My son asked me recently whether I had posted anything on my blog about the book I am currently writing. I replied that I do not think I had. So here goes.
I have been working on a book about work. The irony of that tickles me.
Specifically, I am writing a book about the theology of work. If I could summarize this doctrine in one sentence, it would be something like this: God created people to be His coworkers in order to subdue, develop, and expand His kingdom, and to meet the needs of His creation for His glory; He is present in the work of His children.
I have been spending a ton of time finishing a manuscript that I started about a year and a half ago. The title is Immanuel Labor – God’s Purpose, Plan, and Presence at Work: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach. I am up to 199 pages, and it is about 90% complete at this point. I hope to have it done by Labor Day, about six weeks from now. (For a brief overview of the meaning and significance of this unique concept of Immanuel Labor, check out my previous article.)
The greatest thing about this process is that I have truly and honestly experienced God’s presence while working on this book about God’s presence at work!
This book was put together like a quilt. It was based on my two-hour PowerPoint presentation on the theology of work that I created as a final project for an independent study I took as my last class for my Master’s degree in the spring of 2015. I started with a rough chapter outline, which I have modified over time. I then copied all of the notes pages from my presentation into the manuscript.
About the same time, I began to adapt these notes on selected topics into several short articles I posted on my blog. I continued to write more articles on various aspects of work over the next two years. I have posted 45 total to date, 20 of which I have written over the last seven months. Three of those articles were adapted and published by the LeTourneau University Center for Faith and Work and six articles were posted on the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics blog.
This book is much more than a compilation of my blog articles. I spent the month of May 2017 carefully inserting a total of over 400 Scripture references throughout my manuscript. Since then, I have gone page by page through the 15 books I read on this subject in 2016-2017, and have identified, typed, and placed numerous quotes in just the right spot. I am now going back through the dozen books I read during my independent study in 2015, using quotes that I did not have room to use in my PowerPoint presentation notes.
In addition to this, I have been adding quite a few personal reflections and stories from my 40 years’ experience in seeking work and working as a Christ-follower.
My detailed 20-step book production plan that starts and ends with prayer tells me that I still have a lot of work to do over the next few weeks. I have to read through my Immanuel Labor Facebook page I started in January 2016 and copy a few of my original reflections that I have not yet used. I have to finish going through the transcript of my two-hour seminar presentation that my youngest son lovingly typed up for me and adding some content where I veered off-script occasionally from my written notes. I want to dig into a few commentaries to see if I can add some more depth in my discussion of a dozen key Scriptures.
It looks like I have my work cut out for me.
I appreciate all the encouragement I have been given during this process from family and friends. Please pray that I can finish well and that my book can get to the right publisher at the right time so that I can share these life-changing biblical principles about work with a wide audience.
Master Sergeant Russell E. Gehrlein (U.S. Army, Retired) is a Christian, husband of 38 years, father of three, grandfather of four, blogger, 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 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 also a former junior/senior high school math and science teacher and youth pastor. Russ currently works as a Department of the Army civilian at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri.