Here at The Green Room we are always looking for resources that communicate the integration of faith and work. It isn’t everyday when I come across such a rich and robust resource as God’s Pleasure at Work: The Difference One Life Can Make – an Introduction to Faith, Work, and Purpose.
This eBook curriculum for K-12 was written by Dr. Christian Overman and Chris Hare. Overman is an author, speaker, teacher, and personal coach as well as the founder of Worldview Matters, an educational service organization that “exists to help people make meaningful connections between the historic-yet-timeless Judeo-Christian biblical worldview and their everyday work.” Their strategy is “to reach elementary and secondary students through their parents and teachers. . .via the Worklife Restoration and Advancement Project, and instructional resources for educators in faith-based schools, homes and churches.”
Chris Hare is a marketing strategist, writer, and founder of The Storied Future—a marketing consultancy serving startups and large tech companies. He also advocates for employee mental health in the tech space. Prior to launching this business, Chris did tours of duty at Microsoft and Amazon.
God’s Pleasure is the result of Overman’s experience as high school teacher, principal, graduate student, and graduate of the Colson Center’s Fellows program (formerly Centurions). Overman learned very early in this career the importance of thinking “Christianly” and the importance of a Biblical worldview has colored every aspect of his career.
The purpose of this curriculum is to “help followers of Christ connect their everyday work with their faith, in practical and meaningful ways, and thereby bring extraordinary purpose to what they do. More than this, it helps individuals to think about how their daily work connects with the common good of the wider community.” While originally intended for use in K-12 Christian classrooms, Overman is quick to note these ideas are important and relevant for adults of any age of stage of life. The curriculum can also be used as a training course for Christian school teachers who desire to incorporate theology of work, economics, and human flourishing into all subject matter.
Simply, yet profoundly, Christian unpacked for me the radical difference between the way Greeks viewed the world – beginning a thousand years before Christ – and the Hebraic (Biblical) worldview. This wasn’t a stuffy history lesson. It was both relevant and practical. It demolished the subtle yet pervasive idea that my involvement in business should be viewed through both secular and sacred lenses. God didn’t intend that I would be one person on Sunday, another on Monday.
From the very outset, this curriculum challenges the student to consider how their faith will provide a vision for their work regardless of vocation:
How will your faith provide a compelling motivation and purpose for your work as a banker, plumber, a bus driver, a homemaker, or a civil servant?
This course is designed to get you thinking about this important question. But the question is not just for a future time in a future job. The question applies as much to your present [emphasis author’s] word as a student as it does to your future work….
Overman challenges the student, regardless of age or place in life, to understand the significant meaning they can bring to any kind of work. Oftentimes, seeds have been planted in our minds that result in incorrect thinking. Two such seeds that Overman describes are “Success is to become a millionaire by the age of 40 and retire” and “The only truly worthwhile work is to do the work of a pastor or a missionary.”
God’s Pleasure provides a great foundational understanding of worldview and builds on this throughout the curriculum. Overman quotes Richard Wright, professor emeritus at Gordon College, who defines worldview as “a comprehensive framework of beliefs that helps us to interpret what we see and experience and also gives us direction in the choices that we make as we live out our days.” Understanding worldview encourages the person of faith to take captive any faulty assumptions that affect their thinking, often with hazardous consequences. Individual worldviews influence workplace behavior that very often shapes the culture of organizations, communities and nations.
Building on the foundation of Biblical worldview including a discussion of the erroneousness of the sacred-secular divide, co-working with God, spheres of work, and business as mission, Overman presents the extraordinary significance of ordinary work. He does so in the context of helping the student to understand the step-by-step approach to making connections between a biblical worldview and daily work. This presentation also includes helpful analysis of modern and post-modern thought and views of the Kingdom.
Overman concludes the curriculum with a great list of resources for further study including books by Tom Nelson, Andy Crouch, Amy Sherman, Gene Veith, Hugh Whelchel, Jay Richards, Tim Keller, and the Theology of Work Bible Commentary by our friends at the Theology of Work Project.
Overman is also developing a church-based course for parents (and teachers) who have children in grades 1-12. This course uses the high school text from this curriculum as the main text for this class. He plans to field test the church-based course this fall and it should be available for purchase in 2018. The course will be called Working Wonders. The idea is to equip parents (and teachers) to work with their own children/students at home/school using the instructional tools introduced in this curriculum’s text. Anyone interested in this church-based course can contact Overman here.
I heartily encourage you to review the curriculum here and share it with teachers and parents looking to equip students with the foundations of a Biblical worldview and the connection between faith and work.