Working in the Presence of God, Denise Daniels & Shannon Vandewarker. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2019.
Summary: Addresses the question of workplace spirituality–practices that help us engage with God in the context of and amid our work.
Most often, when we think about spiritual practices, we think about a retreat to a monastery, or some other remote place, or at least in a quiet place in our home, if such exists. On the other hand, writings about workplaces often deal with the biblical theology of work, and biblical principles shaping the excellence and ethics of our work. This book makes a unique contribution to Christian workplace literature in exploring spiritual practices that one can weave into the ordinary rhythms of day to day work.
In fact, taking a page from Tish Harrison Warren’s Liturgy of the Ordinary, the authors begin the book by inviting us to identify our work rhythms and then encourage us that God wants to meet us in these everyday rhythms. The practices explained in this book are elaborated in ways that weave into those rhythms. These are organized around orienting to our work, engaging in our work, and reflecting upon our work.
Orienting to our work begins with our commute and creating a liturgy that fits the surroundings and circumstances of that commute. The authors then propose practices that set apart and remind us that our work places are holy ground. They take up our calendar and our to-do lists and the surrender of these to God. Finally there is the reading and reflecting on the scriptures–even a notecard in our pocket with a verse upon which we reflect throughout the day.
Engaging in our work commends practices that remind us of our call to be co-creators with God in our work. They begin with the affirmation of our call, both general and particular to our work. They encourage gratitude and celebration, recalling God’s blessings, the contributions of others. Sometimes, though, we contribute to the problems in our workplace. In this case, we practice confession at work, the ways we have fallen short. Finally, there are futile systemic problems for which we practice lament.
Sometime we need to step away and reflect on our work. They explore the practice of solitude–time alone with God. The practice of examen helps us review our days and allow the Lord to search our hearts–our joys, sorrows, the places where we need forgiveness, and grace. Finally, they encourage sabbath to rest, reflect, and relate.
In each chapter, the writers explain the practice, then share stories of several people and how they implemented the practice in their own lives, followed by practical suggestions for beginning the discipline. The chapters conclude with questions to use after practicing the discipline for a period of time.
This is a great book both for individual study and for a group of Christians in the workplace to read, practice, and discuss together. It upholds a vision of meeting God in the rhythms of our daily work. As part of Hendrickson’s Theology of Work series, it upholds a high vision of work as mattering to God. It goes further in reminding us that God’s presence extends beyond the parking lot into the workplace, into the places where we spend most of our waking hours.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions I have expressed are my own.