Your Role on Life’s Stage

Shawn SommerkampNewsLeave a Comment

God’s Plan for My Life…

We all want to know God’s plan for our lives, don’t we?  And I suspect we all secretly hope that God has a very special purpose for our own lives too, something powerful and impactful.  That’s probably crossed your mind a few times.

When I gave my life to Christ, after a short time I was convinced God wanted me in a paid ministry staff role.  You, yourself, may have had a deep belief of where God was directing your life and your purpose as well.  The evidence seemed as clear as could be.  I loved God, I loved ministry work.  I am supposed to be on church staff.

…versus My Plan

In my case what I hoped for never materialized.  After five years of trying to make ministry efforts, full time college and full time career all work simultaneously, I simply broke.  I was too immature to realize that I stretched myself too far.  I began to experience daily panic attacks and intense anxiety.  I thought what was happening to me was the same thing that happened to King Saul – God removed the Spirit and gave him a tormenting spirit.  I had no clue it was a situational anxiety disorder from the ‘crazy’ amount of work I was doing.  Instead, I believed God was just through with me.  So I left church, broken and discouraged.  I defaulted to what many people with a college degree do…I focused on my career.

Anxiety and My Own Thoughts

Over the next five years God helped me realize my anxiety had nothign to do with His commitement to me and everything to do with my own internal thinking and yes, even my own faith. By His grace he led me back in 2001 to Him.

Overall, including the time away from God, I spent 15 years in leadership roles within Fortune 100 companies.

For quite some time I wondered why God didn’t want me as a church-funded ministry leader.    It was when I came back to Christ the puzzle pieces fell into place.  I did have a mission – I would be in the “full-time ministry”.  It would just be different than I originally thought.  I would take his message into the corporate world and use my earnings to help fund church growth.

Erastus Who?

A similar story (at least in part) unfolded for a man in the New Testament, a man named Erastus. Ever hear of him?  Although we don’t know much about him, what we do know gives us insight into our own story.  He’s only mentioned in the Bible three times.  One of them is Acts 19.

Acts 19:21-22
After all this had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia…He sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed in the province of Asia a little longer.

While in Ephesus on his third missionary journey, Paul sent Timothy and Erastus ahead of him to Macedonia, modern day Greece.  From there they went to a region in lower Greece called Achaia, to the great city of Corinth.  It was in Corinth Paul met up with them.  So we see this new character, Erastus, was one of Paul’s traveling companions helping spread God’s word across the Mediterranean churches.

His Amazing Transition in Corinth

Something amazing happens to Erastus in Corinth however.  He apparently never leaves.  We see a hint of this just one chapter later in Acts 20.  In this new list of traveling companions, Erastus is left out.

Acts 20:4
[Paul] was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy also, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia.

And in the second of three times Erastus is mentioned, in Paul’s second letter to Timothy Paul says it like this:

2 Timothy 4:20
Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus.

So what could have happened to Erastus in Corinth?

We know it was in Corinth Paul would write what may have been his most profound letter – his letter to the church in Rome.  In this letter Erastus is mentioned the third and final time.  Here is where we find out what happened to Erastus in Corinth:

Romans 16:23
Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings.  Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus, send you their greetings.

A Different But Powerful Role

Wow!   Erastus had become the Corinthian city’s Director of Public Works.  Corinth was one of the largest cities in the Mediterranean region and a significant port city.  It was also one of the largest of the first-century churches. And he held, in that city, a position of great authority.  And we see Erastus was a faithful brother too.  Paul wouldn’t have mentioned him if he wasn’t.  Erastus didn’t let success corrupt him.

We don’t exactly how his appointment to the Director of Public Works this came about.  Maybe Erastus had been trained as an engineer and left his full time job to accompany Paul on his travels, and for reasons we can’t know, had pursued this high level position after arriving in Corinth.  Maybe Erastus has been traveling with Paul as a trainee, like Timothy and Titus, to someday become an elder of a larger church?  We just don’t know.

But we do know this, disciples of Christ can have an impact on the church through a powerful, prominent career.  Imagine the influence Erastus had on other city officials for Christ, those Paul would never have reached as a traveling missionary or even as a local evangelist.

This story encourages me on my journey to serve God with all my heart.  I’m not paid by the church but like any full time minister, I am paid by God through my career.  God has a plan to use every one.  And it can happen through a powerful, impactful and successful career too.

Your career can be used to transform the world. How is God using it today?

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