Where does accounting fit in the kingdom of God?
I’m afraid that, despite my best efforts not to, I still feel, see, and practice dualism. I still manage to hold to this belief that the secular is “bad,” and utterly separate from the spiritual. I know that there isn’t actually a Biblical basis for this, rather that God cares for the whole person. The Word took on flesh and dwelt among us. His gospel is so much bigger than just our personal salvation- it extends to the reconciliation of our whole being to Him, as well as our relationships with each other and the environment. Jesus came to take away our sins, and to destroy the works of the enemy (1 John 3:5, 8). Everything that sin made wrong, He is making right as He makes all things new. I know that shalom is about wholeness, not a fractured reality.
However, I still classify certain jobs as ministry, and everything else as, well, just work. Working for the finance department of the Underground Network challenges this dualism for me daily. On the one hand, working for the Underground Network in any capacity seems like ministry. Part of what is so unique about the Underground is the way this organization challenges every believer to engage with their own calling from Jesus to bring the good news to the dark places in our city. Being a part of that dream in any capacity feels like being a part of something much larger than myself- something like the reconciliation of all things to God.
Then again, I work in finances from nine to five, Monday through Friday, and I know of nothing that falls more squarely outside the “spiritual” in dualism then numbers. What could accounting possibly have to do with spirituality?
At the Underground, though, we are committed to surrendering our whole selves to Jesus, even our accounting. With materialism and greed dominating our current culture, especially our accounting needs to be surrendered to Him. This is actually a way that we resist the works of the enemy in the world, as we seek the kingdom of God in how we use our money. Because of that, being a part of the Finance team at the Underground is deeply spiritual, and interwoven with prayer. We are constantly confronted with the behind the scenes needs of committed missionaries, and pushed to cry out for the provision of God, and the leadership of His Spirit as we seek creative solutions. Simultaneously, we worship Him for the ways He does provide through the sacrificial generosity of people in our community, both near and far. I am aware every time I fill out a form, run a report, or reconcile an account, of how small I am, and how large this thing that God is growing out of our mustard seed faith is.
I need this reminder, that every detail in our lives and our organizations has to belong to Jesus. He has to be Lord, in the way we do our accounting, the way we design our websites, the way we coach and train. Our learning and action should be defined by His leadership and mission. In the finance department, this means wrestling with how to better manage risks, as people who both trust Jesus and also need to effectively steward what He has given us. It means welcoming and embracing the highest standards of accountability. I need this reminder because I need every task that I undertake, from simple data entry to creative problem solving, to be submitted to Jesus, covered with prayer, and done with commitment to His mission. When I look at my job this way, finances and accounting feel like intercession and worship; a valuable piece of equipping missionaries of the kingdom who are wholly surrendered to Jesus.
Of course, I still don’t want to neglect Jesus’ mandate to go out and look for lost sheep. Underground staff don’t just spend their days serving missionaries, they also are missionaries in their families, neighborhoods, and the communities they have been called to serve. I think in this season, I am just realizing that the reach of Jesus’ kingdom extends farther than I’ve imagined before. The specific ways I assumed and expected that He would use my life, the things that I tried to control, have not worked out as I planned, or hoped. Instead, He is leading me towards deeper surrender as I learn to do everything for His glory and honor in the world, from making a deposit in a microchurch’s bank account, to serving as part of a tutoring program for kids, to loving the people in my home church. I want to value and be faithful to each of these roles He has given me as I continue seeking His leadership.