The other week in 1 Corinthians 9 we thought about Paul’s “one big thing” he asks of his lifestyle- how can I maximise my opportunity to save some?
If we’re to follow Paul’s example as he follows Christ’s (11v1), what does that look like?
A feeling that often comes up is that this means that full time ministry is the lifestyle that really maximises sharing the gospel, and so we begin to feel second rate in our “secular” jobs. What should we do?
Here are a few thoughts:
Cancer or broken bones?
Is cancer more serious than broken bones? Yes. Should all bone doctors quit and retrain as cancer specialists? No! Because while cancer may be more serious, broken bones still need fixing!
Likewise, people’s eternal needs are most serious, but meeting more serious needs doesn’t mean we stop caring about all other human needs (God doesn’t do that!), and it certainly doesn’t mean that we all become full time evangelists. Each of us should seek to speak about Christ, and at the same time students need teaching, streets need sweeping, children need raising, money needs making. We “live a life of love”, which includes a thousand different things, even while supremely caring about eternity. And as we do each of these we demonstrate to the world all of life lived for God.
If you quit your job, who would tell them the gospel?
You could leave your work place and become and “evangelist”, but the fact is you’re already an evangelist right where you are. If you left, you’d be removing the one person who God has put there day after day to witness for Christ! Maximising evangelism probably means staying right where you are but with greater gospel intentionality.
Pastors do less evangelism, not more.
As someone in full time ministry, I do less evangelism, not more. I have to make a special effort to build relationships with non-Christians, because so much of my time is spent with the church! But in our church of 140ish, if we have contact with an average 10 non-believers each (and for many of us that’s more), we’re building relationships with 1,400 people day after day!
It’s not just about you.
Just like a hospital which has a range of departments and specialists, but all working together as a whole, the church is made up of all sorts of people with different gifts and opportunities. Some of us have the gifts and opportunities to be full time evangelists- take it! Some of us have the opportunity to raise children- take it! Some of us have the gifts and opportunity to serve in one job for decades in steady and significant witness- take it! Some of us have the gifts and opportunity to move overseas to take the gospel to the unreached- take it! You are not designed to cover every angle. WE are.
You might need to make a move.
And while wanting to encourage most of us to stay exactly where we are to save some there, for some of us it might be right to move. As you think about your gifts, abilities, and opportunities, is there a different vocation which would better use what God has given you to maximise sharing Christ and doing good? That might be a different job, or getting a job, or volunteering, or yes, for some, full time church ministry.
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