Values and Capitalism: The Eternal Significance of Everyday Work
Is God calling you to the workforce or full-time ministry?
Many Christian college students preparing to graduate feel as if their entire life rests on the answer to this question.
During my senior year at James Madison University, I watched plans to become doctors and business leaders dissolve as many of my friends gave up their dreams for "full-time ministry." I respected their decisions and wondered if I could find the same significance in my "ordinary" calling. As they began raising support to join campus ministry staff or church plant teams, I applied for internships in Washington, D.C., and tried to convince myself that my vocation would be equally meaningful.
I found some repose from the leaders in my church. They regularly emphasized the importance of secular work in building God's kingdom. I learned that I would find significance in any job, as long as I:
- Exemplified Christ's love
- Shared my faith with my co-workers
- Donated a portion of my income to ministry
But I found this answer only half-satisfying. It explained how I should interact with co-workers and steward my money, but what about the actual work I was going to be doing?
I came across an article in Relevant Magazine recently, called "Kingdom Living from the Middle of Normal." I was interested to see if author Kelli Trujillo's insights were any deeper than what I had heard in church. Sadly, they weren't.
To find eternal meaning in your "seemingly mundane calling," Trujillo says that, among other things, we should:
- Reduce consumption
- Reuse and recycle
- Sponsor a child
- Donate your things
- Buy fair trade
- Buy local
So I guess the message is ... my office job means absolutely nothing? While stewardship and charity are responsibilities of the Christian life, none of these points have anything to do with the "seemingly mundane" job itself. Trujillo nearly implies secular work can only contribute to the Kingdom of God in areas outside the nine-to-five, since the secular really isn't directly "God-related."
If I had read this article my senior year of college and believed it, I would have immediately deserted my "ordinary" calling to jump on the "full-time ministry" bandwagon. Troubled after reading this article, I wondered if Christians had lost a true understanding of work as it relates to doing God's work.
A few days later, ...
Read the whole thing. Elise Amyx is talking about the problem from an Evangelical perspective but Mainliners do similar things. Justice advocacy and compassionate ministries are what count as "real" ministry. There is no real theology of work and daily life.