"Vocational Stewardship: Power for Flourishing"

Amy Sherman

Sagamore Institute’s Center on Faith in Communities J-4 Monthly Series Amy opened the evening saying that laughter is one thing that keeps her encouraged. She shared several funny anecdotes so we could all experience the “good medicine” that scripture says laughter is. She then commended J4 for taking up the important Biblical idea of power as this year’s theme. Below is a quick summary of the highlights of Amy’s talk.

While there plenty of reasons to be suspicious about power (since it’s often abused and people are harmed), the Biblical view of power is that it is a gift. Power is what enables the creativity that gives life. As Andy Crouch teaches in his important book, Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power, “Power is a gift because power is for flourishing….When power is used well, people and the whole cosmos come more alive to what they were meant to be.”

If that’s the “what” of power (what it’s for), the “how” of power is that it is to be deployed with compassion. That’s the way Jesus handled His power. We see Jesus’ gentle compassion in His healing of the man who was deaf and mute (Mark 7:31-35). First, Jesus takes the man away from the crowd. He won’t let the relief of this man’s suffering be a spectacle for others’ entertainment. Second, He communicates to the man through a kind of sign language, reassuring him of what He’s going to do: touching the man’s ears and tongue as if to say “I’m here to fix these.”

Christian women professionals across the nation are deploying their vocational power for the flourishing of others. Young businesswoman Wendy Clark launched a cleaning business in Durham, NC specifically to create jobs for low-income single moms—and works hard to flex their schedules so they can live faithfully into the dual callings of work and motherhood. Alfa Demmalash took her business talents and founded Rising Tide Capital to provide business classes and capital to underserved entrepreneurs, mostly immigrants and people from generational poverty. She has compassion for those on the margins and wants to extend opportunity to them.  Nicole Baker Fulgham is an educator who has chosen to focus her attention on advocating for greater equality in the public education system, and to get faith communities more aware of and engaged in this important justice issue. She’s participating in Jesus’ work to renew the educational sector. And Pittsburgh chef Nikki Heckmann designed her café, Bistro to Go, with a “fishbowl” kitchen so that customers could observe her mistakes. That way, she hopes, they’ll also see her turning to her gracious Lord for His forgiveness as well as seeking (and giving) grace to those around her.