WHAT IS YOUR FUTURE AMBITION?
We are all familiar with this question. Can you remember when this question was thrown at you by one of your aunts or uncles?
Everybody needs a model to emulate, so it’s never too late to learn about the biblical concepts of work and talent management. And obviously, it’s never too early to pursue a career as well.
What is the best way to make your career decision? Are our young people following a biblical model for education and career decision-making, or is it based on the education system’s service?
If anyone asked you how to solve job problems from a biblical viewpoint, could you do that? Sadly, many of us would not have any idea where to start — there hasn’t been any clear process that has ever been taught to most of us at school, at home, or in church. What steps can you take to follow to discover how God has designed you and what His call is for your life? What is the spiritual nature of work?
For the Christian, there are also two points of view to choose from — the world’s view and God’s view.
THE WORLD’S PERSPECTIVE
According to a survey, almost one in four workers was unhappy with their jobs in 2003. That was a 20% increase over the survey they took only two years earlier. Also, 60% of those surveyed said they planned to leave their job for further pursuits in the next two years.
The study indicated that half of those working in the field of information technology said they would like to do something in the liberal arts.
There is no evidence that these numbers have changed. So this means many men and women go to work this morning feeling they were in the wrong professional field or occupation. They do not just feel they’d like a better boss — they think they’re in the wrong career.
These statistics merely reflect the fact that, in general, people base their career decision-making on shaky foundations — the world’s view for career development. Some of these points of view include taking a position because of the amount of money it pays. Or maybe it’s the first or the simplest job that’s on offer, and maybe friends are working for the company. Maybe the work sounds good because it has a good title, or a parent had a job like that. Or maybe it would satisfy the unfulfilled dreams of a parent.
Do any of these career-choice approaches sound familiar? Sadly, they are all too familiar, and the effects are always the same — unhappiness, stress, unfulfilled expectations, and eventual burnout.
THE BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE
Our society describes successful people as those with a good education, high positions, and a lot of money.
However, the Bible defines successful people as those who serve God first, serve others, provide for family needs, and be at peace with themselves and contemporaries.
The aim here is to share the good news with you that you don’t have to operate from the viewpoint of the world in any matter — including work. As Christians, we should know that God has called every one of us to serve a special role in His service. We have a call that He has made for us in advance, for which He has uniquely designed each one of us. And it is by this God-directed work that we can serve others, praise Him, influence the world around us, and win others to Him.
It’s never too soon to start your career-planning, and it’s never too late to teach our children about the biblical concepts of work and talent management. Everyone needs a model to emulate. The problem is, would it be God’s view or the world’s view?
Our youth have to be brought up and instilled with the knowledge that God beautifully made them and that they need to look to Him in prayer for His will for their lives. It doesn’t make any significant difference if they become business owners, doctors, publishers, custodians, teachers, attorneys, civil servants, or preachers. What matters is that they obey the will of God for their lives.
Here are 6 Christian pieces of advice on how to choose a career.
1. DEFINE THE PURPOSE OF A CAREER
The first important thing is to define what a career is.
A job is a task you do to make money. Career is a field where you plan to receive specialized training, make progress in, and make more money over time. A calling is a service where you use your spiritual ability to serve people by meeting their needs.
Often we can get stuck in choosing a career because we confuse it with a job or a calling. Sometimes we need to make money as soon as possible to satisfy the needs of our lives. That is when you’re just supposed to take any job you can.
However, a calling will change over time and is simply the place where God is leading you to serve. Typically your calling is where the gifts and the needs of the world collide. When you have a spiritual gift that can help people around the world, that’s usually where your calling is. But you don’t need to be paid for your calling. Most people don’t get paid for a ministry calling.
Career is different from both a job and a calling. A career should be an area in which you are dedicated to growing so that you can have enough time for yourself and your children. The primary aim of a career is sustainable income and development throughout a lifetime.
However, since this is going to be a long-term endeavor, it should be something that you are very good at and something you are passionate about; otherwise, it will not be sustainable.
2. CHOOSE A CAREER THAT SUITS YOUR LIFE GOALS. DO NOT CHOOSE LIFE GOALS TO FIT YOUR CAREER.
Most times, people plan their lives by choosing a career and then saying, “What can I do that fits around my career.” At a practical level, this is required because we all have to go to work. We can’t just do whatever we want and live like there’s no responsibility in life.
But when you choose your profession, you should first understand what kind of life you want to live and choose a career conducive to that lifestyle. For example, if you choose to become a doctor, but you want to work 40 hours a week and go on vacation like everyone else, you might be choosing the wrong career. Doctors have to work many hours, and holidays are always limited. But if you enjoy working a lot of hours and want to have a doctor’s lifestyle, then go for it.
Additionally, if you want to have a certain type of house, send your children to a certain type of school, or if you want to help certain ministries financially, you should consider these determinants when choosing a career. Don’t choose a job that wouldn’t provide resources that suit your life goals.
In summary, you don’t want to choose your life goals based on your career. Rather, first, choose your life goals and then choose a job that fits and supports those goals.
3. BE PRACTICAL ABOUT THE MARKET FOR YOUR CAREER
The popular advice children grow up hearing now is, “Follow your dreams.” While this is excellent and can be very inspiring, this advice works best when combined with realistic advice. You should not only look at your thoughts, expectations, and personal goals when choosing a career, but you should pay attention to the marketability of the skills you expect to learn.
Many people are going to college today with “Just follow your dreams” as their core guiding principle. This leads them to research the things they love, but those do not actually translate to employment after graduation. Is it any wonder why many college graduates end up with a huge debt only to be unemployed or begin a low-paying job? I am not suggesting ignoring your dreams, but you have to be realistic. Career has a purpose, and it is not just fulfilling your dreams. Career must also be a reliable source of income.
Proverbs 13:11 says, “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labor shall increase.” We must use experience and not just emotion when choosing a career.
4. DON’T UNDERVALUE MONEY BUT DO NOT LOVE MONEY EITHER.
When money is involved, it’s easy to swing between two extremes. The Bible tells us not to love money (1 Timothy 6:10). But the Bible does not claim to hate money. Money is a weapon that Christians are called upon to use wisely.
And when you choose your career as a Christian, it’s not wrong to look at the money that each career decision will produce. It would only be wrong if you chose a career in the worship of money. But it would also be wrong to choose a career where you can’t make money, and then your family would starve. When you make a lot of money and use it for God’s benefit, it is pleasing to Him. When you feel you have to make a lot of money and want to be a businesswoman, that’s not a sin. Loving money is evil.
Therefore Christians should consider the pay of each career choice.
5. IT IS A GOOD CAREER ADVICE TO DEVELOP HARD SKILLS FIRST AND SOFT SKILLS SECOND
On the practical side, I think it is wise for younger people to develop some hard skills first so that they can have a more predictable income while improving their soft skills and pursuing higher career goals as time goes by.
Hard skills are specific and measurable, such as learning how to weld, accounting, learning to drive a tow motor, or making blueprints. Soft skills are less measurable and include skills such as communication, leadership, or strategy. Hard skills are normally easier to predict their market value, but they also limit how much effect and money one can make with these skills. Soft skills can be more difficult to find positions, but they also have a greater potential for larger influence and revenue generation.
I think it’s wise for younger people to learn hard skills when they can so that they have a practical way to make money and provide for themselves. Hard skills are more predictable, so it’s smart to have something to fall back on. Soft skills can be developed over time. If you only learn soft skills, you run the risk of not having a good fit, and it may be difficult to make money. Also, most career value the age and maturity of people when the job requires more soft skills than hard skills. It is therefore wise to start with hard skills then begin to improve your soft skills over time, which will better suit the work opportunities that come later in life (leadership, management, strategizing, etc.).
You might want to run the company once you are done with college, but realistically, that’s not going to happen. You may have to start as an engineer, work your way up to the manager, and maybe down the line you’re going to run the company. But to get in the door, you’re probably going to be valued first for your hard skills. Hard skills can be observed in Jesus, Paul, and the disciples.
Mark 6:3, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.”
Acts 18:2-3, “And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately comes from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome 🙂 and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.”
Matthew 4:18, “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.”
These men, including Jesus, first used their hard skills, and then later in life moved on from those careers as more important ministry opportunities became available.
6. TRUST THE LORD AS YOU MOVE FORWARD AND BE OPENED TO CHANGING YOUR CAREER CHOICE ALONG THE LINE
In choosing a career, Christians must trust the Lord and do their best to follow him (Proverbs 3:5-6). We can do our best to choose the right option, but at the end of the day, we have to move forward even if we are uncertain about the future. You can have peace if you trust God.
Ultimately, all you can do is make the best career choice right now. If there is a better choice that will be revealed to you later, be open to changing course. You might not want to be bouncing around, but because you’re led by God to make a career choice earlier in life, it doesn’t mean you can’t make another career choice later in life.
Following the direction of God is a fluid situation. So if you’re going to make a good career choice as a Christian, trust God, be open to changes, and do everything for his glory.
Many of us may think that our job or career doesn’t matter as long as we’re Christians who follows God’s instructions every day. You don’t know that you have a greater purpose in life than sitting behind a desk, crunching numbers all day, and then going home without a smile on your face. And God wants you to accomplish that purpose. Before you apply for a job, ensure you heed to the above advice. If you have a job already and don’t think it’s where your heart is, then maybe it’s time to speak to God and ask for guidance.
God uses His Word to expand the frame in which we see our work and our lives, changing our perspective from the temporal to the eternal. The Holy Spirit also makes it possible for us to recognize God’s revealed will and apply it to the particular circumstances of our lives. God may also direct us by the wise counsels of those who enable us to bring the biblical principles into action in the decisions we make.
We work with God in discerning our calling when we work through a reasoned method of assessing options in light of the Scripture and our destiny. With each step, we seek the guidance of God in His Word, and through prayer, we remain open to the Lord’s instruction, should He want to specifically indicate what He wants us to do. When we are ready to be obedient, regardless of what God calls us to do, we become people He can lead and use to fulfill His purpose here on earth.