Here’s the deal with “secular” occupations: They are the White Fields Jesus spoke about. In these blogs, we’re basically exercising and building up the spiritual discipline of prayer. The end goal is not only to become stronger prayer warriors and build up the body in prayer, by prayer. We’re also learning to open our ears to that person of the Trinity that is sadly ignored, the Holy Spirit (hence the recurring suffix “for the Sent Ones).
One of the greatest barriers to our new identity is the expanding chasm between the laity and clergy. Today’s American Christian thinks of employment as a way to monetarily support and send “professional” Christian workers out on mission. We are told it’s our task to invite the not yet believers into atmospheres where the pros can do “their” job. This isn’t just shortsighted, it is totally abiblical! This is so backwards from the ways of Jesus. One of my fascinations with Jesus has always been how He seemed to have chosen working men to closely follow Him. He even caught them at work and in the case of the fishermen, used their trade as an analogy for the Kingdom they were entering. Why do modern men of the cloth so often only invest in the sect of younger generations, preparing for full-time ministry?
This distorted vision is rooted in faithlessness to the Great Commission,(specifically the “teaching all…” portion) prayerlessness in the Church, and a lack of biblical instruction. The Bible, despite our negligence and ignorance, is brimming with Wisdom for this everyday lifestyle of worship. Our vocation is a vacation in Him. The Christian lives in a Sabbath and becomes inexplicably productive, even to the point of multiplication. Let’s get a reborn perspective on this day to day work to be and become an act of worship. I’ll share experiences from my father’s organic process of disciple making and pray that we see how his lifestyle is one that remains in an active grateful listening posture of prayer.
Why are we having quiet times and devotions in the morning and on our way? Shouldn’t it be to begin a day of prayer and prayerful listening rather than just tossing a blanket conversation to cover the day? See, we aren’t saying that a missionary prays differently than the “ordinary” child of God. No, we are reaffirming our salvation and adoption by realizing that to be child of God is to be a missionary.
This realization holds some heavy implications over our future. How do we remain open to the Scriptural picture of spontaneity of the Spirit who blows like the wind somewhat erratic and commonly unpredictably while becoming more stable, wise, intentional, planned and sacrificial stewards? Let’s take a minute to see how we can bring our occupations under the increasing Lordship of Christ?
Here are a few fresh ways to view our jobs and careers!
1. An act of worship
Colossians 3:23 My dad used to say act as if it was God was asking you to do it (any task).
2. An opportunity to honor our families, employers, employees coworkers, and colleagues
Ephesians 6:4-6 This scripture says even more plainly the points to which my dad was aiming. If servants and slaves were to live this way, how cocky is it of us to suspect we need not listen to such commands.
3. First-hand experience at making disciples and training them to make new disciples
Luke 9:4 So we want to better at being sent? How about taking a gander at Jesus’ example. Did you know he sent out twice in Luke 9 and 10 while he was still here.
- Are you sharpening your training, critiquing skills through a process or throwing the young out among wolves with no protection or oversight?
- Are you staying? How do you show stay as you go?
- How are you guiding the flock into consistency?
4.An opportunity to truly love your neighbor.
Matthew 22:36-40 Seriously, what’s more important?
5. A chance to lean in closer to God until we rely totally and ONLY on His empowering Spirit and sovereignty of the Father
John 17 This is the ultimate Sending prayer from the Sender. This is The Prayer for the Sent Ones! We see God’s earnest, burning desire to be in communion with mankind. Knowing and going are inseparable in a relationship with Him. His GLORY!
6. An environment to model life in “the way” for the primary flock, the family
1 Corinthians 3:8-9 This verse hit the very stripped down spiritual nature of this point. So here is a practical picture. My most apt example of how to live “in the way” was never recognized or affirmed from within church structure or leadership. So I’m taking it on my self to affirm the work of Christ through this man that we may learn. This ideal yet very human disciple is my earthly father.
My father, took a day of the summer every year to take each of his 6 boys on a day of work with him. We watched him come home everyday and love our mom and give to God; but it wasn’t until we got to see him at at work first hand that we knew how much of a pastor he was the entire nursing home. He was a maintenance man there for his nearly, his entire career. In fact, he created the job there and ended up retiring. His work ethic is so drilled into us all from the outside that we have no excuse. It was from this hand-in-hand time that he was strategically showing us:
Look this is how you honor your boss and every single soul you come in contact with.
Look son, this is how you use a screwdriver.
Look son, this is how you have patience so that that it (whatever the issue) doesn’t have you.
Look son, this is how to use the screwdriver, have patience, not be too arrogant to follow instructions even after decades of experience, and still be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to wrath.
Look son, don’t stare when a contractor doesn’t respect the common courtesy of not cussing in front of my child.
Look son, I will protect you from the World while showing you how to live in it as a light. Watch how I send you away to get a RC Cola. This still small voice says, “go wait in the shop if he doesn’t stop.”
Look again son, how I spend every meal with someone blessing them with an ear. Not just coffee with the guys, but brunch with Mr. Dan, and lunch Mr. Anders.
Look son, they all know me by name. They are persons of peace whose families now call on me.
Listen son, they’ll tell me stories that grant me wisdom.
Listen son, they call on me in agony.
Listen son, they know I’m NEVER EVER too busy for I am literally here to SERVE them not just to a job.
Listen son…silence. My boss will never have room for complaint for I have gone far and beyond my effort.
See how I grew and learned even more even today.
Listen son, every time I introduce you, “This is my youngest boy…..” His smile finishing the sentence, “in whom I a well pleased.” Wait a minute, my wallet has a fold out of pictures of this whole army of God’s children I’m shepherding. Of course, you’d have to de-churchify that if you knew my dad.
Now son, let’s go home.
He modeled for each son and daughter a full Trinitarian spectrum:
Jesus, the Son: He worked with the masculinity of a biblical man (not far from carpentry), the sensitivity to all mankind of a true Jesus follower.
Father, Abba God: He hugged, spanked, held, and guarded with the strong, loving, care of a disciplined and disciplining disciple making father.
Holy Spirit: At home, work, in town, he always operated with the lose foot and powerful joy of the Holy Spirit who often restructured his schedule at the drop of a dime.