Marketplace minister spreads God's word to fellow employees, clients, customers
Many children dream of being firefighters or professional athletes when they grow up. Since he was a teen-ager, Paul Gazelka aspired to be either an insurance agent or a minister.
An odd calling for a young man, some may think. But Gazelka claims there was a higher power involved in his career decisions. Unsure whether he should go to school for business or theology, Gazelka decided to get a business degree -- from a Christian College. The best of both worlds he thought, pursuing his dream of being a businessman, as well as broadening his Christian background.
Today, Gazelka is a State Farm Insurance agent in Baxter, with a passion for ministry. He recently wrote a book, "Marketplace Ministers," detailing his life and the choices he's made.
"I've always been passionate about Christianity, but I didn't want to be a full-time pastor," he said.
Gazelka has worked his way up the ladder of success in the insurance business, making a good living for himself, his wife and his five children. As a businessman, Gazelka was at the top of his game as an executive for his company. His family life and passion for ministry, however, were dwindling.
"As time passed I could feel the distance growing between my wife and me. Each step up the corporate ladder continued to require more time and energy. It seemed right for a while, and yet I had less time for my family and less freedom to share the gospel," Gazelka wrote in "Marketplace Ministers."
After years of immense struggling, not knowing where his life was leading him, Gazelka knew what his calling in life was. He said after much prayer and several signs from God, he was destined to be a marketplace minister.
A marketplace minister, he said, is a person who works in the business world, yet acts as a minister by spreading God's word to fellow employees, clients and customers who seem to be seeking.
"It's OK to minister where you're at, you don't need to be a pastor," Gazelka said. "All Christians are called into full-time ministry ... we can't leave it all up to pastors. Express your Christianity throughout your life, not just on Sunday mornings."
As an insurance agent, Gazelka feels he was called to the profession because he often speaks with people dealing with devastation and life-changing circumstances.
In the book, Gazelka writes about a client who came into his office to remove his wife from his life insurance policy. Gazelka could see the man was in pain and started asking questions. He was going through a tough divorce and his life was crumbling before him. He was lost.
Gazelka writes: "My heart went out to him, and I shared that even in this difficult situation, God would help him through. I then asked if he had a personal relationship with Jesus, and he said he did not. Right there in the office, we came before the throne of God together, and he received Jesus Christ as savior."
Gazelka said a few days earlier, the man turned to the Bible for the first time in years, searching for guidance. "He was knocking, and the Lord answered his heart's cry through my obedience," Gazelka wrote.
That is marketplace ministry.
Gazelka tossed around the idea of writing a book about becoming a marketplace minister for years. He credits God for getting the book written and published, believing He opened doors for Gazelka that otherwise would've been closed.
"Marketplace Ministers" was released in March and can be purchased at Bethany Bookstore in Baxter. Gazelka is currently promoting the message of his book around the world. He is planning a trip to Australia and is working on getting the book published in Spanish and releasing it in Peru.
"I want people all over the world to embrace whatever fire I have. I want them to catch it," Gazelka said.