My workshop this past weekend was provocatively titled “Doing Work You Love: Godly Wisdom for Career Choices.” Knowing what I know of people who live in the New York metro area, or anywhere for that matter, career and work would be a hot topic for young adults attending a weekend conference.
Here’s my workshop notes in PDF, Doing Work You Love, and related references:
- 48 Days to Work You Love by Dan Miller + Interactive Study
- The Career “Check Up” Inventory
- free resources at LiveYourCalling.com and their book, Live Your Calling by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck
- Tim Keller Q&A: “Vocation: Three parts to discerning a call” (mp3 audio)
- The Teaching of Proverbs on Work
- Questions from Bible Readers: Work
I went through the workshop notes in 30 minutes, leaving 60 minutes for discussion. What I failed to anticipate was the dynamics of 25 people in the class. I left almost 1 hour for open floor discussion, which was a bit sluggish, and did not surface the burning questions that were really there. Let me take a shot at a few of those frequently (un)asked questions:
Q: What do I do if my parents want me to pursue one career, but my passion is for another career? A: Sorry, no easy answer there. On the one hand, the Bible commands obeying your parents, but the Bible also commands obeying God. Doing both is the ideal. And, ideally, parents would discern the God-given shape in their child, and guide them toward the career that they were created to do. I have heard God-honoring testimonies of Christians who have submitted to their parents’ preferences and in due time, the parents had a change of heart, and allowed choose his/her own career. I’ve also heard of stories where the child pursued a career against the parents’ wishes. Humble attitude and saturated prayers must accompany either scenario.
Q: Is it okay to work at a job that I don’t love? A: Work is commanded as a means of providing for yourself, your family, and making a contribution to society. Deriving some level of satisfaction can be an added bonus, but if you’re working to make excessive money, you’d do well to search your heart to discern if you’re working for prestige, for identity, for social status, for parental approval, instead of for God’s approval. People throughout most of history did not get to pick a career they loved, but often got their career from family history or social location. But in a free world, we have an added luxury to make a career choice, and you’d do well to consider making a good and fitting choice as a part of your overall stewardship of work. You’d perform better at a job you enjoy than a job you hate, right?
Q: Is it selfish to do work that I love? A: It can be, but I’m not a mind reader to know. If you’re working to seek your own glory or your own gain alone, that is selfish. But if you’re loving your work, and have a Kingdom perspective to honor God through your work and to serve the needs of others, by all means, find a job you love! In Christ, we have the freedom to work at a job we love so that we work using our best skills and talents, _and_ using our best desires, interests, and passions.
Q: I don’t really have a dream or passion, so what kind of an ideal job should I do? A: There isn’t a right or wrong answer when it comes to career choices. You don’t have to agonize over trying to find “the one.” (This applies to seeking a mate for marriage too.) Even with passions or interests aside, there are still some jobs that you enjoy more than others, and there are some jobs that you can do better than others. It’s not a hide-and-seek guessing game when it comes to career choices: work at your job with the best that you have to offer, incorporating your skills and your enthusiasm as unto the Lord.