So often we read and talk about looking for a break, rest, or a vacation. We long for those as a result of our day-in/day-out work schedules and duties. No one seems to feel there is enough “free time” in the average week or month. Few persons whose jobs are outside of Christian ministry look at their positions as spiritual or representative of God despite the growing emphasis on “marketplace ministry”.
Into that context, John Van Sloten’s new book, Every Job A Parable, challenges the reader to reconsider work and its value and attributes of God. At the outset he tells the reader the purpose of the book:
“to help kindle a new kind of vocational imagination, to help you experience God at work more, and to help you read the parable that is your job.”
From Van Sloten’s opening chapters to the end of the book his theme looks at what it means to “image God” through work. To illustrate his theme, he identifies attributes of God and then looks at how those line up with various jobs or occupations. As he does so, he shows the value and nature of God in our work from the lowliest positions to the highest and many that fall somewhere in the middle.
In case that makes you wonder what sorts of jobs he is looking at since he is a pastor, let me share a partial list of those he sees clear evidence of his theme. The partial list includes: Wal-Mart greeter, forensic psychologist, residential landlord, electrician, auto mechanic, language translator, homemaker, sweeper, garbage collector, geophysicist, astronaut, food server, and investment banker.
Van Sloten asserts:
“Each of us, through whatever work we do, is made to image God. When we get it right (and none of us fully do) and when our lives are in sync with the way God made us to work (and none of us fully are), every part of who we are – our imaginations, motivations, passions, hopes, dreams, skills, and abilities (even though all of our parts fall short) – has the potential to image him.”
This book gives a unique view of the value God places on work and nearly any occupation the reader might be involved in will show up in the author’s development of looking at every job as a parable. Along the way, he will also point out the evidences of parables of work that show up in the Bible including the sower and the owner of a vineyard.
It can often be easy for a Christian to look at specific ministry jobs as the ideal way to serve and represent the Lord. If that is you, I think this book will offer encouragements to expand your narrow view of how God sees work (of any kind) and give you hope for how He is using you no matter what your position.
To comply with new regulations introduced by the Federal Trade Commission, Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.