Equipping the Saint: How Do You Shape Vocational Imagination?

work as worship

I am live blogging from Portland, Oregon at the Redeeming Work Conference. Speaker lineups include, Skye Jethani, Paul Pastor, AJ Sherrill, Kate Harris, Kevin Palau and more. I hope these insights will empower you to integrate your faith and work.

Speaker: AJ Sherrill, Trinity Grace Church NYC

Q: What do you do?

There was one answer that were above all. In the gilded age, the answer was to answer “nothing.”

“I am privileged to do nothing.” This was the highest form of life during the Gilded Age.

In today’s, we find ourselves in a different place. We over identity ourselves with work.

In our age, we are in an opposite side of spectrum. Work means everything.

Vocation: The Glorify of God

  • Family
  • Friends
  • Occupation
  • Church
  • Hobbies

Steve Garber: “The word vocation is a rich one, having to address the wholeness of life, the range of relationship and responsibilities. Work, yes but also families, and neighbors, and citizenship, locally and globally – all of this and more is seen as vocation.”

The fullness of our vocation has been isolated in occupation. Disproportionate weight on how well we are doing in career. This creates a crushing dynamic within the church. This means either you succeed and fill with pride – or you don’t experience the definitional view of success.

“Thinking of work mainly as a means of self-fulfillment and self-realization slowly crushes a person and undermines society itself.” – Tim Keller, “Every Good Endeavor”

How do we hold and promote occupation that safeguards us from making work everything?

In 2001, 500 million people were either unemployed or underemployed.

“I am alienated. When you don’t work you are not a member of society and you feel superfluous. It is different when you are employed; you speak differently and you breath differently…” – unemployed person

One should not take the theology of work as a fad theology.

Identity, Imagination, and Eucharist

Identity – Opening description of God in Genesis. God defines as himself as a creative, generative one. He defines himself as what he does. We are created to bear his image as doers and cultivators.

God didn’t achieve identity through work. God expressed identity through work. Through the cross of Jesus, we already have more identity than we do with. We express our identity in our various domains of our vocation – family, friends, and occupation.

Q: What % of your congregation would you guess are seeking their identity through the outcome of their careers?

Imagination – “But whether your occupation is great or little, it is of such a kind that you are think of it together with the responsibility of eternity.” – Soren Kierkegaard

What happens to our innate creativity? We lose our creativity as we grow into adults. Curiosity guides our intellectual musing. As pastors, it is the responsibility to foster the imagination and give feedback and how it’s meshing with the Scriptures.

A mature imagination discerns what currently is not, but longs to be.

Q: Does your church empower curiosity and imagination? Are environments being created with this in mind?

Eucharist – This is where we engage our senses with God. It is the weekly reminder that matter matters.

“God likes matter. He made it.” – C.S. Lewis.

We are reminded through the Eucharist, God loves moving through the ordinary.


Church gatherings are one of the only rooms in the room that weekly gather people from every industry and sector under one roof and one purpose. The vocational diversity is so rich and an incredible opportunity to shape the human history.