“Even you can understand that work in the church is of greater importance than work done in the secular world.”
The words hung in the air for a moment, like a shocking Sunday comic balloon. My gracious husband just smiled. I didn’t know how to respond. These words were from a pastor, a pastor we had come to have great respect.
The conversation moved on from there and we never revisited it with him. It was a church we had frequented for only a short time before God called us elsewhere. I’ve replayed the conversation in my head from time to time. I actually don’t think that sweet, man of the cloth, meant to be demeaning to us at all. I think He meant to have us understand the weight of responsibility that resides on His shoulders, the shoulders of one called to lead the lost and shepherd the found. He was certainly called to holy work, work that no doubt kept him up in prayer, visiting hospital beds, reaching out to lost souls. I’m certain it strained and weighed and drove him nearer to the cross, which I’m sure is what he meant.
Those words stung though. What if God doesn’t call us to be a pastor or missionary? Are we somehow less than?
My husband and I came to Hawaii because we answered a call from the Lord. We are not missionaries. We are not planting a church or working at the University of Nations. We are here because my husband is managing a manufacturing plant, most definitely a secular job, but no less a call.
Can you imagine if all Christians were called to work in the church, if no one was called out to the secular world for Christ? What a twisted place we would encounter outside the safety of our holy walls. There would be no one to reach the nurse who feels hopeless, but wouldn’t dare to set foot in a church, no one to speak to the brick layer about breaking down walls for the sake of Jesus, no one to show the manager that there is more to life than climbing the ladder.
I’ve seen pastor’s wives and women’s ministry leaders boil their identity down to just that, which can both exalt them to a place above other women and establish themselves as worthy only because of their position. The reality is they are a daughter of the most High King called to do holy work, just like you. None of us is more or less worthy, more or less doing kingdom work.
We are all in this together. The manager that shepherds an employee to walk in the footsteps of Christ is no less valuable than the pastor that shepherds many. Each sheep is equally valuable to the Good Shepherd.
A sweet mama, who rises each morning to guide her children in His Word throughout the day, is called to great authority by Him. The mama who stays up at night praying with her wee ones after a long day at work elsewhere is answering a call just the same.
You see, God doesn’t see secular vs. clergy. God sees us. God sees the heart of the worship leader just as much as He sees the heart of the physical therapist, or the heart of the cashier. He sees the prayers, the evangelizing conversations, the support of those in need. God sees even the smallest ways we make a difference and blesses us for our obedience to His call, whatever that may be.
There was a time when I felt less than because I didn’t sell everything I owned to take my family to a foreign land and preach His word. I wondered how I could ever make a difference without a theology degree or residence as a missionary in a foreign land. He gave me ministries to lead when I felt so ill prepared for the role. But, God doesn’t only call the trained and prepared. He equips us for His calling on our life.
And, when He closed the chapter on those ministries, I struggled to let that identity go. I had built such worth into that ministry leader identity. He spoke so gently and clearly to my heart though. He reminded me, that my calling as wife and mother was no less important. Each and every action made in His name is of great importance.
He sees every meal cooked, every folded shirt, every story read. Every call to a struggling friend, smile to a defeated mom, and prayer said for the hurting is part of the ministry He gave you. Every time you answer a call He has put on your life and work in a way that showcases His glory, you are doing holy work.
Those little ones He entrusted to you, that dear, hard working man, they are your ministry. They are your congregation. You have been called to lead the lost and shepherd the found. They are your sheep, and each one is precious. Whether you work in the church, out in the secular world, or in your own home, the questions is not about what you do. It is about how you are doing it.
The question is, are you answering the calls He has put on your life?
The pastor actually did get it right. The work of the church is of greater importance than secular work. But church work, kingdom work, goes far beyond church walls. It transcends out into that secular world.
You have been abundantly blessed with the importance of holy work.
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