Secular work vs Ministry work

I’m writing to you with regards to a tussle going inside my mind. I completely believe that God made me for a purpose and as such I should be useful to others and for kingdom of God. And here exactly is my struggle. I’m an auditor by profession and I want to build a niche in my career, which means putting in lot of hours at work. Like, I spend around 60-70 hours a week at work which leaves me little time for anything else. On other hand, I feel that I should spend quality time in learning bible, Christian apologetics or any other discipline so that I can be useful for the kingdom of our Lord, which would mean that I don’t strive to excel at my work and do enough to keep my salary check coming. I feel pulled in from both directions and unable to make my mind. Please provide some wisdom in this regard.

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Hi, Sherin @sherinsame! As I read your post, I could really feel your struggle and empathize with you. As a stay-at-home mom who home schools, I have a lifestyle that does not readily lend itself to biblical and disciplinary studies. I guess my question would be, do you think that it has to be an either/or issue: I can allow God to use me for His purpose and kingdom OR I can excel at my job? It seems like you are saying there is no “and” option, but I find that when I pray on the way to taking my kids places for God to use me, if I am keeping my heart and eyes on Him and my desire to serve Him and others, He provides me the opportunity right where I’m at, right in the work that I am doing that I thought was not “spiritual.” Even though we separate “secular” and “ministry work,” do you think that there really is room for such compartmentalization in the life of Faith? Do you think we are able to live out our faith and, therefore, minister to others in everything we do? Everything done has a spiritual effect of some sort, and if that is true, how might that help you to think about your job from a different perspective? Just as an example, I was teaching my kids one day, and we had a group of construction workers working on the street in front of our house every day. I had a slew of sodas in our fridge, and I knew they probably already had water and thought they might like something else. I took the sodas out in a bag, and they were thrilled. That doesn’t look “spiritual” but I did mention being wanting to bless them with something (they did not have much time for conversation), and I believe that ministered to their spirits, that act of kindness, and I did it out of love for the Lord and love for those other people.

And yes, we do need Bible study and prayer in life, regardless of whether we are in an official ministry position or not. I used to have hours to do Bible study and related disciplinary studies, but now there are days I only have minutes. But I know that God honors our hearts when we give Him what we have (like the boy with the fish and the loaves John 6:1-13), and trust and believe that He is well and able to provide us an abundant return for the little we have given. So when I give Him my sometimes only ten minutes I have in the morning before the baby wakes and begins to cry, as I meditate and pray throughout the day on the little Scripture I read, He has used that in a powerful way to work inside me, and not only that, but at times, that is the exact Scriptural passage I was able to use to help someone else. Even in what we would call a “secular” job, when we come into contact with people as the power of the Holy Spirit works in us through that line of Scripture or two we read as we prayed, people will notice something in our manner, in the way we treat them, in the way we speak. But many times they really cannot even put their fingers on what it is they see that is different. That’s the light of Christ shining in our demeanor. God will take the few loaves and fish we have to offer Him, and He, in His grace and mercy, will provide in abundance what we need in any given moment for His glory.

The last thing I would suggest, and most importantly, is to diligently seek God in prayer about this. If you really feel convicted one way or the other, keep praying, and move as you feel led.

I hope this helps you in some way. Let me know your thoughts. Please keep us posted. I will be praying for you!

In Christ,

Lindsay

Thanks so much for your reply Lindsay! It was very detailed and definitely helps me to find answers. I was moved by the incident where you provided sodas to the construction workers and tieing it up with God’s work. I never looked at it that way. I was looking at God’s work in a myopic way, there I thought only ministry is God’s work. I think I need to get rid of such thinking.

I recently resigned from my company where I was working for last 5 years and many of my colleagues came up to me saying that how much my presence was instrumental in their career and growth and the support & mentoring I provided was of immense value to them. To be honest, I was surprised by all those comments because I was thinking that I was just doing my job! The feedback I got has clearly got me thinking and the point you eluded that it is not an either/or question but either/and.

Also, thanks for bringing out your experience as a mother. My wife is pregnant with our 1st child after 7 years of marriage. I shared your post with her and she is greatly blessed with your response. Keep praying for us and we will definitely praying for you and your family.

Regards,
Sherin

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@sherinsame

Hi Sherin. I think @psalm151ls Lindsay has certainly covered everything. I just wanted to add my support for you in what she said. You can serve God in whatever you are doing. Interestingly enough, I am a Site Manager in Construction and so am part of that part of Lindsay’s example… and my wife is a homeschooling mother of two, which is another part of her story. My father and two of my brothers are full time ministers (although Dad has retired now). All of us witness for God in our own environments.

I guess a question you could ask is “If all of us were ministers, who would we minister to?”. What I mean to say by that is that we are all called to different things. We have freedom in this world and in Christ to choose careers or paths in life… within reason I don’t think there is a right or wrong way to go as long as we can honour the Lord in what we are doing. I think there is a way to bring honour and glory to God by working diligently in secular work as a witness to those around you who don’t know Christ. They will hopefully see that you are different and pray that they may be inspired to ask questions about “the hope that you have”.

It seems that others have already noticed your work ethic and I pray that you continue to be a witness to those around you.

My prayers go out to you and your wife and your child-to-be also. I pray that this time is a blessing to you.

In Christ
Tim

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Aw, Sherin @sherinsame! I am SO THRILLED to hear about your bundle of joy on the way! Many heartfelt congratulations to you and your wife on your wonderful blessing! Just wow!

And, yes! The way your colleagues responded to you shows, indeed, that your heart for God really came through in your work ethic and your support and care for them! You were touching lives and didn’t even know it!

I will definitely continue to pray for you and your growing family! Thank you so much for your prayers, as well. I receive and cherish those very much. May the Lord bless and keep you and strengthen you as you endeavor to be an instrument in His hands!

In Christ,

Lindsay

Good word, Tim!