Amy Carmichael wrote, “If by doing some work which the undiscerning consider ‘not spiritual work’ I can best help others, and I inwardly rebel, thinking it is the spiritual for which I crave, when in truth it is the interesting and exciting, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
Through interning at the Bible camp where I am now, I have learned that camp ministry is a combination of “spiritual work” and ordinary tasks—an abundance of them—such as cleaning, preparing food, planning, setting up for activities, etc. I generally enjoy this sort of work, but recently found myself disillusioned. Having studied counseling in college, I missed engaging with people, sharing Scripture, and pointing them to Christ on a daily basis. And the familiar lie resurfaced: Ordinary work is less important to God than ministry.
So I began to scheme about what more “spiritual” job God might want me to do with my life after my internship. Sitting in church one Sunday, I realized something: Jesus only spent 3 ½ years of his earthly life in full-time ministry. The other 30 years He spent doing ordinary things. And He was God—the only One who could have perfectly ministered God’s Word 24/7. Maybe my restlessness had less to do with calling and more to do with discontentment.
The real test of our humility and love for God lies in the task before us. Do we tackle that pile of dishes with a grateful heart? Or do we sigh and think of the ways we’d rather serve Him? If we can’t wash a few dishes for the Lord, it’s doubtful that we can do anything else for Him.
Whatever task lies before you, be encouraged. You don’t have to be the next Amy Carmichael or Elisabeth Elliot to walk worthy of the Lord. Just follow Christ’s example. Live completely where you are. Take the trash out. Cook for people. Play with kids. Go to work every day with a smile. Build relationships. Share Christ with the people in your life today. Maybe someday you’ll be a missionary or Christian speaker. Or maybe you’ll always do something unknown and ordinary. Either way, a life of submission is more precious to God than great feats.
Remember, childcare workers: Jesus suffered the little children to come unto him.
Remember, cooks, waitresses, moms: Jesus fed the multitudes.
Remember, doctors and nurses: Jesus healed the sick.
Remember, maids and all you doers-of-laundry: Jesus folded His grave clothes. (This is my mom’s favorite argument for bed-making.)
Remember, construction workers: Jesus was a carpenter.
Remember, caregivers: Jesus washed people’s feet.
“Hence, as a better writer has said, our imitation of God in this life …. must be an imitation of God incarnate: our model is the Jesus, not only of Calvary, but of the workshop, the roads, the crowds, the clamorous demands and surly oppositions, the lack of all peace and privacy, the interruptions. For this, so strangely unlike anything we
can attribute to the Divine life in itself, is apparently not only like, but is, the Divine life operating under human conditions.” -C. S. Lewis