How did Jesus do it? To your surprise, this is not a question that can be answered by acknowledging the divinity of Christ. Jesus was fully God and fully man. How did Jesus do it as fully man? How did Jesus work as a carpenter and do ministry? How did he do it without feeling overworked, discouraged, and exhausted?
In the gospel accounts, Jesus is referred to as a carpenter and carpenter’s son (Mark 6:3, Matthew 13:55). The Greek word used is “tekton” which translates broadly to “artisan” or “handyman” and some even believe that Jesus and Joseph acted as civil engineers. Besides that, it is unclear from the gospels alone how many hours Jesus worked weekly or how long he worked as a carpenter. It never talks about if Jesus felt burnt out when doing both. It never explicitly states if Jesus did both “full-time” and at the same time, but I cannot help but wonder. Regardless, Jesus was both fully God and fully human, my guess is there were times within his occupation and ministry where he felt exhausted.
Between you and me, I’ve been feeling worn out. I have been feeling discouraged. I thought I would have more time after receiving my bachelor’s degree, but I’m fighting to find hours to work on this blog and podcast. This sometimes means I’m up at 0430, even on weekends. This sometimes looks like drinking my fourth cup of coffee an hour before “bedtime.” I do not actually remember the last time I went an entire day without some form of caffeine. Oh boy is that concerning? Maybe I should have left that detail out.
From me to you, I wish I could work on Through Faith & Grace full-time. I have a deep admiration for writing. There is great joy in the art of podcasting. Weekends are the best part of my week because this is when I work on this side project. It is way more enjoyable talking about this than any engineering project I’ve ever worked on. I wish I could dedicate 40 hours a week to this.
Yet with that said, I also love working as a full-time research engineer. I deeply enjoy the work that I do and my coworkers are a blast. I could geek out while talking about 3D printers, stroke rehabilitation robots, and exoskeletons, but that would be a waste of your time. My point is that I do love my job and I do love this online ministry and in this season of life, I am balancing both. It’s quite strenuous. It’s not the easiest task I look at those who had jobs and pursued ministry and I wonder how did they do it? How did Jesus work as a carpenter? How did Paul work as a tentmaker? How did and how do Christ-followers balance this?
These questions are mostly rhetorical, Jesus and Paul were both single. The unmarried have more time to pursue The Lord (1 Corinthians 7). There is beauty in the gift of singleness and the gift of marriage. Church it is important that we recognize both gifts should be equally cherished. Aside from relationship status, the way we Americans view our workweek is much different than what work looked like in biblical times. This also goes for living expenses. The apostle Paul traveled extensively throughout the Roman world. He taught and preached but also worked as a tentmaker (Acts 18:1-3). Tentmaking was his day job and this is how he paid for his living expenses. Today, even with a well-paying job and living with roommates, Seattle is stupid-expensive to live in. Inflation makes it worse. My point being, is there are a lot of factors to consider when you ask these questions. How did Jesus work as a carpenter? How did Paul work as a tentmaker? Why am I struggling to find time to do both? Well, it’s complicated.
I have found a deeper admiration for others who balance work and ministry. The pastor that also works real-estate, the computer scientist that meets friends for coffee on Saturday to share the story of Jesus, the kindergarten teacher that also leads a bible study, and the full-time college student that spends their Sunday volunteering at church. I see you. I see the work you put in even though you’re tired. I see your love for Jesus even though you may find yourself struggling with this balance from time to time. I see you and I can relate to you. You do not go unnoticed. Your servant-heart points to Jesus.
The other element I’ve been struggling with is the discouragement I face with this ministry. My audience is tiny and it is painfully upsetting how easy it is to tell who reads my posts and who listens to my podcast episodes. It’s times where I’m still writing after an eight-hour work-day plus three hours of traffic when I wonder if it’s worth it. The thoughts that often linger are no one reads your blog anyway, you’re wasting your time, your podcast isn’t doing anything to build God’s kingdom. How did Jesus work as a carpenter? How did Paul work as a tentmaker? What am I doing and is it doing anything for God’s kingdom or should I just leave it all? Is it worth the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion?
Admittedly, that’s a bit dramatic, even for me. I do feel like sharing my story is what God is calling me to do. I want to write posts for this blog and record podcast episodes for as long as God has placed that calling on my heart. People need to hear the gospel and I want to share how Jesus changes everything. This is why I do what I do because Jesus is just that good. It’s because Jesus is just that good that if this ministry is in His will, I will do it even if that means my audience remains small. And even if that means I may never be able to do this as a living, this is what I feel called to do. How did Jesus do it? How did Paul do it? How do people balance work with their ministry? They do it through God. It is by His strength and in Him we find rest.
Of course, there are times where I am unmotivated by the lack of support I have, or rather, appear to have. There are times where I doubt God’s sovereignty and I wonder if working overtime is worth it. But this is what it looks like to be a Christian, I’m not perfect. I still have doubts. I still have trouble trusting God with all things. There are times where all I want to do is talk about Jesus but there are also times where picking up the Bible is the last thing I want to do. If I followed Christianity based on my feelings alone, I would not be a Christian.
In this season of life, I am learning what balance looks like with working full-time, fulfilling this ministry, and also cultivating time to grow in the different roles I play. As a wife, sister, friend, engineer, I am called to live out these roles in a way that honors Jesus. It’s about being intentional with my time, being present, and observing what Jesus did during His time on earth. This means centering my life on Jesus and incorporating spiritual practices such as fasting, praying, daily Scripture reading. This sometimes looks like pushing through even when I do not want to read the Bible. This means constant prayer throughout the day. This means being present and thanking God for the little things instead of constantly being distracted by the desire to produce content. This means enjoying the sabbath with my husband and taking the time to truly rest even when my workaholic mind claims to find more rest in productivity.
Jesus may or may not have worked as a full-time carpenter while doing ministry but when I read the gospels, I see a man who made time for friends. I see a man who was constantly praying. I see a man who did not care about a big audience or following. I see a man who rested. I see a man who could only do what He did through God alone. I see a man who wanted The Lord’s Will above anything else in this life. But it gets better because Jesus was both fully man and fully God. He was more than a good moral teacher. Jesus, more than a carpenter, is the Savior of the world. He is Lord and through Him alone you can be saved. It’s faith alone in Jesus Christ alone. He really is just that good.
In these times of doubt and discouragement, I remember it’s Jesus, more than a carpenter. It’s Jesus, who is Lord. This is why I share my story. Even if 99 percent of my non-Christian readers remain non-Christians, but the one percent repents and gives their life to Jesus, this ministry is still worth it. It is absolutely worth it. Even if one person turns to Jesus, we celebrate, and may God receive all of the glory for it.
True freedom is found in Jesus and only Jesus. It’s Jesus, more than a carpenter.