Ordinarily one would assume that all believers in Christ see their profession and work place as service for God.
This is not so because of some misconceptions about Christian ministry. In my years of working and serving with students, several would come to me asking for counsel concerning their potential career. Some would say they have been praying and fasting to discern God’s will about possibilities of starting a church or joining a mission agency. Sometimes I ask, ‘what if God calls you to be an architect or engineer in a government department?’ Very often I’ll hear them say ‘but that is just a job.’ They will remind me of Ephesians 4:11 which is often used to emphasis ‘real’ ministry or service as being what is done by apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. I then explain to them that the responsibility of the various types of ministry gifts listed in Ephesians 4:11 is to equip all of God’s people for works of service as the next verse suggests. While some of us will be called to be pastors and teachers or Missionaries going into other nations, most of us will remain teachers in public schools, business women, financial consultants, technicians, administrators, publishers, Sales men and women, medical doctors, nurses, engineers, university professors, etc. The work place is where most of us spend most of our time week after week. It is therefore a unique opportunity to serve God.
Like these students, many of us still think of service for God or ministry only as what is done in Church, Christian ministries, missionary contexts or spheres of life that we consider spiritual. More often than not we have an unhealthy hierarchy of ministry that is considered to be pleasing to God. Yet the ministry gifts in Ephesians 4:16 are not the only ones to serve God with. There are others that are often relegated to the background such as gifts of encouragement, generosity, showing mercy (Romans 12:8) or the gift of helps (1 Corinthians 12:28). All these are as important for works of service. All of our life, lived with this understanding should impact all spheres of life with the sweet aroma of God’s saving grace and Kingdom values. Scripture clearly tells us that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10). By implication this means our professional callings and context of work are also pre-ordained to be spheres of service to God. Any mindset that the does not recognize or appreciate this ends up with two unhealthy dichotomies we need to reflect on to appreciate the significance of serving God through our professions.