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Missions, Ministry or Vocation?

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work…. God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? (1 Corinthians 12:4-6, 18-19, NIV)

Last year, I began to critically think about how our different gifts interact with each other. My friend Leah is called to be a missionary and has a huge heart for almost anything overseas — especially Africa. I love seeing her passion to go to the lost and broken people in the poverty-ridden areas internationally. 

I went on my first missions trip this past summer. My whole family was part of the team along with several good friends, but for some reason I was still homesick. I was confused by this, so I thought a lot about it. I wasn’t homesick for the conveniences — I actually enjoyed the simple life in Vanuatu. Finally I realized I felt displaced because my heart is in America. 

A calling to the U.S. is not less or more holy than a calling to another country. While my heart breaks for those in poverty all over the world, it seems the hidden brokenness of those in Suburbia, USA, is often forgotten or ignored; this breaks my heart just as much. I do not think my “calling” or passion is any better or worse than the next person’s is. I think it’s beautiful how God calls us to so many different areas to make sure everything is covered. Leah and I have talked about this, and we’re both supportive and respectful of each others’ callings. I enjoy seeing the unique gifting and passions God has vastly distributed.

I am a pastor’s daughter. I grew up going to church camps, denominational meetings and church events galore. From an early age, I began to think that someone in any kind of full-time ministry was somehow more of a Christian than people with “normal” jobs. It’s important to give honor where it’s due (1 Peter 2:17, Romans 13:7), so giving honor to missionaries and pastors is appropriate. However, verses like these make me wonder why we don’t also honor and give testimony to the farmers, teachers, doctors and factory workers who serve God and minister to others though their specific vocations.

The world of vocation should not be divided into secular and sacred. Christians of all vocations should actively engage the culture God has placed them in, whether it be in the pulpit or the factory, the skyscraper or the grass hut, the Asian mountains or the ditches of Europe. God’s heart is for the world. He has given each of us different desires to collectively be His united hands and feet to the world, not just one specific region, demographic or cause.

He has strategically placed you where you are. View your vocation as a ministry, whatever it may be, and see what God does. He has charged you with this ministry. What will you do with it?

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