One of the tragic misconceptions laypeople have is that real ministry and missions is the work of professional ministers. This is a pre-Reformation idea that is not found in Scripture. Every believer is a servant of Christ, and there is no division between sacred and secular. All of life is sacred for those who have committed their lives to follow Jesus.
We often speak of people like me as being called to ministry, which implies others are not. I do not want to be picky about our lingo, but in truth it would be much better to speak of being called to vocational ministry. Why? Because all followers are called to be ministers while some are privileged to be called into a vocation of ministry. The livelihood and moment-by-moment focus of a minister is serving the church and its ministry and mission. Others may have different vocations and callings such as doctor, farmer, oilfield worker, teacher or salesman. These people live on the mission field of life and serve Christ through their vocations.
This week, I am in East Asia with a group of Oklahoma business leaders who have discovered they can use their calling, which is business, to impact the world for Christ. In this case, they are conducting business seminars in an emerging nation teaching people who are just learning of the free market approach. These Oklahoma business leaders are teaching more than ways to make money in business—they are teaching how to be people of character who operate businesses with high moral and ethical standards.
These successful business leaders have the privilege of sharing their business wisdom but, most importantly, sharing the source of their wisdom and ethics. Many who attend the seminars are non-believers who are attracted to the leaders’ integrity and humility. These non-believers are intrigued that people who apply Christian character and values can be successful—even highly successful.
Other attendees of these business seminars are first generation followers of Christ who are developing highly successful businesses but have little knowledge of how to apply their faith to business. These believers hunger for insight into how they can use business to impact their nation for Christ. During the seminars, our Oklahoma business leaders model servant leadership that looks beyond the bottom line to purposeful and intentional use of their lives and resources to spread the Gospel.
It is interesting that the International Mission Board, under the leadership of Tom Elliff, has recognized the vital role business leaders can hold in world missions. In the past, most of these leaders were seen as contributors of resources to send others—a great need to be sure. Finally, there has been recognition of the global business culture. Oklahoma Baptist business men and women circle the globe! They have an open door through business to places vocational missionaries will never be allowed to go. What a remarkable opportunity God has provided for Christian business leaders. Now we are recognizing the significant Gospel impact these business people can have. Praise the Lord our mission board sees this “wide door for effectual ministry.”
I hope you will stop and consider God’s call on your life. If it is to teach, ranch, practice law, run a business or whatever your calling, you are God’s minister and missionary. Your field of service just happens to be different than the person whose office is in the church. Go and make a difference for Christ where He has planted you.