Identity Expressed Through Work, Not Achieved Through Work

redeeming work portland

I’m spending the day at Redeeming Work in Portland. A conversation hosted by Christianity Today and Leadership Journal, focused on the intersection of faith and work. This is a subject of passion for me after meeting with so many who hate their jobs and see no kingdom fulfillment in them. But I’m also here in preparation for a few things that will be happening here next month, subscribe here to be notified about that.

I’ll be sharing a few posts throughout the day, as I’m able. Check out Leadership Journal’s page for more resources on these subjects.

Sessions 1 and 2:

Skye Jethani “The Evolution of Faith and Work

“As a pastor I was too preoccupied with my calling instead of their calling.”

“There’s a gap between our functional Bibles and the actual Bible.”

This causes 3 blindspots:


  • In our functional Bible creation starts in Genesis 3. We miss the good of what God created.
  • The cultural creation mandate comes before the marriage mandate.


  • “I didn’t have a theology of calling.”
  • False dichotomy between the work of heaven (clergy) vs. the work of earth (laborers).
  • Puritan theology of calling
    • highest: union with God
    • common: commands to all people
    • specific: unique to the individual


  • We focus on the idea of discontinuity, i.e. “Nothing on earth has an enduring presence.”
  • Instead, the reality is “what we do now actually matters.”
  • Our false focus discredits callings aside from evangelism, work of heaven.


  • Recognize your blind spots
  • Avoid sacred/secular divide
  • Embrace the full scope of God’s redemption

AJ Sherrill “Equipping the Saint: Shaping Vocational Imagination

In the late 1800s the best/most desired answer to the question “what do you do?” was “Nothing.”

In today’s world the best/most desired answer to the question “what do you do?” is always connected to work.

Identity is provided through work.

We put a disproportionate weight on occupation as it relates to vocation.

Cultivate a new focus in these areas:


  • Genesis 1 presents God as the creative one, one who acts, does.
  • “God didn’t achieve identity through work. God expressed identity through work.”


  • “Whether your occupation is great or little…do you dare to think of it together with the responsibility of eternity.” -Kierkegaard
  • The Empire State Building was originally designed with the secondary focus of being a blimp dock for sightseers.
  • “A mature imagination discerns what is not, but longs to be.”
  • Pastor as curator, not controller.


  • A practice to be formed through
  • A reminder that matter, matters.
  • A reminder that God loves moving through the ordinary, mundane.

Summary: weekly church gatherings are one of the last remaining places gathering people from all sectors of life, we must inspire something from them.