“Come and see,” was the pedagogy of Jesus. Constantly Jesus invites people to pack their bags and follow him, to not just talk about the law but to see what it means to fully live it out in goodness, beauty, and truth—putting flesh on ideas. Well, “come and see” is very much the pedagogy of Steve Garber as well. Time and time again, Steve invites people to come and see—whether it’s been meeting with his friends and colleagues, grabbing lunch or coffee with him outside of class, or joining him and his wife, Meg, for dinner at their home. Come and see. Yes, those three words aren’t just an invitation into the classroom—they’re really an invitation into Steve’s world, to become his friend and to study life with the same intensity and vigor as an apprentice learns from his master. With profound insight, Steve understands that the truest learning is incarnational, that we learn the deepest lessons looking “over the shoulder” and “through the heart,” seeing that a worldview can become a way of life. He understands that true education is about connecting belief with behavior. And he teaches as he loves—with incredible humility, compassion, and grace.
I am so grateful for the work of the Washington Institute. As a mother I have struggled with the repetitive, often menial-seeming components of giving care and providing a home for my children. The question of how one can thrive amidst the unglamorous and repetitive tasks in any line of work is something few have undertaken to thoughtfully answer. The Washington Institute gives rich theological substance–walls, floors, furniture, so to speak–to the great Christian foundation that has always affirmed the value of specific and ordinary work. I think differently about mothering, in part, because of the honesty and depth with which those at the Washington Institute have examined the vocation of motherhood.
I have been encouraged and deeply moved by what I have read and heard in person from Steven Garber. His words have given me hope as they have allowed me to see anew Gods common grace evidenced throughout my work both locally, in my city, and internationally. This impacts not only my dealings with vendors, employees and clients but it also gives me vision to present a finished product that is well crafted and beautiful in its reflection of each of those that have contributed their gifts to the process.
The Washington Institute is a rare treasure of grace that nourishes my soul, sparks my imagination and shapes the contours of my mind. I am most grateful for my friend Steve Garber who has not only written the book on The Fabric of Faithfulness, but also models a seamless fabric of faith lived out in every nook and cranny of God’s good, but broken world. In this confusing cultural moment, I believe God has uniquely positioned the Washington Institute to be a credible and compelling voice in nurturing common grace for the common good.
It was some time ago that Steve so generously gave of his time to have a discussion with me on “Why God cared about my business.” I’m a young executive of a family business, that makes dishwashing soap, who has experienced more success of late than I deserve. And due to the success in business, I found myself having achieved several goals and financial milestones yet remained unfulfilled rather than fulfilled. “There has to be more,” I thought, “there has to be a greater sense of purpose in my business.”
Enter Steve Garber. I poured out my heart to Steve that day on the phone. I remember telling Steve my story, where we had come from, where we were, and where we were headed. As the story came to an end, I asked Steve, “Does God care about my business, does my work really matter to God?” Steve then unfolded biblical truth of why my family business mattered to God, from the products we offered to how we cared for our people. We weren’t doing anything wrong, we didn’t need to start doing something else or stop anything we were doing currently. We just never had been told the truth.
I entered the conversation with a lie and left with a truth, a biblical truth. And with this truth, I have realized and witnessed God’s continued blessings on my family, our family company, and myself. This truth also lead me to a renewed purpose and passion for our business.
Now, not only do I have a greater understanding of our role and what’s at stake in our business, but my team has a greater understanding and sense of purpose in what we do.
Coming to The Falls Church Anglican over a year and a half ago I was another casualty of the bifurcated gospel world in which many evangelical Christians live. I knew I was broken and that I needed Jesus to save me. I knew exactly what Jesus saved me from, but I was not quite sure what He had saved me for. After taking a class with Dr. Garber I felt like I finally had the language to say what my heart had felt all along. The church has largely gotten out of the reality defining business and The Washington Institute is helping reveal that reality is not separate from Him because He created reality. As Kate Harris often says, I finally had a faith that was big enough to make sense of the world.
Dr. Garber and The Washington Institute have helped me live more of a seamless life. For the first time, I discovered God really cared about my work, not just because it can be a venue to evangelize, but also because my actual work is valuable in the kingdom of God. Jesus Himself was a carpenter for most of His life, and I doubt we would find anyone who would say He wasted most of His life because He wasn’t in “ministry.” I’m incredibly thankful for the thought provoking work of The Washington Institute and for their desire to see Christians “telling the truest truths of the universe in a language the whole world can understand.”