What do you want to do when you grow up?
I’m sure you were asked that question as a kid. I know I was. I wanted to be like my dad and drive trains. He was an engineer. Then I discovered my dad was not that kind of engineer—but who wants to be the kind of engineer who sits behind a desk all day? (Yet here I am a writer who sits behind a desk all day.)
Let’s try a different question: What are you called to do when you grow up?
Were you asked that question as a kid? Yeah, me neither. But it’s the better question.
As we get older, we use more polished language. As adults, we refer to our profession, our vocation. Parents want their kids to grow up and get in a good vocation. But the word vocation is tied to the Latin word vocal. When you’re vocal, you call out—and your vocation is your calling.
So what is your vocation—your calling?
I don’t know what you do, but I can tell you what your vocation is. As a follower of Christ, your vocation—your calling—is to be a minister. Every believer is called to be a minister. Even you.
The word “minister” is tied to three Greek words, all of which carry the idea of service.
- Diakonos has the connotation of one who waits on tables. “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant” (Mark 10:43)
- Huperetes originally designated the rowers who labored in the bottom of a ship. “This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ” (1 Cor. 4:1).
- Leitourgos was used of a servant either for the government or at a temple. “The grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus” (Rom. 15:16).
We are all called to serve, which means we are all called to be ministers. Not all of us are pastors, but we are all ministers. We are called to serve and minister in the name of Christ, but how and where we carry that out will vary from person to person.
- Mom, you are a minister—right where you are.
- Accountant, you are a minister—right where you are.
- Assembly line worker, you are a minister—right where you are.
- Customer service rep, you are a minister—right where you are.
- Inspector No. 5, you are a minister—right where you are.
How you carry out your work can be a vital ministry and a witness for Christ. I love the way Martin Luther King Jr. said it:
“What I’m saying to you this morning, my friends, even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.’
“If you can’t be a pine on the top of a hill
Be a scrub in the valley—but be
The best little scrub on the side of the hill,
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree.
If you can’t be a highway just be a trail
If you can’t be the sun be a star;
It isn’t by size that you win or fail—
Be the best of whatever you are.”
You are a minister. Serve Christ well by serving those in your path.
For a printable version: click here.
This post supports the study “I Am a Minister” in Bible Studies for Life.
You identiied the quote from Dr. Martin Luther King. What about the poem following it? Is it part of Dr. King’s quote or is it from something else?
The poem is a part of his speech.