Theology of Work in the STEM Professions Week 5


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Dr. Fletcher Tink on Theology of Work

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Theology of Work in the STEM Professions Week 5

  1. 1.  Theology of WorkFinding Balance at Work
  2. 2. In this session we will learn the following:1. The Meaning of the “Sabbath”2. Characteristics of the Sabbath for STEM professionals3. Working life of STEM professionals4. Historical Perspectives on “Work”5. Leisure and Busyness6. Calling and Vocation
  3. 3. The Sabbath had many meanings:1. It was a law---Ex 20:8-11, fulfilled by Jesus in Mk2:282. It was a gift---the celebration of creation andredemption, “a blessing”: Gen 2:3, Ex 10:8-11; Dt5:12-153. It was a vocation/calling---God himself rests, Gen2:24. It was a sacrament of time---a sign, Ex 31;12-13,17
  4. 4. 5. It was a metaphor of Salvation: Heb 4;9, Matt11:286. It was a prophecy of hope, in the new Heavenand new Earth, Rev. 21-22. It is a chance to“play heaven”.In this sense, it involved:PlayPeace-makingPrayer
  5. 5. The Sabbath was not intended as the cessationof activity, but the culmination of it, in itspurest, more worshipful, most creative form.The six days flow into the Sabbath and theSabbath stirs the ground and replenishes thesoil for the growth of the next six days.
  6. 6. Indeed, Adam and Eve experienced the Sabbathafter their creation and prior to their work. It isalso the gestation, the creative pause, not unlikethe nine months that a fetus grows and developprior to biological birth.The work of birth and subsequent infant activitiesare a culmination of the “sabbath rest”, essentialfor healthy work later.In other words, Sabbath precedes and is theimpetus to work as well as the fulfillment of workIt is not the reward at the end of work.
  7. 7. Anna is described as a six year “theologian,mathematician, philosopher, poet andgardener.” Her life and death are toldcharmingly in this book by Fynn. Herinsights dovetail with the understanding ofthe Sabbath presented here.
  8. 8. Anna: “What was God’s greatest creative act? Itwas the seventh day---course it was---theseventh day. . . No, he made rest. . . Yes,that’s the biggest miracle. Rest is. . . Whenhe was finished making all the things. MisterGod had undone all the muddle. Then youcan rest, so that’s why rest is the very , verybiggest miracle of all. Don’t you see? . . . Youhave to have a muddle in your head beforeyou really know what rest is.” pp. 131-132
  9. 9. Perhaps, as Anna suggests, we need to absorb the“muddle” of God’s creative powers of the six daysof the week that will make our subsequent workmeaningfulFor those in the STEM professions, there is often areligious gestation of musing, of brooding in thedeeper questions of life that ultimately stirs thecreative juices that follow into a lifestyle of work.This is a “formative” sabbath that impels allsubsequent work.
  10. 10. 1. A sense of awe in the face of natural processes.2. An appreciation of beauty in the designs of nature3. A spirit of curiosity that begs for answers4. An admission of humility in the face of infinity5. A thirst for transcendence to reach beyond what is seen6. A passion for creativity that desires to form something new7. An itch to make a significant contribution to the quality of lifein general
  11. 11. After the gestation period of “rest” or ofSabbath in our imagined “Eden”, then oneplows into Work.Here are some suggestions adapted from theLausanne Documents, Lausanne Publication,Marketplace Ministry, Occasional Paper No. 40that might describe those engaged in the STEMprofessions:
  12. 12. STEM Christians can . . .1. Expand their understanding of spiritual disciplines toinclude activities more often associated with theeveryday.2. Reclaim aspects of their work as spiritually significantwhen they see what they do as a reflection of God.3. Find support and fellowship in naming and respondingto the presence of God in their work by linking up withother Christians in similar professions or fields of work.
  13. 13. The gathered STEM people of God can reclaim their workplaces as a nexusfor God’s presence in the following ways:1. By bringing everyday life experiences into the Sunday worshipexperience.2. By celebrating the skills and gifts of their workplaces.3. By providing places and relationships of accountability.4. By providing preaching and teaching relevant to life in the STEMworld.5. By providing pastoral support for those engaged in the STEMprofessions.6. By taking “church” to the workplace.
  14. 14. Much of Christian history tilts against Work as beingsomething unspiritual. It prioritized “spiritualcontemplation” or “service to others” as superior to labor ofother kinds.As such it demeaned Work, ranked jobs in pecking order ofusefulness, or dismissed its eternal purpose altogether.Other religious groups such as the Puritans ennobled Workbut oftentimes removed spontaneity and play outside of itsdomain.Both positions are wrong.
  15. 15. It was commonly believed that spirituality was incompatible with the worldof Work. A Lausanne statement describes the two “realms”, both duringthe Middle Ages and todayThe Spiritual Realm The World of WorkWithdrawal EngagementSolitude CommunitySilence NoiseStillness MovementSerenity ChaosSimplicity ComplexityMeditation Multi-taskingOrder InterruptionCentered ScatteredFocused BusynessSeriousness HumorousQuietness Raised Voices
  16. 16. By the 17th century, the influence of the Puritanswas profound. They codified “leisure” with thefollowing components:To them leisure had to be. . .1. Lawful2. Reputable3. Profitable4. Glorifying to God5. Refreshing to bodies and minds6. Efficient and moderate in time and affections(Ryken, 207) see Phil 4:8.
  17. 17. The period of the “Enlightenment”, that is the 18thand 19th centuries, depending on where one isevaluating, saw the Enlightenment secularize theProtestant work ethic into a creed for personalsuccess, with Benjamin Franklin leading thecheerleaders.Adam Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, says: “It isnot from the benevolence of the butcher, thebrewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner.But from their regard to their own interest. Weaddress ourselves, not to their humanity but totheir self-love.” (Ryken, 71)
  18. 18. The Industrial Revolution produced a whole newreality about work: the monotony of tasks, theinability to see work’s results personally, thedenial of satisfaction, depersonalization,anonymity in the work process, loss of pride, etc.This produced a contrary reaction as seen in theemergence of Karl Marx: “A class must beformed which . . . Is the dissolution of all classes,a sphere of society which has a universalcharacter because its sufferings are universal. . .This dissolution of society. . . is the proletariat.”
  19. 19. During the Technological Age of the 20thcentury, work has often devolved intomeaninglessness.The worker is often powerless, isolated andself-estranged. (Ryken, 47)
  20. 20. On the other hand, the 20th century has oftenbeen labeled, the “Age of Leisure”.1. Leisure has become secularized.2. There is a decreasing amount of time forgenuine leisure. “The amount of genuineleisure is generally in inverse proportion tothe amount of labor-saving machinery itemploys.” (E F Schumacher in Ryken 51).
  21. 21. The intense busyness of the 20th and 21stcentury worker can be described in thefollowing ways: Full calendars Professionalization of childhood Working longer and harder More things and more encumbrances Increasing complexity and regulation ofcorporate life Guilt feelings when inactive Competition with associated workers
  22. 22. “Work . . . Is the great narcotic that enables peopleto suppress many of their anxieties, the placewhere they can hide themselves from their owninner fears. It is an environment that favors thebureaucracy of work and action, or busynesssimply for the sake of being kept busy. It isunreflective of the real issues of the life anddeath of the soul of man.”“Do the Works of Man Secularize the Service ofChrist? Interchange, p. 59.
  23. 23. The term “leisure” comes from “licere”, to bepermitted:The problems of “leisure are these:1. Compartmentalization: It cuts generationally,i.e. youth is all study; mid age, all work,retirement, all play.2. Ambivalence: Within the Christian community,leisure and play are uncomfortably acceptedwhile workaholism is considered a religiousvirtue.
  24. 24. Additional Failures to Experience MeaningfulLeisure:3. Because both parents work outside of thehome, often genuine leisure is squelched.4. There is the loss of a sense of vocation thatappropriately might include leisure and play.5. Leisure has become so commercialized that onehas to work hard to finance play.
  25. 25. G. K. Chesterton suggests that healthy non-work,or leisure opens the door to freedom:1. Freedom to do something, i.e. hobbies andrecreation.2. Freedom to do anything, i.e. the automobileoriginally was more of a plaything.3. Freedom to do nothing. This opens the doorto creative “brooding”, meditation, alternaterealities.
  26. 26. Leisure, appropriately expressed should. . . Provide Diversion Provide Relaxation and Rest Personally Restore Oneself Be Transformative
  27. 27. A Biblical Theology espouses a properunderstanding of Leisure:1. It gives a mandate to enjoy God’s creation (Gen1:31).2. It offers us grace, in that it reminds us to nottake ourselves too seriously.3. It remind us that “time” is not a commodity butrather, a gift. Therefore, we avoid thecompulsiveness of our personalities. We learnto “savor” time, rather than let time govern us.
  28. 28. Gen. 3:6 reminds us that there are temptations inleisure at three levels: Godless sensuality (“good for food”), to nurtureoneself in inappropriate ways. Godless aesthetic (“delight to the eyes”), todelight in those things that contaminate thespirit. Godless experience (“desired to make one wise”),to experience that which was not intended for us.
  29. 29.  A quotation by St Augustine reminds us ofthe boundaries of leisure: “. . . No one ought to be so leisured as to takeno thought for the interest of his neighbor,nor so active as to feel no need for thecontemplation of God.” Meilander, 132.
  30. 30. Here are some practical suggestions in programming appropriateleisure in your life:1. Understand your own leisure style and needs (Are youcompulsive? Passive?)2. Choose free time over more pay3. Embrace both leisure and the Sabbath4. Choose edifying leisure over debilitating pleasures5. Choose leisure that expresses family values6. Discover solitary leisure that is personally restorative
  31. 31. "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all inthe name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks toGod the Father through Him." (Col. 3:17)All work matters to God! That work will eitherhonor God or dishonor Him.There is no “neutral” work! One works eitherwith God or against God. Work which ismerely “putting in the time”, is work that“works” against God and His purposes.
  32. 32. As said earlier, “Vocation” is a Calling. And who is doing the“calling”. Is it your own . . .intuition?desires?understanding of others’ expectations?means to a wealthy and comfortable lifestyle?easiest option?aptitude or skill?
  33. 33. Or is it God who calls, but may be confirmed byaptitude, desire, skills, or available options?1. For there to be a “callee”, there must be aCALLER2. Before we are called to do something, we arecalled to SOMEONE3. The “Calling” of God is COMPREHENSIVE, andinvolves the whole of life
  34. 34. 4. ALL OF GOD’S PEOPLE ARE CALLED under the NewCovenant, not just prophets, priests and princes.There is not a single instance in the New Testament ofa person being called to a societal occupation,rather to “follow me” without any sense of theimplications of that.There is not a single instance of a person being calledto be a “religious professional”. The criteria forchurch leadership is not a “secret call” but ratherthe qualification of character (1 Tim 3; Tit 1)
  35. 35. God guides one into vocation in a variety of ways:1. By His Word---Scripture tells us how to live (Prov. 1:5)2. By His providential ordering of our lives3. By endowing us with gifts and talents4. By enabling us to exercise sound judgment and wisdom (Acts15:38; 6:3; 15:36; 20:16; Rom 1:10-13; 1 Cor 16:4-9; 2 Cor1:5-2:4)5. By motivating us uniquely, giving us passion6. By the direct leading of the Spirit
  36. 36. Vocational Discernment is one of the mostneglected ministries of the Church.1. It is never merely individual self-assessment(introspection) but involves corporateaffirmation (the Biblical suggestion of two orthree witnesses)2. It involves self-knowledge, listening to thevoice of God, discerning the leading of theSpirit3. It is a process that lasts a lifetime
  37. 37. Vocational Discernment necessarily involves. . .1. Motivation2. Talents and Gifts3. Personality4. Negative Constraints5. Blocks/Dysfunctionalities6. Direct Leading of the Lord
  38. 38. Tom Bassford of “Significant Matters” haspresented to us a visual way of looking atwhat he calls, the “sweet spot”. This is foundin the Materials section. Examine it carefully.It shows the convergence of three circles:1. My Passion2. My Significant Matter3. My Skills and Experience
  39. 39. One’s “Passion” includes not necessarily theitems Bassford suggests. Rather, thepassion is born of the reality of need, and theburning desire to make a contribution, tochange things, to be a transformationalagent.Passion comes from both the leadership ofGod, and the awareness of need around
  40. 40. “My Significant Matter” is where I findaffirmation, self-realization, a comfort levelof meaning and purpose, a sense of “this iswhat I was made for”.This is discovered by engagement in a varietyof situations that a person willing putshimself or herself into.
  41. 41. John Perkins’ interpretation of the Lord’sPrayer:“Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earthas it is in heaven”.The Will of God is that we identify with theKingdom that is coming, rather than waitaround to be zapped by some mystical divinerevelation. In other words, find where theKingdom is happening and go to work there.
  42. 42. God has implanted in us certain nativeaptitudes that experience can develop andmature. It is important to give God thebroadest range of experiences to releaselatent aptitudes and skills. To limit or fail toexperiment, may suppress gifts that God hasgiven so that they never develop.
  43. 43. “Up to the age of 30, or beyond it, poetry ofmany kinds gave me great pleasure. I havealso said that formerly pictures gave meconsiderable, and music very great, delight.But now for many years I cannot endure toread a line of poetry. I have also almost lostmy taste for picture or music. My mind seemsto have become a kind of machine forgrinding general laws out of large collectionsof facts.”
  44. 44. One may find his or her personal calling or“sweet spot” through the following:1. Pray continually to be in constantcommunion with God2. Gather information about yourself, yourpassions, your interests, your centralmotivations, possible occupations throughreading, inventories, interviews, personalmeditation, journal-keeping
  45. 45. 3. Engage selected believers who know you well inthe process of discernment.4. Clarify your own general and particular calling,its comprehensiveness and the sense of“oughtness” or “I was made for this” in aparticular direction, or more likely in morethan one possible direction.5. Consider the negatives and positives, thosewho would be advantaged or disadvantaged bythis decision, as well as constraints (finances,health, family responsibilities)
  46. 46. 6. Take time. If the decision must be madeimmediately, it may be only a stop-gap fill-in.7. If you are married, seek God’s leading anddiscuss and pray until you have unity, as bothare affected by your decision. God’s goal isnot to “get the job done as quickly as possible”but to create unity. “If it is not God’s will forboth of us, it is probably not God’s will, nomatter how much one spouse believes he orshe has God’s guidance”.
  47. 47. 8. Be open to supernatural guidance throughprophetic words, visions, dreams, definitetranscendental messages from God. But donot demand this for decision-making.9. When you have decided, do not look back.If you have made a mistake, God will showyou this and may either redeem themistake, incorporating it into his revisedplan for you, or move you forward.
  48. 48. “The kind of work God usually calls you to, isthe kind of work that you most need to doand the world most needs to have done. . .Thus, the place God calls you is the placeyour deep gladness and the world deephunger meet.”
  49. 49. Work is made meaningful by the appropriatebalance between active engagement in Work,experience qualitative Sabbath, and times ofleisure.To determine one’s calling, there is often agestation period in one’s life, of brooding,experimenting, testing—a preparatory Sabbaththat ultimately will bring together aconvergence into that “Sweet Spot” in one’slife.
  50. 50. Feel free in insert below your questions andfeedback on what you have learned in thisPowerPoint:
  51. 51. End of Session Five