How Does Adam’s Sin Impact Work?

Is it possible that one person’s huge mistake could have a negative impact on the entire human race?

On my drive in to work several months ago, I had the chance to reflect on the effects of Adam’s sin.  It took me by surprise when I realized some of the implications of this doctrine on my everyday work.

I have written two articles on how the Fall has negatively affected our work.  (Click here and here.)  I wrote another article on how to respond to the Fall.  In summary, here is what I have shared:

  • Work will yield “thorns and thistles”, meaning that it will be painful, frustrating, and stressful; more difficult and time-consuming than necessary (Gen. 3:16-19)
  • It will be unpredictable, unproductive, fruitless, sweaty, full of interpersonal conflicts, set in challenging environments, and marked by futility (Eccl. 1:2-9)
  • This is the new normal until the Lord Jesus Christ returns to set us and the creation free from this bondage (see Rom. 8:19-22)

Let me try to unpack what Scripture teaches us about Adam’s sin, especially from the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Romans, and then discuss how this affects both Christians and non-Christians at work.

Adam’s sin brought sin and death to all

In context, the Apostle Paul had already made a strong case for the sinfulness of both Jew and Gentile in Rom. 3:9-18.  He supports his view that no one is righteous by quoting the OT many times.  (In vv. 10-12, he quotes Ps. 14:1-3 and 53:1-3, and alludes to Eccl. 7:20.  In v. 13, he quotes Ps. 5:9 and 140:3.  In v. 14, he quotes Ps. 10:7.  In vv. 15-17, he quotes Isa. 59:7-8.  In v. 18, he quotes Ps. 36:1.)

Paul explains in great detail in Rom. 5:12-19 that sin entered the world through Adam.  Adam’s sin brought death and condemnation to every one of us.  We all die, which is a direct consequence of our own sin that separates us from God.  Through Adam’s disobedience, we were all made sinners.

Douglas Moo, in The NIV Application Commentary on Romans writes, “To explain the universality of sin, we must assume at least that Adam’s sin has predisposed every person to sin.”

Frank Matera, in his commentary on Romans, enlightens us further.  “Paul does not try to explain how the effects of Adam’s transgression were transmitted to his descendants, but there is no doubt that he sees a connection between the trespass of Adam, whom Paul views as a historical individual, and the sins of his descendants. . . It is apparent from what Paul says in 5:18-19 that Adam’s transgression affected his progeny, bringing judgment upon them and constituting them as sinners in God’s sight.” 

To me, Paul seems to imply that we inherited Adam’s natural tendency to sin (Rom. 5:19).  You recall that Adam was made in God’s image (see Gen. 1:26-28).  We read later that Adam’s son was made in Adam’s image (Gen. 5:3) as well as God’s image.  This preponderance to rebel against God is genetic. 

What are the impacts to workers?

Adam’s sin has enslaved every co-worker, supervisor, employee, or customer in our place of business.  Christians are not exempt.  Even though I might sin less, I am by no means sinless.  (See 1 John 1:8.)

Every day, I see how my sins and the sins of others make it more difficult than necessary at work.  We all get impatient when things don’t go our way.  We all struggle with submitting to authority.  We are driven by selfishness far too often.  We all would rather be somewhere else, other than at work. 

The Theology of Work Bible Commentary gives us an excellent description of the Fall on our work.  They state, “Work can be boring, degrading, humiliating, exhausting, and heartless.  We can be underpaid, endangered, and discriminated against.  We can be pressured to violate our consciences and God’s principles.  We can be fired, laid off, made redundant, downsized, terminated, unemployed or underemployed for long periods. . . We can suffer even in good jobs.” 

I see a logical progression here that I ask you to consider that flows out of these biblical principles:

  1. Adam’s sin brought thorns and thistles into his own work environment and into ours
  2. Adam’s sin brought our sinfulness
  3. Our sins brought thorns and thistles into our own work environments

The first two are certain.  They cannot be adjusted.  The only variable is the third one.  We can’t keep our non-believing coworkers from sinning.  Only Jesus can do that.  However, if Christians can modify the frequency and severity of our own sins in the workplace, perhaps work might not be so hard.

For example, things always take longer than you think they will.  That is due to Adam’s sin.  However, if I or a coworker don’t pay attention to detail, and a slide presentation has to be redone, that is due to our sin, not Adam’s sin.  My coworkers and I add unnecessary pain and frustration to our own work.

Does our faith in Christ offer any hope?

Unfortunately, Christ’s death does not change the nature of work.  It will still yield thorns and thistles for us. The good news, however, is that it does change the worker, which means that our contributions to the mess can be minimized.

In Eph. 2:1-10, Paul contrasts our old life “in Adam” (as an ordinary human being) with our new life “in Christ” (as a believer). There are radical changes that immediately take place at the moment of salvation when God transfers a believer from the domain of death/darkness to life/light.  There is not only an irreversible change in status (i.e., being declared righteous in God’s sight), but there is also an enduring change in capabilities for all who are in Christ (i.e., we can grow in holiness and become like Jesus).

Matera confirms my thoughts.  He writes, “There is something radically amiss in the human situation that can be remedied only when people are transferred from the realm of Adam to the realm of Christ.  So long as they remain ‘in Adam’, they are infected by and subject to the power of his sin.  Only when they are ‘in Christ’ are they free from the power of sin, which introduced death into the world.”

Genuine Jesus-followers have not only received forgiveness/atonement through the blood of Christ, once for all (Heb. 10:10) for all sins (past, present, and future), but have also been given several supernatural resources at conversion.  We become new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).  We are able to fight spiritual  battles (Eph. 6:10-17) and overcome our fleshly tendency to sin (Rom. 8:9-11).

In Christ, the penalty of sin has been removed (see Rom. 3).  The power of sin has also been removed (see Rom. 8).  However, we will have to deal with the presence of sin in our lives until Christ returns. Christians will always struggle with our own flesh or sin nature.  However, we have some advantages that nonbelievers do not have.

The Holy Spirit indwells and empowers every believer (1 Cor. 3:16).  He teaches and reminds us of Jesus’ words (John 14:26) so that we can experience changed hearts and minds (Rom. 12:2).  His truth will set us free (John 8:32).  We actually become more Christ-like through the sanctification process (Phil 1:6).  He also causes the fruit of the Spirit to overcome our fleshly tendencies (see Gal. 5:22-23).

What I am trying to emphasize here is that even though Adam’s sin brought a curse on work which still impacts the work of believers and non-believers alike, the sin that we bring to the table which directly contributes to the thorns and thistles we experience in the workplace is something that we can overcome, to a degree, by our reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit to make us more holy at work.

Where do we go from here?

I trust that this reflection on Adam’s sin will cause you to see the effects of sin in at work more clearly.  I pray that it leads to a desire to minimize your own sin which will increase your experience of God’s presence at work, so that you can participate in God’s work to redeem those who are enslaved to sin.

About the author:

Robin_McMurry_Photography_Fort_Leonard_Wood__Missouri_Professional_Imaging_Russ_Gerlein-7161-Edit-Edit

Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 40 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. Russ received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth minister. He served 20 years on active duty and now works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He has written 160 articles on faith and work topics on this blog since 2015. More than 70 articles have been posted or published 150 times on several Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, Acton Institute, and The Gospel Coalition.

Recognizing the Invisible Worker

Who are invisible workers, you ask? 

These are the people who work behind the scenes, quietly doing what needs to get done.  They do not normally deal directly with the public.  They are often taken for granted, overlooked, and not rewarded for their efforts.  Here are some examples: those who stock shelves, do research, answer phones, mop floors, prepare food, build sets, sort mail, assemble products, or reestablish the computer network.  I would be remiss if I did not mention the hard work of mothers and fathers.

Let me share a few thoughts about the significance of the invisible worker and how God sees their work.  Next, I will address those who believe they belong to this special group, and then those who may encounter them occasionally.  I might have a message of hope for these quiet professionals.

The intrinsic value of work

The earliest references about work in the book of Genesis show us that because God is a worker, all legitimate work has intrinsic value.  The implication is that because work is valuable to God, what I do is of value, and what you do is also of value.  All human work that adds to shalom is good.

Michael Wittmer, in Becoming Worldly Saints shares this insight regarding the value of work: “God created Adam and Eve in his image, empowering them to expand the boundary of Eden until the entire world flourished under their loving care.”  What we do all day contributes to that expansion.

A word of encouragement for those whose work is invisible to most

To those who fall into this broad category, please listen: God  works in, with, and through you to bring order out of chaos in your small but not insignificant workspace.  Your valued contributions are an answer to someone’s prayer.  The things that you make, organize, or plan for your employer make this world a better place.  God provides through you.  You love your neighbor by your work. 

(Note: Thanks to a reader on my Immanuel Labor Facebook page who responded after this article was posted that “they are the most important people in the workforce”. I replied with an insight that is worth sharing here: “I see them as parts of the body that may not be visible, but are absolutely necessary. If they stopped doing what they were designed to do, the entire body would shut down.” (See 1 Cor. 12:21-25.))

A word of exhortation for those who may see the invisible worker

By definition, these workers may be hard for us to see.  When you do see them, have you taken the time to let them know their work truly matters to God?  Have you told the guy who mops the floor at the hospital that his work is part of an answer to prayer for the healing of your family member? (I invite you to read an article I wrote that highlights the various workers that God uses to heal.)

I trust that some will take this short collection of ideas and do something with it.  If you see your own work differently, I hope that it leads you to work harder at what you do because it matters.  If you see the work of others in a new light, I pray that you take the courage to cheer them on in love.

About the author:

Robin_McMurry_Photography_Fort_Leonard_Wood__Missouri_Professional_Imaging_Russ_Gerlein-7161-Edit-Edit

Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 40 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. Russ received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth minister. He served 20 years on active duty and now works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He has written 160 articles on faith and work topics on this blog since 2015. More than 70 articles have been posted or published 140 times on several Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, Acton Institute, and The Gospel Coalition.

What Does the Book of Romans Teach us About Work?

The book of Romans is filled with deep theological truths and practical wisdom for all Christians.  I have also found it to be a rich source of key passages that are essential to my theology of work.

As I have done with other books of the Bible (John, Minor Prophets, Psalms, and Ecclesiastes), I have gathered several excerpts from my book, Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession that highlight what the book of Romans teaches us about various aspects of work.  I have generally presented the topics in the order they appear in the book, but I have reordered some to flow better.

God is present in our most difficult work

The persistent biblical connection between God’s presence and work is the main theme of my book.  One of the best examples of this concept is found in the Joseph narrative, beginning in Gen. 39

The unity of the OT and NT is seen here, as Joseph exemplifies what Paul boldly stated in Rom. 8:28, that God works all things out for His bigger purposes and for our ultimate good.  During one of my darkest days, I eventually came to the same conclusion, knowing that God needed to take me out of my comfort zone by force and put me somewhere else I needed to be to better glorify Him.

God’s presence as a government employee

In Rom. 13:1, Paul tells believers to submit to governing authorities.  He explains in Rom. 13:2-7 that it is God Himself who appointed them as His servants in authority over us to minister to us.  Paul knows that they are under God’s authority and that God ministers to us through their ministry.

Losing and regaining our sense of God’s presence

I taught how to regain our sense of God’s presence when it is lost.  Paul states, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).  He concludes at the end of this chapter in Rom. 8:38-39 that absolutely nothing in this world can separate us from God’s love.

God’s curse on work

In my book, I unpack the foundational concept that God put a curse on work (see Gen. 3:16-19).  I also discuss our response to it.  I explained that that Adam’s sin, as well as our own sin and those we work with has had a negative impact on work.  This sad state of affairs in our workplaces that began from that very moment in the garden will continue to frustrate all of us who work through the ages everywhere people work until Jesus returns.  (See Rom. 8:19-21 and Rev 22:3.)  

I mention the fact that people are always going to be sinful (including you and I).  (See Rom. 3:10.)

I apply “thorns and thistles” to a modern context.  Whenever I come against one more computer outage, a disgruntled employee, an unreasonable demand, another paper jam in the copier, or discover a weakness in myself that makes my job more difficult than it needs to be, I am reminded that these trials are usually a direct result of sin.  I purposefully call to mind that God will provide the grace needed to get me through it and that my character is built through suffering (Rom. 5:3-5).

Finding a job that fits our purpose and leads to flourishing

God gives each of us talents, strengths, experiences, and successes so that we can use them to be a blessing to others, both inside and outside the walls of the church building. (See Rom. 12:4-8.)

Regarding how we view our identity, the Apostle Paul addressed his own identity in his letters.  He said that who he was and the things he did could not compare with “the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:8).  Who Paul was in Christ was what mattered most.

However, Paul clearly embraced God’s calling on his life.  God called him to be something, not merely do something.  Paul identifies himself in Rom. 1:1 as “a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle of God.”  He says the same thing in his other epistles (1 Cor. 1:1; 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1, etc.)  Paul did not seek this holy calling.  God gave it to him.  It was Paul’s focus and motivation.

In my book, I briefly addressed the topic of keeping the Sabbath (having a work and rest cycle). 

One of my best seminary professors, Dr. Mike Wittmer adds, “Sabbath rest is essential for enjoying life, and only Christians are wholly able to keep it holy.”  He acknowledges that “we are free in Christ to consider ‘one day more sacred that another’ or to consider ‘every day alike’ (Rom. 14:5).

Christians in the profession of arms

As someone who has had the privilege of serving my country on active duty in the U.S. Army for twenty years, I wrote about what the Bible taught, regarding those who have served in the military.

Romans 13:4 provides some supporting fires on this idea.  The apostle Paul teaches that the church is to be in submission to authority.  You may ask, “Even the secular Roman government authorities?  Even the corrupt ones we have now?”  Yes, and yes.  Why?  

Paul writes they are “God’s servant, for your good … He is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.”  Paul says that these authorities are God’s servants. Sometimes that means taking appropriate military action to bring order out of chaos.

The eternal value of work

In Isa. 65:20-25, the prophet describes the new heaven and the new earth.  Work has not ceased. Rather it is characterized by enjoying the fruit of our labor and not toiling in vain since the curse has been lifted (cf. Rom. 8:19-21).  

A key verse in this discussion is Rom. 8:21.  Volf teaches that according to this and other NT scriptures, “the apocalyptic language of the destruction of ‘all these things’ (2 Peter 3:11) should not be taken to imply the destruction of creation. . . Paul writes that the ‘creation itself . . . will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God.’”

Harrison, in his comments regarding Rom. 8:21 in the Zondervan New International Version Bible Commentary, exclaims, “How gracious of God to retain for believers the habitat they have long been accustomed to, only so changed and beautified as to harmonize with their own glorified state.” 

Closing thoughts

It should be no surprise to anyone who has read and studied the book of Romans to find that it is a great repository of practical theology, as well as deep systematic theology.  It masterfully presents a clear picture to the church a unified and thorough presentation of eternal truths that will set the Christ-follower free to walk in faith and obedience, through the power of the Holy Spirit.  These biblical principles enable us to boldly live out our faith at home, at work, and in our communities.

About the author:

Robin_McMurry_Photography_Fort_Leonard_Wood__Missouri_Professional_Imaging_Russ_Gerlein-7161-Edit-Edit

Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 40 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. Russ received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth minister. He served 20 years on active duty and now works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He has written 160 articles on faith and work topics on this blog since 2015. More than 70 articles have been posted or published 140 times on several Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, Acton Institute, and The Gospel Coalition.

He Who Began a Good Work in You

It is probably safe to say that most Christians have a favorite verse or passage that becomes an anchor for their soul.  It may define their walk of faith.  Philippians 1:6 has been my life verse.

I like this verse for a number of reasons.  It is theological, as you will see below.  It ties together at least three of the elements of standard systematic theology: soteriology, sanctification, and eschatology.  It is also personal.  It reminds me that the Creator of the universe is recreating me.

I am confident of this very thing

Why is Paul so confident?  Why is he so absolutely convinced and assured of these truths?

Paul’s confidence is not based on the strength of the faith of these members of the church in Philippi.  Paul’s certainty rests on the foundation of the character of the God as He revealed Himself to Paul through the appearance of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-6).

This confidence Paul had reminded me of that old hymn, “For I Know Whom I Have Believed”.  The writer of this hymn that was written in the late 1800s declares that he does not know why God’s wondrous grace was made known to him, or how this saving faith was imparted to him, or how the Spirit moves, or when the Lord will return.  However, he does know this:

I know whom I have believed,

and am persuaded that he is able

to keep that which I’ve committed

unto him against that day.

He who began a good work in you

This first part of the verse links to the doctrine of soteriology, or things related to salvation. 

This article does not fall into the category of the theology of work, of which I have written and posted 160 articles to date in this blog.  However, I would be remiss if I did not highlight the fact that this verse does support the concept that Jesus, as the 2nd Person of the Trinity, is a worker.

The Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary (vol. 2: New Testament) indicates, “Of course, it was God who had produced their transformed lives by the work of regeneration. . . The ‘good work’ refers to the salvation begin at their conversion.”  Let us explore God’s pre-conversion work.

We see a glimpse of God’s supernatural work in the heart of someone who is being drawn by God into an eternal relationship with Him in Jesus’s conversation with Nicodemus (John 3:3).  Jesus gently explains to him that no one, not even this Jewish leader, can see the kingdom of God without being born again first.  God must first remove the scales from our eyes to even see Him.

Will perfect it

This second part of the verse links to the doctrine of sanctification, or how we become holy.

The Amplified Bible states it this way: “He who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it”.  The Good News Translation emphasizes that God will carry it on (the good work that He began) until it is finished.  The Living Bible interprets it in this manner: God “will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished”.

The point is fairly clear.  When we first come to faith in Jesus Christ, God begins the supernatural work of regeneration.  We are new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17).  His presence, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, causes us to increase in Christ-likeness and maturity over time as we consistently trust and obey and learn to walk with God, abide in Christ, and are filled with the Holy Spirit.  He continues to transform us internally for the rest of our lives or until Jesus returns.

Until the day of Christ Jesus

This last part of the verse links to the doctrine of eschatology or last things.

The Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary gives us an important perspective on our end state.  “God not only initiates this salvation, but continues it and guarantees its consummation at the glorious coming of Jesus Christ, which will vindicate both the Lord and his people.  Nothing in this life or after death can prevent the successful accomplishment of God’s good work in every Christian.”

The commentators list the five other places in the NT where “the day of Christ Jesus” is mentioned (1 Cor. 1:8, 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:14; Phil. 1:10, and 2:16).  They add, “This expression is similar to the ‘day of the Lord” (1 Thes. 5:2) and the OT ‘day of the Lord” (Amos 5:18-20).”

In reading these verses, I observe several things:  Jesus will come and it could come at any timeIt will be unmistakable, seen by all.  This will be a one-time event that ends life as we know it.

No other verses in the NT express this truth of eternal security better than the Apostle Paul’s beautiful description of God’s strong and permanent love for His children now and forevermore than Rom. 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Amen!

Conclusion

This verse is so central to my Christian faith.  It reminds me that it is not all up to me.  I do cooperate with the process, but my source of strength, growth, and maturity is God Himself.

About the author:

Robin_McMurry_Photography_Fort_Leonard_Wood__Missouri_Professional_Imaging_Russ_Gerlein-7161-Edit-Edit

Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 40 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. Russ received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth minister. He served for 20 years on active duty and now works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He has written 160 articles on faith and work topics on this blog since 2015. More than 70 articles have been posted or published 140 times on several Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, Acton Institute, and The Gospel Coalition.

Who Are Your People?

Who are your people? 

Who are the unique individuals God has placed in your midst that He has called you to serve?

Last spring, I had one student who attended my class where I teach the principles found in my book, Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession as part of our military installation’s Wednesday night ChristFit program at the Main Post Chapel.  He was a member of the Michigan Air National Guard, attending the Basic Engineer Course to earn his military occupational specialty.  This is the question I asked him during our virtual session on Zoom.  We had a great discussion that night.

The question came quite naturally as we looked at one interesting verse in the book of Exodus, where Yahweh had asked Moses about why the Israelites had made a golden calf.  This key verse that I mention in chapter 5 of my book is just one of many illustrations of the biblical connection between God’s divine presence and human work and that God often uses His people to be His coworkers.

Let me explore this important topic briefly.  First, let me unpack a few high points of this narrative.  Then, allow me paint a picture of the variety of individuals that God has called you to serve.  Finally, I will provide some biblical and practical ways so that you can glorify God and love your neighbors.

My people or God’s people?

Exodus 32:7 is a thought-provoking verse.  It ties the foundational biblical connection of God’s divine presence and human work (which I call “Immanuel labor”) to the concept of God choosing to use humans as His coworkers in order to expand His kingdom.  We read, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt.” 

I find what God said somewhat humorous.  Clearly, they were not Moses’s people; they were God’s people!  God was the one who delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt, not Moses.  And yet, because God said it, both perspectives were true.  The Israelites did belong to Yahweh.  But they also belonged to Moses.  Truly the Lord was the one who delivered them from Pharoah.  It is also right to say that He used Moses to accomplish it.  This indicates that God saw Moses as His coworker.

God’s very real presence with Moses, which he first experienced at the burning bush, on Mount Sinai, and in the desert as He led the people day and night for forty years, enabled Moses to take responsibility for the mission he was given and play a critical role in the Israelites’ deliverance.

Who are your unique neighbors?

My Airman provided a heartfelt response to my question.  His answer was quite simple, actually: his family, church, coworkers, school, and community.  I thought that about covered it extremely well.

For Moses, I am not so sure he would have answered as quickly or with quite the same enthusiasm.  As you may recall, the Lord referred to the Israelites as “stiff-necked people” (Exo. 32:9).

Another key biblical character comes to mind.  This woman fully accepted where God had placed her, and fully embraced the people that He had sovereignly placed in her sphere.  Her name was Ruth.

In Ruth 1:16, we read this bold statement of faith in Yahweh, submission to His will, and loyalty to her family, that Ruth made to her mother-in-law, Naomi: “Your people will be my people.  (I invite you to check out an article I wrote about the book of Ruth, which has a lot to say about work.)

Let’s bring this discussion to our own place and time and explore the variety of people that are ours.

If you are a teacher, your students are your people.  But so are their parents, your co-workers, the office staff, substitute teachers, principals, custodians, administrators, and school board members.  

I could continue to describe how each field of work has its own unique set of individuals God that has entrusted to them, but I think you get the idea who your neighbors are.  It is not just the people below us, those we are directly responsible for, but it is all others who are above and around us on all sides.

How can I best serve my people at work?

Just like the main character in the well-known parable of The Good Samaritan, it was the one who showed mercy to the man in need who was obeying the biblical command to love their neighbor.  He showed mercy through words and deeds, meeting physical, emotional, mental, and financial needs.

In Matt. 25:31-46, Jesus painted a picture of the day of judgement that all will face at the end of all things when He returns.  Those who were His sheep entered into His kingdom to spend all eternity with Him.  Those who were goats were sent into eternal punishment.  What distinguished the sheep from the goats was obviously their faith (or lack of faith) in Jesus. 

One of the ways that showed whether or not a person had truly accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior was how they treated those in need.  Jesus explained that when people fed the hungry, gave a drink to the thirsty, or invited a stranger in, it was as if they were actually doing it to Him.  If they did not do any of these things, they did not do them to Him.  This corresponds well with the verse where the Apostle Paul states, “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Col. 3:17).

There are employees, coworkers, bosses, customers, and counterparts all around us at our places of work.  Each of them has a whole host of human needs that perhaps you and I could meet in the name of Jesus.  Some needs, like the man who was beaten, broken, and bleeding in Jesus’s parable, are obvious to all.  Some needs have to be carefully uncovered in a trusting relationship.  Perhaps God has placed you right where you are to use you just by what you do to meet the needs of your people.

About the author:

Robin_McMurry_Photography_Fort_Leonard_Wood__Missouri_Professional_Imaging_Russ_Gerlein-7161-Edit-Edit

Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 40 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. Russ received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth minister. He served for 20 years on active duty and now works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He has written 160 articles on faith and work topics on this blog since 2015. More than 70 articles that he has written have been posted or published 140 times on several Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, Acton Institute, and The Gospel Coalition.

How do we Respond if we are the Incompetent Colleague?

(Note: This is the second of a two-part reflection on this topic.  I invite you to read the first part here.) 

Do you ever feel like you just can’t keep up with all of the expectations and requirements of your job?  Does your boss or your coworkers ever give you the impression that you are the weakest link on the team?  I know I would have to honestly answer “Yes” to both of these questions.  What about you?

I have enjoyed a long season of perceived competence in my current position, only by the grace of God.  However, there have been several times throughout my 35-year military career (both as a Soldier for 20 years and as a Department of the Army civilian employee) when I did not feel very competent.

I was inspired to consider writing another reflection on this critical topic that I was first exposed to in reading William Morris’ book, Love thy Colleague: Being Authentically Christian at Work.  In my first article, I answered the question, “How are we to love the incompetent colleague?”  In this one, I want to turn the table around and ask, “What if we are the one who is incompetent?  How do we respond?”

In this article, I want to explore several ideas.  When we are perceived as incompetent (or actually are), we may need to graciously receive help that is offered.  Also, it is during these times that we may need to develop humility.  Finally, we may also need to accept that all of us are incompetent at some level.

We may need to receive mercy

Morris refers to the parable of the Good Samaritan throughout his book.  When our coworkers are in need, he focuses on how to show mercy.  When we are lacking, he encourages us to receive mercy.

Morris indicates:

Accepting mercy means taking the training and advice that are offered to make me as good as I can be; using those opportunities to nourish my own skills and aptitudes.  And it can also mean accepting, as we’ve just seen, that we are simply not cut out to be in some jobs; that we will always be a drag on our colleagues and on the business (in addition to tormenting ourselves).  It can mean accepting from others the merciful message that we should be looking (working with the Spirit) for something to which we are better suited.

What Morris stated above, re: receiving training as needed and accepting the fact that there are certain jobs that are not a good fit, I am reminded of my own failures while assigned as an Army recruiter.

If you feel you cannot cut it, or if you get cut from the team, I believe that God will always provide another job in a field where you may naturally be more competent. However, if your life or family depends on you keeping this particular job where you are struggling, I also believe that God will enable you to be competent enough through training over time.  God will bless your sincere efforts.

We may need to develop humility

From a solid understanding of the doctrine of man, we know that each one of us are sinners, by nature.  We also know that when we happen to succeed, it is easy to be prideful about our accomplishments. 

Morris concurs with this tendency towards pride.  He calls attention to a “counter-intuitive aspect” of this challenging situation: “the benefit that lies in realizing that we actually are incompetent.”  He rightly observes, “The downside of ‘competence’ is the illusion of control.  The illusion that we, as individuals, divorced from a community, can shape the world around us.  The illusion that we as human beings, divorced from God, are the source of our own success.  Competence makes us think more highly of ourselves, and makes us forget what we owe to God, and what we owe to others.” 

When our weaknesses or blind spots are pointed out, it provides us a chance to reflect on the fact that we are no better than anyone else and that any successes we do have are only by the grace of God. 

Morris continues, “If we’re staggering about in the mud, completely unable to get our footing, to regain our balance, we quickly realize that we need help.  We realize we need someone to reach out an arm to steady us; to reach out a hand to pull us up.  We remember that we need others, and we need God.  We’re not self-sufficient, not autonomous, and not that clever.  So, recognizing that we are incompetent, and that we do need the help of others, can be mercy indeed.”

Humility is a hard character trait to develop.  Even if we do master it, it is not something that we should brag about. 

Proverbs 16:18 is a well-known verse that is appropriate to highlight here: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  What I’ve learned is that if I do not humble myself before the Lord, He may have to do something to humble me in a way that may not be so comfortable.

Morris shares some wise counsel: “The illusion of competence, of being able to do it all, of having almost limitless capability, can lead us into taking on too much and becoming ever busier. . . Acknowledging that I am incompetent can allow me the opportunity to reassess, regain perspective, and perhaps, slow down a little and give more time to what really matters – including other people.”

None of us are totally competent

The Apostle Paul writes something relevant to this discussion in 1 Cor. 1:26-29.  He contrasts the average Christ-follower with those who were considered by the world to be successful.  They were not wise “according to worldly standards”.  Not many of them were powerful or of noble birth.  I can extend that a bit to observe that the average Christian may not be rich, popular, or beautiful, either. 

Paul goes on to say that God did not call the individual members of His Church due to their worldly value.  Instead, He “chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.”

All of us, redeemed and lost, are in fact, incompetent.  And yet, God loves us and accepts us in Christ.  He graciously invites us to join Him in His mission to continue to sustain and expand His kingdom.

Morris also reminds us of God’s amazing grace.  He points out that God always welcomes us into His kingdom based on Jesus’s sacrificial death on the cross, “not because we are worthy of it, but because He loves us, incompetent as we truly are.”  Amen!

Closing challenge

Here is my final word for those who are struggling with being the incompetent worker.

Whether you find yourself in a steep learning curve, a temporary slump, a season of unproductivity, or determine that you lack the ability to develop the skills to be adequate to perform the basic functions of your job, you need to remember this.  The God who created Adam gave him his first job.  He designed him with the potential to learn and develop the skills needed to do that job. God provided Adam an opportunity to do work that was of value and which served a purpose for His kingdom and for others.  Will not the same creator do the same for you?  He will make you competent!

About the author:

Robin_McMurry_Photography_Fort_Leonard_Wood__Missouri_Professional_Imaging_Russ_Gerlein-7161-Edit-Edit

Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 40 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping other ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. He received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth pastor. After serving 20 years on active duty, Russ now works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Seventy articles that he wrote have been posted or published 130 times on numerous Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, Acton Institute, and The Gospel Coalition.

Those Who Fought in the War on Terror in Afghanistan

If you paid attention to the news over the weekend, you are aware of the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, which caused the Taliban to rapidly take over the country.  A lot of active and reserve component service members and veterans who deployed in harms’ way multiple times, as well as our Gold Star families are hurting emotionally right now.  They are dealing with much anger, sadness, confusion, disappointment, frustration, despair, and bitterness over this unexpected turn of events.

I have served in and with the U.S. Army for more than 35 years.  My family and I have a ton of love and respect for soldiers and their families and are proud of our service to this Nation.  Many of the soldiers I work with every day at my job have served in Afghanistan.  My heart aches for them now. 

I felt that I had to say something today.  I want to seize the moment and share some thoughts and offer a biblical perspective in order to bring comfort to those who need it most during this time of grief.

I have to add a disclaimer right here.  Since I am a civilian employee of the Department of Defense, and to show unity and loyalty to my Soldiers and leaders that I work with every day, I intend reflect on this situation from a biblical worldview without showing any disrespect to our Commander in Chief, which would be counterproductive.  I will not allow this to turn into a political discussion.

Here are a handful of biblical principles that are relevant to our hurting combat veterans right now:

  • Your work as a peacemaker matters to God (Matt 5:9)
  • God was present with you even in your darkest days (Ps. 139:7-12)
  • Your work was not in vain (1 Cor. 15:58)
  • Your work in fighting terrorism was an honorable cause; America has been safer as a result (see quote below from Martin Luther)
  • You showed love to your neighbor and offered them hope; i.e., the lives of men, women, and children that you saved and protected and provided for (Matt. 22:39)
  • There is no greater love than a man lay down his life for his friends (John 15:13)
  • Evildoers will not win in the end (Ps. 92:6-7)

Martin Luther made a powerful statement regarding the just purposes for war, which I shared in a previous article.  He stated:

When I think of a soldier fulfilling his office by punishing the wicked, killing the wicked, and creating so much misery, it seems an un-Christian work completely contrary to Christian love.  But when I think of how it protects the good and keeps and preserves wife and child, house and farm, property, and honor and peace, then I see how precious and godly this work is.

I strongly encourage combat veterans who need to talk to someone about their deep feelings to find someone who cares.  I care, as do a lot of people that I know.  I encourage the rest of us to pray for them, for Christians in Afghanistan whose lives are in danger, and even for our enemies as well.

About the author:

Robin_McMurry_Photography_Fort_Leonard_Wood__Missouri_Professional_Imaging_Russ_Gerlein-7161-Edit-Edit

Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 40 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping other ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. He received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth pastor. After serving 20 years on active duty, Russ now works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Seventy articles that he wrote have been posted or published 130 times on numerous Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, Acton Institute, and The Gospel Coalition.

Oh, the Places the Lord will Lead you to go!

In late June, I had the opportunity to read a bedtime story to three of my grandchildren.  The eldest grandson sat on my lap.  He had asked me to read a Dr. Seuss classic, Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

I started to read the book, and without any warning, I got totally choked up.  Tears were streaming down my face.  My grandson noticed it right away.  He comforted me by gently putting his little hand on my cheek.  I had to stop reading for a few seconds, catch my breath, and try my best to continue.

It may have been these words that grabbed my heart and caused a flood of emotion I could not control:

You have brains in your head.  You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own.  And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

You have to understand that over the past six years, he and I have developed a close relationship.  I have known him since day one.  Here is what I was thinking as I was moved to tears at that moment.

My imagination flashed forward a dozen years, taking me unexpectedly to my grandson’s high school graduation.  This book is often given to graduates as a gift.  Perhaps he would receive it.  It might be meaningful to him as he began his new adventure into adulthood.  But I wasn’t thinking about him.

That night, as I held tight to this boy that I love so much, I was anticipating the grief that his mom and dad would feel at that moment, just as his grandparents grieved when their children left the nest.  Also, I will be 75 when he graduates.  There is no guarantee that I will still be here to see him through.  The uncertainty of what the future held for him overwhelmed me, as I continued to finish reading this book.

A few days later, as I reflected on this event, it occurred to me that this well-intentioned message of adventure, freedom, responsibility, and hope for new graduates just might need to be told from a Christian perspective.  I want my grandson, his brother and sister, and his cousins, regardless of whether I am there or not, to experience the greatest of adventures as they follow Jesus as Lord.

Allow me to share several insights that I would want my grandchildren and other children of all ages to have.  I want to give them a glimpse into the path of purpose they will have by discovering and living the Christian life: a journey of faith, characterized by God’s leading, wisdom, and abundance.  These things are not true because I have experienced them.  I have experienced them because they are true.

Discovering God’s leading

In Ps 139:10, we see David’s faith that God’s hand will guide him wherever he goes.  God, speaking through David, promises that He will teach us in the way we should go and watch over us (Ps. 32:8).  

Even as a young Christian, I knew that God would lead me. I sought after Him every time that I had to make a big decision, like choosing a college major, how to proceed in a dating relationship, or finding just the right job.  I trust that my grandchildren will also seek God’s face first and look to Him for guidance whenever they need it.

Finding God’s wisdom

Wisdom is living out God’s truths; walking in His ways.  In the context of suffering and the testing of our faith in Christ, James 1:5 promises that God will provide His wisdom to all who ask in faith. 

I can speak from experience here.  There was suffering in the form of persecution from the world that I faced as a Christian college student at a large public university.  I  encountered spiritual attacks from Satan that bombarded me on occasion and temptations from my own flesh.  I lost girlfriends, jobs, and family members.

As I prayed for discernment on how to navigate these rough waters, I always received the wisdom I needed from the Lord at just the right time.  When I chose to walk in the path of righteousness, I generally made good decisions.  I am hoping my grandchildren will be able to confidently, consistently, and wisely walk with God as well.

Living the abundant life

Jesus gives an amazing promise in John 10:10.  In the context of his teaching on the shepherd and His flock, Jesus explains that He is the faithful and loving shepherd who calls his sheep by name and leads them.  The sheep follow him because they trust him.  He will lay down his life for those sheep.  Their enemies may try to steal, kill, and destroy, but he has come that they may have life more abundantly.

I have experienced that abundant life ever since I became a Christian.  God has been my shepherd.  I have sensed His presence.  He has protected me and provided for me above and beyond all I could hope or expect.  He has given me strength to overcome.  He has given me true freedom, joy, and peace.  My hope for my grandchildren is they too would experience this amazing abundant life for themselves.

Relating to God’s Son

In closing, let me reflect on the Apostle Paul’s prayer found in Eph. 1:16-20.  He describes his prayers for the church, but it is an excellent model for parents and grandparents in praying daily for their kids.

Paul starts with an acknowledgement of their faith in Jesus Christ.  If they don’t have that, the rest of the prayer is useless.  I have to dedicate myself to praying for the salvation of my grandchildren.

Next, Paul writes that he never stops giving thanks for them.  He asks God to give them His Spirit so that they can know Him better.  He asks God to open the eyes of those he prays for and that they will know the hope to which they were called, the riches of their inheritance, and God’s matchless power.

These are the things that I need to pray for so that my grandchildren can believe, know, and experience God’s truths and live out the abundant Christian life for themselves.  I encourage you to do the same.

About the author:

Robin_McMurry_Photography_Fort_Leonard_Wood__Missouri_Professional_Imaging_Russ_Gerlein-7161-Edit-Edit

Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 40 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping other ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. He received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth pastor. After serving 20 years on active duty, Russ now works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Seventy articles that he wrote have been posted or published 130 times on numerous Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, Acton Institute, and The Gospel Coalition.

Showing Respect to Those Outside Your Organization

As a young sergeant in the U.S. Army, during my first unaccompanied tour in the Republic of Korea, I witnessed a classic example of disrespect shown to someone I did not know at our higher headquarters.  I was assigned to a military police company.  My company commander always referred to the battalion operations officer as “Major Problems”.  I was fairly certain that his rank was that of major.  However, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t his last name.

I cannot be the only one to have heard someone complain about those who work at the level above or below you.  It is a common occurrence.  The television show “The Office” contained many scenes where the regional manager said something negative about those who worked at the corporate office. 

Let me briefly dive into this critical topic that I have not explored or addressed in previous articles.

Why is disrespect in general a problem?

Disrespect is cancerous.  It starts out small, then spreads itself to others, both inside and outside your organization.  If tolerated, it becomes a new standard that is going to destroy everything in its path.  And, as one of my coworkers stated, we tend to remember negative things more than positive ones.

What is wrong with complaining about the CEO above you or the franchise managers below you?

Allowing yourself or your employees to make jokes or say negative things about leaders or staff members in other organizations that you work with indirectly will come back to bite you.  It is gossip, plain and simple, which is prohibited in Scripture.  (See Prov. 18:8.) 

Even though it may seem to be a team-building activity to unite together as you express how much you despise them, it can actually be counterproductive and destroy the kind of quality teamwork that you are trying to develop.

It would be hypocritical for me to emphasize the concept of treating others right in front of me with dignity and respect and then do the opposite with some folks who work down the street or upstairs.

Also, it would be a bad situation if you got transferred to another branch or assigned to work at the corporate office and the new team that you have to work with has heard you were bad mouthing them.

What does right look like?

I make it a point at work to treat everyone on my team with dignity and respect.  I demand the same from all.  What this means is that we do not interact with people differently based on their race, gender, religious background, age, political affiliation, etc.  We do not talk about “those people” who are different than we are.  We are a team, and our strength lies in our diversity.  Everyone contributes.

This looks like we are intentionally following Jesus’s golden rule.  We do unto others the way we want others to do unto us.  We love our neighbors, whether they are in the cubicle next to ours or work somewhere else.

I challenge you to give this some thought and maybe change how you treat those outside your own team.

About the author:

Robin_McMurry_Photography_Fort_Leonard_Wood__Missouri_Professional_Imaging_Russ_Gerlein-7161-Edit-Edit

Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 40 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping other ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. He received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth pastor. After serving 20 years on active duty, Russ now works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Seventy articles that he wrote have been posted or published 130 times on numerous Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, Acton Institute, and The Gospel Coalition.

Maybe I’m Not so Unique After All

I have written in several forums that I have a unique perspective on the theology of work, based on my extensive studies on the topic and my own experiences living out these biblical principles over the past three decades.  Although I believe that is still a true statement, it occurs to me that what I know, believe, and think about God’s presence in my own work might not be so unique after all. 

To borrow a theme from Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol, I find myself living in the past, the present, and the future when it comes down to what I understand about the biblical connection between God’s presence and human work.  I have been referring to this concept as Immanuel labor.

Here are a few statements that will highlight what I mean.

In the past:

  • I believe that God is sovereign; He has divinely guided every single circumstance of my life, including my conception, birth, and upbringing to prepare me for His purposes
  • I believe that God has clearly led me every step of the way throughout my education and employment journey to give me the skills and experiences I would need to glorify Him
  • I believe that God has provided for me and my family through all of the jobs I have had

In the present:

  • I believe that God is present with me every day as I go to work; He works with me, in me, and through me as I work in my ordinary job to meet the various needs of people I serve with
  • I believe that God uses the thorns and thistles that constantly hinder my work and make it more painful than necessary as trials to build my faith, which grows as I learn to trust Him
  • I believe that God has placed me here for a purpose; I will be content to stay put until led to go elsewhere

In the future:

  • I believe that when I struggle at work, God will give me all of the wisdom and strength I need
  • I believe my current job may only be for a season; He may have something better for me to do
  • I believe that wherever He leads me, He will be present with me to glorify Himself

God the Father has revealed Himself through His Son, His Holy Spirit, and His word as a God who is sovereign over all, who loves His children, and who has promised to lead them every step of the way in their journey of faith.  Since He never changes, how He has always dealt with His people in the past is the way He still deals with them now.  If that is true, then all of these things I indicated above are not unique to me at all.  Every Christian should be able to say that they are also true for them.

I encourage you to go back and reread the bullet points above, and see if you believe what I believe.

About the author:

Robin_McMurry_Photography_Fort_Leonard_Wood__Missouri_Professional_Imaging_Russ_Gerlein-7161-Edit-Edit

Russell E. Gehrlein (Master Sergeant, U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 40 years, father of three, grandfather of five, and author of Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work, published by WestBow Press in February 2018. He is an ordinary man who is passionate about helping other ordinary people experience God’s presence and integrate their Christian faith at work. He received a B.S. in Mathematics from Colorado State University in 1980 and an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary in 2015. He is a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth pastor. After serving 20 years on active duty, Russ now works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Seventy articles that he wrote have been posted or published 130 times on numerous Christian organization’s websites, including: the Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, Coram Deo, Nashville Institute for Faith + Work, Made to Flourish, 4Word Women, Acton Institute, and The Gospel Coalition.