A businessman once told the president of a seminary: “Sometimes I think I’d like to sell my agency and become the business manager of a Christian organization where I could really serve the Lord in my work.”[i]
Over many years in business, I’ve often heard similar remarks like this that reflect a prevailing perspective about Christian ministry. Do the Scriptures teach us that the only way we “can really serve the Lord”, is by quitting our jobs and start receiving a paycheck from a church or mission organization?
The view that “real service to God” only happens in “full-time Christian vocational work” is a serious and erroneous perspective that pervades much of our Christian sub-culture. (It’s actually an affront to Christ’s redemptive work on the cross that calls to “desecularize” everything in our lives) The implication is that if you and I are not in full-time vocational Christian work, we are in some way 2nd class citizens in the kingdom of God.
If you are a Christian, you are already in “full-time” ministry
There is no such thing as a “part-time” Christian. While God does “set apart” some for their roles as pastors and teachers in a full-time capacity, being “set apart” does not mean being “set above”. Rather, we need to elevate all Christ followers as “called” ministers and priests of the Gospel.
The Bible makes no division between the laity and clergy. If you are a Christian, God has already called you into full-time ministry. Just because your W-2 isn’t sourced from a mission organization or a church doesn’t mean we are “just part-timers” in the ministry.
At one of our BLE breakfasts, a fellow who works in a large utility company stood up and declared something like, “I now realize I am already a fully funded missionary in my work”. This fellow got what it meant to follow Jesus. If I’m a Christ follower, there is no such thing as “secular work”. There is no distinction between “clergy” and “laity”. I propose that we ban these words from our vocabulary.
The next time you are driving to work, I encourage you to see yourself as a fully funded missionary of Jesus Christ. When you enter your workplace, embrace your calling as being a fully vested minister of the Gospel and serve others with the love of Christ.
[i] Larry Peabody, Secular Work Is Full-Time Service (Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, Christian Literature Crusade. 1974) pg. 11