Saturday 4 February 2023

Excerpt of The Sacred Meaning of Everyday Work Robert H Tribken

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the THE SACRED MEANING OF EVERYDAY WORK by Robert H Tribken Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!


About The Book:


Author: Robert H Tribken

Pub. Date: January 31, 2023

Publisher: Faith and Enterprise Press

Formats: Paperback

Pages: 272

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon 

(An earlier version was published in 2021as Sacred Rhythm: A Christian Spirituality for Our 21st Century Work Lives by Robert Tribken.)

It’s time to engage problems and opportunities with a new sense of purpose.

Work can sometimes feel like a pressure cooker, with painful levels of stress, interpersonal conflict, and the risk of burnout. We can lose track of our goals and maybe even feel as though our work is pointless and going nowhere.

Developing a deeper sense of purpose will help us overcome these problems and perhaps even flourish in our work lives.

Many of us have a deep, intuitive desire to connect with something deeper than ourselves; for many, this means a deeper awareness of God and the divine mystery as we go through the week. And we have a closely related desire to contribute to the greater good and the well-being of other people through our work.

These powerful desires can profoundly affect our work lives if we let them guide us to our deeper purpose.

The Sacred Meaning of Everyday Work will help you find this new sense of purpose and deal with your challenges and opportunities with wisdom, strength, and courage.

The author offers practical insights from multiple sources, including the Bible, contemporary research, and experience in business. He invites you to consider these in light of your own faith or spirituality and your own work experience.

This book will help you:

  • Find deeper purpose and meaning in your work and see its spiritual connection.
  • Cultivate the character strengths like courage, integrity, and compassion you need to lead in a time of uncertainty.
  • Overcome work-related problems like stress, burnout, and interpersonal conflict.
  • Adopt short spiritual practices that help you relax, turn your attention toward God, and focus on the work at hand with new energy.
  • Understand how your work contributes to the greater good and the well-being of other people.
  • See how the values you bring to your work can encourage the teamwork essential for success.
  • Learn what the Bible actually says about your work’s positive value and its contribution to human flourishing.

Your work is important for yourself, your family, your coworkers, and society as a whole. Finding its sacred meaning will help you work with a new sense of purpose.


Chapter One 

Genesis: Human Purpose, Dignity, and Potential 

The meaning we find in our work is heavily influenced by the conceptual  framework through which we view our lives. The Bible speaks to this and  offers insights regarding the inherent dignity of each individual, our sense  of agency and creative drive, and our mysterious relationship to God. 

The next two chapters offer for your consideration some of these biblical  insights; these generally take a positive view of work and the connection  between our work and our spirituality. Sin, of course, also enters the picture  and spoils our work, as do various misfortunes and adversities; we will  discuss these in later chapters, but for now our starting point will be to  address the positive potential of human work. This is where the Bible starts. 

The First Great Creation Story - Genesis 1 

Many civilizations have creation stories that provide a foundation for how  people see themselves. By going back to a supposed beginning, the creation  story explains how the civilization originated and says something about  the nature of the people and their reality; it is intended to place their lives  into a meaningful context.  

The Bible has two creation stories, both at the beginning of the Bible.  The first is Genesis 1, the first chapter of the first book in the Bible (it  extends slightly past the end of Genesis 1 to Genesis 2:3). This story  addresses the goodness of creation as initially intended by God. It describes  how humans were made in the image of God with all that this implies for  the dignity and worth of the human person. This passage has important  implications for our work life.

The origins of this first biblical creation story are somewhat murky.  Whenever and by whomever it was written, the story was important to the  Jews being held in captivity in Babylon, five to six hundred years before  the birth of Jesus. For this reason, and to provide a sense of the story’s  importance and radical distinctiveness, it would be good to look at the  Babylonian captivity as background. 

Jerusalem, its Temple, and several other cities were conquered and  completely destroyed by the Babylonian empire around 587 BCE (there  were multiple invasions, over several years). Many Jews (perhaps twenty  to twenty-five thousand) were taken into captivity in Babylon and were  held there for more than fifty years, longer than a typical lifetime.  

The Jews would have been exposed to their Babylonian overlords’ own  creation story, the Enuma Elish. This was a very different story than the  creation story of Genesis 1. In the Babylonian story, there were many gods,  and these gods eventually went to war against each other. A particularly  cunning god by the name of Marduk led one of the factions. In a dramatic  moment of the story, Marduk fought and killed the rival leader, Tiamat,  who was also more or less the mother of the other gods. 

After killing Tiamat, Marduk ripped her body in half and made the  sky out of one half and formed the earth out of the other half. Later on,  Marduk decided that the gods needed servants to do their work, so he  killed one of Tiamat’s defeated followers, cut him open, and used his bone  and blood to form human beings as slaves who would serve the gods.4 

Why was this story important? Perhaps partly because it showed order  being brought out of chaos. But more importantly, the Babylonians were  the chosen people of Marduk and therefore, according to the story, they  had the power and authority to rule humanity on his behalf. And that  is why the captive peoples were under the control of their Babylonian  overlords and always would be. It sounds to me like this story was used  as a tool of oppression. 

Genesis 1 served as a counter to the Enuma Elish and other creation  stories of the Ancient Near East. Unlike the Enuma Elish and the others,  Genesis 1 has one all-powerful God, as opposed to a host of battling deities.  And in the biblical story, God is good (as is his creation) and has created  humans with value, dignity, and agency in their own right. He did not  create humans to be slaves of the Babylonian oppressors.

I recommend reading Genesis 1:1-2:3. You might want to prepare by  imagining what it would have been like to be one of the Jewish captives in  Babylon. Imagine having to stand in a public square and listen to Marduk’s  story. Then imagine walking home in the late afternoon; the sun is still  up, the dirt road is dusty and crowded. There is very little noise—maybe  an occasional child or a quiet murmur, and the sound of feet.  

As people return to their villages, they begin to gather in homes and  meeting places—everyone, even the children. After everyone arrives, the  adults close the windows, shut and latch the doors, and light a flame. And  then they listen to a very different creation story, a story of hope, human  dignity, freedom, and the possibility of flourishing lives. 

In the beginning when God created the heavens and   the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness  he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.  

And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.” So God made the dome and separated the waters  that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so. God called the dome sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day. 

And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so. God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with  the seed in it.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of  every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw  that it was good. And there was evening and there was  morning, the third day. 

And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the  sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be  for signs and for seasons and for days and years, and  let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light  upon the earth.” And it was so. God made the two great  lights—the greater light to rule the day and the lesser  light to rule the night—and the stars. God set them in the  dome of the sky to give light upon the earth, to rule over  the day and over the night, and to separate the light from  the darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there  was evening and there was morning, the fourth day. 

And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms  of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth  across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea  monsters and every living creature that moves, of every  kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged  bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God  blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill  the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the  earth.” And there was evening and there was morning,  the fifth day. 

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild  animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God  made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and  

the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon  the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have  dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of  the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” 

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them: male and female he created them. 

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 air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything  that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. 

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the  work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day  from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. 

 Genesis 1:1-2:35 

Several aspects of the story might carry special meaning for us, starting  with the idea that there is one God and this God is the source of all that  is (“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth. . .”).  There is no talk here of multiple gods or any divisibility or conflict among  divine reality; God is the ground of being, to borrow theologian Paul  Tillich’s expression,6 and the source of all of reality. 

Unlike other creation stories of the time, including the Enuma Elish,  this is not a story of supernatural beings misbehaving. It is an account of  divine unity and purpose. God is the source and the creative force that is  driving the world (the universe) forward.

God speaks all the elements of reality into existence. God intends  something and it becomes real; his intention becomes concrete reality.  Whatever God creates is good—very good, maybe by definition. 

The images of the formless void, darkness covering the deep, a wind  from God sweeping over the waters, and God speaking things into existence, are ways of grappling with the incomprehensible mystery of God  and the ineffable quality of the infinite. But Genesis 1 also provides a  link between divine reality and the concrete world in which we live. God  speaks and the void is transformed; we can see, touch, and observe its  material form.  

And then, in verses 26 to 28, God creates humans in his image. There  can be different views among theologians about what it means to be created  in God’s image, but it seems clear that in this story there is some sort of  mysterious connection between God and humans and that we have been  given a large degree of agency. By agency, I mean that we are able to act  on our own volition and initiative and make decisions based on our own  values and goals—or at least should be able to.  

Verse 28 is sometimes called the creation mandate: on behalf of God,  we are to produce and create, in other words, to work. The implication is  that people have a deep, God-given drive to create and work with competence, effectiveness, and agency. This drive, I believe, is closely tied to our  identity as humans. People should be allowed to bring their full talent to  their work and thereby enjoy the status of co-creator. 

Humans as Co-Creators? 

Technically speaking, the Bible never uses the Hebrew word for “create”  to describe human activity, only to describe God’s activity. But this is  more of a semantic issue than a real one. When the Bible speaks of God’s  creative action, it is speaking of creation ex nihilo, in other words, creating  something out of nothing. In the Bible, only God can create something  out of nothing; humans, on the other hand, take matter and energy that  have already been created and convert them into something usable: 

You [God] cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart. Psalm 104:14-15 

Looking at a modern example of the creative process, when the developers of the first iPhone invented their new product, they worked with  matter that was already there, you might say converting preexisting atoms  to new uses. But while this is not technically creating something out of  nothing in the ex nihilo sense, we would nevertheless describe it as an act  of extraordinary creativity and innovation (thank you, Apple developers!).  

I would contend that if we look within ourselves, and think about our  more positive motivations, we do, indeed, seem to be designed to build and  create, improve our material circumstances, and constructively contribute  to the greater good. It is inconceivable to me that our role is merely to  maintain things as they are, without creating and building. Most of us are  more fully alive when we are creating and building than when we are just  maintaining the status quo. 

Two Additional Perspectives 

The second creation story begins at Genesis 2:4 and takes place in the  Garden of Eden. It has an interesting perspective that relates to humans  as agents of God:  

. . .then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;  and the man became a living being.  Genesis 2:7 

In other words, God formed the shape of the first human out of the dust,  the lowest possible material, but the shape did not become a conscious  human being until God breathed his spirit into him.7 This, too, suggests  a deep connection with God.

The story then goes on to say that God placed the human in the Garden  of Eden to “till it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). In other words, in the Bible,  work was part of our nature even before the expulsion from the garden;  it is not the result of sin, though it might be spoiled by it. 

The Bible also offers the idea that God designed and formed each of us  individually before we were born, presumably for a purpose. For example,  God tells the prophet Jeremiah:  

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah 1:5 

Lest we think this only applies to prophets and other famous persons,  Psalm 139 speaks of humans more generally: 

For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. 

Wonderful are your works; that I know very well. 

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 

Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. 

In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed. 

 Psalm 139:13-16 

We see somewhat similar examples of this perspective elsewhere, for  example in Job 10:8-11, Isaiah 49:1, and Galatians 1:15. The point seems  to be that God has purposely formed each of us as distinct individuals.  

And so the Bible offers three complementary images for our identity  and our relationship with God:

1. Humans are created in God’s image; we are to produce and create. 2. God has placed his spirit within us. 

3. We were designed and formed for a purpose. 

These seem to point to a deep connection between God and humans  and to each individual’s inherent dignity, agency, and purposefulness.  People who can express these through their work often feel a deep sense  of fulfillment and satisfaction; I believe this is an important clue to our  identity. 

Human Dignity 

These biblical images speak to the dignity of each individual human. They  suggest that each one of us has been created in the image of God and with  God’s spirit within us. No matter what our circumstances or station in  life, we have a fundamental dignity and worth that should be respected.  This applies to ourselves and to everyone with whom we come in contact. 

Recognizing the fundamental dignity of our fellow humans, as unique  individuals, has practical implications. We are more likely to form productive, collaborative working relationships with people whom we respect  at a deep level. And people who are respected and valued as persons are  more likely to bring their full talents and creativity to their work and to  find purpose and pleasure in doing so. 

People should also be free of coercion. Different individuals have  different views of what the good life entails; recognizing their dignity  means allowing them to pursue their own version of this, at least to the  extent that it does not interfere with the rights of others. 

Some employers see their employees as unique individuals and as  valuable resources, while others seem to see them primarily as an expense.  Seeing the potential in people and allowing them to develop and express  it through their work (and elsewhere) can make a huge difference in their  lives and the contribution they make to the organization’s goals. Increasing  numbers of employers have begun to see this.  

I have seen this played out as I visited the plants of my company’s  suppliers. In some cases, it was obvious that people (I am thinking especially of line workers) were engaged in their work and seemed to feel that they were contributing. In one start-up in which I was involved, the  production manager made sure everyone on the line knew they were  responsible for the quality of the products and could reject items and even  stop production on their own authority if they saw something that was not  right. They were also encouraged to provide advice about possible process  improvements as they gained experience. The people were respected as  humans and took pride in their work and responsibility, and it showed.  

On the other hand, I have seen plants with similar formal production  processes but where the line workers were, for the most part, disengaged  and just followed orders. Their productivity appeared to be quite different. 

Dignity is not just a matter of kindness. I have seen situations where the  owners or managers treated people very well and provided pay and other  benefits well beyond the industry norm, but the employees nevertheless  seemed bored and disengaged. I believe that, in at least some cases, this  was because the work was designed in a way that removed initiative. 

This illustrates the problem with seeing workers as people who need  our compassion but not as individual agents capable of bringing talent  and initiative to their work. People made in the image of God are capable  of so much more than we sometimes realize. 

At a church retreat several years ago, we watched a video about Max De  Pree, who was the chief executive officer of the Herman Miller furniture  company at the time. As De Pree interacted on the production floor with  some of his line employees, it was evident that he encouraged people to  bring their ideas and expertise into the discussion and to act on their own  initiative. He recognized that they brought their unique talents to their  work and had become the experts on their part of the manufacturing  process.  

Afterward, we broke into small groups for discussion. I asked my group  (mostly small-business owners and independent contractors) to picture  a conventional CEO who gives speeches about maximizing shareholder  value, and to compare this image to that of Max De Pree as portrayed in  the video. 

Then I asked two questions:  

For whom would you prefer to work?  

The response was immediate and unanimous: Max De Pree. 

Who do you think would be the most likely to  

maximize shareholder value? 

 Again, the response was unanimous (and enthusiastic): Max De Pree. The reaction to the second question was especially interesting. I think it  acknowledges what many of us know intuitively but do not often express— that people are more likely to be productive and engaged if they have a  chance to apply more of their talents and insights to their work and to  participate in creating and producing valued goods and services. Not all  employees will respond positively to this opportunity, of course, but many  will—and those who do so will drive the organization and determine its  culture and values.

About Robert H Tribken:

Rob Tribken has been in business for over four decades and is the founder of several businesses. Along the way, he has had to deal with many of the most difficult issues people face in their work lives. 

Over the years, Tribken became interested in the connection between faith, spirituality, and work. Several decades spent working in business combined with several years studying theology and becoming acquainted with organized Christianity convinced him that there is a great need to find better ways for churches to minister to people in the vocational aspects of their lives. He launched the Center for Faith and Enterprise to meet this need and help people experience a new sense of purpose, fulfillment, and effectiveness in their work lives. 

Tribken’s educational background helps him explore the connections between faith, spirituality, and work. He earned an MBA from The Harvard Business School and an MA in Theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. Tribken is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry in Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation at Fuller. He has also spent considerable time researching positive organizational psychology and has incorporated findings in his writings. 

Tribken has led retreats, taught classes, led groups engaged in contemplative practices, and spoken on the subjects of spiritual practices, connecting faith and work, business as a calling, and the role of business in ending poverty. In addition to his work with the CFE, he has been involved with several other non-profit organizations dealing with the connection between faith and work. In past years, he has served as a volunteer Chairman of the Board of Partners Worldwide, a board member of the Max DePree Center for Leadership, and an advisor to entrepreneurs. 

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will receive a finished copy of THE SACRED MEANING OF EVERYDAY WORK, US Only.

Ends February 18th, midnight EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:


Mythical Books

Guest Post/IG Post


Two Chicks on Books

Guest Post/IG Post


The Momma Spot

Guest Post


A Dream Within A Dream

Guest Post


#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Spotlight/IG Post


Writer of Wrongs


Week Two:


Lady Hawkeye

Excerpt/IG Post


Two Points of Interest



Review Thick And Thin

Review/IG Post



IG Review/LFL Drop Pic


Rajiv's Reviews

Review/IG Post


Fire and Ice

Review/IG Post



IG Review/TikTok Post

Week Three:


the book near me

Review/IG Post



Review/IG Post

No comments:

Post a Comment