Working for the Glory of God

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The Immature Punk

I graduated from seminary in 2010. I graduated seminary with hopes, dreams, and expectations to use my Master of Divinity degree the next day. And then I realized I was still an immature punk who had no business pastoring God’s flock. I didn’t see it at the time, but God needed to grab the high-quality Dewalt sander to work off a lot of rough edges. There were times when the Lord used 60-grit sandpaper and other times when the 320 grit sandpaper was needed. And I must confess, God is still at work in my life. But the time between graduation and my calling into pastoral ministry was not wasted. I learned more in my vocation during those intermediate years than I did in seminary. Yes, seminary taught me to parse Greek. But working in the business world helped me to understand the value of hard work. It helped me to understand people. 


I don’t believe in the Catholic doctrine of purgatory, but I know what it might be like to be in purgatory. After seminary, I received a full-time job working in property management. It is an industry I worked in years before seminary and worked part-time during seminary. With my experience in this industry and no churches knocking down my door, I needed a job to provide for my family. I took a job in Edina, Minnesota as a leasing agent, and over time I received a few promotions. My company liked me, and, to be honest, I appreciated the company that gave me a stable paycheck. I wasn’t breaking the bank, but my family could eat, and there was a roof over their head. 

I learned a few valuable lessons in the three years between graduation and my call into pastoral ministry. First, hard work pays off—companies like a person who shows up on time and works the entire day. I did not take any union breaks, but I did my job. I am not suggesting I was an all-star employee aiming to replace the CEO of the company. But they knew I was reliable. They could trust me. I was not going to cheat them, and they were not going to cheat me. Working hard is a biblical principle extending back to the garden. We read in Genesis 2: 

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. – Genesis 2:15 

The second lesson I learned is that my time was not wasted. Purgatory was not a death wish but an opportunity to allow the Lord to sand down my rough edges and help me see that ministry is not a staff position. Ministry is a biblical mentality. As I was shuffled around from one apartment complex to another due to promotions, I realized that my faith grounded me. When co-workers or residents learned that I went to seminary, they lined up at my desk to tell me about their problems. If you think a line at the corn dog  stand at the state fair is long, you should have seen my work environment. 

Learning to Love Well

For three years, God taught me a lesson I did not learn while earning my prestigious MDiv degree. God taught me to love others well. God taught me to love people that I did not necessarily want to love. There was a person I worked with that drove me nuts, and at one point, I was about to resign. But then I did something revolutionary. I prayed for this person. And what happened next? My heart softened toward this person. I realized this person is an image-bearer of God who desperately needs Jesus. In time, I loved this person because I began to see through the eyes of Christ. Perhaps this was the time God was using super-fine sandpaper. I don’t know. What I do know is the time between seminary and finally being called into ministry was not wasted. If anything, God was taking me through some more seminary training. 

Do All Things For the Glory of God

Working hard matters to the Lord. If you are not sure, I will encourage you to read the book of Proverbs and then revisit my claim. But there is more to your vocation than working hard. God has you in a vocation for you to love other people well. God calls Christians to emulate the love of Christ to people that desperately need the love of Christ. Even if you are not a fan of your current job, the time is not wasted. God is redeeming all of it for your good and for His glory. I’ll end with a passage from 1 Corinthians 10:23.

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:23