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What is vocational ministry?

The traditional definition of vocational ministry is a career in which an individual receives compensation for working full-time in a Christian organisational environment. People who work in the ministry professionally include pastors, missionaries, and full-time evangelists.

Vocation is derived from the Latin word vocti, which means "calling." Vocation, as used in Christian slang, is the calling that God places on a person's life to pursue a particular talent or passion. Even though the terms are now frequently used interchangeably, one's vocation may be distinct from one's occupation, or job. While the apostle Paul's occupation—what he did to support himself and his ministry financially—was that of a tentmaker, his spiritual calling was that of a missionary to the Gentiles (see Colossians 1:1). (see Acts 18:2–4).

Ministry simply means "service." In a Christian setting, ministry entails serving God and others in Jesus' example-following fashion (see Matthew 20:28 and John 13:13–15). While pastors earn their living through "ministry," God calls each and every one of us to ministry. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for human masters, because you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward, as stated in Colossians 3:23–24. You are serving the Lord Christ. We can work at it with the mindset of serving God, regardless of whether it is a vocation or an occupation.

Doing what one is called to do for the service of God and others is what is meant by vocational ministry. Some people turn what they do for a living into their profession (see 1 Timothy 5:17–18 and 1 Corinthians 9:7–11). Others may combine vocational ministry with another source of income by working both jobs concurrently.


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