Embracing Your Bailiwick

By Merv Budd

men talking. CC by Sagar

When I was a young Christian, I asked God to make me an evangelist. In my mind an evangelist was one who stood in front of large crowds and preached – like Billy Graham. I had read plenty of biographies from past missionaries and evangelists, so I decided I would go downtown in the city that I lived to preach. When I got to the place I imagined preaching I told God I was ready and then waited for the “unction” to come. I had read how other evangelists preached under the “unction of God.” The unction never came. I ran home fell to my knees in my bedroom and prayed again, “God make me an evangelist.”

I suspect this image of evangelistic work is not a foreign to many who read this. Somehow we get the impression that evangelism is a special kind of thing. It looks a certain way. We read about the apostle Paul preaching in the agora (marketplace) and perhaps think to ourselves, “I could never stand up on a street corner and preach like him.” The truth is, that isn’t what Paul was doing. The agora was a public forum for sharing ideas. Sharing ideas was what Paul was trained to do; it was Paul’s bailiwick. Do you know where the word “bailiwick” comes from?

Bailiwick has its origins in the French term for a bailiff – bailli. A bailli was a king’s representative with jurisdiction over a particular area. The English added the wic, meaning “village,” to literally mean “the bailiffʼs village.” The term was later adopted in American English to mean the sphere of one’s knowledge or activity.

Paul was the King’s representative in his area of training, in his sphere of knowledge, to anyone who would listen.

What’s your bailiwick? Where is your sphere of knowledge? How are you trained? Are you an accountant or plumber, doctor or teacher, mom or friend? Simply represent your King in that place. That is, in part, your evangelistic call.


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