By Erik Dees, Bethel Seminary San Diego
Prior to accepting the call to full time pastoral ministry, I worked in the business world for eighteen years. Throughout my eighteen-year journey, previous to my conversion to Christianity, several people were used by God to soften my perception of “religious people.” One such person was Scott. I met Scott in 1992 while working in a distribution center in Loveland, Colorado. I was Scott’s “order-filling” trainer as he was hired in my department as seasonal help. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of Scott. He was a very positive, pleasant and hard working guy. This was a glaring contrast to the guys with whom I was used to working alongside. I remember thinking there’s something different about this guy. Yet, I couldn’t put my finger on the reason for the difference. Then, upon his departure, I got my answer in the form of a letter he wrote to my boss commending me as an exceptional trainer.
My very pleased boss shared the letter with me. At the end of the letter, Scott included a biblical reference of some sort that I didn’t understand. Yet, it was clear to me that Scott was some sort of a “religious guy.” Scott stayed with me long after he was gone. His character, thoughtfulness and work ethic made a deep impression on my perception of people who were “religious.” I was a twenty one year old worker, ambivalent to God, who was still able to recognize the light, which permeated around Scott. I did not turn my life over to Jesus when I learned about Scott’s letter. However, it was through encountering Scott in the workplace that God began to get my attention. Through the excellence of one person in the workplace, my heart began to soften regarding those “religious people.”
The sheer amount of time a person spends in the workplace is staggering. According to the bureau of labor statistics, the time used on an average workday for employed persons ages 25 to 54 with children is 8.7 hours (see table 1). That is approximately 1/3 of a person’s life during their prime years, all spent in the workplace.
It has become essential that Christian leaders determine how we might empower those within our congregations to embrace a theology of vocation. Many pastors have wrestled with how to prevent their congregation from leaving their faith at the door on Sunday. Perhaps this begins with giving thought to what happens in their congregant’s context on Monday.
Timothy Keller writes of Luther’s attack on the view of vocation that was prevalent throughout the medieval church. According to Keller, the medieval view of the church as God’s kingdom on earth perpetuated the belief that all work outside of the church was unholy. Keller exposes an idea that if still embraced today, would strictly undermine the potential for Christians to positively impact their non-church workplace. Hence, it is vital that ministry leaders help their congregants develop wisdom on Sunday for their “calling” on Monday.
 Timothy Keller, Every Good Endeavor. The Penguin Group: New York, New York, 2012, 58.