I don’t have raw data on the subject, however if there were a survey conducted on how often a sermon is applied to work, my guess is that percentage would be miserably low. Most sermons, if applied at all are directed to the areas that the average American spends the least amount of their time. Now, please don’t misunderstand me, sermons on marriage, family, childrearing, are all important, but for the vast majority of the world, that is not where they spend most of the their time, nor where they face their greatest challenges.
Take a look at the chart below and notice the percentages of time given by the Bureau of Labor Statistics and compare that to not how sermons are applied, and how the average pastor ministers to his people. My point is I don’t believe the average pastor knows how to minister to those in the work place, specifically the business leader. As a side note, this could be a reason why fewer men attend church in the United States.
In order to pastor those in the workplace, you need to know them. Here are a few suggestions to get you heading in the right direction.
I. To pastor people in the workplace you must have an accurate understanding of calling.
A. Do you truly believe that those in the workplace are called to that work?
B. Can you correctly articulate how to help them live out that calling?
II. To care for people in the workplace you need to be a student of the work culture.
A. Knowledge: Go beyond knowing where people in your church work, and be a student of what their work entails. In addition keep up on what kind of jobs are in your city or region. What businesses are thriving? What ones are struggling or failing?
B. Values: To pastor people in the work place you must go beyond knowing “what” they do to learning “why” they do they do. This means going deeper with the goal of understanding opinions, viewpoints, attitudes, philosophies, and convictions. It is here where you will understand why an educated individual spends their life in a small manual skills job. Understanding “why” people do what they do, takes you to the core their behavior where true spiritual ministry takes place.
C. Personality: How does personality play into the work they do? Like values, personality plays a significant role in whether someone likes their job, or struggles with it. Understanding personality also helps you in your ability to interact with and therefore minster someone in the workplace.
D. Below is a sampling of some work areas of people who attended the churches where I served as pastor. Notice the diversity and therefore the challenges of ministry in their context.
1. Airline Pilot.
2. Air Traffic controller.
3. Airline Maintenance worker
5. Bail Bondsman.
7. Chief Financial Officer.
8. Chief Operating Officer.
9. Commercial and Residential developer.
12. Hospice Chaplin.
13. Infectious Disease Physician.
14. IT Specialist.
15. Regional Account Manager for Microsoft.
17. Pharmaceutical clinical liaison.
18. Plant Manager.
19. Self employed Electrician.
20. Tennis Pro.
E. Remember, you will not have the time to master all work cultures, but you can gain a basic understanding quite easily, and therefore pastor each more effectively.
III. To care for people in the workplace you must be aware of your own Pride, Fear and Idols.
A. Pride can cause you to look down on those whose job you don’t respect, and seek acceptance by those you esteem. Either extreme will hinder your ability to pastor effectively. If you venerate someone, you will not be able to engage them effectively.
B. Fear will cause you to distance yourself from those who might intimidate you.
C. Not identifying your own idols will hinder your ministry effectiveness and cause you to focus your ministry on people who feed your idols.
1. The Idol of Approval is the belief that you are whole when others respect and approve of you.
2. The Idol of Comfort is the belief that you are whole when you are experiencing a certain quality of life.
3. The Idol of Security is the belief that you are whole when your life is secure and safe.