“I used to think that my only contribution to missions would be making money and giving it to missionaries.”
A young business owner shared this with me recently, capturing one of the deficiencies in the church’s teaching on mission and vocation. Because we rightly extol the work of pastors, missionaries, and ministry leaders, the unspoken implication is that the contractors, realtors, nurses, and other “non-ministry” professionals are categorically not engaged in mission when they go to work.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The church needs vocational missionaries. But even more, the church needs believers who allow God’s mission to impact their vocation.
As a backdrop to what this might look like, remember that kingdom work centers on the good news, “Your God reigns!” We want people to encounter the just and merciful rule of God and enter into that kingdom through trust in the crucified and risen Christ. Following the cues of Jesus’ ministry, we do that through both speaking and showing the kingdom, both declaring and displaying the news of God’s reign. We often assume that, because we can’t spend most of our work day telling others the gospel, our opportunities to do gospel ministry are limited. But the opportunities to show and display the kingdom are limitless.
Even in America, which is far less corrupt and oppressive than most nations, many are starved for a taste of the just and merciful reign of God. This week alone I heard hair-raising stories about the inequity in our nation, especially as it regards women and ethnic minorities. Rather than opening a firehose of statistics, suffice it to say that the home remains the most dangerous place for women in America and the vision of “liberty and justice for all” is not yet realized for many, especially people of color.
Pause over what this means. When you go to work, you are interacting with co-workers, vendors, associates, and clients who have a story. Many of them have been disadvantaged because of the misuse of power. What can you do? You can resolve to engage them as human beings created in God’s image, treating them with dignity and respect. You can listen to their stories and grieve with them over their experience of abuse or neglect. You can leverage whatever professional or personal resources you have to help them. You can be a voice for them where they are voiceless. And when the time is right, you can point them to the kingdom of righteousness and peace that they can enter through faith in the King’s sacrificed Son.
Beyond this kingdom work within your existing profession, perhaps God is calling you to a career shift where you can more directly engage the inequities in our country. When I follow Jesus’ command to “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:38), I am not only praying for new pastors, missionaries, and ministry leaders. I am praying for kingdom-minded teachers, law-enforcement officers, social workers, attorneys, judges, financial advisors, and job-creating entrepreneurs who will do their vocation with a view to showing the justice and mercy of our King.
Your prayer concerning how this might affect you can begin with the Lord’s prayer. “Our Father in heaven, how might your name be regarded as holy through my work life? How might your kingdom come through my engagement with others in the workplace? How might your will be done through my involvement in others’ lives?”
May he send you out into the harvest fields on Monday morning with a fresh vision of speaking and showing the gospel of the kingdom.