It’s about time that I step forward and write an update again. Right now, I’m heading to Cape Town, at the southernmost tip of Africa, to attend a class on “Theology of Work.” The person who wrote the curriculum for the program is offering the class in Cape Town, and she would be best able to answer all the questions I have regarding teaching the content in other contexts.
What is Theology of Work?
The premise behind Theology of Work is that God’s first mandate to man was to work (to take care of the earth). Work came before the fall. Work was originally an act of worship, of unity with God.
In the church, we tend to have an understanding that “regular” work is of lesser value than “spiritual” work. Which can lead to making the majority of the people in church fell like their lives have little significance.
Point in case: A few months ago, I read a disturbing comment on the blog of a friend. She “came out” on her blog, admitting that she worked at an insurance company (if I remember correctly). She said that she felt like all the other Christian bloggers were stay-at-home moms or women in ministry, but that she wanted to be honest about the fact that she had to go back to work to pay the bills.
If we’d help everyone understand that their roles to which they have been called are truly significant, that their sphere of influence at work (be it on a farm, in a factory, in a classroom, or at home) is like their very own church, where they are responsible for each person—not to preach at them, but to serve and love them in ways God desires for us to serve and love one another. If we as Christians would operate in such a way, the church would look quite a bit differently, don’t you think?
As I set out to work on the paper for my last class, I was invited to join a classmate of mine (who works in the slums of Nairobi) to teach Theology of Work. My paper itself was on leadership and power, and I equated power to being fire. (In rural Africa, neighbors often borrow fire from one another.) I concluded that if we were to lead in appropriate ways, it would be like giving others fire, or the ability to step out and take leadership in their own circumstances.
I believe that the ideas presented in the Theology of Work program are as such that it allows each and every believer who is mature enough to embrace these responsibilities to “have the fire” to lead (serve) in their places of work. That is true empowerment! And that’s why I want to focus more on teaching this field of ministry.
I’m in the process of visiting with the ELI board regarding what such a change in ministry focus would look like, and I’ll keep you posted.
I landed in Johannesburg earlier this week, and spent a couple of days at my sister Liesl’s place, packing up my things I had stored at their house. Liesl and her family have been offered a job in Davis, California, and they’ll be moving next month.
On Thursday, I flew to Port Elizabeth and came to my parents’ place in Jeffreys Bay for a couple of days. I was able to do a presentation to a group of people from their church on the work ELI is doing in Kenya, as well as my role at ELI.
It’s an unexpected blessing to have been able to spend a few days with my family. (Nowhere else do I get breakfast in bed!)
Today, I’m heading to Cape Town. I’ll get to spend the night at my sister Sanet’s place, and from there, go to class for the week. I believe this week’s class will be very significant regarding the next chapters in ministry.
I look forward to sharing more with you this week and as the journey continues.