It was a Friday night in Chicago and I was wrapping up a busy week at work. I was one of the last people in the building and as I looked at my desk and task lists I began to whine in my spirit, “God, whats the point!? I just spent 60 hours this week making ‘widgets’ that don’t matter eternally. It feels like a waste. I know I am created, called, commissioned for more than this. When will I get to live out my purpose that You have gone to such great lengths to call me to?”
That night God corrected me in a loving, Fatherly way. He revealed to me the false dichotomy I had embraced of a “sacred versus secular” life – viewing my work as simply a means to pay bills and uphold a testimony, while magnifying “ministry” as being what was happening on Sundays, Wednesdays and times I was doing official programs under the banner of my local church. Sure, I was the “Jesus guy” at work and my faith was no secret – but that department I led, with 60+ people (most of whom did not know Jesus) was somehow simply a forum to maintain a good testimony (don’t screw up) while living on standby for the “real mission” to begin. Within minutes I was wrecked as God called out some lies and truths that reset my vision:
(1) If my W-2 determined my calling, was it really a calling?
(2) If being a disciple-maker was limited to context, was I truly a disciple?
(3) There were more people who did not know Jesus at my office than on any given weekend at my church, and rather than an hour I had 40-60 hrs/wk with them…why was that not a mission field?
Once I was confronted with this truth I confessed the sin of my ignorance and short-sightedness. I also realized that now that I “got it,” I didn’t really know what to do next. I had read lots of books, taken courses, been mentored in ministry programs but how was I to live out the life of an ambassador for Jesus in a Fortune 50 company? Realistically, how does that work? I found that God loves when we ask the “how” questions out of a heart to obey (much better than “tell me why first”!).
In this journey of having my worldview re-arranged, it was striking to me how Biblically normal workplace ministry was and how unBiblical my sacred/secular mindset was! 122 of 132 stories of Jesus in the Gospels take place in marketplace settings (not synagogue/temple). 45 of 52 parables…marketplace settings! 100% of disciples were marketplace guys – small business owners, federal contractors, tradesmen, working in the family business. 39 of the 40 miracles in Acts outside of a church gathering or temple setting. “Work” mentioned 800x in Scripture (avodah, Hebrew “service as worship”), seems to be significant.
If the favorite place for Jesus to heal, teach, make disciples and show up was @ work…why don’t we follow Him in that tradition? Are you going to work expecting to see Jesus, be Jesus, show Jesus? What would it look like for you to approach work as WORSHIP and live as a TRADER in your work?
Additional texts: Col 3:17-23, Ps 90:17, Mic 6:8, Prov 14:23, Ecc 3:22, 2 Cor 5:17-20, Matt 5:16, 2 Cor 5:10, Mark 12:27-31, Matt 28:18-20, 1 Cor 7:17, John 5:17, Ecc 9:10