Vocational Stewardship

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Steward YOUR Vocation

Latest News

Read the latest interview of Kingdom Calling here

Check out recent research showing that more pastors are preaching on work. here

IVP says: Kingdom Calling to be produced as an audio book
Release date to be announced later this year

Check out Today's Christian Woman interview with Amy Sherman
Read interview here

Kingdom Calling awarded Book of the Year
Kingdom Calling was chosen as Christianity Today's Book of the Year in the category of Christian Living.

Connecting Our Work to God's Mission
Sherman’s sermon on work & God’s Mission featured on preachingtoday.com

Sherman highlighted in Christianity Today
Amy Sherman was chosen by Christianity Today as one of the 50 most influential Christian women shaping the church and culture

Rejoicing the City

Upcoming Events

May 13-14, 2015
SURGE School
Phoenix, AZ

April 22-24, 2015
National Vocation Infusion Learning Community Retreat
Kansas City, MO

March 16, 2015
“Talking Points” @ Grand Rapids Theological Seminary
Grand Rapids, MI

Feb 3, 2015
Wheaton College Faculty Development Day
Wheaton, IL

May 7-8, 2014
SURGE School
Phoenix, AZ

June 18-20, 2014
Acton U
Grand Rapids, MI

August 2, 2014
City Gates National Conference
Columbus, OH

See All Events

Deployment- Capacity

Once you have a handle on the Four Pathways of vocational stewardship, you need to discern the avenues for deployment that make the most sense for you, given your season in life, responsibilities outside the workplace, and degree of influence in your current job.

This will involve prayerful thinking about your capacity and your context.


Discerning Individual Capacity and Context

The work of deployment—assessing what level of investment to make in the various pathways–begins with a focus on one’s capacity. By this I mean two things: time availability and the degree to which you have influence in your workplace.


Once you have a clear sense of your particular gifts, passions, and skills, you are ready to take up questions about where and how to use those. The two principal queries related to capacity are:

1. Given the total time and energy I have, in light of all my non-work commitments, do I have capacity for channeling any time into Pathways 2, 3, or 4—or only enough for investing in my “day job” (Pathway 1)?

2. What is the degree of capacity I possess for influencing my workplace? (That is, what position and responsibilities do I hold, how much seniority do I enjoy, and how much of a “say” do I have in how things are done?)


Every Christian should begin the journey of vocational stewardship by asking: How can I promote Kingdom values right where I am, right now? In this sense, Pathway 1– “blooming where you’re planted”—is mandatory for all. What are the factors that influence one’s assessment of how much time and energy to invest in Pathway 1?

The first relates to your latitude for “blooming.” If you are a young, inexperienced employee in a low-level position in an organization, you’ll likely have less capacity for influencing that organization than will a more senior officer with more experience, skills, responsibilities, and voice. Consequently, you may face limits in how much they can “bloom” and decide that, at this season in life, you should devote time and energy to practicing vocational stewardship through Pathway 2, where you’ll volunteer your skills in a nonprofit. But if you are senior person in your firm/organization, you may have considerable scope for blooming. The most strategic investment of your time may well be in and through your “day job.” And once you’ve decided this is where your primary focus should be, you can say “no” with confidence to requests you might receive to volunteer inside or outside the church. Be confident that your best service for God is happening right through your current role at work!

It may be possible, though, that senior people also face limits to “blooming,” despite years of service and strong resume of skills. Perhaps you face constraints in influencing policies and practices at work. Such constraints may come in the form of individual actors–such as a boss with a tin ear, or a Board of Trustees disinclined to reforms of any sort. Or they may take institutional forms. For example, maybe you have seniority in your company, but the firm itself has little real influence over the work it performs because such work is done under contract with a client that controls all the key decisions. In this setting, while “on paper” you might look like you have significant capacity, but in reality, you possess limited power. Similarly, if you’re a high-level employee, but in a gigantic bureaucracy, you may not posses that much capacity for influencing organizational decisions. If your situation is like these, it may be that you have reached your limit for “blooming” in the workplace, and your most strategic investment will be to carve out time away from your day job in order to launch of a new social enterprise that draws on your long-honed skills and expertise (Pathway 3) or volunteer using your expertise at a nonprofit (Pathway 2).

There are also non-work factors that affect one’s capacity. If in your current season of life you have a fulltime job and have really heavy home responsibilities (e.g., caring for preschool children or elderly parents), you may need to focus exclusively on “blooming.” You won’t have capacity for volunteer involvement (Pathways 2 or 4), and certainly no time for launching your own new initiative (Pathway 3).

Finally, at any given season in life, you might find yourself in a job that doesn’t genuinely reflect your calling or vocation. For example, imagine a young woman earning her living now as a waitress, while inside she is an artist. Or imagine a young man, freshly minted with an engineering degree. Today he may be working for a computer repair firm because he has not yet landed a job within his professional field. Our occupations and our vocations, in short, don’t always overlap. In all these settings, vocational stewardship remains possible, but is perhaps a bit more complicated.

If you find yourself in these circumstances, the first Biblical counsel to heed comes from Col 3:23-24, about doing all our tasks “as unto the Lord.” The waitress should ask God’s help in offering excellent customer service and in being a punctual, hardworking, and honest employee. She should seek to love and serve her coworkers. Then, she could brainstorm with friends (and perhaps co-workers) as to how, despite her modest position, she could advance Kingdom values—such as peace, beauty, justice, sustainability, or community—in and through her work (Pathway 1). For example, if the restaurant is small and family-owned, she may be able to talk to the owners about buying local produce as an expression of environmental stewardship. If the restaurant is part of a large chain, her boss may not have a lot of scope for making such a decision. In this instance, the waitress might suggest a different sort of activity, such as a training session for wait staff in effective ways to deal with nasty customers. Perhaps a counselor, or a person with conflict resolution skills, from the waitress’s home congregation could be invited in to give a short presentation on this topic. In this small way, the waitress can contribute to promoting the Kingdom value of peace at her workplace.

Meanwhile, since her true calling is as an artist, the waitress might consider what actions she could take to promote beauty in the way the food is presented or the manner in which the restaurant is decorated. Again, the scope she has for making such a difference will depend on who owns the restaurant and what rules and regulations apply. In some circumstances, though, she will likely be able to volunteer her services to decorate the restrooms or brighten up the landscaping outside the restaurant. Then, in addition to seeking such ways of “blooming,” our artist should seek out opportunities to serve outside her workplace using her artistic talents, perhaps through Pathway 2 or 4. It may even be that such volunteering will lead to a paid position, or to networking opportunities through which she is able to find a job that more fully utilizes her artistic skills.

Continue to Discerning Context 


Vocational Stewardship In Action

  • Cliff Nellis: Combining Law and Urban Youth Ministry

    Cliff Nellis: Comb...

    Cliff Nellis: Combining Law and Urban Youth Ministry by Amy Sherman and Kelly Givens Cliff Nellis, a graduate of the University of Chicago’s School of Law, became a Christian near the end of his clerkship for a federal judge in Colorado. He took some time off to bike cross-country, studying the bible with all the delight of the brand-new believer. During the trip, Nellis reports, “I started feeling called to ministry. I started thinking about whether I’d stay in the law or not.” Looking back, he sees that as a young believer, he “had this very narrow view: ministry is …

  • Anne Hughes and Jenny Oliver: Realtors Going the Extra Mile

    Anne Hughes and Je...

    Anne Hughes and Jenny Oliver: Realtors Going the Extra Mile By Kelly N. Givens December 7, 2011 As anyone who has tried to buy or sell a house in the past half a decade knows, the housing market is currently in a state of crisis. In the aftermath of the burst housing bubble, we’ve seen investment banks going broke, the government bailing out companies, and the U.S. economy in recession. Foreclosures have steadily risen since 2006, draining wealth from consumers and eroding the financial strength of banking institutions. Home prices have tumbled, and it’s unclear if they’ve hit their lowest …

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NEW! Great short video on Work as Worship
A new perspective on work.

Discussion Questions for Use by Vocational Guilds
Does your church gather members into small groups by profession (e.g., law, medicine, business, art)? If so, invite them to try out these discussion starters.

Ten Ways to Encourage Vocational Stewardship in Your Church
Here are some doable action steps you can take right now.

Small Group Discussion Guide on Vocation
Use these questions to enliven your small group’s ability to support members in living missionally through their daily work.

Annotated Bibliography
Short summaries of helpful books on vocation, for pastors and individual believers. Check back frequently as this list will be updated regularly.