Occupy Vocationally: Occupy Your Occupation

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How did you end up doing what you do for a living?

Today we want to look at the final F we must occupy, which is our Field or career, as we talk about Occupying Vocationally. Turn with me in your bibles to a passage that has become quite familiar to us over the last four weeks… READ Luke 19:11-27

Traditionally, many Christians have had the mistaken belief that the ‘spiritual’ aspect of life is of more interest to God than the ‘secular’, and that those who are in the marketplace have a secondary role of supporting those who are in the frontline of what God is doing; what we refer to as ‘full-time ministry’.

The ‘secular world’ is seen as evil and church is a place where people come to clean up after being contaminated the whole week. This is similar to the view of the Jews at the time of Jesus, who tolerated their day-to-day work activities and focused on getting spiritually ready for the coming Messiah. They separated themselves from this ‘evil world’ and practiced their religion, not realizing that they ALSO had a critical responsibility to carry out on earth. That’s why Jesus told them this parable.

You see, your work matters to God! Many Christians today know for sure that God is concerned about their prayer life, about their church attendance, about their reading the Bible and about their giving. If you ask them what they need to do to grow spiritually, chances are that they will probably mention one of these areas. But they are totally unaware that God is just as interested in their Mon-Sat job as a marketer or as a banker or as a sales rep or as a teacher or student as he is interested in their worship on Sunday.

If you read the bible, you will see that God used a lot of people who were not in so called ‘full-time ministry’. Abraham and Isaac were ranchers, Nehemiah and Daniel were government officials, Joshua and Samson were army men, David was a musician who became king, Solomon was a king who became a philosopher, Esther was a beauty queen, Saul was an academic, Priscilla & Aquila were manufacturers. The list goes on and on!

These were ordinary people who lived out their calling in various professions. God used them within their vocation to accomplish his purpose. What am I saying? That my current work assignment is a resource God has given me to help me achieve His purpose. In other words, my job is God’s assignment!

In the story, 10 servants were each given the same amount with the same instruction; ‘put this money to work until I come back’ or ‘occupy until I return’. This was a subversive task! The very people they were trading with did not want them to succeed because their success would ultimately make it easier for their master to come back and take power. Their success would lead to an overthrow of the way things were. And so they would have to be subtle and wise in how they carried out their work.

Many of us work in an environment that is hostile to God’s purposes. Our workplaces are characterized by corruption or spite or injustice or office politics or indifference or frictional relationships. Even those who go to work for Christian organizations are often surprised to find themselves confronted by the very same things. Like the servants in the story, extending God’s influence in your workplace often means undermining the current order of things.

You need to understand that for you to occupy means to partner with God to overthrow the way things are and to institute the new order of God’s kingdom. What am I saying? Occupy in your workplace – wherever God has planted you! It’s time to get God actively involved in your place of work, in the season when He has you there. This is not an easy task!

You will need God’s wisdom to know when to be subtle and when to confront issues head on. But know that the One who has assigned you there will hold you accountable for the opportunities he has brought your way. My job is God’s assignment!

A gospel that is primarily about ‘spiritual things’ cannot occupy or change the world. It is an incomplete gospel. What does it mean to run a business with integrity in a corrupt environment? What does it mean to pay your employees fairly when the competition isn’t? How can you afford to tithe your company profits when others are reinvesting and moving ahead? How can you turn down lucrative contracts or job offers because they are not consistent with your faith, while your competitors have no such scruples? How can you be a blessing to your colleagues in a work culture where everyone tears the others down?

This is where the rubber meets the road! How many know it’s not that hard to be a Christian around Christians for 2 hours in church on a Sunday! However if you can relevantly and attractively apply your faith in the marketplace and spread God’s influence where others don’t share your values, then you’re occupying by demonstrating the power of a faith that actually works! My job is God’s assignment!

I believe that God is calling the church of our generation to not to just tolerate the ‘secular’ world but to infiltrate it and to extend his influence in the workplace. We will not see a true turnaround of this continent unless we are actively involved as God’s agents in the world. It’s interesting that we often refer to our jobs by using the same word we’re discussing here – occupation! What I’m saying today is ‘OCCUPY YOUR OCCUPATION!’ My job is God’s assignment!

How would your workplace change if you really believed that Jesus was your true boss or your managing partner and what you’re doing there is his assignment? One of the changes I suspect for many of us is that our Quiet Time might move from being a dry routine to being a vital briefing before you can successfully engage in your day! I suspect that some would begin to pray over your business results and lay hands on any proposal or contract that came out of your office!

I suspect some would come early to the office to pray over it as the pastor of that office so that what happens there glorifies God. I also suspect that many more would prioritize this training tool called the marathon, not as something to do when things are convenient but as an essential ongoing training that equips us to live out God’s purpose successfully in whatever assignment God has called us to.

In v.17, the master said ‘Well done, excellent bond servant! Because you have been faithful and trustworthy in a very little [thing], you shall have authority over ten cities’. This tells me that all along, the master had much bigger plans for his servants. The responsibilities he assigned were meant to prepare them to rule on his behalf. You see when God looks at you, he doesn’t see you as the world sees you; and often, He doesn’t even see you as you see yourself.

Instead, He sees a son/daughter of the king, just waiting to be unleashed to change the world. He sees someone He has entrusted with potential to manage great opportunities and resources. He sees a governor-in-waiting who will one day rule on his behalf. Your current job is part of the preparation process He has designed for you to prepare you for that destiny. My job is God’s assignment!

Ultimately, our purpose on earth, no matter how big and meaningful, is only a preparation for something far greater. For example, Rev.22:5 tells that that God’s servants ‘will rule with him for ever and ever’. Heaven is not a place of retirement but a promotion to greater responsibility! Our present assignment is a dress rehearsal for greater occupation to come.

And so brothers and sisters, remember you are a son/daughter of the king of the universe! It is He who gave you your current posting, not your boss. You must learn to pray and exercise authority there. Whenever you go to your office or your classroom, you need to ask ‘do I see clear evidence that the KOG is here?’ and if the answer is no, then it’s YOUR JOB to establish it! My job is God’s assignment!

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9 Responses to “Occupy Vocationally: Occupy Your Occupation”

  1. Great sermon Pastor M,
    This weekend’s sermon has been what me and my beloved have been struggling with. Before you came to the stage we had been discussing where our career choices are taking us. It’s been a hugely difficult time. We both got discontinued from employment for standing up for the right things at our respective work places and ended up running our own businesses (in areas we are passionate about) our businesses have been struggling to grow financially. God has been sustaining us we are able to meet our obligations but we see in the lives of those around us grow financially while we face challenges and set backs – which is hard to go through. On the other hand God is giving us amazing ideas and concepts and dreams – but the resources to turn those into reality are missing and it is hard to keep holding on.

    God has blessed us with favor but we want to start being a blessing – to others as well as ourselves by giving and not just making it buy.
    We are wondering what are the dreams and ideas for if we can’t build them – we are pulled between the longing to build the things God is speaking to us about and a desire to be able to be financially stable – I mean how long can we continue receiving?

    Around us our friends and family are getting married, buying cars, getting promotions and yet we are here building businesses. The pay cuts we took as we started our own business have been significant – 60% on average and yet God has sustained us; now we want to grow but the means. We have both made pledges to count me in but with our income as it is – we both don’t know where the money is coming from.

    Additionally we want to get married but again we can’t afford it. We are both thinking of abandoning what we have been doing and seeking formal employment again – for financial stability and gain (I know completely in the opposite direction).

    This isn’t just about money Pastor M, the challenges in running your own business the right way are significant and scary.

    The sermon did encourage us to keep trusting in God, however we don’t want to remain in this place we want to shine on behalf of our Father we want to make promises and keep them, we want to be able to bless others, because living like this is scary – what would happen if grace runs out? How long can we keep asking for help?

    P.K

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  2. Gods child Says:

    Pastor M you bolted sense right in. “my job is Gods assignment and I need to consult him in every way and in every step”
    “God is actively involved in my workplace”

    Last year I got terminated from employment twice, and as we speak its been one month since the last one and I’m still hurting. In both instances I stood up and said I’m not having a sexual relationship with anybody and neither am I compromising standards (giving kick-backs). The pain is that in the industry I serve, this is the norm and people grow and make it financially to an extent you look stupid or ill informed or confused when you don’t.

    I got saved last year and the question to many is “when you were in the world you never and now in the kingdom you lack, really Is that God? I’m a single mother to a boy turning two years this month and every time i’m setting my eyes on him I panic and wonder whether I made the right choice to be principled.

    The question I was also asking is whether I quit my career or what but then you answered it soo well – that that’s where I’m needed to make the difference so that women know you don’t have to slip up. Pastor M do you know in the corporate world the slogan is “fire the brain or fire the bottom” and its easier to loose when you fire the brain..In the deep conversations I’m having with God now, I’ve done prayer and fasting, as in I’m on a mission to connect with God.. Is that I may see God in every step and even when I get the job opening I may serve him and impact.

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  3. Anonymous Says:

    I have one of those jobs where when I walk through the door, I must choose integrity. In fact, when I walk out of the door I must also choose integrity. Otherwise, it will be difficult to subscribe to something you don’t practice. Yes you guessed it right – my role is a financial one. But everyday, I must choose integrity. And everyday, I must remember the sermons. Plus everyday, I must remember that He who is in me is greater than He who is in the world.

    So last week I felt like giving up (still do) all together, because when you follow the straight and narrow, it is a dark, long and lonely path. In fact the guys on the crooked and wide path, haul all manner of paraphanelia similar to those David, Joseph and Daniel. You look foolish. To cut the story short, I was so encouraged by the sermon. Particularly the EABL guy who used his position to undermine the could-be order of things.

    My prayer this season is exactly that… that God would enable me in every way to undermine the order of things and establish His kingship. Can somebody say AMEN?? 🙂

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  4. This was an amazing sermon – God had been walking me to this. For a while I wondered how my work fits into the bigger picture. It felt very irrelevant and God had been reminding me of David – that in his shepherding God was preparing him for the bigger task of shepherding Israelites as their king.

    So, I now believe my job is God’s assignment. Practically what does that mean? It means I serve the people I work with. How? In the work / reports I do. It means I mentor the people I work with – that is my service at work. It means that somehow the ones I work with see God in and through the things I do – then it will become my ministry.

    I have been a tenant at this work for so long – no actually worse, I moved into this job and never unpacked, behaved like someone on the move – on transit! Worse than a tenant, so I have a lot of work to do to occupy. Thank you Pst. M for this timely sermon.

    In other news, Freedom Behind Bars will be launching the Mizizi in Prison 2013 season soon – pray with us and you can also come facilitate / understudy….

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  5. @ Want to help – KYM is great!! Please call on 0708989500, we can agree how you can assist.

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  6. Dear Pstr M,
    I was away last Sunday visiting a friend’s church but got to read the sermon online. It got me thinking, I work for a Muslim and my colleagues are quite secular. I feel as though it’s quite hard for me to crack this nut, simply because they follow the ways of the world.
    I just joined Mavuno recently and I must commend the services which are quite awesome and I know that God speaks to me through the sermons.
    Anyway, back to my work-place – to be honest I truly don’t know what to do.I am open to suggestions if you have any.

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    • @ Connie, suggestions…if you have guys who report to you, you could mentor them re just talk to them, figure out where they are art, their plans etc. Everyone – secular or not – likes to be mentored…and in the process you’ll have served them. If you report to someone, purpose to go the extra mile in your work. Again, the quality of your work will be your way of serving them n they will notice it n at some point want to know what’s different bout you. Also pray for your workmates one by one, that The Lord transforms them etc. Ideas…

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