I am often asked how I feel working in the ministry differs from my time working in the corporate world. My first answer is always that I am excited to get out of bed for work which is a wonderful change from the times when I would drag myself out of bed to get ready for work. But I suppose people could attribute that to just having a fresh, new job.
After thinking it over for a while now, I think the key difference to me about working in ministry versus working in corporate is the simplicity of the vision when working in ministry. No matter what ministry you are working in and what your short or long term goals are, you can always tie your vision back to the infallible Word of God. And since the Bible does not contradict itself, you may choose to focus on The Great Commission (as you are going, make disciples of all nations), or the New Commandment (that you love one another as Christ has loved you), or caring for the fatherless and the widows. No matter what your ministry vision is. it always comes back to glorifying God above yourself and honoring and respecting your fellow workers in the Lord.
When I think about the corporate life, now as an outsider, I am absolutely amazed that any work gets done in the corporate world at all. A tremendous amount of energy is expended every day in the simple act of getting people aligned behind a single vision. Add to that the fact that nearly every person has a hidden agenda of making themselves look good, making someone else look bad, or covering up past mistakes and you realize why the corporate life is so quick to wear us down.
Christian author Donald Miller hypothesizes that we are a society obsessed with comparing ourselves to others in order to define our worth as human beings. Nowhere is this more apparent than the working world, where cold hard cash is on the line for those who rank higher on the comparison scale and a life of unemployment awaits those in the bottom 10%.
Now keep in mind that I come from an IT background and IT is already considered at many companies to be a necessary evil that exists to insure everyone gets their email. When your department ranks low on the company food chain, the competition to shine becomes that much more critical to your livelihood. I hope not everyone has the same experience where they work, but judging by the success of corporate mockumentaries like The Office, I imagine everyone goes through similar situations to some degree.
The joy of working in ministry is that not only do we not need to puff up ourselves to be successful in the work we do, it is actually detrimental to do so. It is incredibly freeing to realize you don’t have to ace a presentation to impress your boss or criticize your co-worker’s project to make your project look better (and yes, I am not proud to admit to having done both of these things). When you realize your worth is determined solely by the love God has for you, and that He measured your worth high enough to send His son Jesus to die for you, it is easy to give your best for Him.
If you struggle with self image in any area of your life, especially work or school, remember that God sent His son to free you from the destructive cycle of constantly determining your worth by comparing yourself with others. He defined you as precious in His sight, and that is all you ever need to know.
For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.