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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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Lost in Transition? Preparing to Start Work

Have you noticed how much chat there is about ‘transition’ these days?

Be it forced migration or gender reassignment, being in some sort of ‘transition’ is recognised as a vulnerable position that requires those of us in it and those around us to respond carefully and thoughtfully. But there is one particular transition that seems to get far less care and attention than it should – the transition into full-time work.

My own transition was something that ‘happened to me’ – like being hit in the face by a fridge – rather than something that I entered into with all the reflection and preparation I later gave to other transitions (like marriage and parenthood). My transition into work was an experience that seemed to have nothing to do with my broader life of following Jesus.

But surely this particular transition ought to be treated as a ‘rite of passage’ within our Christian life as much as any other – with its own preparation course. Especially since the majority of us work for most of our lives but not all of us get married and have babies.

Somehow, though, I had assumed that this particular transition needed less preparation and support to enter into well. It reflected the curious idea I had that my work was of no real interest to God, so long as it meant I could pay my own way and didn’t involve drug dealing.

But the biblical story reveals a God whose interest in work is far richer and more adventurous than that. For starters, unlike beliefs about other gods at the time, the writer of Genesis introduces the idea that God himself rolls up his sleeves and works; that he enjoys and rates his own work and that we humans have a standing invitation to participate in it. As Tim Keller describes it,

God has set up creation ‘with deep untapped potential for cultivation that people [are] to unlock through their labour’.

So what about the potential of architecture to create spaces that facilitate the best possible relationships between people and their environments? Or the potential for customer services to welcome and lead people through products or processes that are otherwise baffling or inaccessible to them?

Whatever our work, it’s God, not the market, who calls us to it. And so it makes sense that we should understand our vocation and prepare for it with him. We should seek his help through the complex bits, the hard bits, the tiring bits, and the boring bits of it so that our work can really be an adventure with him and for him.