“I’m just a plumber.” “I’m just a housewife.” “I’m just a secretary.” “I’m just a salesman.” “I’m just an accountant.”
People say this kind of stuff to pastors all the time.
What’s implied in these statements?
- Your work is a divine calling, but mine isn’t.
- My work is not as important as yours.
- You are worth more to God than I am.
- I wish I could serve God more than one day a week.
What’s at the root of all this is an unbiblical view of vocation, the wrong idea that only ministry callings are divine callings, that only ministry work is real work, that only overtly Christian work is worthwhile work.
As work occupies more of our time than anything else, these falsehoods have hugely damaging and negative effects upon us.
If you’ve ever said or thought such things, I’d encourage you to start viewing your work through the lens of Romans 11:36.
“For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
ALL THINGS, yes even your work:
- Is of God: Your work is from God, it is His calling. He gave you the work, He designed you for it, and He’s called you to do it today.
- Is through God: You do your work in dependence upon God, looking to Him alone for guidance, protection, strength, and blessing. And if you do, you may be going about your job with more faith than some men in pulpits!
- Is to God: You do your work for God’s glory. You work as if He was your employer, your manager, your boss. You wash dishes as if He was going to eat from them. You unblock drains as if it was His home, etc.
Does that not positively transform the way you view your work and even yourself?
- As you mow lawns: “Of Him, through Him, to Him.”
- As you change diapers: “Of Him, through Him, to Him.”
- As you study Algebra: “Of Him, through Him, to Him.”
The ministry is not the highest calling. The work God has given you is the highest calling.
The ministry is the highest calling only for those God has called to ministry (and as Paul said, God usually calls the least of all saints to that work). But if God has called you to another kind of work, then that is His highest calling for you.
Anything less that this equalizing of callings is a return to the pre-Reformation elevation of “sacred” work above “secular” work.
Martin Luther wrote: The works of monks and priests [we might add, "pastors and missionaries"] however holy and arduous they be, do not differ one whit in the sight of God from the works of the rustic laborer in the field or the woman going about her household tasks, but all works are measured before God by faith alone.”
William Perkins, the English Puritan, said: “The action of a shepherd in keeping sheep, performed as I have said, is as good a work before God as is the action of a judge in giving sentence, or of a magistrate in ruling or a minister in preaching.”
This is not to demean the ministry, to bring the ministry down. It’s to lift all other callings up to the high and holy level of dignity and significance that God has given them.
You’re not “just” an anything or a nothing. You are what God made you to be and today you’re doing what God called you to do. And that changes everything.