To watch or listen to Ted’s message, go to www.gatewaychurch.com/podcast.
Also, check out: “Thank God It’s Monday!” by John Burke.
“You and I have problem that we have to address immediately. And the problem is tomorrow is Monday. I’ve heard of history repeating itself, but this Monday thing has got to stop. Monday is like a math problem. Add the irritation, subtract the sleep, multiply the problems, divide the happiness. Why is Monday so far from Friday but Friday so close to Monday?
Well, maybe Monday, the day, isn’t the problem. The real issue is the abrupt switch from Sunday to Monday. On Sundays, faith is easy. Worship at church connects us to our eternal creator. We get pumped up by a sermon, provided it doesn’t go over 30 minutes. We’re surrounded by a congregation of people who are pretty much on their best behavior for that hour, at least until we all try to get out of the parking lot at the same time. We get to enjoy a good meal with the fam. For 4-5 months out of the year, we get to crash on the couch and watch the Cowboys ride Tony Romo’s golden arm to victory (except in December and January). Sunday’s are a breeze to be with God. He seems near, so life-giving.
But Monday is a different. The rules change. It’s hustle and compete and put out fires. Spiritually speaking, work is a different world. It’s like a prison. IN PRISON you spend the majority of your time in an 8×10 cell. AT WORK you spend most of your time in a 6×8 cubicle. IN PRISON you get time off for good behavior. AT WORK you get rewarded for good behavior with more work. IN PRISON you spend most of your life looking through bars from the inside wanting to get out.AT WORK you spend most of your time wanting to get out and go inside bars. Maybe it’s not that bad. But have you noticed that it’s hard to maintain spiritual mojo through the week? Where is the God 9-5, who was so clearly nearby on Sunday?
This is one of the fundamental problems of a life devoted to following Jesus. How do I connect Sunday and Monday, because they feel so very different? Most Christ-followers never figure it out. They simply accept the fact that they live in two different worlds with different rules, that they are somehow two different people, bifurcated down the middle, half of me sacred, half of me sacred. God says to you today, you are not two people.
Listen to these very powerful prayer Jesus prays over you this morning, My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:15-18) Jesus says, oh you are different. Everything you experience on Sunday is true, and Monday is sometimes a whole lot of illusion and a ton of frustration, But I’m not taking you out of the world, I’m sending you right into the fray on Monday. And I want to be as real to you then as on Sunday. Monday is holy. How do you bridge your Sunday and Monday?
Today I want to talk to you about your calling – your unique mission from God, and I’m hoping that you can come see your job as more than a paycheck. From Scripture, we know that nobody is spiritually better than anyone other Christ-follower. 1 Peter 2:9 says, But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
All of us are made holy through Christ and are chosen by him to declare his praises and to do good in the world.
Is it possible that God is at work in you to impact the lives of millions of people? It is possible that you will write a book or create a piece of art or build a company that betters humanity? Is it possible, parents, that a child you raise will go on to win a Nobel Prize or lead hundreds of people to God? Is it possible that the Lord might use money you give to save the life of a malnourished, unclothed, uneducated little girl in a Third World country? Is it possible that God might utilize one act of selfless service that you perform to instill hope in one stranger?
Paul writes this, Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. (I Corinthians 1:26-27)
This is one of the great mysteries of history. Rather than directly intervening in human affairs, God often employs ordinary people to accomplish his work here. If God’s kingdom will come to this planet, then it will have to come through the acts and wills of people like you and me. Will you open yourself up to God’s eternal call, the thing you burn for, to do something that is not just for a paycheck, but something that matters?
Paul writes this in Philippians 2:13, For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. Paul implies that God has devised a plan for your existence, not that you would just live a content life, be a good person, and go to heaven one day. God specifically has a purpose for you to fulfill on this planet. And he’s constantly at work in you, guiding you, re-directing you to accomplish this mission. Your task as a human being is to decipher what that purpose or calling is. And when you find yourself, as Paul says, acting and willing according to God’s good purpose, the possibilities of what you can achieve are limitless. Frederick Buechner once said that calling is where your deep hunger meets the world’s deep needs. Calling is where your deep hunger – the passion and the gifts God has placed within you – meets the enormous need in this world for the very thing God created you to do. In other words, you are to live missionally. Or to coin a phrase from the Blues Brothers, “I’m on a mission from God.” Do you believe that?
Okay, so you will average 11.3 careers in a lifetime, and will work an average of 90,000 hours on the job. Wow, that’s depressing. Let’s talk practically about how to live missionally on the job, to finally start connecting our Sundays and Mondays. I want to talk to you briefly about four kinds of missional working. And let me just define missional simply as doing the work of Jesus – meeting physical, spiritual, or emotional needs.
Group #1: Weekend Warriors. Some of us will fall into this category. Our job just doesn’t lend itself to expressing our calling in any way, so we will have to look to opportunities on the weekend or outside of work hours. Let’s face it, some of just limiting jobs that don’t expose us to physical, spiritual or emotional needs that we can easily meet. In fact some of us have horrible, soulless jobs.
God may have you in a job for a season that is mostly about getting a paycheck. Sure, you can work as if you are working for God as John discussed last week, but you just don’t see in your work-setting a real opportunity to serve in a way you feel called. I get it. That’s fine. But, if you look, God is opening up doors for you to pursue your calling outside of 9-5. As my friend Steve Markham says, “What’s your art?” What’s your passion? What’s God calling you to do that’s maybe outside of your 9-5 job? It’s okay if you are a weekend warrior.
Missional working Group #2: Salt and Light. This category of people is very similar to the first group. Work’s just okay, or maybe you even love it, but it doesn’t exactly afford you the chance to do something big for God, but nevertheless, your work puts you around customers, vendors, co-workers and others who you have an opportunity to serve and love on a personal basis. I want you to consider that maybe God wants to use you to minister to the people who work around you. God sends you every Monday as an envoy, a pastor, maybe even as a healer. It is possible that God may have some other work for you to do in your company. Jesus says this to Christ-followers in Matthew 5:13 – 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 by men.
God calls each of us to live out our faith in such a way that it brings seasoning to the spheres of this planet that we touch. We are to add spiritual flavor. So here’s my challenge to you Salt and Lighters – Pick two people at your work. Pray about this. Being salt and light is part of your work calling. Ask God to bring to mind two customers or coworkers or vendors or students or managers that you just have a heart for. And just start praying that God would open up a door for you in their lives to meet a physical, spiritual or emotional need, to have real conversation. Lord, these are the two you’ve given to me, not to proselytize obnoxiously, but to demonstrably show a real and abiding love to.
Group #3 of people who are living missionally at work: Hands and Feet. This concept comes from a quote by the great 16th century mystic nun, Teresa of Avila. Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.
Some of us here will choose to live missionally in our careers by working in a role that allows us to devote the best hours of our day to meet physical, spiritual and emotional needs in the world. Our vocation is to spend as much time as possible being the hands and feet of Christ, doing what he would do. And again, I’m not talking about going to seminary or moving away to some missionary hut in Botswana. I’m talking about more intentionally using your education, training, experiences and passion in a work that is directed at a specific need.
We stand in a long line of Christian activists throughout history.
Some of you here are in a job these days that’s primarily just a paycheck. It’s fine, and you’re doing a decent job as a weekend warrior or being salt and light. But there’s this voice inside of you that’s getting ever-increasingly louder. The Holy Spirit is saying, “I want you to leave this career and be my hands and feet. I want you to start devoting the best hours of your day to service to me, because you and I, we got stuff to do.” And I know that sounds scary, and some of you have all kinds of resistance to this, because that would mess with your plans. It might mess with your comfort. And people around you might say, “Are you mental?” But some of you are at a crossroads, and Jesus is saying to you, “I have more for you to do. And I will supply for your needs.” To people who are considering giving their lives away for the sake of the gospel, Paul writes this in 2 Corinthians 9:10-11, Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.
Being hands and feet in your career, it’s a faith thing. But if God calls you out, he says very clearly he will provide. Do you trust Him?
Group #4: Entrepreneurs. Some of us have a brain that has no problem with ambiguity, a heart that is stout enough to take risks and soul that longs to meet a need in the world that no one else is meeting. Is this you? Did you know that entrepreneurship can be a spiritual gift from God? In Scripture, it’s called the gift of Apostleship. One of the greatest entrepreneurs in Scripture is a guy named Barnabas. He was always the first to do something. The first to start a charitable movement. The first to believe in the potential of a leader named Saul. He was the first to break down a racial barrier through a new church. Antioch was the place where the word “Christian” was first used.
Some of you just feel fully alive in God when you are sent off on an assignment by God. Some of you are called to start a for-profit business that actually meets physical, spiritual and emotional needs in the world – either for your customers, your employees, or some other stakeholders. I believe this a movement from God that is happening in our generation – young leaders saying, “I have an idea for a business, but it’s not just about making money. It’s about making impact, too. For some of you, God has wired you up to start new things, and one day, he very well might prompt your heart or drop an opportunity into your lap, and ask you to step out in faith.
God may be calling you to be a Weekend Warrior, Salt and Light, Hands and Feet or even an Entrepreneur. Some of us in business don’t know where to start with some of this. We feel the stirring, but we lack the tools. We have an idea, but we need some mentoring and training to vet it and incubate it. Ted Beasley and a few other leaders here at Gateway got together in January and asked: “What would it be like to pair up Christian CEO’s and Entrepreneurs – people who love God and have also been very successful in business – what if we paired them up in a mentoring relationship with business professionals in their 20’s and 30’s who know they want to do something big for God in business, but they are not completely sure what or how?”
We created a 90 day mentoring program, in partnership with the Acton School of Business, that gives Christian entrepreneur-types real business tools, needed mentoring and a community of like-minded professionals to encourage them to grow new companies for God. It’s called the Missional Business Challenge. You can find out more and hear stories at www.MissionalBusinessChallenge.com. It’s a program you can do in your spare time. Also, If you are a Christian executive or CEO who has about 1-2 hours per month you’d like to devote to being a mentor, we’d love to hear from you. We make it very easy to mentor, but very transformational. We’re planning on connecting Gateway entrepreneurs with Gateway executives. If you are interested, check out the website.
Let me wrap things up with a quote from a hero of the faith of mine, a woman named Henrietta Mears. She said, What you are is God’s gift to you. What you become is your gift to him. God knew what he was doing when he made you. He made you to work and gave you this beautiful concoction of abilities and passions and dreams to partner with him in this world. What he gave you is a gift. What you give to the world is your gift to God, and it’s not just something that happens on Sunday. It becomes even more important on Monday.
Funny thing about Henrietta Mears, she was this funny looking gradmotherly lady who work weird dresses and big funny hats back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. But she devoted her life’s work to teaching young people about their Christian calling. And God blessed her work. And she influenced great leaders like Billy Graham and all kinds of famous ministers and missionaries. More importantly, she taught young business people who went on to impact the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of hundreds of millions of people. Henrietta fully lived her calling, but at the end of her life, in the days before her death, a journalist asked her, “Ms. Mears, if you could do it over, what would you have done differently.” Do you know what her response was? This great woman of the faith said, “I would have trusted God for more.” Do you have that wish right now? Maybe it’s even a regret. It’s not too late to trust God for more! You have greatness and beauty in you. You are more than what you seem. Are you ready to trust God for more on your Mondays?