For 5 years I was the pastor of Trinity International Church in Strasbourg, France. I created this blog with those people in mind. In mid-November 2018 I will become the Senior Pastor of Word of Life Church in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. The focus of this blog will therefore shift, but I pray that people from the blogosphere will continue to find it helpful wherever they might be found.
The churches' websites includes recorded sermons for those who are interested. Click the links below to access them.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

God's Workmanship

When we try to find our place in the kingdom of God on earth, we must remember that it involves all of our lives, not just the "church" part. Most of our lives will be spent on our vocation...that calling of God by which we serve others and earn our daily bread. Today in the West we have many more opportunities than at other times in history. In the past, most people were farmers. A few worked in trades like metal working or wood working. Regardless of the trade, you probably learned it from your family. It was assumed that you would follow in the footsteps of your parents. Today we have many opportunities. So many choices actually makes choosing something more difficult! So how do we make those decisions that affect the course of our lives?

1. We are called to a deep relationship with Jesus Christ.
Don't skip over this. Most people when they think about the future and what they are going to do leave Jesus out of the equation. This includes Christians! So make it a priority to keep Jesus at the center of your life. If he is your goal, then he will direct your steps (Proverbs 3:5-6)

That doesn't mean that you must run off and become a monk or pastor. Frankly, most people are called to live where they rub shoulders every day with those who don't know Jesus. We are called to be plumbers and firemen, farmers and accountants, shopkeepers and chemists. We are called to be cooks and teachers, janitors and jailers, scientists and welders. The person who mines the iron, lays the track, and designs the tram engine all can celebrate their holy vocation if Jesus is at the center of their lives.

We do this by humble obedience to Christ. We must recognise that this Christ-centered life is the most rewarding and most fulfilling life that there is. That does not mean that it will be successful in the eyes of the world. In fact, some lives will seem to be "wasted" in quiet humble service and their impact will only be known in eternity. We are called not be followers of the patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of minds (Romans 12:2). Therefore our definition of success must be patterned after our Lord's who did what he saw his Father doing (John 5:19).

2. What are your skills and interests?
If we are God's workmanship and have been created to do good works that he prepared for us, it makes sense that there will usually be a correlation between how we are created and our vocation (Eph 2:10). So ask yourself, and others, what your skills and abilities God has given you. Are you good with your hands? Do you have a knack for numbers? Are you deeply analytical? These types of questions can begin to give you a sense of direction.
Many times we will also have an inclination about what we would like to do one day. On the other hand, be aware that your vocation may not be the thing that you "enjoy most". The Lord often gives us interests that are not part of our vocation. For example, the fact that you like cooking may not mean that you are meant to run a restaurant. Enjoying photography does not mean that photography is to be your vocation. Instead, these things may be forms of recreation or a hobby to help you relax while you are not pursuing your vocation.

3. Throw away your preconceived ideas of what a "good" job is. In some cultures there is a growing disdain for what our grandparents called "work". Jobs like plumbing or waste reclamation are sometimes seen as "beneath us". Strangely, in many countries jobs which required callouses are going unfilled and skilled workers are needed to build bridges or build our homes. We need to really ponder the wisdom of the apostle Paul when he wrote to the Thessalonians, "make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands" (1 Thessalonians 4:11). It may be that your vocation is to work with your hands rather than your head. On the other hand, you may come from a family that thinks that business people cannot be trusted and you have been told not to start a business. God may have other ideas for you. Seek God about what he wants you doing.

4. Try something. Sometimes we think that we have to have everything figured out before we start.
Frequently I have watched people flail through life because they cannot figure out what they want to do. Others find a job, roll up their sleeves and start working. They work hard. They are disciplined. They realise that their first job is only a first step on a long journey, and that frequently it is not their ideal job. They also realise that by going beyond what is required and doing excellent work, they are serving God and will eventually be rewarded.

5. Remember: It is called work because you are paid to do it.
In recent years there has been a push to find a fulfilling job. Interestingly, this trend has coincided with a decline in biblical Christianity. Most jobs are work. You are paid as an incentive to get the job done. When people do not find their fulfilment in Christ, then they will seek fulfilment in their job. They will discover that the "ideal job" doesn't exist, and that the well of fulfilment from the job will inevitably run dry. Work is a means of serving others and earning an income to provide for our needs and to meet the needs of others.
That is why it is important to keep Christ at the center of your life. He is the source of fulfilment that will never run dry. When we are walking in relationship with him we will have abundant life within.

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