All of Life Can Be Worship

2015 Work as Worship Conference


Work is a fact of life. Wherever God has placed you, He has entrusted specific responsibilities to your care. While we often focus on whether or not we posses the personal abilities to carry them out, the Bible talks about "talents" in a very different way. In this 41-minute session from the 2015 Work as Worship Conference, Greg Gilbert brings clarity to Jesus' often misunderstood parable of the talents showing how it casts a distinctly Christian vision for work, clarifies calling, and encourages believers in their anticipation of Christ's return. 

Greg Gilbert is Senior Pastor of Third Avenue Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He is also the co-author of a number of books including: What Is the Mission of the Church?, Preach: Theology Meets Practice, James: A 12-week study, What is the Gospel? and The Gospel at Work. Previously, Greg served as an assistant pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and as Director of Theological Research to the President of Southern Seminary in Louisville. 



Greg started off by saying that everyone has to think about their talents, whether they are leading in business or the church. While we often consider talents as special abilities or gifts, upon closer inspection, the biblical text appears to have something else in view.

When you think of your "talents," what comes to mind? Did it surprise you when Greg pointed out how biblical talents differ from our focus on aptitudes? Explain.
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The Greek term for "talent" simply refers to a measurement for weight rather than personal abilities. How does this change your understanding of Jesus' parable? In what ways does it shift your perspective towards the responsibilities God has given to you?
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Greg defined talents as, "Every single responsibility and opportunity that God has put into your life at this moment." Bearing that in mind, if you were to make a new list of your talents, what are some of the items you would place on it (e.g. church, work, family, etc.)?
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Despite the ways it is often misunderstood, the main point of Jesus' parable was to encourage His followers to work with energy, faithfulness, and love for God while waiting for Christ's return. Because we live in a fallen world, these do not always describe a believer's experience at work. Greg pointed out two major problems that tend to rob Christians of faithful obedience in the workplace:
1. We make an idol out of our work.
2. We become idle in our work.
Each has the potential to root itself in the heart leading to discontentment, frustration, and even disobedience.

When you think of the way you work, is it characterized by energy, faithfulness, and love for God? What are some of the obstacles that keep you from these?
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The servants of Jesus' parable understood that their work was accountable to the master. The same is true for Christians today. Whatever you do, you are working for your true Master, God. How does this resonate with you? In what ways could it change the way you approach your work?
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To diagnose whether work has become idolatrous, Greg offered two potential symptoms—the circumstances of your work dictate your joy or they cause you to default on other areas of your life (intimacy with God, family, friends, etc.). Can you identify any idolatry you have towards your work? If all work is ultimately worship to God, how does does this truth confront idolatry?
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Ephesians 4:28 (ESV)

28Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Scripture clearly commands against idleness. God is not okay with us doing nothing, but more severe than idle hands are the effects of an idle heart, as it causes us to lose sight of God's purpose for our work. Are there any ways your heart has grown idle? If God is the giver of those talents in your life, how does that impact any meaninglessness you see in your responsibilities?
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According to this verse, part of God's purpose for work is "to share with anyone in need." Can you give think of anyone God has placed in your life with needs? In what ways could you help address them this week?
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Matthew 25:15 (ESV)

15To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


Comparing your own abilities and responsibilities with those of another can be a strong temptation in the workplace. As this verse shows, while all opportunities are given by God, He distributes them unequally. How does that realization strike your heart? Does it prompt any jealousy or envy? Explain.
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Greg said, "When your heart starts to fill up with jealousy, push it down and replace it with gratitude to the King for the fact that you're even in His service in the first place." Think back on how God saved you and made you His own. In light of your testimony, what are some of the ways you could begin to work out of gratitude to God this week?
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This verse also shows that God normally calls His people to areas of service that match their abilities. Can you see this in your own life? Do you have a clear understanding of where God has called you and what He desires of you? If not, how could you begin asking God for that clarity?
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Matthew 25:20-23 (ESV)

20And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’21His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’22And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’23His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Despite the first servant making more money than the second, the master's response to each was the same—"Well done." This shows that God's primary concern is not a return on His investment, but faithfulness with what He has given. 

Are there ways you have grown dissatisfied in your work because you feel it is too small or lacking in significance? How could you begin to surrender any discontentment to God this week?
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Whether you are on a hard road or experiencing a season of success, God has called you to your circumstance. How can the truth of God's sovereignty motivate your heart? In what ways can you exhibit greater faithfulness in your position today?
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As we await the return of Christ, God has given all of His servants certain talents, responsibilities, and opportunities to capitalize on and engage in with everything we have. Wherever you find yourself, you are working for the King. Let the grace of God encourage your heart as you strive for faithfulness in whatever talents He has entrusted to you.

For more information on the Work as Worship Conference or how to attend next year's event, visit www.workasworshipconference.org.