Working for God

A big mistake many Christians make is dividing their work into what is doing God’s will and what is not. Unless a Christian’s occupation involves assassination, prostitution, or other unequivocal breaking of the law, that Christian performs God’s work in the service of duties he or she is called to perform.

“God gives daily bread, even without our prayer, to all wicked men…”

How is this done? For me, I have this job with mean, evil Halliburton (yes we still get that even with Cheney gone for eight years). My wife has her job. Both of us put food on the table and a roof over our heads. We see to the medical, nutritional, emotional, and spiritual needs of each other and our girls. This is godly work, even when I’m not very good at it.

God also provides for others through my work. I teach, which helps Service Coordinators and Service Supervisors become more efficient. Less errors mean more profit sharing and more time available for safety checks and making sure our jobs are performed properly. This is all godly stuff, at least until we involve Business Development people.

Work doesn’t have to be associated with a church or a synod in order to be godly. Sometimes in order to get support for church activities, it is tempting to imply that service in the name of the Church is divinely superior than service in your current areas of responsibility. It even seems logical, but that’s because our logic is flawed.

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” — Acts 6:1–4

There are a couple of things to note in the apostolic division of labor. First, the apostles were poor administrators. Perhaps they might have benefited from an MBA or a trip to the Pastoral Leadership Institute? No. They were not meant to serve tables. There’s a prescription in this description. Pastor Scott Murray of Memorial in Houston once remarked to me that a pastor should be set far apart from the church treasury.

Photo credit: Carolyn Coles

Secondly, those chosen to “serve tables” were, like the apostles, full of Spirit and of wisdom. You may recall that one of these chosen was St. Stephen, the first martyr. He had his gifts, too. Even then one didn’t have to be an apostle to do godly things.

There are some godly things that Christians do that actually involve the spiritual realm. If you’re asked to pray for something, pray for it — but don’t hold yourself out as an institutional prayer jockey.

Do what God has given you to do, professionally, ethically, gently, even in the worst of times. Someone may ask you for the reason why you ascribe to a higher standard. Wouldn’t that be a lasting way to make a defense for the hope that is in you? Imagine that, providing for God’s children and winning souls for Christ.

Originally published at www.necessaryroughness.org on June 3, 2008.

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