work, work, and work

“Jobs, jobs, and jobs.”

That was the Government’s mantra when the Federal Budget was released last week.

I’m no economist. So I’ll leave the Budget commentary to someone more qualified. But it does seem like an opportune moment to do some reflecting on the topic of work.

In Christian circles, we sometimes regard work too much through the lens of ‘services’ — especially when we want to relate work to ministry. We understandably want to emphasise the relational dimensions of work.

So what we end up doing is evaluating secular work in terms of the opportunities it provides us to show love, echo God’s graciousness in Jesus, and perhaps point people to him. (This is what I did when I wrote about the secret to making coffee Christianly.)

Then we play it off against full-time, paid gospel ministry. Or at least that’s what I’m tempted to do — keeping a running tally of costs and benefits in terms of my opportunities in ‘secular work’ as opposed to ‘ministry work’.

But what if we changed our way of looking at work? What if instead of adopting a purely ‘services’ view, we went for something that did more justice to ‘goods’ and production?

I’m not sure I know how it would affect the way we think about work and ministry. But I do know that it wouldn’t necessarily undermine the relational focus of our emphasis on services.

The New Testament writers were familiar with a far more goods-y approach to work. And yet without overlooking its relational significance (e.g., in terms of participating in society and making a contribution). 2 Thessalonians 3.6-13 is typical of this.

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