This post will be a bit of a rant, so I apologize in advance.
Let’s assume you wander into a church. I know. Few people do these days, particularly in Canada, but bear with me.
In this church, there is a bit of singing, some announcements and then a message.
The message may take 20 minutes. Or 30. Or 40. Or longer. And it may not seem to make sense if you don’t have the ability to decode the religious jargon. But increasingly, if you go to enough churches and listen to enough messages, you will hear a variant on this theme:
Career is bad. Career is selfish. Career interferes with service to God. The only noble pursuit is service to God through ministry.
I have some difficulty with the model that empowers certain individuals to do “ministry” through the financial contributions of those that do “work”. This artificial separation of people who do “ministry” and people who do “work” makes no sense to me.
I have listened to numerous messages over the past several decades where I have been told that the family that decides to do “ministry” without a source of income is said to be living on faith, trusting God for His provision. And that the family that decides to support themselves through paid employment becomes self-reliant or independent and therefore not living by faith.
This separation of “ministry” from “work” seems to hinder many pastors from understanding the struggles that most human beings who do “work” go through in the workplace. It is a very tough ask in North America to work full-time and effectively balance demands of church, family, career and community.
The “work” of the church should be to equip people to “minister” in their homes, workplaces and communities.
And for those who aspire to “minister” without working, perhaps a review of 2 Thessalonians 3 is in order:
7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”