The 5 Marks of a Christian Craftsman

The idea of “the craftsman” or “craftsmanship” is a wonderful analogy to the Christian man- both in his relationship to God, and in his relationship to his work.

In one sense we are all the handiwork of God (Eph. 2:10). He is the Creator of all things (Col. 1:16). He continues to work on us daily (Phil. 1:6), sanctifying us, like the refiner purifying gold in the fire, and like the potter shaping the vessel.

And just as we are clay in the Master Potter’s hands, so too should we seek to be skilled craftsmen in whatever industry we occupy.

The Craftsman Defined

Webster’s 1828 English Dictionary defines a craftsman as- an artificer; a mechanic or, one skilled in a manual occupation. And an artificer is defined as- an artist; a mechanic or manufacturer, one whose occupation requires skill or knowledge of a particular kind;… one who makes or contrives; an inventor… a cunning, or artful fellow.

A craftsman is most commonly known for making things with their hands, being very artistic, and creative. But in our modern society, this definition has also been expanded to include various types of disciplines, not limited to just traditional, manual crafts.

Craftsmanship Across the Ages

The traditional craftsman would include everyone from the suit tailor in Italy, to the woodworker in America; from the sushi chef in Japan, to the blacksmith in Latvia; from the log cabin builders in Finland, to the watchmaker in Switzerland. They create masterpieces with their hands.

The modern day craftsman might include the web designer, the filmmaker, or the public speaker– as long as they are skilled in a form of creative work, physical or intellectual.

I’ll give you an example. A public speaker attempts to create messages in much the same way a carpenter builds a house- with the key points of his speech being crafted like strategically placed columns which hold up the structure, but also graced with the windows of illustration that shine light upon their ideas, making the ideas more concrete and memorable.

Craftsmanship has become more of a spirit and pursuit of excellence in one’s work, rather than a specific manual skill. And that spirit spans both time and space.

Attributes of a Craftsman

Here are the top 7 characteristics that I think truly define a craftsman- skill, creativity, focus, hard work, self-discipline, endurance, and sacrifice:

  • Skill & Creativity:
    Over years and years of practice, the craftsman hones their skills to the highest level. Once having mastered the foundational skills and rules of their discipline, they push beyond the boundaries and begin to create things in wonderful new ways. This combination of skill and creativity often leads to greater recognition and influence. See (Prov. 22:29).
  • Focus:
    If you walked into a craftsman’s workshop we would probably notice several things- consistently messy environments, materials tossed about and lying on the floor; the rhythmic and alternating noises of tools, hands, and machines busily pounding, cutting, stirring, measuring, pouring; all in their effort to create masterpieces. They would be surrounded by the tools and materials that are needed for their task. And despite all of this noise and mess you would find a person completely focused; focused on both the minute details in front of them, as well as the finished product they are trying to achieve. See (Prov. 4:25-26) & (Luke 16:10).

  • Hard Work:
    You can tell the difference between a mediocre product and a masterpiece. It takes so much more time and effort to find the best of materials and to craft them in a way that maximizes both functionality and beauty. You have to go the extra mile. (Matt. 5:41) (Col. 3:23-24)  
  • Self Discipline, Endurance, & Sacrifice:
    At the beginning of a project, a craftsman must spend a great deal of time sifting away at the dross or cutting away the excess in order to reveal the final shape of a product. After that, they spend a lot of time decorating and adding finishing touches to it. A craftsman has to really discipline himself to see a project through from beginning to end. Often times his efforts require him to sacrifice other comforts, time with friends & family, passive entertainment, a comfortable working environment, etc. Being a creator is a whole different ball-game from being a consumer. It requires sacrifice. (Heb. 12:1)

So if these are the common marks of a craftsman, how should a Christian man differ from his non-Christian peers in the world of work?  No one can deny that God has graciously gifted all men, both the Christian and the non-Christian, with skills and talents of various kinds; and with the responsibility to provide for their families. So where is the difference, if any at all?

Here’s the Difference

I believe the clear difference lies in the reason WHY we do what we do. It all comes down to who we are ultimately working for.

The Marks of a Worldly Craftsman

If we do our work for ourselves, for our own honor and glory, for whatever makes us most happy, then our motives are wrong- our best efforts will become like dirty rags (Is. 64:6). The worldly craftsman might possess all 7 of the attributes listed above, but they lack the wisdom and insight that comes from knowing God. Their efforts are turned inward, to please, satisfy, and honor themselves.

The Marks of a Godly Craftsman

The difference in the Christian laborer is that his efforts are turned toward God.

The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men…. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Col. 3:23-24) And in 1 Corinthians 10:31 it says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” The Christian is called to do everything as unto the Lord, and to glorify Him.

The Christian has the highest, greatest, and most satisfying calling simply because of who his Master is- The Lord and Creator of all things! God wants us to reflect His light to the world around us (Phil. 2:14-15).

In addition to the universal attributes of a craftsman listed above, the Christian laborer is marked by the following 5 traits:

The 5 Marks of a Christian Craftsman

  1. God-Centered Work– All of our work is to be done unto God and not unto man. We don’t seek the honor of men, or personal pleasure and gain. Though we might receive those things as a result of our work, they are not our ultimate goals. God’s glory is.
  2. Strength- We know and confess that The Lord is the source of our strength. We get up each morning and go to our places of work simply because He keeps our heart beating, and fills our lungs with air. How long would we last without those 2 things?
  3. Inspiration- The Christian’s source of inspiration is found in God. When we abide with the Creator through His word and prayer, all kinds of wonderful and new ideas start flowing in our minds.  And He’s given us an entire universe, blanketed with His attributes, as a source of creative inspiration.
  4. Priorities- His Word lays out our priorities, and this governs the time, energy, and focus we should put into our work, into our family, our churches, and our communities. He creates boundaries within which we can safely pursue our callings without neglecting what’s really important.
  5. Wisdom & Knowledge- God gives wisdom and knowledge to those who fear Him (Prov. 9:10). Christians know why the universe exists with amazing consistency, with beauty and order. Because it reflects the attributes of God (Rom. 1:20).

It’s in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28), and because of this, we aim to do all things for His glory (1 Cor. 10:31).

An Example of a Godly Craftsman

When the Lord commanded the Israelites to build the tabernacle in the wilderness, He chose Bezalel, of the tribe of Judah, and “filled Him with His Spirit, and with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cuttings stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.” (Ex. 31:1-5)

Notice that to be a Godly craftsman, one must first and foremost be filled with the Spirit of God, then with various abilities and craftsmanship. Brothers, we should seek the same!

The Marks of Christ on Our Lives

Oh, that the world would see the evidence of Christ’s power in our lives, reflected not only by the fruits of the Spirit, but also in our God-centered, G0d-dependent, God-inspired, God-guided, and God-reflecting creative efforts. May Christians be always ready to tell others the reason WHY we do what we do, and WHO the source of our inspiration and strength really is.

Let us show the world God’s marks on us, both inside and out. And then, may they praise our Father in Heaven- the Master and Creator!

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Photo credits: Daniel Mennerich via / CC BY-NC-NDHello Turkey Toe via / CC BYPhoto credit: 不染俗塵 瓢飲清閒 via / CC BY-NC-SA

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