Today, I experienced one of life’s greatest joys: coming home after a long day of work to find a box from Amazon.com. I felt my spirit lift a little as I opened the mailbox and saw the box wedged snugly in there.
What made this particular delivery even more delightful was that I knew it contained two books written by friends: LL Barkat’s new book of spiritual practice, God in the Yard (excerpt or buy the book), and Marcus Goodyear’s book of poetry, Barbies at Communion (excerpt or buy the book).
I’ve been thinking about those books all evening, having hardly had a chance to flip through them. And they were still on my mind as I was paying bills and writing checks to a few missions agencies of friends I support. As I was sealing envelopes and praying for the work around the world, I marvelled at the similarity between the books and the checks. Both the purchase from Amazon and the money sent to a missions agency help my friends carry out the work God has called them to do.
The comparison in no way diminishes the work and sacrifice of the families who live with their young children in third world countries and subject themselves to the leadership of corrupt governments in order to bring the gospel to unreached people. It does, however, shine a light on the work and sacrifice of my friends who are artists and carry out their calling with pen and keyboard.
Michael Wittmer, an associate professor of systematic theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, writes about this equalization of vocation in his book Heaven is a Place on Earth. Placing all of life within the biblical metanarrative of creation, fall, and redemption, he understands the significance that all work has as we live out the image of God stamped on us.
“It is true that pastors and missionaries possess a particularly high calling from God. There is no greater privilege or responsibility than to lead Christ’s church. [And Wittmer is writing this as a seminary professor who might lump himself loosely in this category.] However, as significant as this is, they are not the only full-time Christian workers. If we do our work as unto the Lord, then our work pleases God just as much as if we were preaching a sermon or evangelizing in a Third World nation. Whether we are a lawyer, engineer, entrepreneur, or janitor, we must recognize that our job, too, is a calling from God.”
It’s not so obvious how we can all support each other in our jobs. A lot of us aren’t writing books OR moving to third world countries. But we can honor the work that each of us does, rather than comparing ourselves. And we can support those in their work by frequenting their stores or hiring their services.
Mostly we can pray. For the writers and missionaries among us, as well as the teachers and nurses and engineers and stay-at-home moms.
We are all living out our God-calling, full time.