“Daddy, you go work today?” “You have meeting today, Daddy?”
My son is just two and a half, but we have little conversations about everything, including my work. Each of our three kids are under five years old. At this point their vision of “work” is a primarily a place where Daddy goes for much of the day — not with them. Saturdays and Sundays stand out for them, because they are days that Daddy stays home…YAY!
As our kids grow older, we are having conversations about Scripture, about what God has done for us in Jesus and what it means to follow Jesus in all areas of life, including the area of work. So far, my conversations about faith and work with my kids have been limited, but already I sense the need to educate and equip them with a God-centered view of work.
How can I help my kids understand that work is actually a God-given gift and an area of life centrally important to Him? How do I help them think through the impact of the Lordship of Christ over the vocations they may one day choose and how they go about those vocations? How can I teach them that even their work around the house doing daily chores or at school can be an act of worship to God?
In God’s Story of Work for Kids, Dr. Helen C. Kim has developed a currently free curriculum that addresses many of these questions and provides fuel for a learning conversation between children’s ministry leaders, kids and their parents. Through the course of twelve lessons, Kim aims to help kids learn God’s perspective on work in a biblically and theologically grounded way. For the rest of this review, I aim to give a brief overview of the content and format of the curriculum followed by two reflections.
Give kids the proper framework for understanding that their work is valuable to God.
God’s Story of Work for Kids: An Overview
The first three lessons serve to develop a basic, overarching theology of work from the beginning chapters of Genesis. Lesson one, “God is a Worker!,” emphasizes that we first encounter God (in Scripture) at work, bringing the world into existence. Work is a key part of God’s original design and as such is marked by great dignity. The next lesson unpacks the idea that God has created us in His image and invites us to worship him by partnering in his work. God has created us to work with and for him. Lesson three introduces the reality of the fall and its impact upon God’s creation and work while underlining the truth that ever since the fall, God has been at work, bringing restoration to a broken creation. He calls us as his children to cultivate his good creation and be agents of his restoration.
Lessons four through six unpack the idea that God has created each person with unique gifts to be used at work in the world for the glory of God and the good of our neighbors. Lessons seven and eight focus on how to go about any work in a God-honoring and God-dependent way. Lesson seven explores what it means to work with the three ingredients of faith, hope and love. Lesson eight brings home the point that all of our work is done as stewards to God.
The final lessons of the curriculum aim to help kids recognize that their work on every day of the week, from Monday to Sunday, matters to God. Through our work, we fulfill Jesus’ call to be “salt” and “light” in the world, and it is through our growing relationship with God that our light shines brighter in and through our work in the world. Finally, it is the work we do for God that will bring lasting reward.
Each lesson in the curriculum includes a large group lesson, small group activities, power point slides to help kids visualize the lesson and a parent’s take-home sheet. A minor critique is that the curriculum lacks a contents page that would serve to give the teacher a snap shot of the curriculum as a whole and allow the reader to quickly find lessons of particular interest.
As a parent, I am thankful for the intentionality of the take-home sheets that serve to both bring the parent up to speed on the week’s lesson and give a suggested workout designed to bring the learning experience home. While the curriculum is designed to be used in the context of a church-based children’s ministry, any parent could employ the activities and exercises at home. Kim has drawn upon her twelve years working with kids to create a curriculum that makes theologically rich content accessible to them in creative and experiential ways.
God’s Story of Work for Kids: Two Reflections
First, God’s Story of Work has significant value in that it provides kids with a theological foundation for understanding the God-given value of ALL work and ALL vocations, from pastor to plumber. A core truth underlined in several lessons is that God has created us in His image, to work as He does in our world.
In children and youth ministries, we often champion pastors, preachers and missionaries as “heroes of the faith,” while talking little about the kingdom value and impact Christians working in the “secular” world have. Though not necessarily the church’s intention, this functionally serves to perpetuate the false divide between the “sacred” and the “secular” in our children’s minds. Working through this curriculum can build a foundation and context where the work of the Christian baker, businesswoman and builder can be championed as equally valuable to God and useful for the furthering of God’s work in the world.
Second, God’s Story of Work helpfully places a theology of human work within the broader story of the Scriptures. Here is a theology of work that flows out from God’s creating, sustaining, redeeming and restoring work in the world. While children will be developing an understanding of human work from God’s perspective, they will also be reminded of the work God has done and is doing in the world. At the core, Kim develops a God-centered theology of work for kids. Such a theology gives kids the proper framework for understanding that their work is valuable to God and given to them by God. Plus, they will see that work is an area of life in which they can worship Him.
In the end, God’s Story of Work for Kids is a gift to the church and Christian parents everywhere. To my knowledge, no other extensive curriculum on a theology of work for kids currently exists (though I hope more will be developed). Already, my kids are learning much about work as they observe me go to work nearly every day, talk about my work and even perceive my attitudes toward my work (gulp!). As they get older, I look forward to utilizing the creative lessons and resources included in this curriculum to begin more conversations on work with them. Through these conversations, I pray that they might gain a bigger picture of God and His amazing work in the world and grow in wonder that He would call us to actively partner with Him through our work.