Theology 101

Do I Need to Quit my Job and Attend Seminary?

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In our last post, we saw how the contribution of the early church fathers created the idea that pursuing the contemplative life or a professional role in the church is the only truly religious vocation. In some ways this mentality still influences our modern Christian lives.

The sacred-secular divide produced the mistaken belief within the church that work had less value than contemplation in God’s Kingdom.  Henlee Barnette in his book Has God Called You? writes,

By the time Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire, the distinction between clergy and laity was fairly well established. With the establishment of celibacy for the clergy in the 11th century, this demarcation was complete and the laity were relegated to second-class status in the church.

This trend was also reinforced by the rise of monastic spirituality, which regarded vocation as a calling out of the world into isolation in the desert or the monastery.

In the medieval church, having a vocation or calling referred exclusively to full-time church work. If a person felt a calling, this was a sign that he or she might “have a vocation,” which meant becoming a priest, a monk, or a nun. The ordinary occupations of life—being a peasant farmer or kitchen maid, making tools or clothing, being a soldier or even king—were acknowledged as necessary but worldly.

Such people could be saved, but they were mired in the world. To serve God whole-heartedly and to live a genuinely spiritual life required a full-time commitment. The “counsels of perfection” could be fulfilled only in the Holy Orders of the church, in which a man or woman devoted every day to prayer, contemplation, worship, and the service of God. Even marriage and parenthood, though recognized as good things, were viewed as encumbrances to the religious life. “Having a vocation” included the willingness and the ability to live a celibate life.

The division of life into sacred and secular categories during the Middle Ages, with the subsequent subordination of the laity to the professional priesthood, marginalized the New Testament view of the priesthood of all believers.

This point was not lost on Martin Luther. It was through the Reformation that Christians began to rediscover the Biblical doctrine of work.

Question: Have you ever felt that your job was not as important to the Kingdom of God than full-time work in the ministry? Leave a comment here.

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  • Cynthia Grush

    Yes, In the past I did believe my work was not important to the Kingdom of God. However, since then I have had a change of heart so to speak.

    By God’s grace I have gained the understanding that though we are not of this world we still live in it. Many people, particularly those trapped in a cycle of sin and bondage are not comfortable walking into a church. This is where we the disciples of Christ must learn to “go” and make disciples of all nations. Where better to do that than in the market place?

    As a Real Estate professional I am priviledged to enter other people’s homes and often very personal scenarios. I see this as an opportunity to share my faith, pray for my clients and their particular situations or be the hands and feet of Jesus.

    After much seeking, knocking and asking, I have come to accept this as my calling. I believe we are all on the front lines as soldiers for Christ, we may just need a fresh dose of God’s grace to see it as such.

    • Carmen

      I have no idea what my calling is. How do I know? I don’t feel i have any gift that can be used

      • Charles Nichols

        I know the feeling Carmen. Discerning God’s wiill for your life can be a tough one! However, you definitely have gifts that God can, will and probably does use often. Being salt and light to others IS ministry. Whether it’s at work, in public, at home, etc., God puts each of us in unique situations to represent Him. Often times for me it just becomes a matter of how bold I will be for Him… Will I stop to help someone, will I take the time to listen, feed, etc. Once I find myself “ministering” to the needs of others, I feel a sense of the true JOY that comes from allowing Him to use me. It’s the Best! God bless you in your search, Carmen and be blessed. Praying for you!
        PS… I’ve noticed as I have become faithful in the smaller opportunities, He has directed me to do more.

        • Bob Buchite

          Well stated Charles. Jesus leads more gently than most Christians realize. Trust and obey the calling. Momentum will follow. Remember all of the tight spots he has delivered us through. Continue to seek first the kingdom of God an in so doing one finds righteousness and His gifts to believers.

        • Gina

          Amen Charles

      • Andra Botha

        Dear Carmen, if you don’t know your calling it is just because you do not understand what a calling is. I’ve learned through the years, as i committed my life to Jesus Christ, seeking to walk with Him on then narrow way, that my first and foremost calling is to live holy unto Him. I’ve learned even washing dishes became an act of worship, as I do it willingly, joyfully as unto Him and not for man, because He say in Scripture that we have to do everything as if unto Him. I found to make a cup of coffee for my husband with a prayer for him in my heart, is my calling. Actually, whatever i do for anybody at what hour of the day, i see it as a calling to do it, and i do it with a prayer to God to bless the person in whatever need he or she may have – even with repentance. I see it a callng to be an instrument of God to every little child crossing my way in word or deed for one moment or more.
        Dear Carmen, you are called! Your are called to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. Just follow Him and everything will fall into place.

      • Minister C

        We all have at least one gift, the bible tells us this in 1Corinthians 12. Seek the Holy Spirit!

      • Gina

        Your the gift. The gift from God. Read your bible and do what it tells you to do love thy neighbor. I’m sure you’ve made a different in someone’s life maybe that was your calling. We could have been put here to do just one thing. We all have a purpose. You could have said something nice to make some one smile. That could be your one thing. I don’t know you but I know you have a good heart. And god knows to

  • Marie

    I don’t know what my gift is? Or why God loves? You see I was working 40+ hours a week, and they would not pay me a good salary. My son working at jobs which hire people with disabilities was getting paid more then me. I loved and enjoyed what I did, but my superiors would give verbal praise and never put a monetary value on my going the extra mile to help make the company look it’s very best.

    My grandmother had a saying “if a job you have begun, don’t stop until it’s down; whether great or whether small do it well or not at all”. As a child that was instilled in our generation.

    But I got sick and had to stop working. Financially I was and am still worried, because my income helped out the family. But deep inside I was happy because work had taken priority in my life and I wanted to give more time to my church.

    I have not been employed since June 2015. I am free to work at the church, and know I don’t see where I fit in? Other than doing general clerical work, I can feel Jesus pulling me to do more; but I don’t feel needed and or wanted anymore. I love my church home and my church family, it seems like I am in God’s way. I don’t want to be a hinder God work but for the first time in my life I am spiritually lost…

    • Raesian Herseys

      Marie I really wish I knew a whole lot to tell you or advice you on but one thing I do know is this”dont worry yourself crazy”.
      You yearn to work for God ,and you are .Keep seeking His face….I am beginning to understand what meditating on His word mean.Meditate on His word day and night,fast,pray.
      This is one of the best times to build a closer relationship with God.
      The enemy can and will send worry darts to you,to make you so preoccupied you won’t be listening enough.
      So don’t give up sister,for I know without a doubt He will answer if you keep asking,knocking and seeking.Matthew 7:7.

      • Angella

        v5. Trust in the LORD with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
        v6. In ALL your ways ACKNOWLEDGE HIM,
        and HE will make your paths straight.
        Proverbs 3:5-6 Niv

        I hope the above scripture helps to restore your faith in God and not your own efforts. I haven’t worked since having major surgery in May 2013 and again major surgery in November 2015, there were life threatening complications. But I am STILL here by HIS Grace and Mercy. I am raising my children on my own with the help of Yahweh. He has NEVER let me down and HE has not forgotten you. Whatever you do, do it ALL unto GOD and put ALL your expectations in HIM !! He has you in the Palms of HIS hands! And don’t forget YOU ARE THE APPLE OF HIS EYES!!!
        Be Blessed and Rest in HIM !!!

        • Angella

          Sorry !! This Message is for Marie not Raesian Herseys. Thank you!

    • Heath Cluck

      Praise Him Lift Him Glorify Him in all you do. LET HIM GET GLORY OUT OF YOUR DEVOTION TO HIM!!! YOU WERE MADE BY HIM AND FOR HIS GOOD PLEASURE!!! JUST LIVE FOR HIM.

    • Ejeagba Chidi

      I do not believe that spiritual calling is full time pastor or what you do on a Church building every sunday, something like that. I strongly believe that anyone that gives his/her life to Christ….its automatically ‘ called’. And such a person have FULL assess to God. Having Christ in you is same as seeking first the kingdom of God..and the Bible says if you do this ALL things shall be added onto you, spiritual gifting and fruits, and everything. Therefore, after you genuinely give your life to Christ, everything you find your hand to do becomes ‘ministry’.

    • Angella

      v5. Trust in the LORD with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
      v6. In ALL your ways ACKNOWLEDGE HIM,
      and HE will make your paths straight.
      Proverbs 3:5-6 Niv

      I hope the above scripture helps to restore your faith in God and not your own efforts. I haven’t worked since having major surgery in May 2013 and again major surgery in November 2015, there were life threatening complications. But I am STILL here by HIS Grace and Mercy. I am raising my children on my own with the help of Yahweh. He has NEVER let me down and HE has not forgotten you. Whatever you do, do it ALL unto GOD and put ALL your expectations in HIM !! He has you in the Palms of HIS hands! And don’t forget YOU ARE THE APPLE OF HIS EYES!!!
      Be Blessed and Rest in HIM !!!

  • Mary

    No because everyone is not call to ministry the same way and by being in the market place u can help others in so many different ways.

  • Maurice

    It’s 5:08 in the morning & I haven’t been able to sleep since 4. So I decided to open up my bible app & read a few scriptures & even my “What is My Mission” plan. Thus, it lead me to this discussion. And I feel as if though, the simple fact that I am here is another sign that God is calling me into ministry. He is definitely trying to tell me SOMETHING! I am 9 year professional football player who is on the verge of retirement. The last couple of seasons, I have not played w/ the same passion that I always had for the game. I believe that spot in my heart has been replaced w/ the passion for Christ & helping others find & follow him.
    I feel closer to Him now than ever before. He has been tugging at my heart for quite a while now, steadily calling me. I truly believe that it’s up me to simply answer Him. Nothing compares, nothing provides that true JOY & PEACE that comes from the Lord almighty. Not, football, not money etc. I’m just conflicted because even though I feel like God is calling me into ministry, I also believe there is a void to be filled right where I am & in the practical, everyday places, where ppl desperately need Jesus! In the meantime I’ll continue to willingly go wherever He leads me. Thx for taking the time to listen to me. Y’all be blessed!

    • Holy Nes

      God is good and his grace surpass anything. Have you try fasting for few days and asking while fasting what is it that God wants you to do. It works, and i truly love to see your passion and love for our father God. I wish you nothing but blessings and peace to you and yours.

      • Ejeagba Chidi

        I do not believe that spiritual calling is full time pastor or something like that. I strongly believe that anyone that gives his/her life to Christ….its automatically ‘ called’. And such a person have FULL assess to God. Having Christ in you is same as seeking first the kingdom of God..and the Bible says if you do this ALL things shall be added onto you, spiritual gifting and fruits, and everything. Therefore, after you genuinely give your life to Christ, everything you find your hand to do becomes ‘ministry’.

  • Graham Crawford

    I worked in a Juvenile Jail for twelve and a half years as a teacher. I never had to tell the boys I was a Christian. My reputation went before me. Crawf was the Jesus man. Boys would ask me questions daily while I did my job, teaching wood work. I tried to be as honest and truthful as I could be. I knew why they were doing time so by being real with them and explaining that my sin hurt God and that I also deserved a stint in eternal jail. But God in his grace have me a get out of jail card if I just accepted it. I sowed a lot of seed in that time to people who would never step a foot inside a Church.

  • Vidia

    I have often felt that I am/was not worthy … I felt I made bad decisions in my life by not finishing college and followed the crowd so the profession I pursued did not fulfill me – or make me happy – why would God choose to do his work thru me …

  • Kelly Sapp

    I’m not sure what my calling is. I worked for a good third of my adult life. Now I’m disabled and I don’t know what to do or where to go.

  • Jules R.

    I feel trapped! Everyday I go to work, my heart just cries out for something more. I work in technology and the people I work with are just hungry for more!! How do I share my testimony in a world where there is jealousy, covetousness, hatred, bullying and even the acceptance of transgender transition which they ask us to accept? Where is God in our workplace? Yes, I ask the Holy Spirit to come with me but it’s frustrating because I want to reach out. Jesus says that the world hated Him first and yes, I get that. And I know they hate me too for being in Christ and Christ in me. My heart says to “go”, but where? And to whom?

    • Blessings

      We Christians are always “annoyed and taken back” when we see worldliness in the workplace. We see and are on the receiving end more times than we care to be of the hatred, bullying, greed, etc… We ask God to help us or worst ” why are we here in this God forsaken place””?” But that place is our calling!! God is, has and always will be with us! He has not forsaken us! We don’t have to ask The Holy Spirit to come with us. What we need to do is follow God’s commands. Go! We are there now we need to do what He put us there in the first place. What is it we are to do you ask? Love others as ourselves!! Yes they are worldly, but so were we. When we stop looking at what they do, how they act and how they treat us and look at them the way God looked at us when we were against Him, with love then we can look beyond their behavior. God looks beyond our faults and we must do the same for others. Love them, help them, let your light shine in and through you for them. We must let our wants and need for comfort and peace in out workplace die. It’s not about our wants and need, it’s about being obedient to our Father’s Word. We want to be good, obedient Christians but we want ppl to like us, to treat us well, to respect us and that is not what Jesus was about. He was about His Father’s business in spite of how He was treated. Remember to repeat Jesus’ words: ” not my will but Your will be done…”

  • Rafael

    Long story short, God called me at 18 yrs old. He led me to attend Bible Institute after High School so I didn’t go to college : (. This has proven to be challenging financially, not many good paying jobs hiring a Bible Study graduate. I am 30 years old now and I’ve learned to be patient, not always lol, and let God mold me so I can be ready for whatever he has in store. Be blessed and press forward.

  • Nina

    I too am at a crossroads in my work life and ardently praying to the Lord to reveal to me His plan for my life. I’m almost 30 and currently unemployed. About 3 months ago I decided to quit my job to seek out more fulfilling horizons, but 3 months later I’ve received no interview offers from job applications and am still living in my parents’ house. My relationship fell apart 1 month into unemployment, and it feels like I’m living in an empty bubble.
    I keep praying to the Lord to guide me and open a window somewhere, but feel like am only being met with silence. I’m really starting to fall into a dark despair. My faith in the Lord is still strong and I do still believe that each day has its purpose; but I also feel like I’m unable to discern whether I’M just being lazy or cowardly and not doing something He’s instructing… or whether the Lord is telling me to be patient right now. I’m currently working on continued education certification in a field, but at the same time want to be back at work already.

  • LaurieSellick

    I didn’t understand the question until I read some of the posts.
    God made sure of my worthiness when I gave birth to my daughter. She was in distress at birth which made her borderline mental retarded. For her on a daily mission she experiences the age anywhere from a 2 year old to her age now 32. So on a daily basis I deal with the ages in between. So my purpose is to teach her the way god has intended for us to live. It’s been a long learning experience for us both. But if it weren’t for my daughter god gave me. I may have had a really bad choices through out my adult years. I believe God put me here to make sure she completes her mission. To teach her about God and the love he has for her and that one day she to can help someone just like her.
    I was married for 16 years. Her father and brother could not understand no matter how hard I tried. They just couldn’t conform to her needs. So for the last 16 years I myself have been leading my beautiful daughter toward God. She doesn’t understand gods word and always said shes not Jewish. But as I listen to my favorite preachers and now when I say a prayer over our food she stands there until I finish praying.
    Also I live on a busy street and when ambulamces goes by I say a prayer for othe sick person in the ambulance, and sometimes wjen I’m busy and not say my prayer out loud she says mom a ambulance went by. I would temind her that although I don’t pray out loud, i still pray in silence. She will say okay just want you to know.
    So I believe my calling for this world we live in is to prepare my daughter for her journey with God and his love for her, to fond and know him as we do. …

  • Mayra

    After years of searching for God and wandering the world, I began going to a Christian church again. In 2013, i felt called to get baptized. During the prep class, the pastor said taking this step in Christ would help me do other things. Looking back as i typically do at this time of year, highlights that first step as a critical turning point in my faith. From that moment on my understanding, willingness and love for God has grown. While my circumstances shift daily, God has been faithful in helping me stay steady and fixed on Him and His desire to restore the damaged places inside me. His love teaches me to offer compassion towards others around me who don’t feel His presence yet and need His love to heal just as I did.

  • Br. Justin

    Not to be overly critical, since I agree with the general premise being promoted, the dignity of man’s vocation to glorify God through their work whatever it may be, but the following quote is simply inaccurate: “The ‘counsels of perfection’ could be fulfilled only in the Holy Orders of the church.” As a Catholic whose be living the “evangelical counsels” also called the “counsels of perfection,” I believe the Doctor has erred by saying the counsels are fulfilled in the Holy Orders, otherwise nuns would be at a supreme disadvantage to monks.

    It is true that a monk living the counsels might also be called to serve in the ministerial priesthood (deacon, priest, or bishop), but this was and its not seen as the purpose of consecrated life in the Church. The counsels as a end in itself are a deeper participation in the universal priesthood of the baptized. However, that participation in a objectively higher state, could lead someone who isn’t actually called to this state to live in a way subjectively less pleasing to God than a married policeman. For a biblical example, in terms of the counsel of chastity (i.e. making oneself ‘a eunuch’ for the sake of the Kingdom) see St. Paul’s take: “I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: it is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1 Cor 7:7-9)

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