We continued our study of the way God desires our faith to interact and affect our chosen profession. For this we are using Timothy Keller’s book Every Good Endeavor (2012). Tonight’s session covered the Work as Cultivation and service.
We began this evening reading what is referred to by theologians as “The Cultural Mandate” contained in Genesis 1:28. In this passage Man is directed by God to fill the earth and subdue it. We spent time talking about what this means. It was discussed that filling the earth is not just procreating the species but filling the earth with a civilization that interacts with each other and improves the earth. Just as God took the unformed mass and created the world, we, being made in his image, are to be his substitutes in continuing to form and shape the earth. We talked about subduing the Earth not as a violent act but as giving us stewardship over it. Many expressed the concern of how we seem to be ruining the environment and not subduing the earth appropriately.
We talked about how we might see being a physician as a way to fulfill this mandate to fill and shape the world. Some of the group gave examples of how they had invested time and effort and some fortune in creating new offices, practices and other endeavors in their careers and how valuable they have proved to be. These often provided additional jobs for the community and enhanced the care of our patients. In this way these activities can be seen as god-like.
God does not just tell us to cultivate the world and leave us on our own. He has given us direction on how and why to cultivate it. We then read from 1Cor 7:17 in which Paul urges believers after they come to faith to remain in the same status in life they are already in. He says that we have been called into that position in life so we need not drasticly alter our job, our marital status or any other aspect of our lives unless we hear a clear new call from God. We talked about what it means to be called by God and how do we know we were called into what we are doing. The most common answer was the sense of joy and comfort that our position gives us. That we get such delight from our chosen profession. Other important aspects of a calling that were discussed is the fact that a calling has to come from someone else (God in this case) and that when you are called to do something you are called to do it for the caller not yourself. So that when we say we are called by God to be physicians we must also realize we are being physicians to serve God and not ourselves. These facts open up a whole host implications that we discussed including:
- If you are doing it for God’s service it is incumbent on us to do it to the best of our ability. This is called the ‘ministry of competence.’ As Christ followers one of the most important things we can do as christians is to do our jobs. It is a great witness for others to be known as an excellent doctor and a Chrsitian.
- Who chooses what job you wind up in should be God. Not choosing based on money, prestige, or other factors that might benefit yourself. Rather selecting a job/position that will best utilize the gifts and abilities God has already placed in you will lead to a greater success in serving God.
- In like turn, choosing a career path for which you are not particularly well suited because it has some ancillary benefits often leads to unhappiness and failure. A couple of the members of the group shared striking examples of this in their careers.
- If we follow God’s leading in our career path and do our best for him, then the end result is really up to God and not us. There is a real freedom in realizing this and it relieves a great deal of the outside pressure to achieve.
- We will learn to see our jobs as a way to love God and love others.