on godly jobs

It’s probably true to say that in church circles, the sacred enjoys a premium over the profane. I’ve heard more than a few people express the thought that pastoring or ministry or even bible study leading is a higher calling than playing music, setting up and welcoming.

Non-Christians seem to think we think this too, and maybe it’s because we privilege church-speak and hyper-spirituality over more mundane things such as getting to know people, social justice and caring for the poor. Recently when I objected to what people were talking about during a wedding I was at, my friend thought my objections were based on the fact that not enough people were talking Jesus-talk and sprouting halos (when in fact my objection was based on the fact that everybody in the congregation was so sickeningly successful and not enough of them were telling fart jokes).

So in general there’s this impression that the things of the spirit are in fact more important than everyday things. This way of thinking leaks into the way we look at jobs too. But secular jobs are not inferior to ministry. After all, the world’s first working man was told by God to be a gardener not a priest.

While ministry is important arguably one of its greatest tasks is to train church members to go out into the world and live the Christian life, to evangelise, to care for the poor and the outcast. Simply put the world would be much less reached if everybody were in ministry. The body of Christ meets on Sundays but it is from Mondays to Fridays that it shows Jesus to the watching world.

In the same way jobs cannot be measured by how ‘holy’ they are. How do you find a godly job? Pray about it, and really just go out there and find something you want to do. If the job is not good for you God will let you know. But really most jobs in the world can be used to serve and/or help people. Manufacturing and service jobs by definition make their employees help and be productive.

One might ask what about jobs which are harmful? There are jobs which are harmful to other people and yourself – drug-dealer, warlord, idol-manufacturer, and the like – and there are jobs which could potentially be harmful to yourself, high-stress jobs such as investment banking. In the case of the latter one will have to be wise in weighing up the choices. Could you withstand the pressure or maybe even the temptations of money and still cling to God? Some can, some can’t.

And when you think it through, all jobs can be used for evil. I used to write for a legal publication which gave reviews of law firms. What it was doing was good, it was telling the truth about the legal profession and helping people find the right lawyers. But taken to the extreme it was also arguably a bad job, lawyers who read it could develop an unhealthy pride, or even the fact that our clientele were often big, bad corporations which needed to find the right lawyer to crush their victims.

But that’s just not a healthy way to think when you’re looking for a job. You’ll never get anywhere that way. When looking for the right job, do it in faith. It’s good to work, and work outside of ministry is just as important in building up the kingdom of God.

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