Could it be that the man or woman available to God can partner with Him in the marketplace, bringing heaven to Earth the other six days a week?
God's plans for people in the workplace are greater than we imagine. All work devoted to God is holy. Customer service representative or CEO, musician or mayor, principal or pastor, we all have the privilege to shine brightly in our daily assignments, transforming society. Yet something holds us back.
Most people settle for a life at work that is far less rewarding than what is possible. Believing that work is anything less than sacred reduces our lives to a daily grind filled with struggle. But what if we are all called to do the greatest work on Earth in daily life?
"And wherever He entered, into villages, cities, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and pleaded with Him that they might touch even the fringe of His garment. And as many as touched Him were healed" (Mark 6:56).
Jesus met the needs of people in the marketplace as well as in the temple with healing and solutions that transformed lives and impacted society—we are to do the same and more.
Our society is comprised of seven spheres where people are divinely positioned with skill, a desire to serve and a natural place from which to influence the world. These spheres—business, government, education, family, arts, media and religion—are simply the lanes in which we work, live, play and have the opportunity to be the church in everyday life.
But most are content to point people to church buildings and Christian programs to get a touch of Jesus from the professionals. We are held hostage to the lie that our work doesn't matter to God, that paid preachers are the only ones actually doing God's work.
Mike Bickle, director at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City (IHOPKC), believes the church has missed it when it comes to revealing God's heart for believers in the marketplace.
"It is time for pastors in the body of Christ to address the lie that has hindered many who work in schools, at city hall or businesses," Bickle says. "The lie is that their work is not a ministry calling to build up the kingdom of God. It's time to bless what these marketplace men and women have been doing to serve God in a significant way. They are faithful believers and vessels of God's kingdom purposes; their work is precious and valuable in God's sight."
For the man or woman who has a holy calling to teach, legislate, create, entertain or do business, it's time to settle five questions lurking in the hearts of believers on their way to work Monday morning.
1) Does my work matter to God?
2) How can I be a godly influence at work without being weird?
3) How does God provide divine direction and solutions for practical problems and dilemmas at work?
4) How can I partner with God to transform society beyond my offerings at church?
5) Should I quit my job and go into ministry?
I have discovered answers to these questions through prayer and life experience, so I make it my aim to continue to share some of my own journey to illustrate how this can work out in daily life.
God's Care for Our Work
From selling tickets in a movie theater at age 16 to building a corporate learning center to leading a global marketplace prayer initiative, I have learned how much God wants to be involved in our daily work.
I can only imagine what church folks thought of the preacher's kid working at the movie theater. But I prayed for that job, and God opened the door. I felt His presence and pleasure over me as I showed up on time, completed my duties and learned how to deal with all kinds of people.
I learned that my work at the movie theater mattered to God. He was with me and used that first job to help shape the person I would become.
Work isn't a necessary evil. It's a divine invitation to grow as believers and make a difference in the world. God loves to show up in the mundane of life with His mercy and miracles. As leaders, it's important we teach people to expect God at work, to invite Him in and to trust His leadership.
Now, let's fast-forward a few decades.
The Strangest Secret for Success
I sat in a faculty meeting listening to the academic dean talk about the new year as I scribbled a desperate prayer on a legal tablet. I loved teaching business, but my heart ached for more of God, more opportunity and more challenge.
Should I leave the college for full-time work in the church? Was I wasting my gifts and talents in a "secular" job? Could I become and do more for God in the ministry?
I soon realized I was asking the wrong questions. I was reaching people every day I would never see at church. I prayed for my students. Co-workers came to me for help with their problems. God gave me creative ideas in the classroom. I began to understand I was serving others in my work as a pastor or priest (1 Pet. 2:9). He was showing me the transformational value and holiness of work in a dramatic way.
Within two weeks of my scribbled prayer, I had the beginning of a divine answer staring me in the face. The adage "be careful what you pray for" crossed my mind as the magnitude of the opportunity unfolded.
The college leadership asked me to create a corporate training center as part of the university to serve local businesses. It was an incredible opportunity that led to a unique collaboration between education, industry and the community that people came from around the world to experience.
It was amazing to see God touch lives, influence careers and build up the economy as we trained more than 150,000 participants in the next 12 years. We had never worked harder, cried louder or rejoiced more as we watched God show up. In my home, in the car, on the fly, in the board room and deep in the night, I cried out to God for guidance because I knew He was listening and speaking. We all felt we were on a holy assignment, and heaven came to Earth a little every day in the form of practical plans, burgeoning contracts, resolving of conflicts and creative solutions birthed in prayer and carried out in excellence.
God had given me a living laboratory to learn what it meant to work from the place of prayer. It's the strangest secret for success.
Forerunners in the Marketplace
Things were going well, and life was better than ever. Then I felt a divine nudge.
My husband, Rick, and I decided to visit the International House of Prayer in the summer of 2006. I had never seen anything like it, people from all over the world gathering in 24/7 prayer.
I was delighted to discover that they also had a ministry to people like me working in the marketplace who valued prayer. It was like connecting with a family you never knew you had.
We felt God was inviting us to help prepare the way for what He wants to do in the marketplace, bringing transformation in the various spheres of society through ordinary men and women. What followed was a series of events that led to our relocating from Texas to Kansas City, joining the ministry team and leading the marketplace arm of IHOPKC.
Our move meant leaving everything we'd built in the past 24 years and, more importantly, our aging dads. But God confirmed it through our house selling within four hours of placing a For Sale sign in the yard and, more significantly to us, the blessings of our fathers. I'd love to say everything worked out exactly as planned, but the best stuff in God never does; His plan is always greater.
Today, I am privileged to lead 7M-pact, a community of forerunners in the marketplace, men and women from all spheres of society who are changing the world at work. Each Monday, those of us in Kansas City gather in the Global Prayer Room for a prayer meeting at 6 a.m. Marketplace believers join from all over the globe by live Web stream in corporate prayer. We also host conferences and webinars and publish resources to inspire and equip. We are honored to be part of a growing global movement of believers who are using their lives to make a difference at work.
7M-pact is an expression of IHOPKC, serving the broader body of Christ all over the world to impact the seven spheres of society through the marketplace.
There have been times throughout history when we as believers must expand our paradigm to embrace what God is doing
Pastor and Experiencing God author Henry Blackaby believes strongly in God's activity in the workplace.
"God is marshalling His people in the workplace as never before in history," Blackaby says. "God is up to something. The next spiritual awakening could take place in the marketplace."
Something is happening among believers all over the world. There is a yearning in their hearts for more. God is awakening men and women to see His purpose in their work.
The problem is, many in the workplace never hear teaching on the holiness of work and the role of the marketplace priest. As ministry leaders, we can help marketplace believers understand their spiritual significance in the workplace. They need to know they are in the perfect place to be a world changer as a part of God's plan right where they are.
You'll remember in history that Martin Luther codified and nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church, questioning the practice of paid indulgences to the church to absolve the common man of sin at a time when history was ripe for reformation. It changed the world.
The good news is that we are not subject to the restrictions in church history that existed in the days prior to the Reformation; but we do have modern-day paradigms that we have allowed to strangle the witness of those in the marketplace.
Today, it's a Martin Luther moment in history, when the church has the opportunity to embrace a new theology of work.
Linda Fields is the founder and CEO of 7M-pact (7M-pact.org), the marketplace ministry expression for the International House of Prayer in Kansas City, Missouri, and beyond. Sharing insights from over 30 years of corporate training and teaching university business classes, Field speaks, consults and coaches individuals to lead well. She is the author of IMPACT Your Sphere of INFLUENCE: Bringing God's Presence in the Workplace, Find Your Why Forward and other resources.
5 Proclamations for Christians at Work
1) Work matters: All work is holy, and my work matters to God.
I believe God cares about work and is present in my work. I am hopeful about and thankful for the calling I have in my workplace assignment. I accept this calling as a holy assignment (Prov. 29:18).
2) Prayer works: I will pray and engage with the holy in my work.
I will ask God for spiritual insights and blueprints for my work. I will also pray with others for the marketplace in my city to be transformed.
3) I have the power to bless: I am a priest bringing blessing in the marketplace.
I will look for opportunities to bring God's presence to those in my spheres of influence. I will bless the individuals I encounter as small congregations spanning cubicles, companies and communities. I will seek to hear from God at work, carry out my work as holy and bring transformation in my workplace (1 Pet. 2:9).
4) I will embrace community: I will participate in and honor community with other like-minded believers to transform our world. I will seek out believers in gatherings such as small-group studies face to face or in online groups or conferences and to hear from others and share testimonies, building up a community to do the work on the front lines of society together (Eccl. 4:9-10, 12).
5) I will run hard after God: I am on the journey with God! As a believer in the marketplace, I am going on a journey to know my God and do great exploits with Him. I will run after Him, desiring to know my God better. I trust Him to empower me to do the exploits He has for me to bring heaven to Earth in my work (Dan. 11:32-33).
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