by Dave Miller
What do I do when work gets in my way of disciple making? I have a choice. See the work as part of my kingdom responsibility in obedience to the king or a distraction that is a constant barrier to overcome.
When I was in the full-time pastorate, my view of business was, well, bad. I constantly saw the life of business owners and employees taken up by their occupations in competition to the work of the church. From that perspective, the activity of the local church organization was sacred and must be considered the priority in life. All of life, in order to be following Jesus, needed to revolve around the activities and meetings of the local body. (Of course it always was the local body I was a part of leading.)
After spending five years running a business, but still with a burning call to apostolic work (think missionary), I have found that the two are not mutually exclusive. Otherwise, my heart would be in constant turmoil over wasting my time with work, when I could be doing the “ministry.” In fact, I have found that my place of work is a high and holy calling and the perfect launchpad for the mission. That change in perspective came more from necessity than from desire.
I readily admit, this tension is not an easy one to endure. Often opportunities for the gospel go well beyond the confines of the business. It doesn’t take long for reproducible disciple making to reach beyond a local focus. When this happens, the tension rises to high levels. Work requires my attention, yet disciples outside of the business needs compete for time and attention. It is in these moments trust in the King has become paramount for my sanity. I cannot take care of everything, nor should I. I find these moments teach me I need the church more, not less.
I don’t need the programs and building, I need the people. Attending another program, discipleship group, breakfast, fellowship, or worship service won’t solve the issue of disciple making outside of the local activities. You see in these moments I need "the church," engaged in the mission, equipped and ready to partner in the gospel. To link arms and hold up their link in the kingdom chain. Each taking responsibility for their niche in the kingdom so that we all may serve together. Making disciples together. In need of one another, to complete the mission beyond my capacity or your capacity. I didn’t need to just go to church, I instead needed the church, the equipped church.
Recently, the business required about 20+ hours weekly more than usual and will for the next month. In my heart, I was ready to release ministry opportunities to free up time but not necessarily joyfully. Yet, I asked the Lord to supply opportunities through my circumstances. Straight from the hand of the Lord, he provided a disciple who now spends 30 hours a week with me. Work verses disciple making creates frustration. Disciple making through work recognizes divine opportunity.
While I work with my own hands, others in the church work with their own hands, together we can meet the resource needs of our families, one another, and the mission. In this way we share the mission, the cost, the disciple making, the leadership, the encouragement, the burdens, and the victories. Together.
Until there's #NoPlaceLeft...