Monday, April 23, 2007

Your High Calling
It is my delight to emerge from my cyber-hibernation these past three months and reenter the blogosphere with a strong endorsement for
The High Calling of our Daily Work is a ministry of my good friend and former parishioner Howard Butt. For decades Howard has been a pioneering advocate for the awareness and celebration of God's presence in the workplace. He and his creative team contend that God moves powerfully in our respective vocational contexts if we will but train our eyes and ears to see such activity.
Stands to reason. Seems to me that the forty-hour work week constitutes a setting at least as plausible for divine epiphany than our one-hour-a-week sanctuaries.
I remember first encountering this simple spiritual idea in seminary when Glenn Hinson required us to read a book entitled The Practice of the Presence of God by a medieval monk named Brother Lawerence. Lawerence made the astonishing discovery that God was just as present to him among the pots and pans in the monastery kitchen while washing dishes, than kneeling in the majestic cathedral at prayer. Indeed, he washed those dishes gloria Dei.
Martin Luther King, Jr had a similar spiritual breakthrough when he gave his working class congregations the charge to go about their daily tasks with a sense of dignity and self-worth. If you find yourself sweeping streets, Dr. King admonished, then "sweep streets like Michaelangelo sculpted statues, sweep streets like Raphael painted pictures, sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, and some day all the hosts of heaven and earth will say about you, 'There goes a great street sweeper!'"
Even a cursory reading of the gospels leads one to conclude that Jesus found God more fully on the streets than in the sanctuary.
Please take the time now to browse around this crisp, newly updated website. Wouldn't it be a good thing for us to learn to look for God in the everydayness of where we live and move and make our being? If Jesus is any indication, our God-sightings Monday through Saturday will be at least as frequent as those on Sunday.


L.L. Barkat said...

Hopped over through my link to you, associated with the High Calling tour. Good to be here!

I like that expression about the 40-hour work week being plausible for divine epiphany. Indeed, if God could only speak to us for one hour a week, how little He would manage to say! (Not that He lacks the power, but we surely would lack the capacity to take it all in, in so brief a time.)

Anonymous said...

What a great post, man!

It reminds me of one of the big problems all faith and work groups are facing. Everyone in the church understands this stuff. "Sure, sure, the church isn't just a building," we say. But then we go to work as if it is something completely separate from our lives as children of God.

So now I'm wondering what a workplace epiphany would look like?

Anonymous said...

Well said! This is such a wonderful reminder to make everyday count and in order to do that, God must be present. Thank you for all you do and say!

Ramblin Dan said...

WOW! And thanks.

Lifelong Learner said...

I wandered over from the blog tour. It's great because I am getting in touch with blogs I would not have seen otherwise.

I'm off to work in search of epiphanies! You tend to find them a bit more in teaching, though. :)

Wonderful post.

Every Square Inch said...

I am checking out your blog as part of the blog tour. It's my first blog tour and your post alone made it worthwhile.

Grace to you

Anonymous said...

Welcome back! I for one, have missed you here. I faithfully read and listen to Howard every Monday on "The High Calling". You know that I agree with everything you have said here. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

For me these epiphanies manifest with a little leap in my heart. I feel that leap when I hear my husband's keys in the door when he gets home, or when I watch him engaged in some everyday activity with our son. I believe it's God's way of reminding me, of telling me, "see how blessed you are!"

Unknown said...

Charlie: It was good to see you a few months back in Atlanta. Great post here. Bringing relevance and light to the workplace is for many of us our entire missionary calling.

I'm bad in my Sunday School class for mentioning verses that my teacher could have (should have?) used to reinforce their points. It's now colloquially being called --in the class-- "being Dirk'd". So here's yours from Colosians 3: "23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."

As my dad used to say: "There is honor in all work."

We sweep our streets accordingly.

God bless!


Anonymous said...


I enjoy reading your blogs and visiting the "High Calling" website. I miss talking to you. Call me when you get a chance so we can catch up.

God Bless!


Keith Vaughn said...

The "High Calling" web site is unique. Thanks for the link. I'll return soon.

In this, I am reminded of the countless hours spent during the almost twenty-five years at my secular work. How often do we consider the time God makes available to us at work compared to the time we have in weekly worship?

Thanks for reminding me Charlie.

Keith Vaughn

Unknown said...

Hi Charlie & Jana!

Welcome bsck and thanks for the great website.

God is indeed in the details. How much could we learn in a 40-hour worship week and a 1-hour work week for a change!

Martin and I have made the big move back to Texas and all along the way we experienced gifts from God: a corridor of smooth weather in the midst of terrible storms all around us; movers from heaven (for a change!); friends to see across the country. How He delights in surprising us and how sad that we are surprised by His grace.

Nice to have you back in the Blogosphere. Don't take so long til the next one!

Much love,
Randi & Martin

Anonymous said...

Rev Johnson - great posting. As we have talked about in the past I have an interest in the inner working of Christian work outside of the church. Your posting making us aware of this website and insight into the real issues that are sometime swept under the table. Many thanks for your work here and at McAfee.

barrybrake said...

And just think: this spiffy website is the work of a man in his 80s! Always forward-looking, always fresh.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this.