by Peter Shaukat
Having hazarded a comment on the global and ecclesiastical context of our time and offered a rough and ready theology of work, I’d like to outline few suggested essentials of a working spirituality with a missional worldview for the professional or business person.
Embrace the Incarnation of Christ
The first essential is to embrace the incarnation of Christ. Specifically, devotionally, prayerfully to remember and internalize the fact that Jesus walks the Holy Land of your country, your marketplace, your professional sphere through you. You are his hands and feet. You are his mind and word. You are a channel of his redemption and restoration. His promise that we would do greater works than he did in Palestine is surely supported by his promise to be with us and evidenced by the work and witness of practicing Christians in every profession, especially in places where it’s still highly unlikely that the majority have ever seen a Christian engineer, teacher, or businessman.
For most of us who spend the majority of our time in the place of our professional vocation or business calling this will be the dominant point of sustained, transformational witness.
Live a Life of Integration
The second essential is to live a life of integration recognizing that your work – paid or not – is your primary ministry. Take up your profession and the full armor of God and fight the good fight. You will be wounded, but he will bind your wounds, increasingly using your brothers and sisters in Christ who perceive what you perceive. Indeed, God gives us multiple spheres of ministry – in our families, neighborhoods, churches, etc. – but for most of us who spend the majority of our time in the place of our professional vocation or business calling this will be the dominant point of sustained, transformational witness. If the gospel works there, it will work anywhere. If it doesn’t, the implications are distressing in the extreme.
When the driving force behind being deployed as a “professional” is access to a visa, but the day to day sustained engagement in that declared profession is not in evidence, integrity breaks down.
Strive for Integrity
The third essential is to strive to be people of integrity – being who we say we are. Derived from the Latin adjective “integer” meaning whole or complete, integrity implies a spirituality and mission that are internally consistent and authentic. This is of particular significance for those who take their professional or business skills into cross-cultural mission settings, particularly where access to so-called “closed countries” is problematic for religious workers. When the driving force behind being deployed as a “professional” is access to a visa, but the day to day sustained engagement in that declared profession is not in evidence, integrity breaks down. The “professional” no longer exists. Achieving an inner sense of wholeness in which the practitioner bases their work on the fundamentals of a theology of work, on the pursuit of a living spirituality and upon a missional passion that all would become like them as a follower of Jesus is not an easy or automatic outcome. But it is the worthy goal.
Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. – Thomas Edison
Live with Intentionality
The fourth essential is to live with intentionality. Mission is not accidental. Spirituality must be cultivated, albeit in a wide variety of ways. Our calling is to be and to make disciples. Our professions are not just a means to an end but are a sacred stewardship in their own right and become a significant context in which our own and others’ spiritual formation takes place, if we will spend the time to reflect upon them in that light. Our mission is not simply to coast or to spend our lives in the safe harbor of a career, being carried along by external forces over which we have no control and in which we take no interest. To live excellently in our profession – creatively, ethically – is costly. Similarly, to receive the praise of men for a noble business career but to do nothing in regards to making disciples of all nations is a life poorly invested.
In conclusion, the remark has been attributed to Thomas Edison, famously known as the inventor of the electric light bulb and the founder of General Electric: “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” To which we would add, so too is spirituality dressed!
Read Part 1 on The BAM Review: The Spirituality of Professional Skills and Business
Read Part 2 on Transformational SME: Towards a Practical Theology of Work
This article was originally published as part of a chapter in Spirituality in Mission: Embracing the Lifelong Journey; editors John Amalraj, Geoffrey W. Hahn, William D. Taylor and was first posted as a Blog on the Transformational SME website.
Peter Shaukat was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. With a professional background in chemical engineering, education, and business, he is cofounder and CEO of a global investment fund which has invested in dozens of kingdom-focused companies across the Arab world and Asia. Having served in cross- cultural mission for over forty years on six continents, Peter has given leadership to a variety of for-profit and not-for-profit entities, including a satellite television media company in the Arab world, a maternal mortality reduction program in Africa, an engineering company in South Asia, and major international mission agencies.
More from Peter Shaukat on The BAM Review:
Spirituality in Mission: Embracing the Lifelong Journey
Edited by John Amalraj, Geoffrey W. Hahn, and William D. Taylor
Authors from eighteen countries give us their perspectives on biblical principles and cultural expressions of spirituality particularly as the church engages in God’s mission. This anthology enriches our understanding of the depth and the meaning of being spiritual and the diversity of forms to live out the Christian faith.
Mission without spirituality will only be a human effort to convince people of religious theories. Spirituality without a missionary involvement of the church will not express God’s desire that the transforming gospel reaches every person. This book will help you rethink your understanding of what is spiritual, revisit your own spiritual journey, and appreciate the different forms of spirituality as they are described and performed around the globe. More Info