He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? –Â Micah 6:8
When it goes well with the righteous, the city rejoices,Â and when the wicked perish there are shouts of gladness. –Â Proverbs 11:10
When behind me arose such a clatter,Â I turned to see what was the matter. And what did I find? A little one eager to add Amy Sherman‘sÂ Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common GoodÂ (InterVarsity Press. 2011)Â to “Daddy’s library.”Â
Like me, you most probably received a lot of books for Christmas. Among all the materials coming in envelopes, Amazon boxes, and wrapping paper, why did I chooseÂ Kingdom CallingÂ as the one from which I snuck bites during a full holiday schedule?
Amy Sherman,Â as director of theÂ Center on Faith in CommunitiesÂ at theÂ Sagamore Institute for Policy Research,Â articulates anÂ inspirational and well grounded vision of “training and consulting to churches and nonprofits seeking to transform their communities for the common good.” She truly is ‘a minister to ministries’ which all too often lack the desire, tools, and/or foundation for Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good. Note: Among various other roles, Sherman also serves as a Senior Fellow at theÂ International Justice Missionâ€™s IJM Institute.
In kicking off a new year, let’s prayerfully consider, discuss, work toward, learn to embrace (and even be embraced by)Â Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good:
Congregants in our pews need to know that they should — and can — connect their workday world and their faith. So often they feel that God is just a Sunday God. Sometimes we as church leaders exhort our people to “live for Christ’s kingdom” but fail to explain adequately what that means for their lives Monday through Friday, nine to five. We must do a better job of inspiring our members about the role they can play in the mission of God and equipping them to live missionally through their vocation.
Based on what I’ve learned about congregations that are doing this, it is clear that vocational stewardship produces exciting results. Congregants experience newfound joy, meaning and intimacy with Christ. Simultaneously, the church significantly improves its effectiveness in bringing neighbors near and far a greater foretaste of shalom. . . .Â (21)
Theologian Cornelius Plantinga Jr. defines shalom as “the webbing together of God, humans, and all creation in justice, fulfillment, and delight. . . . We call it peace, but it means far more than mere peace of mind or cease-fire among enemies. In the Bible shalom means universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight.”Â (34)
Father, Forgive us for when we have not sought after our “Kingdom calling,” a vocational stewardship rich in justice and shalom. Grant us, as individuals and communities of faith, the grace to do such in the New Year. As we re-enter bus stations/parking garages, classrooms, coffee shops, computer centers, interfaith learning centers/chapels, health centers/hospitals, labs, libraries, lounges, offices, performance/presentation settings, publishing conversations, recreation centers, student residences, student unions, and various gatherings/societies, grow in us love for you and others — a love embodied in head, heart, and hands offered to you in growing wholeness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
In the second post of the Kingdom CallingÂ series, we consider What Do The Righteous Look Like?Â (Chapter 2, available on-line). Join the conversation atÂ What do â€œthe righteousâ€ look like in higher education?
Updated: 1/12/2012. 9:32 AM.
About the author:
Tom enjoys daily conversations regarding living out the Biblical Story with his wife Theresa and their four girls, around the block, at Elizabethtown Brethren in Christ Church (where he teaches adult electives and co-leads a small group), among healthcare professionals as the Northeast Regional Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA), and in higher ed as a volunteer with the Emerging Scholars Network (ESN). For a number of years, the Christian Medical Society / CMDA at Penn State College of Medicine was the hub of his ministry with CMDA. Note: Tom served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship / USA for 20+ years, including 6+ years as the Associate Director of ESN. He has written for the ESN blog from its launch in August 2008. He has studied Biology (B.S.), Higher Education (M.A.), Spiritual Direction (Certificate), Spiritual Formation (M.A.R.), Ministry to Emerging Generations (D.Min.). To God be the glory!