In high school, I already had inklings about serving God in church-related work. But my parents guided me in the direction of dentistry and that became my first degree. There was no discussion of vocation. The goal was to get a job that promised financial security. Looking back, I understand. Both my parents had gone through World War 2 and had suffered in ways that I cannot even begin to imagine. They didn’t want their children and their families to suffer want. Financial survival and security were the primary concerns.
Thank God we are not living in such desperate times. Most of our children are living secure in their parents’ care. Free from the fear of financial survival they have more space to ask the vocational questions—What has God called me to do? And which job will better allow me to pursue my calling?
I was mulling over this question recently and thought of four things to bear in mind when we are considering a particular job possibility. I call the four things the 4 Cs—Cause, Congruence, Community and Conditions.
When I am considering whether I should take up a job, I first ask myself if I am/can be committed to the mission of the organization. Is the organization pursuing a cause that I can buy into? One of the reasons I worked with GCF (Graduates Christian Fellowship) Malaysia was that I believed in their mission to equip Christian graduates to serve the Lord in the church and in the marketplace. Whether church-related or in the marketplace, am I able to embrace the mission of the group I hope to be working for?
When I am considering a particular job, I next ask if the job will give me the opportunity to do the things I do best. Is the job congruent with my strengths? God has enabled different people to do different things well. While no job is perfect I would want to do a job where I am allowed to do what I do best a large proportion of the time. GCF allowed me to teach, write, and mentor. That gave me great joy. I was allowed to do what I do best in a cause I believe in.
Studies have shown that the person most responsible for a person’s happiness in a company is the person’s immediate boss. Unless we are working as independent freelancers, most jobs would entail our joining a community of bosses and fellow workers. So, when deciding if one should take a job, one needs to know the relational dynamics of the group one will be joining. Will my bosses, especially my immediate boss, be competent and fair? Will my colleagues be ones that are passionate about the mission of the group and their roles in the group? Will I be able to find friends there?
Finally, we need to look at the conditions of the work. Commitment to a cause does not negate the need to look into the terms and conditions of the job. Do you think the salary is fair and one you can live with? Are there prospects for advancement? Any sort of career path? (The last two questions are often difficult to answer in a world where the work environment is changing at breakneck speed.) Are the working hours fair and flexible enough for you? Opportunities for continuing education?
No, there are no perfect jobs this side of heaven. When we are considering a job, we need to do due diligence. We need to consult our friends and mentors. We need to pray. Perhaps the four Cs can help us to decide.