Note: this post is the second of four of Dr. Chip’s take on a series of conversations he had with businessman Greg Brenneman on Four Divine Truths About Work. We are grateful to Greg for sharing his insights on our podcast! Listen here.
Your job may be more significant than you know. We tend to drift into the mindset that sees work as a necessary evil, requiring drudgery so you can do what you want to do. What if there’s another lens on work, a view of it that can connect work to a larger, grander story no matter what work we do?
In this post, we explore the idea that work is your microphone and stage. Your job is your street address in the world. It is a marker that says, “I am here. This is how I bring value. This is how I contribute.” Greg Brenneman calls your job your God-given platform.
He goes on to say:
Most of us are not called to be preachers or para-church leaders but rather to be leaders in the marketplace or in the home. We would be terrible at doing anything else.
This idea is reinforced by a story from the life of Mother Teresa:
Years ago a man had heard the story of Mother Teresa and her incredible work with the poorest of the poor orphans in Calcutta, India. He was so moved by the work that he sold all of his possessions and left for Calcutta to serve in her ministry. When he got to Calcutta he was not able to meet with Mother Teresa right away so he immediately went to work in her ministry.
Several weeks went by and one day while he was cleaning up after some orphans, Mother Teresa walked into the room. I never met Mother Teresa but I have talked to those who did. Even though she was less than five feet tall, I understand Mother Teresa’s presence completely filled any room. The man told Mother Teresa his story about hearing of her work, selling all his possessions and coming over to serve with her.
Mother Teresa’s response was interesting. She looked at the man and said “I know your story and have been watching your work for the last several weeks. Son, you are terrible at this ministry. God called me to this ministry, to the orphans in Calcutta. Son, you need to go and find your own “‘Calcutta’”.
Your job is your Calcutta–even if it is temporary. Think of it as a divine assignment, your God-given platform to serve the world and point to him. Many of the most famous figures in the Scriptures, did not have spiritual or religious assignments. Daniel and Joseph were Prime ministers of the respective empires of the day. Caleb served as the general and lead fighter of a small army. Jesus chose no professional clergy for his disciples. The largest group was commercial fishermen.
Why are so many of us “down on our platforms?” Why do we suffer from Calcutta envy? We feel guilty that we’re not like Mother Theresa or our Pastor or a missionary or someone “doing good.”
I face this question personally. I served as a pastor of a church for 20 years. That was my platform, my space to serve. Almost 10 years ago, I left and started VOCA, a nonprofit ministry. Three years ago, 2 partners and I started a for-profit business. I don’t preach every week. I am part ministry exec, part coach, and part businessman. Sometimes I wonder if it’s legit, especially the time I spend on the consulting firm. But I don’t need to stay stuck in that space and neither do you.
I was talking with my counselor, Brent, and he asked me what we do–how does it help people, how does it make the world better? I had quick and sincere answers. And then I look at the networks I travel in and the scope of the influence I’m able to have in my current roles. Bottom line: it’s a bigger platform and it’s a partially client-funded platform.
What about you? What might it look like to reframe your work as your platform, your location in the world? An avenue for honoring God by developing and deploying your gifts. A space where you are plunged into a wider web of neighbors (often global neighbors.) A channel through which you can bring value to other people and point them to God in winsome and appropriate ways?
What is your Calcutta and how are you using it?
And if you find it challenging to identify or commit to your Calcutta, hard to find your place in the world of work, check out our coaching programs at VOCA. We have a team of wise and caring professional coaches, standing by to bring clarity and momentum to your career.
This post is the second of four in Dr. Chip’s take on Four Divine Truths About Work. Chip interviewed Businessman Greg Brenneman on this topic. We are grateful to Greg for sharing his insights on our podcast, which you can listen to here. We are also grateful for our donors who make this kind of transformational content possible. Join our funder team here.