Tuesday, June 7

Book Review: Work Excellence

by Charles M. Garriott, reviewed as part of a program at The Diet of Bookworms.

This is the sort of book I don't usually read--short, easy to read, and conversational in style. I don't read this sort of book often because--unfairly, no doubt--I associate those characteristics with a lack of depth. This book, however, is not shallow.

There was probably nothing in it that I didn't already know at some level, and yet I found myself constantly rethinking my attitude toward work throughout the book. It is peppered with biblical stories, and principles relating to work in the life of a Christian are drawn from the stories. Each chapter ends with a few questions to help the reader reflect on how to apply those principles to his own life and work.

The chapter titled Conflict, for example, draws its principles from the story of the fall. Since the fall, our work experiences are marred by the results of God's wrath against sin. Our work is not going to be easy. There will be an element of struggle and futility in it, and we will experience conflict and tension. This is something that we need to accept about our life and work in a fallen world.

Yet we are not left without hope. The struggle within our life and work are temporal things, and they point us to the hope of the gospel.
The gospel has no meaning without the recognition of the pain from sin that ignites the anger of God. Our hope is in Christ alone, and not in the absence of pain.

We can find comfort in Christ from the suffering we experience in our work, and reconcilitation and forgiveness in the conflicts that arise there can be found in him, too.

Keeping these two basic biblical principles in mind--the fall mars our work experiences, yet there is hope in Christ--Garriott gives us a few questions to answer for ourselves at the end of the chapter, including, "What are the 'thistles' that exist within your work?" and "Are there relationships at your place of employment that need to be addressed with grace and forgiveness?" Finally, we are given a short prayer to pray regarding the effects of the fall on our life and work.

Each of the eleven short chapters in the book follows this same basic format: an examination of the principles, questions to help us think about how we might apply them to our own situations, and a prayer to pray. It's simplicity and subject matter make it a valuable book for almost any believer. Who isn't just a little dissatisfied with their life and work? Who doesn't need a reminder of our obligation to use the talents we have been given in a way that brings God glory? The format would also make it suitable for use in a discussion group setting, using the questions for reflection as starting points for group discussion.

You can find other reviews of this book at the Diet of Bookworms.

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