"Another Viewpoint on Vocational Counseling"

Youthworker - May/June 1998

I used to repeat this credo to student when the were faced with making career choices: "There are headaches and heartaches in ministry, but you know two things--you can do nothing else and what you do pleases God." I wanted to get as many of my students, as possible, interested in becoming youth workers, missionaries, and senior pastors (athough I personally don't understand the last choice).

These days I communicate that God calls a limtied number of people to lead the church, yet I still want all of my students, as believers, to consider vocational ministry as a natural-if not their first-career option.  If we don't encourage our students to listen for God's call into ministry, who will?

Yet as much as they need to be aware of the tremendous responsibilities and accountability involved with being in ministry (1 Timothy 3/ James 3:1), we must acknowledge that it's not intrinsically better than other job options. They should still view whatever careers they choose as God's call on their lives.

A majority of students will probably conclude that God is saying do not enter full time vocational ministry. These students should still view their labor and vocational desires as a true calling into that field. Most growing believers strive to glorify God and to have purpose in living

.  Our students should know that God can be glorified -- and life purpose can be found -- in many vocations, whether it's through preaching on Sundays, changing bed pans, crunching honest numbers, raising children, or cutting hair.  The key is that they see no difference in the value or worth of "the clergy" as opposed to "the laity" (I hate those phrases!)

Paul tells us that whatever we do, we should work at it with all of our heart, and our ultimate supervisor is God not a person (Col. 3:23).  Despite looking, I can not find a biblical principle that tells me God is more pleased with someone who is in full time ministry over someone who is not.  I do, however, find that principle in many of our church traditions, even among those of us who claim to have few or no church traditions.

Despite my changed view of vocational counseling I must confess that I will still be thrilled when a student pursues full-time ministry. However, I desire to be just as thrilled for a student that believes God wants them to be a school teacher, a lawyer, a singer, a farmer, or a dog trainer.  I should treat students vocational choices as equally valid because a more biblical measure of success is not to have a high number of students become Christian workers but to have a high number of students become mature Christians who work!

My new credo would be worded like this: "There are headaches and heartaches in any job, but as a Christian, you still know two things -- you don't have to be in full time ministry and just doing a good job pleases God".