Among the many conversations I’ve had with the men God has me walking with, a good double digit percentage of them have been about work – successes, failures, disappointments, prospects, tough cases, difficult people, etc. It always gets interesting when a guy, particularly one who is frustrated with his current work situation, brings up the idea of “going into full time ministry”.
Occasionally, one of these guys is truly responding to a calling the Lord has placed on their heart. Over time and with much prayer, even fasting, the calling is authenticated. For the most part though, we [the guy and I] have discovered he’s simply in the midst of an “I wish” moment, wishing he were somewhere else, doing something else, with someone else, especially with less strife, contention, and aggravation, and often at a higher rate of pay.
We recently moved out of a neighborhood where one of our neighbors was a couple who’ve spent over 25 years as missionaries to the Dominican Republic. I regularly meet with a couple of guys who’ve been in full time ministry for over a decade each. All of these people are amazing, authentically called, God equipped workers for the Kingdom. And, contrary to what some would believe, they’re not always happy about how things are going “at work”.
Two other guys – Kurt, probably in the best shape of any guy I know. So much so, that he’s a professional personal trainer (who does amazing things for his clients with only a small amount of weight and very few workouts per week). I run into him at some event maybe once every two years, but I see his Facebook page much more often than that. There, I notice two things – he’s not wishing he was doing anything else, and he’s clearly on a mission to stir up peoples’ thoughts and get them thinking about the gospel. Recently, he commented: “I think people tend to harbor naive views as to what is more a thing of God than another.” Great point.
Ron runs a large company – over 200 retail locations nationwide. I have no idea how he gets done all that he does in a given week with all the employees, warehouses, and fires he has to put out. But, he somehow finds time to write incredibly insightful content for a ministry for men called ONE TH1NG, study scripture, and present a cogent 15 minute “set up” that leaves the dozens of guys who attend thinking deeply about the thoughts of God and how those should govern their lives.
Neither of these guys are “in full time ministry”. Yet, they show no evidence of playing “I wish” with their careers. What gives? Why the contentment?
Cristine had an opportunity to pick up a part time job last year for a few hours a week. One of her co-workers has been deeply wounded by “church people” in her past because she identifies as a lesbian. After six months of prayerful, Spirit-led conversation, Cristine received the comment that she had “restored her faith in Christians”.
This isn’t to brag about how godly Cristine is, how selfless Ron is, or how bad you need to inbox me if you’re serious about getting in shape with Kurt… Alright, only the former two are true. Inbox me and I’ll connect you with Kurt. The point is pretty obvious – it’s not about how difficult people are at work, how off the pay is, how challenging the workload, etc. It’s about the fact that God:
“From one man… made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. (Acts 17:26-27)”
We have all been given a time, a place… a platform to proclaim the gospel, to spur others on to love and good deeds, to urge others to consider their ways and the God who made them. To assume that we should be somewhere else is a “vertical matter” – we must all weigh seriously the leadings of the Lord who would have us move from one career to another. However, this prayer must always begin with great thanksgiving that God has indeed placed us where we are with whom He placed us for a reason. To ignore this is to call God a fool and assume He knew not what He was doing when he placed us there.
Be Encouraged If scripture is true, and I believe that it is, then God has placed some in “full time ministry” and others in “full time ministry” (not a typo). Enjoying the Lord most is often found in enjoying even the rough landscape upon which He has drawn our career path. There is someone in your office, your client list, your platform that needs the love, the wisdom, the comfort, the counsel, the truth and grace of Christ. Reaching them does not guarantee “graduation” to a “better” job, rather it guarantees a “well done, good and faithful servant” from the God who searches hearts and minds and will reward all for what they do in the body, whether good or bad.
Let us find ourselves rejoicing in adversity, thanking God for His toughest assignments, and receiving eternal rewards once we have ultimately “overcome” (see Rev. 2 & 3), rather than clicking our ruby slippers together wishing we were anywhere else.
It’s Gotta Be the Shoes! While Tim Tebow prays for a better “next year” for the Denver Broncos, it would appear that God has passed the off-season torch to someone else in the world of professional sports: Jeremy Lin. Lin is a rising star on the New York Knicks’ basketball roster and a household word on ESPN. However, hearing his name mentioned on John Piper’s blog yesterday made me think – “maybe we’ll get cable again and start watching the Knicks”. Of course, immediately after, a better idea buzzed into my brain – “No, we’ll just keep doing what God has called us to do and not be distracted.” (Plus, I’m a Celtics fan, and legally prohibited for cheering for any NY team or player. Note to my dear Jersey-raised wife: I love you, dear, but please!!!)
Know Your Platform…
It’s great to see men of great intellect (that kid’s wicked smaaht, he went ta Haavid…) and powerful athletic ability (136 pts in his first 5 games. What.) living life on God’s purpose and for God’s glory. It’s especially great when they understand the value of their platform. This is also true for you and I… No, not the Harvard thing or the more points than Shaq part. The “platform” part.
So, lemme ask you a question – do you even know your platform? Platform, defined, is “ahorizontalsurfaceorstructurewithahorizontal surfaceraisedabovethelevelof the surroundingarea.” Extended to the Christian life, it means the place that God has elevated you or I to, which allows others to see His work in our life and realize His glory. It’s the place that you work, play, or have any kind of influence that allows you the visibility and opportunity to point to Jesus. Tebow understands football is his platform to share the gospel and point the glory back to God. Lin, apparently sees basketball as his platform.
According to Piper
Yesterday, Desiring God posted about Lin-sanity and how Jeremy recently quoted one of Piper’s books “Don’t Waste Your Life”:
“God created us to live with a single passion to joyfully display his supreme excellence in all the spheres of life.”John Piper – via Jeremy Lin
Lin later goes on to say that the happiness he gets from basketball is only temporary – his treasure is truly in Christ and in Heaven. Basketball isn’t his everything, it’s just a platform to point to his Everything.
Cardinals ball player Albert Pujols writes on his foundation’s website:
“Baseball is simply my platform to elevate Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. I would also rather be known as a great husband and father than an All-Star baseball player. Perhaps one day I could be honored with an invitation into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. That would certainly be a boyhood dream of mine come true, but it is a far greater honor that one day I will be in heaven with God to enjoy Him forever.” (HT: Jesse Whitfield)
So, what? So, these guys are famous and they’re pointing to Jesus, what does that have to do with me? I’m glad I mockingly made you ask that. You and I are famous. No, really. Somewhere in some circle, whether it’s Facebook, our neighborhood, the 2nd floor of the admin building we work in, or just the five cubes in the corner of our office, somebody knows our name. And, they either know Jesus or they don’t. God has given us a platform – a place where we can be seen either to point at ourselves or at Jesus. The question is, where are we pointing and for what reason?
See Ephesians 6.11-17 for “the armor of God”
Your Shoes, Not Theirs.
It’s easy to get caught up in the comparison game: “well, he’s a famous ball player…” “she’s a great musician” or “I’m just an H/R guy” etc. But, if we’re going to be great at the fundamental blocking and tackling of the Christian life, we’ve got to start with the top and the bottom – the helmet of salvation and the gospel sandals of peace. What other people do, have, and where they’re placed does not need to be a distraction to us doing what we’re supposed to do in the place God has called and placed us.
In one famous “armor of God” section of Ephesians (Eph. 6:11-17), is a phrase sometimes rendered as “feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace…” When we (Cristine and I) pray this portion of scripture we often pray it in such a way that sounds like “God, help us to have the courage to speak up (witness to others) when the opportunity pops up”. In other words, “help us use the platform You have given us for Your glory in Your timing“.
For Those About to Rock…
Many of us would exchange anything to be a Pujols, a Tebow, or a Lin. But, regardless of our station in life, we’re called to embrace what God has given us. There’s a big difference between “wearing” something and “rocking” it. Wearing something is a have to. Rocking it implies an attitude of “holy cockiness”, that is boasting in Christ. It honors God when we pray – “help me wear and walk in my ‘platform’ shoes, with an attitude of thankfulness that I’ve got shoes at all.”
Get in the Game:
Have you identified your platform? Are you using it for God’s glory? Will you stay miles away from the comparison game by letting Jeremy Lin be Jeremy Lin, Tim Tebow be Tim Tebow, and you be you – uniquely created and placed where you are by God to bring the gospel to believer and unbeliever alike as God directs?
Put your platform shoes on. Don’t just wear them, rock ’em like you just sank a 3 pointer with .5 seconds left in the game for Team Jesus.
And, as a special reminder, put on your Love Glasses – so you can see people as God sees them! (HT: Beckah Shae)