Book Review: Kingdom Calling

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Book Review: Kingdom Calling

When Amy Sherman heard Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian in New York City preach on Proverbs 11:10, she was completely entranced.

 “When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices,” the Proverb says.

That’s all.

But Keller’s words on that short passage that day inspired thoughts in Sherman that would lead to her latest book: Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good.

In Keller’s message, he spoke about the tsaddiqim—the Hebrew for “righteous.”  Sherman quotes Keller:

“The righteous in the book of Proverbs are by definition those who are willing to disadvantage themselves for the community while the wicked are those who put their own economic, social, and personal needs ahead of the needs of the community.”

Sherman describes her life’s work as helping churches live out Micah 6:8. (“He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”) Her work, she realized, is about helping Christian communities “rejoice” their cities.

Just exactly how does one go about rejoicing a city? And, as Christians, aren’t we already doing this? Aren’t we the righteous people that Proverbs is talking about?

In Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good, Sherman takes a deep look at those questions…from the perspective of vocational stewardship.

Clearly, learning how to steward our vocational power is a major component of growing as the tsaddiqim who rejoice our cities. By vocational stewardship, I mean the intentional and strategic deployment of our vocational power—knowledge, platform, networks, position, influence, skills and reputation—to advance foretastes of God’s kingdom. For missional congregations that desire to rejoice their cities, vocational stewardship is an essential strategy. To accomplish their big vision, they need to capitalize intentionally on the vocational power of their members.

I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Sherman speak at Jubilee this past February. Jubilee is a conference that is part of the mission of the Coalition for Christian Outreach that is designed to help college students talk, learn, think, and dream about the public implications of their personal transformation. (I was one of the tired “older” persons there. We were a minority.). Dr. Sherman’s workshop was entitled Advancing Kingdom Foretastes through the Stewardship of Our Vocations, and it was standing room only.

Dr. Sherman spoke passionately and knowledgeably about helping people—especially young people starting out in a career—discern how to live missionally through their work. She strongly urged the students who attended her workshop to seek jobs that offer the best opportunities for directing their creative talents toward the end of advancing foretastes of the Kingdom of God.

"Any accountant can do taxes," she said. "As Christians we should invest our talents toward better ends." She provided example after example of people who have chosen to disadvantage themselves for the sake of others by pursuing work that promotes foretastes of the kingdom.

Sherman speaks to this at length in the book. She says that in order to “rejoice” the city, we must first know what the Scriptures say about the kingdom to come.

…Preeminently, the preview passages reveal that the consummated kingdom is marked by two major, closely related features; justice and shalom. A rejoiced city, therefore, is one where ever-greater tastes of justice and shalom are made real.

Sherman breaks these two foretastes down into even more specific parts, such as intimacy with God, beauty, wholeness, economic flourishing, unity, and so on. Along the way, she tells the stories of individuals who are helping to bring these foretastes of the kingdom into the world through their work. People like Dr. Andy Macfarlan, who founded the Physicians Partnership Network (PPN), through which doctors are able to provide pro bono work in their own offices so patients have consistent primary care providers. People like Mark and Courtney Williams, who are nurturing hope in the youth from at-risk communities in Pittsburgh through an urban gardening project called Lots of Hope.  People like Dr. Val Shean, a member of Christian Veterinary Mission who has been serving in Uganda since 1992. Highly respected among the tribe members due to their high value of their cattle, Dr. Shean used her influence to help promote peace and stop a decades-long legacy of warring over cattle.

Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good should be required reading for every young Christian who is trying to discern how to integrate work and faith. And it’s not bad reading for an old lady either. It’s inspiring me to look deeper at the work I do. It’s convincing me that, yes, even I can rejoice my city.

How about you? How do you see your work as ushering in foretastes of God's kingdom? Leave us a comment below...we want to know.


Image by Mike Brown. Used with permission. Sourced via Flickr. Post by Laura J. Boggess.