What is God’s will for my life? What is God calling me to do? I know that every Christian has asked those two questions a thousand times. What do those two questions reveal about the heart? It reveals that everyone, no matter if they are a follower of Christ or not, wrestles with this idea that they were born for a purpose. Many people spend their entire life trying to figure out their purpose. Why is that? A.W. Tozer would argue that we all search for our purpose, because God has innately wired us with a specific purpose in life, namely to worship Him(The Purpose of Man, Bethany House). The Protestant Reformers agree with that as well by stating that man’s primary purpose (or chief end) is to “glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” This is what Gene Edwards Veith, Jr. ties together in his book God at Work published by Crossway.
In the book Veith describes what he calls the “doctrine of vocation.” Namely, this is the biblical teaching on how God works in the world. He defines the doctrine of vocation as the way in which “God has chosen to work through human beings, who, in their different capacities and according to their different talents, serve each other.” This means that God has designed human societies to work in such a way that, when functioning properly, our individual gifts, skills, and abilities are used for the common good. Think about it for a moment. Our cities and communities function best when every citizen is doing their job well. That means everyone from the mayor, city council, teachers, doctors, lawyers, and business owners, give to the common good of the city for it to prosper.
However, to put it the way Veith does in chapter one, “sin spoils everything.” Now because of the Fall, human beings do not always seek to use their talents for the common good, but their individual gain. This causes crime and injustice to flourish. Yet, there is a better way. As followers of Christ who have been redeemed by His blood to live for His glory, we can help make a difference in our community by the way we live. The Lord has gifted and called every believer to glorify Him and serve others. He has given each of us specific talents, skills, and abilities in order to serve the common good.
Some might read the previous statement and assume that the Lord called every believer to serve in vocational ministry. That is not what Vieth is saying. He is actually advocating for the opposite. Biblically speaking, yes, every believer has been called as a missionary. But that does not mean that every believer is called to leave everything and go over seas to be a “missionary.” In fact, the Lord has gifted and skilled us to serve as missionaries in a myriad of ways. Wherever their is “work” to be done, the Lord has called someone to go as a missionary. This means that he calls people to be doctors, teachers, business owners, retail workers, lawyers, servers, and yes pastors. Where has the Lord called you to serve?
Vieth explores five ways every believer has been called to serve in the world. First, he explores our calling as a worker. In chapter five he argues that “a Christian and a non-Christian may labor side by side in the same job, and on the surface they are doing exactly the same thing. But work that is done in faith has a significant difference than work that is done in unbelief.” When we do our work in faith for the glory of God and the good of others, it helps put our work into the proper perspective. Yes, we have to work in this life to make a living and provide for our families. But, our work does not define us…it does not save us. As followers of Christ, we rest in His finished work and trust that he will and has provided for our every need. Our work then becomes not a way for us to succeed and make a name for ourselves, but a way we glorify God and serve others. A right perspective changes everything!
Second, he explores our calling in the family. For married believers, this means that the Lord has called us to lovingly serve our spouse. Husbands, God has called us to love our wives and point them toward the gospel. Wives, God has called you to lovingly serve your husband and point him toward the gospel. For married couples who are parents, the Lord has given you children to raise up as a new generation for Christ. Parents are called to lovingly nurture, guide, and discipline their children in the gospel. For children, God has called you to lovingly obey your parents and trust their leadership in the home. Truthfully, our family is the primary ministry to which we have been called.
Third, he explores our calling as a citizen. Biblically speaking God has called people from every nation, tribe, and tongue. So, the way in which we live out our calling a citizens looks different in every culture and society. For some people, the Lord will call them to be leaders in their local government. They are to serve the community well and lead toward justice. For regular citizens, the Lord has called us to humbly submit to the leadership he has placed over us according to the law of the land. However, this does not mean that we follow blindly. Sometimes leaders do not fight for justice. For citizens in free countries it is our responsibility as believers to fight against injustice and seek the wellbeing of our community. This means that unless our government leaders do not go against God’s law, we are called to humbly submit.
Fourth, he explores our calling in the church. Not everyone is called to be a pastor or church leaders. However, every believer has a way in which they can serve their local church well. Every local church needs people are willing greet people as they walk in the door on Sunday morning, work in the nursery, teach a class, help with administration, lead a small group, or help setup and break down (for church plants). But there is also need for encouragers, discernment, and pastoral care. The important thing is not what role you play, but the fact that everyone is need to help the church continue in its mission. There is nothing less God honoring than an apathetic church. The Lord has called every believer to play an important role without which the local church cannot properly function.
God at Work is a highly practical book! I recommend this book to anyone struggling with calling and ways they can serve in their job, family, community, and church. I recommend this book to pastors and church leaders to use as a way to disciple the whole church in the doctrine of vocation. Everyone in the church will benefit from reading this book.
I received this book through the Crossway Review program “Beyond the Page” in exchange for an honest review of the book.