I am Hope’s Director of World Outreach. I’m interested in everyone being a missionary. But it’s not what you think.
I work with Youth@Hope. I’m interested in every student going into ministry. But it may be different than you’re thinking.
In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
This passage is familiar as a call to be sharing the good news of Jesus to everyone around you. But look at how it says to do it. You need to be USEFUL. Don’t get thrown out. Don’t get wasted by being covered up in a corner. If you are a lamp, you should be on the lampstand, doing the thing that you were created to do.
God created us to be in relationship with Him. We have a mission to reach others so that they can be in relationship with Him. But he also created us with gifts, talents, strengths, interests, abilities, and we should not hide these under a bowl, but we should let them shine to bring light to those around us.
At Hope, we have a program to find your S.H.A.P.E. for serving. It stands for Spiritual Gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, and Experiences. God created you with a unique SHAPE, which He wants you to use. He doesn’t want you to find some way to live all week so that you can use your SHAPE on Sunday and once a month on SERVE Saturday. In Romans 12:1, Paul says, “Therefore, I urge you brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.”
A friend of mine is an artist, and she depicted this verse with the translation from The Message:
All of your life is part of this offering to God, even your work.
Paul tells us to do our work and do it well:
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. – Col. 3:17
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not depend on anybody. – I Thes. 4:11-12
Martin Luther King put it like this:
‘If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep the streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job well.”
If God created you to be a missionary, then you should get going on figuring out how to be on the mission field. If God created you to be a pastor or youth minister, then you should be looking for the training and opportunities to prepare you for that career.
If God created you to be a teacher or nurse or engineer or lawyer or banker or carpenter or waiter or retail clerk or artist or politician or full-time parent or… then you need to figure out how to be serving God, shining light, and adding seasoning to the place where He has put you.
Maybe you can see how a teacher or nurse can use their career to serve God, but you aren’t sure that a lawyer or politician can achieve that ideal. But remember that Paul said we should work with our hands. The Bible doesn’t tell us, but what do you think Jesus did for 30 years before he started His ministry? Was He a carpenter? Was there anything different about the way He did His job from other carpenters?
In my day job, I’m an engineer. My company is not run by Christians. But they do see their mission as a way to serve. “Gannett Fleming is a driving force in improving our communities and sustaining our world.”
I heard an ad for a bank that is trying to be salt in their community: “Arden Credit Union – You Dream it, we’ll make it happen.” In addition to their banking, they are serving by presenting classes on financial management.
Can you be serving God by using the talents and abilities he created in you, in any job at all? How about lawyer or politician?
There is a law firm that has billboards that proclaim: “righting wrongs on a daily basis”. The Vision of the American Bar Association is “Defending liberty and delivering justice”. That is what the career of lawyer was created for. In this fallen world, that is why we need lawyers.
And Paul himself gives the right reason to be in politics in Romans 13:6: “The authorities are God’s servants who give their full time to governing.” So Paul sees governing as a full time ministry.
But some jobs just won’t work as a servant of God:
He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need. Eph 4:28 NIV
Be salt and light! Serve God and shine to those around you! Look for ways that every minute of your life can be in ministry to God. See yourself as a missionary, bringing healing and hope to those around you, just as Jesus brought them to our broken world.
Scott Sibley is on our Leadership Team. He also serves as our Director of World Outreach. His favorite times of the week are serving with Youth@Hope. It has been 40 years since he responded to Jesus’ command to “Come follow me”.