For generations we have found it convenient, even reassuring, to make a distinction between the sacred and the secular. For many, the church campus is sacred and the workplace is secular. For most, the Bible is sacred and Michael Crichton's novels are secular. That's leaves "What's So Amazing about Grace," "The Shack," and "Blue like Jazz" somewhere in the middle, if that's possible.
Most of us have extended this distinction to vocations, making the work of local preachers and pastors sacred and "Scott the chicken guy" and "Bob the builder" secular. This attempt at creating two separate worlds is an extension of a worldview that values prayer, worship, Bible study, Sunday School, and evangelism as spiritual activities; while work, personal finances, politics, music, education, the Internet, sports, and shopping stack up in the secular category.
Haven't you heard someone say that preachers and pastors have the "highest calling"? Sorry, but that's just not so. Just because a church or ministry issues your paycheck doesn't mean your work is more sacred than a mother raising God's children, or a person working the register at Safeway. This is God's world and everything in it is sacred.
Everyone works for God, period. Honest, honorable work of any kind is sacred.
Tom began his company in Texas, and it quickly developed a national presence. His character and competence meshed in a way that grew his reputation in the community and beyond. He was especially pleased to see how God was using his business to grow faith in both employees and customers.
Then a misguided pastor suggested, "Tom, have you ever considered really giving your life to God and working full-time in the kingdom?"
The pastor continued, "There is no doubt that God has used you in amazing ways. But the work you're in is secular; I think God has been preparing you for work on a higher level, a spiritual mission."
Eventually Tom sold his business and accepted a position as administrative pastor in a local church. This was supposed to be a perfect arrangement. Now Tom could use his abilities for God full-time.
It all sounded so good and so right, but someone forgot to tell Tom's heart. Before long, Tom was wandering in a wilderness of depression. Something was missing, but how could that be? He was working for God.
That Thanksgiving the whole family came to Tom's house to celebrate and feast. After the meal he and his dad took a walk. Along the way, Dad asked, "Son, are you sure you're doing what God wants you to do? You don't seem to be having any fun. Do you enjoy what you are doing?"
Tom thought he had been hiding his anxiety, but his dad could see behind the mask. "Dad, I think God had me where he wanted me in my business. Do you think there is a difference between sacred work and secular work?" "No! I think the real difference is between sacred and secular people. For believers nothing is secular. We all work for God, regardless of who signs the checks."
The God who made us says, "I will never fail you. I will never abandon you ... so have no fear. What can mere people do to you? So, whatever you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord."*
God didn't make this promise just to pastors; the words are intended for all of us.
So, when you go to work, whatever your official job description is, you are really working to serve others, not to get others to serve you. We are not working to gain power over others, but to empower them.
Go to work for others, not for yourself. When we have this kind of focus, God shows up and when God shows up, depression disappears.
Your greatest influence for the kingdom may be right where you are. The workplace is the real world and it is sacred. Believe it!
And, new jobs give us fresh beginnings, new people to serve and empower, and an expanded impact on the world just beyond our new doorstep.