For you know how one must imitate us. For we did not act in a disorderly way among you, nor did we eat food received free from anyone. On the contrary, in toil and drudgery, night and day we worked, so as not to burden any of you. 2 Thessalonians 3:7-8
Isn’t it an eye opener?
Paul was doing his missionary visits and work while he was also working to provide for his needs and feed himself. He was not a burden to the flock he was serving. He was serving them not them serving him. He did not eat using their plates. There was no free lunch for the preacher. There was no gratis dinner for the epistle writer. He did not sleep on anybody’s bed. There was no free lodging. There was no sleep over or whatsoever. If Paul has a ministry, his is self-paid. If Paul has a mission, his is self-sustaining. Imagine Paul writing a fund raising letter addressed to himself. He was a full time worker and a full time servant. He worked to gain income. He served for God to gain souls.
I am not saying missionaries should find a secular job to sustain their ministry. What I am stressing is this – you can be a full time missionary even if you are employed full time. This was Paul’s example.
Let’s imitate Paul. You can be a preacher and at the same time go to an office as an accountant. You can serve as a small group leader even as your brain and hands are busy on marketing strategies. You can teach God’s word to the church or community while attending to your job as an engineer. You can be a computer whiz worker in parallel with your service as a music worship leader. Your work and service may be two different things in a sense but can be one in service. You don’t need to give up your lay job, unless there’s a radical call for that, to visit hurting believers. You can keep your work and keep on serving the beleaguered flock. You don’t need to be a burden to others, rather be a burden to yourself.
Two extremes exist; you work full time then serve part time or no time; or you don’t work full time or part time when you serve full time.
Open your eyes. You can work and you can serve. Full time.
He said to them, “…Carry no money bag, no sack, no sandals; and greet no one along the way.” Luke 10: 4
I always pass by this reformed church as I drive to and from work. I have never entered the church. Yet, the church has deeply inspired me by the sign in front of the church. Once, the sign read “Anger is one letter short of danger.” It gave me the conviction to control my temper. The other month the sign presented, “The future comes one day at a time.” It prompted me to thank God who supplies my daily bread. One memorable message the sign carried was “When carrying heavy loads, bend your knees.” It reminded me to kneel and pray. The church sign has no sound system. It has no pulpit. No flares and stage. It just stood. Rain or shine, the sign was always there. Its presence presented the message.
When Jesus sent the seventy two men, He told them not to carry money. He sent them without bags. No sandals were allowed in their mission. No friends are to be asked for help in their ministry. They were tasked to go in unfamiliar territories. Imagine doing this missionary work. Yet, these men brave the mission. All they have was their blessings from Jesus and faith in God. To wherever they were sent, they went there. Their presence presented the message.
These scenarios are very far flung nowadays. If I am going to mission, I want connections and budget. I must have a team with me. I will bring the best administrator. I would bring my bible resources. If there is a mission trip, I have a music ministry with me. The best servants must be chosen to partake in the mission. If available, I would bring audio and video devices for sound system effects. It would also help to have a computer to present my ideas and talks. All these will allow me to present the message.
Jesus calls us to depend in Him, not on the resources we have. He sends us to mission empty handed but heart full of faith. He calls us to be that church sign, maybe to just to stand and let others read our lives. Living signs who will encourage others to live positively in following God. He calls us to be like the seventy two men. Our hands not clasp but open to His leading and mercy. Jesus calls us to an exciting lifetime of mission. He calls us to be there. By His grace, our presence will present the message.