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Christians are called to be witnesses at work, authors say

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–God routinely calls Christians to serve him through their vocation — whether that place is in a church, a classroom or a courtroom, according to a pair of new books by two top North American Mission Board leaders.

“Made To Count: Discovering What to Do with Your Life,” released in April by Thomas Nelson Publishers, was written by NAMB President Robert E. “Bob” Reccord and Randy Singer, NAMB’s chief counsel and special assistant. The topic is also covered in a second book marketed as a gift edition — released to coincide with graduation season — titled “Live Your Passion, Tell Your Story, Change Your World: A Challenge to Fulfill Your Calling.”

Reccord and Singer make their point through the stories of individuals from all walks of life — from a port-a-john cleaner to some of the most influential people in the nation — along with illustrations from Scripture.

“You’ll meet lots of incredible people who will share openly and honestly how they discovered God’s plan for making their life count,” the authors write in the introduction.

The stories are linked by eight biblical principles for helping individuals fulfill God’s calling for their lives.

“These principles transcend time, cultures and most notably, occupational pursuits,” they write. “They’re not just applicable to a subculture of ‘professional’ ministers or missionaries, but apply equally to those ‘called’ to the workplace.”

Both authors note that the culture both inside and outside the church has lost the recognition of, as well as the use of, the word “vocation” — a word used more commonly earlier in the nation’s history.

“Deriving from the Latin ‘vocatio,’ it referred to the divine origin of one’s trade and the very fact that ‘work’ was a gift to man from his Creator, not a curse or burden,” Reccord said. “Yet today, one’s work has merely become his/her job, career, or occupation. God has seemed to be removed from everything except vocational ministry and missions in the minds of most. Yet, God has historically placed His people in most all occupations where they can be on mission for Him, reaching those who might never darken the doors of a church.”

Singer and Reccord said their interest in the topic developed independently over a number of years, based in part on their own unique career backgrounds at the intersection of vocational and lay ministry. Singer was a leading trial attorney in Virginia Beach, Va., prior to joining NAMB in 1997, while Reccord took a break from ministry earlier in his career to serve as human resources director for a company in Michigan.

“When we started comparing our experiences and holding those up against the clear principles of Scripture, we found that there was a tremendous dichotomy in what Scripture says and how unintentionally we leave the impressions of the limitations of God’s call,” Reccord said.

Singer added, “Even with the pastors and all the missionaries we have in North America we’re still falling further and further behind in reaching this country for Christ. And it seems like the reason is a lot of Christians don’t sense that their workplace Monday through Friday can be their greatest mission field.”

Reccord said that early in his ministerial career he was impressed by the potential for ministry through the workplace, so he developed a relationship with a local business leader who was also his chairman of deacons.

“I went to him and said, ‘Would you teach me everything you know about leadership?’ And he said, ‘Yes, if you teach me how to be an evangelist in my workplace,’” Reccord said. “… That gave me a tremendous love and respect for very committed Christians in the workplace that wanted to make a difference but had no sense of the fact that they could be called to the workplace just like a pastor could be called to vocational ministry.”

The book’s eight principles center on the concept that God has a unique plan for each person’s life, that He calls each person to ministry in the circumstances He has placed them, and that He will equip each person to do the work to which He has called them. Each of the points are illustrated by the lives of individuals who have discovered the same sense of call in their own lives and made an impact for Christ.

“We researched by interviewing close to 100 people who are making a difference right where they are,” Singer said, “and we especially tried to focus on professions where Christians have largely abandoned the field.”

Those professions include law, politics, entertainment, the news media and corporate leadership.

“There is a tremendous variety in age, gender, racial background, national origin and occupations,” Singer added. “None of that stuff limited us because we wanted to show that God is working in every way conceivable and through every person conceivable.”

Among those profiled are historical figures such as Charles Finney, William Wilberforce and John Newton, as well as former congressman J.C. Watts, journalist Peggy Wehmeyer and Phillip Johnston. Johnston is a leader in the “intelligent design” movement that is making inroads against evolutionary theory. The book also includes access to a free online personality profile and spiritual gifts analysis

Singer noted that the second book, “Live Your Passion, Tell Your Story, Change Your World,” uses many of the same stories in a completely different, more graphical format.

“It weaves the same themes just with some different interviews, different stories and different content,” Singer said. “We also thought it could be a tool for someone in the workplace who wanted to give the book to coworkers. We’ve had some CEOs to call and say, ‘I want to provide this for my employees.’ It can be a great way to witness while observing workplace protocol.”

“Made to Count” and “Live Your Passion, Tell Your Story, Change Your World” are available at LifeWay Christian Stores and other booksellers and at www.lifewaystores.com.

    About the Author

  • James Dotson