Aug

05

2011

Tullian Tchividjian|9:06 am CT

You’re Free To Stay Put

Martin Luther was once approached by a man who enthusiastically announced that he’d recently become a Christian. Wanting desperately to serve the Lord, he asked Luther, “What should I do now?” As if to say, should he become a minister or perhaps a traveling evangelist. A monk, perhaps.

Luther asked him, “What is your work now?”

“I’m a shoe maker.”

Much to the cobbler’s surprise, Luther replied, “Then make a good shoe, and sell it at a fair price.”

In becoming a Christian, we don’t need to retreat from the vocational calling we already have—nor do we need to justify that calling, whatever it is, in terms of its “spiritual” value or evangelistic usefulness. We simply exercise whatever our calling is with new God-glorifying motives, goals, and standards—and with a renewed commitment to performing our calling with greater excellence and higher objectives.

One way we reflect our Creator is by being creative right where we are with the talents and gifts he has given us. As Paul says, “Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God” (1 Corinthians 7:20,24). As we do this, we fulfill our God-given mandate to reform, to beautify, our various “stations” for God’s glory–giving this world an imperfect preview of the beautification that will be a perfect, universal actuality when Jesus returns to finish what he started.

For church leaders, this means that we make a huge mistake when we define a person’s “call” in terms of participation inside the church—nursery work, Sunday school teacher, youth worker, music leader, and so on. We need to help our people see that their calling is much bigger than how much time they put into church matters. By reducing the notion of calling to the exercise of spiritual gifts inside the church, we fail to help our people see that calling involves everything we are and everything we do—both inside and, more importantly, outside the church.

I once heard Os Guinness address a question about why the church in the late 20th century was not having a larger impact in our world when there were more people going to church than ever before. He said the main reason was not that Christians weren’t where they should be. There are plenty of artists, lawyers, doctors, and business owners that are Christians. Rather, the main reason is that Christians aren’t who they should be right where they are.

“Calling”, he said, “is the truth that God calls us to himself so decisively that everything we are, everything we do, and everything we have is invested with a special devotion, dynamism, and direction.”

So, you’re free to stay put, right where you are.

54 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing what I believe to be a life changing (and biblically correct) shift in thought concerning one’s vocation. I also recommend Veith’s book.

  2. Well put. Luther was correct, and unfortunately in the zealous rush for evangelism we forget that opportunities for bearing witness for Christ can happen with the secular workers just as much, if not more so, than for the missionary, preacher, and evangelist.

    It’s interesting to note that Ephesians 4:11-12 states that SOME are equipped to be evangelists. This is a far cry from the “every Christian is an evangelist” rhetoric I hear from pulpits today. Yes, we are called to bear witness and be ready to give an answer for those who ask (I Peter 3:15), but for those of us like myself (a teacher and scifi/fantasy author), we have secular vocations through which God is to be glorified.

  3. [...] a great (and brief) articulation of some of these same ideas, check out “Your Free To Stay Put” by Pastor Tullian Tchividjian. GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", [...]

  4. […] to serve God. I’m actually not going to post that anecdote, though you can read about it via a recent post by Florida pastor Tullian Tchividjian. Instead, I’m going to post Luther’s An Open Letter To The Christian Nobility, which I […]

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