How God's Work Is The Model For Your Work

Posted: Jan 16, 2019 11:51 AM

I was recently a guest on MoneyWise radio with my friends Rob West and Steve Moore (you can listen here).

We talked about the creation account in the book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible.  I spent 5 years in almost daily study of the Hebrew text of the early chapters of Genesis and then spent another year writing up that research into a 240 page thesis for which I was awarded the Sacred Licentiate in Theology degree (STL) by the Collegium Augustinianum. In other words, I've spent a lot of time on this: I'm not winging it.

Four things stand out to be about the creation account which inform our daily work:

First, God makes something, then calls it 'good' but then comes back the next day and changes things again. Good is not done. God's work is first creation from nothing (which he alone can do), but after that, he's taking good things and making them better.

Entrepreneurs will get this right away. We're always trying to make our processes and products better. There's a management tool called 'continuous quality improvement' which is very much a Biblical idea (and it historically came out of Biblical influence).

But it's not just entrepreneurs who honor this principle. Every worker has the opportunity to improve. If a perfect God works to improve the output of his labor, imperfect humans certainly should too. Maybe it's building a Fortune 500 company. Maybe it's getting better at loading the dishwasher. The principle is the same, and is part of what it means to be in the image of God.

Second, God organizes things before filling them.  The earth is 'formless and void'. The first Bible translator in American, Charles Thompson, translated that as 'unfurnished'. I actually think that his practical American mind might have gotten us closer to the market than the tradition of translating it using abstract philosophical ideas, such as chaos. God was building something and the raw materials were there, but it was not yet according to the final specs. Unfurnished, unfinished, not yet fit for purpose. And also empty.

So it's unorganized and empty. The first thing is to make it organized, which he does. The first three of the six days focus mainly on dividing things: heaven from earth; night from day; waters from dry land.

When I decided to fix up my garage, first thing I did was build shelves. Then I put stuff on the shelves. God built his shelving system first.

Third, then he filled the shelves. Dry land gets plants; sky gets sun, moon, and stars; air gets birds, seas get fish and other sea creatures; dry land gets animals and then humans.

Fourth, God delegates authority to the things he creates. He organizes things, which is an extremely important part of the creation account and continues as a key theme throughout the rest of the Torah. Those separate shelves are separate zones of authority. Then he gives authority to do jobs to the officers he creates to fill them. The firmament is given the job of separating the waters above from the waters below. The sun 'rules' the day; the moon 'rules' the night). Humans are then given rule over the earth.

If a perfect and omniscient God, one who has no inherent limits on his span of management, one who never gets overwhelmed with decision making, delegates his authority, then finite and fallible humans certainly should. 

There's quite a lot to all of this, and I hope you will click here and listen to the discussion.