Your Work, Your Mission: Christianity and Social Work

Social worker meeting with father and son
Social worker meeting with father and son

A recent study by the Pew Research Center found that nearly half of Americans (47 percent) view their jobs as “just what they do for a living.” In private industry, that number increases to 55 percent, whereas 65 percent working in nonprofits and 67 percent in public service report that their work “gives them a sense of identity.”

Many practicing Christians who grew up helping and serving others often seek a career change that integrates meaningful work with their faith. The field of social work offers opportunity to create real change in the lives of those most in need, and our 100 percent online BSW program can support you in the process of changing careers. Today we’re considering how modern social work fits into a Christian worldview.

“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” - Galatians 6:2

Embracing Christian Values With Social Work

Few career choices dovetail more perfectly with Christ’s teachings than social work. Christ emphasized working with those in need and embracing those who society at-large might consider outcasts. Christ concerned himself with the poor and marginalized and attempted to relieve their suffering. Not only did he provide direct aid to the needy in the form of comfort, counsel and healing, he also protested against the systems and culture of the day that prevented people from improving their conditions. In a recent post, we looked at examples of five different types of social worker; let’s consider how each of these corresponds with Christ’s actions on earth.

The School Social Worker

Christ was above all a teacher, enlightening those around him with parables about living that were simple enough for children to understand, but deep enough for theologians to study to this day. As a school social worker, you have the opportunity to help young people start on the right path in life regardless of their religious background. There is no substitute for starting life’s journey with genuine care and good advice.

The Substance Abuse Therapist

Christ never shied away from those who could benefit from his teachings. Often times this led him to reach out to the less fortunate or groups who were considered outcasts. What would Christ think of the opioid crisis? How would he approach those addicted to drugs? He would not abandon them and he would not give up on them. Helping those who struggle with addiction is challenging but important work, and it is work that is consistent with the compassion Christ showed.

Child and Family Social Worker

Social workers who specialize in assisting children who are at risk of neglect or abuse are involved in the community as a whole, helping parents, children, teachers and family members to improve the overall psychological and social functioning of a child. As Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

The Mental Health Social Worker

Just as Christ cared for the afflicted, mental health workers aid those whose illnesses lie within the mind itself. There is plenty of room to improve the public’s treatment and understanding of mental illness, and helping others to manage mental disorders is one of the meaningful ways that social workers can embody the grace of Christ.

The Clinical Social Worker

By lending an ear and providing guidance to those challenged by personal and professional barriers, social workers can help them find the right path to peace and prosperity. Even in a secular workplace, good Christian social workers reflect the gracious and loving guidance Jesus offered his followers. Assisting patients to overcome challenges embodies the call to serve central to Christ’s teachings.

Making the Transition

If you are an attentive, empathetic and driven person with a genuine passion for learning how to better serve others, social work may be the path for you. Many teachers, healthcare administrators and human resources professionals find themselves making the change with great success. It is a challenging profession, and one which requires special training in many states.

Spring Arbor University's online Christian social work program allows you to continue working while completing coursework; you can watch your lectures whenever your schedule allows, and you can converse with your professors and fellow students via our online portal. You’ll even have a member of the faculty assigned to be your personal mentor throughout your studies. When you complete the program, you’ll be well positioned to make a difference. And when you make that difference, you’ll feel it in your soul.