Fortress Press

Lived Vocation: Stories of Faith at Work

Lived Vocation

Stories of Faith at Work

Timothy K. Snyder (Author)


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Lived Vocation is a collection of short reflective essays based on stories of contemporary work. Together these reflections offer a window into the struggle to find meaning at work today. These stories explore how we come to our work and jobs, the hardship and "toil" of our working lives, and the surprisingly small but powerful ways in which God may nonetheless be at work in these stories.

Author Tim Snyder asks: What if vocation were less about being certain that you're following God's master plan for your life and more about noticing the presence of God as we tell our stories from everyday life? The book challenges congregational leaders to listen to the stories of actual Christians putting their faith into action. It offers ordinary Christians the assurance that they are not alone in their struggle to make sense of faith in everyday life.

The book provides congregational leaders with an accessible window into the lives of ordinary Christians trying to put their faith into action at work. It helps such leaders empathize with the difficulties of integrating faith in everyday life today and inspires them to listen to and tell more stories of their own.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506481340
  • eBook ISBN 9781506481357
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 197
  • Publication Date February 28, 2023


"Timothy Snyder's Lived Vocation challenges both religious professionals and those without any formal theological training to rethink our assumptions about what it means to work. By centering the real stories of everyday people, Snyder invites readers into a thoughtful and necessary reflection on our theological assumptions about vocation. In a time when the very idea of vocation is regularly debated, this work offers a grounded interlocutor who helps us collectively and prophetically reimagine one of our most fundamental practices."

Rev. Dr. Timothy L. Adkins-Jones, assistant professor of homiletics, Union Theological Seminary, and senior pastor, Bethany Baptist Church, Newark, New Jersey

"Not only does Snyder reenvision a theology of vocation that fits with our present ways of working; he gives life to a way of doing theology that involves listening to people's stories with openness and humility. I love the room Snyder leaves to say, 'I don't know.' I love his suggestion that theology needs to learn the art of improvisation. Lived Vocation inspires the reader to author their own narrative rather than submit to scripts imposed from the top down. A compelling and excellent read."

Rev. Debbie Blue, pastor, House of Mercy, St. Paul, Minnesota, and author of Sensual Orthodoxy, Consider the Women, and From Stone to Living Word

"Snyder is a theological Studs Terkel. He has crafted a compelling interpretation of work that pays close attention to the promise and pain of work as well as to the people who do the work. The result is a beautiful interweaving of story and theology, testimony and tradition. A model of how theology is done in community, always connected to Christian life."

David H. Jensen, academic dean and professor in the Clarence N. and Betty B. Frierson Distinguished Chair of Reformed Theology, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, and author of Responsive Labor: A Theology of Work

"Snyder's book is a testimony to the power of story to create lives of meaning. In and through this testimony he encourages the reader to focus on the 'how' and the 'why' of work more than the 'what,' and challenges the church (especially those of us whose work is that of doing theology) to move toward a descriptive theology that sees our individual and collective stories as the source material we need to see God's ongoing creative activity in the world."

Rev. Dr. Mindy Makant, director, Living Well Center for Vocation and Purpose, Lenoir-Rhyne University

"Alive with stories, Lived Vocation offers a rare glimpse into the beautifully complex lives of people in diverse forms of work. The stories are rich in detail and practical wisdom, based on interviews with farmers, teachers, merchants, health care givers, hairdressers, homemakers, and more. Snyder uncovers patterns and differences in human understandings and practices of work, and thus expands on Christian theologies of vocation. The book is a joy to read, and it will, as Snyder promises, change you."

Dr. Mary Elizabeth Moore, dean emerita and professor emerita of theology and education, Boston University School of Theology

"Snyder shares the multifaceted lived experiences of real people at work, challenging our default understanding of the vocations of others. Meanwhile, he models how their witness unveiled for him the complexity of his own sense of vocation."

Rev. Dr. Phil Ruge-Jones, director of the Lay School of Ministry for the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin; pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Eau Claire, Wisconsin; and author of The Word of the Cross in a World of Glory

"Snyder has written one of the most honest and remarkable theologies of work I've read. Appropriately, as a Lutheran practical theologian studying Lutheran congregations and their membership, he draws on a rich theological tradition that comes down from Martin Luther on the value and dignity of daily work. His close-to-the-ground stories from everyday Christians are the heart of the book, and his brilliant engagement with them opens up a vibrant vision of how to imagine God involved in the place where most of us spend the majority of our lives. While his stories are from Lutherans of European background, an unsurprising fact given that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is predominantly white, his rich canvas of stories ought to inspire others, from other traditions and backgrounds, to add their stories and thereby deepen the rich and rewarding path upon which this work embarks."

Rev. Christian Scharen, pastor, St. Lydia's Dinner Church, Brooklyn, New York