How You Can Use Your Job Skills to Help the Poor

Do you ever wonder sometimes if anything about your life matters? Do you ever ask yourself if your life really has any eternal significance? Are you tired of feeling like you just get up every day, try to make ends meet, watch a little TV and (possibly) look forward to a vacation or two?

We’ve all had the sense that we were created for something more. And that’s no accident. God actually created us to crave eternal significance with our lives, and Jesus shows us how to get it. Here’s the thing: Living in a way that has eternal significance may not look like we expect, and what Jesus teaches us about it is both less glamorous and more rewarding than we might think.

For example, Luke tells the story of Jesus attending a party in which he shook things up (to say the least) by telling his host that instead of inviting his rich friends to his feasts, he should be inviting the poor, the crippled, the lame and the blind. In other words, if you want God’s blessing, invest in people who can do nothing for you in return.

There are a number of ways we can apply this in our lives—such as, for instance, the literal application of inviting the “poor, crippled, blind and lame” to sit at our dining room tables. But in addition to opening up our homes, we need to ask if there are ways our jobs or skill sets can benefit the disadvantaged and poor in our own communities.

I don’t want to imply that the only worthwhile businesses are those doing non-profit or charity work. (Although, if the Spirit is leading you that way, go for it!) In order to eliminate poverty long-term, we need a combination of non-profit and for-profit businesses.

For those of you in the working world, there should always be aspects of your career you can use to bless others. The Christian’s job, in other words, has got to be about more than mere profit. If you’re a lawyer, you might dedicate a certain amount of your work pro bono. If you’re a dentist, you might engage in free community clinics. It might take a little creativity to think about ways you can apply your job for the poor. But you can. And if you’re following Christ, you must. I was encouraged by a conversation with an entrepreneur in our church who is approaching retirement. He has dedicated his services and expertise to helping get businesses off the ground in low-income areas. I know of some local business owners who work with our prison ministry to help provide jobs for some of our brothers and sisters when they are released.

Maybe you have skills that can benefit the poor overseas. In pioneer missions areas, there is an almost endless need for English teachers and builders (construction, disaster relief, etc.). Frankly, any job that makes a viable wage in the U.S. is something that can benefit the poor somewhere. The need for good lawyers, doctors and accountants in developing countries is massive, and broad experience in business leadership may be the most needed of all. Think of it this way: If it’s even crossing your mind that you can climb the ladder in your workplace, then you already have skills that could transform entire communities in the poorer parts of the world.

According to the Theology of Work project, 1.4 billion people live in poverty and another 1.1 billion in basic subsistence. Every week, 100,000 kids die of starvation and hunger-related diseases.

In light of that, Jesus’ teaching has to mean something. I’ve heard it said there is undoubtedly a connection between empty stomachs on one side of the Atlantic and empty lives on the other.

The skills and resources to end most poverty are already in the church. The next step is for you to decide how you can use what you already have and where God has already placed you to make an eternal difference and benefit those most in need.

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J.D. Greear
J.D. Greear

J.D. Greear is the pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, and is currently serving as the 62nd president of the Southern Baptist Convention. He is the author of several books, including most recently Essential Christianity: The Heart of the Gospel in Ten Words (The Good Book Company).