Successful And Unhappy (How Can It Be?)

"Is it because we aren’t living up to our true potential? Or is it because our perspective about work lacks a redemptive and creative—or biblically-shaped—imagination?" - Scott Sauls

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JD Miller's picture

Part of the reason I am in ministry is because I wanted my fulfillment to be in Christ not in my secular work.  I was farming and had hopes and dreams for my future that I realized were more about me than about Christ.  I finally put my head on the steering wheel of the combine (harvesting machine) and committed to using my time and talents for Christ regardless where my work took me- even if it meant giving up the farm I loved. 

Over the next years God allowed more opportunities than I could have imagined to serve in the local church while I remained on the farm.  I even reduced how much I farmed so that I had more time to serve in church.  A lot of that time was spent in "hands on ministry" as we built an addition onto the church.  It was an extremely fulfilling time in my life.  It was also a time to be reminded that ministry was not just pastoral, but could be done with a hammer in my hand.

Eventually I quit farming to prepare for pastoral ministry.  While in Bible college I began to supplement my income with carpentry work.  Once I was ready to go into the pastorate, I was still a carpenter, but had lost contentment with the hammer.  I wanted to "do more for Christ."  Soon I found joy in pastoring a small congregation.  I simply wrote off my discontentment with the hammer as an affirmation on my calling to be a pastor.

Eventually I had the opportunity to plant a new church here in Worthing, SD.  I found out that those past life skills would open doors to the community and also provide for finances as I became a multi-vocational self employed contractor and church planting pastor.  I once again found myself with a hammer in my hand and the hope of being a pastor. 

 Church planting takes time and although I was leading Bible studies I was not yet pastoring in those early days here.  I once again found myself with discontentment with the hammer in my hand.  I poured my heart out to God and finally hit my knees in Dan Paulson's barn.  I was remodeling that barn and it should have been a very fulfilling job, but I was discontent.  I knew I could serve God whether I had a hammer or a Bible in my hand but that message was not reaching my heart.  I suddenly realized that at that time God needed me to serve with a hammer and that I should accept whatever job He gave me.  I thanked the Lord for the work I had and how it was allowing our family to eat and to stay in Worthing so that we could serve Him here.   From that point on, I no longer resented the secular work.  

Eventually the secular business grew and even changed from carpentry to excavating as the farm drainage business grew.  Now when I have a hard day on the business side, I remember that this is just a part of my life and a means to serving God.  It is something I can let go of but it is also something that I can use.  It also helps me trust God through the ups and downs of the business.  In the meantime the business has grown and Southtown Baptist Church is in Worthing, SD. 

The secular work is part of my service to God and is fulfilling.  I no longer resent it.  I think back to how my farming job allowed me to serve in the local church all those years ago and now my job allows me to do the same here as I pastor this small group.   I think back to that time on the farm when service to God in the local church involved a hammer.  My service to God here now involves an excavator.  We need to make sure that we do not make our work more important than God, but we need to be careful not to separate them either.