My Lesser Calling — Adam’s Angle

Do you think your dead-end job is holding you back from ministry? Do you longingly look at the ministries of other Christians and feel that somehow your work as a cashier or as a police sergeant or as a parent is somehow a lesser calling?

If so, you need to hear the message of the apostle Paul to some of the believers in the Colossian church: full-time ministry doesn’t come from a job title; it comes from doing all things wholeheartedly for God.

If you think delivering pizzas is a rough way to make a living, just be glad you didn’t live in the apostle Paul’s day. There wasn’t much social mobility. In fact, many people were slaves. Not all slaves were sweaty oarsmen like in the movie Ben Hur. Many of them were household servants. Still, they didn’t have much hope to move up the social ladder. But does that mean that Paul, and God, just intended to write them off as useless in the body of Christ?

Not at all. In fact, Paul urges the enslaved Christians who lived in the city of Colossae to make Christ the focus of all of their “meaningless” labor: “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Colossians 3:22-23).

It’s the last part of this that comforts us: whatever you do. The task in itself is not so important in Paul’s eyes. But it is important that we do our work wholeheartedly. And it is important that we’re doing it for the Lord.

And the good news is not only that any job can be full-time ministry, but also that there is great reward: “You know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:24).

Easy for You to Say, Mr. Super Apostle

But the skeptic of the day could say, “Yeah right, Paul. It’s easy for you to say. You studied for years under the famous teacher, Gamaliel. You’re a full-fledged Roman citizen. You’re a world traveler. You’re the one God chose to bring the gospel to the Gentile world. What do you know about feeling boxed in? The world is at your feet.”

Well, that’s true. But for a season during Paul’s missionary journeys he had to work as a tent maker. And, more importantly, at the time that Paul was writing these words to the Christian slaves, he was in jail.

Paul asked these Christian brothers and sisters for prayer. He wanted an open door. Strangely enough, he wasn’t asking for an open door to his jail cell so that he could get back into full-time ministry. He wanted something else: “Pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should” (Colossians 4:3-4).

Apparently, Paul didn’t see his stint in the pokey as hindering him from doing the work of Christ. He saw it as another opportunity to tell people about Jesus.

Ministry for All of Us

If Paul can do full-time ministry from behind bars, then what are some things we can do to live a life of ministry — whether we’re on or off the clock?

We can study the Word of God and fellowship with other believers: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another” (Colossians 3:16).

We can all worship God: “Sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16).

We can all pray: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

We can tell others about Jesus: “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone” (Colossians 4:5-6).

As for the rest — the way you fill your 40-hour work week, don’t sweat it. Just do whatever it is you do for God and for His glory: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).

But, c’mon. . . Pizza delivery for God? Data entry for God? Wal-Mart greeter for God?

Why not? It’s not what you do, but how you do it — and whom you do it for.

— Adam Pivec
5/11/08