…Career Third

businessWhatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men
Colossians 3:23

This is the third post in a three part series. Read God first, family second if you have not read them yet.

Now, we have come to the last third of the mantra my mom used to say to me as a kid. God first, family second, and career third. My greatest concern here is for the seminary student, and by extension, the minister. How do you balance career third with God first when your “career” is God? I have been in the ministry for 4+ years and have time and again found this to be a difficulty.

This post is not a how to because I have no idea how to do this. This post is not a this is what I have learned–other than this balance is very difficult to maintain! What this post is is a warning to everyone that it is very easy to allow your “career” in ministry or serving God to become an idol and actually subvert God Himself…all in the name of Christian ministry!

The previous two posts, God first, family secondbus, were my thoughts on how to keep these in proper perspective. Because I have personally yet to figure out how to deal with this third aspect, I (and I can only assume others) would love to hear how you have maintained a balanced approach to keeping your ministerial “career” in check and beneath your loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength. I humbly submit to you that I have failed numerous times and would love to hear from you.

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Written by
Terry Delaney
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  • I’ve gotten better with this balance than I was a few years ago, although I won’t claim to have it all together, either.

    I think career third really has to do with our perspective on work. Firstly, every job, whether a church staff position or not, is ministry, if we have proper perspective. So just because a person works at the church doesn’t mean they get an exception on career third.

    I think the easiest way to think about career third is probably to look at the great commandment in Mark 12:28-33. Love God and love your neighbor FIRST, this is more important than the burnt offerings and sacrifices, the things that God commanded us to DO. Relationships come first, tasks second.

    I think it means leaving things undone or being willing to ask for help from a brother or sister in Christ, because you have to first spend time with God or your family, or someone in your church needs you more at the moment. I think it means sometimes agreeing to work for less money, or not take that promotion, or make that move, because your relationships with God and family will suffer too great a cost.

    It means realizing that we aren’t perfect and we can’t do it all, only God can, and having that attitude in relationship to whatever we’ve been called to do.

  • Terry, I do not know how to answer that question for two reasons. 1) When I was in vocational ministry, I was single and not in seminary 2) I am getting ready to graduate next year and Lord willing find a place in vocational ministry and possibly continue post-graduate work. I did respond to a post a year or so ago regarding balance and for me it was making sure that I was home every evening for dinner not matter what and a few other things. Here is a link to that post:

    I have made a few changes since that point. I think the biggest obstacle that I face is that I have to punch a clock at work. If I was task based like most ministers I think I could do better at this, but as always it is a work in progress!

Written by Terry Delaney