Integrating Faith and Work

Integrating Faith and Work

by Roger Cooner

When I was a kid I loved two things - drawing and playing baseball. When I was about 14 (and basically clueless), I was completely pre-occupied with comic books and television. My dad, knowing my strengths (and that my baseball career would top out on the Bellaire High School baseball team), said I should consider being an architect. As soon as I realized that an architect draws and designs buildings, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I now realize how fortunate and unusual this is; to know the career path I would follow at age 14. I was able to set my course through high school and beyond.

Even though I knew from an early age that I wanted to be an architect, I didn’t clearly understand the term “calling” until I moved to New York to work for a large architectural practice. It was an amazing time, and I was working on buildings all over the world. Sometimes they even showed up in movies. (See projects in image gallery below)

At about that same time, a new church had just started, and several of my friends were attending. It was about half the size and nearly the same age as City Church is right now. It was here that I first began to understand my “call” as an architect. My pastor spoke often about vocation. He said:

“For now our lifework – all that we are and are about – is not done for ourselves, our families, or our churches. It is not done for our business corporations or for our political institutions. It is not even done to make the world a better place or for mankind. Our lifework is done ‘as unto the Lord’ in light of his coming back again. When we understand ourselves to be called by God to specific tasks and duties, it gives a strong sense of direction to our lives from which we are not easily deterred.” - Tim Keller

As a Christ follower, this sense of calling has given me great freedom and passion knowing that my work as an architect is “spiritual” because it is done “as unto the Lord.” Colossians 3:23-24 are verses that have meant a great deal to me in my career:

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as for the Lord, and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”

We often talk at City Church about bringing beauty into broken places. Because of my work, this has resonated very strongly with me. You’ve probably seen photos in magazines, of “before” and “after” pictures of buildings or rooms. The “befores” are a little worn, a little frayed around the edges; perhaps not quite right, but there are “afters” in there, waiting to be released.

I truly believe that whether you are an attorney, a nurse, a plumber, a business woman, a mom, a musician, a teacher or a carpenter - you have the opportunity in your calling to bring “afters” out of “befores.” Your calling is bringing beauty into broken places.

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