This is a guest post by Daniel Hawthorn. He lives in the San Francisco bay area with his wife Jamie and son Liam. He works as a software engineer and is the founder of eduschedu.com, a small education technology company serving students and teachers in K-12 schools. He carries a strong vision for incarnating Christ in business by releasing believers to express the fulness of Kingdom life and creativity in the workplace. He thoroughly enjoys any conversation that involves the cross section of education, technology, and the Kingdom, and in the early evenings can usually be found on a run with his toddler and trusty jogging stroller.
I am a teacher-slash-software engineer-slash-entrepreneur with an apostolic call to the marketplace. An ‘A’ with regards to the A.P.E. acronym and called to the marketplace.
Yeah, it’s a mouthful, and it can be tough to explain what this means to people. I feel like the Church has traditionally had a very limited understanding of what it means to bring the Kingdom to business and the marketplace, and so many of us have no grid for what it means to be an apostolic entrepreneur. Let me put it this way: bringing the order of the Kingdom into the marketplace through business means a whole lot more than reading your Bible during lunch and telling your coworkers you are a Christian! That may be a tough one to wrap your head around, and it’s been a journey for me as well.
I have spent many years in churches feeling deeply misunderstood. I could almost describe it as constrained. I am only beginning to understand what it means to carry an apostolic call, but as I begin to step into this role it is the most exciting, terrifying, thrilling, and alive way I could imagine to live my life.
A Frustrated Leader
Let me take you back. For years, I have carried a deep burden to see and experience what I read in the Bible in my day-to-day life. But I also found myself frustrated. I often said, “Lord, there must be more!” I loved (and still love!) the churches I attended. But as I joined various ministries or participated in leadership teams, I always felt like a piece of me just didn’t fit. I wanted to see Christ impact every aspect of my life and the lives of people around me – the people who I would never see next to me in the pews on Sundays.
Looking back, I understand this was the apostolic call tapping me on the shoulder.
Paul said in Romans 15:20 that his desire was to preach Christ where no foundation had yet been laid. The apostolic call desires to establish the order of the Kingdom in domains, regions, and organizations where it has never before been. An apostolic leader is needed where no order and Kingdom DNA has been established. To put it another way, an apostolic leader goes where there is no expression of Christ in order to engineer, implant, and impart the Kingdom. Ultimately, a new community of believers (the Church!) will be established in that place to catalyze further transformation, so that the apostolic leader can move on to repeat the process in new places and communities.
An Apostolic Math Teacher
I spent 5 years as a high school math teacher. Teaching was a great job! As an APE, teaching was one of the most rewarding, fulfilling jobs I could have imagined. The classroom was a domain where I had freedom to establish the order of the Kingdom. In the classroom I had the opportunity to bring truth to my students in ways that, I hope, will in a small way change their lives forever. Every day I got to spend time with kids with no fathers, with kids who believed they were stupid, with kids who desperately needed someone to tell them they have value, show them they have value, by loving them as the Father loves me.
Let me be clear: as a teacher, it was not appropriate for me to directly evangelize, proselytize, convert, or do anything of the sort. And for good reason! When we are given a position of authority over other people, such as in a classroom or in the workplace, we are entrusted with power to influence. To use this influence to manipulate those under us, no matter how unintentionally, is offensive and dishonoring.
Because I carried an apostolic vision with me into my classroom, I was able to deliberately construct an atmosphere in my classroom that brought life to the students under my charge. I was intentional about not hiding my faith – my students knew me as a Christian. My goal was to demonstrate the person of Christ in my words, my actions, and in the environment that I created within my classroom. The normal setbacks of life and academics encountered by the teenagers in my classes became opportunities for me to encourage and lead them into promise and life.
An Apostolic Engineer
I loved, and still love, teaching, but when I quit my teaching job in 2010 the real adventure began. My background in software engineering, a bent towards entrepreneurship, and a developing understanding of the power of business to bring positive change to communities lead me to make a radical change. The same week my wife gave birth to our first son (an adventure in itself!), I quit my teaching job and (between helping care for my wife and our newborn) founded an educational software startup dedicated to serving teachers and students in K-12 schools. Crazy? Perhaps. Worth it? Definitely.
What we need to understand is that living out an A.P.E. gifting (especially the ‘A’!) can mean founding a software startup or working a cash register as much as it can mean full time ‘ministry’. Don’t get stuck thinking that to be an APE means sending out support letters or working on a church staff. I’m not minimizing these things, I am only saying that many believers with an APE gifting will never join professional ministry.
The apostolic calling is about bringing the Kingdom to communities. It’s about establishing structures that lead people into encounter with Christ. It’s about taking the broken things on the Earth and working to see them rebuilt to align with God’s intent.
If Jesus is Christ, and the perfect representation of the creator of perfect order and beauty, then he is the most attractive man that ever lived. I’ve discovered that one of the jobs of an apostolic APE is to see His image formed in every earthly structure, and to labor to build systems that bring glory to God. Many of us spend 40 or more hours a week in our jobs, but so few of us have ever been released to view their vocation as a first-class heavenly assignment. Business can shape culture, and has power to bring Kingdom order to communities when it submitted to the leadership of Christ. Even believers in the most menial of roles are positioned to impact those within their sphere of influence. Ask the Lord for insight!
Do you have an apostolic call on your life? Do you love the marketplace? There is no division between the spiritual and natural. Like me, the Lord is calling many of you to the marketplace. What are you waiting for?