What is Ministry Anyway?

Howard Butt Jr. the founder of Laity Lodge, has for decades led the charge for people to find ministry in the work place. I’m not sure where Mr. Butt’s passion began but I can only guess that he had the wisdom to see that there was something amiss with the notion in Christendom that “ministry” was conducted only by those with seminary degrees who stood behind pulpits.

To this day there is a strong leaning to the idea that the world is made up of the “religious” and the “secular”. If our work is connected in some way to the church or Christian activity it can rightly be labeled “religious” or “ministry”. But if it has to do with the kind of work that is required to live in our society and care for a family, that is considered secular.

The Bible does speak to this issue of “religious” verses “secular.” In 1 Corinthians 10:31 Paul says, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” So if you are the Mayor or the guy on the back of the trash truck and you are one of God’s children you are to do whatever you do for the glory of God.

I love living in the Hill Country and especially a small town. We are so blessed. One of the many things I enjoy is going to the store or the doctor’s office or wherever I go and talking to total strangers that are so amazingly friendly. My wife and I have an expression that we use often. One of us will come home from being in town and say, “Well, I made a new best friend today.” It happened to me twice in one day this week, in the line at HEB, and in my doctor’s office. I had conversations with two different women who were absolutely delightful. They probably thought they were just visiting with a senior citizen but I felt ministered to.

Saint Francis said, “Preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words.” A novel idea, but could you possibly be preaching the gospel when you are just showing kindness to a stranger? You bet! If you’re living in a way that keeps you in touch with the Savior he is going to give you many opportunities to minister whether they look secular or not. The Scripture teaches that Christ lives in us and we live in him which means that all of our activities involve Jesus.

Consider the fact that from boyhood until he was 33 Jesus had a “secular” job working in his Dad’s carpenter shop. Do you suppose that hard work, wood shavings and all, pleased his heavenly Father or did he count it as secular and his only spiritual activity was when he went to the temple?

I would encourage you to consider all you do as unto the Lord and forget about the secular. Have a great ministry wherever you go this week. Bloom where you’re planted.

Jack Purcell is a retired Army LTC and had a second career at two different Universities as Dean of Students and Vice President of Student Affairs. In between he twice served in leadership roles in two different Exchanged Life Offices. He now lives with his wife Mary in Boerne TX where he writes a weekly column in the Boerne Star, called On The Journey.