Ministers of the Gospel

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint, Vision

 

Photo on www.ssa.gov
 
 
 
I will never forget an experience that shaped a lot of my passion and focus on the whole Transformasphere Movement.

Some years ago, I was at a conference with a lot of college students. A pastor who was leading the conference gave an altar call for people who felt like God was calling them into “full-time ministry.” One side comment: I have never been a fan of calling people going into vocational pastoral ministry as people going into full-time ministry. The reason is what do we then call a person who is serving God just as faithfully and just as fervently, but not as a positional pastor – “half-time ministry”?! I am a strong advocate of reminding people that we are all in “full-time ministry” because we are “all in” serving Jesus. We shouldn’t be giving half of our hearts or even half-heartedly to ministry. Sometimes the divisions are dangerous. It might be better to say that we are vocationally doing ministry as – a pastor, engineer, doctor, business person, education, actor, and etc.

But I digress… back to the story.

After the call for people to come forward for full-time ministry, many people came forward. But there were many more people (like a lot more) who did not come up and this is the part that was bothersome. There were close to 90% of the conference participants who just stood there realizing that they were second-class citizens in God’s Kingdom. As I panned out into the crowd, I got this strange feeling that we have just immobilized an army of people that could have been equipped to make a difference for God’s Kingdom.

That particular experience was a watershed moment for me.

Things began to cascade into a waterfall of events. For every missions trip that I went to or conference that I attended, God kept on showing me that the only way we are going to transform the world is if we raise up Christ-followers who are passionate about His Kingdom and the Gospel and are engaging the various spheres of society.

I was reminded of all this when I read Mark Earley’s article, “Preachers and Podiatrists,” he writes,

The story is told about an evangelical college that claimed to affirm the sacredness of all work. But did it really believe this teaching? Every spring the school held a special chapel service to lay hands on, and pray for, students who were going off on mission trips. But then a professor asked if the school could hold a similar service for students planning to start internships at big accounting firms.

The school’s answer? An emphatic no.

My former colleague Jim Tonkowich tells this story in his online article, ‘Christians on the Job: Doing Well a Thing Well Worth Doing.’ ‘Fine words aside,’ Tonkowich writes, ‘the college believes that some vocations are much more sacred than others.’

Sadly, many professors ‘enthusiastically [communicate] that fallacy to its unsuspecting students.’

Christians outside the academy sometimes fall for the same fallacy as well. Too many business people ‘have cut short their careers just before breaking into senior management in order to ‘serve God full time,’ Tonkowich notes. Despite their talk about all work being sacred, their own decisions deny their words.

How do we get back a biblical view of work? We can start with an essay by Dorothy Sayers entitled ‘Why Work.’ As Sayers writes, Christians ‘must get it firmly into their heads that when a man or woman is called to a particular job of secular work, that is as true a vocation as though he or she were called to a specific religious work.’

One thinks of a good friend of Sayers, C.S. Lewis, whose ‘secular’ work at Oxford included writing a series of children’s books that have for generations pointed children to Christ: The Chronicles of Narnia.

Sayers believed that work ‘should be looked upon-not as a necessary drudgery… but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God.’ This is why it is so important that Christian young people find out what their vocation is-whether it be law, medicine, ministry, or some other field-and do the work that God designed them to do.

How do we figure that out? We should ask ourselves what we are good at, what we have a passion for, what God has gifted us in. In what kind of work do we find great spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction?

That, Sayers says, is a good indication of the work we should seek out.

Finding the work that God intends us to do may protect us from one of the great temptations of our times: consumerism. Doing our work well, and finding great satisfaction in it, Tonkowich notes, will ‘keep us from the need to drown out our unhappiness in… [communicate] the assorted amusements our paycheck can purchase.’

What a pity today we can’t invite Dorothy Sayers to speak at evangelical colleges about the truth that God calls us to all kinds of work-and that becoming, say, a podiatrist is just as sacred in God’s eyes as becoming a missionary.

Doing the work that God gifted us for-whether it be government work, writing, or a plumber-does not make us second-class Christians, but people who are worshipping God with the abilities He gave them-and expects them to use.”