August 15, 2019 • Life for Leaders
As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Yesterday, we considered the question: If I follow Jesus should I quit my job? The answer I suggested was: Perhaps, but not usually. Yes, there are times when the Lord calls us to leave one job for another. But, for the most part, the call of Jesus doesn’t require us to leave our jobs. Rather, it does encourage us to see them in a new light. In fact, following Jesus reframes our careers in light of our fundamental vocation. Let me explain what I mean.
Consider the case of Simon and Andrew. They had a career. They were fishermen. Then Jesus came along and called them to follow him. Following Jesus was their true calling, their fundamental vocation. (The words “calling” and “vocation” have basically the same meaning.) In light of this basic calling, Simon and Andrew would work in a new way. According to Jesus, they would be fishing for people, not fish. Yet, in a way, they would continue in the same career track, namely, fishing.
The Theology of Work commentary on this passage observes, “Jesus does not reject the earthly vocation of these men but reorients it. Jesus calls Simon and Andrew to be “fishers of people” (Mark 1:17), thereby affirming their former work as an image of the new role to which he is calling them.”
Of course, our situations aren’t exactly the same as that of Simon and Andrew. Nevertheless, I believe our response to the call of Jesus reframes our careers in an analogous way. Suppose, for example, you’re a business executive. You may have been operating with the assumption that your chief responsibility in your job is to maximize profit for the owner(s) of the business (perhaps the stockholders or maybe even yourself if you’re the owner). Then, as you respond to the call of Jesus and his proclamation of the kingdom, you realize that your job is about much more than merely maximizing profit. It’s about providing good work for employees and good products for customers. Even more broadly, it’s about contributing to the flourishing of society. It’s about glorifying God in everything you do at work as you seek to live each day under his reign.
I realize that what I’ve just written can sound pretty simplistic. But I know dozens of marketplace leaders who, in more nuanced ways, are discovering how their careers can be reframed by Jesus. They are still “fishing,” but now they are “fishing” for the Lord.
Something to Think About:
Can you think of ways that following Jesus has already reframed your career?
What difference might it make if you were to think of your work as one of the key ways you follow Jesus each day?
Lord Jesus, thank you for calling us to follow you. Thank you for the privilege of being your disciples. Thank you for helping us to see our whole lives differently, from the perspective of your kingdom.
Help us, Lord, to see our work as you see it. Give us a fresh vision for how our work matters in your kingdom. May we offer to you all that we do at work, for your purposes and your worship. No matter what our career, may we discover that we are first and foremost your disciples, your followers.
To you be all the glory! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online: Ethics at Work.
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.