In the late 1990s, I took a two-year hiatus from pastoral ministry to work in corporate America. My experience there shaped the way I think about Christian vocation. It taught me that the pastoral vocation was but one of many Christian vocations. Its purpose was to help people respond to both their primary vocation (faith in Jesus Christ for salvation) and their secondary vocation (faithful presence in the workaday world).
Tom Nelson’s Work Matters is an insightful treatment of how Christians’ primary vocation affects their secondary vocation. The book grounds its treatment of the subject in the biblical categories of creation, fall, redemption, and glorification (chapters 1–4). Based on that foundation, it then examines practical issues such as dealing with the ordinariness of work, how work shapes us, working for the common good, vocational giftedness, workplace integrity, and the church’s role in shaping good workers (chapters 5–10). In each chapter of this well-written book, Nelson moves seamlessly between biblical exposition, culturally relevant illustration, and practical application. Each chapter concludes with a personal testimony from a Christian worker explaining how their faith shapes what they do.
Nelson is pastor of Christ Community Church in Leawood, Kansas, and author of Five Smooth Stones and Ekklesia. In Work Matters, he writes for Christian laypeople, not pastors, and each chapter includes discussion questions. I would recommend this book to adult Sunday school classes, small groups, and book clubs. Pastors might also consider using it as a resource for a preaching or teaching series on work.
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