"Can one be on fire for God and still have a secular job? Or has the Lord called only full-time Christian workers?"
"Do you know that all Christians are called to be leaders and shepherds?"
Answers to these and other similar questions are given here (from "hands-on" experience) by Sanjay Poonen - an MBA topper from Harvard Business School and currently a senior executive in a large software company.
First, some questions…
- Can one be on fire for God and still have a secular job? Or has the Lord called only full-time Christian workers?
- Can you have a career at a corporate job?
- What do you do when the Lord first gives you your first paycheck?
- Do you know that all Christians are called to be leaders and shepherds? Is your life a compartmentalized spiritual vs. professional life?
- Are you a friend of Christ on Sunday, and a friend of the world the rest of the week?
I. Leaders are Shepherds
- Matt 9:36: “Seeing the people Jesus felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd”
- Zech 10:2: They are seeking all kinds of impure advice, from psychologists or false preachers (modern day diviners)
- Zech 11:17: Or the Lord has given them a shepherd’s responsibility and they shun it
- John 10:12: “The Good Shepherd puts the sheep before himself, sacrifices himself if necessary. A hired man is not a real shepherd. The sheep mean nothing to him. He sees a wolf coming and he runs away, leaving the sheep to be ravaged by the wolf. The sheep don’t matter to him”
VALUES, GOALS, DECISIONS
II. My Values
1. My life on earth is like vapor; I am a citizen of heaven
You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and vanishes away (Jam 4:13-15)
For many walk… whose god is their appetite, whose glory is their shame, whose end is destruction…But our citizenship is in heaven… (Phil 3:19-20)
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation a people for God’s own possession…I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul… (1 Pet 2:9-12)
2. I will work hard in everything that I do. If the Lord grants me success, I will fall on my knees in humility, praying for grace to be faithful
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men… (Col 3:23)
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, attend to your own business and work with your hands… (1 Thes 4:11)
All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE… humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time… (1 Pet 5:5)
3. I will be a light on a hill, salt in the food, keeping my Christian behavior excellent, so others can glorify God
You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men… You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven… (Matt 5:13-16)
Unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven… (Matt 5:20)
4. I will be open to the direction of the Holy Spirit wherever it might lead, whatever it leads me to speak and act
But the Helper, the Holy Spirit will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you… (John 14:26)
Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort, with patience and instruction… (2 Tim 4:2)
Note: For some of these Values, see also the website of Pat Gelsinger where some of these values were inspired from
5. I will be generous with the seed the Lord has given me
Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God…(2 Cor 9:10-11)
The purpose of tithing: to always put God first (Duet 14:22,23)
Give cheerfully: God loves a cheerful giver… (2 Cor 9:7);
Give everything: none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions… (Luke 14:33)
6. I will do nothing out of selfish ambition
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing… (James 3:14-16)
Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him, for we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done… (2 Cor 5:9-10)
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you… (1 Thes 4:11)
7. I will be a servant-leader. I will not seek my own glory, instead I will seek to honor God and praise / encourage / improve those around me, above me, beneath me.
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross… (Phil 2:3-9)
We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone… (1 Thes 5:14)
Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… (Rom 15:5-6)
8. I will be careful with all my words and actions.
If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, his religion is worthless…(James 1:26)
Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of judgment…(1 Pet 2:12)
9. I will seek the counsel of others frequently. I will make the godly my heroes
Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail; take good counsel and watch them succeed… (Prov 15:22)
I will make the godly my heroes and invite them to my home…(Psalm 101:6)
10. I will be on fire for God, seeking to be a change agent, not satisfied with the status quo
I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man's foundation… (Rom 15:20)
I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth… (Rev 3:15-16)
I enjoy being with such people, because I want to show them that there's a wonderful life in Christ that we can lead (amidst all these other interests), that can increase our usefulness and joy - because it would be a life of submission to our Creator. I want to show those around me that a life lived in submission to a loving heavenly Father, is a very wonderful life indeed.
III. What are your Values
- What top 5 values do you stand for?
- Can you live by godly Christian values at your workplace, whether you are successful by earthly standards or not?
- What do you want to pray before the Lord that He will help you change in 2008?
IV. Goals: What are they?
1 Cor 9 : 27
I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
2 Tim 4 : 8
In the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing
James 1 : 12
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
1 Peter 1: 6-7
In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ
I believe that we were created to work hard on this earth ("to earn our bread by perspiring" Gen 3:19). As Christians, God doesn't give us an easy way out of this, where we can just sit around doing nothing. No. We have to work hard just like the others around us. But we are also to find fulfillment and satisfaction in our work - as we put our "work" in its proper place.
V. What are your Goals
What should a Christian’s goals be?
- Seek FIRST the kingdom of God
- Make Jesus LORD of our lives
- Carry me higher, Lord (NOT in the corporate world) Matt 16:26 "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
- Subject to the Lord, knowing they may be changed
- Your bosses’ heart is in the Lord’s hands Proverbs 21:1 “The kings hearts is like channels of water in the hand of the Lord”
VI. My Goals
I personally believe that God has given me a whole lot of gifts. Here are some of the things that I see that God has given me (I am not proud of these. I am just looking at the facts as they are):
- Make Jesus Lord of my Life - absolutely, continuously
- Make my marriage an example of Scriptural marriages
- Spend quality & quantity time with my family. Train my children, praying they become disciples of Jesus
- Continually be in the Word of God; memorize Scripture as often as possible; be in tune with the Holy Spirit
- Fast and Pray regularly – Eat and Exercise regularly
- Provide generously and liberally to the people of God
- Pray that the Lord will bless our weekly Bible Study
- Always seeking to learn, teach others what I learn
- Do as well in my profession as the Lord allows me to
- Write a book exploring the things God has taught me through my Christian and professional life
VII. Decisions - We are constantly making them
1. Wisdom from above vs. folly of this earth (Jam 3:13-18)
- Pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good deeds, unwavering, without guile
2. Sheep among wolves. Shrewd as serpents, yet gentle as doves (Matt 10:16)
3. Deeds of the flesh vs. Fruits of the Spirit (Gal 5:19-24)
- Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control
VIII. Financial Matters
1. Those who love money go the way of Lot, Gehazi, Balaam, Demas
2. We cannot serve two masters: Luke 16:13
No worker can serve two bosses: He'll either hate the first and love the second. Or adore the first and despise the second. You can't serve both God and the Bank.
3. Voltaire said, “Christians of all denominations are the same when it comes to money”
4. Heaven has been prepared for those who have learnt to put money under their feet on earth.
5. Balance in how we treat money and all earthly assets
- Jesus provided abundance of wine, yet fasted for 40 days.
- Luke 9:58: “"The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."
6. If the Lord has given you much, use it to bless the others
7. Rom 16:11: Priscilla and Aquila opened their house IN ROME to Paul and the church. “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who for my life risked their own necks, to whom not only do I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles; also greet the church that is in their house’
8. Luke 8:1-3: Even women supported Christ
- Mary (called Magdalene), 7 demons had been driven out of her
- Joanna the wife of Cuza, the manager of Herod's household;
- Susanna; and many others.
9. Matt 27: 57-60: Joseph of Arimathea, disciple of Jesus
- Isaiah 53:9: His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death.
NOTE: Please also read Chap 3 of Practical Discipleship by Zac Poonen, for more details on this particular topic
IX. Time and Stress Management
1. What do we do with free-time : Learn from the ant: Prov 6:6-11
You lazy fool, look at an ant. Watch it closely; let it teach you a thing or two. Nobody has to tell it what to do. All summer it stores up food; at harvest it stockpiles provisions. So how long are you going to laze around doing nothing? How long before you get out of bed? A nap here, a nap there, a day off here, a day off there, sit back, take it easy—do you know what comes next? Just this: You can look forward to a dirt-poor life, poverty your permanent houseguest !
2. When under pressure:
We can pray to the God who helped Joseph, Daniel interpret dreams under intense time pressure
3. Matt 11:28-29:
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life.
I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.
Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.
Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."
X. I’d Rather Have Jesus
I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold;
I’d rather be His than have riches untold;
I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands;
I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand
Than to be the king of a vast domain,
Or be held in sin’s dread sway;
I’d rather have Jesus than anything
This world affords today.
I’d rather have Jesus than men’s applause;
I’d rather be faithful to His dear cause;
I’d rather have Jesus than worldwide fame;
I’d rather be true to His holy name
He’s fairer than lilies of rarest bloom;
He’s sweeter than honey from out the comb;
He’s all that my hungering spirit needs;
I’d rather have Jesus and let Him lead
(Rhea F. Miller)