The Ministry vs The Workplace:Do I have to choose between a 9-to-5 job and the ministry?
Ilze van der Walt
What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “calling”? Do you also picture the missionary who sacrifices all to go and reach the unreached in the most remote parts of the world? Or maybe the pastor of a vibrant church community?
But where does it leave the rest of us? The ones with the normal 9 to 5 jobs and the families at home? Do our callings compare to those of the pastors and missionaries of whom we hear so much about? Is it possible that one’s calling from God could be to become a lawyer, accountant, or full-time mother?
I recently came across the following quote from A.W Tozer: “Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called and his work will be as sacred as the work of the ministry. It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.” This stirred something in me as I realised that this was the answer to a question we had had in our small group a couple of weeks before. We had been talking about our callings and how they fit into our jobs, but all of us are working full time, and our different job descriptions do not include preaching or missionary work. We are a bunch of accountants, engineers, programmers, administrators, winemakers, full-time mothers, and more. So how does this calling that God placed in our hearts fit into a full-time job?
What if we have been looking at things wrongly all along? What if God had placed us in our jobs with more in mind than just giving us a place to work in order to get the salary we need. What if God placed us there with a plan – and I am not only talking about reaching those you work with – but what if the plan also includes being the best at your job? Being the one who stands out because of the quality of work you do and the way in which you do it?
I know, I know, God can speak to you while you are praying for someone or while you are preparing for small group or writing a sermon, but have you ever spoken to God while working and asked God about your job? I must admit, I have: While I was working on our year planning, trying to find a better way of managing our events. I have asked Him about the way we work and how to improve it. And He answered me. It is amazing when God starts working with you, or, perhaps I should say, when you realise that God is the Master in your area of work and He has the solutions you are looking for. What if we could be like Bezalel? “The Lord said to Moses, “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, “ (Exodus 31:1-2). He was anointed to do a very specific job and that job was to make the furnishings, utensils, and clothes for the temple. This sounds like a rather ordinary job with an extraordinary purpose attached to it.
Looking at the lives of people like Joseph and Daniel, they also had ‘normal’ jobs, and because of the excellence with which they completed their tasks, God used them to change things. Here is what the Bible says about Daniel and his friends: “As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams. At the end of the time, when the king had commanded that they should be brought in, the chief of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar. And the king spoke with them, and among all of them none was found like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. Therefore they stood before the king. And in every matter of wisdom and understanding about which the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom” Daniel 1:17-20. Look at Paul’s advice to the Colossians: “Servants, in everything obey those who are your masters on earth, not only with external service, as those who merely please people, but with sincerity of heart because of your fear of the Lord. Whatever you do [whatever your task may be], work from the soul [that is, put in your very best effort], as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [greatest] reward. It is the Lord Christ whom you [actually] serve” Colossians 3:22-25 (AMP).
Let’s serve those above us as if we are serving Christ Himself, and let’s allow God to show us how we should be doing our jobs to the best of our abilities and with His wisdom and guidance. “Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called and his work will be as sacred as the work of the ministry. It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular, it is why he does it.”