Trying to find a direction in life is very difficult–particularly vocationally. Some people struggle with what field to go into because they have so many interests and don’t know which one will keep them entertained the longest. Others are so disinterested by the things most commonly accepted as good careers that they feel lost and uninspired. I’m one of those people that would go to school to get 5 undergrad degrees then 3 doctorates if I had infinite funds.I’m one of those people that just loves learning about everything around me–the people, the places, what people do in places and why.
As someone who is approaching the time where I need to just pick a direction, I think I have a pretty good idea of where I want to end up career-wise, so it is just a matter of finding the “right” way to get there.
I currently live among Christian college students, many of which struggle with going into ministry or a more traditional vocation. I have seen most of my peers go through a phase of feeling convicted for not pursuing a Bible degree or heading towards seminary or even going to schools like Bethel School for Supernatural ministry for a brief time. There is an impression given that God’s work can only be done through things like social work or counseling. We feel like we have to assume a formal ministry role that is recognized by society as such in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
I severely disagree with this. While those areas are very necessary and many are appropriately called to such roles, they are not positions that just anyone can fill. God cut each person differently; therefore, not everyone can do the same job as someone else. I believe that God calls His people to virtually every field. When it comes to ministry in the workplace, it starts with relationships.
The increasingly common phrase, “it’s a relationship not a religion,” is a concept that can be translated to all areas of life. Religion is a set of practices and guidelines that people must follow for a supposed moral gain or satisfaction. The relationship that I build with my God is not something bound by rules but is released with freedom and boldness. Just as my relationship with God is not limited by a rulebook (and no, I do not take the Bible as a so-called “rulebook”), what I do for ministry is not limited to the conventional ideas of it. I have seen people feel compelled be so involved with church ministry that it appears as if they care more about the works they do than the fruit that more intentional sewing can reap. Please excuse the slight bunny trail there…Anyway, back to careers.
Every encounter I have with a person, I have a chance to impact them for the better. Just because I enter through the doors of my workplace does not mean I have to just shut off a whole part of me. While I don’t have to plaster “JESUS LOVES YOU” all over my office, there are still many opportunities to minister to co-workers. The key is to build authentic relationships. Care about your co-workers as people first and co-workers second. That doesn’t mean that you have to be best friends with everyone (then you would probably just come off extremely fake and no one will believe a word out of your mouth…) It means that for those you connect with, invest in those relationships. It is amazing the twists and turns conversations can have if you have the audacity to just start one, and then another, and another. (Tip: it’s amazing how validated a person can feel by someone who is asking questions and responds with intentional and genuine body language.)
I have always felt like my area of expertise will be my mission field–whatever field that may be. Some people know from a young age that they want to teach children in Africa or be involved in reliefe efforts. I always knew that got wanted me to make an impact for him in a rather godless field.
My philosophy is to invest in those around me. Focus on the relationship and be authentic. Make people wonder why I do and say such things. Even from the experience I have had at such a young age, I have found that genuine relationships that build on trust and listening make much more of an impact than relationships that start shallow and end with being beat over the head with a Bible.
God’s timing is the best timing, so we must wait and listen. Listen for His voice.