God Provides Our Hammers

By Amy Sherman.

Pursuing the journey of vocational stewardship as a church is not about “three easy steps and you’re done.” It’s an evolving process that looks different at different times and contexts. And it’s not one-size-fits-all. Moses enjoyed a very clear call from God (not many of us get a burning bush experience!). But he also had to endure a very long season of preparation for his work. Even when he was in his vocational sweet spot, things weren’t easy. Besides outside opposition, he faced trouble from his own team members. Or consider Joseph. It took him a long while to develop the mature character needed to manage the gifts and power he had been given. Sometimes he enjoyed a context where he could really bloom (think of his influence and platform as vice regent in Egypt) while at other times, his circumstances were more constrained (such as when he was in prison).

No matter what our particular season or context, though, what we can be utterly confident about is God’s promise to help us on this exciting but messy journey. After all, he is the one who has called us into it. He is the one who issues us the breathtaking invitation to join him on his mission to restore all things. He’s the one who had prepared good works in advance for us to walk in and who handcrafted us for them (Eph. 2:10).

My pastor, Greg Thompson, tells a story about his dad, Bruce, a gifted carpenter and handyman. Bruce's Saturday routine was a morning spent on some kind of home-improvement project, followed by an afternoon of college sports on the tube. While Greg's brothers spent Saturday playing football, he liked to stay home and "help" dad on projects. A father himself now, Greg recognizes the sacrifice his dad made to bring him into those Saturday morning projects. Over the years, Greg and his dad repaired many things.

One morning, Greg noticed lying next to his father’s hammer—the one with the initials BT carved into the handle—a second hammer. When Greg looked closely at it, there were the initials GT - for Greg Thompson. “The hammer,” Greg says, “was an invitation, and it was assurance that my participation in his work was not only tolerated, but desired, and not only desired, but anticipate, and not only anticipated, but provided for.”

And that, Greg assured us, is what Jesus does for us.

In all the spheres where we work—education, business, government, media, law, arts and more—we are agents of restoration. Talk about a heady job title! The contentions of Christian doctrine are bold: the work we do matters and it lasts. In an age of Dilbert and The Office, which assert that modern work is all about futility and absurdity, these are astonishing claims. We might even be tempted to think that they are a fantasy—except that, as we’ve seen, real people in real churches are living them out. Not perfectly, and not without struggle, of course. But they’re made progress in the journey of vocational stewardship because God has supplied them with hammers. He called them into his work and made provision for them to carry it out. He will do the same for you and me.

Amy Sherman is the author of Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good.

Taken from Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy Sherman. Copyright (c) 2011 by Amy Sherman. Used by permission of InterVarsity Press, P.O. Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 60515-1426. www.ivpress.com