Your Work Matters to God
Your Work Matters to God by Doug Sherman & William Hendricks. Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1987
How to Keep Your Head Up When Your Job's Got You Down by Doug Sherman. Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, 1991
From my own experience I know it is a challenge to learn how to combine your love for God with a commitment to your job. If you are trying to live as a Christian it sometimes seems the only way you can express that commitment is either to enter religious orders or join the "helping" professions (doctors, teachers, social workers, etc.).
The requirements of marketplace jobs seem far removed from love for God and our desire to serve Him. For many Christians, serving God means helping people, and that only through a limited set of activities. If you work on the assembly line or if you service computers, you are tempted to think this work is far removed from serving God,, In your mind you end up divorcing work from your service to God; or you look to enter the ministry, feeling that God must be calling you there because everything else is so unsatisfying.
If you think this way, these two books will change your viewpoint. In Your Work Matters to God, Doug Sherman and William Hendricks have masterfully encouraged Christians to see their full time jobs as the means through which they can serve God just as effectively as any other way, including pastoral ministry. They accomplish this in a readable but thorough treatment of critical questions such as: How Christians view work; How God views work; and What difference does it make to believe you work for God, not for man.
They show that you can serve God through your daily work in a manner which is fundamentally the same as that of any other so-called helping profession. Their concern is to demonstrate that God is Lord of all of life and therefore that every event in our life comes under His providential concern. "God uses everything in the workplace to train our character. He uses the evils we face, the people we cannot stand, the circumstances of tension and pressure, the tedium of long afternoons, the solicitations to compromise, the irritations of angry customers, the interruptions, the financial reversals, the deals that fall through, even the traffic on the way home—He uses all of it to make us like Jesus." God uses the workplace to train us to be conformed to the image of His Son, after all, it is the one place where we spend the majority of our waking hours.
In Keeping Your Head Up, Doug Sherman continues the theme explored in the first book but now with practical on-the-job suggestions and examples, as well as a guide to a personal assessment. He emphasizes the necessity of understanding that our work "matters to God"; that He is served by us through our apparently insignificant work; and, most importantly, that God uses our work and our working relationships and events, good and bad, to change us and refine us. We work first and foremost for God. We are servants of Him, not of our earthly bosses.
Such an attitude makes us better workers. Because we are answerable to the Lord of all creation, we will do our work heartily with our eye on pleasing God, not man. Work is thereby relativized; we can maintain a critical distance from it, "hold it with a light touch." This attitude in turn lightens our burdens and stresses, imparts an understanding of personal significance, and helps us to really enjoy our work knowing that God is working in us and through us.
Books like these have been a long time coming; I know, I have looked for them. Sherman and Hendricks have done a good job of distilling solid biblical thought, particularly that of the Puritans who contributed enormously to our understanding of how work can be worship. These are valuable contributions to our libraries: they deal with heavy themes but in a practical, helpful way. Any person who may be considering entering the ministry or the helping professions because they seem the right thing for a Christian to do should give them a read. God needs his witnesses in the marketplace too.