Every Waking Hour - A Review

Every Waking Hour is the third installment of volumes published as part of the Economic Wisdom project at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. This brief volume, written by Benjamin Quinn and Walter Strickland, focuses on the doctrine of vocation and presents it at a level accessible to the average church member.

The book consists of five content chapters in addition to its introduction, conclusion, and three brief appendices. Chapter one presents an overview of the theology of work. The next two chapters outline the concept of work as it is presented in Old and New Testaments, respectively. Chapter four focuses on the relationship between Christ, wisdom, and work. The last content chapter synthesizes the biblical data and relates it to the idea of working for God’s kingdom, being on mission, and being a good disciple. The three appendices answer the potentially sticky question of how to work with and for non-believers, describe how to evaluate your job in relation to your vocation, and offer suggestions for further reading.

Every Waking Hour is a clear, basic introduction to an important topic. After all, people spend a great deal more time working for a living than they do in church or actively praying. If we cannot redeem those hours spent on the job for the kingdom of God, then one wonders how Christianity is really valid as a totalizing worldview. The text begins with Scripture and remains close to that touchstone throughout. This is a volume that does not seek to baptize vocation, but to explain what the Bible says about it.

Strickland and Quinn exhibit a pastoral concern for Christians trying to figure out how to reconcile their workaday roles with their Christianity. They reinforce the reality that the pastor’s work is not holier than the janitors. The lowliest employee on the job has the potential to bring about redemption of some part of the world through his work. Upon reading this, one can hope readers will respond with gratitude as they have the value of their vocations affirmed beyond their ability to earn a paycheck and fund the church’s various endeavors.

For those well read in the faith and work movement, this volume adds little that is new. It is not a scholarly volume designed to stretch the field or innovatively explain the topic. Rather, it is a basic primer for the uninitiated. At just over one hundred small format pages of text, this is the sort of book that can be devoured in an airplane ride. It could also serve as a resource for a several week Sunday School elective on the intersection of faith and work.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary has produced three volumes like this, which offer simple, clear, and basic introductions to important topics. Although such resources lack the scholarly weight of a technical monograph, this sort of resource created for the Church is likely to contribute to the welfare of a significantly larger number of Christians. As such, this book and the entire series are a welcome addition to a pastor’s library.