Christian Business

Marketplace Ministry

Before Jesus called each of his disciples to join Him in full-time ministry, they all had professions they were active in.

Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishermen.

Matthew was a tax collector.

Luke was a doctor.

And though not all of them have their occupations referenced in Scripture, we can presume that they were certainly engaged in some activity to sustain their livelihood.  

The first disciples called were Peter and Andrew, followed by James and John.

Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee. He saw two brothers. They were Simon (his other name was Peter) and Andrew, his brother. They were putting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, “Follow Me. I will make you fish for men!” At once they left their nets and followed Him.

Going from there, Jesus saw two other brothers. They were James and John, the sons of Zebedee. They were sitting in a boat with their father, mending their nets. Jesus called them. At once they left the boat and their father and followed Jesus.

~ Matthew 4:18-22 NLV

The disciples literally had to leave their occupations (and life as they knew it) behind in order to follow Christ. When it comes to present day ministry, there are those who are called to full time ministry. For some, they never go through the marketplace and their path from the word go leads them into full-time ministry. For others, they may be trained in a particular professional field and even practice in it for some time, before the nature of their calling requires them to cease actively practicing their profession.

Why God would allow someone to start a career only to have them quit it down the road varies. Sometimes it could be that they weren’t believers (or serious in their faith) when they started and when they do get closer to God, He redirects them. It could serve as part of their preparation process for ministry. It could also be that He intends to use the skills and experiences they gain during their time in the marketplace as they do ministry. Whatever the case, God isn’t going to waste the time spent in the marketplace when the transition into ministry finally happens. So should you find yourself in this position, please heed the call of God. There’s nothing worse than trying to function in a place when the grace of God has lifted from you.

The second category of present day ministry is where a vast majority of people fall – and it’s one that’s far less understood. It’s what I call marketplace ministry. We talk about evangelism in the workplace a lot. But what does it actually mean for what you do in the marketplace to simultaneously be your ministry?

We must let go of our nets.

When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, they had to let go of their nets to follow Him. As fishermen, their nets were their tools of trade. Arguably the most important ones.

When Jesus called Peter and Andrew, they had to let go of their nets to follow Him. As fishermen, their nets were their tools of trade. Arguably the most important ones.

In the context of marketplace ministry, what we need to let go of are the mindsets and expectations we have of our careers. This is all the more so because for many of us, our education in preparation for our professions gave us a worldly view of our fields, not a Godly one. It’s why we struggle so much trying to figure out where God fits into our careers. We were never trained to have Him there to begin with.

We must leave people (and their expectations of us) behind.

John and James didn’t just leave their boat behind, they also left their father. Theirs was a family venture and it’s likely that their father expected his sons to grow the business with him. Their implications of their choice could not have been easy for father or sons.

Careers are largely driven by expectation – what we and others think they should look like. Others could be those close to us like family, friends and colleagues. They could also be complete strangers who we’re trying to impress because we’ve been brought up to believe that we must have “a name” in society, and in our professional field.

Surrendering your profession to God for ministry will not look like what anyone – even you – expects. This is a reality we need to continually make peace with especially when He requires us to say and do things that go against the grain of what others expect of us.

We must follow Jesus.

It’s not enough for us to get to the door of salvation and then camp there for the rest of our lives. We need to enter into the life God purposed for us to have in salvation. There is an active, daily pursuit of Christ we require. It means getting out of what we’re comfortable with and following Him into the unknowns of life, and in this case, the marketplace.

Following Jesus will mean doing things very differently from the world around us. A classic Biblical example is that of Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah who were given the names Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego.

These four Israelite men were in exile in Babylon and Babylon wasted no time trying to conform them into Babylonians. Names denote identity. In the same way Babylon tried to define these men by giving them new names, worldly marketplace systems will try to conform us to what they stand for by telling us who we should be. But you need to realize that before you stepped a foot into that office, and even before your first day of school for that course, God had already given you a name in so far as your profession is concerned.

Following Jesus isn’t about getting an identity that isn’t in existence yet. It’s a journey of discovery to who He has already called us to be.

The Babylonians also tried to feed the four men special food and drink which they declined and instead chose a diet that left them healthier and better nourished than everyone else. What we consume in the marketplace and about the marketplace will make or break us. If you take time to read Scripture with the Holy Spirit, you’ll be shocked just how much the Bible has to say about the marketplace. The testimonies are there just waiting to be discovered.

Additionally, there are things in and about the marketplace that are good but not necessarily beneficial for us and we shouldn’t spend too much time on them, if any at all.

There is no one-diet-suits-all for the marketplace. If anything, there are seasons of our work life that will require a change in diet. As an individual, you need to journey with God consistently to know what you need to consume in every season.

How do you know if you’re on the right path?

It shows. Here’s how.

We must become “fishers of men”.

Jesus sets standards for us that become the new nets with which we can catch men so to speak. Our standards cannot be the same as those of unbelievers. Neither can our fruit or results.

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were found to be 10 times better than anyone in the king’s service in the entire kingdom. It wasn’t what they said of themselves – it’s what the king himself found to be true about them. The days of Christians being known for their empty talk and mediocre work need to end. We are called to excellence that is far beyond even what the world considers success.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Jesus rephrased what Peter and Andrew did for a living (fishermen) to describe what He wanted them to become (fishers of men). God takes the professional tools at our disposal and shows us how to use them for His glory.

“God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”

~ John Piper

I’m yet to meet one person in the marketplace who isn’t looking for some level of satisfaction. So much so, that we’re driven to take all sorts of steps and make all forms of sacrifice for the possibility of satisfaction. Ironically, the marketplace has become synonymous with having to do much more for much less.

Following Jesus in the marketplace means denying ourselves of fleeting pleasures so that we can find a much deeper satisfaction that is guaranteed. One that isn’t upended by the volatility of life. Know that anything you strive to gain in the marketplace, you will have to strive to keep. But anything you receive from God, He will sustain on your behalf. Therein, lies the rest we find in leaving our nets behind.

Much later on, Jesus would have another significant encounter with Peter; where He asks Peter who he considers Him to be. Peter’s response is his revelation of Christ – as the Anointed One who is the Son of God. On this revelation, Jesus stated, He would build His church.

The church was to be built on a revelation described by a fisherman who had become a fisher of men. I believe God is still in the business of using “fishermen” who know who He is to build His church by becoming “fishers of men”.

Question is – will you follow Him?

7 Nations, Christian Business

The Gate Of Life Givers

This gate is centered on those who deal with the business of life – both physical and spiritual. Many of them fall in the five-fold ministries (apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers & evangelists), the medical profession and those who play a critical supporting role to them.

“We’re travelers here,

Only passing through,

And every breath we breathe is coming back to you.

We’re strangers here,

I know it’s true,

That death is just a door that leads us home to You.”

– Steffany Gretzinger (All That Lives Forever)

I’ve been thinking about all the things concerning life I could write about.

About those who care for our spirits and souls through ministry and those who care for our souls and bodies through medicine.

And there’s much I could say about these things. It’s likely I will someday.

But the thing we rarely talk about concerning life – the thing we need to talk about – is death.

We don’t think about it unless some misfortune makes its way past our mental comfort barriers and brings it to our attention.

We don’t talk about it unless we awkwardly must.

We don’t deal with it unless we painfully must.

We actively avoid death and all its cohorts like our lives depend on it.

We avoid it perhaps because we’re terrified of it. But our avoidance of it only serves to increase our terror of it. Yet the one guarantee we have in life – is death. Though try we may, it’s inescapable.

For death isn’t the extreme opposite of life as we often think of it.

It’s an integral part of life, more so as believers.

Upon His resurrection, Jesus emerges victorious with two sets of keys – one set is the keys to hell. But the other – is the keys to death. Keys are symbolic of access, power and authority; whoever holds the key, has dominion.

Since Jesus has the keys to death – has dominion over death – we too, His beloved commissioned ones, have the keys and dominion over death.

So why do we still cower in fear of a shadow long defeated?

Shadows abound where light fails to shine bright.

We need to shine the light of truth on the shadow of death.

“From the fruit of a man’s mouth his stomach is satisfied; he is satisfied by the yield of his lips. Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.”

– Proverbs 18:20-21 ESV

We greatly underestimate the power of our speech and our silence when in truth we have power over life and death. Consider for a moment, the words you’ve spoken/written thus far today and the impact they’ve had on the people and/or situations that received them. Consider your moments of silence and the impact of the same. You wield more power in your tongue than you give yourself credit for. Remember – you’re made in the image of a Creator who spoke the world into existence.

The most common understanding of death is physical demise. Most of us have experienced this in some measure through the loss of a loved one. All of us will experience this someday when our time on earth is done.

Our view of life on earth lends to our view of death. Do we consider our lives on earth as the highlight reel of all we’ll ever get to experience as human beings or just one of many beautiful frames of our eternal existence? If we really do believe in eternal life aka life after death, then we must ask ourselves why we treat death as though it is the utter end and has the final say on our lives.

Just as birth is the door that leads us from eternity into time (on earth), death is the door that leads us out of time back into eternity. It is nothing more than a point of transition from one form of existence to another.

The other form of death is spiritual – lack of fruitfulness and vitality in an area of our lives. This can be caused by a variety of things in the present – ignorance, choices made by you, choices made by others that affect you, etc – or in the past – it’s not just the good stuff that is passed down generations. Decisions and decrees from somewhere along your lineage can bind you in the present day.

Spiritual death is like cancer. Though it begins in one area of your life, it doesn’t remain there. Unless contained and addressed, it spreads far and wide like a ravaging wild fire. So what may have started as an issue of bitterness and anger can end up as financial ruin.

“For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace….For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

 –  Romans 8:5,6,13 ESV

Sometimes death is necessary.

There are things in us that need to die.

There are things in those we love that need to die.

There are things in those and that which God has placed in our stewardship that need to die.

There are things in our collective lives that need to die.

They need to die that we might live.

We need to let them die – decree death over them and bury them if we must – that we may live.

We can’t afford to have a place in our lives for anything that causes us to not live in the abundance God desires for us.

This is a difficult trade-off for many because the choice is often not between good and bad/evil but between good and God; between what you think will work for you and what God knows for sure will work better. It comes down to a question of whether you trust yourself or God more.

Understanding death in whatever measure – big or small – doesn’t take away the reality of loss and the need to grieve. That Jesus wept for Lazarus even knowing full well he would rise again should give us pause. We need to let people grieve. We need to let ourselves grieve. Whatever shape or form it takes in the presence of God, we need to go through the journey of loss and letting go.

We need to go through it, but we cannot afford to build a permanent dwelling place in it. For it would mean that we have given death permission to define our lives in a way it was never meant to. Our grief must always be undergirded by the truth of who God still is us and who we still are in Him even in death.

As with everything under the sun, death has its time and season. It has its place.

If we are in tune with the heart and mind of God, then we will know when it is time for life and when it is time for death. We will know when to speak life and when to decree death. We will know when to lay dry bones to rest and when to command them to live again. We will know when to disregard pronouncements of life full of good intention but devoid of God’s purpose for any promise of life outside His presence can only result in ultimate death devoid of purpose; and we will know when to stop death in its tracks when it is spoken over us by broken people who don’t know any better.

“Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness….Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.”

– Matthew 10: 1, 8 ESV

I believe this call is as relevant today as it was then. The same Jesus who called the twelve calls on us today. The same Spirit who found a dwelling place among men and women during the Pentecost and enabled them to do the work Christ had set for them dwells in us to help us do the same.

If you knew with every fibre of your being that you carried the power of life and death in you, how would you live your life?

Go live that way.

Because you do.

Niyi Morakinyo’s book – The 7 Professional Nations: Reconciling Them Back To God – is the genesis of the categorization of the 7 gates as I’m writing about them.  I highly recommend it for anyone looking to be fruitful for the Kingdom of God. You can download it from the Joshua Generation Trust website as a free resource. Just click here. 🙂