Sacred and Secular Work

Do you have to work in the ministry to serve God? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I was talking to a friend who was concerned he had wasted his life. He’s a little younger than I am, but I think we can all understand the question. There’s also too much in the world of Christianity that lays heavy guilt on people. Think about how John Piper has said “Don’t Waste Your Life.” Obviously good advice, but can it be taken to an extreme?

I think about Francis Chan’s book Crazy Love where he talked about taking a relative of his to a play and afterward she said, “It was good, but I kept wondering what would happen if Jesus returned and here I was watching a play.” I am not doubting this lady’s Christianity, but I don’t want to serve a Jesus like that, a Jesus who is more of a taskmaster holding a whip over you such that you feel guilty if you take time to actually enjoy the world that has been made.

Sometimes this can show up in our vocational choices. People can think that if they are not in ministry, they are not doing work for God. I say this as one who is training in ministry, but I have held plenty of jobs that were not ministerial and in each of them, I tried to serve God with all that I had.

Now if you want to go into ministry and think you’re capable, go for it. I am not about to suggest that you need a “Call to preach.” God knows I have heard many preachers who were “called” and who I wish God had given them some ability to preach and teach the faith. There is a lot of passion, but a lack of ability and too often, many like this think they don’t need any education. They just need the Bible and God will tell them what to say.

However, you don’t have to do that. For instance, today I posted on my seminary Facebook group for life on campus, that I would like to get a haircut soon and what is the best place to go that is close by and inexpensive or even better, is there a student on campus that cuts hair? While I am in ministry, I do need a haircut at times and well, God has given some people the ability to cut hair. God needs barbers.

I would like to find someone to help me on my YouTube channel. God has equipped some people with technological gifting. The first person said to have the Holy Spirit in Scripture was an artist. This was in Exodus and not even Moses was the first person said to be full of the Holy Spirit! Art is a work for God.

Like you all, I have to get groceries and have a car and a working phone and any number of things and people who are doing those things are serving God just as much. It’s because people are doing “secular” work, that I can do “sacred” work. Paul was a tentmaker as well as a preacher and every rabbi was trained in a trade of that sort.

Yet one statement I made to my friend was one that I think does have a sacred calling to it. I told him he is a husband and a father both. Those are two positions I would love to have and I don’t. If he is wasting his life, then he is essentially telling me that what he has done in caring for his wife and raising his children is a waste. One of the biggest ministries you will ever have is within your own home. Even if you are in “ministry”, this is still true. Paul even tells us that if a man can’t lead his own household, he has no business leading in God’s. If you are in ministry and you are not being a husband to your wife and a father to your children, get out. Seriously. Either change your ways or give your position to someone more worthy.

If you are in “secular” work, you are still serving God. 1 Cor. 10:31 tells us that whatever we do, do it all to the glory of God. That was even not about doing ministry, but about partaking of food at a gathering where pagans were at. Eating and drinking was to the glory of God. Whatever work you do, offer it up as a gift to God. If you are also part of a family, definitely serve God well in that role. It’s one of the most important.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)


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