Is Your Work Sacred or Secular?
- 2009 11 Apr
As the son of life-long missionaries, I have always felt the tension between the sacred and the secular. I felt this tension most when I was about to graduate from an Ivy League university with highest honors in finance and engineering, and I readied myself to enter the marketplace.
Here I was, a follower of Jesus, feeling conflicted about using a first-rate education in the business world. What’s redeeming about a job in the marketplace if the ultimate objective is only an increased stock price or a better profit margin? I asked myself. Would Jesus become a management consultant or investment banker?
Over the years, I have come to realize that I was operating under a paradigm that segmented all earthly activities into two distinct categories—the sacred and the secular—and that these categories did not overlap. In this paradigm, working in the marketplace most certainly belonged to the latter category.
It was this same kind of thinking that elevated working in the ministry over working in the marketplace in my own mind (and in the minds of many Christians). Indeed, some believers dissolve the tension between the sacred and the secular by simply becoming pastors or missionaries. I almost did just that. But there is another way to address this tension.
God gives each of us different gifts, passions and callings, and for some of us, these gifts are in the realm of business. If our calling is to advance God’s kingdom through business, then that is our highest calling.
Whatever our calling from God—whether in the marketplace or in the Church—our calling is noble and sacred, and the old paradigms fall away. In fact, the sacred and the secular overlap and coexist. Personally, I have found a greater integration of my work (the so-called “secular”) and faith (the “sacred”) with the realization that I can minister in the marketplace through my business. All aspects of my life, including my work in business, are ministry
I have also come to realize that doing business can be a spiritual activity that has redeeming and sacred value, thereby resolving that age-old tension within Christianity. “Business brings glory to God,” says author and entrepreneur Ken Eldred, “when it blesses man through the creation of needed products, the delivery of outstanding services, and the increase of society’s living standard.”
We need not feel conflicted when we seek to serve God through our work. The marketplace is as legitimate a venue as any other for serving others to the glory of God, and doing so makes our very work a sacred act.
Point to Ponder
All work that honors God and fulfills His calling is sacred, including serving others through business.
Questions to Consider
1. What are the redeeming aspects of your work? What makes your work sacred?
2. How can your business activity, or your job, be considered a spiritual activity? Do you truly believe that business can be a spiritual activity that has redeeming value?
3. Do you ever feel the tension between work and your ministry or your calling from God? Could it be that these things are bound together?
Originally posted in December 2007.
From Devotional Ventures, © 2007 by Corey Cleek Published by Regal Books, http://www.regalbooks.com. Used by permission. All rights reserved.