Are You a Marketplace Christian? A Tentmaker?
The term "tentmaker" refers to a Christian missionary named Paul who worked amidst others building tents as he fulfilled God's calling in his life (c.f. Acts 18:1-3, Acts 20:33-35. Are you a lover of God (a Christian) who is called to the workforce? Then you, too, are a tentmaker. Today, God seeks and uses Marketplace Christians like you and me to disciple others and accomplish things beyond our imaginations.
The Church was never a passive activity scheduled for once a week at its inception. The Church always involved mingling with others, not isolation, as we may see today. The Church made significant impacts and influenced people's lives by encouraging them and giving them hope (c.f. 1 Corinthians 4:20 and Acts 2). You, too, are called by God today to influence many people through the way you live and your faith in God.
Tentmakers are called, especially at a time like this, because:
- You are in the world, but not of it. (c.f John 15:19). That refers to your ability to easily mingle with Christians and non-Christians alike and show the love of God.
- You are financially sufficient so that your mission is not hampered due to having too little, and you can even give to others because of what God has given you (c.f. Proverbs 30:8-9)
- You hold influence. Especially as God puts you in leadership positions, many would be willing to follow you and your faith. (E.g. Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and many others.).
- You can reach people that those in religious settings cannot. As entrepreneurs and professionals, you can easily connect with anyone for work, subcontracting, partnership, etc. Additionally, you may travel to different countries where Christian missionaries may not be welcome and transact business there. You may even be able to live among Hindus, Muslims, and people of other faiths, just as the early Christians did.
- You are a child of God foremost. God has placed you where you are so that you may fulfill His great calling for your life. The purpose of your work and life is not to make money and get by. You are the light of the world called to be an influence (c.f. Matthew 5:14) and demonstrate His power in love (c.f. 1John 4:7-21).
How can I be more effective as a tentmaker?
We live in busy times with many distractions. The problem is with our priorities. The Great Commandment (c.f. Matthew 22:37-40) says that we should love God and others foremost. Due to many distractions, the world is focused on themselves and their busy lives. For example, today's marketing is focused on individual segmentation because "I" is king. Our cell phones lead us to be isolated and frantic about every notification. Even video games and social media separate people into their rooms. The question is, do you have relationships? (Or do you know what it means to have relationships for some of you?)
Your relationships with others are a reflection of your relationship with God. Do you have true friends that you can rely on and can rely on you? Do you love your spouse so much that you would submit to and die for him/her? Your responses to these questions may be how you respond to God (c.f. Matthew 25:35-40). You may not have a relationship with God at all. When was the last time you had a comfortable conversation with God?
The call is to come back to Him and make Him your greatest priority. Only then will you be able to fulfill the great calling He has for your life.
So, how can you help?
I, too, am a Christian who is called to the marketplace (read more about me here). Having been both a pastor and a corporate leader for 20+ years, I have learned that our calling is to discipleship: walking together (mingling, connecting, being in small groups) with other believers as we honor God together. Through deeply built relationships, we can grow and make other disciples (c.f. Matthew 28:19-20).
Through life-on-life discipleship, we can let go of our pride and sincerely confess that we cannot do anything without God's providence. That is when we will be able to see God do great things. As many of us may know, when God acts, mountains are moved, and seas are parted, but we will only see human-based results with our strength, experiences, and abilities, which is nothing worthwhile. Growing in discipleship is outlined in my book, Our Highest Calling.
I am in the NYC/NJ area and I look forward to conversing with other tentmakers. I would be leading webcasts, gatherings, and other presentations. If you are a Christian who desires to fulfill God's calling in your life, I hope I can encourage you through our interactions. Get in touch with me—I'd love to get to know you! Let's seek God's kingdom and His righteousness and see what He does through us in the marketplace, together.