Today I heard that a guy was trying out to be an NBA player, but then God called him into ministry, so he stopped trying to become an NBA play and instead became a pastor.
Because ministry is being a pastor, not a pro basketball player, right?
Is ministry a select “calling” for only a few Christians? Could this guy not serve God as an NBA basketball player? Did he have to become a pastor to go into “ministry” ? Is God’s work limited to the options of pastor, missionary, bible teacher, and/or worship leader?
What is ministry?
Ministry can be defined simply as this: service.
Ministry is service.
When someone serves, they are ministering. When someone ministers, they are serving. The words are synonymous.
As long as we keep separating “ministry” from “secular work,” we are going to keep shooting ourselves in the foot, making other members of the Body of Christ feel like outcasts with no God-given purpose in their work unless they become pastors, missionaries, bible teachers, or worship leaders.
Ministry is service, and serving others can happen in any job, career, organization, position, country, etc. Every Christian is in ministry because every Christian is in Christ, and Christ calls his body to serve – to minister – to each other and to the world.
What’s your ministry?
If you don’t feel called to be a pastor, missionary, bible teacher, or worship leader, don’t worry. You don’t have to choose one of those four options in order to be in ministry. In fact, I would argue that we need more people out in the midst of society in “secular jobs,” who are rubbing shoulders and interacting with people who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ.
We need to expand our understanding of what ministry is.
Imagine this: You feel that God might be leading you to become a doctor, a position that – to many Christians – doesn’t seem like a “ministry” position. So you become a doctor and move to a part of Phoenix, Arizona that needs a lot of medical attention and you serve the people their, showing and telling them about the love of Christ.
Or maybe you want to be a carpenter, and so you build houses here in America, and then you also help build houses for the poor (maybe even employ them?) so that they have a place to live . People notice your character and good deeds, and they ask you about it. And so you get to share with them about the love of Christ (which you’ve already have been demonstrating with your lifestyle).
A parent can also be a minister through serving his or her spouse and kids. (Again, I say can because I know plenty of families where the parents don’t serve one another or the kids.)
These are just three examples of possible ministries, but there are millions of other possibilities.
Ministry is service, and that can happen in any life and any job/career/vocation. (I say can because it’s also possible to approach your life and job as merely a place you do a task to receive a paycheck, and never see the bigger picture.)
What matters is that your life and job/career/vocation/work is tied back to the bigger picture; of loving God, loving people, doing good, and building others up – all of which glorify Jesus Christ – through service.
Can I be an NBA player and still be in ministry?
Sometimes God calls us to leave our present job for another vocation, and sometimes he does not.
Peter was a fisherman, and Jesus called him to be a pastor. In this case, he had to change paths – he had to change careers. But we also know that Luke – the guy who wrote two books in the New Testament – was a physican, and that he didn’t change careers. Paul, Priscilla, and Acquilla’s vocation was tentmaking, a “secular job” to many modern people’s idea of ministry, but they were in ministry and turned the world upside down for Christ’s kingdom – Act 17:6. (Tentmaking would be similar to being a carpenter in our day in age; with some differences too.)
So no, ministry is not just being a pastor. It can include being an NBA player, doctor, carpenter, teacher, parent, student and/or anything else in which you serve people.
I believe that if more people saw their lives, jobs and careers as ministry, it would give them more purpose, drive, and motivation in all that they do.
I hope you see your life, job, and career as a ministry, a place where your calling can be lived out; a place where you can serve others and share the love of Christ with them through your actions and words. And Let’s remember Christ’s words:
” But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be a slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
– Jesus Christ (Mark 10:43-45)