Discipleship

One of the (many) things we can appreciate that the Reformers did for us was to dispense with the idea that some callings are “holy” callings while others are not. Prior to the Reformation,  those who were in “full time Christian work”  (monks, nuns, priests, etc.) were engaged in “holy” work, while all other callings were seen as somewhat inferior. Unfortunately, we see some of this same old pre-Reformation attitude among Christians when they say or think that if they are really sold out to Jesus, they will go to the mission field. As though being really sold out to Jesus can’t mean going to college or working at a grocery store or bringing up children.

The Reformers saw from the Bible that God calls us to our vocation. Some are called to be preachers and missionaries full time. Some are called to be doctors and lawyers and fishermen and pilots. Each of us should have a sense of our own calling and thank God for it. Then Christian discipleship means actively serving God in our calling in a way that honors and glorifies Him.

I think it was John Own who said something like, “There is a vast difference between preaching a sermon and changing a diaper. But in God’s eyes, both are holy work.”

Why should this matter? When we know that God is pleased with what He has given us to do, and He is pleased when we do it heartily unto Him, then it gives us much greater satisfaction in our work. Rather than thinking we are second-class citizens (spiritually speaking) because we are not “full time Christian workers,” we can laugh and realize that we are all engaged in full-time Christian work. What other kind is there?

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9 Responses to “Discipleship”


  • A few pertinent quotes from Luther:

    “The maid who sweeps her kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who prays, not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps but because God loves clean floors.”

    “God pays no attention to the insignificance of the work being done, but looks at the heart which is serving him in work. This is true even of such everyday tasks as washing dishes or milking cows.”

    “What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow.”

  • “When we know that God is pleased with what He has given us to do, and He is pleased when we do it heartily unto Him, then it gives us much greater satisfaction in our work.”

    This is so true! Thank you for your encouragement in this – over the years it has helped me realize that the people who most need to benefit from my energy and commitment and hospitality are the ones He has given me.

    When I am faithful and obedient in this, they are blessed, and He is pleased.

  • I was thankful to be able to share this subject with others after you touched on it in your Domestic Kindness talk at the Grace Agenda conference, and now it is even easier to share more accurately. Thank you, Mrs. Wilson!

  • If it is only the blood of Christ that cleanses man’s soul and makes him acceptable to God, then surely it is right and good to actively spur each other in the direction of proclaiming that truth where it is least understood. It will not detract from the glorious and holy calling of Christian womanhood. In the dark corners of the world, the “what” is the same. It is the “where” that is different. And the “where” is important to God. That is implicit in Christ’s “Go.” We can nourish and nurture our families and beautify our homes and do it openly before people who have never been in a home where the Spirit of God dwells richly. Our homes, our sanctuaries, have windows. Outside the windows are neighbors and communities and peoples and nations — dry deserts and stormy seas, not the green pastures and still waters that we have come to. We should not forget that as we work diligently in our homes, the goal is that they may see our good works and glorify God. Yes, the they are our children. And yes, the they are not only our children. Nancy, may I humbly submit that I find it unlikely that many in your audience are in danger of being lured to the unreached to escape the tyranny of the mundane. Those that are can be forewarned that dirty floors and bottoms are indeed on the other side of the world. However, there may be many in your audience who may have seen in the Great Commission that the first verb is “go,” and the Holy Spirit may be working in such a way that they see themselves within the collective “you understood.” I have more experience in changing diapers than Greek exegesis , but I think that this is an imperative given by Christ to His church, and it involves moving from a nucleus of great concentration to lesser concentration, an osmosis, where Christ’s disciples break out into the world with the gospel. In this way, the direction of the stereotypical medieval monk is the opposite of the missionary. Monks isolated themselves in Christian community instead of moving out into the concentric circles of the lesser reached. (Of course, monks also formed formidable missional forces, the Cyril and Methodiuses, the Augustine and Bonifaces, and the “world” often showed up on their doorsteps.) I agree with everything you have written, and I don’t only agree, I love everything you write. And I love you for writing it. All callings are holy not because we are holy, but because the God who calls us is holy, and the decisions of the eternal Council will stand. But please, I would humbly submit that what is needed now at the turning of the tide is a push out into the world of the lost. Okay, Valerie, I am braced and ready.

  • Who, me? I don’t think there’s any reason to brace yourself, because I don’t think there’s any real conflict here. My guess is that Nancy would say something like, “Yay for missions, rah, rah, rah!” She wasn’t dissing missions, just comparing out-of-whack attitudes toward missions with out-of-whack attitudes toward monkery. Nothing against missions, just something against the notion that obeying God if He calls you to non-missions is something less holy than if He calls you to missions work. And, to take it a step further, there’s nothing less holy about encouraging people to embrace a non-missions calling than there is about encouraging people to embrace a missions calling…provided, of course, that in each case it’s a real calling from God! :-)

  • “provided, of course, that in each case it’s a real calling from God!”–yes, Valerie. And I suspect that might be the real dilemma here.

    I was chatting with a mom at the park the other day about how exhausted she is (and, secondarily, how she hadn’t been “called” to homeschool her kids) because she had been “called” to be the Children’s Minister (capitalized to show Import, naturally) at her church. I asked her how she had discerned all of this “calling” and “not calling” and got a confused stare. I was supposed to play along with the notion that of course there is a hierarchy of holiness to which we all ascribe, and of course ministering to all those children at church has to be higher on the scale than ministering to your own kids. I think it was that same day that I read on a mommy blog about a mom who couldn’t wait for her three kids to get back to school, because she felt terrible that she hadn’t been able to “do any real ministry” in the summer months that she had them at home. Although I also recognize that this can get flipped around as well, and we can make ministering to our families so consuming that we are blind (and too exhausted to deal with) the needs of others not directly under our roof. Oh to balance this better! Real change would come, I am certain.

    As to the “go” of the Great Commission mentioned by AAnderson, there are certainly still places where the gospel has not been, but I wonder if it might be equally as important (and much more feasible) for me to “go” a few miles from my home to Rice University or University of Houston or Houston Baptist University (I could keep going) and find students from far flung places who have never heard real truth, or met a person who is earnestly trying to live it out. Not that I currently do this, even though, YES, I believe I am explicitly called to do so.

    I love how the posts (and thought-provoking comments) here always seem to dovetail with issues already floating around in my (rather scrambled) thoughts. This blog is definitely a tool of discipleship. Thanks for being faithful.

  • Thank you for the perfect dose of encouragement today, Nancy! Seeing the diapers and dishes as holy work certainly motivates me to march cheerfully onward! (And I loved Valerie’s quotes. Thank you for posting those. It’s like you ladies knew exactly what I needed to hear!)

  • @AAnderson, I was thinking something along the same lines as Patti, namely that mission fields don’t just exist abroad.

    I think we should have a missional focus wherever God happens to put us…we need Christians to share the gospel in Africa, certainly, but we also need Christians who can shine light in college, at the grocery store, in the office, at the playground, in the dentist’s chair, and so on.

    The body of Christ is made up of such a diverse group of people with a diverse group of gifts, it would be surprising if we were all called to missions as a full-time vocation (as opposed to being missional in some other vocation).

    Of course, maybe that’s what you were saying-that wherever God puts us, we should be looking for opportunities to reach a lost and dying world.

  • Great reminder! I know we can so often look at others and say they are fulfilling God’s call while we sit at home with our kids. But God has called us to the greatest tasks as mothers. I need to remember that!
    Thanks!

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