That phrase still perplexes me. It did while I was working in ministry and it still does now. Maybe I’m just naive, but I never saw it as a burden or simply my profession.
I loved it. I loved working with people, even when they drove me nuts or broke my heart. I loved trying to creatively communicate a message. I loved doing life and praying with and for people. I loved how it drove me into the Bible and drove me to my knees all the time. I love who I was able to connect with and learn from.
Was it hard? YES! Was it draining? YES! Was it challenging? YES! Was it painful? YES! Were there days I wanted to give up? YES!
But isn’t that the case in any job or role we have? Aren’t there days a parent wants to give up and not be a parent anymore? Aren’t there days the account executive doesn’t want to answer another question or make another decision? Aren’t there days when a teacher just doesn’t want to show up and listen to the kids scream anymore? Aren’t there times when the retail associate just doesn’t want to deal with another grumpy customer?
But if we call ourselves a “Christ follower” shouldn’t we all be “professional christians”? Aren’t we supposed to be characterized by Christ? Shouldn’t that be how we conduct ourselves?
I know what the people who made that comment were getting at – I wasn’t getting paid to do it anymore. I wasn’t getting “paid to be a christian” anymore. But that has always rubbed me the wrong way. That shouldn’t change our responsibility to living according to the Bible. Getting paid for doing it doesn’t make anyone any better or less susceptible to sin! Pastors don’t get any more strength or less temptation – just look at us!
Yes, I certainly understand that there is more responsibility in some areas. I’m not trying to say that I took my job lightly or that it didn’t matter. I’m trying to say that I should have that same depth of responsibility to God whether I’m paid by a church or at home with Caleb.
Getting paid did provide me more time and opportunities in some ways. And I do miss that. Terribly. I wouldn’t give up one day of it. My heart still aches for what God allowed me to do in my jobs in ministry. It was hard, oh so hard, and painful, but so rewarding. So worth it. So precious.
I want to always be a “professional christian” whether I’m getting paid for it or not. I will probably always be a trainee, but if God is ok with that, then I will try to keep learning.