Message from the President

Why Work

In American colleges and universities, there is often a distinct separation between the academic disciplines that serve the professions and those that serve the liberal arts: the life of work and the life of the mind. In fact, in some institutions there appears to be a real bias against students who would choose a practical course over the pursuit of knowledge. Since George Fox University’s inception, we have been committed to an educational approach that is centered in the arts and sciences, but that also honors and prepares people for practical work.

Our initial catalog (1891) described it this way: “Pacific College [George Fox University] seeks to be definitely and positively Christian. It seeks to bring its students to an acceptance of Jesus Christ as personal Savior and Lord. ... It seeks to assist its students to find their work in life and at least to begin their definite preparation for it.” At George Fox, we have dedicated ourselves to help students understand their talents, find their vocation and begin the “work” to which God has called them.

One of my favorite authors is a 20th-century English writer named Dorothy Sayers. She wrote a piece that I have found very helpful entitled “Why Work,” which appeared in her book Creed or Chaos. She believed, as I do, that much of the problem of the 20th-century church is that it separated the secular – the world of work – from the sacred, the work of the Spirit. Indeed, what did the church have to say to the carpenter or the plumber except pray more, remain true to the Word and attend worship on the Sabbath. Those are good messages to be sure, but they really left the church with nothing to say about 90 percent of the human experience – work. Thus, Sayers called for a different understanding of “work” by the Christian community.

“What I urged then was a thoroughgoing revolution in our whole attitude to work. I asked that it should be looked upon, not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God. That it should, in fact, be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of the work itself; and that man, made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing.”Dorothy Sayers, “Why Work” in Creed or Chaos

What a Christian university can do that no other institution can is to present all of life as “sacred” to students. At George Fox University, we do not prepare people for careers, but rather to do the sacred work of creativity in the areas that God has gifted them. In this issue of the Journal, you will read about some of our students who have graduated and are now performing the work to which God has called them – certainly a job well worth doing!

Robin Baker
President

 

To read more from President Baker visit his blog at
blogs.georgefox.edu/president.