The Two Pillars
I Kings 7:21 Thus he set up the pillars at the porch of the nave; and he set up the right pillar and named it Jachin, and he set up the left pillar and named it Boaz.
Many pastors are sincerely searching for a better understanding of the critical relationship between the marketplace and professional ministry. Pastors are not alone in this search. Believers all over the world, whether they sit in the pews or occupy the pulpits, at some time in their lives, struggle with understanding just how God wants us all to fit together for the purposes of His Kingdom. People in the pews may have a call to ministry, but not professional, pulpit ministry. This kind of call can bring about a confusing time, particularly for believers in business, government, education, etc. (the marketplace). Many who feel this desire for a deeper life of effectiveness for the Lord are sincerely trying to hear the Lord. Do we quit our jobs and become pastors or join our church staff?
The answer is that we are led by the Spirit of God. We find the role that God has for us and are led not by discomfort with our present circumstances; not by our desire to minister; but by our commitment to the plan of God for our life. We have to understand our role and stay in that role until He brings promotion. Personal discomfort has very little to do with being led by the Spirit of God. If our role is that of a pastor, then we must walk in that role. But if that role is an entrepreneur, then we must walk in that role with the same honor and zeal.
The Mythical Ladder
We sometimes think in terms of a mythical ladder we must climb to "really please God." The bottom rung of the ladder is the marketplace (business, government, etc.) which is often referred to as "secular work" or "working for money." To reach the top rung of this ladder, which represents service to God, we must leave the marketplace and become pastors or missionaries.
When we think like this, we live with two misconceptions. The first misconception is that we think God's involvement in our work life is minimal; therefore our accountability to Him is also minimal. If God is not really that involved with us, then it doesn't really matter if we lack integrity from time to time. If He only becomes fully engaged with the "sacred" and we are at the bottom rung of this mythical ladder ("secular"), we are more or less left to our own devices with marginal involvement from God.
The Scripture dispels this misconception. Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. Everything we do during the workday is holy to the Lord. It does not matter whether we pastor a church or clean a toilet; whether we are a missionary, an ambassador, or a ditch digger. According to Colossians 3, it is all holy to Him. He cares about it all; from how hard we work, to our punctuality and integrity and the respect of those in authority over us. We represent Him to the world Monday through Saturday. He is fully engaged, all the time, in everything we do, whether it is the worship service at church or leading a stockholders' meeting at a Fortune 500 company. He is looking for an exhibition of our character (His character in us) in all these things.
The second misconception is that we must move from "secular work" to the "sacred work" in order get to the top of this mythical ladder. I remember after the first segment at one of our MarketPlace Leadership Conferences in El Salvador, a pastor in his fifties came up to me and he was crying. He told me about his deep desire to serve God and minister to people. He said he had been a businessman for many years, but had a business failure a number of years ago. He thought that this failure meant that he was probably doing the wrong thing and God wanted him to be a pastor. He thought it would not be possible to serve God as a businessman, so he went into the professional ministry.
He was embraced by some ministry colleagues as one who had finally seen the light, and eventually became a pastor of a church. Even though he was a pastor, he continued this love and deep interest of business. He confessed to me that he had struggled to find fulfillment and effectiveness in this role as pastor. He said the Lord had spoken to him during that first segment of our conference that he was never "called" to this role of a pastor, but God had indeed "called" him to business. He told me that he now understood that he was meant to serve God with the same zeal and passion in business. He raised his hands to Heaven, wept for joy, and said, "Gloria a Dios!"
God Knows How Many Pastors the World Needs
The world needs pastors, and marketplace people need pastors. The Kingdom will not function without them. They care for our souls and, by God's design, they have a special place in every culture. But God knows how many pastors the world needs, so He equips just the right number for every generation. If you are not equipped emotionally and spiritually to be a pastor, you will have a very difficult job trying to fulfill that role over the long term. The broader viewpoint is that God's people, who need the care of one of His pastors, will not get what they need. You will eventually flourish when you find the role you have been divinely equipped to fulfill, whether that is as a pastor, a housewife, or an entrepreneur.
Many people in the marketplace, who have a heart to serve God, find themselves confused about these issues. We don't seem to be getting the message to the body of believers world wide, that it is perfectly appropriate and necessary for us to serve God in the marketplace, if this is God's role for us. The issue for all of us is "What is our role?" When God calls us to a role, whatever that role is, we have been divinely equipped by Him for that specific role. Only in that role will we become most effective and find lasting fulfillment.
Failure in that role does not necessarily mean God is moving you to "full time ministry" or the "sacred." It may mean you are doing some things wrong, and corrections need to be made. It may be also mean you are in a time of testing. Isaiah recorded God's viewpoint on such matters in Isaiah 55:8-9 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the Heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts."
These are well known verses, but they apply to all areas of life, including the marketplace. God defines success and failure in different terms than we do. What we consider failure, many times He may consider as a character development process. It is our character that God places the highest value on, not success, as we define success. He has a different standard of measurement.
God Fills Us With His Wisdom, Knowledge and Spirit
In Exodus 35:31 it says .and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship . NKJV In this verse Moses is speaking about two men who have been supernaturally filled by God to lead the construction of the Tabernacle. They were divinely equipped with skill, knowledge and understanding. While these men were given the abilities to perform the highly skilled work of artisans for the Tabernacle, they were also supernaturally given management and administrative gifts; they were given intelligence, understanding and insight (Exodus 31:1-6). The Lord told Moses in these verses about Bezalel, See, I have called by name, Bezalel. I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge .
This is not unique to this man. Everything we do is "sacred" and God is fully engaged in all work that is performed. Therefore we are accountable to Him for our dealings in business, the decisions we make in government, the procedures we perform as surgeons, as well as the messages we preach as pastors.
Move Toward -- Not Away From
It is sometimes difficult for marketplace people to realize that God loves us no matter what our performance level is, and nothing will ever change that. This dear brother in El Salvador moved away from his business failure a defeated man, to the next stage of his life, hoping God would be pleased with him as a pastor. When he struggled in that role also, he felt he was of little value to the Lord. This is a common misunderstanding.
Years ago, the Lord spoke to me one morning during my prayer time about moving through the different stages of my life. We all have stages or seasons in life as we grow in spiritual maturity and responsibility. You may change jobs, change cities or have new responsibilities, but change is a part of our life in Christ. Our character determines how well we handle this change. God gave me a bit of His wisdom at a time I needed it. Regarding the changing seasons of my life, He said "Move TOWARD a new season, rather than AWAY FROM one." It is better to move toward the next season of life rather than away from the previous one.
This may sound like a play on words, but I found it to be a very valuable lesson of life. When the Lord brought about the transitions in my life, I saw that it was important for me to leave one season of my life in victory, having completed my assignment, and ready for the challenges of the next season. Of course, we make these moves by the leading of the Holy Spirit, and never because it looks like a better deal. Romans 8:14 says, For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.
This verse has practical application to these specific stages or seasons of life we are talking about. We don't move through these stages, having failed, hoping for something better in the next one. I want to stress here that even if others look at your situation as an absolute failure and defeat, you know whether you have conquered and are ready to move on. You can't measure your progress in this journey of life by other people -- only by your obedience to the Holy Spirit. You may feel bruised from the fight, but Ephesians 6:13 says, Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. NKJV
If anyone knows about bruising and standing, it was the Apostle Paul. He was whipped, beaten, imprisoned, and shipwrecked multiple times, yet he continued fulfilling his assignment. I wonder if Paul's friends ever said "You need to find a new job! This one is going to kill you!" Paul was more qualified than most men to say ...and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:13. Sometimes the victory I am speaking about is found in just standing.
However, when that change comes, whether you are choosing it, or someone is choosing it for you, stand and find something to claim a victory over. Don't permit yourself to change a season feeling defeated, and don't worry about what others may think; we have to please only One!
The Understanding Gap
What is God's model? Many marketplace people are not quite sure where they fit in this Kingdom of God. We thrive in a world of government or business, yet there is a desire to please the Lord with our lives. How could God care about any occupation other than "real" ministry? How do we find our place? How do we bridge this "understanding gap" to be released to do what we are called to do, whatever that calling may be?
God is giving understanding to some church and marketplace leaders. At the same time, He is activating people in their congregations with strategies to bring Jesus Christ to the world in unique ways. Marketplace people are being positioned to transform and lead businesses and governments. They realize that financial resource usually comes with strategies to bring the Kingdom to cities, regions and nations.
King Solomon was building the first Temple of the Lord. The details of this Temple were drawn up by Solomon's father, King David, with the prophet Nathan. It was in David's heart to build this Temple for the Lord, but he was judged to have shed too much blood, so the task was given to his son, Solomon. The Porch of the Nave was a covered entrance to this magnificent structure. Two massive, identical bronze columns were set at the entrance of the Porch. Scholars say they were set before the entrance as "pillars of witness," or "pillars of remembrance."
Since the prophet Nathan was involved in the plans for the temple, it is reasonable to assume that God had His hand in the details. Why would the Lord want these pillars so prominently displayed? What did God want us to remember? What were they a "witness" to? Who were the two men these massive columns were named for? Why did they have their names on these columns? Each carving, every detail of the Temple, had significance to the priests and Levites and to the people. Why were these two identical bronze pillars set at the entrance of the Temple, so that every worshipper would be called to "remembrance?"
Who Were These Men?
The first pillar was named Jachin, (Hebrew for "Yahweh will establish"). He was an honored priest during the reign of King David. It is significant that he was a priest. However, we will focus on the second pillar named Boaz (Hebrew for "In Yahweh is the King's strength"). Boaz was a wealthy landowner from Bethlehem. I understood Boaz to be a successful farmer and a respected businessman, but I was determined to know more about this man who would have a pillar named after him in the most important structure in Jewish history.
I must confess to some skepticism. I thought about the "Bricks of Faith" concept, even in Solomon's day! "Buy 100 Bricks of Faith for the building of the temple and your name will be placed in a small plaque. Buy 10,000 Bricks of Faith and we will give you a bronze column with your name on it!" As I read these verses, I pictured Solomon going to this wealthy businessman and saying, "Boaz, if you 'donate' a large amount of shekels to the Temple, we will have your name inscribed on the pillar at the entrance of the temple. Then everyone will remember you and the offerings you gave."
Sometimes people in the marketplace love to have their names engraved on things. The more "bricks of faith" we buy, the bigger our names get carved on stones for all to see. I tell you, this is the antithesis of everything I know about Kingdom leadership. As I read these verses, I thought to myself, "Boaz must have paid a great deal for this massive bronze pillar to carry his name."
Boaz a Man of Integrity
However, my initial thoughts about Boaz were completely wrong. Boaz was not a contemporary of Solomon, but had lived almost 250 years earlier. He was Solomon's great, great grandfather. So revered and honored was this successful farmer/businessman that we are still talking about him thousands of years later. He was a godly man of such integrity, honor, and high moral character that the Lord chose him to be an ancestor of the Messiah. Boaz was a true representative of a Biblical culture for business by expressing kindness to the alien and affording privileges to Ruth the Moabite even though she was not a Jew. Deuteronomy 14:29 The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do. Boaz became Ruth's "kinsman redeemer," a term used to describe the work of Jesus on the cross.
A Blessing Declared
In Ruth 2:4, we see Boaz as a prominent landowner and leader in the city, pronouncing a blessing as a greeting over field hands. In most businesses from the beginning of time until today, this kind of worker goes unnoticed by management and certainly by business owners. Now behold, Boaz came from Bethlehem and said to the reapers," May the LORD be with you." And they said to him, "May the LORD bless you." Not only was he greeting his lowest level worker, but he declared the prayerful blessing of the Lord over them! This was a grateful, Godly man who paid attention to the small things. He displayed such high moral integrity and generosity that he is still revered today.
Righteousness Out of the View of Others
On the night Ruth asked Boaz to be her kinsman redeemer, this important, yet humble man, made a righteous, moral decision because of his fear of the Lord. His choice was immorality or righteousness and obedience to God's law. If he had chosen the former, he would have become faceless and nameless in history. Because he chose righteousness when no one was there but Ruth the Moabite, an alien, he is revered, not only in Jewish history, but we are still talking about his example of Godly character today! The study of the Book of Ruth is also a study of Boaz.
How many of us make small, seemingly private decisions on a daily basis that grieve the Lord and disqualify us from our place in history? He wants the whole man to serve Him, not just the man who sits in church on Sunday. He wants us to represent Him in business, socially, in our families, and with our spouses and children, etc. We are expected to be the Lord's representative in every area of our lives, every day.
Trade Routes of the Kingdom Economy Must be Pure!
These "Two Pillars" of equal size, weight, and prominence, the "pillars of remembrance," communicated to the worshippers in the Temple equal responsibility before the Lord to implement His purposes. They were a reminder that the character of a man, whether he is a priest or a businessman, is what has lasting significance to the Lord.
These two pillars remind us that leadership, in God's eyes, is not a function of whether a man is a priest or a businessman. The kind of leadership that brings about transformation to a culture must come from the core of a man or woman who has been transformed. You can't institute real change if you haven't been changed yourself. Character and commitment to our purpose are the things that qualify us for a life of significance.
These two identical pillars were named for different individuals who had different roles in Jewish history, yet equal responsibility to the Lord for their personal integrity and character. Both represented a model for moral excellence and righteousness that is necessary for any leader God can use.
Today, leaders like Boaz are skilled people who are forming holy alliances which will generate funding for the Kingdom. This is nothing new to the Lord. He has given us models in Scripture that we are "re-discovering." The "Two Pillars" are such a model.