It’s summer, so my son, who is in elementary school, gets to sleep in and enjoy his summer mornings while I’m up early and off to work. I enjoy what I do and love that my son gets to enjoy all the things a kids is supposed to enjoy during summer vacation, but when I walk out the door, I can’t help but think of a classic Calvin & Hobbes comic.
In the strip, Calvin is also on summer vacation. His Dad is walking out the door, on his way to work, when Calvin stops him and says,
Boy, what a beautiful summer morning, huh Dad? Too bad you can’t stay home to enjoy it. When you’re old, you’ll be sorry you never took advantage of days like these.
Sentiments like these make people cringe and groan when they think of having to go to work – especially during summer vacation season, when you’d rather be doing anything but work.
I’d argue that work, rather than being a source of dread and a cause of loathing, can bring delight and joy if we do it right. “Doing it right” requires embracing the overarching message of Scripture in which work is situated. Hugh Whelchel describes it this way:
The Bible begins with the creation of all things and ends with the renewal of all things, and in between it offers an interpretation of the meaning of all history. It is the only story that explains the way things were (Creation), the way things are (Fall), the way things could be (Redemption) and the way things will be (Restoration).
This story has gotten lost in our lives. We can and should reclaim it. Doing so is empowering, liberating, and fulfilling.
I want to propose three ways we can start reclaiming this narrative, and, by extension, transform our work.
Recognize Flourishing as Our Goal
We tend to hold a truncated view of flourishing. Perhaps we don’t consider it an important part of Scripture. This is wrong because flourishing is what God intends for us. In his research paper for IFWE on flourishing, Jonathan Pennington describes it this way:
Human flourishing is in fact a key biblical theme woven through the whole canon, one which, when recognized, explains and enhances some foundational aspects of the Bible’s testimony, including the very nature and goal of God’s redemption for us in Christ, who, after all, promises us eternal and abundant life. That is, the Bible, across its whole Christian canon of both Old and New Testaments, is providing its own God-of-Israel-revealed-in-Jesus-Christ answer to the foundational human question of how to flourish and thrive.
Flourishing is our goal. We know we won’t see perfect flourishing until we are reunited with Christ, but we are called to do our part in bringing about higher levels of it. In our hearts we long for flourishing because it is woven into the fabric of God’s creation.
Answer Stewardship as Our Call
God would not have made his creation and given us the goal of flourishing without giving us the tools to bring it about. Whole-life stewardship is the tool-set God has given us in our efforts to fulfill this goal.
Reframing our understanding of stewardship from its current myopic view is crucial. Whole-life stewardship is the intersection of three things:
- Faith: The living out of theology: all of the Bible applied to all of life.
- Work: What God has created us to do, and how we apply our creativity to his creation to generate more than what we were born into.
- Economics: The tools and realities that apply to decision-making, help us think long-term, and help us count the costs of our decisions.
Becoming better stewards and employing the power of economic thinking given to us by God will help us to bring about more flourishing. There will be less waste and, consequently, more abundance.
Realize Freedom Is a Requirement
We need to live in an environment that elevates our God-given creation and supports our ability to flourish. There are three freedoms that are essential to achieving greater flourishing:
- Religious freedom: Freedom to practice, observe, and exercise religious beliefs as well as freedom from government-imposed religion.
- Political freedom: Freedom of agency and freedom from oppressive or immoral government coercion and compulsion.
- Economic freedom: The freedom to open businesses and trade without substantial or immoral government interference. This trade, which fosters entrepreneurship, is protected by property rights and the rule of law.
This three-point framework, if fully embraced, helps us on our God-ordained journey. Acting on them will help you take advantage of each day through your work.