The bold and ambitious. That’s who our culture loves. The people who dream big dreams and do grand things…the movers and shakers…the ones who make something of themselves.
If you don’t have a “big” dream, society will make you feel like there’s something wrong with you. They’ll tell you to get a Master’s in business and then work your way up in a company until you’re CEO. They’ll tell you to get your Ph.D. in something glitzy-sounding like Neuroscience or Women’s Studies and then teach at a prestigious university. They’ll tell you to write an award-winning novel or open a restaurant. Or maybe, if none of that’s your type of thing, they’ll tell you to ditch professionalism altogether and go climb Mount Everest or start a hit band. But what they’ll hardly ever tell you to do is to be faithful with what the Lord has given you and willing to follow where He calls.
They’ll hardly ever tell you to do that because it’s simple. It’s boring. And after all, where’s the glory in having a simple dream?
Well, let me tell you…the glory is exactly where it belongs when we live simple lives for the glory of our King.
SIMPLE DOES NOT MEAN POINTLESS
A simple life is not a pointless life. Your days need not be glamorous to mean something. The world may look at a woman who stays home with her children by day and runs a women’s Bible study at her local church by night and call her work small potatoes. It is big work in the eyes of the Lord, though. In 1 Thessalonians 4:11, the apostle Paul instructs believers to, “aspire to live quietly, and mind [their] own affairs, and work with [their] hands…” Most likely, this isn’t going to make us famous. In all probability, it won’t make our names household names. But it’s what the Lord has called us to do, and there’s a joy and fulfillment that comes from furthering the Lord’s purposes that is far greater than the happiness and satisfaction that comes from pushing our own agendas.
For a while, I struggled with this concept of living quietly and simply being faithful in my current vocations. I wanted to be known…not in the selfish way that a superstar wants to be known, of course, but in a way that would honor God. That’s what I told myself, at least. I told myself that there was nothing sinful about my desire to be known as long I wanted to be known for the right reasons…like for going on medical missions trips to third-world countries or starting an international charity to combat poverty or writing a bestselling book on Biblical womanhood.
And then it hit me – that in my quest to be known for the “right” reasons, I was missing the whole point. God does not call His followers to be known. He calls His followers to make Him known. Sometimes, faithful Christians become famous in the process, and there’s nothing inherently sinful about that. But when our desire to be known is greater than our desire to make Him known, it’s time to check our hearts and repent of the pride that so often makes itself at home there.
VOCATIONS AS MINISTRIES
A few years ago, I read a book entitled God At Work by Gene Edward Veith Jr. as part of a freshmen seminar course. In the book, Veith discusses the concept of vocation, saying that each Christian has multiple vocations or callings by God. To put it simply, the Lord can call you to serve Him in almost any capacity, and that capacity in which He calls you to serve Him is your vocation.
Veith writes, “[Martin] Luther goes so far as to say vocation is a mask of God. That is, God hides Himself in the workplace, the family, the church, and the seemingly secular society…To realize that the mundane activities that take up most of our lives – going to work, taking the kids to soccer practice, picking up a few things from the store, going to church – are hiding places for God can be a revelation in itself. Most people seek God in mystical experiences, spectacular miracles, and extraordinary acts they have to do. To find Him in vocation brings Him, literally, down to earth, makes us see how close He really is to us, and transfigures everyday life” (God At Work).
When we come to understand the concept of vocation, life becomes much more meaningful. Our jobs are no longer just jobs, but callings by God into fields in which we can use our talents to serve Him. Our family members and neighbors are no longer just people we see everyday, but people in our spheres of influence, whom we are called to serve. (2 Corinthians 10:15b-16a).
The Lord calls each of His children to particular vocations, many of which look radically different from one another. The apostle Paul’s vocation was evangelizing to the Gentiles. Right now, your vocation might be being a fulltime student. That’s okay. Just because someone’s vocation seems more exciting than yours doesn’t mean that you are any less capable of furthering the kingdom of God, from exactly where He has you.
Be faithful right where you are. Be willing to follow where God calls. Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God, remembering that every vocation (whether its missionary work or writing or nursing or fulltime motherhood) is an equal opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. Your dreams don’t have to be enormous to be worth something in the sight Lord. As Brother Andrew puts it, “I have come to see clearly that life is more than…dreaming of all I can be. Life is about…God. There is no higher calling, no loftier dream, and no greater goal than to live, breathe, and be poured out for Jesus Christ” (The Narrow Road).