David Kim is the CEO and co-founder of Goldenwood. Over the past several decades, Rev. Dr. David Kim has trained, consulted, and counseled hundreds of leaders and organizations in developing a robust, meaningful integration of faith and work. David’s past experiences as VP of Faith and Work (Redeemer City to City), Executive Director of the Center for Faith & Work, Director of the Gotham Fellowship (Redeemer Presbyterian Church), and editor of the NIV Faith and Work Bible have given him a breadth of exposure to the challenges of integrating faith and work. His expertise as a key thought-leader in the faith and work space has been well-established having addressed prominent institutions and churches around the world. David continues to pioneer effective means by which individuals and organizations can grow towards a dynamic lived spirituality that expresses God’s glory into the world.
You are a real pioneer in the endeavor to help Christian believers integrate their beliefs with all aspects of their life, especially their work lives, popularly known as Faith and Work. How did this become a key focus for your own life’s work?
Twenty-seven years ago, I began to realize that the gospel affects every iota of life. Just as sin has stained the whole of our existence, so grace is at work to renew all that is broken. This grace is not merely a safety net underneath us when we fail but a new foundation that changes everything we do. This grace generously inspires us towards a flourishing world remade in justice, creativity, hope, and love. This good news compelled me years ago to learn more so that I might help others embrace this gift and start living a life of freedom to do what we humans were put on this earth to do.
A phrase we hear a lot across the faith spectrum around Faith and Work is the goal of “bringing your best self to work”? Is that a phrase you’ve used? What does it mean? Do you use other phrases and slogans that better speak to how you see this mission of faith and work integration?
This is not a particular phrase we use, but I like what it communicates. Being created in God’s image, there is something glorious about being human that speaks of the inherent dignity of our divine-likeness and the tremendous potential of cultivating ourselves and the world around us in community. It is love that uniquely inspires and activates communities to discover new ways of working that bring out the fullness and ingenuity of our individual and collective humanity. We hope to “cultivate a new vision of work” by “reviving work with love.”
What are some of the practices that in your experience have been most effective in helping believers with this integration?
In a world of accelerators and endless distraction, what is most needed is the practice of slowing down each day to listen for the guiding and affirming voice of a Shepherd. We need a wisdom far more significant than our own, and in the gospel, we have the promise that we will never be left alone and that we will have living eternally within us a Counselor. When we take the time to listen attentively, we may be surprised by what we hear and how much God desires to bring about His good into the world. We will be led not only to reframe our work, with all its grind and frustration but also to respond to it with persevering love.
How much of your work has involved technology professionals in business, research, and academia? Do you see special challenges in that arena for Christians who seek to live out their beliefs?
I have worked with technology professionals but after this past year, more people have needed to become proficient in the creative use and integration of technology. With that said, for many, technology is laden with fear, frustration, de-humanization, and associations with a future apocalypse. While examples support such a negative view of technology, if we believe that God is at work to renew all things, Christians have every reason to be hopeful and not fearful about how technology can be used in a love-inspired wisdom. The future of technology must be balanced by those whose imagination has been actively nurtured by the gospel and the glorious hope for the future.
We hear a lot about a massive shift coming in replacement of human work by machines. In fact, you’ve undoubtedly already seen a great deal of change in the workplace around greater productivity through the introduction of technology, alternative approaches to employment in the gig economy, and generational shifts in attitudes about boundaries and work-life balance. How do you think the future will compare to the past?
Historically, technologies have brought about some of the most significant disruptions to our work. This sudden change can deeply unsettle our sense of security, worth, and identity. If we can overcome these fears with an abiding and genuine faith, then I believe the future will present to us possibilities for increased flexibility and collaborative work that will free people to do the kind of work that resonates with their gifts and passions. Amid disorienting disruption, organizations that help develop trust and collaboration will provide a compelling and hopeful way forward in releasing more of our latent human potential.
Given those possibilities, what are the most important things a worker in a high-stress, high productivity oriented job can do to live an integrated life of faith in practice?
As Christians, we must never forget that our work is not the basis of our identity but the expression of it. If we are daily rooted in God’s love for us as well as the unshakeable dignity and security of being in this divine family, we can approach our work with distinction. The challenge each day is whose voice will we listen to? Whose voice will inform our sense of identity, security, and purpose? To hear the right voices, we all need to be part of an intentional faith-activating community that gives rise to healthy rhythms and habits that arise from gospel beliefs.