Vocation as Service

Car Mechanic

Recently I took my Suburban into the local auto shop. The owner was great. After I paid for the work, we sat and talked about old cars and the snow and sons. It was fun. He was in no hurry. My car has run great every time I have taken it to him. I am not sure how that gentleman views his work, but from my end he is a servant. He is not interested in making as much money as possible. He does not push you out the door. He is careful with vehicles and kind to his customers. He has a job to do and he does that job well. It got me thinking, why do we work? What is a job for? There are three common reasons why people get a job.

We Get a Job to Make Money

Probably the most common reason for going to work is to earn money. Why do you work hard in college? So you can get a degree. Why do you get a degree? So you can get a job. Why do you get a job? So you can make money. There is no greater idol in America than money. Naturally, it tops the list of why people work. They want to earn. Now of course, money is part of the reason we work. But if money is the engine that drives our work then we are greedy. If the goal of our work is a paycheck then it makes our work finally about us, not God or our neighbor.

We Get a Job for Self-Fulfillment

Another popular option for why we work is self-fulfillment. We work to fill some hole in our souls. Earlier generations did not think this way so much. But we do. We believe that if we find the perfect job we will come home each day with a deep sense of satisfaction. Again there is some truth here. We are all made in the image of God. God works. Therefore work makes us more human. Dignity is bestowed when we labor. A man who cannot work has lost a part of himself. But self-fulfillment should never be our primary goal in our work. When it is work becomes a way of getting what we need instead of serving others. Continue reading

True Peace is a By-Product of Justice

I am going to put quotes on my  blog from Charles and Demy’s book War, Peace, and Christianity from time to time. I found the book helpful in giving some of the basics of just war thinking and how it is different from pacifism and war hawks.  In this quote they lay out the idea, which is repeated throughout the book, that the aim of just war thinking is a a peace that comes from justly/righteously ordered human relationships. There can be a unjust peace and a just war. All punctuation and formatting is their’s except brackets.

Just-war thinking is not concerned first and foremost with military tactics and strategy. Nor does it serve as justification for any or all military conflict. Rather, it is an approach to statecraft that view peace as not only possibly but morally obligatory as a by-product of justly ordered human relationships. Peace, in this light, is not to be understood merely as the absence of conflict; it is rather the fruit or consequence-the by-product-of a justly ordered society. At its best, the just war tradition has worked to forge moral and political links between the limited use of armed force and the pursuit of peace, security, justice, and freedom. This linkage rests on a foundational assumption: that morality and politics “do not exist in hermetically sealed compartments of life. Rather, the tradition insists that there is one indivisible human universe of thought and action, a universe that is…inescapably moral and inescapably political.” [Citing George Wiegel]

The just-war position, then, is an account of ordering society in a manner that “places politics within an ethically shaped framework” and commits its citizens to debates “whenever and wherever a resort to force is contemplated.” [Citing Jean Elshtain] As such, just-war moral reasoning can be formulated according to basic assumptions about human nature that guide our social and political arrangements. Just war reasoning

  • promotes skepticism and queasiness about the use and abuse of power while not opting out of political reality altogether in favor of utopian fantasies,
  • requires action and judgment in world of limits, estrangement, and partial justice,
  • fosters recognition of the provisional nature of all political arrangements,
  • advances respect for other peoples and nations, in terms of both autonomy and accountability,
  • acknowledges the necessity of self-defense and intervention against unjust aggression and gross oppression while refusing to legitimize imperialistic crusades and empire building.