Recently, during one of our discernment sessions, someone asked:
“Can you tell me what’s the difference between a job and a ministry?”
I’m going to dedicate this blog to this question, because we have encountered this question quite a few times. I’m going to highlight some of the differences from five different angles: motive or reason, purpose, drive, competency, and contemplation.
Motive or Reason
Many people would think that the difference between a job and ministry is whether it is a paid or an unpaid one. In reality though, ministry has nothing to do with money. Ministry is a call. The Encyclopedia of Christianity defines ministry as “carrying forth Christ’s mission in the world.” Each Christian is called to know God, love God, and serve God by glorifying God through our lives. Through our baptismal call, we are called to share God’s love in everything we say and do.
If we want to play with words, one could say that every job can be a ministry, but no ministry is ‘just’ a job. In short, if you do something because it needs to be done, that’s a job. However, if you do it because you feel called or compelled by God to do it, then God is calling and missioning you to share God’s love through a specific task, and therefore, it’s a ministry.
In many jobs, employees are driven by goals to satisfy personal interests or needs or driven by comparing themselves to their peers. On the contrary, ministry is driven by the desire to do God’s work. Ministry is about having a heart of service, and it is about living “in a manner worthy of the call we have received.” (Ephesians 4:1)
You need specific skills to apply for a job and need to demonstrate a level of competency to perform a job. However, if God is moving you to fulfill a certain ministry, God will equip you with what you need to carry out God’s mission and to be an instrument of God’s love. We hear this assurance that God will be with us in Philippians 4:19, “God will fully supply whatever you need, in accord with God’s glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
When doing a job, we may just go about doing our work without seeking God’s guidance or prayerfully contemplating what God might want of us. Having a heart of ministry, we are mindful of doing God’s work and seek to be open to God’s ways through prayer and contemplation.
Through the Dominican Lens
Dominicans are called to be Holy Preaching. We praise and bless God, and through our ministry, we help people know God as we let God work in us, with us, and through us.
In this Lenten Season
During each Lenten season, we are reminded that being a vessel of God’s love sometimes means sacrifice and calls us to a deeper faith in the one who created us. Jesus lived his faith by example, through his empathy and compassion for those in need, and through his actions, ultimately, giving his life in sacrifice for the sins of the world.
I offer you two questions about Jesus’ life for your reflection:
- What is in Jesus’ example are you called to follow or share with others?
- At this very time, what does the life of Jesus compel you to do?
If you are discerning God’s call to religious life and would like to explore a week of ministry to others, we are offering a “Mission for Peace” experience June 22-27, 2022. Click here for more information.