Career Development- A Biblical Perspective
Selecting a career is one of the most difficult decisions that a youngster can face during his life. It is also a decision that is most heavily influenced by external factors like parents, friends, society and so on. Some youngsters choose a career influenced by what his or her friends have chosen. Some select a career influenced by what their parents advise them. Some are affected by the society in which they live in. Some choose a career based on its payback in terms of financial rewards.
But let me clarify that a career chosen on such factors are the most hazardous and can prove to be your undoing later in life. This article will help you to take a decision based on certain principles stated in the word of God. Decisions based on word of God may not be the most financially rewarding but later in life, as you look back, you will be most satisfied. Jacob made a horrible decision in choosing a career to spend 14 years at Laban’s place in Haran. He wasted the prime of his youth being completely useless to God. It took God over 20 years to bring him back to Bethel and in line with what God wanted him to do. Let us not be like Jacob and choose careers that are not in line with the divine will.
Let me also clarify that this article will not say which career is better or worse but the aim is to provide certain guiding principles and you are completely free to choose whatever you want to. There are many careers none better than the other. Nehemiah was a wine taster to King Artaxerxes (Nehemiah 1). Daniel was government official (Daniel 1). Abraham was a prince most probably involved in heavy commercial trade. Hence God’s word does not ban any career at all. But there are principles…..
This article is divided as follows:
1. Your Work is God’s purpose in you.
2. Guiding Principles
a. Principle 1:
b. Principle 2:
c. Principle 3:
3. A special word: Christian Women
1. Your job is God’s purpose in you.
One of the first things that you should learn is that your career is not a status symbol. The only and foremost status you have is that of the blood of Christ. ( 1 Cor 6:19-20). You are identified by only one status and that is the blood of Christ. People often consider a career cause of the glamor and status symbol attached to it. Doctors and engineers are given tremendous brand recognition in our society. But your career should not be based on such status symbols.
Often I hear Gods people mentioning to me that I need not work as our life on this earth is a temporary mission and we have a better tomorrow. But Man was created with a divine purpose to work. In Gen 2:15 we learn that It was part of Gods plan to work. So if you don’t work and idle away your lives then remember that you are working against Gods scheme. Even God worked to get his work evident in creation as mentioned Gen 1:31. Paul exhorts believers in Thessalonica to work ( 2 Thess 3:10-12) In Col 3:22-24 we read that we work on this earth for our earthly master but we serve God. Daniel worked for Nebuchadnezzar but he served God. Joseph worked for Potiphar but served God (Gen 39:9). Therefore friends understand that when you work and do daily routines remember you are serving God’s purpose. He has intended your body to do labor and work. In a way when we work, silently we adore God’s workmanship in creating us.
Scottish Christian Missionary and Olympic runner Eric Liddel once said:
“God made me fast and when I run, I feel his pleasure”.
Jesus taught his disciples in Mathew 5:13 to be”Salt of the earth”. Salt mixes with food. For believers to be salt they need to work and be interacting with the world and be part of the secular system to proclaim His name. We are ‘separated ` people but not isolated
Now we have understood work is important and it adores God’s design in us, let us understand the kind of work and the principles surrounding it:
2. Guiding Principles
Principle 1: Career that lets you grow in Christ
Never choose a career which will not let you grow in Christ. Lord Jesus, on the night of Betrayal, taught his disciples one of the most important career advice we will ever find. (Read John 15:5-6) The Lord says that same thing to us today. Never be cut off from the branch. Let me warn a red flag to those who work on Sundays and other days of fellowship. Be very cautious when you choose such careers. People working in careers which require you to be cut off from the fellowship of God’s people need to be very careful. Once you miss the fellowship of God’s people, one can often end up as dead branch. It is a scary thought and yet I know of friends who have rejected our saviors love for career and lust. Hence, the first principle that should guide your career is to choose one which will not hamper your joy of salvation and fellowship with Christ.
Ecclesiastes talks about a career without God. Eccl 2:18 “…he hated his work..” But Eccl 2:26 declares such a career as “vanity”. Hence the first guiding principle is to analyze a career which will not transform you into a dead branch that is one devoid of growth in Christ.
Introspect and Pray whether your career will cut you away as a dead branch away from the Tree which is Christ. You may continue to be a Christian but you shall stop bearing fruit.
Principle 2: Career that conforms to your design
Each one of us is created with a purpose, design and put together by God in a unique and truly majestic manner. Psalm 139:13-14 talks of our wonderful design. “..Fearfully and wonderfully made” is how the psalmist chooses his words to describe Gods work. Rom 12:6-8 speaks about the different abilities you have as a part of the body of Christ. Therefore as you choose a career, think about what you do best. What is it that you enjoy most?
• Some are very good with Numbers and hence consider careers in engineering, accounting and so on.
• Some are very good at physical activities and hence can think of work in a sports field or a manufacturing plant manager.
• Some can speak very well and hence can think of careers in media.
• Some are good at leading and hence consider careers in public life or management.
• Some are caring and hence consider careers in nursing, medicine and so on.
The list is endless. You have to find that one thing which you like doing independent of what everyone else says and advise you. If you get a chance to hear Steve Jobs (CEO of Apple computers) speech to the graduating class of 2005 at Stanford (US), please do listen to it. He says “Life is about finding little dots and joining them… find that one thing which you like doing and then focus on it”. Steve of course likes drawing and hence went to discover the computer screen and the technology to draw letters on screen. Friends consider your school and college days as days when you should search in your abilities to find what you are good at. Then choose a career that best fits your abilities and design. I always wanted to be a Basket ball player but somehow my physical attributes did not support that dream and I left it early on.
Eric Liddel the scottish runner once said “God made me fast”. Eric early in his life found out that he was designed to be fast runner. He decided to run for his country and brought glory to Scotland in 1928 Paris Olympics but he also used that opportunity to bring glory to God as he refused to run on a Sunday and Eric had to run in another event on the following Thursday which was not his core strength and yet won it. He used his career to glorify God
Friends do not decide your career on other people advises. Do not decide it on its financial rewards. Decide a career on your talent and abilities.No dream is unattainable only make sure you are designed for it.
Discover that skill set and talents which you have. Commit it to the Lord in Prayer. This will automatically lead you to the career you want to be in.
Principle 3: Career where you are Gods Chosen Vessel
You are Gods vessel. In Jeremiah 18:1-11 we read the wonderful illustration of the Potter and vessel. The potter has created and designed us. We are his pleasure. A vessel has many purposes like storage, display, prize etc. (Think of more). You similarly have many roles and careers. In Ephesians 1:4 we read that we are Gods chosen vessel. A chosen vessel stands out. It shines out. People notice it. In a similar manner as Gods chosen vessel, how do you stand out? How do you shine forth? Does the world notice you as Gods vessel? Daniel as noble officer in Nebuchadnzer kingdom stood out from the rest of them by sincerity in his duty and worship to the living God in a pagan nation (Dan 1:20). Thus as Gods vessel you can stand out by hard work, sincerity and worship to the living God in a pagan world like today.
As Gods chosen vessel, do not ever compromise your status as Gods child. A conversation between Prince of Wales and Eric Lidell as Eric was asked to forsake his faith and run his Olympic race on a Sunday for the country.
• Prince of Wales to Eric: “There are times when we are asked to make sacrifices in the name of that loyalty. And without them our allegiance is worthless. As I see it, for you, this is such a time”.
• Eric Liddell to Prince of Wales : Sir, God knows I love my country. But I can’t make that sacrifice.” Eric like Esther (Esther 4:14) decided to stand out for the Lord as he refused to run on Sunday.
Friends you are Gods chosen vessel and in whatever career you choose, let your work be of sincerity, hard work and worship to the living God to bring Glory to God in your work and career.
Analyse How you can be a chosen vessel in your career.
3. A special word: Christian Women
In the final part of this article, let me devote some space to Christian women and their career choices.
• Women: Proverbs 31: 14-31-> This portion speaks of the many roles and careers a women has in her house. Notice she is a married woman. She is a wife, a mother, business women and profitable one too, helping women . In 1 Tim 5:14: Paul is exhorting women to guide /rule the home. He is not saying to sit at Home but encouraging her to set the house or to manage the house (oikodespoteo: Guide or set oiko means house, despot means rule with authority). She is a fruit full vine inside the house
• Lydia a successful business women who was converted. We don’t know whether she continued .
• Even though the word of God has given freedom to women to decide their careers, Ephesians 5:22,23 speaks that her primary role is to be submissive to her husband. The relationship is compared to the relationship of Lord Jesus Christ and Church. Therefore at any point if the head of the house feels that the woman’s career should be to make the house and take up responsibilities at the home, then it should be honored. The first right over a woman’s career is of the man who leads her.
The aim of this article was not to point you to a specific career but to set certain guiding principles from the word of God. You have to decide after studying these facts from the word of God. Trust God with your decision and he will conquer it for you. Remember! God has pleasure in you and he is as interested in your career as your own self.