As part of the pre-marriage ministry that my wife and I lead at our church, I occasionally perform wedding ceremonies for couples that have gone through the class. I can’t help but laugh thinking about meeting the father-of-the-groom before the first wedding I performed. I can’t remember the conversation verbatim, but it went something like this,
“So you led our son’s marriage preparation?”
“Yes, I did.”
“But you don’t work at the church?”
“No, I don’t.”
“What do you do?”
“I work in brand strategy for one of the big companies in town.”
“Oh… I see.”
He didn’t see. He thought it was very odd that some branding guy was standing with a Bible in-hand ready to perform his son’s wedding. But I can’t really blame him – most people seem a little confused by the notion of a minister that doesn’t work for a church, and to be honest, there was at time in my life when it confused me too.
Thankfully my perspective was shaped during my seminary years by a great guy who owned his own merger & acquisition consultancy with his daughter, while occasionally serving as an interim pastor at churches. He reminded me that the word “minister” has grown quite narrow and that it’s as much a verb – to attend to the needs of others – as it is a noun. As Christians, we are called to minister: to act justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6). Even the Apostle Paul, arguably the greatest minister in history, had a day job as a tent maker (Acts 18).
As a result I returned to the secular workplace. If there weren’t Christians trying to live Godly lives in the secular workplace then we’d all work at churches, hoping that someone might walk in the door on Sunday morning (don’t get me wrong – I thank the Lord that there are great folks working at our churches!). Today, I truly relish being back in there, trying to serve God by serving those around me. It isn’t about obnoxiously evangelizing or holding prayer meetings by the water cooler – it’s about treating people in a manner that honors God and letting them experience a taste of the grace that we’ve received .
In a nutshell, I learned that regardless of whether or not I had a seminary education, worked at a church, or performed weddings, I could be a minister – and so can you.