It is said Martin Luther was approached by a man who had just become a Christian.
Wanting desperately to please the Lord, the new convert asked Luther, “What should I do now,” impliedly inquiring whether he should become a minister.
Luther asked, ‘What is your work now?”
“I’m a shoemaker,” he replied.
Luther said, “Then make a good shoe, and sell it at a fair price.”
The story is a good example of Luther’s Doctrine of Vocation, the idea the Lord uses us in our jobs to meet the needs of others. The Lord meets the needs of the person who needs shoes through the shoemaker, and He feeds us through the work of the farmer.
Luther’s Doctrine of Vocation is important; it has been a tremendous blessing for many over the centuries to understand how their so-called “secular” jobs serve a Godly purpose, but the doctrine doesn’t explain how making a good shoe advances the kingdom of God. Jesus answered that question in the Parable of the Talents.
In the Parable of the Talents, the servants who did well in the job their master gave them were given more responsibility, i.e. authority over cities. See Luke 19:12-27. The parable is as descriptive as it is proscriptive. It illustrates the truth that those who are good at what they are given to do will be given more responsibility. On earth and in the kingdom of God, those who do their jobs well are promoted.
Proverbs 22:29 describes it like this:Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.
As a Christian is given more earthly responsibility he or she obtains more territory in which to exercise the delegated authority of King Jesus. Where God’s will is done on earth is Kingdom territory. See e.g. Matt. 6:10. As the territory of the kingdom of God expands, so does the kingdom of God.
Therefore, making a good shoe not only meets the needs of others, it’s a means through which the kingdom of God is advanced on the earth.
When you go to work today, make a good shoe. GS