Thursday 7 March 2013


Recently I met a former pastor who had left ministry many years ago to join the corporate world. Later, with the experience gained through his marketplace stint, he decided to set up his own business.

Someone like him is likely to meet with a chorus of disapproval from those within the church: “So worldly! Why give up on ministry to go into the secular field? Now he’s getting even more ambitious, trying to build his own empire.”

We may not express ourselves exactly in those words – or say it in so many words. But we often jump to conclusions without first checking out the circumstances that led to his making such decisions or examining the validity of our theology.

This man felt as if he was a square peg in a round hole, a total misfit in his job while he was serving as a pastor. Yet there were so many well-meaning people around him wanting to make him become the person God had not meant him to be.

Being a gregarious and amicable guy, he was able to share his faith with so many people through his marketplace and business contacts. Even pastors cannot reach such folks out there in the world.

The call to be “separate from the world” (2 Corinthians 6:17) does not require us to withdraw ourselves physically from the marketplace to be in the company of believers. Otherwise how can we function as “salt” to slow down the process of decay in the world? Rather, it is a call to see ourselves as a chosen people who have been changed from within. We are in the world, but not of the world (1 Peter 2:9).

Martin Luther said, "If a person was justified by faith in Christ, then . . . any work was God's work, whether it was ploughing the field, milling the corn, sweeping the house, or bringing up children." This, in effect, debunks the notion that the clergy are “first-tier”  while those in the marketplace are “second-tier”, spiritually-speaking.

Paul, the greatest apostle, sets us an example. He was a self-supported tentmaker who delivered the Gospel without cost to the hearers. We can find no trace of a secular-spiritual divide in his life.

Indeed, there shouldn’t be an artificial divide between the laity and clergy as both are actually “full-time” for God, not just the latter. Honest work, be it secular or spiritual, is held in high esteem in God’s eyes.

We should think again before we judge or condemn someone like this ‘ex-pastor turned businessman’.

Not all believers are called into “full-time” ministry. Some are meant to stay put in the marketplace.

God has a unique plan and calling for each of His children. It’s important to recognise our own distinctive gifts, identity and calling and cease comparing ourselves with others.






No comments:

Post a Comment