Colossians 3:23-24, Colossians 4:1
Daniel Ghinn on serving God in whatever our job is.
Have you ever wondered whether the Lord would prefer for you to be in full-time ministry or a 'secular' career?
I have often observed the tension faced by followers of Christ who would love to have an occupation in which they serve Him every day, but feel a passion for work that they do not see as 'spiritual'.
And yet most of the heroes of the Bible were people who spent most of their time in what appears at first to be a secular workplace setting.
Think of David, a shepherd, warrior and king; Daniel, who served the Lord while serving kings; or Joseph, who served the Lord in settings as diverse as slavery, imprisonment or being Pharaoh's right-hand man!
In his book, Anointed for Business, Ed Silvoso describes David's encounter with Goliath and explains why David was confident that God was with him: "[David] saw God deeply interested in everything he did, whether he was watching his flock, catering food for the soldiers or fighting the evil giant. His job was his ministry and his ministry was his job."
In the book of Acts we read about leaders in the early Church who had occupations that do not at first sound very spiritual: Aquila and Priscilla, along with the apostle Paul, were tentmakers. Lydia, as far as we know the first convert to Christianity in Europe and the host of the first house-church in Philippi, was a successful businesswoman, a dealer in purple cloth.
It is no wonder then that Paul writes to slaves in Colossians 3:23-24, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving." He goes on to instruct masters, too: "Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven." (Colossians 4:1)
Paul's instruction to slaves and their masters challenges us to reset our perspective on work.
When he addresses those with the lowest place, he shows them how to turn their work into a holy act that serves the Lord. Slaves who applied Paul's encouragement were instantly transformed into full-time ministers - servants of Christ - right where they were! And when he points out to slave masters that they also have a Master in heaven, he is showing them that their work too should be for the Lord. Just imagine how this would transform the relationship between master and slave!
The extremes of workplace position highlighted by Paul - from slaves to slave masters - show us that whatever area of work we are in, we are in full-time ministry if we choose to follow the Lord's instructions in Paul's letter to the Colossians: "It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
What does this mean for you? I had a friend who worked in property maintenance. Every home he went in to, he was able to pray for, to carry the presence of the Lord into that home. Lives were changed when the peace of God came to families because they employed a builder who was also full-time minister.
I have led a business for over 20 years and in that time we have had to navigate some very difficult seasons. Thank God he showed us that it was His business! At one time, the business was going through a long period of low sales and it felt impossible to continue. As I prayed, God showed me where He was at work through me to change the community through my business relationships. Even though in the natural, the business looked fruitless, He showed me fruitfulness as I served Him through my work. This changed how I prayed about my work: Lord, keep using me. Today the business includes a team of 40 people serving the Lord through their work.
When you think about your work, how can God use you to minister through it? It starts with changing your perspective.The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.