For over a decade, I was in full-time ministry. If you count seminary years and Bible college, it’s been part of my work since 2008. But back in February, I stepped away from a job, and when it came time to figure out what was next, an unexpected opportunity arose: working for a home renovation and construction company.
When I was a kid, a family friend was a contractor. He’d take me to jobs and I would paint boards for a little bit of spending money. I loved the smell of sawdust and seeing rotted wood get removed and replaced. Little did I know, one day I’d have an office down the hall from a full-on workshop.
I’m still in culture shock when I walk into the office. No one starts meetings with prayers or reminds you of the importance of Eternity. But what I lost in Christian-ese, I’ve gained in connection to a group of people I might not otherwise have encountered.
These colleagues are skilled craftsmen and planners, architects and job managers. They know how to create almost anything from scratch, and they work with excellence and drive. As I was getting acclimated, after posting something faith-based on my personal Instagram, a comment caught my eye. It was someone lamenting that I’m not in ministry. That my gifts which are theologically bent don’t seem to fit with my current full-time vocation.
In the world we live in, this is a common assumption. We see pastors or administrators or caretakers as those in ‘full-time ministry.’ Those jobs are so needed! My brother-in-law is a faithful pastor of a church in California and his work is challenging yet rich. I have a deep respect for individuals in those spaces. And who knows? Maybe I’ll end up back there again one day. But for now, I find myself driving down a road that is dense with potholes and workshops on my way to the office. I find myself passing by warehouses and industrial spaces, re-learning a new way of existing in the world.
“Hello!” I called out the other morning to a man standing on a loading dock.
He greeted me with a smile.
“What do you guys do here?” I asked
“Anything made out of metal? We make it.” He replied, with sparks flying behind him and machinery resounding in the background.
We exchanged names and as I walked away, my foot caught the ground and I accidentally kicked an empty bottle of liquor that was sitting on the side of the street between our workplaces. Immediately, a phrase popped into my head: This is ministry, too.
It turns out, my work is full of people who are living, breathing examples of the human experience. They’re removing rotted clapboards and sawing wood and building staircases and processing the world around them. They’re having lunch breaks and driving to job sites and trying to be good parents and spouses and friends. Away from church pews, the need for Jesus is just as strong.
Scripture reminds us to do everything to the glory of God. It doesn’t make mention of needing to be in a church office or standing at a pulpit. Christ can be magnified in the parking lot or the drive-through or the office complex.
In 1 Corinthians 10:31, it says, “Whatever you do—whether you eat or drink or not—do it all to the glory of God!”
So I come home and I exhale and I change out of my men’s polo with the logo of my company. I sit and I process and I pray that I can meet these new friends and coworkers with grace, kindness, and patience. I ask Jesus to be made known and to be glorified as we post on social media, frame and paint walls. Even if it’s just someone sensing that they’re not alone, there are a thousand small ways to point anyone toward the truth of Jesus.
Still, I miss those opening prayers and staff devotionals and feeling like my work was intimately connected to my faith. But then? I remember that I work at a home renovation company — and Jesus was a carpenter. So surely, if it’s good enough for the Son of God, it’s more than enough for me.