This week I witnessed firsthand what Bethany Jenkins explained in her recent article "Shaping a Kid's Dream Job," which appeared in the Faith & Work channel on the TGC blog:
"Faith-and-work conversations aren’t just for the spiritually mature or those seeking more advanced discipleship. They’re not reserved for urban professionals working in white-collar jobs either. No, since faith-and-work conversations are about all-of-life coherence, everyone should be engaging in them—even children."
I had the delightful privilege of doing a presentation for my daughter's 2nd grade class. For the past two months the children have been doing "an inquiry into jobs" and parents were invited to share about their work. So, I created a PowerPoint presentation (for the first time in a decade, I think), brought some visual aids in a bag (dictionary, thesaurus, etc), and spoke for 10 minutes to a room full of seven and eight-year-olds. They gave me their full attention, and I was astonished to see hands go up all around the room when I invited questions.
The first question out of the gate was from an eager student in the back who was waving her hand wildly...
What makes a writer's work important?
And the second question came from the front row when I spotted a tentative hand raised no higher than the boy's shoulder...
Who depends on writers to do their job?
Profound questions, aren't they? Not only do we need to have an answer for ourselves, but we need to figure out a way to take away all of the adult trappings that make simple things sound pretentious or inaccessible. Our children are certainly worthy of our best efforts in communicating about vocation. I want to do a better job at talking about (and modeling!) the nature and importance of work to my own kids.
This experience also made me wonder what my kids' unprompted reflections might be on the oft-quoted "creation mandate":
"And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28.
In his NT Biblical Theology, G.K. Beale has published a list of the reiterations of the "creation mandate." Here's his list for further reading and/or inductive study with your kids:
- Genesis 9:1, 7; 12:2-3; 17:2, 6-8; 22:17-18; 26:3-4, 24; 28:3-4, 13-14; 35:11-12; 47:27; 48:3-4
- Exodus 1:7, 12, 20; 23:10-11
- Leviticus 26:9
- Deuteronomy 7:13; 15:4-6; 28:11-12; 30:16
- 2 Samuel 7:29
- 1 Chronicles 4:10; 17:9-11, 27
- Psalm 8:5-8; 72:8, 17, 19; 107:37-38
- Isaiah 51:2-3; 54:1-3
- Jeremiah 3:16-18; 23:3
- Ezekiel 36:9-12
- Daniel 7:13-14
- Hosea 1:10
And then there's Revelation 22:3 which I think is critically important to talk about when we talk about work. You've heard the expression "day job?" There's also our forthcoming "That Day job" in which we will be God's faithful servants forever.
"No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him."
For some recent publications on talking with children about faith and work, read the rest of Bethany Jenkins' "Shaping a Kid's Dream Job." Then see this intriguing piece by Tony Reinke on the Desiring God blog: "A Cure for Lame Table Prayers."