Pastor, teacher, doctor, nurse . . . For most of the first 125 years of this movement, these important helping professions—each one a […]
Pastor, teacher, doctor, nurse . . .
For most of the first 125 years of this movement, these important helping professions—each one a noble calling—received a disproportionate share of attention and esteem among Seventh-day Adventists. Preparing for one of these occupations was a much-traveled path to denominational employment, for the church’s worldwide witness and medical ministry were expanding rapidly. Eager parents coached their children toward careers that would keep them closely tied to the church’s mission. Young adults recognized in these callings a way to express their personal commitment to fulfilling the Great Commission.
In our early decades, a surprisingly high percentage of graduates from the church’s colleges moved into these roles. Professions not immediately connected with church employment—law, civil service, music, graphic arts, and business, for example—were sometimes chiefly valued because those engaged in them would presumably return a faithful tithe.
But a welcome breeze has been blowing through the church for the last 25 years that now both honors and affirms the great variety of faithful career choices available to young Adventists. “Ministry” is no longer a category reserved for those paid by tithe or employed by church institutions. A rediscovery of the biblical model of “tentmaking ministry”—begun by the hands of the apostle Paul himself—now validates the work and witness of millions of Adventists who neither seek nor want employment by their church. In the real market of goods and services, in professions that increasingly intersect with culture, technology, agriculture, and emerging industries, believers are discovering that they may make of almost any job a ministry. Ministry is not defined by where the paycheck comes from, but by the passion and commitment of the architect, the judge, the engineer, and the artist.
In this months’ edition of Adventist World, we tell the stories of those who are doing the Lord’s business as entrepreneurs, innovators, and providers of the products that the culture wants and needs. The things they create and the services they offer bring them into daily contact with millions of people hungry for quality workmanship, for ethical leadership, and for faithful Adventists who can offer moral guidance in the marketplace.
Adventists everywhere should join these “ministers” in praying, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands!” (Ps. 90:17, NRSV*).
* Bible texts credited to NRSV are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A. Used by permission.