Chapter 18


John L Langston III

'If anyone serves, they should do it with the strength God provides,
so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.' 1 Peter 4:11

Is there really such an identification as 'Christian Architect', or are there only architects who are Christians? I am almost positive that the debate could go on throughout time. But, my question, in fact, is directed toward the implications of our professional service and how our Christian conversion will and must impact our performance.

The concept or romantic notion that the role of the architect as a master builder, the guardian of form and function for humankind, and the servant of the public good and enrichment was just about lost by the time I was entering architectural studies in the University. Perhaps the only ones who really held these ancient views were the generation of professors who were in the twilight years of their academic tenure and the professor who taught the History of Architecture by Sir Banister Fletcher, written originally in 1896. The lure of the corporate architect and the rewards of specialization were born, it seems, in the sixties and live until today.

Many of us have lived and worked through these decades of change and transformed perspectives concerning the role of the architect in our respective societies. However, for those of us who are not only architects, but Christians as well, are there dimensions to this issue we personally have not faced?

Have we really come to an awareness that we, indeed, do provide a service to humankind? And does that unique service qualify us to be servants of our fellow man, not just robotic technicians performing an antiseptic administration to humankind's space planning needs and wants? I believe the answer is yes, we have a public service responsibility.

For the Christian, however, this responsibility carries with it an entire set of standards and expectations which cannot be achieved by, or even expected from, those who are not. Our servanthood should reflect the loyalty we have to our Master, and validate the role of a servant as a credible contributor in the work force. Because we have passion and loyalty, the Christian architect will be recognized as having 'something different' in his or her persona.

Is it possible to put servanthood as a goal over the worldly attraction of fortune and fame? I believe that 1 Peter 4:11 makes it clear that servanthood is attainable, but only in the 'strength which God provides'.

If our perspective was biblical towards our secular calling and service, the question raised by such verses as Mark 10:43-45 would be a legitimate concern to us.

'Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.'

Could it be that we have become caught up in the day-to-day distractions of life, and failed to ask the more significant questions of our professional fulfilment? And if Christ, who we are related to by blood and is our perfect example, had a passion for servanthood which resulted in a life-giving sacrifice and ransom for many, cannot I, also, exhibit this same intensity for the glory of my God?

There are some of you who will read this who, if honest, are unfulfilled by your service as an architect and your passion lies in other places. But for those who are dedicated to their role as the architect, 1Peter 4:11 indicates that there is strength for fervid service which will extol God.

We live in a world which definitely needs to see a difference in the marketplace and we have colleagues who need to be attracted by the God who lives within us. May God help us to claim what has already been furnished.

After all, what actually is the chief aim of man, but to glorify the Master and Maker of us all? I end where I began, asking the same question. Are there really Christian architects? And, if so, are they known by their passion for servanthood?

'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.' Colossians 3:23.

This article first appeared in Bezaleel & Aholiab , Vol. No. 1, Issue No. 1, a publication dedicated to the encouragement and challenge of the Christian architect, TMA Ministries, USA, and is used by permission.

ACPA Newsletter 32, Winter 1998-99

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