Most likely you have seen an iPad. Maybe you own an Ipad. In any case, the iPad is a ubiquitous demonstration of the biblical principle of vocation as calling.
Imagine the massive cultural renewal that would result if every Christian really understood that their work, their vocation, was a calling from God. Imagine how different things would be if they understood that they were missionaries with callings as important as those who proclaim Christ in foreign lands.
Imagine the impact it would make if Christians actually submitted to Christ’s Lordship, not only over their spiritual lives, but over every area of their lives, and started to think “Christianly” about the work they do. What would happen if every Christian developed a Biblical theology of vocation and worked out its implications throughout the course of their careers in a desire to glorify God and see His will done through their work, as it is done in heaven?
We’ve wrote often of the sacred-secular dualism, a pernicious lie that prevents so many Christians thinking and living in this way. Darrow wrote an entire book to draw attention to this problem and help Christians overcome it.
Last December, a colleague and I attended a conference in San Jose, California, where we met Johua Banko, an astonishing young man in whom there appeared to be no trace of sacred-secular dualism. He spoke with such ease and authority about the practical integration of his faith and his vocation. He displayed a confidence that belied many years of careful thought and action.
What makes Joshua’s story even more compelling is that his former workplace, Apple Computers, Inc., is in the heart of the highly secularized Silicon Valley, where he worked for many years leading the team that developed the iPad.
His brief talk, titled “Innovating with God,” was a remarkable illustration of a real-life a “Biblical theology of vocation” applied to engineering and product innovation. Here were the key points of his outline:
Dream with God
Joshua talked about how God is the first and the Greatest Creator. How He has endowed mankind—made in His image—with the capacity to create and innovate. This powerful gift enables us to imagine and craft entirely new things, whether music, poetry, furniture, houses, cars, or iPads. God is glorified as we use our creativity it to fashion things that reflect his beauty and are beneficial to others in obedience to Christ’s command to love our neighbor.
For Joshua, truly powerful innovations begin by opening ourselves up to the Divine inspiration that comes from the Great Creator Himself. He spoke about how God directed Joseph through dreams. He is not some distant, removed deity who abandons us to our own devises. In reality, He is present and active, ready to speak if we have ears to hear—ready to inspire through dreams and visions. They key is being open. We must desire to hear His voice. We must spend time prayerfully listening, and we must be ready to act when He directs. In the end, we must be quick to give God the glory for what results. Joshua gives all the credit to God for the idea that became the iPad.
God grants us skills, but we must develop them
Not only does God speak and inspire, He endows us the skills we need to create. Here, Joshua talked about Bezalel, the artisan whom God chose to build the tabernacle. Bezalel was a man filled “with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts” (Exodus 31:3-5).
While these skills are gifts from God, our responsibility is to fully develop them as good stewards, so they are ready to be used for His glory.
This vision of God is clearly reflected in the iPad
Joshua grew up in a Christian home in Northern California in the 1970s. He loved to invent from the time he was young, but he developed these skills over many years in college where he studied mechanical engineering. After college, he worked with small companies on small projects, but when the time was right, God providentially opened the door for him to work at Apple Computers, and he was ready. The iPad is just one result.
He reminded us that Daniel and his young Jewish friends were “trained for three years” before they entered the king’s service (Dan. 1:5). Honing our skills and learning our trade well gives glory to God. Self-discipline is necessary if we are to fulfill those good works that God has prepared in advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10).
Learn to value beauty and simplicity
For Joshua, God is “the perfection of beauty” (Psalm 50:2). He is the Master Craftsman whose handiwork displays both a beauty and simplicity that belies its deep complexity. This vision of God is clearly reflected in the iPad, which is a large part of why it so strongly appeals to so many. While I personally don’t own one, I’ve appreciated the beauty and simplicity of these devises from afar. The qualities didn’t just happen. They were the fruit of a biblical theology of vocation.
Learn to co-labor with God
Josh takes seriously Jesus’ words when he says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). He stressed the importance of spending daily time with God, learning to rely on His strength, taking every challenge to Him, and asking for specific answers to prayer. He talked about a time when he faced some strong interpersonal challenges on the team, yet how prayer and moment-by-moment reliance on God brought him, and the team, through.
What appealed to me most about Josh was His genuine, God-saturated perspective on all of life. This came through in his gentle demeanor and humility. He truly is a man who lives Coram Deo.
Ideas have consequences. The result of Joshua Banko’s faithfully lived-out theology of vocation is a truly amazing device, and a world-changing innovation—the iPad. Next time you pick up your iPad—or watch someone else using one—thank God for Joshua Banko, a Christian faithful brother in Christ who has fully integrated his faith and his work.
Now, how about you?
– Scott Allen