Therapist or Missionary? Learning to do Ministry within Vocation

Ministry vs. Vocation
The year I graduated from college, I needed to make a seemingly life-altering decision: Do I pursue full time ministry or graduate school?
My senior year of college, I got accepted to my dream school; the top occupational therapy program in the nation admitted me to start pursuing a master’s degree there. Through God’s grace, I had achieved the goal I’d been striving for since my freshman year of college. How could I now choose between this and full-time ministry? Was one option more spiritual than the other? I struggled for weeks with this decision, asking dear friends and mentors to pray for my discernment process: what was God’s will for me? After a month of going back and forth, I realized I had been asking God a very simple question: which path will render me a greater agent in Your kingdom? I had leaned left and right continuously until finally realizing that God was not pushing me in one direction. He had purposely left both doors open so that I could see that His ultimate will for me is to glorify Him in whatever I do, whether that be graduate school or Christian ministry.

The Big Decision
I had seen my very same “ultimatum” play out in others’ lives countless times before. However, almost every time, I had seen the same ending: people choosing full-time missionary work within a Christian ministry over a vocation or pursuit of a higher degree, as if this was the right or “more godly” decision. Although, I admired these choices, I felt strongly that the Lord could just as effectively use me within my graduate program for ministry and for the world. I decided to pursue a master’s degree, despite the fact that it would require substantially greater discipline and discernment to devote myself to ministry within graduate school, but I was up for the challenge. God had made it crystal clear that my time acquiring a master’s degree would be spent not only preparing to become an occupational therapist, but also reaching colleagues in my program that do not know Him.

An Outlet for Ministry
Starting graduate school happened to take up an incredulous amount of time. Moving to a new city, attending a new school, while also attempting to succeed in classes proved more strenuous than I had imagined. Despite the overload, I knew that although I was a student, my primary title was, and always will be, God’s kingdom agent. After months of discerning and getting acclimated to the new environment and culture, I decided to create a space for studying scripture on campus. This would be an incredible way to bring Christ to those intellectuals in my program who may never step foot inside of a church. I reached out to a classmate who shared a similar conviction and together we started the “Faith & Occupational Therapy Group: Discussions on How Christianity Aligns with Our Profession”. We sent out invites via facebook and email, while also personally asking peers to join in. The group generated a fair amount of interest and people started coming instantly. On average we had between 10 and 20 people every time, going through scripture from the gospels, asking questions about Jesus and even learning how much He loved to heal and humbly serve those around him. We had Christians and non-Christians alike participating in the dialogue and getting to know Jesus on a deeper, more relatable level. Every week, I could feel God moving in the hearts of students; through our conversations, He was helping us to see that faith and vocation are two things that need not be separated, but in fact, are better when meshed together and are more effective in unison.

God’s Faithfulness in Risk-Taking
God truly blessed our willingness to step out in faith. We surely had our doubts and fears when creating the group and even more hesitancy when inviting our non-Christian friends to get to know Jesus; but we quickly learned that God is calling us to step out of our comfort zones and into the mission field. In moments where we felt afraid of starting something counter-cultural, we would ask ourselves, “where would we be if Jesus didn’t say ‘yes’ to where God called him?” This question helped us see how important it is to treat vocation as ministry, just as Jesus did.

Bringing God’s Kingdom Here on Earth
As Christians, we all have certain callings & passions and it may not necessarily be vocational ministry. We can, however, use those passions to bring God’s kingdom here on Earth, no matter what our job title may be. His will for each of us is to increase kingdom fruits (love, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, etc.) in our jobs and to proclaim His good news to those that don’t know him. He’s called us to heal the sick, help the hurting, bring in the marginalized, serve the poor & proclaim His good news where ever we go.

How do you feel about ministry within vocation?


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