“After All, We Are Ministers”

12_3_cup_of_coffee.jpgI was a senior at the University of North Texas.  My friend Steve, also a college student, and I were going to Baylor Hospital in Dallas to visit a friend.  Even then, the hospital was a sprawling complex.    As we got near the hospital, we pulled into a parking lot designated "Minister Parking."  My friend said that we ought to park there (which we did).  "After all," he said, "we are ministers."

Now my friend was a college student and so was I.  He planned to be a schoolteacher.  I was working for United Parcel Service and intended to go into management after graduation.  Ministers?  My friend reminded me that is what our preacher had said in one of his sermons.  He said, "All Christians are ministers."  Years later, I am still thankful for his reminder.

Several years ago, in an article entitled "Understanding Vocation: Discerning and Responding to God’s Call" (Leaven, Vol. 11, Number 1, First Quarter 2003, p. 49), Don Thompson and Cindy Miller-Perrin wrote:


… In understanding one’s vocational callings, then, the key question is, "What am I supposed to do with my life?"  Paul addresses this very question in I Cor. 15:58: "…be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."  Here the focus is on the work of the Lord.  Work in this context is not necessarily equivalent to job or career.  Vocation, broadly defined, refers to one’s lifework, a term coined by Harvey Huntley — in his chapter in Connections Between Spirit and Work in Career Developmentto include any human activity that gives meaning, purpose, and direction to life (eds. Deborah Bloch and Lee Richmond, Palo Alto: Davies-Black, 1997).


Exactly!  When you and I go about our lives as if it ALL is for the Lord, we are living out our calling.  

Ministry is not a profession that one can turn on or turn off at 5:00 p.m.  Ministry is all of life.  Ministry is what you and I do as we teach school, raise our children, meet with a co-worker, etc.  It is what you and I do as we live out our entire lives before the Lord and offered up to him.

What practical difference might this understanding make upon our lives?   

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6 thoughts on ““After All, We Are Ministers”

  1. I think the underlying idea is one of consistency. We have a tendency to compartmentalize our lives in such a way that we leave our Belief at door as we leave the house to go to our vocation. Or, worse yet, we may even leave our Belief at the church door when we walk out on Sunday morning. The best scenario is where my thoughts, actions and words are consistent with my Belief set. Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. It is possible to represent these gifts of the Spirit in my home, in my community and in my workplace. Keep up the good work, Jim

  2. Agree w/ Kim above … a constant awareness of our real purpose in life as well as the amazingly unending opportunities to minister to those around us.

  3. As one who is privileged to serve in ministry on a ful-time, paid basis, I’ve always been frustrated by the inconsistency.  There are so many perceptions that paid ministers and non-paid ministers have of their own and each other’s roles that cause so much tension.  I’m not sure that there is a solution to this matter, but I’d like to explore the possibility.

  4. Greg,I love the phrase that you used in your second sentence:"…amazingly unending opportunities to minister to those around us."

  5. Brad,You are right.  There are many perceptions that paid-ministers and non-paid ministers have of one another.  Some of these really don’t mirror reality. These false perceptions probably don’t serve each group very well and they can be distracting.