Occasionally, someone will ask me how I became a minister. I usually reply, “I was called into it.” That often leads to a longer conversation about how Christ called me into the ministry. I have learned how to describe that call in about five minutes, but I will briefly tell them of four experiences I went through that convinced me beyond any shadow of a doubt that Jesus had called me into the ordained ministry of the Church. Today, more than fifty years after that initial nudging I am more convinced than ever that I didn’t choose the ministry, but God chose the ministry for me.
I believe God calls people into all sorts of vocations. I have talked with many teachers, doctors, fire fighters, police officers, business people, lawyers, a landscape company owner and others who were doing the work they were doing because they felt God had led them into it.
I remember a man who was once in a congregation I served. His family owned a successful packing company. He was being groomed to take over as the President and CEO of the company when his parents retired, which was not far off. Then one day, there was a fire that burned down the entire plant. I remember standing there with him, watching as the flames went through the roof. A few weeks later, this man came to see me and told me he really didn’t want to rebuild. He didn’t want to run a packing plant. He truly felt God was calling him to be a teacher. He went back to school, got an education degree and today is living a fulfilling, happy life as a high school teacher.
We live in a world that tells us the best way to choose an occupation is by how much money you make. I don’t believe that is true. It is not that money is unimportant because it is important. However, I know people who make a lot of money, but who are living unhappy, unfulfilled lives. The best way I know to determine an occupational choice is to evaluate your gifts and graces and then listen to where God is guiding you. I have never known anyone, who was following where they believed God was calling them who felt unfulfilled in their work.
I also believe it is never too late. Years ago, I was very close to a man who worked on an automotive assembly line for 25 years. He disliked every moment of it. He did it simply to earn a living. When he retired, he went into woodworking. God was able to use his skills in an amazing way, and not only did his income increase, but he blessed the lives of countless people through his artistic skill.
This weekend, we celebrate Labor Day. It is a time to pull away for a day to rest and remember that one of the ways God lives through us is in the work we do. I pray each of you are doing what you are doing because you believe it is a way to serve Christ and through it, He is using you to touch others.