Richard Blackaby Interview (Part I): A Distinctive Biblical Approach to Work?

Dr. Richard (Rick) J. Goossen, Chairman, ELO interviewed Dr. Richard Blackaby, President Blackaby Ministries International (see his bio HERE) on December 21, 2018.  Dr. Blackaby is the co-author (with his father, Henry) of three books that are particularly relevant to Christian marketplace leaders:  Experiencing God:  Knowing and Doing the Will of God (Nashville, TN:  B &  H Publishing Group, 2008); God in the Marketplace (Nashville, TN:  B & H Publishing Group, 2008); and Spiritual Leadership (Nashville, TN:  B & H  Publishing Group, 2011).  Dr. Blackaby will be the keynote speaker at the upcoming ELO Forum in Winnipeg on April 30th (click HERE for information). 

This blog is the first of a series of posts related to Christian marketplace land entrepreneurial leaders applying their faith in the marketplace.  Dr. Blackaby challenges believers as to whether they have a distinctly Christian view of work or whether they are simply mimicking the world’s view of work.  The answer to this question will impact how and why we go to work every day! 


RG:      What is a biblical concept of work?

RB:       That’s a great question.  There are lots of ways to answer that. One way I would define it is this way: It is the daily living out of your divine calling so that your life achieves God’s purposes and brings glory to God.

I think even in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were given jobs to do.  Work is fundamental to who we are. It’s not a result of the fall in the Garden. It’s a part of God’s original intent for humanity. 

So, I think work comes out of calling. We’re gifted, we’re equipped, and we’re called.  When we fulfill that calling, we bring glory to God.  When we do what God designed and gifted us to do, we glorify our Creator.  He’s wired us to work. He’s gifted us to work. 

One of the problems is that we look too much at work as simply earning a living and that as soon as we have enough money to retire, we don’t have to work anymore. I think that’s disastrous. It downplays one of the greatest gifts God has given His creatures. The gift of work.

USA Today did a survey a couple of years ago in which they asked people, ‘If you won the lottery and you had all the money you would ever need, would you quit your job?”  About 73% said most definitely they’d quit, which I think is probably a low number. 

But what that says is that for 73% of Americans, the only reason they go to work right now is because they have to earn a living.  It’s not because they feel called to what they do. It’s not because they find pleasure in doing what they were wired and created to do. It’s not because they bring glory to God through it—it’s simply because they need a paycheque. 

I think that says something about a lot of working people today and the way they view work. It’s a drudgery and it’s a necessary evil. It’s not something that puts a smile on God’s face when you do it well.  So, I think ‘work’ is how you live out your divine calling day by day.

RG:      Would you say from a Christian worldview perspective that a challenge for the Christian community generally is that too many people would have the wrong idea of work?  In other words, their view of work reflects a societal view as opposed to a biblically grounded view?

RB:       Certainly.  One of the big challenges for Christian entrepreneurs and marketplace people, in general, is that they’re bombarded by the world’s way of thinking. We are immersed in the world’s values and goals and it confuses us.  We think that because we’re Christians we do Christian thinking and that our thinking is biblical, and that’s not necessarily so.

Too often we lead our business in exactly the same way atheists would conduct their business—there is no significant difference.  We have the same goals, the same ends in mind and the same principles we function by. For a Christian, the first thing you have to ask yourself is, what is a biblical view of work and of life in general? 

Biblically, what should my ends be that I’m striving to achieve through my work? The answer to that question changes everything.  But too often we look at work the same way an atheist looks at it, and so we have all the same frustrations and disappointments and temptations that come when you don’t have a biblical worldview.