Book Review: Every Job a Parable

We thank the Center for Faith and Work at LeTourneau for allowing us to reprint this review of John Van Sloten’s new book. The review is addressed to an audience of workplace Christians; we invite you to think about how you could use the book to address issues of work and daily life with workplace Christians in your own church or ministry.

By Bill Peel

Okay, my work matters to God. But how, you ask? 

John Van Sloten can help. He loves practicing the spiritual discipline of watching people work. For his new book, Every Job a Parable,  he interviewed Walmart greeters, engineers, auto mechanics, hair stylists, chefs—people working at dozens of different jobs—and discovered how their work beautifully reflects some aspect of Who God is.

Chances are you’ll find someone he interviewed doing work like you do, and sees God at work in their work. Van Sloten calls the jobs he writes about “parables” because each one is a real-life, lived-out story depicting some aspect of God’s work and tell us something about God. A few examples:

  • When electricians connect a power line they image a world-empowering God, One who makes a way for His mysterious, wild, and sometimes dangerous power to plug into and enliven us.
  • Janitors and housekeepers image the God who humbly cleans up our lives and makes all things new every time they pick up, clean up, and make something shiny and pristine again.
  • When first responders rush to the scene of a fire, they image the risk-taking passion to save that characterizes God.
  • Just as a hairstylist shapes your hair and your image, God reshapes us into the image of His son.
  • When real estate developers see a tract of raw land and imagine a housing development or retail center, they imitate God’s vision to make us and all of creation into something useful and beneficial.

Van Sloten wants to help us discover that there is no job too insignificant for God’s presence so we can respond like Jacob, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I was unaware of it. … How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:16-17).

What does your work say to you and the world about God?

Dr. Bill Peel is the Founding Executive Director of The Center for Faith & Work at LeTourneau University created to help Christians understand their work’s importance to God and experience Christ’s transforming presence and power in every workplace in every nation.

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