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When Being a Global Worker Keeps you From the Gospel

When Being a Global Worker Keeps you From the Gospel
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If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?
1 Corinthians 12:17-19

In certain circles, there’s a heroism associated with being a global worker. 

For a while, I specifically kept myself from mentioning Africa in conversations, even though I was yearning to bring it up. I knew the “special” status it offered among Christians, and honestly, I craved it. In the middle of exhaustion and sacrifice, it felt good to be honored. 

But at times, I’ve worn the title of “global worker” as a badge of honor, like one might proudly hand over a business card with a snazzy title. 

The danger, you see, is when I start believing my own press… When I add “global worker” to my identity as deeply loved child of God, as if it has VIP privileges or leverage for my prayers or status in his eyes… a sense of spiritual entitlement. 

Is being a global worker more special? 

I think through what Scripture says on this. I know Jesus asked 12 guys to leave other occupations to become “fishers of men.” I know the apostles in Acts said they shouldn’t give up preaching the gospel to “wait tables,” helping the poor. 

I know God asks us to give special honor to pastors who serve us, as their job of spiritual shepherding is real and praiseworthy.  

But I also know God crafts roles of all kinds (see Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4). All critical. All worthy of honor. 

Would I be less worthy as a hairdresser? A burger-flipper? A writer?  

Henri Nouwen warns against three identity-robbing lies: I am what others think. I am what I have (control, power, possessions, position). I am what I do. 

Each of these lies diverts our eyes from the Gospel and from verdict about ourselves which Christ has already won. God’s full approval. His enough-ness. His God-satisfying performance. 

Closing Prayer
Father, I come to you through Jesus alone. Don’t let me justify myself before you because of my service! Grant me deep humility. I don’t have anything except what you’ve given me (1 Corinthians 4:7). Let me sink deeply into what you’ve done, not a falsely important identity. Amen.
Article: A Symphony around My Chopsticks: Thoughts on Everyday Faithfulness Feeling bereft as you step back from your role as a global worker? The author reflects on God creating beauty in “living a quiet life” (1 Thessalonians 4:11)—and moments of everyday obedience.
Question for Reflection

Home assignment can be a prime time for hero-worship of global workers. Of what do you remind yourself when you’re tempted to “believe your own press?”

Janel Breitenstein
April 29, 2021

It’s good, I think, to be reminded there’s something noble about what we’re doing! It’s when it moves to “being a global worker defines my sense of worth” that I get into trouble.

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