By Adam Miller
at Work--Is it Legal?
Interstate 25 is a main vein running from Colorados borders north and south
through Fort Collins, through Denvers heart and into Colorado Springs,
connecting the dots along a mile-high plain of industry and life in the shadow
of the Rocky Mountains. The air is clean and cool, the people warm and open,
and you begin to get the impression the sky may not be the limit. It is a
College towns abound within a short drive of one another. The University of
Colorado at Boulder is often called the Berkeley of the Rockies not only for
its high academic standards but for its famously non-Christian atmosphere.
During any season, people in Colorado devote themselves to hiking, biking,
climbing and other outdoor sports. In Colorado, the thinking might go, no
matter what path you take, the sun will still light your way. The state has
many Christ-followers, but still too many souls are wandering into dark
Thank God He has sprinkled His salt and light among Colorados slopes and
skyscrapers. Yes, God is building His church beneath steeples. But Hes also
building His church in corporate cubicles, hospitals, classrooms, on the
faculties of colleges, in the offices of law firms ... on the assembly lines of
major manufacturers. Gods followers clearly recognize their call to become
engineers, librarians, pharmacists, technicians, biochemists, nurses mechanics.
In all parts of the continent, as along this strip of highway in Colorado, Gods
people are following His path, setting up camp, pursuing excellence and giving
Him the glory as they seek to make disciples of all peoplein the North American
What does Gods call sound like or feel like? Maybe the call is the desire He
has placed in your heart to help people straighten out their finances, to heal
people through medicine or to counsel people who cant decipher the legal
Many believers are drawn into the mission field as full-time pastors and
missionaries. Still others are led into classrooms as teachers, into boardrooms
as executives and into courtrooms as lawyers. God sees no partitions between
the sacred and the secular callings. His voice is sacred enough to make every
calling even those deemed secularmeaningful and divine. Its how we answer the
call that determines whether were working for Gods kingdom or our own.
Christian apologist Francis Shaeffer wrote in The God Who Is There
that it was philosophers, not theologians and certainly not Holy Scripture, who
began to distinguish between the sacred and the secular callings. And it was at
this point that North American culture began to drift below what he coined as
the line of despair. Below this line, the sacred life had little to nothing to
do with the secular life, and the mindset of the Christian culture became one
of faith isolated from thinking and, in some cases, doing. In other words, if
you could think about it rationally and logically, it must be unsound
theologically. This has never been true in Gods economy.
God has called all believers to a life that glorifies Him, and He can do
that through a psychologist, a respiratory therapist or a sociologist just as
He can with a church planter or other ministry professional.
Case in point? Enter Hewlett Packard employee Mark Anspach who works 63
miles north of Denver.
PHOTOS BY ADAM MILLER
Mark Anspach, 38, is on a 10 a.m. conference call at the
Hewlett Packard work site in Fort Collins, Colorado. His
monitor is filled with jargoned text documenting a product review. Im ready. Go
ahead. Then Mark is silent and reading in his cubicle amid pictures of family,
friends hes discipling and two engraved plaques for helping establish patents
in his field. He stops to ask a question of others on the call, then continues
reading. His job requires detailed research, continuous feedback such as this
phone call, meticulous questioning of computer users and the know-how to ask
the right questionsquestions a psychologist would think to ask. Hes a mediator
between the developer of HPs software and the people who use it, and he loves
This is where God has called me, he says later. If Mark had followed his
original intent, he would probably be a college professor right now. He was
pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology, and he already had a job opportunity at a
liberal arts university. For some reason, however, he felt uneasy about
pursuing the position.
I thought I was supposed to finish my Ph.D., so I decided
to postpone taking the job, Mark says. Then on a whim he applied for a job
posting a classmate had seen on the web. The rest is history. A couple of
months later he flew into Colorado for interviews, was offered a job sought by
nine other candidates and presented with the salary he and his wife had been
praying for. For a grad student, it was beyond what we thought could ever be
This is an example, Mark says, of how God uses circumstances to speak. And
Mark is an example, you could say, of how God uses the abilities of a top-notch
psychologist to speak to lost people in a scientific profession. Of course,
Mark has had his deepest spiritual discussions with co-workers after putting
the algorithms to bed.
Logic can win a debate, but helping someone on moving day or going on a
hunting or fishing trip can develop a friendship, Mark says. Friendships can
change lives. And changed lives can mean a changed marketplace.
Mark says God is also using him to change his workplace by bringing
Christ-like principles to the job. While hes had many opportunities to jump
into workplace politics and return fire in his competitive environment, instead
of making life difficult for my enemies, he has helped build people up and
People often have you in their crosshairs, Mark says. Resolving an issue
with integrity and excellence can have a real impact on people you may or may
not know are watching you.
How do we know when God is calling us into places that need not only
professional leadership, but genuine love? In other words, how do we know when
were being called?
When you think of someone who is called by God, its easy to picture someone
committing to seminary, pastoring a church or becoming a missionary far, far
from home. Its not as natural to think of the Mark Anspachs of the world who
serve God by helping lead a company to the cutting edge.
Travel further south from Fort Collins to Denver and youll find people like
Greg Bennett, whom God is speaking through even in places that may not be
comfortable all the time.
Greg Bennetts pager goes off. Its a stat call to the ER,
which means hed better hurry. Only minutes earlier he took two pages in
the childrens unit at Littleton Adventist Hospitalboth were children
suffering from breathing disorders intensified by the dry air.
Now Greg is rushing to the Emergency Room. He disappears into a room blinded
by runaround curtains. Moments later he reappears with his chart and clipboard
making notes and breathing easy. When I first started respiratory therapy, I
would get flustered when
I heard the word stat. Now I just take my time, do my job and try to become
familiar with the patient.
People are the reason Greg is in this profession. Greg originally studied at
Texas Tech to work in marketing. Then he went into finance looking for a bigger
paycheck, but he found this was not the place for him either.
I was just watching people go deeper into debt and seeing families fall
apart, Greg says. My own wife left me during that time for a guy she worked
with, and I found myself in a life I knew God didnt want for me.
I wanted to do something where I could help people, Greg adds. When I
decided that, the word medicine was like an echo in my head.
Greg researched the medical profession, originally thought of becoming a
paramedic and finally settled on respiratory therapy.
Paramedics have one of the hardest jobs in the world, but they get very
little time with patients, Greg says. I wanted to build relationships and let
patients know that God is using me to meet their need.
Greg remarried, spent two years earning his degree in respiratory therapy
and began his career helping people breathe. Hes treated everyone from infants
to the elderly and has seen God do some amazing things during times when
patients families were in the waiting room wondering if their loved ones would
Whats ironic is that Greg has been trying to go into full-time ministry for
a few years. He even earned a degree from Southwestern Seminary while working
as a therapist in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
At one point I thought God would take me out of this field and put me in a
church. I was skeptical about bi-vocational ministry, and I was eager to become
a full-time church planter, Greg says. God has continued to close doors. At the
same time, He has opened my heart to continuing this work while also opening
opportunities to plant churches in the Denver area.
Greg has seen Gods plan in all the doors closed to vocational ministry.
Because of his line of work, he has been at the bedsides with patients and
loved ones, sometimes for weeks and months. He understands their medical
condition and the emotional and spiritual turmoil that come with crisis.
Theres a perceived credibility in the patients mindset, Greg says. They will
give me an audience secondary to my real world job, whereas they might feel
intimidated or wary of a religious person such as a chaplain or vocational
Still, Greg isnt giving up on his dream of becoming a church planter. In
fact, this past summer he participated in opening house churches in Littleton
and other Denver suburbs. His unique opportunity there is that hes able to
speak to people as a person working in the real world who's also spending his
time outside of work as a minister caring for the spiritual journeys of people
in Denver communities.
I dont plan on quitting either role anytime soon, Greg
says. Theres too much God is doing to reach this area and hes just getting
Heres a man whose journey took him from home to the Marines at age 18 and
who now, at age 28, is studying sociology, because he knows God is calling him
to effect social change.
Don Pence has just finished his final exams, and hes about
to sit down over a plate of spaghetti with his wife and a friend from out of
town. His study area, the dining room table, is still cluttered with books on
social structure and human behavior, his laptop screen is peppered with
to term papers. This ex-Marine running on very little sleep and an
adrenaline reserve would pass as any other college student in Colorado except
that The Message Bible has been left open amid all the disarray. It
seems to symbolize his academic pursuit of helping promote what he calls social
Five years in the Marine Corps changed the way he viewed reality. Don worked
in a Reconnaissance unit, which means he often worked behind enemy lines
gathering data and executing covert operations. He seems to be far removed from
such a fast-paced, testosterone-driven culture. However, as a student in
sociology and an aspiring agent of social change, Don sees himself as still
patrolling critical territory. He views himself as being called to understand a
lost world and help others to understand it as well.
Don is in the perfect age range to rub elbows with those who doubt even as
fundamental a common ground as language. For example, whats the meaning of the
word marriage? Less than a year ago, Don accepted the biblical definition of
the word and married his wife Lisa. Members of Vanguard Church, a Southern
Baptist fellowship in Colorado Springs, the couple has seen the power Gods love
has over differences in lifestyle, dress and background.
What Don wants to do with his degree, his interest in womens studies and his
experience in the military is to begin understanding where people develop their
mindsets. He plans to move onto graduate studies and possibly even seminary in
an attempt to open up a conversation in a world where language is muddled by
social norms and undermined by personal interest. In other words, if were
interested in stopping moral decay and seeing a world come to Christ, we need
to hear the stories of others and guide them by their own experience to a
For Don, this could mean entering the world of teaching, writing or
counseling. With a brief stint in womens studies, a far cry from when he
eagerly signed the dotted line, Don has even tossed around the idea of working
in pregnancy crisis centers or as a mediator between opposing political
I feel like the direction God is pushing me is to go
deeper into the trenches yet, Don says. I want to rub elbows with people facing
a few more obstacles than those who already have a relationship with God.
Adam Miller is associate editor of On Mission.
The (unlikely) CallBY ADAM MILLER
Have you heard a speaker ever say that he or she ran from God into the
professional world or into the world of athletics, and then through a strange
turn of events, an athletic injury or corporate downsizing, God called them
into full-time ministry? These are the stories my generation (Im 25) grew up
with, and I imagine youve heard similar stories. Amazing stories. Miraculous
stories. And recently Ive heard stories emerge about people who were called
from, lets say, a successful veterinary practice in Georgia to a position of
civil service in the Georgia state capitol. Sonny Perdue was minding his own
business (being a veterinarian) when God called him to effect change in the
state legislature and as governor in my home state. He sensed God calling him
to run in Georgias gubernatorial race, and he knew I would be disobedient if I
Governor Perdue and the people I met in Colorado are following a call marked
not by profession but by impression, the impression of Gods hand on our hearts
as He works through abilities, desires and circumstances.
And, as we see with biblical characters such as Moses, a stuttering orphan,
and David, a shepherd, or modern-day examples like the people in the cover
story, God can call us for His purposes to influence kingdoms, states and
provincesor the woman in the cubicle across the aisle. In Made to Count by Bob
Reccord and Randy Singer we see that God can use anyone, even those who are
untrained and unqualified from the worlds perspective to handle the most
As Christ-followers seeking Gods will, and as the body of Christ, God is
calling us to the harvest fields. They are ripe and ready for the new
generation of believers whom God is calling out of the pew and into the
marketplace. Thousands of years ago God used Joseph in an unlikely place,
(Egypt) during unlikely times (seven years of famine), to be instrumental in a
miraculous movement (saving the land of Egypt from starvation).
The Church and the churches have the best opportunity to encourage believers
young and old to watch their circumstances and pay close attention to what God
is saying to their hearts.
When God calls the next generation of Josephs to the land of Egypt or the
next generation of Lydias to the textile mills, as congregations we can work at
the cutting edge and commission our lawyers and liturgists, our tent-makers and
missionaries, our psychologists, respiratory therapists and sociologists with
the same sense of purposebecoming the salt and light and workers in the harvest
field of the North American marketplace a place of global impact.
Made to Count (W, 2004) by Bob Reccord and Randy Singer.
Provides biblical perspective on Gods call to the marketplace. Inspires with
stories of people hearing Gods call on their lives and changing their world.
Free online personality test and spiritual gifts analysis helps readers see
where they fit with their unique abilities and make-up. Also, check out
Live your passion, Tell your story, Change your world (J. Countryman,
2004) by Reccord and Singer for your high school or college student. Lays out
principles for living a godly life by pursuing your passions.
Total Truth (Crossway, 2004) by Nancy Pearcey. Explores
unnecessary division between sacred and secular. Pearcy develops biblical
worldview for people in law, other professions.
The Fred Factor (Waterbrook, 2004) by Mark Sanborn. Uses a
mail carrier named Fred to show how passion in your work changes your
When There Is No Burning Bush (Think, 2004) by Eddy Hall
and Gary Morsch. Gives new perspective on Gods call to ministry. Dispells myths
about what ministry is.
Your Perfect Job (Shaw, 2003) by Robert Bittner. Gives
godly guidance on creating careers. Valuable handbook for finding the job that
uses your talents and passions.
How to Stay Christian in College (Think, 2004) by J.
Budziszewski. A resource for future and current college students who want to
live out their faith during four years of temptation.
A Snoodles Tale (Big Idea, 2004) Tells the story of Snoodle
Doo, who discovers the importance of his Creators voice in learning his
identity. A DVD for anyonekid or adultsearching for self-esteem and
Going Public With Your Faith (Zondervan, 2003) by William
Carr Peel and Walt Larimore. A study in how to share your faith in the
work place legally and with integrity.
Essentials for the On Mission Church (NAMB, Vol.4, No.
4) For more on the 8 to 5 Window order a DVD/VHS copy of the latest
Essentials at www.essentials.tv.
Finding the sacred in the
secularBy Carolyn Curtis
Whats God up to in the marketplace? Seems theres an eruption of high-profile
people claiming that their relationship with Christ is the driving force behind
their professional pursuits. Just a few: one of Hollywoods top actors, the son
of a beloved U.S. President and the couple who head Americas fastest growing
franchise. All three credit Christ with filling the hole that money and fame
cannot; with salvation from the pain of sexual abuse, loneliness and rejection;
and with pulling them up from bankruptcy to profitability beyond their wildest
dreamseven providing money for Gods work.
Mel GibsonWho expected this actor,
dubbed by People as the magazines first Sexiest Man Alive, to provide
evangelicals with a movie and a personal witness so stirring that Jesus
sacrifice has been on the lips of both the media and the public? The Passion of
the Christ, at first the subject of ridicule as nothing more than film folly,
became an instant blockbuster with box-office receipts topping $125 million
after its first weekend and with reports of audiences sobbing, applauding and
even breaking into prayer. Dick Ryan of Newsday said The Passion isnt
merely a movie, its a meditation. Said Claudia Puig in USA Today: Mel
Gibson has made a movie for the ages. And Joe Morgenstern wrote in The Wall
Street Journal about Gibson speaking openly of the personal despair he
felt in the midst of vast fame and wealth. No doubt about itthis Hollywood
phenom is already among the top 10 highest grossing films of all time. And its
director, Gibson, one of the handful of actors to command $20 million per
movie, told ABCs Diane Sawyer that he hopes the movie makes people want to read
the book. Mel means The Book, of course.
Michael ReaganThis radio talk-show
host was born out of wedlock, then adopted by two people. One parent would
become an Academy Award-winning actress, and the other would become President
of the United States. His adoptive parents told him he was chosen, but the kids
at school harassed him. At seven he read one verse in the Bible that made him
think he was going to hell. He wouldnt open a Bible again until he was in his
thirties. When Michael was eight, a camp counselor sexually molested him. Soon
he hated himself and believed God hated him too. As he grew from childhood to
adolescence to adulthood, he sabotaged every relationship he cared about
because of shame and self-hatred. Michael Reagan did not find his true identity
until he found Christ. In his book Twice Adopted (Broadman &
Holman, October 1, 2004), he tells about his journey with the refreshing candor
he used during the state funeral of his father, President Ronald Reagan. In
that setting Michael told princes, prime ministers, congressmen and actorsplus
ordinary citizens watching by televisionabout the Presidents deep faith and the
sons reassuring comfort at knowing his father now resides with his Lord and
Gary and Diane HeavinEntrepreneur
magazine says Curves is the fastest-growing franchise in Americaone Curves for
every two McDonaldswith a new fitness center opening every four hours. Who
could predict such success? Certainly not its founder, Gary Heavin, who
slightly more than a decade ago was bankrupt and sitting behind bars for
failure to pay child support. Although Heavin claimed Christ as Savior when he
was 13, while incarcerated he rededicated his life (theres a big
difference between being saved and allowing God to transform you, hes quick to
explain). He and second wife, Diane, founded the fitness franchise for women
and now donate millions of dollars to a variety of causesincluding
pro-lifedrawing criticism from liberals for being anti-choice. But the Heavins
are devoted to womens health, spiritual as well as physical, which is why the
exercise beat in many Curves facilitiesby choice of their franchise ownersis
praise music. Theres nothing healthy about abortion, says Heavin. The
investment of their faith and business philosophy is paying huge dividends by
penetrating the culture through the marketplace.
Carolyn Curtis is the editor of On Mission magazine.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC