Most of the Work of Ministry Is Done by Christians Who Work Secular Jobs

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Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him… in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God. (1 Corinthians 7:17, 24)

Most Christians struggle at some point with the sense that ministry jobs are just more sacred than other jobs. You can see this reflected in our terminology: we tend to call non-ministry jobs “secular jobs.” It can be hard not to see them as “unspiritual” or “less spiritual” jobs.

But God draws no such distinctions. He does call some of his saints (a relative few) to serve the church vocationally in a variety of ways. But these folks are not the spiritual elite or some kind of Christianized Brahmin caste who get to do holy work while everyone else must soil their hands in the profane. Rather, God assigns them to serve and equip the vast majority of his saints who he deploys in the world to carry out “the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12).

In other words, Christians who work secular jobs do most of the work of ministry and it’s the job of vocational ministers to equip these folks so they can do this effectively.

According to 1 Corinthians 7:17–24, your job (assuming it’s not inherently unethical or immoral) is an assignment from God. That doesn’t mean it’s a permanent assignment, but it’s today’s assignment. And God wants you to carry out that assignment with dependent faith, diligence, and excellence.

In chapter eight of Don’t Waste Your Life, titled “Making Much of Christ from 8 to 5,” John Piper explains why secular work is designed to be God-like work:

So if you go all the way back, before the origin of sin, there are no negative connotations about secular work. According to Genesis 2:2, God himself rested from his work of creation, implying that work is a good, God-like thing. And the capstone of that divine work was man, a creature in God’s own image designed to carry on the work of ruling and shaping and designing creation. Therefore, at the heart of the meaning of work is creativity. If you are God, your work is to create out of nothing. If you are not God, but like God — that is, if you are human — your work is to take what God has made and shape it and use it to make him look great.

John told me once that he thought this chapter might be the most important one in the book. It might be for you. Or it might be for those in your church or small group or Bible study. And if so, we’re making cases of this book available at a very low cost. Who knows what God might do through a handful of Christians who catch a new vision and passion for their work?

God may call you someday as a vocational minister. He may not. But wherever he assigns you, “remain with God” (1 Corinthians 7:24). And make it your mission “to take what God has made and shape it and use it to make him look great.”

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