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General Bible Courses > Living by the Book > Career by the Book

Chapter 10: Finding a Job You Can Love


IN THIS CHAPTER, you will discover:

·   How to know God's will in choosing a career.

·   The freedom to change jobs.  

AS A RESULT, you will be able to:

·   Use Scripture, wisdom, and design in making career choices.

·   Make career changes based on biblical criteria.

Finding a Job You Can Love

Key Scripture: "O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord" (Ps. 139:1, 3-4).

Work in the beginning was very basic - gardening, gathering, and caring for the animals. Adam and Eve's first two children, Cain and Abel, engaged in these occupations: "Now Abel kept flocks, and Cain worked the soil" (Gen. 4:2). As the number of people increased on the earth, so did the necessity for more occupations. After the Flood, people began to build great cities, creating various new jobs that required increasingly sophisticated skills.

By the time of Joseph, Egypt had become a sophisticated culture known for its giant pyramids. The construction of these pyramids required a great pool of occupational resources. The Egyptians farmed, manufactured, and mined. They were also excellent sailors and traders, plying their trade to the Red Sea as early as 1900 B.C. Add the occupations of artisan, astronomer, doctor, teacher, and government official to the pool and it becomes apparent that even the ancient world utilized many workers with different skills and talents.

During the period of Jesus earthly ministry, the Roman Empire was at its zenith. Rome enjoyed the same luxuries and benefits of the earlier Egyptian civilization. In addition, Rome developed a massive road system linking all parts of the empire, built aqueducts for piping water into the cities, established a postal system, and issued a government newspaper. Romans were great statesmen, and their ideas and practices of government still influence modern politics.

The great civilizations of Greece, China, India, and others have also contributed to the rise of today's vocations, each evolving over centuries. However, in just a single century, modern civilization has catapulted from tilling the earth to exploring the heavens. Technological advances have inventors tripping over each other in a race to the patent office. Daniel's words, "Many will go here and there to increase knowledge" (12:4), truly characterize our age. Yet many inventions have become obsolete overnight. As a modern worker, you are blessed to live in an age that is complex and ever-changing. New jobs have emerged that were not imagined just a decade ago. But with diversity of choice comes increasing responsibility to know exactly where God wants you.

Finding God's Will

With such a variety of jobs available, what is your response as a Christian worker? What criteria do you use in finding the career that is right for you? Basically, everyone wants two things: a job to love and a job worth doing. God has given you a rich variety of skills and abilities including the personal resources of personality, talents, and interests. Personally designed by God, you have been equipped to accomplish certain tasks. Therefore, out of loving gratitude for His gifts, you want to please Him. Your first step is to determine God's will for your life. This involves three key principles:

Know the Scriptures. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path" (Ps. 119:105). God reveals Himself most directly in the Scriptures; it is necessary that you read and understand what our Lord has said through His Word. "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).

Use Wisdom. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding" (Prov. 9:10). Any job that is immoral or illegal is immediately ruled out. But that still leaves a lot of "gray" possibilities. Scripture does not directly address every area of life, but it does set forth certain clear parameters. Using these guidelines, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, a wise Christian has the freedom to choose among a myriad of legitimate occupations.

Examine God’'s Design. "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" (Ps. 139:14). A major way of determining God's will for your career is through self-assessment. He has created you for a particular time and place in human history. And He has given you general skills, talents, and abilities; more specifically, He has refined you for a particular type of work.

Understanding Your Design

It is important to evaluate whether you are making the best use of your God-given resources in your current vocation. The following questions are not intended to be a complete career assessment, but they will allow you to evaluate your present job in light of your gifts and abilities.

Do you...

...Feel great purpose and significance in your work?

...Work well at a job until or unless it is time to change jobs?

...Feel stimulated regularly by work opportunities and assignments?

...Have confidence and direction about your abilities, no matter where your job path takes you?

...Understand your capabilities and limits?

...Work hard at your strong areas and de-emphasize your weak ones?

...Use the majority of your skills regularly to accomplish tasks?

...Know what opportunities to decline?

...Understand how best to work and relate to others on the job?

...Choose job opportunities that make the best use of your design?

If you answered "Yes" to most of these statements, you have a good understanding of your own career design.

Do you…...

...Often lack purpose in your work?

...Change jobs frequently?

...Feel chronically bored at work?

...Feel confused about where your career is headed?

...Tend toward chronic burnout?

...Work hard at your weak areas?

...Find that many of your skills lie unused, underused, or misused on the job?

...Frequently take on tasks that only frustrate you?

...Face excessive conflict and frustration with coworkers, bosses, and "the system"?

...Think more about the work you would "like" to do than what you have been given to do?

If you answered "Yes" to most of these questions, you probably do not understand your vocational profile and need some form of personal assessment.

Finding a Job You Can Love by Ralph Mattson and Arthur Miller is an excellent resource. By reading this book and working through its exercises, you will better understand God’s vocational design for you. Intercristo's Career Kit: A Christian's Guide to Career Building by Dick Staub with Jeff Trautman (ISBN: 0-933941-00-5) is another excellent resource. It includes audio tapes and an authorized version of the SIMA (System for Identifying Motivated Abilities) assessment tool. There is a caution, however: simply knowing your design does not ensure that you are using it in a positive, responsible way. When you fail to serve God or meet the needs of others, you are misusing your God-given resources.

God's Calling

As a believer, you are called first to be God's disciple. This call has significant implications not only for your career but also for your entire life. Since your work matters deeply to God, then it makes sense that He has designed you to complete His work. Consequently, working at a job that best utilizes your job design and that serves others in the greatest possible way are two evidences that you have answered God's call on your life. In evaluating a career option, you should look at it in three ways:

Its contribution to others. Too often people revert to the Two-Story view of work when attempting to determine their contribution to others. The contributions of a brain surgeon and a garbage collector seemingly cannot be compared; yet both contribute greatly to the health and well-being of a community. The two careers simply make different contributions. People must remember that their work is the work of Jesus Christ. "' When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me'" (Matt. 25:39-40).

Its value to God. Since God Himself has given different abilities and gifts to individuals, He does not compare different people or careers. Instead, God measures people individually according to the use or abuse of the resources and responsibilities given to each. "I tell you the truth...this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on" (Luke 21:3-4).

It's reward. God rewards workers on their own merits; He never compares one with the other. "His master replied, Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matt. 25:21).

Changing Careers

The average American changes careers four or more times during their lifetime. Rather than from personal preference, the switch is often due to the volatile nature of the economy, changing technology, and a host of other factors. Your particular set of skills and motivations may take different forms during the course of your working life. Whereas certain skills may be required for your present job, you may need to implement other abilities in a future career. In all probability, you will be changing jobs at some future point.

With so many career options, how do you decide if you should change careers? At this point, you have hopefully assessed who you are and understand your God-given design. Therefore, you can look at your present situation more objectively.

Some "right" reasons for changing jobs are:

  • Your family may be hurt by your present job. Perhaps you don't have enough time to spend with them. You may be traveling too much or working too many hours.
  • Your current job may not adequately provide for your family. If this is the case, then you should try to find a job that will meet their needs. Your present situation may be totally incompatible with your spiritual walk. The job may not be legitimate work, or your supervisor may require you to do illegal or immoral activities.
  • Your environment may provide constant temptations that are weakening your moral resolve. If so, you should remove yourself from the job as quickly as possible.

Some "wrong" reasons for changing jobs are:

  • "I've been here long enough. Some other job looks better."
  • "Why shouldn't I make more money for the finer things of life?"
  • "Even if I don't seem to have a natural ability, I can learn."
  • "My family is happy here, but the company wants me to move."

Before you make a career change, carefully consider your resources, past accomplishments, educational credentials, various job offers, the locations of those offers, different salary packages, and different personal and family needs. You might want to talk with your pastor or a job counselor (a Christian one, if available). Of course, effectual prayer is an integral part of making any important decision. But you should not depend on a "heavenly telegram" or an angelic messenger to confirm your choice. God has the right job for you, and He will guide you to it. Ask for peace about the right decision. "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts...and be thankful" (Col. 3:15).

Life Applications:

A. To what extent does your current job serve God and the legitimate needs of people?    


B. By now, you may be thinking about whether you should change jobs. If you do feel a change might be in order, consider these questions:

1. Do I want to change jobs primarily because there is not a good match between my God-given design and the responsibilities and tasks of my present job

2. Do I have something that I am moving toward, or am I merely running from a difficult situation?      

3. How could I stay in the job and make it more workable?      

4. Am I being tempted to leave a job that basically fits who I am by offers of a higher salary, better location, more prestige, or merely some other secondary consideration?      

5. Have I earnestly and honestly sought God's will for my career? Do I have peace about my present career?


Test your knowledge on this chapter by taking the quiz at the end of chapter 12.   

Take the quiz

Quiz Instructions

Please see the Review Questions at the end of Chapter 12.

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