As many of you know, next to God, family, the Cubs, and Notre Dame football, I love westerns. Several years ago I picked up a copy of a book entitled, Cowboy Ethics by James P. Owen. In the book, he outlines the virtues of the great American Cowboy and why we need to return to those virtues as quickly as possible.
In his book, Mr. Owen claims that among other things, the Cowboy “took pride in his work.” Whether it was roping calves, digging fence post holes, or branding cattle, the Cowboy took pride in what he did.
Three hundred years before the first Cowboy roped his first steer, a man named Martin Luther coined a phrase that fueled the Reformation. That phrase is “the priest- hood of all believers.” In the church that existed at the time, there was a “pecking order,” or hierarchy. Pope on top, bishops in second place, priests in third place, and laymen on the bottom rung of the ladder.
The reason this “pecking order” existed was to keep the lay people in line by forcing them to do whatever the priests, bishops, and popes told them to do. With the Bible only written in Hebrew, Greek, and Latin there was no way the average layman could know what the Word of God truly said. The laity had to rely on the clergy. Clergy insisted they were the only ones who had a calling from God.
I met a man once over coffee and he informed me that he thought he had a calling to go into the priesthood. After a little while, he realized he didn’t have a calling and became a pharmacist and successful business man. I asked him if he had ever heard of the phrase, “priesthood of all believers.”
He said he had not, and I went on to explain that Luther, convinced by the Word of God, believed that all people are “called” by God; all are called to be “ministers.” Some are called by God to be ministers of healing; we call them doctors and nurses. Some are called to enlighten the world; we call them teachers. Some are called to build; we call them carpenters, electricians, and plumbers. Some are called to do justice; we call them law officers, attorneys, and judges. Some are called to Word and Sacrament ministry; we call them pastors. Luther said, the “lowliest scrub woman armed with Scripture is mightier that the mightiest pope without Scripture.”
Whether you know it or not, you are called by God to do what you do. And since you are called by God, then “take pride in what you are doing” because what you are doing is to the glory of God and for the betterment of all humanity.