By MARTIN E. WILLOUGHBY, JR.
About fifteen years ago, I was struggling whether I was being called into full-time ministry. I started taking some seminary classes, and I was in a process of seeking God’s direction for my life. While I did not hear the audible voice of God, I did have a clear and overwhelming conviction one day that I was actually being called into ministry in the marketplace.
I learned that Marketplace Ministry or Faith at Work was a rapidly growing movement around the globe. Henry Blackaby, noted author of Experiencing God, stated, “the greatest potential for revival today is in corporate America.” This made sense to me. We spend so many hours at work every week, that it would only be natural to integrate our faith into our daily work life.
I had a vision of working with business owners who wanted to dedicate their businesses to God and operate Kingdom Businesses for God’s glory. I have been fortunate in the years since to see how powerful it is when a business stands for God’s principles and how lives can be transformed.
I have always enjoyed writing. From my days at Millsaps College, I learned to love to read and write. As I began my career, I always tried to find opportunities to write and share with others. I had been a regular reader of Metro Christian Living (now Mississippi Christian Living) and enjoyed the business and ministry that Marilyn Tinnin had built.
I remember to this day meeting with Marilyn to share an idea I had about writing an article about the Marketplace Ministry movement for her magazine. As always, she was so full of life, inquisitive, and a natural encourager. She was kind enough to let me write an article over nine years ago. That one article led to a subsequent article the next month, and the next—and I have been writing for her ever since. Over the years, Marilyn continued to encourage and support me as I wrote a book, Intentional Faith (in which she wrote the foreword), and began to speak on faith at work. Regardless of life’s setbacks, Marilyn’s optimism and enthusiasm have been great sources of inspiration for me. She is a great example to me of “walking the talk.”
As I began to write more and more columns for the magazine, I worried that I would perhaps not have enough to write about. I remember my Mom early on telling me not to worry. She said, “Martin, we all need to be frequently reminded to be kind and love one another. That message never gets old.” That was sage advice.
I have sought to be an encourager to readers of this column over the years to look past differences and to focus on what truly matters—a life in relationship with a loving God and living out our faith amidst the tyranny of the urgent that seeks to distract us. I have tried to be a voice to help people keep the big picture in mind with a view both to heaven and to help bring heaven to earth.
I have been blessed by the notes and calls from readers over the years. I have found great encouragement from those who shared how God’s Word has impacted them. As a writer, it is always a challenge to stay out of your own way and let the Holy Spirit guide.
After many years of writing, I am taking a break to see what new paths God would like me to pursue. I approach this next season with nervous anticipation as I seek His will.
To Marilyn and her incredible team, the advertisers who keep the business going, and you, the readers, I simply say a heartfelt THANK YOU!