19 – How to Build a Ministry through Your Work
A man began teaching high school math after college. He said, “After a few years I have identified two problems I think God is calling me to deal with. First, my students are coming to class with problems that math can’t solve. Second, the Christian teachers at my school don’t know each other.” He is praying for a vision about how to respond to these two needs. He says, “I am an ordained math teacher.”
Rebuilding Our View Of Vocation
God calls us to build the kingdom and to tend the culture. Often, we denigrate our work as of little consequence to the work of God. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your work does matter to God. In fact, 80-95% of our vocational time, or calling, will be devoted to “tending the culture.” As Ken Myers said, “Changing my daughter’s dirty diaper is not a redemptive act, but it is a good thing to do.”
The first time my FedEx man stepped out of his van to deliver my package I knew two things. First, he loved God. Second, he understood that his job is his ministry. It’s not just that our work is something we do to give us a platform to do ministry, it is ministry. It is tending the culture, and it is good.
There is intrinsic value in our work because it makes life more livable, creates jobs, contributes to an orderly society, creates income to meet family obligations, satisfies our need to be significant, and fulfills the biblical mandate to “fill, rule, and subdue” God’s creation.
If you have a concordance, look up all the references to “secular.” How many did you find? God makes no distinction between sacred and secular. The notion that we perform secular jobs or go into the ministry comes from our culture, not from the Bible.
Every vocation is holy to the Lord. Our vocation, or work, is an extention of our personal relationship with Jesus. 95% of us will never be in “occupational” ministry, but that doesn’t mean we are not ministers. The Bible teaches the priesthood of all believers. So, the issue isn’t whether or not you are in ministry, but whether or not you are faithful in the ministry God has given you.
If you are a waiter, every customer that sits on your station is a divine appointment; an opportunity for you to be the incarnation of the loving character of Jesus Christ. If you are a salesman, every appointment is holy and (God knows) every sale is sacred. If you are a manager, every conflict between two employees is an opportunity for you to demonstrate the reconciling nature of Christ our Lord.
In addition to everything I’ve just said, let me add that our vocation must also always include a view to “building the kingdom.” Unless our work contemplates how we can help others be persuaded to faith and equipped to love and serve God then we have missed the point. Our labors may be good, but they won’t be great. God doesn’t call us to the “Good” Commission, but the Great Commission.
Do you view your work as a calling from God? Consider some practical steps to help you have a richer perspective on your work.
Adopt a verse as a mission statement and place it on your desk or wall so that you will see it often.
When you arrive at your office or place of business, begin each day with a short prayer dedicating your work to God. (Perhaps when you pull into the parking lot or walk through the front door.)
Meet for lunch once a week with a Christian coworker for prayer and encouragement.
Here are some categories to think about building an outreach ministry through your business or work.
What other ideas can you think of that will help you view your work as a calling from God? Implement one of these ideas in the days ahead.
Building The Kingdom
In addition to everything I’ve just said, let me add that we should also view our work as a way to “build the kingdom.” Unless we help others be persuaded to faith and equipped to love and serve God through our work, then we have missed the point. Our labors may be good, but they won’t be great. God doesn’t call us to the “Good” Commission, but the Great Commission.
All of us interact with others at work. We need to view these relationships as ministry opportunities ordained by God. You are an ordained _______________! (Insert your job title). The people you work with have tremendous needs, the greatest of which is their need for Christ. God calls you to help meet their needs and be the incarnation of Christ’s love for them.
Some men occupy leadership positions within their company, helping direct its people and resources. These men have unique opportunities to shape the atmosphere of their company so that each employee has the opportunity to experience the love of Christ and hear the gospel. If you are a leader, it is especially important for you to remember that people are watching to see if your faith consistently influences your life. Actions do speak louder than words.
Here are some categories to think about as you build an outreach ministry through your business or work.
It wasn’t until I was forty that I realized I had always been “bi-vocational.” In the early years I was 90% real estate and 10% ministry. Then is was 75-25. Then 50-50. Then 25-75.
If you own your own company or control your own time you may want to consider describing yourself by the category “bi-vocational.”
If you spend fifty hours a week practicing law or mowing lawns (tending the culture), why not consider giving a “tithe” of your time to the work of building the kingdom?
“Optimizing Versus Maximizing”
The word of the success culture is “maximizing.” I don’t think Jesus would use that word. The idea that is most useful for balancing our priorities between vocation, family, and Christ is not “maximizing” but “optimizing.” Think about it for a few weeks.
“Good Ideas Versus God Ideas”
Strong-willed men often have good ideas. King David was such a man. Yet, on all but two or three occasions (Bathsheba, taking a census) David always “inquired of the Lord.” The problem is that not every good idea is a God idea. Ask this question to keep on track: “Is this a God idea or a good idea?” I’ve learned the hard way that the hardships from many ideas that haven’t worked out could have been avoided altogether if I had only asked this question.
“Shine Light Versus Curse Darkness”
Some people are surely called to curse the darkness. But probably not as many as do. Draw this distinction in your own mind and try to be a positive influence for the gospel on those around you. Too many negative Christians.
In the end everything boils down to calling. This issue is, “What is God’s call on your life?” This often doesn’t come easily. And when it does come, it is usually followed by a season of equipping in which God works things into and out of our lives. Then, when we have been fully equipped and prepared for the battle, He sends. God has a special purpose for your life. Seek and you will find.
Business leader, author, and speaker, Patrick Morley has been used throughout the world to help men and leaders think more deeply about their lives, to be reconciled with Christ, and to equip them to have a larger impact on the world.
© 1995. Patrick M. Morley. All rights reserved.