years I have refined a framework that I believe can help veterans of faith as well as new pilgrims of faith move into the fourth category above. This framework is based on my 25 years of working with Christian leaders. It is called “The Baseline and the Blue Sky”, and it’s explained in my new book The Gospel Goes to Work: God’s Big Canvas of Calling and Renewal.
We need a Baseline that outlines the bare essentials or the lowest common denominator for any Christian … doing any work … in any setting. Some things in life and work apply to all of us, regardless of who we are and what we do. These baselines apply:
- Whether you are a baby boomer or a millennial (your age doesn’t matter)
- Whether you are the CEO or a first-year newbie or even if you own the company (your rank doesn’t matter)
- Whether you live in Denver or a small town in Alabama (your location doesn’t matter)
- Whether you are working at Wal-Mart or a NFP or a small local coffee shop (your work setting doesn’t matter)
But we also need help in thinking and framing the differences in our personality, calling, and work. That is what I am calling the Blue Sky. This is where we figure out the differences in what we “can do, can’t do, and must do” in taking the gospel to work.
- Some leaders in some companies can pray publicly with people during a crisis. Others can’t.
- Some organizations can direct a percentage of their profits toward faith-based causes at the end of each year. Others can’t.
- Some leaders will express their faith in one manner while others will carry a dramatically different appearance.
We need a blue sky big enough for variety and particularization.
Chuck Colson once said: “Christians are called to redeem entire cultures, not just individuals.” As the gospel goes to work with its full reach, power, and intent, the culture is redeemed. I believe that is precisely what the New Testament writers had in mind when they gave us those three transformational metaphors of salt, light, and sweet perfume.
I love the weekends. But I gotta tell you, I love the weekdays just as much. Somewhere back in my younger life the passion around taking the gospel to work grabbed me and has never released me. I hope this book can share a bit of that with you.
“I used to ask God to help me. Then I asked if I might help Him. I ended up by asking God to do His work through me.” – Hudson Taylor
Right now, you can order The Gospel Goes to Work. When you do, I’ll also send you my exclusive eBook devotional, Guidance for the Daily Grind of Work. All you have to do is fill out this form with your email address and Amazon.com order number. After you submit the form, your eBook download will be emailed right away!
Steve Graves is an organizational strategist, social innovator, pragmatic theologian, executive coach, and mentor. Over the past 25 years Steve has helped hundreds of organizations launch and scale, while authoring over 15 books aimed at showing business people how to flourish in their life and work.