Serving Christ in the Marketplace
On the evening of 22 February 2019, members of the Graduates’ Christian Fellowship (GCF) gathered for an up-close-and-personal dialogue with Reverend Andrew Morley, President and CEO of World Vision International. Andrew, who also currently serves as a member of the ordained clergy team at Holy Trinity Brompton in London, spoke about his experience of serving God in the commercial sector, and how God brought him from the realm of media and digital business into the humanitarian space.
Andrew began by sharing how God led him from various senior management positions in the commercial world to World Vision, and taught him what it meant to make the transition from success to significance in the process. Some of the roles which Andrew took on prior to joining World Vision included that of Chief Executive Officer of Clear Channel Advertising UK, Managing Director for Google Mobility & Motorola Mobile UK, and Group Chief Marketing Officer at Harrods Group, among other roles.
“I serve at World Vision,” he recalled telling his friends and old colleagues, only to receive silence in response. As a corporate professional with more than 20 years of experience, his choice to move from the corporate sector to the humanitarian sector was not met with enthusiastic cheers and congratulations. Friends and colleagues questioned his decision: they simply could not understand why anyone would choose to give up a high-paying and comfortable job to work in a non-governmental organisation – a huge “lifestyle downgrade” in their eyes. Sacrifices had to be made. However, Andrew was certain that God was calling him to serve in World Vision.
What is Your Calling?
“One of the things that really struck me when I first read the Bible was this idea of what we are actually really called to”, Andrew shared. “There’s something deeply counter-cultural about being a Christian and perhaps there always has been. Our ministry is to be that salt and light, to be that something that makes a difference in the world.”
Andrew recounted a personal anecdote where he asked God, “Where do you want me?”, and God replied, “Wherever I put you”. This experience transformed his perspective on work, and reassured him that God, in His faithfulness, would make opportunities to be fruitful for His glory clear, whichever the sphere of work He chose to place him in.
“We need Christians in every sphere,” Andrew continued. Whether it be in sacred or secular contexts, Christians are placed in different fields and sectors where we are called to see our workplace as a setting for witness and ministry, and to explore opportunities to bring God’s Kingdom to our respective areas of work. Wherever God calls us to follow Him, we can find comfort in knowing that God can use us as His powerful tools as long as we are willing to be His hands and trust in His sovereign will.
Andrew acknowledged that being in the corporate world was definitely comfortable. It even felt good to be comfortable. However, following Christ in a comfortable place brought its own set of challenges, including ethical dilemmas that tested his Christian convictions. Andrew cautioned against lapsing into a mindset that compartmentalises our day-to-day lives at work and separates it arbitrarily from our walk with God, and challenged those of us working in so-called “comfortable” contexts to transform them into fertile mission fields for God. At the same time, God may have called some of us to serve Him in more demonstrably difficult contexts. Many of us may struggle daily because our jobs are far from comfortable. Andrew’s word of encouragement emphasised the importance of perseverance in these contexts, because the strongest ministries can emerge from the toughest experiences.
Referencing Ecclesiastes 3, Andrew also shared that we may not be called to where we are forever. We must stand ready to respond obediently to God’s direction. God calls us to different places in different seasons of our lives, but one thing remains constant – we must faithfully trust that we are called to each place for “such a time as this” (Esther 4:14).
How Do We Discern Our Calling?
Discerning our calling can be challenging for many of us. Andrew proposed what he humorously termed the “LEGO” framework as a tool for facilitating this process as we prayerfully seek God’s will for our lives. As Lego blocks can be stacked differently to create unique shapes, so God can build us up like Lego structures whose forms are distinctively influenced by factors and conditions that He ordains for our lives:
- L refers to “Loves”, the things we love in life. Consider the things that we are passionate about. God has impressed these things upon our hearts for a reason, and they influence what we choose to do in our lives.
- E refers to “Experiences”, the things we have seen and done, encountered and learned. This also includes the people we have surrounded ourselves with, such as colleagues, family members, church members, and fellowship groups. The experiences that we have accumulated may be linked to the things that we like or dislike.
- G refers to “Gifts”, the spiritual gifts and talents that God has graciously given each of us. Think about where these gifts and talents can be best used. They may be fruitfully applicable in places that we may or may not be comfortable in.
- O refers to “Opportunities”, the doors that God has opened for us throughout our lifetime. These can provide indications as to where God may be calling us to.
When we truthfully examine ourselves and give thanks for how we have been shaped by God, we gain a better insight into the unique individual that God has created each of us to be, and is continuing to mould as we grow in Him. When the things we love coincide with our experiences, gifts, and opportunities, we may be able to discern more clearly defined possibilities which we can then prayerfully explore.
Many of us may agonise over our individual callings, but, as Andrew shared, God never leaves us clueless. If we patiently seek His will, trust in His faithfulness on our journeys as pilgrims to enact His will wherever He places us, and are alert to wise counsel from our extended church family, we can discover the unique ways in which He would have us serve Him, in the marketplace and beyond.
Heather, a member of the audience, shared after the session, “God’s plans for us are all different, which shows how special each one of us is to Him! His plans for us are the best, because He loves us (and parents want the best for their children). We just need to take the next step and trust Him with our lives, surrendering all! It will be the best decision of your life.”