I was talking with a friend today about my future move to seminary and my search for jobs. She said that many seminary families complain about not being able to find jobs in the area. It’s not that they can’t find jobs. It’s that they can’t find the jobs they want. They want to “serve in the ministry.” They were called into the ministry. They want to “serve” in the church.
If any one today is in that position today and reading this, I’ve got two words for you – do it. Serve. In a church. Right now.
I’m sure I can find you a church where you can do a lot of ministry. Now, of course, you won’t get paid for this service, but you will actually be “serving in the ministry.” You will be “serving in the church.”
In fact, you’ll be probably be actually serving the church more as a volunteer. You will be allowing that church to move forward in what God has called them to do without requiring them to have more money. Maybe, one day, they will hire you on staff. Maybe they won’t. But it shouldn’t matter if all you want to do is “serve” the church.
You’ll get experience in ministry. Of course, it probably won’t be at the fancy, cutting-edge, new church plant, you really want to work at, but it will be at a place where Jesus Christ’s body meets. It will be somewhere that God can use you in a huge way. It will be a place that you can get to know the people you are serving.
I know you need money. God knows you need money. That’s why he created jobs. There are jobs outside of a church building. I promise. You know that lady that takes your money at Wal-mart? Job. You know the guy who brings you rolls from Fatz (hmmm rolls!)? Yep, job. Why not go out into the community that you want to reach and get to know them by working in a secular job (to make money), while volunteering in your church family?
I’ve been a volunteer youth pastor of around 15 to 30 youth for five years while working a full-time job. Would I rather have gotten paid for what I did for free? Sure, but my church didn’t have the budget. The $5,000 we had for youth went to youth activities not to me. I would rather have it that way.
I’m not anything special. There are millions of people who do the exact same thing. They serve God as a volunteer in their church family, while working somewhere else to pay the bills. I know bi-vocational pastors who work out in the community because their church can’t pay them enough to support their family. I know countless seminary and college students that work as waiters and waitresses, retail salespeople, clerks, bank tellers, on and on, while they are pursuing the calling that God has placed on their life.
As for me, I probably going to be the one delivering that new desk you just bought or the guy at Staples that helps you get your copies done. I’m also going to be the guy that goes to seminary to follow God’s calling on my life. I’m also going to be the dad dropping his son off at school in the morning and picking him up that afternoon. I’m also going to be the one at the playground with the two wild boys trying to kill time until mommy gets home to make all things right in the world.
And I’ll also be the guy at church who’s not on staff, but who loves to help out and serve any way I can. I don’t know how to do it any other way. It’s not about me. It’s about what God deserves and how I can best serve Him. I don’t think God will accept anything less than that from me. How about you?