Arts & Culture

Books We Like: The Book the Faith and Work Movement Has Been Missing

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Publishers are releasing a flood of faith and work books these days.

I tried reading every new book that was released, but I’m hopelessly behind. And I’m a fast reader!

Someone asked me, “If you gave someone one book to read on faith and work, what book would you choose?”

“It depends on who you’re giving the book to,” I said.

“A Christian friend in their early twenties. They’ve only been working for a couple of years, but they’re already discouraged about work,” this person replied.

I recommended Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human by John Mark Comer.

Garden City is the book I would have written if I were a young hipster pastor from Portland who drinks lots of coffee. I am none of those things, but Comer is all of them. His book is a needed addition to the host of existing faith and work books.

Comer wrote Garden City like a long, conversational blog. What he does with the English language would curl my old English teacher’s hair. Yet, the book is engaging and entertaining.

Comer adroitly lays out the essentials of integrating our work and our faith in our everyday lives. He also gives deep insight into rest as it should be experienced in the Sabbath.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough

I often turn to history and biographies when reading for pleasure. Historian David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers is one of my favorite books of the year.

As a pilot, I thought I knew a lot about the Wright brothers. I have even visited the museum dedicated to them in Kitty Hawk, NC. Yet through McCullough’s dramatic “story-behind-the-story,” I read a tale of two courageous brothers who did what was thought to be impossible.

McCullough chronicles how the brothers discovered that all the published research on airfoils was flawed. So one winter they built their own wind tunnel. They painstakingly compiled reams of data, leading them to design and build their first successful flying machine with little or no technical or financial help.

Although McCullough does not describe them this way, these men exemplify the Protestant work ethic and are the quintessential example of the American entrepreneur. Which leads me to my third book recommendation.

Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder by Jim Clifton and Sangeeta Bharadwaj Badal

Entrepreneurial StrengthsFinder uncovers the personal traits of potential entrepreneurs. According to Clifton and Badal, these traits enable entrepreneurs to start, grow, and sustain successful companies.

Their argument for the importance of discovering future entrepreneurs and helping them develop their potential is the most compelling section.

In 2008, for the first time in US history, the number of business start-ups fell below the number of business failures.

The US now ranks 12th in the world in new business start-ups per capita. This does not bode well for the future of the US economy.

Even more alarming are what Clifton and Badal call “Dead Wrong Economic Assumptions” held by many leaders and policy makers in the US.

The authors claim that too many leaders have bought into the false idea that innovation drives jobs and the economy. He writes,

The premise is that great ideas and innovation drive economies, that new businesses spring from those ideas and then, somehow, new, good jobs magically appear right afterward.

They argue that “jobs and GDP growth do not predictably follow innovation.” What they do follow are entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs turn ideas and innovations into something people want, creating jobs and businesses in the process. In response, we should be looking for entrepreneurs and equipping them to be successful.

A common thread runs through these three books.

Our work is important. It is what God has given us to shape culture and build civilizations.

We work for our own benefit, for that of our neighbors, and for God’s glory.

In light of this truth, we need to be intentional in our work and encourage others in theirs as well.

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