It doesn’t take much to tire of the world’s suffering. Whether it’s the domestic drama of neighbors divorcing or headlines announcing a chemical weapon attack in Syria, we witness pain across the street or across the world every day. It would be easier to keep our heads down, but something prevents us from looking away.
Why do we care? Why do we see ourselves implicated in the way the world is and isn’t — and in the way it ought to be?
These are questions author Steven Garber explores in his critically-acclaimed book, Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good. How, he wonders, can we know and love the world at the very same time?
Knowing its glories and shames, can we still choose to love what we know? Is there any task more difficult than that? Think it through. From roommates to parents to siblings to friends, from neighborhoods to cities, from cities to cultures to continents – once you begin to really know what a person or a place is like, can you still love them, can you still love it?
The answer, he argues, can be found in vocation, as we begin to see our callings as vital to God’s work in the world. “That is the best part of a vocation,” he argues, “to learn and love with gladness and singleness of heart.
When we take the wounds of the world into our hearts – not just for a day, but for a life – we long to see the work of our hands as somehow, strangely, part of the work of God in the world, integral to the missio dei, not incidental to it.
Imagine if those words described the members of your congregation… that they would see their work as part of God’s work in the world…that they would recognize their skills and resources as integral to God’s mission, not outside it.
Imagine if they had the passion, courage, and resilience to know the world and still love it.
For more on this topic, hear Garber’s address from our May 2016 event “A Vision for Vocation.”
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This post was published April 21, 2017
Joanna serves as Denver Institute’s Director of Public Engagement, hosts the Faith & Work Podcast, and founded Women, Work, & Calling, a national initiative that disciples women for godly influence in public life. Prior to coming to the Institute, Joanna worked in global telecom, nonprofit consulting, and campus ministry with Cru. She served as associate faculty at Denver Seminary and as a sewing instructor at Fancy Tiger Crafts. A third-generation Coloradan, Joanna appreciates both the state’s innovative culture and its cowboy roots. She has an MA in Social Entrepreneurship from Bakke Graduate University and graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She also completed a certificate of Women in Leadership through Cornell University.
She is the author of Women, Work, & Calling: Step Into Your Place in God’s World (IVP, Fall 2023) and is a contributor to the multi-author book, Women & Work: Bearing God’s Image and Joining in His Mission through our Work (B&H Publishing, Spring 2023).