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Faith, Hope, and a Broken-down Minivan

How a part-time pizza job renewed my perspective on serving God

John VandenOever July 24, 2023

Our minivan was toast. The children were young, and they were many—we had five under the age of seven. I had a great job, but money was tight. So I took on a three-nights-a-week pizza delivery job to cover the cost of a car.

Illustration by Adam Cruft

During that season, God certainly proved faithful. We had just enough resources, and I practiced trusting Him with my daily needs. There was something rewarding about physically taking cash home at the end of the night and using it for groceries the next day.  

But even better was the appreciation that this little side-hustle gave me for my calling. I hadn’t gone to college for the pizza job, and it didn’t require years of experience and talent to get started. Yet it demanded a full investment of my focus and a commitment to learning, working hard, and serving with humility.

Like many believers, I had wrestled with the question of calling before: What am I supposed to do with my life? As a young man, I listened to preachers and teachers on the radio, and I envisioned what it might be like to sit in a radio booth and play their tapes all day—to have a job that clearly influenced the kingdom of God and encouraged my own growth in Christ.

Well, eventually I found out the answer. At the time our car went kaput, I had spent more than a decade in Christian media ministry, producing content that glorified God and encouraged listeners like me. But in this career, I soon discovered how easy it is to hunger for acclaim and advancement, to grumble and complain, and to see the work as a way of earning a living rather than as a mission.

It took a pizza delivery job to remind me that my supreme calling is to Christ. Wherever I am, in whatever I do, He is my reason for living. He should be the engine behind all that I pursue, because everything proceeds from Him. 

Scripture tells believers in Christ that we are God’s masterpiece—designed, made with purpose, and directed: “He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago” (Eph. 2:10 NLT). We’re instructed to “work with enthusiasm, as though … working for the Lord rather than for people” (Eph. 6:7 NLT). And we’re assured that nothing we do for Him is ever useless (1 Cor. 15:58).

I realized that serving Christ through my pizza job—baking, boxing, slicing, and delivering it fresh with a smile on my face—was of greater good than creating a Christian program with a bitter spirit. Don’t get me wrong: God planned long ago how His Word would impact a listener or viewer’s heart, and it had little to do with me. What I could control was my attitude and my excellence toward my co-workers and customers.

In fact, it's safe to say my co-workers at the pizza place saw more of my Christian character and benefited more from my teamwork and sacrifice than my brothers and sisters in Christ did at my “real job.”

Whether you’re a grocer, flight attendant, stockbroker, welder, or stay-at-home parent, you are meeting the needs of others. There would be no such role for you if it failed to address the real needs of people. But get this: It also happens to be the primary path of accomplishing the good deeds God has designed for you to do.

That worn out minivan created a very necessary re-focus for me. My heavenly Father, in control of all things, used an unwelcome trial to give me a discomforting look at my attitude regarding work. Through it, I saw people more clearly than I had in a long time—their temperaments, their talents, and their troubles. And I finally recognized that my store manager was in need of regular encouragement, both in word and in deed.

Christ is my calling, not my vocation. In every role we serve Him—and each other.

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