Barna Group recently reported (February 2014) that three-quarters of U.S. adults (75%) say they are looking for ways to live a more meaningful life. Whether female or male, in ministry, or in secular work, people crave meaning in their lives.
I wrestled with this concept early in my career after 10 years while working at the then Silicon Valley-based start-up, Christianity.com. Previously I had worked my way up the high-tech public relations agency ladder right out of college; although I was motivated to do my best, I felt an emptiness at grasping for the next big article, the next big account, and the next fancy dinner with clients.
God positioned me ever-so-carefully to blend my new-found faith with the work I had been called to do, and this became a pattern in my life: the integrated life. While this is my story, countless others aim to blend their faith in and through their careers that may having nothing to do with the “faith market.”
There’s been much written about the work-faith divide. While God calls us each to work, there still exists a concept that to work in full-time ministry is more valuable than to work in the “secular world” and share one’s faith through everyday experiences.
Rae argues that each of us is in “the ministry” and that all work – whether in churches or for-profit businesses- is in fact, sacred and God-ordained.
So the question this leads us to is: How do pastors and church leaders guide their congregants to a better understanding of how to share their faith, evangelize, and disciple people in, around, and through the work they do?
According to Dr. Rae, these two points will help all Christ followers blur the lines between the sacred and secular callings and foster increased vocational satisfaction and meaning:
1) Nomenclature Matters
Don’t say “leaving the ministry” or beginning “full time ministry.” All work is ministry whether in the business, nonprofit, or religious world. Practicing law is ministry; teaching is ministry; full-time parenting is ministry.
2) No More “Sacred Callings”
To emphasize the sacred call to ministry over the everyday call to earning a paycheck is to devalue one over the other. Rae says, “We need to commission men and women in their ministry as teachers, reporters, firefighters . . .”
How do we commission people to serve God and share their faith creatively throughout their careers? This is a tough question that has no singular answer.
Below are some valuable resources of other folks far wiser than me to help answer these questions:
- Download “Why Work?” by Dorothy Sayers
- About the Center for Faith and Work
- Charisma Magazine Article: Why you shouldn’t divide your life
- Work as Worship Network
- Desiring God: Destroying the Sacred Secular Divide