Full-time Ministry

Does God care what you do for a living? Are some jobs more spiritual than others? Or more significant?

I think many of us subconsciously assume that “full time ministry” jobs are God’s favorites. After all, he called some fisherman and changed them into evangelists. He called one shepherd and asked him to free his people from slavery in Egypt, and another to become king of Israel.

But how many people does God ask to remain fishermen or shepherds? Is that a calling? Is working in a factory, writing software, or selling appliances something God wants us to do?

From my perspective as the wife of a computer expert turned ministry leader, I think it doesn’t really matter what your vocation is, so long as you’re available to God. He can use you wherever you are, in whatever you do. [Disclaimer: thief, X-rated movie star, drug dealer, and similar professions aren’t acceptable choices for believers.]

It’s probably easier to consider, say, teaching or healthcare-related fields as under God’s influence, compared to designing computer chips, drilling for oil, or other business and technology occupations, but in reality, we are to bring everything under His Lordship. We shouldn’t leave God at the door when we enter an office building or lab. The designer of the universe certainly understands how electrons work. The One who holds the future can be an excellent financial advisor. Yet how often do we ask God for help with business decisions? When we feel competent, we tend to charge on, full speed ahead, relying solely on our own understanding.

Here’s one example of how prayer changed a commonly used technology. My husband’s late business partner helped design the first computerized phone answering system. Yes, he’s to blame for “Push 1 for this, push 2 for that.” Before you start throwing tomatoes, I should point out that he never intended for his software to completely replace a living human being. It was just a way to avoid having a person answer the phone when the caller already knew what extension they wanted. At any point, you could push “O” and get an operator.

We are all too well aware of how this technology has been misused. It would have been a simple matter to “hardwire” the operator option into the software. With their limited human insight (and even though our friend was a Christian), it simply never occurred to them.

Compare that to different company whose software was heavily influenced by another friend of ours. Tellme creates the voice recognition program that handles calls to airlines, directory assistance, E*TRADE, and a host of other businesses.

As long as Tellme’s software understands what you’re saying, everything goes along smoothly. However, if it has to ask you to repeat something, or if it gets something wrong, it assigns “pain points” to the call. Accumulate enough pain points and you are transferred to a real person. What a great way to relieve your frustration!

Our programmer friend is also a Christian, and he asked God to guide him as he designed the software. The result? God’s compassion is expressed through a phone answering system.

Our society has created a false dichotomy between secular and spiritual professions. As followers of Jesus, submitted to His authority, all our work is spiritual. There’s far more to being a Christian at work than just witnessing to the guy in the next cubicle. Yes, we’re called to be ambassadors, and we should pray that we’re good ones. But more than that,  all that we do should be done in partnership with God, under his authority, and to His glory.

I love what Dallas Willard has to say: “There truly is no division between sacred and secular except what we have created.  And that is why the division of the legitimate roles and functions of human life into the sacred and secular does incalculable damage to our individual lives and the cause of Christ.  Holy people must stop going into ‘church work’ as their natural course of action and take up holy orders in farming, industry, law, education, banking, and journalism with the same zeal previously given to evangelism or to pastoral and missionary work.”

How do you depend on God at work? Do you ask for His for insight and creativity? Do you make decisions based on His values? What difference does He make in your job?

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