My boss is a Jewish Carpenter #1: Our Work Ministry

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Blog entry by romansfivefive posted 03-21-2008 05:35 PM 9169 reads 0 times favorited 19 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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It is Good Friday and I am a Youth Minister, so this post will be more about my day job than my hobby. I am not sure if this an appropriate use of these blogs or not. If not, this will be my only post of this nature.

I read this bumper sticker a while ago and it really stuck with me. I initially laughed at the phrase “My Boss is a Jewish Carpenter”, but the more I thought about it, the more I thought it was a great point to reflect on. On Good Friday I am forced to consider the humanity of my Jesus. I mean he was definitely Jewish and he was some sort of trades person (Carpenter is the most popular translation of that word but some people believe he was likely a stone mason). Regardless of which vocation occupied his hours, he spent less than 10% of his life in formal ministry and 90% of his time on earth… working a blue collar job.

I like to look at these unwritten stories in the bible and see what other parts of the bible tell us about the gaps that God has left us. So imagine for a second the year 29 A.D. John the Baptist has stumbled out of the desert. He has abandoned all his earthly belongings (which would have included a sizeable inheritance and a prestigeous position in the church/political leadership) and lived only to serve God. He spent every waking hour preaching the Good News, Baptizing and calling for repentance and true belief. At exactly the same time, not far away, Jesus was building a table for the Goldblooms. Who was doing God’s work?

If we are going to use earthly standards to evaluate thier lives, it would seem that John was doing the work of God, and Jesus seemed to be just putting in time. But if we believe that Jesus is God, then everything He did was the work of God and if we believe that He was perfect, then we believe that it was the perfect will of God that He do that work. So is it possible that our time in the workshop is meant to be part of our ministry on earth and that if we approach it as Jesus did, it could be part of God’s perfect will for our lives? (please no angry letters from spouses who already feel like workshop widows, We are all called to honour our covenents above all other comittments)

I am not suggesting that your only labour should be making crosses to be mailed to orphanages, what I am wondering is how God filled 90% of His time in the workshop and still minister to the world. I know at age 33 He loved the world enough to die for us, so I don’t think at age 27 or 28 He was disinterested in what was happening around Him. If He still loved the world around Him that much, what did that ministry look like while he held a day job?

Honestly, I don’t know. I wasn’t there. But on the day we remember his physical suffering, I am also reminded that He probably hit his thumb with a hammer a few times too. Somehow just doing the work He was supposed to do was exactly what God wanted from Him. The work set out for Him to do was done fully, done with purpose and done with conviction. That work included an appointment with the executioner, but it probably also included tables and door frames. All of this work was the work of God. All of it was part of His ministry to the world.

In my life, I am constantly surprised how often I get chances to share my faith in areas of my life that have little to do with my day job. Things like discovering woodworking led me to lumberjocks. I don’t want to betray trust, but as a result of my previous blogs, so many of you have emailed me with your stories and shared what God is doing in your lives. It appears that making wooden toys is the work of God. Judging from some of your stories, cabinet making is the work of God. Pumping gas is the work of God, driving a dump truck is the work of God and accounting is the work of God.

I want to encourage all of us to see our jobs as work ministries. As chances to do the work of God. What is the work of God? Mother Teresa of Calcutta suggests that the work of God is simply “to love and be loved”. If we have the courage to do that with the same completeness, purpose and conviction as our Lord, it does not matter what title the earth attaches to our jobs, we can be sure that the heavenly title is “good and faithful servant, in whom I am well pleased”.

John 6:28 ” Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the work God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

God Bless

-- The CNC machine can either produce the work of art you imagined, or very decorative firewood.

19 comments so far

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5405 days

#1 posted 03-21-2008 05:59 PM

just pulling this more into the woodworking world… how do we balance our lives with the woodworking and other responsibilities that we have? somehow we find a way – most of the time. Sometimes we go in waves of woodworking and then other things and then come back to woodworking again.

Whether a woodworker is a religious person or not it seems to me that the woodworking process is very connected to the rhythms of life. For some my guess is that it is the most spiritual part of their lives. You get in the zone and it it just “you” and the moment.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 5119 days

#2 posted 03-21-2008 06:04 PM

I appreciate your post Rob.

View Dooley's profile


85 posts in 4967 days

#3 posted 03-21-2008 06:08 PM

Thank you for that, you took me to that place in time for a moment. Blessed Easter to you Rob.

-- Dooley

View R. R. Yontz's profile

R. R. Yontz

2 posts in 4964 days

#4 posted 03-21-2008 07:20 PM


I don’t know if it is appropriate or not, but I don’t mind reading it. Preach on Brother!

I will add that one thing that got me into wanting to start woodworking was that Jesus was a carpenter. Now, I don’t know if that is a bad translation of the word or not, but I don’t think it would have changed my decision to start woodworking because I don’t think I would find myself wanting to build brick walls if it were translated as a stone mason instead of a carpenter. But the idea that He worked and toiled with His hands for the vast majority of His life made me feel guilty about sitting in an office, and that it was led me to wanting to do something more physical. And I think it is thinking of Him using hand tools that made me really think long and hard on how I wanted to set up shop. And I finally decided, if hand tools were good enough for Jesus, they will be good enough for me. (Alright, I’ll admit, this thought really occurred to me later after deciding a power tool shop would be far longer in the future than I wanted to wait.) I know this isn’t the slippery slope that most hand tool enthusiasts follow, but it was a very steep and slippery one for me.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27249 posts in 5066 days

#5 posted 03-21-2008 07:35 PM


A simple thanks for the post hardly seems adequate as I can usually be more verbose, but in this case I feel that a more lengthy response would not do anything to expand/enhance your message.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View olddutchman's profile


187 posts in 5179 days

#6 posted 03-21-2008 07:36 PM

Thankyou so much !!! It is a special time in the lives of a great many people who love the Lord. And it is a time when we ask our selves ,’‘was it I? ” WAS IT I !! O yes it was!!!! But God is so good that Christ came here to say to all of us “Yes, and lets move on all to gather” And so it is. Thanks again for your time.

-- Saved, and so grateful, consider who Created it ALL!!!

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5207 days

#7 posted 03-21-2008 08:08 PM

I think your post was appropriate for this day as we remember the atonement and sacrifice of our Lord and Savior. If there are those who do not believe in Christ, please skip this post and allow us the freedom to feel on this day. The Lord gave all of us agency to choose how they would live. I think that while Jesus was working wood he still found many opportunities to bear witness of his Heavenly Father as we still do today. Some times our best testimony is merely being an example of how to live our lives. May the blessed joy of Easter be with you.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 5119 days

#8 posted 03-21-2008 08:29 PM

That was very well said Thomas.

View HallTree's profile


5666 posts in 5012 days

#9 posted 03-21-2008 09:03 PM

Yes Thomas, there will be some that feel that this is a woodworking site only. For us woodworking is an important part of our lives and living for Christ is also an important part of our lives. They both go together. That’s just the way we are. That’s what makes us tick.

-- "Hold on to instruction, do not let it go; guard it well, for it is your life" Solomon

View romansfivefive's profile


302 posts in 5017 days

#10 posted 03-21-2008 10:32 PM

I feel that maybe I need to apologize. I had no intention of inducing division or inviting controversy. I don’t think that any of the posts have been inappropriate and I hope we continue to welcome all comments and respect the way God uses chances like these to offer His salt and light to the world. I just wanted to highlight the thought that we could use our everyday actions to honour our Creator and in doing so, the act of woodworking could become an act of worship. Just as Jesus did.

-- The CNC machine can either produce the work of art you imagined, or very decorative firewood.

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5207 days

#11 posted 03-21-2008 11:21 PM

Rob, you did not introduce controversy or division. No one has responded in any way inappropriate. My only intent was to allow all to exercise their free agency and allow the rest of us to do likewise. You certainly do not need to apologize.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View Greg3G's profile


815 posts in 5330 days

#12 posted 03-21-2008 11:33 PM

Rob, very nice post. I think that everyone has a right to express their faith or lack there of. I personally have seen Christ at work in my life and the life of my family. My son is a walking example that prayer is powerfull. In 2001 he was diagnosed with a brain tumor (about the size of a small baseball) He wasn’t given much of a chance to lead a normal life, now he is 16 and has all the normal teenage issues but none that are a result of the tumor. Your faith is a part of who you are and what you do. Please feel free to express that. To hide your faith from others is wrong, someone may need to hear what you have to say.

-- Greg - Charles Town, WV

View romansfivefive's profile


302 posts in 5017 days

#13 posted 03-22-2008 12:58 AM

Thanks Thomas, I was fairly certain that was your intent. I just didn’t want the possiblity of distraction to enter into this series of beautiful posts. I feel humbled to hear the work of the Lord alive in your lives.

-- The CNC machine can either produce the work of art you imagined, or very decorative firewood.

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 5028 days

#14 posted 03-22-2008 01:24 AM

Nice post, Rob, thanks for that. And since this is your own personal blog (albeit under the LJ umbrella), I think you should feel free to say whatever you want. No one has to click on the link to read it! I’m a power tool atheist (I don’t believe they exist in Malaysia) so I just don’t click on posts that are clearly focused on power tools. ;^)

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot more about this holistic kind of living, and I think you’re right on. People think that certain jobs are higher up on the “spiritual” ladder, whereas I think what God really wants is someone who is giving their lives to him, regardless of the occupation.

Happy Easter. He is risen!

-- Eric at

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4074 posts in 5308 days

#15 posted 03-22-2008 04:17 AM

Thanks, Romans5:5. Good thoughts.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

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