“In Ministry”

“The call to salvation and the call to ministry are one and the same call.”

One of the five books I am currently reading is called

Live Your Passion

Tell Your Story

Change Your World

Not exactly the shortest title to whip out of your mouth when someone asks what you’re reading. It’s a collection of brain-stopping thoughts worded eloquently into two small page increments of mind-seizing. And it is fantastic! I am only a bit through the first section (the Live Your Passion section) so I still cannot vouch for the book as a whole, but I’m taking a gamble on suggesting it’s a good all-around read.

One of these mind-blowing, two-page sections hosts the quote by Findley Edge that I opened this post with.

Now if we choose to believe what this quote says, then when someone asks me what I want to “do” and I reply with “well, eventually my husband and I want to be in full-time ministry” assuming they know that I am a devoted Christ follower, it’s as if I am answering their question with, “DUH!”

What is ministry? What is part-time or full-time ministry? What do these terms even mean? Are people “in ministry” classified as those who spend 15 hours of their 24 hour days at church, wake up at 5am to pray, and make a very small salary? Why? Why do we think of ministry this way? Is the owner of a well-known hair salon school who knows business and has made a large salary in his life not in full-time ministry? (I know this not-so-hypothetical person I just tossed out there). Would you consider him to be a businessman or a salon owner or in ministry when you hear his story and desire to bring girls and women to his school who need a vocation to get them out of a not-so-great place in life? Where he is sure that 90% of his staff are devout Christians with goals to help the students successfully make it through the school and attain jobs at the end. Is he not in full-time ministry?

What makes a “job” a ministry?

I believe it is a mindset, a choice. Is a job merely a means of providing for a family or is it a place God has you for a reason beyond that one? Don’t we pray to God to provide us with the “right” job in the “right” company with the “right” salary? Is it not God ordained that you are in the position that you are in right now? Do you think He placed you there ONLY to provide for your family?

What if we viewed our job as a place to be a light for Him? What if we went to work every day with our eyes open, looking for an opportunity to share God’s love with someone that we work with? What if we went to work to change lives, no matter what your work is?

There are some jobs where, I’m sure, people could argue with some of my statements above, like jobs where you are already surrounded by Christians (maybe a position in a church). Can you not still practice sharing God’s love and light with them? What about a position where you spend your time working in solitude? What an awesome opportunity to spend your work days solely with God! Stay-at-home moms; that is, I believe, one of the greatest opportunities to instill God’s love into the next generation.

Are we not all in “full-time-ministry”? Isn’t being “in ministry” the way we should live our whole lives, not just look to pastors and missionaries and Sunday mornings to be involved in it? What if we viewed our vocation as the very platform that God has given each of us for making an impact for Him in the world in which He has placed us?

I know that viewing my work days like this makes each day more exciting, challenging, and rewarding. What could it do for you?

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“Smart”

For those who are not aware, I recently acquired a personal training position at L.A.Fitness. The head trainer at my gym strongly emphasizes the importance of constantly educating yourself as a trainer. Always learning what the new trends are and knowing everything you can about your field. Just for that simple reason that it IS YOUR field. Because, if you’ve decided it’s a field worth going into, why wouldn’t you want to continue to learn more and more about it? Isn’t that how one gets ahead in any field?

Anyways, that isn’t the soapbox I wanted to get onto today. Thanks to the head trainer’s constant reminder to be educating myself I picked up a couple fitness and training books at the library last week. My schedule is still slow as I am beginning to pick up clients so I have a lot of downtime in the gym. You can only work out so long and so often, even for a trainer. But I’m convinced that I have never yet reached a limit for how much I can read in a day. While I sit at the desk I devour the fitness books, working the new techniques into my client’s workouts, into my workouts, and learning all that I can before I must return the books to the library.

Today, one of my fellow trainer’s came up to the desk, took notice of me reading one of these fitness books and said, “girl, you are so freakin’ smart because you read alllllll day long.” I chuckled and replied, “well I don’t know about that.” And we went on our merry ways.

Having been homeschooled all the way through highschool I’ve often had people say things to me along the lines of, “you’re homeschooled?! Wow, you must be like really smart!” I don’t consider myself to be dumb necessarily…at least, not most of the time, but really, I have my blond moments, ok? But on the book-smart, intellectual kind of level I never have regarded myself very high. But it never bothered me either, I figured I’m average and I’ll just continue to get smarter in the areas that I focus on. No big deal. But when my fellow trainer pointed that out today the words took on a little bit of a different meaning for me.

This trainer doesn’t know that I was homeschooled, we haven’t had any in-depth conversations, there is no way, as far as I can see, that she would be able to judge how “smart” I really am. So why did she say that? When she has no idea how smart or stupid I am. What made her say that? Just because I was reading? There are some really stupid books out there that I promise are not making people smarter.

It clicked. She may not know how smart I am when it comes to taking tests, getting through highschool, when in a philosophical or deep intellectual conversation but what she does know is that I read. And that I read a lot. And that they are not those “stupid” books I just mentioned earlier. Whether she meant it this way or not, I took it as a compliment, that she meant to say I am smart in my habits.

This means that despite whether she knows if I actually am ALREADY smart in whatever area, what she DOES know is that I am making smart choices in my habits. Sure, some people are born geniuses, but most of us aren’t. I am not a born genius in any area. Writing is my passion, but I have to practice, which is why this blog is here. But how do any of us become smart? Whether it’s in school or housework or being a good father or mother or friend or Christian or employee or employer? We practice. And if we want to be REALLY good, or REALLY smart in that chosen area then we have to BECOME smart. We don’t become a parent or spouse and automatically become geniuses in the art of parenting or in being married. We have to practice. And if we want to be more than just good, if we want to be “smart” in that chosen area then we have to make “smart” choices or habits to then BECOME smart.

All of this confusing tossing around of words to say: what’s already in your brain doesn’t make you smart, it’s your habits that make you smart. It’s what you are doing on a regular basis, what are you constantly putting into your brain, that makes you smart. You aren’t studying up on your passion to BECOME smart, you ARE smart BECAUSE you are studying your passion. A person may have a lot of head knowledge about the Bible, but if they decide to stop studying the Word at age 25 and live off of what they already know about God, are they going to grow in Him? Or does it take a daily life of habits and choices to constantly live in His presence and study Him to become closer to Him? To become “smart” in the ways we seek God?

As a personal trainer, I am required to have a personal trainer’s certification. To prove that I know a couple things about becoming fit. Every one of the nationally recognized certifications require something called Continuing Education Credits (or CEC’s). These things are a pain. No trainer I have spoken to is a fan of them. What happens is this: you spend money, you study, you learn, you take a test and you become a personal trainer. THEN, every two years they threaten to take away your certification unless you have the required amount of CEC’s (nobody really threatens anybody, but it feels that way when something is about to expire). So on top of the money you’ve already paid and the studying you’ve already done, you have to pay MORE money and study some MORE in order to KEEP your certification. And these certifications are important! Trainers who have bachelor’s degrees in kinesiology and the like can’t get jobs as trainers unless they have certifications on top of that degree simply because employers want the trainers to continue acquiring CEC’s. Why? Because CEC’s mean that a trainer is “continuing” their “education” in the fitness and training department. They mean that the trainer didn’t just learn something and then forget it, but that they have to keep studying and learning more.

Unfortunately, we aren’t required to get CEC’s for the other aspects of our lives. We aren’t required to continue studying on how to be a good friend, a good spouse, or a good parent. We are focused on how to be a superb employee and interviewee when we graduate college and are desperately looking for a job. But once the job is landed we slack off. We stop studying, we stop learning, we stop getting better. We stop educating ourselves in our field. Whatever that field may be.

In what ways are you smart?

Are your choices & habits what make you smart?

Do you continue to educate yourself on life and all the fields of it that you are involved in?