In a telephone interview with Nancy Pearcey, author of Total Truth, she articulated why so many Christians fail to see work in politics, business, education, the arts, and science as ways to serve God. She pointed out that many Christian young people think that if they really want to serve God, they should go into "ministry," which means being a pastor or missionary.
The problem, Pearcey maintains, is accepting a "sacred-secular distinction." That is, putting work in "sacred" and "secular" categories. The Sacred-Secular Divide is a mental stronghold that's hard to remove. I am convinced, however, that ridding ourselves of SSD is the first step (and perhaps the biggest step) toward bringing significance to any human endeavor.
Have you ever heard a Christian say, "Someday I'm going to quit my job and go into the ministry?" The unspoken message is: "I don't see my current work as a sacred task." Seeing fish management as "full-time Christian service" is unthinkable. It does not come easily to the evangelical mind.
SSD is the 800 pound gorilla in the room. I don't want to be critical of pastors [they have a tough job], but when was the last time you heard a sermon on how to get rid of the Sacred-Secular Divide? When was the last time the car mechanics in your congregation were brought up front to be prayed for, and sent out with a commission to service automobiles well, repairing each car as the Lord's car (doing their work "as unto the Lord"), and seeing their repair work as the very work of God?
Yes, the car does belong to Christ! The whole earth is the Lord's, and everything in it. And ruling well over grease and ball bearings is part of what God had in mind for humans before He created Adam and Eve. Repair work itself is sacred, when done in response to the First Commission of Gen. 1:26-28, and in fulfillment of the Great Commandment of Mark 12:29-31.
Yes, we need pastors and missionaries. But we don't need to justify car repair work as an opportunity for evangelism, or a way to earn money to support the others who are in..."the [real] ministry." Because car repair is ministry too.
Ask Jesus. He was a carpenter.
Here's my interview with Dr. Pearcey: