The City Rejoices

A year before hearing about the Fellows program, I was sitting in the dining hall with my economics professor, wrestling over whether my conscience would allow me to take part in the evils of a greed-driven capitalistic society (aka ‘get a real job’). After a year of travel and internal searching I joined the Fellows Program, hoping the experience would shed light on ‘the right way’ to work. In fact, it did.

Through it I saw successful men like Frank Brock and Bob Bosworth embodying what it means to be ‘the righteous’ (my words, not theirs!) of whom the Scripture says, “when the righteous prosper, the city rejoices.” I saw in them strong leaders who exuded the ‘aesthetic of humility’ to which I was irresistibly drawn. If business could be done that way, I wanted to give it a shot.

I discovered that work was a ‘pre-fall invention.’ As such, it is (when done right) intrinsically pleasing to God. Our work is not pleasing to God only inasmuch as we use it to promote ‘ethics, evangelism, and tithe.’ Rather, God takes delight in the making of excellent chairs, gourmet meals, and insightful PowerPoint decks. In fact, God incorporates his plan for work into his plan to provide. As Luther puts it “God himself will milk the cows through him whose vocation it is.”

Of course, Christians live in the ‘messy middle’ of doing business in a fallen world. They should always be on the lookout for the ‘creative third way.’ As Jeff Van Duzer says, “When Christians become aware of tensions between their vocation as followers of Christ and their vocations as businesspersons, they must work harder to uncover new possibilities consistent with both callings.” Indeed, as the old maxim says, “necessity is the mother of invention.” Christians ought to be on the bleeding edge of what has now become the trendy concept of ‘doing well by doing good.’

These truths convinced me of what Dorothy Sayers puts so eloquently: “Work is not primarily a thing one does to live but the thing one lives to do. It is, or it should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God.”

Work pleases God. Work can ‘make the city rejoice.’ Work can help us be fully human. The Fellows Program did its job.

Practically-speaking, the Fellows Program cost me over $100,000. With my newfound freedom to ‘work to the glory of God,’ I decided to go to business school. I am now a management consultant, and love getting up every morning eager to solve my client’s biggest challenges, to God’s great delight.

Chris Musser, Chattanooga Fellow Alum ‘14 (inaugural class)

Jonathan Ingraham