Labor and Leisure

Bill WalkerCliffNotes, Frontpage News

Today’s guest post is by Bill Walker, Director of Vocation.

Dear Christ Church,

We live in a culture that prizes performance and success, and where busyness is seen as a virtue. The temptation to find our source of identity and value in what we do is ubiquitous. In response, we as the Church and as Christians strive to teach and model the disciplines of rest and play. This was a theme and focus for us as a staff at Christ Church over the summer.

But countering a culture that idolizes work and wealth requires more than just rest. It also calls for a new imagination concerning the purpose of work itself. In her essay “Why Work?”, Dorothy Sayers states that “work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or it should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties offered to God.”

Of course, to be able to work in this way is a privilege, and there are many who don’t have the opportunity. Some are sick, injured, disabled, impoverished, unemployed, imprisoned, elderly, or otherwise incapacitated. Moreover, not all work is life-giving. And oftentimes our best work goes uncompensated or unrecognized. Still, the call to work and the intrinsic worth of it remain a major part of our purpose and identity as co-laborers with Christ.

Leisure, on the other hand, is more than simply the cessation of work. It is a state in which one is able to appreciate things as they are in themselves. It is the enjoyment and contemplation of life without respect to its usefulness or productivity. Properly seen as good gifts to be received from God, the practice of work and leisure together constitute true worship.

One of the ways we grow in our understanding of this at Christ Church is by gathering on the third Thursday of each month for the Faith and Business Lunch. Starting in September, we’ll begin a new series on the topic of redemptive entrepreneurship, and I invite you to join us (register here). And we welcome folks from all different kinds of professional fields and industries who want to explore the relationship between faith and work – not just business.

This Labor Day weekend, I pray you find leisure that is restful, yes, but that is reflective and takes notice of the blessing of work as well. Let us gives thanks for the God-given desire and opportunity to create and participate in the renewal of creation through our work.

In faith,
Bill