Vocational Liturgies: Discipleship at Work

We continue to encourage pastors to find tools that will help their congregants cultivate their own discipleship in the places where they spend the majority of their lives outside of church each week – their work.

In You Are What You Love: The Spiritual Power of Habit, author James K.A. Smith defines discipleship as “a way to curate your heart, to be attentive to and intentional about what you love.” In this book, Smith presents vocational liturgies as one way to help congregants’ be more diligent in their discipleship at work:

What are the rituals that start your day? Many of us have adopted daily habits without much reflection. Our morning rituals probably include a cycle of “checking in”—with email, Facebook, Twitter, the Wall Street Journal. And what if those rituals aren’t just something that you do? What if they are also doing something to you? What if those rituals are veritable “liturgies” of a sort?

All of us need to curate our unconscious, to be attentive to the formation of our imagination. Whether we’re entrepreneurs launching a tech start-up or first-time parents starting a family, our “creative” work as human beings made in God’s image is sort of pulled out of us by our attraction to a vision of the good life. If you are what you love and you make what you want, then we need to be attentive to how our wants are formed if we want to be faithful makers. We need to be careful what we worship – it will shape what you want, and therefore what you make and how you work.

So what if pursuing God in our vocations requires immersion in rituals that direct our passions?

If God is invested in every square inch of his creation – not just the church and theology, but also philosophy and physics, law and economics, agriculture and the arts, we ought not to settle for being Christians who happen to be artists, or lawyers who are simply “also” Christians. We should see our vocations as ways to pursue God himself. It’s not just a matter of loving our work; it’s about loving our work for God.

If we want to pursue God in our vocations, we need to immerse ourselves in rituals and rhythms and practices whereby the love of God seeps into our very character and is woven into not just how we think but who we are.

Let’s think creatively about rhythms, rituals, and routines that would let the good news sink into us throughout the week, like listening to the public reading of Scripture with colleagues or practice morning prayer as a way to frame daily work.

What are the daily rhythms that help you love your work for God?

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