Many of you may know that in a previous life (lol) I served as a pastor for 9 years. However, for the last 12 years I’ve worked “regular jobs” just like many of you.
The other day as I was driving home after a hard day at work, a thought struck me in the form of a question: Who’s really on the front lines of spiritual warfare?
Often we think it’s pastors or other church leaders. They’re the ones who are so visible with respect to spiritual things – they talk about it and demonstrate it through prayers, sermons, and other aspects of spiritual leadership.
But it occurred to me the other day that the people who are really on the front lines of ministry are those who don’t have a “spiritual calling” or work in “full-time ministry” (though IMHO every Christian is called to full-time ministry; but that’s a topic for another blog post, lol). The people in the spiritual trenches are regular, everyday folk like you and me who work 8 to 5 and face the trials, challenges, and joys of daily life in the so-called “real world” (though the church is part of the real world, too; but that’s also fodder for another post 😉 ).
Those of us who work a regular day job (or night job as the case may be), and are active in the church, may be tempted to think of the challenges of a typical workday as irritants we’d rather avoid. We might be tempted to wish for some sort of position in ‘full-time ministry’ so we can “really serve God.” We may struggle not to feel our day job is just a colossal waste of time, while we could be doing something “really worthwhile,” something “really important for God.”
(This can also be true for stay-at-home or work-at-home moms and dads, too.)
But if we find ourselves pining away like this, then we may be missing the point. We may miss the fact that the problems and difficult people we face in our work are themselves actually opportunities for ministry. In the marketplace is where we’re most likely to meet lost and hurting souls, and where we’re most likely to encounter the enemy’s schemes to bind and enslave people and to combat the work of God.
In the marketplace we’re on the front lines of the battle for people’s souls, and the battle against God’s work in the world. Our workplace may be the very place in which we have the opportunity (and challenge) of confronting the very powers and principalities that enslave people and oppose the purposes of God.
So the everyday worker – what we sometimes call “the laity” or “layperson” (though I hate those terms, because I don’t believe God sees a difference between “clergy” and “laity”) – is in the trenches of spiritual warfare. If we think in terms of a military analogy then pastors and others who work in the church full-time are more like the majors, colonels, and generals who remain behind the front lines, rather than fighting in the trenches. Pastors and other full-time workers lead, guide, direct, strategize, and equip; but in some ways they aren’t on the front lines in the same way you are if you work in the “secular” marketplace.
Do you see your importance? So often we think of those in full-time ministry as the ones who are doing the important spiritual work. And what they do is important, I don’t dispute that. But in the marketplace, where you work and carry out day-to-day business, you have access to people and situations that pastors will usually never see, unless they’re what we call “bi-vocational.”
There are many things I enjoyed about being a pastor, and there are some things about it I miss. But one aspect of it that I rued was the fact that I couldn’t be on the front lines of daily life and ministry like people can who work in the marketplace.
So the next time you face a really hard day at work, remind yourself that you are on the front lines of the spiritual battle, and that you have opportunities and a sphere of influence that many pastors will never have. Remind yourself that you may very well be exactly where you’re supposed to be. Take comfort in the unique role you have the opportunity to play in God’s kingdom.
P.S. Welcome to my new blog. Here I intend to continue the type of blogging I began on my Blogger blog entitled “Morgan’s Musings” – various reflections on life and faith. If you’d like to subscribe, look for the “Follow” button to the right.
Note: This blog is still under construction so please bear with me as things about the layout may change (and hopefully improve) in the days to come.