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Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture by R.…

Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture

by R. Paul Stevens

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In his new book “Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture” R. Paul Stevens takes us along a journey through the Old and New Testaments exploring the theological meaning of every sort and type of work. The author R. Paul Stevens is professor emeritus of marketplace theology and leadership at Regent College, Vancouver, British Columbia, and a marketplace ministry mentor.

This marketplace theologian takes the reader through more than twenty biblical accounts of some of the character profiles in the bible and brings out the purpose of their work and how it fits into God’s plan for the world. Out of all the delightful stories in this book one of the many worth commenting on is that of Joseph. His account in the scriptures reads like a modern day soap opera. We see Joseph begins his career as a shepherd following in the footsteps of his father. Then Joseph after being sold by his brothers into slavery ends up in Egypt with a new job working as a slave in house of Potifphar. Then finally Joseph is elevated to the highs position in the land right under the pharaoh and this is where he finds his calling and final vocation. He is trusted with the task of caretaker of all of Egypt’s produce in order to be able to survive the foreseen famine that was to come to Egypt.

But his vocation served to not just protect Egypt but a people and not just any people God’s chosen people. His family being the sons of Jacob and the people of Israel would be care for by his vocation in Egypt. In this R. Paul Stevens reminds us that God is first constantly at work and that as people created in God’s image we to are coworkers with God as he accomplishes his purposes.

I believe in this volume by Stevens through his reflections of these well known Bible passages gives a biblical based theology of work to deal with the question that many who work may be wondering, “Why work? What is the point anyway?” I would recommend this is a great addition to any library as study help to assist in further understanding the Christian theological aspects of our daily labor. ( )
  moses917 | Nov 15, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Stevens offers his perspective on what Scripture says about work. He defines work as "any purposeful expenditure of energy--whether manual, mental, or both, whether paid or not." This very broad definition of work allows him to address a number of issues that some might find outside the scope of work in their own perspective. Most of the book is consumed with addressing a particular aspect of work (within Stevens' broad definition) from books of the Bible. The bulk of his attention is paid to Old Testament books. The chapters are brief and limited in their depth of treatment.
  Lenow | Jul 5, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book serves a useful purpose, exploring the purpose and meaning of work from a Christian perspective — an understanding that is sorely lacking in the contemporary world and workplace.

Through no particular fault of the book itself, it took me an excessively long time to work my way through it. Despite appreciating the overall message, the effort Stevens makes to approach the topic from several different angles, and a number of insightful passages I encountered along the way, I just couldn't seem to get into it for extended periods of time. I suspect that I am more at fault than the book itself, though, and so I would still recommend it to anyone interested in the topic. ( )
  baroquem | May 17, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In Work Matters Stevens creates a simple and accessible primer tot one of the most important aspects of everyday life. Stevens defines work and breaks it down by exploring it through the narrative of Biblical Characters. While there are many books in the field Work Matters is the right length and doesn't bog down in theological details. ( )
  kurtabeard | May 13, 2012 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Review of Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture, by R. Paul Stevens
Release Date – March 29, 2012. $16.00 paperback
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

R. Paul Stevens' new book, Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture, represents his latest attempt to examine the role of “work” in the life of a Christian. While the topic of faith in the workplace has also been the topic of several of his previous books, such as Doing God's Business and The Other Six Days, he takes a different approach in Work Matters. Here, his goal is to offer a more “comprehensive biblical theology of work.” In each of the twenty brief chapters, Stevens examines a different aspect of “work” using various biblical stories and characters as his case studies.

Although there have been many significant attempts at developing a “theology of work” in recent years, Work Matters remains a welcome contribution. By defining “work” as “any purposeful expenditure of energy – whether manual, mental, or both, whether paid or not,” Stevens expands standard definitions of work, showing the striking variety of ways in which God uses the hands, minds and skills of people throughout scripture. When presented in this way, it becomes clear that their daily work was not simply a means to providing for their family, but a vital part of their ministry and witness to the goodness and faithfulness of God.

Stevens breaks the twenty chapters into five sections in order to examine the role of work in the Torah, the historical books, wisdom literature, the prophets, and the New Testament. Each section contains an introduction, several chapters, and a brief summary, which makes the book very accessible to most readers. Each chapter focuses either on one biblical character, such as St. Paul, or one book, such as Ecclesiastes, making this a good resource for small groups and Bible studies. Stevens ends each chapter and section with at least three basic principles that the readers can apply to their own understanding of work in their life of faith.

The most important aspect of this book is its detailed attention to the function of narrative when examining biblical texts. In doing so, Stevens draws the reader's attention to dimensions of the stories and characters that are often neglected. For example, he resists a simplistic “rags-to-riches” understanding of Joseph's story and demarcates between where Joseph has a “career” - a shepherd tending his father's flocks, a “job” - working as a servant in Potiphar's home, and a “vocation” - being sent by God to serve in Egypt as a missionary and manage the resources of the land. Also, Stevens focuses on the life-context in which certain biblical characters do their work. The chapter on Ruth clearly shows this sensitivity by acknowledging that she was working under survival conditions. Yet, God still provided for her and Naomi as they were eking out a living by doing the only work available – gleaning from the fields of Boaz.

Stevens does, however, leave a fair amount to be desired in composing a comprehensive biblical theology of work. While being comprehensive does not require one to be exhaustive, the author's desire to gain breadth does require him to sacrifice depth in many chapters. The length of some chapters could easily be tripled and many more biblical characters could have been included. Also, the fact that the author ends each brief chapter with several key points and biblical principles derived from the story makes it rather tedious to read large portions of the book in one sitting. These chapters may better be viewed as vignettes depicting the importance and meaning of work in the lives of biblical characters.

Work Matters does have some shortcomings, but they do not prevent it from being an important resource for preaching and teaching about the meaning of work from a biblical perspective. As people of faith continue to examine and reflect on the role of work in their lives, the writings of R. Paul Stevens will provide ample food for thought. I would recommend this as a resource for public and church libraries, for pastors and lay people alike, especially those considering becoming bi-vocational ministers. ( )
1 vote Daniel_Durbin | Mar 8, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0802866964, Paperback)

Adam and Eve worked. Jacob and Joseph worked. So did Ruth, David, Daniel, Jonah, Martha, Priscilla and Aquila, Paul — and most people in the Old and New Testaments.

In Work Matters marketplace theology expert R. Paul Stevens revisits more than twenty biblical accounts — from Genesis to Revelation — exploring through them the theological meaning of every sort of work, manual or intellectual, domestic or commercial. Taken together, his short, pithy reflections on these well-known Bible passages add up to a comprehensive, Bible-based theology of work — one that will be equally useful for seminars, classes, Bible studies, and individuals seeking to grasp more fully the theological dimensions of their daily labor.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:08 -0400)

Marketplace theology expert R. Paul Stevens revisits more than twenty biblical accounts -- from Genesis to Revelation -- exploring through them the theological meaning of every sort of work, manual or intellectual, domestic or commercial. --from publisher description… (more)

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