Since early 2015, a small team has been studying the topic of work, calling and contribution. The big idea? All work matters, every contribution counts. In God’s economy, everything – from the smallest act of kindness to the overall shape of your work and career – is important.
While it is fine for us to tell you this is true, it won’t help much unless you have your own convictions. The materials below won’t tell you what to think, but they will guide you as you discover what work, vocation and calling mean for you and your friends.
Nine-Week Bible Studies
These studies can be done on your own or in a small group.
- A Biblical Perspective on Work, Vocation and Calling – This study starts with a close look at the meaning of work and moves outwards to the larger picture of God’s overall calling on our lives. In the middle, it looks at the role of kindness and good deeds and the changes in contribution that can occur as life’s circumstances shift.
- Daniel: Thriving at Work as an Exile – After the fall of Jerusalem, Daniel found himself living and working as an exile in a hostile, foreign culture. What did he do? How did he survive? This is not a study of the book of Daniel or the life of Daniel. It is not an exhaustive study of the topic of work. It is a look at Daniel in the workplace. (Daniel: Thriving at Work as an Exile-B: This version is the same as the above but without the visual image exercises.)
- Nehemiah: When God’s Call Comes Calling at Work – Nehemiah was thrown into a task that was larger than what he could possibly accomplish on his own, and yet, his heart burned with a desire to see the job completed. This study is not an exhaustive study of the topic of work, and it is not a study of Nehemiah’s entire life. Instead, it provides an “insider’s view” into the heart, decision-making and leadership style of one person who responded with all he had to God’s lead. It is a case study of a godly hero in the workplace.
Shorter Bible Studies
- The Role of Work – This five-week study examines the origin of work, the effect of the fall on work, of work, the gospel and work, character rest and worship. (This material covers the same topics as the first part of the Biblical Perspective study listed above.)
- Vocation: It’s Bigger than Your Job – One of the hardest questions for many people to sort out is how work, interests (such as volunteer work or relief efforts), simple kindness, walking with God and ministry all fit together. This three-part study looks at calling, service and the gospel to help you figure out your own convictions. (This material covers the same topics as the second part of the Biblical Perspective study listed above.)
- The Gift of Work – This short Bible study (1.5 – 2 hours) covers the basics of a rich theology of work. It examines why we work and how our own work fits into God’s plans for our world.
One Page Discussion Guide & Bible Study
- Vocation: It’s Bigger than Your Job (Handout) – This one-page handout can be used to explore the “big picture” of how work, vocation and calling are connected to each other.
- The “Doing Good” Bible Study – This one-page word study, compiled by Craig Parker, is simple but powerful. Read through quickly to get a glimpse of how important doing good is to God.
Calling and Assessment Resources
- Theology of Work Article and Discussion Guide – This guide walks you through a thoughtful article (filled with biblical references) that examine the connection between work and calling. It includes a thorough discussion of the role of church and links to additional articles, podcasts and interviews (including an interview with Johnny Cash).
- Exploring Your Life Purpose – Interested in looking closer at how God made you? This “toolkit” will help you look inwards, outwards, backwards and forward to better understand your life purpose.
These three videos show how people are working out their calling, even as they adjust to the new context of life after college.
Nav20s: Chicago – Transitions – A picture of hope – even during transition.
Nav20s: Atlanta – Challenges and Opportunities – Focuses on the challenges – and opportunities – of moving to a new place and starting work.
Nav20s: Right Where You Are – Christ, Work, Mission and Community – Combines interviews from Chicago and Atlanta to highlight the role that the Nav20s can play in the transition to life after college.
To start a small group or a series of one-on-one meetings about the topic of work, we suggest you begin with the “big picture.” Use either 1) the introduction and the first study in “A Biblical Perspective…,” 2) the “Short Study on Work” (do the first page together, assign the rest for “homework” and finish with a second meeting to discuss homework) or 3) this video by Jerry White.
To go further, pick and choose among the chapters of the Biblical Perspective, Nehemiah or Daniel studies. Most are titled clearly and can generally stand alone. The Daniel study will be well-received by a “post-modern” audience but might be too “edgy” for some.
To start on the topic of calling, use either 1) the “Theology of Work” article and discussion guide or 2) the introduction to the Biblical Perspective study. To go deeper, pick parts of the Exploring Your Life Purpose toolkit.
To lead a Collegiate Nav night or senior seminar, use the Supercut video and video discussion guide. Follow the discussion with a short talk on any of the Nav20s pursuits: Christ, Work, Mission, and Community. Mention challenges but focus on the positives of transitioning into a new context. (Seek to serve the audience, not recruit them.) End with prayer. To lead a longer “transition” seminar, consider this four week plan.
Our deepest thanks to the Lilly Endowment, who funded the development of God’s Calling and Your Vocation through their College Ministry Theological Exploration of Vocation initiative.