A couple of weeks ago a pastor friend said to me, “I’m going to be preaching about prayer as it relates to work and I know you’ve spent a lot of time thinking about work, what would you say to people in secular work regarding prayer?”
I responded, “I’d gently encourage them to talk to their pastor about all work being sacred, that no work is secular, unless of course the work is sinful.” While I went on to share what prayer and work can look like, I wanted to graciously challenge my friend to think about his own approach to the work of his parishioners.
In God’s eyes is a pastor’s work first class and a teacher’s or plumber’s work second class? We are called to be worshippers, wherever we are, whatever we do, we are called to worship – whether we are fixing a pluming leak or teaching third grade, whether we are in Congress or framing a house, whether we are writing computer code or stocking shelves in a grocery store – whatever we do and wherever we are we are to worship God, serve God, and do what we do as unto God in the name of Jesus (see Colossians 3:12 – 4:1).
Alas, the sacred – secular dichotomy is alive and well; most pastors continue to view their work as superior to their parishioners and consequently their sermons have little to no relevancy to Monday – Friday. We wonder why people don’t share the Gospel as a natural fabric of life; little wonder when we’ve disenfranchised them and made them second-class Christians. We talk to them and act toward them as if what they do is less valuable than the work vocational pastors do, and then we expect them to share their faith and invite others to “come to church” – we expect them to turn their Christianity on and off like a light switch. For solutions to a lack of witnessing we turn to programs and seminars instead of looking at the sacred – secular and clergy – laity dichotomies as barriers to the witness of the church and the transformation of Christians into the image of Jesus.
How we think of people influences how we relate to people. As long as pastors think of their people as engaged in second-class work it is difficult to see how they can minister to them as first-class Christians.