While the traditional understanding of vocation ministry is that one holds is a paid position in a commonly understood ministry setting, the biblical view is much broader. Ministry is not limited to the roles of pastor, worship leader, or missionary. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”
As followers of Christ, we represent him everywhere we go, including at work. For that reason, a more accurate definition of vocational ministry is doing what God calls you to do in partnership with him.
What is Vocational Ministry?
The definition of the word vocation, according to Miriam-Webster is: a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action especially: a divine call to the religious life.
The most applicable definition of ministry is “a person or thing through which something is accomplished.”
Strung together, vocational ministry describes a person who pursues their calling in the workplace paying special attention to the ways God is directing them to serve the people they encounter. With a broader definition, the ways people can partner with God in ministry while using their gifts and talents in a career that fulfills them are endless.
How to Live Out a Vocational Ministry
While some believe there are times when you will need to choose between a calling and career, I believe the way to thrive in vocational ministry is to keep your eyes and thoughts on the bigger picture. When Jesus commissioned the disciples to go and tell the world all he had taught them, he didn’t caveat the sending by saying, “unless you work in these career fields.”
As a nurse or a doctor, your vocational ministry might be as simple as praying with your patients and their families upon request as you do rounds in the hospital. However, you may find that the most resistant patients need your support the most. How do you serve them well? By booking patients further apart so you can spend additional time listening to their concerns without feeling rushed.
As an author, you may feel the only way to have a vocational ministry is by producing content in the Christian Living category. But it’s important to remember we’re all uniquely created for a reason. With all the terrible content out there, the opportunity to contribute clean, kind, and curious content to the fiction world is a gift.
Did you know that A Wrinkle In Time is on multiple lists of “The Best ESL Books for Adults“? Madaline L’Engle was a devoted Christian for most of her life. She served as librarian and writer in residence at New York City’s St. John the Divine church, and her specific vision of Christianity was central to A Wrinkle in Time’s climax. While not everyone sees theology the same way, that is the beauty of fiction. Authors paint with broad strokes to draw an audience to something bigger than themselves. The best authors encourage people to ask deeper questions.
As a professional athlete, the opportunity for vocational ministry comes every moment of every day. How you conduct yourself on social media, in the locker room, on the athletic field, and around the public all confirm your fan’s assumptions about your public persona. Part of living a calling well is aligning a private and public calling.
An educator blesses their students and colleagues every time they reflect Jesus when the world is pressing in around them. When a teacher spends extra time affirming students, encouraging colleagues, or communicating well with frustrated parents, they have the opportunity to point people to Jesus.
While this list may seem as if I’m highlighting people’s abilities to function in their natural abilities, the truth is that frequently the Holy Spirit working in and through us allows us to thrive in our vocational ministry.
Turn Your Vocation Into a Ministry
Are you ready to find additional ways to develop a ministry mindset in the workplace? Consider finding a mentor, joining a Bible study focusing on vocation ministry, or looking for guidance from others in your industry who are focused on serving God in the workplace. In my six-week Bible study Embracing Holy Interruptions, I go through the principles of everyday ministry.
As Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20), we’re all called to “make disciples of all nations” wherever we live. God invites us to partner with him and live on mission every day, even in the mundane moments of life. We do this when we love people as Jesus taught the disciples to do, without stipulations.
Embracing Holy Interruptions: How Jesus Used Mundane Moments to Love People Deeply is a six-week Bible study that teaches people how to develop a disciple-making movement.
This is not a step-by-step instruction manual.
Jesus modeled using mundane moments to love people, build tension, and point them to God in a way that caused many of them to step from a curiosity about God to a fully surrendered faith. We can adapt his methods and learn from the examples in the Gospels today. This study aims to help people keep their eyes on Jesus and improve their inductive Bible reading skills while also learning to love their neighbors to the best of their ability. This 6-week study is available in both print and Kindle formats.