Your Job is a Ministry

Here’s a lie that Christians sometimes tell themselves: missionaries, pastors and youth ministers all have jobs that are ministries while garbage men, software engineers and stay-at-home moms have jobs that are not ministries. Two corollary lies go with this one: accountants, teachers and janitors can do ministry if they squeeze it into the evenings and weekends after work. Or, their jobs may not be ministries but they can do ministry while on the job by witnessing to their fellow workers.

These lies flow from the false division of life into “sacred” and “secular.” The good news of Jesus is the gospel that there is no longer a division between the sacred and secular (Eph. 2:13-15). Jesus is the union between God and humanity and between heaven and earth (Col. 1:19-20). He has filled the whole universe (Eph. 4:10) and we all live and move and have our being in him (Acts 17:28). Ministry is participating in Jesus’ service to the world, on behalf of the Father, in the Holy Spirit. So unless your job is pimp, hit-man, or drug dealer, your job is a ministry.

Let me speak especially to those of you who hate the job you have right now and wish you could be doing a full time church job instead. Every job, including church jobs like missionary and music minister, feels like burdensome work sometimes. Even in your dream church job there will be days – many of them, in fact – when it will still feel like just getting up and going to work. If you can learn now, while you’re doing the job you hate, to see how your current work is a ministry then at least one of two good results will come: either you will learn to love what you are doing or you will be better prepared to love your church job when you finally get it.

Can you see how your job is a participation in the ministering, serving life of the Father, Son, and Spirit? I’d be interested in hearing from you about what you do for a living and how you can see that it is a ministry.

To get the ball rolling I thought about some jobs I’ve had that weren’t church jobs and how they were ministries:

Mowing Lawns: the Lord gave us the task of tending and keeping the creation (Gen. 2:15) so mowing lawns put me right in the middle of Jesus’ love for the creation. Many of the lawns I mowed belonged to widows who couldn’t do the work themselves and needed my help – and that sort of work is right up Jesus’ alley (James 1:27).

Library Drone: all I did at that job was check books out to people and re-shelve them when they were returned. Once I got so bored I laid down in the stacks and took a nap. Looking back now I realize how important books are to our life in Christ. In fact, careful research written in book form is one of the primary ways we have knowledge of Jesus (Luke 1:1-4). By helping others learn and do research I was participating in Jesus’ work to help others grow in their knowledge of themselves, the world, and their life in Christ.

Factory Worker: I worked on an assembly line building anti-lock brakes for cars and trucks. I hated it, although many of the people who worked there loved it and had done it for years. I wasn’t good at it, like they were, and I didn’t like working second shift. But how many mothers made it home to their families, emergency workers arrived safely to help others, and dogs and cats lived to cross the street another day because the brake systems we built were functional and stopped vehicles when they needed to stop? Keeping others safe is at the very heart of Jesus’ life with the Father in the Spirit.

How about you? How is your job a ministry?

~ Jonathan Stepp

4 comments so far

  1. Ian Woodley on

    Hello Jonathan
    I pay the bills by being an accountant! A couple of times I have had to produce forecasts that highlight that we may need to cut staff in order to keep an organisation in business. This made me unhappy – predicting that my colleagues may lose their jobs. Then one day I suddenly saw this the other way around. By making such forecasts, I was making management aware of the risks ahead, so that they can take action. So I may be helping to save jobs rather than cut them! Changing my view has helped me see my talent for numbers as a gift from God that can bring long term benefits to others.
    Thanks for your article – life has been busy recently and I needed reminding of my ministry!
    Kind Regards

  2. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks for sharing this, Ian, I think the Spirit has given you a very Christ-centered thinking about your ministry!

  3. Jeannine on

    Great post, Jonathan! I have been a stay-at-home-mum for over five years now, ever since my oldest was born. I am often amazed at how other mums can be pushed constantly to “get out there and work for the Lord” – the insinuation being that work with our children and families isn’t enough. But I am deeply convicted that I have been given a tremendous privilege in joining God in his work in my children’s lives! This calling to join him there is more than enough for me, and I’m able to rest knowing that it’s God who does the real work anyway – I just get to humbly and happily participate.

  4. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks, Jeannine, I appreciate you sharing your experiences. I have heard other people describe the very problems you are talking about – what a liberation the gospel is from the religious guilt that others try to put on us!

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