As I’m often asked for book recommendations on various subjects, I decided to put together an online list of my top ten books in various categories. Basically, if I was only allowed 10 books in my library on that subject, these are the ten I would choose. Previous posts include:
- Top 10 Books on Christ in the Old Testament
- Top 10 Books on Preaching
- Top 10 Books on Depression
- Top 10 Biographies of Christian Men
- Top 10 Biographies of Christian Women
- Top 10 Books on Fighting Porn
- Top 10 Books for Moms
- Top 10 Books for Graduates
- Top 10 Books on Leadership
- Top 10 Books on Christian Leadership
- Top 10 Books for Dads
- Top 10 Books on Using Technology
- Top 10 Puritan Books on Sin
- Top 10 Modern Books on Sin
Today I’m listing my Top 10 Books on Christians and Work, looking at the subject of vocation, or our callings. If you know of other good books on this topic please leave your suggestion in the comments and I’ll add them under “Reader Suggestions.”
1. God at Work: Your Christian Vocation in All of Life by Gene Veith.
It was really tough to choose first second, and third in this category. But Veith’s classic modern work on the Christian’s calling just shaded the top spot both for its rich content and inviting readability. This book will not only change the way you view your work but the way you view God as He works through your work.
2. The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs by Sebastien Traeger and Greg Gilbert.
#2 and 3 are really second equal. If you want to distinguish them, I’d say that The Gospel at Work is a simpler book whereas those who have already read a bit in this subject area would be more stimulated by Keller’s work. There are a couple of graphics in The Gospel at Work that have stuck with me and continue to influence my daily approach to work, especially the challenge to find the path through both extremes of being idle at work or making an idol of work.
3. Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work by Timothy Keller.
An excellent foundation to a lifetime of work that makes me wish I was a teenager and starting over again. Like all of Keller’s work, it is deeply rooted in the Bible’s theology and yet also manages to apply that theology to the most contemporary of challenges and questions. Will help you to see your work primarily as worship.
4. What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done by Matt Perman.
I’ve been an avid reader of Matt’s blog for years and I’ve learned a lot from him on various subjects. So I wasn’t surprised at his new book receiving so many positive reviews. Although the book touches on many subjects related to work, its primary focus is productivity – getting the right things done in the right way – which, Matt argues, is as much part of our good works as going on Mission to Africa. If you’ve already read general books on vocation (like #1-3), then you’ll want to pick up Matt’s book to further challenge your thinking and provide you with a ton of practical daily helps for your daily work.
5. Family Vocation: God’s Calling in Marriage, Parenting, and Childhood by Gene Veith and Mary Moerbe.
Books 1-4 do touch on how the doctrine of vocation plays out in our homes and family relationships. However Family Vocation (written by Gene Veith and his daughter Mary) looks much more closely at these arenas and argues that fatherhood, motherhood, etc., should also be viewed as vocations. The end result is a much more holistic view of vocation that also includes our family and home responsibilities.
6. The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness.
As you would expect from Guinness, this is a demanding but rewarding read. Not as practical as most of the others, it addresses a number of big theological, philosophical, and existential questions. As the author himself recommends, it is to be read one chapter a day.
Quite a rare book from an evangelical that goes a long way to destroying the dualism that has afflicted too much evangelicalism especially in this area of business. In a short hundred pages, Grudem makes the convincing case that business activity can please and glorify God as morally good and useful. It will encourage many business people who are often left feeling guilty or at least second best because they are not preaching the Gospel or saving people from AIDS.
8. The Other Six Days: Vocation, Work, and Ministry in Biblical Perspective by R. Paul Stevens.
Stevens goes to war on the clergy-laity distinction that sees ministry as the only spiritual work. Consistent with the reformation ideal of the priesthood of all believers, he argues for a much more unified view of life and worship and demonstrates how the church’s main work is to equip God’s people to serve Him in their homes, workplaces, and communities. With the study questions for each chapter, it would be a good book for small groups.
See also Stevens’ brief and quickly read biblical theology of work, Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture.
9. Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work by Tom Nelson.
Similar to The Other Six Days in aim but more popular in style and practical in content.
10. What Is Vocation? (Basics of the Faith) by Stephen Nichols.
A brief (32 page) booklet that would be a good starting point for someone wanting to view their work more biblically and meaningfully. Especially good for teenagers or those who aren’t keen readers.
Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good by Amy Sherman.
The Man of Business by various older (i.e. dead) writers.
The Callings: The Gospel in the World by Paul Helm.
Any other books you’d recommend that either deal with work in general or that focus on one aspect of it?
Heaven Is a Place on Earth by Michael Wittmer.
Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men by Bob Schultz.
Work in the Spirit: Toward a Theology of Work by Miroslav Wolf.
Visions of Vocation: Common Grace for the Common Good by Steven Garber.
Business as Mission: The Power of Business in the Kingdom of God by Michael Baer.
Your Work Matters to God by Doug Sherman and William Hendricks.