Your Secular Work is Ministry
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Col 3:23-25).
I sat across the table from the well known seminary professor and former missionary as he asked me a very direct question: "So, Os, tell me about this faith at work movement." "Well, there’s really nothing complicated about it. I believe every person’s work can be viewed as a ministry if done with a motive to glorify God based upon Colossians 3:23," I responded.
"How can you say that if you’re not sharing the gospel in that job? You would have to be actively sharing your faith for it to be construed as ministry," he argued.
"No, that’s not true. The work itself is ministry because the word for ministry and service come from the same Greek root word, diakonia. When you are serving others even through your secular work and do it with a motive to glorify God, that’s why it is ministry. In fact, the Bible says you’ll receive an inheritance when you do," I said.
We continued bantering back and forth on the issue. I continued, "God created even secular work to meet human needs. Man began to divide work into spiritual and non-spiritual terms which introduced a form of dualism in the third and fourth centuries. But God never secularized our work. He desires our work to be viewed as worship."
We concluded our meeting in disagreement. However, a few months later I met my friend at a booksellers convention. "Hey, you were right Os! I’ve done my study and work really is ministry because it is service. This man went on to write a book on the subject and said this; "Think about this. If you are filling someone’s teeth, you are ministering to your patient. If you are playing in a symphony orchestra, you are ministering to the audience. If you are flying an airplane, you are ministering to the passengers. If you wait on tables, you are ministering to the customers. All of that clearly fits under biblical diakonia."
It was the first time I’d ever won a theological argument with a theologian!