“Zeal for your house will consume me!”
Back in the first of October 2013, in my post, “What do God and Almond Joy have to do with one another?”, I told the story of an extremely powerful experience I had with God. You’d have to re-read the entire post to get somewhat of an appreciation; however, for today, I want to focus on something that I didn’t include in the initial post.
Reading the post, you would see that God brought me to a passage in John 2 with my takeaway being, “don’t turn my father’s house into a marketplace.” While I have seen this verses application over the past couple years, there was another verse that stood out at the time. It was John 2:17 “Zeal for your house will consume me.” Again, I wrestled a bit at the time with the verse, however, wasn’t making the connection of application.
One year later, in late September 2014, I found myself talking with a pastor I’ll leave unnamed at this point. During our conversation, I was telling him the story of unique experiences I was having with God and key scriptures that He’d been using to speak to me; one of which was this whole encounter with John 2. As I completed my story, this pastor said something like the following, “and I’m guessing you’re looking for some discernment on where God’s calling you.” I said, “well, that wasn’t necessarily the purpose of our call, however, if you have something to offer I’m all ears.” Then he said, “I think you’re being called to be a pastor.” To this, I responded, “I think so as well, however, why do you say?”
Over the next few minutes he began to unpack nearly every scriptural reference I’d given in the conversation and how it was in alignment with the calling of a pastor. One particular verse he mentioned that became much more illuminated was John 2:17 “Zeal for your house will consume me.” We discussed it’s application toward the local church and I shared with him how I had been becoming more and more passionate about the local church and her mission.
Yes, over the past 4 years in particular, I have become a passionate student of the local church watching from the sidelines and getting more and more involved in lay leadership opportunities. While I haven’t gone the route of a more traditional bible college degree, I’ve immersed myself in a lot of different self-studies and experiences related too the local church. As a student, I’ve seen that the church is a messy place sometimes and has hurt people. I won’t get into all the details, however, I can say my family is a firsthand example of one’s who’ve been hurt in the past. I’ve heard many of the arguments of how, in particular, the North American church has lost her way. I’ve come under the scrutiny of others who believe I’ve lost my way. All of this to say, “zeal for our father’s house consumes me” and I have a strong sense of calling to contribute in the area of my gifting to aid the local church in the fulfillment of her mission.
As a side, working within a marketplace ministry the past few years, I’ve passionately helped business leaders understand that you don’t have to be called to work within the local church to be on mission. Unfortunately, our culture tends to elevate people working within the church believing they’ve had some type of special anointing and all other roles tend to be more inferior when it comes to Kingdom work. I don’t intend to get into all of this now, however, please understand I still feel that not everyone is called to work in the local church. I strongly believe and sit around the table monthly with business leaders that God has specifically called to business and given them stewardship of an incredible mission field. Thus, if you’re one of those, please don’t see my calling toward the local church being one which I feel I need to move into the local church to better serve God, for say. It’s simply where I hear Him calling “me” and I’m attempting to follow in obedience to the call.
Now, for those wondering, how could someone that graduates from the number one undergraduate engineering school in the nation (Rose-Hulman) and is so gifted “waste” all this by going to work at a church? (smile) Well, we must start with the understanding that not all “pastors” are teaching pastors you see preaching on Sundays. The role that seems to fit best for Chris is an Executive Pastor’s role of a larger church which acts somewhat as the COO of the organization. While I’d never want to downplay the importance of her mission, there are a lot of parallels in the local church and business. For example, I worked with a team to build a new facility in Arkansas back years ago which some would see as a major highlight of my corporate career. Well, who builds new churches or starts up new location in a multisite church model? People training and equipped on how best to lead such an endeavor which, typically, isn’t the guy you’re seeing on Sunday.
“Yes, but Chris, you could be making so much more money working elsewhere.” Well, you may have me on that one. I’ll be the first to tell you money and profit aren’t negative words; it’s the “love of money” which is the sin. In order to have a business or ministry, one must be sustainable which requires money and profit. That all being said, let’s just keep it at today that I’ve learned who my ultimate provider is and know whatever level my family has will be enough assuming we’re walking in obedience.
The mission statement I launched my business with is: “Arnold Business Advisors aids businesses and individuals in clearly defining what ‘success’ looks like and building strategies to achieve this ‘success'”. What I’m coming to recognize it that “true success” is in finding God’s will and walking in obedience to it. For most, that’s a life on mission outside the local church. For me, it seems to be in the direction of the local church.
May you join along side me in prayer as I further discern which specific opportunity God has for Chris in the local church. In the meantime, and potentially even while on staff at a church, we’re still open for business and helping business leaders define “success” and achieve this “success” in their particular circumstances.