Vocational ministry is based on the idea that Christians should be ministering to those around them and sharing their faith in everything they do – including their occupation. Whether your children grow up to be stay at home parents, neurosurgeons, plumbers or anything in between, they can participate in vocational ministry.
Vocational ministry isn’t new. The Apostle Paul and his companions (Aquila and Priscilla among them) were tent makers. The Bible tells us they worked hard to earn the money for their expenses so they wouldn’t burden anyone. (See 2 Thessalonians 3:8, Acts 18:1-3, Acts 20:33-35 and Philippians 4:14-16)
It’s easy to imagine Paul working Jesus into conversations with his clients or asking them to hear him teach somewhere when he wasn’t working. Likewise, we can imagine Priscilla and Aquila answering their clients questions about Jesus or listening to them talk about their problems and finding ways to serve and teach them.
Your kids can do the same things, no matter which occupation they ultimately choose…if you prepare them. Some Christians have been unknowingly practicing vocational ministry for decades. Like Paul and his friends, they find ways to minister to others and share their faith while on the job. In some cases, it required creativity as they dealt with company restrictions, but somehow they managed.
Others have left Jesus in the church building, perhaps picking him up for an occasional conversation on their days off with someone, or participating on a short term mission trip or service activity with their church.
God means for us to be more like Paul, Priscilla, Aquila and ultimately Jesus himself. He wants you and your kids to minister to others and share your faith at every possible opportunity at school, work or during your free time.
Your kids will be more likely to have a personal vocational ministry if you have lots of discussions about it now. What careers interest them? How could they serve others and share their faith on the job? What restrictions does that career track place on talking about God at work? How can they still serve others and share their faith in spite of restrictions? (Note: Most companies just don’t want anyone spending work time teaching people about God or bothering people who aren’t interested. They have no restrictions on break times like lunch, after work, for voluntary participation or for conversations that don’t take place in company facilities. Others have no limitations at all.)
It’s also important you model vocational ministry to your children. Talk about the ways God gave you to serve people at work and/or share your faith when you get home each day. If you haven’t been doing those things, you can start now.
Finally, encourage your kids to start practicing vocational ministry now – at school and extra curricular activities. Talk about some things they can do or say. Make part of your end of day reflection talking about the ways each of you served others and shared your faith, as well as the opportunities you didn’t take advantage of. Why did you pass on the opportunity? What could you do differently next time?
It’s fine if you all learn about and begin practicing vocational ministry together. As you learn and grow, you will be reflecting God’s love, meeting the needs of those around you and sharing the Gospel message with others. And those are always great things for families to do together!