November 29, 2018 • Life for Leaders
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.
In the last several Life for Leaders devotions, I have been working with you on the nature of Christian ministry. We have seen that ministry is not something done only by church leaders, such as pastors. In fact, ironically, Ephesians 4:11-13 does not even use the term “ministry” to describe what pastors do. Rather, pastors equip ordinary Christians for “the work of ministry” (4:12, ESV, NRSV). This ministry builds up the body of Christ in unity, maturity, and stature.
In yesterday’s devotion, I underscored the fact that there is no ministry outside of the church because, indeed, all Christian ministry is done by members of Christ’s body. This does not mean, however, that ministry is limited to what is done in church buildings or church programs. On the contrary, the bulk of Christian ministry is done as the members of Christ’s body scatter into the world, serving Christ and others in his name. This happens in the “ordinariness” of our daily lives, in our families, in our neighborhoods, and in our work, whether paid or unpaid.
You can build up the body of Christ through your daily work. Now, when pastors like me say this, they often refer to how your work can allow you to support the church financially or how you can help your colleagues become Christians and come to church.
While affirming that those are two valuable ways for you to build the body of Christ through your work, I would like to suggest another form of workplace bodybuilding. Think of the human body. What makes it physically stronger? Exercise! If you use your muscles, then they will grow. If you don’t, they will atrophy.
Now, think of the church as the body of Christ. What will help the body of Christ to be stronger and more mature in its effort to serve people in all sectors of society? Exercise! And how does this exercise happen? Through the members of the body. In other words, like the physical body, the church will grow when the members of the church engage in ministry in the places where they live and work, as well as when the church is gathered.
When you offer your work to God, when you let the Spirit guide you in your daily decisions, when you allow godly values to shape the way you relate to your coworkers, when you treat those who report to you with justice, when you labor for the benefit of the common good, then you are, in effect, strengthening the body of Christ. You are helping the church become more vital, mature, and effective in its mission. In your daily work, you are doing the ministry to which God has called you as one of his people.
Something to Think About:
How do you respond to the notion that, by serving God in the context of your daily work, you are actually strengthening the body of Christ?
In what ways, if any, does being a Christian make a difference in how you work?
Something to Do:
Since your work is part of the ministry of Christ’s church, get together with another Christian (or with your small group) and talk about the challenges and opportunities of your workplace. Pray for each other, that God will be honored in your work and that your work will contribute to God’s purposes for the world.
Gracious God, it is such a privilege to serve you in all of life. Thank you for calling me to such ministry and for entrusting me with part of your mission. Help me, Lord, to serve you well in all that I do, including my daily work. May every decision I make, every conversation I have, every task I do honor you. Amen!
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
“Does my work honor God?” – Contractor Kimberly Renner
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.