– September 2, 2020 –
Stan had a challenge. He had worked hard at a local university to finish his EE degree while working part-time to keep his student loans at a minimum. He deepened his faith and was surrounded by teaching at a solid church. He heard about mission trips other students were taking to Mexico and the privileged few overseas. The leaders seem to affirm these important acts of faith, yet Stan needed to continue his work in construction to pay for school. As he prepared to finish school, he began to ask the question, how should he serve God in his life?
He continued to ponder this question till he went to graduate school where he was challenged by a professor to view his business world as a mission, not a means to some other end. This is the first time he could remember hearing that his work can be a ministry, not just in the way he conducts himself with clients, co-workers, and management, but that the work itself carries meaning. Maybe my work can be a mission, he wondered?
Martin Luther challenged the late medieval world when he wrote: “The works of monks and priests, however holy and arduous they be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but that all works are measure before God by faith alone.”
The Bible gives significance to any work. There are no non-sacred occupations. Called to ministry or full-time service are often cultural misrepresentations of God’s view of meaningfulness work; creeping out the near singular focus on salvation, rather than “Making disciples of the nations”. Thus, there exists an artificial ranking of the Godliness of work. It can be even more discouraging to read one more letter from someone who shares the exciting news that they have suddenly discovered they are called into full-time service. What message does that send to those that thought they were called into the traditional (secular?!) workplace?
Everyone has a vocation, a calling. This is not something reserved for only a chosen few who end up as clergy or missionaries. We can & should live out our calling by being excellent at whatever God created us to be. As we take on this perspective, then everything we do is a part of fulfilling our vocation. In doing so, we are living out a Hebraic model, rather than a “Greek” model. A Hebraic model is holistic, it all belongs to God. The Greek view is compartmentalized as different parts of our life that shouldn’t integrate. The word vocation comes from the Latin “vocare,” which means, “to call”. It suggests that you are listening to something directed to you.
In I Corinthians 3, Paul expresses concern about having the ability to speak freely from the Lord if he was being paid by those people hearing his preaching. Thus, to maintain that freedom, he chose to continue providing for his personal needs by doing secular work he was gifted in doing. Could it be that each of us is called to ministry and that it’s all full-time service? Is it an “OR” model, or perhaps, could it be an “AND” model?
Is your work a job or a vocation? Wisdom and understanding come from God and surpass human ability. As God was giving Moses detailed plans for building the tabernacle in Exodus, He said, “I have put wisdom in the hearts of all who are gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you”. And Moses said, “See, the Lord has called by name Bezaleel and has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship, to design artistic works, to work in gold and silver and bronze, in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of artistic workmanship.” (Ex. 31:6; 35:30-33 NKJV)
Seeing work in the context of a calling (ie. Ministry) gives an entirely different picture. “Call” is the verb used to communicate the action of being sent for and directed to come. The Greek kaleo (to call) is used to describe the voice of the shepherd, a voice heard in a unique context by the sheep. “Call” is used for naming, designating and appointing. From beginning to end, God’s actions toward us are captured in the act of calling.
Coming to this conclusion did not mean that Stan rejected any volunteer work at church, or that he ignored service because he saw his work as a calling from God. Rather, he began to see all of his life as a calling, including his work, his family, his church, and his community.
What about you?
KIROS Founder and Board Member