I like the term “covocational” better than “bivocational,” because it implies that it’s all really one thing. When I am working as a landscaper, or as a small business owner, it gives me unique opportunities to live out the Gospel, and specifically to share the Gospel in real-life situations. Throughout my lifetime, my major thought has been that I want to do what is the most significant as much as I can. And I’ve come to realize that this work does fit in with that.
If we think of ourselves as Christian leaders, we must first become followers. We must let Jesus include us on the only terms which he uses to include anyone: “Come, follow me.” If we, for any reason, think that we have arrived or secured a place for ourselves apart from answering that call, we are mistaken. Our own sin should be enough to remind us that we need a savior just as much as the next person does! No level of respectability and no set of social markers can rescue us from sin; only Jesus can do that.
The example of surgery is instructive, because the costs of failure are so stark. The “July effect,” so-called for the month when U.S. medical residents begin their work, has an even bleaker nickname in the United Kingdom: the killing season. That irreverent moniker reminds us that there is no “failure free” option for teaching human beings new skills, even in life-and-death disciplines. Every summer, the experts grimace and hand over the knife to those who have never held it before. Whatever our line of work, we can learn to do the same for those who need the chance to learn.
Sometimes leaders can no longer honestly say, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair . . . struck down, but not destroyed.” Instead, they do feel crushed and near to despair. How do we recognize when it’s time to take a break, and what kind of change do we need?
Fire, for all its power, starts out fragile. When the kindling is gathered and the embers start to appear, they curl around the edges of the twigs, teasing their way into some small purchase on life. A single flame crawls along a sturdy branch, waving like a flag. A bit of thin smoke rises. Then, …