Ask Salt&Light: How can I transition well from full-time ministry into secular work?
Dr Kwa Kiem-Kiok // September 10, 2019, 10:52 am
Photo by Ross Findon on Unsplash.
I have been in ministry work all my career life, managing my church’s mission trips and local mission projects. I am now 33, with a business degree from a local university, and I’m thinking of entering the corporate world. How can I market myself to potential employers and what are the two to three most important biblical values I must remember going into the secular workplace?
Yvonne T, 33, pastoral worker
Ten years in a church ministry doing local and overseas missions is a long time!
I imagine that the skills you have picked up would include:
1. Managing, motivating and mobilising people
In church there is a broad spectrum of types and personalities of people, and in these past 10 years you have worked with them. People skills are essential skills in the workplace today. Even though we use a lot of communications technology, we still work with people, including difficult ones. So you already have significant life and people skills.
2. Cross-cultural communications
Being in missions, both local and overseas, means that you have been working across cultures. Culture here includes people groups, as well as generations.
You would also have picked up what is called cultural intelligence, the ability to relate and communicate with people who are not like you.
In today’s globalised working environment, we relate to, and work with, people from all over the world as colleagues, team mates, clients, or customers. They will be different from us, hence cultural intelligence is a necessary skill. Understanding and being able to relate with people from other cultures also means that you understand your own culture well: You know how Singaporeans communicate and what we value. And so you can cross cultures and be understood by those of different cultures.
Together with the people skills mentioned above, you could be a bridge-builder, one who stands between people of different cultures and help them understand one another.
Furthermore, where there is conflict, you could also be a peacemaker, because you can understand where different people are coming from.
3. Being purpose-driven
Ten years in full-time ministry also shows that you are willing to work for something else apart from a high salary – you are willing to work for a higher purpose. You may have had times of financial difficulties, but you stuck it out.
It shows that you have motivations and strengths that are more than the material.
All these are some of the invaluable skills which you have gained in these past 10 years, and employers today would want people like you in their team.
Give credit where it’s due
One important two-part biblical value you need to remember as you go into the workplace is to “glorify God and honour others”.
First, remember as you go into the workplace that you are serving God and not man. We often say this but I hope that your 10 years in ministry has instilled this practice in you. Serving God means that there are some values which you will place above others, such as being trustworthy and not just getting the job done.
Being honest before God also means that you will face the consequences of your actions – if you have failed to do something, take responsibility. You don’t make excuses for your mistakes.
Second, honour others, especially the people whom you work with.
I presume you will work in a team, and there will be those who are over you and those who are your subordinates.
Honour them by giving credit where it is due, by standing with the team through thick and thin, and carrying your weight and responsibility in the team.
One way that you can be a witness at work is by being a good worker, one whom your colleagues know that they can trust to do what is given to you, and to do it well.
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