“He left the ministry.” I can still recall how my father's countenance dropped when he learned that a friend had left the pastorate. A pastor himself, Dad hated to see gifted people leave church work and head for the marketplace. At age 34, he had taken the opposite path. He left a promising career at a utility company to train for what he loved and always knew he was destined for. And for over 30 years Dad served faithfully as the pastor of several churches in Texas.
But my dad's career path is atypical. The longing within a Christian's heart--to do something God considers significant, to make a spiritual impact on others, to experience joy in our work--comes from the Holy Spirit. Many people, however, are confused as to how they should pursue their desire to serve God.
Last week I had conversations with two people -- one who left business for church work and another who left church work to return to business. The frustration of the one who left the business world versus the excitement of one who left church work for his family business rang familiar. While God certainly calls people, such as my father, out of the business world and into church work, many people who do so find that working at a church or mission can be more frustrating and less fulfilling than they expected. On the other hand, every week I speak with people who can barely contain themselves over what they see God doing in their workplace.
Please don’t misunderstand. We desperately need men and women who are called to the ministry of equipping us to live our lives for Christ. But only a small part of the body of Christ is called to this ministry. The rest of us are called to minister in the workplace, doing work that makes life flourish, providing important goods and services we use every day. Here are a couple of examples:
Katie Nienow left youth work and found work as a business woman that not only engages her mind, but her heart and soul as well.
See her story in the video clip below. Read more about her company, Juntos Finanzas in Forbes.
George found himself left running a garage after losing his high-profile enterprise, and yet found meaning and joy in meeting the needs of his customers.
Has Katie left the ministry or finally found the ministry God created her for? Is the ministry George has in his garage less significant than the work he does at his church?