Instead of Becoming a Pastor, I Minister as a Plumber

While praying and turning wrenches, I discovered a rich Christian life.

Ten years ago, I found myself at a vocational fork in the road.

I had spent years praying and dreaming about pastoring a church—studying theology, writing sermons, visiting hospitals, and interceding with folks toward this goal.

But like many millennials, I was tight on cash. With a growing family, I had to think frankly about the feasibility of seminary, how little money I’d make as a pastor, and how very little progress I felt I’d made in the Christian life. How was I to lead others down a path I had yet to travel?

A pastor at the church I was attending, knowing I was looking for a job, suggested I connect with one of the congregants who owned a plumbing company.

With the possibility of a job that didn’t require an advanced degree and could immediately provide security for my family, I chose to pursue plumbing with a prayer: God, make me the kind of person who can one day be a pastor in your church.

A decade later, I’m still plumbing. It turns out that work, manual labor in particular, had been sitting right under my nose as perhaps the most direct route to learning the skills needed by those who desire to lead the church. I suspect I’m not alone. Any of us can become better at following Jesus by focusing on the demands and spiritual realities of our work. Rightly understood, work is the training ground where good Christians are made.

How does work make us better Christians? How can we “redeem the time” we spend laboring?

If the Christian life can be summed up as being made “partakers of the divine nature” in and through Christ (2 Pet. 1:4, ESV), then I think it could also be said that the core activity of the Christian is prayer.

As defined by one 19th-century Church …

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