Making Ministry Your Job
God values hard work. Before the Fall, He “took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Gen 2:15). Before (and during) their ministries, Jesus was a carpenter, Peter was a fisherman, and Paul was a tentmaker. When I first entered the workforce after college, I was proud of my career in supply chain management. I enjoyed tackling new challenges and moving up in my career. So when God called me to full-time ministry, to be obedient and surrender, I ran from him. I was scared of the change, afraid I would be bored and prideful that my new position would not have much clout in the “real world.” The Lord had to reform my idea of work and purpose, and what we as Christians are called to do.
As Christ-followers, “ministry” is not a job for the few who are called. It’s a way of life. My current vocation might be working at a church, but it shouldn’t change the heart of service. All of us were given the same charge to “go out and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:30). The expression of that is to “do good works which [God] has laid out for us in advance” (Ephesians 2:10b). He designed some of us to work downtown in a tall tower, others to teach in a classroom, and others in retail, construction, a church or at home. We are spread throughout the world to broaden the scope.
Everyone is looking for the “thing” that makes them click–their “passion”. In reality, we are all designed for the same passion: to glorify God by making Christ and His teachings known. When our talents and jobs are used for that purpose, you can’t help but feel satisfied. What does it look like to live this way? It’s uncomfortable. You will stick out–and sometimes not in a good way. But you also feel joy. You will be doing the work that you were designed to do.
That being said, coveting others gifts is a struggle. I see what other people are doing with their talents and can get discouraged. I don’t have enough bible knowledge. I can’t sing, so could never lead worship. I talk really fast, so teaching is out for me. But what I didn’t see was the gifts that God had blessed me with: my knack for mobilizing and encouraging people. Most notably for this season, I have been given the gift of time, and I can use that time to serve in different areas.
What gifts has God blessed you with? Where do you excel at work? Those same skills used to impress your boss can be used to serve God’s kingdom. Who are the people in your natural spheres of influence (i.e. coworkers, fellow gym members, your favorite hair or nail artist)? The amazing thing about “working for God” is that He has equipped you with all the gifts you need and placed you where you need to be. He has also given us a part of Himself with the Holy Spirit.
Now it’s time to ask yourself how you can make glorifying God your purpose in your daily life. Perhaps it is through actions, how you react to tragedy or a stressful situation. Sometimes it looks like loving or forgiving someone when the easier path is to hate and hold a grudge. It’s serving those who need a helping hand. It’s making a sacrifice and getting nothing in return. It’s trying to live a life like Jesus. Maybe we should bring back those WWJD bracelets (“What Would Jesus Do” for those not in a youth group in the ‘90s)…
But there is another side that is often more challenging than the rest. It is opening your mouth and talking about Jesus. It’s “always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). It’s telling your neighbor, the barista, or a tribe halfway around the world about Jesus. About a man who changed EVERYTHING for EVERYONE.
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from making the switch from the corporate world to full-time vocational ministry is that we love to compartmentalize our lives. We have our work life, personal life, family life, church life, etc. We tend to act differently in each role. But if we truly strive to live a life for Jesus these lines should blur, and our life, each compartment of it, should blend together to create a life marked by loving and serving Jesus and each other.
Karen Campbell is the Organizational Admin at The Bridge Montrose.