Hugh Halter’s book Flesh makes a strong case for the value of bi-vocational pastors (pastors who have a “tent making” job to pay the bills), but his book isn’t just for pastors. It’s a book about incarnational ministry, about having a heart that wants to minister in the flesh to those around you. And one of the ways you can do that is through your work. Work, which was in many respects a part of the curse of the fall, gets redeemed from the curse when we see it as an opportunity to be in the flesh with our fellow man in a profound way. It’s not something we do outside of ministry…it is ministry. It is our ministry, our divine sphere of influence in which we are appointed to be Christ to those around us, Christ in the flesh—our flesh.
This is what Hugh writes:
Have you ever actually pondered the fact that Jesus, in coming to earth, also humbled Himself and submitted to our curse of work? … It must have been a strange moment when Jesus realized that He not only was going to die for the curse but also would have to work by the curse for many years!
When I realize that Jesus had [bad] days [at work] … but never pulled the God card and took a pass at tribulation, I respect his incarnation more and more. I see his redeeming purpose. His job gave Him street cred. His job gave Him relational connection with the commoners. His job gave Him an opportunity to show people a different attitude and a different work ethic and displayed the glory of His character. His job was not just a cover. His job was part of the redemption process. He was breaking the curse and showing us how to do the same.
Do you see your job as a curse? As simply a way to keep bread on the table? If so, you are missing something brilliant. Your work gives you street cred as a minister of the Gospel of Christ. Even Jesus didn’t just do “ministry”. Before he was “Jesus, Son of God, Savior of the World,” He was “Jesus, carpenter.” He valued work enough to spend the first 30 years of his life working along Joseph in a mundane job as a carpenter where things went wrong, orders got screwed up, wood split, hours of labor had to be redone… and He did it as a man, never once pulling the God card and miraculously fixing mistakes, shortcutting the real work that all men must do when they are mere mortals. And, as He did so, He was redeeming work, lifting it from the curse it was under. And you can do the same. Your job can become your greatest place of ministry. Even a job you hate can become a job you love when you see God at work through you in the lives around you because of that job. Working, with all your might as unto the Lord is a spiritual act of worship…and God inhabits the praise of His people. Work as if to worship and see if God doesn’t inhabit there!
Halter, H. (2014). Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth, Learning to be Human Like Jesus. Colorado Springs: David C Cook. p 120-123.