Once in a while Christian friends ask me for help in deciding if they should take up a job offer. These are folks who are already working and now face the prospect of moving to another job. When I am confronted by such a query my first reaction is one of joy. Folks who ask for spiritual advice in deciding if they should take up a job offer are folks who are trying to live out the Lordship of Christ over a very vital area of their lives. However a commitment like that brings it’s own set of problems. Short of miraculous dramatic divine guidance, we are left with the responsibility of figuring out if a new job is God’s will for us. The following questions may help.
1. Will this job allow me to be a better steward of my God given abilities?
I believe that God has given all of us certain competencies. Much of school life and the early years of working life are spent confirming what those competencies are. God has called us to be good stewards of those abilities (Matthew 25:14-30). Therefore it would make sense that each job move should free us to do more of what we do best.
2. Will this job enable me to enjoy a more balanced life?
God desires us to enjoy His peace, His shalom (Psalm 34:14). I understand that a perfect experience of this shalom will only be available in the life to come. However, all things being equal, we should enjoy more and more of God’s shalom as we move on in life. This should include more opportunities to balance our roles – for some of us that means being better able to give adequate time to our roles as spouse, parent, friend, worker, and church member. It also means more opportunities to balance times of hard work with times of rest and recreation. The Darwinian nature of the global economy means more and more threats to the chance to live a balanced life. Followers of Jesus should strive to be different.
3. Will this job increase my ability to influence the world for Christ?
Christians seem to see position in two ways. Either we chase position for significance, just like those who do not know God, or, we become suspicious of position and shy away from it. Jesus teaches us to do neither. Instead He transforms the significance of leadership. Leadership is to be another means by which we are to serve others (Mark 10:35-45). Usually a change of job means a rise in seniority. This can mean more opportunities to influence power structures with kingdom values. And more opportunities for covert and overt evangelism.
The fact remains that we spend most of our waking hours at the workplace, much more time than we spend in church related activities. The workplace is the key arena in which we live out our faith. We should embrace all God given opportunities to influence the workplace for the Lord.
I believe that the above three questions provide a good guideline for believers to think and pray through when confronted with the prospect of a new job.
Of course each of us are different and we do have different priorities at different points of our lives. That is why we should make key decisions in the context of community, seeking the help of spouse, friends and mentors. Some decisions are too important to make alone.
There are some of us who are so frightened of making a mistake in our decision-making that we become virtually paralyzed when faced with key decisions. To such friends, I say that life is predicated on God and His grace, not on our ability to make perfect decisions. Even the best of us can fumble. Here is God’s assurance:
“The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.”
Psalm 37:23-24 (ESV)
If we truly love God and desire to honour Him, no mistake is final. If we fumble, He picks us up again. We learn our lessons and we move on.
I also suspect that at the end of the day, God may be more concerned about what kind of people we are than what job we do. Which is not to say that we should not pray and seek His mind about job choices. But we should do it in a spirit of faith, not in a spirit of fear. After all, if we seek to “love the Lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength; and to love our neighbour as ourselves” in whatever job we do, we can’t be too far wrong.