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How to Minister as a Plumber

Ten years ago, Nathaniel Miller was at a vocational fork in the road. He had spent years praying and dreaming about pastoring a church, but Miller was short on cash. A pastor at his church suggested he connect with one of the congregants who owned a plumbing company. A decade later, he’s still plumbing.

In an article in Christianity Today, Miller writes:

It turns out that work, manual labor in particular, had been sitting right under my nose as perhaps the most direct route to learning the skills needed by those who desire to lead the church. I suspect I’m not alone. Any of us can become better at following Jesus by focusing on the demands and spiritual realities of our work. Rightly understood, work is the training ground where good Christians are made.

When I’m installing a water heater … every facet of my being is involved in the execution and completion of the work …. Over the past decade as a blue-collar worker, I have accidentally found a way of life that, far from keeping prayer at bay and hindering me from being with God because of my duties, has put me in the middle of a centuries-long, devout experiment. It teaches me at least these two things: In Christ, I am praying precisely because I am working, and I am becoming better at being a pray-er because I am a worker.

My hands participate in the work of bringing order to the world around me, and they thumb through theological works; they bring peace between homeowners and their homes, and they build the kingdom; they’ve learned to turn wrenches, and they’re learning to pray without ceasing.

I’ve discovered that practicing being in God’s presence and growing in the Christian life is something any of us can do in virtually any line of work, not just as pastors or church leaders. My plumbing vocation certainly isn’t the life I expected, but it’s turning out to be the life for which I prayed.

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