Paul Anthes wanted to be a successful businessperson first and a Christ-follower second. He was worried that if he surrendered to God fully, he wouldn't be successful in the marketplace, so he kept marketplace success first.
“It was scary for me to give that up,” Anthes said. “But I now understand that the order of those two things is absolutely essential.”*
An entrepreneur, Anthes was just learning how to really integrate his faith and work. He took a class at his church that helped him start to think of himself differently. The teachers had attendees repeat the phrase, “I am a minister,” over and over.
“I’ll be honest, it felt weird for me as a lay person to say that,” said Anthes. “But then I began to see the truth in that statement. I don’t get a paycheck from a church, but I’m in full-time Christian service, because I’m influencing the world around me for Christ full time. It’s not a part-time Sunday thing for me anymore.”
Anthes is an example of millions of Christians who are awakening to their sense of calling. Pastors and missionaries are surely called to something special and unique. But that doesn’t mean those in other walks of life, often called “lay persons,” are not also called.
Yaremi Alicea, global marketing director for a research company, recalls a time when she felt that call on her heart when a woman who didn’t know her prayed over her: “God is anointing you for a job he is putting in your hands in the marketplace.” Stunned by specific details the woman proceeded to pray about, Alicea experienced a special and unique, personal calling. “God really blessed me and helped reconfirm my calling and anointed me for the career he was tailoring for me.”
In what seems like a lifetime ago for him at a Wesleyan youth conference in Urbana, Illinois, Phillip Farrell, scientist for the Canadian Department of National Defence, had a similar experience. “At the conference, they presented the opportunity for living a holy life and being sanctified,” Farrell said. “I made a commitment to holy living, which I took very seriously. At that time, I surrendered everything to the Lord, and he gave me his heart for people in the marketplace.”
We can each examine the circle of influence we have that others do not, no matter how small. We can each ask what God is calling us to in the same way he called those named above.
Estherlita Griffiths is an information technology and project management consultant based in Calgary, Canada. Some Christians find it difficult to know how to share their faith, but for her it has become a simple matter of transparency. “I am merely sharing what is important to me, what is a part of me and essentially who I am.” Griffiths wondered aloud how strange it would be “if someone had worked with me for years, only to find out that my faith had been a huge part of my life upon attending my funeral.”
A calm confidence can come from believing God has placed you where you are for a reason. Rochelle Jenkins, a nurse in Indianapolis, Indiana, pointed out: “Trust the people God has placed around you. Pray you are given eyes to understand their lives. The first and easiest way to get started is to just interact. It really starts with ‘Hey, what’s going on in your life?’” Jenkins built relationships in a way that birthed a new microchurch with no startup funds or much fanfare but with deep relational connections between people in the medical professions and their family members.
“I am actually paid for my work [in the hospital] in a way that facilitates ministry, even though the church doesn’t pay me,” said Jenkins. “So, it’s a way to plant a church in a marketplace-connected setting, in a neighborhood and authentically cultivate community. I suppose the only cost for our church is baking some cookies for our meeting.”
Carrie Whitcher began to think of herself as a “multiplier” in her role as a healthcare insurance executive in western New York. “In my capacity, I can equip Christians to influence their workplace and integrate their faith by making disciples and unleashing the kingdom of God, wherever they are.”
For those who do have a leadership position in the workplace, this impact can be seen as an extension of their Christian leadership values. Julia Pyle, chief operating officer for a hospital in Kansas, puts a special emphasis on how leaders in the marketplace can empower those around them. “As leaders in the marketplace, we can be hero-makers. That isn’t just good business; it’s multiplying the kingdom of God.”
But, of course, it’s not just those who think of themselves as leaders or who have hundreds of people reporting to them like Pyle. Whitcher makes it clear such influence is not just for elite Christians or those that have some special training, degree or status: “Any Christian can do this in whatever career or areas of influence they are led into.
I have no doubt that God is always at work where we work, so we serve the higher interest of the kingdom while leading with excellence in the marketplace.”
So, on what street has God put you? What apartment building? To what job do you go? With what family members and children has God blessed you? Over what group do you have influence? What career have you chosen?
What would it look like for you to multiply the kingdom in those places more intentionally? You don’t have be overwhelmed with something too big — just start small. How could you be a multiplier in the coming year where you do life?
*Quotations from “Marketplace Multipliers: Stories of Faith and Influence in the Workplace” with David Drury, 2021, used by the permission of Wesleyan Publishing House: Fishers, Indiana.