Christian service should not be limited to the mission field, soup kitchens, or activities within the walls of the church. It should also occur in boardrooms, classrooms, civil service, etc., where church members spend most of their lives. True success in this life requires movement beyond an internal focus on our relationship with God and toward passionately pursuing our external call to serve humanity.
A significant challenge for the church is to help members understand how kingdom principles apply to the uncharted waters of the marketplace; to focus on occupations as ministry; and using position as a forum for gifts and talents to create significant opportunity to serve God by serving community.
Faith without works is dead.
For most, the majority of their waking hours are spent at work. Yet many times there is a disconnect between Sunday morning and the rest of the week. Many see work as a distraction unrelated to their spiritual self, or a means to fund ministry and other life pursuits.
Work as a ministry may be the furthest thing from their mind. In support of the opposite mind set, William Wilberforce spent decades in public service passionately pursuing, and successfully abolishing slavery in Britain. He only did what only he could do, by using his gifts of leadership in the marketplace to change history. He saw his unique call and place in the marketplace as Godly service. I think many today might question whether one can survive in politics and maintain Christian principles or would ever consider politics as “ministry.”
What would our world look like if every Christ follower approached their occupations with this same passion and vision as most successful politicians? Less hunger, more justice; less sadness, more comfort; less frustration, more fulfilled lives; less war, reconciled nations;…….
For active leaders the work week is so demanding, on top of commitments to family and friends, that the prospect of having a “real ministry” (as traditionally defined) is seen by many clergy and laity (I despise that separation) as an un-scalable wall. As a result, our gifted leaders can become frustrated and disengaged from the body and the marketplace. Their participation is diminished to attending services, a few years on the board, and an occasional missions project.
All these are important contributions, but the body, community, and the individual are robbed of their potential for greatness. The engaged Vision Leader changes the lives of the individuals they encounter daily, and the course their potential impact on their business, industry, economy, country, and the world. The body is then no longer complete, missing out by not equipping and sending these folks into the marketplace to express their gifts. Not only might they be agents of change but could reach a world that traditional evangelical methods have not penetrated.
Our Vision Leaders need a forum for frank confidential education and discussion to effectively apply eternal truths to their work. Confronting real situations and providing a platform for investigating unique issues leaders face is critical to their success. How should they use the power, influence, and resources they have been given? How does one navigate a public entity or the political world and gain the respect of God and Man? What does the Word say about employment practices, fair dealings, wealth gathering, debt, etc.?
We can only imagine what would happen if our leaders had the counsel of peers who seek God’s best for the multiple interest groups they serve. Successful leaders need to understand balance and self discipline, perseverance, sacrifice, selflessness, how to make decisions, the power of the spoken word, the power of generosity, and the gift of mentoring. Most of all they need a place where they can be refreshed and engaged with mentors and peers pursuing the same call.