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Worship Through Work

Worship Through Work

What does work mean to you?

To Al Hounsell [Leading Edge 2002, BA 2005], work is the opportunit y to be challenged and to learn, and it is an act of worship.

Since graduating from Tyndale , Al has had many opportunities to be challenged and learn. While pursuing his master’s degree in philosophy, he started and ran his own web design company. He’s taught at a church and has had experience as a mortgage agent, as a university instructor, and in “flipping” houses.

Recently, this life-long learner has once again taken a more formal step in learning by pursuing a joint MBA/JD degree. Beginning solely in the JD program, Al’s curiosity guided his decision to pursue a joint degree. Al states, “Originally, I thought that law in general would be a good way to exercise the same critical thinking skills of philosophy in a more practical, ‘real world’ manner than philosophy itself. I switched from the JD to the MBA/JD when I realized I was most curious about and interested in the business/corporate side of law.”

The appeal of learning also transfers to his spiritual life. Al sees this integrated wherever he is working or studying, “If work is indeed an act of worship, then the more we learn, the more equipped we are to work and, consequently, the more equipped we are to worship through that work.”

The act of work as worship is something that Al pursues. Sometimes the act is more conscious than it is at other times. He shares, “Scriptures say that whatever we do, we should do to the glory of God. In this way, doing good work is a form of worship. Do I always practically remember as I’m renovating a house that every two-by-four I screw in is an act of worship? Honestly, I’m not constantly conscious of that—though I’m sure I should be.”

What does it mean to have God as a part of his work journey? Well, Al sees God being an active part. He has the confidence to pursue different careers and take risks because of his assurance that God “never leaves us or forsakes us.”

"I would never take those risks if I didn’t believe that God was an active part of the journey."

Believing that God is with him, taking an active part in his journey, gives Al both courage and perspective. He sees this perspective in his current involvement in the property market. Al explains: “Preparing a rental or flipping a house takes a good deal of financial risk, especially now with a more uncertain housing market. I would never take those risks if I didn’t believe that God was an active part of the journey. If money were everything, then financial failure would mean a loss of my personal sense of worth. But with God as a part of the journey, money becomes rather uninteresting, and failure becomes an opportunity for learning and growth.” This perspective also gives him courage.

“Similarly, going back to school full-time was a huge risk in many ways. Especially now since my son was born, it is especially difficult to continue to put consistent employment on hold for another couple years while potentially paying enormous tuition fees. But I’m reminded that I’m not on my own in the midst of this journey,” says Al about his current status as a student.

Al’s belief that God never abandons him comes from reading scripture. He describes how Israel wandered in the desert, following the cloud and fire, but expounds how “the generation that inherits the promise [land] under Joshua is told that God is with them wherever they go. The same theme is presented in Acts 16 where the Holy Spirit actually has to stop Paul from going into certain places because Paul wasn’t timidly waiting for a ‘cloud’ or ‘fire’ to lead him.”

Being stopped is something that Al has experienced. As a proactive person who pursues opportunities and challenges, he sees how God “speaks” to him through circumstances. He recalls, “Last summer I tried numerous times to purchase a rental property in Hamilton. I started looking at student rentals which didn’t pan out. Then I started putting offers in West Harbour which didn’t pan out. Then I purchased a place conditionally on Locke Street, but… the deal fell through. All of this turned out for the best when a property around the corner from my wife and me in Mississauga came for sale last fall. The experience hasn’t been easy, since buying a total piece of junk and renovating it is a great deal of work, but it is a whole lot easier when a rental is around the corner from where you live. So I now think that maybe the Hamilton thing didn’t pan out for a reason.”

As Al continues to work toward his degree, he will continue to pursue challenges. And through each opportunity, he will continue to glorify God in whatever challenges he accepts.