What comes to mind when you hear “work”?

By Mario Romero, Bethel Seminary San Diego

Think of work and try not to sigh.  It is almost impossible!  Just say the word “work” and notice yours or someone else’s reaction.  Almost immediately, demeanor changes; at least mine does.  Why?  Why does this four-letter word cause people to use four-letter words?As well as: unease, anxiety, grief and maybe even depression?

I’m a stay-at-home dad; was this assigned to me or was I called to this position?  Keller says, “all human work is not merely a job but a calling” (Keller 2012, p. 2).  Gene would take the position that Christians have “multiple vocations” (Vieth 2002, p. 22).  I would agree with both Keller and Gene.  God called me to my position at home, just as he called me into ministry, to be a husband, a friend, a brother, a delivery driver for produce, etc.  Sherman says, “The big gospel helps us understand that sanctification is a matter of conforming not only to the character of Christ, but also to his passions and identity” (Sherman 2011, p. 82. italics added).

When I thought of vocation, or work, I thought of, time spent + production = monetary payment.  The readings for this colloquy have made adjustments to my equation; now I think: time spent + production = payment.  Minor change, astronomical difference.  My view of vocation was focused on selfish passions, not Jesus’.  Sherman talks about the “righteous or tsaddiqim” from the book of Proverbs and says, “by the intentional stewardship of their time, talent and treasure, the tsaddiqim bring nothing less than foretastes of the kingdom of God into reality” (Sherman 2011, p. 18).  To be called righteous is to work in such a way that it blesses others (p. 17).

Correlating my equation with Sherman’s quote, it would look something like this: time spent would be synonymous to intention, production would equate to stewardship. Add these together and you get, payment or “foretastes of the kingdom of God” (Sherman 2011, p. 18).  Having “multiple vocations” in mind, how does someone adjust or change from vocation to vocation?  If Christ is unchanging in his character and purpose, and we are called to be like Christ, why should our purpose change from vocation to vocation?

Righteousness means to sacrifice for the sake of others.  When we lose focus of our identity and our purpose, we become selfish.  Most people will at some point struggle with their vocation(s) and what it looks like as a Christian.  Hopefully with more reading, research and prayer, I will be able to encourage people from cringing at the sound of the word “work.”


Gonzalez, Justo L.  2016.  Distinguished Lecture Event.  Bethel Seminary.  San Diego, CA.

Keller, Timothy, with Katherine, Alsdorf, L.  2012.  Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work.  New York, NY.  Penguin Group.

Sherman, Amy L.  2011.  Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good.  Downers Grove, IL.  InterVarsity Press.

Veith, Gene Jr. E.  2002.  God at Work.  Wheaton, IL.  Crossway.

Image © Olichel | pixabay.com

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