I 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 Development — to 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?