Summary: Dennis Bakke’s Labor Day Sermon based on his New York Times bestselling book, JOY AT WORK.

Joy at Work

A sermon preached by Dennis Bakke on Labor Day Sunday

September 4, 2005

Falls Church Episcopal Church

Falls Church, VA

Dennis Bakke is the author of the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller, JOY AT WORK: A Revolutionary Approach to Fun on the Job. He is the co-founder and CEO Emeritus of AES, the world-wide energy giant with 40,000 people in 31 countries. He is now president and CEO of Imagine Schools, a company that operates elementary and secondary (K-12) charter schools in 10 states.


Matthew 25:14-30

14 ‘For it is as if a man, going on a journey, summoned his slaves and entrusted his property to them; 15to one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. 16The one who had received the five talents went off at once and traded with them, and made five more talents. 17In the same way, the one who had the two talents made two more talents. 18But the one who had received the one talent went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. 19After a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. 20Then the one who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five more talents, saying, “Master, you handed over to me five talents; see, I have made five more talents.” 21His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 22And the one with the two talents also came forward, saying, “Master, you handed over to me two talents; see, I have made two more talents.” 23His master said to him, “Well done, good and trustworthy slave; you have been trustworthy in a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.” 24Then the one who had received the one talent also came forward, saying, “Master, I knew that you were a harsh man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed; 25so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.” 26But his master replied, “You wicked and lazy slave! You knew, did you, that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I did not scatter? 27Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received what was my own with interest. 28So take the talent from him, and give it to the one with the ten talents. 29For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. 30As for this worthless slave, throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

It’s great to be with all of you this morning. Have any of you asked yourself, “What is the purpose of work, especially secular work?” Now, of course, if you have been to Sunday school, been to church, listened to a few sermons, you know that all of life is about becoming holy and glorifying God. So, of course, that’s the answer. But, my question this morning is, “What about work most glorifies God?” Is our workplace primarily a mission field where we seek through word and deed to carry out the Great Commission? Or, is it mostly to support our families and earn enough extra to support the missions of our local church and parachurch organizations? Or, is it something else? Could it be that secular work is the primary mission or ministry to which God has called many of us?

I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to undertake a number of different types of work. For example, I spent nine years coaching my sons and other children in this community as a youth football coach. And, then there is the work of The Mustard Seed Foundation that Eileen and I founded and lead. This year, its cumulative giving, since inception, to Christian ministries and scholarships around the world will pass the $50 million mark. And, for ten years, I taught Sunday school, and served as head of a mission committee, and as a deacon in my church. For nearly twenty years, as John mentioned, I led a company that I co-founded which supplied energy needs to 100 million people in thirty-one countries. Which of these works is most important to God? Which is the most important work for the Kingdom?

When I left graduate school in Boston to come to this city to work in government over thirty years ago, my own understanding of work was that it was mostly to earn a living so that I could give to the church and related Christian mission organizations as much money as possible, and time as well.

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