All too frequently, I hear Christians say something along the lines of, “I really want this to be my career, but I feel like God has called me to serve him.” They speak these words as if the two are at odds with each other.
This leads to an important question: Do Christians have to choose between calling and career?
I think the underlying problem is that we limit God’s ability to work through his people to situations where his people are working explicitly to further his kingdom. This mentality says that if we want to serve God and follow his calling, we would be on the missions field in some faraway country, pastors, or charity workers. Under this mentality, the only work that follows God’s calling are those paid positions directly connected to the Church, and any other form of work is secular and lower grade.
It is due to this flawed mindset that we now have a generation of Christ followers that feel like they have to either follow God or pursue a career, not both.
I think the greatest authority we could listen to on this subject is God himself (clearly), so let’s look at what he has to say about work.
Colossians 3:23 tells us:
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”
Ecclesiastes (9:9b-10a) expounds on this thought a little bit more:
“For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”
Note that these verses don’t say anything along the lines of, “Your work is only useful if it has a Christian label on it,” or, “You can’t follow the call of God and have a career.” No! All these verses show is that God truly values hard work.
Nowhere in scripture will you find an ultimatum telling you that as a Christian, you can either follow God’s call on your life or abandon it to pursue a career. Instead, we are told over and over to work hard, because ultimately, our work is for the Lord.
Another part of this puzzle comes from our definition of ‘calling’ in our lives. Although God truly has placed a firm, unwavering, and clear call to certain lines of work in individual lives (think Peter and Paul), honestly, most people will not receive such specific guidelines. Instead, we are called to share the Gospel, make disciples, love our neighbors, and live like Christ.
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When you realize that the call of God on believer’s lives is to live out the Great Commission in whatever way we can, the question of choosing between the call of God and a career becomes a non-issue. Yes! You CAN pursue a career, because no matter where you go in life, you have the capacity to live out the call of God.
Maybe your life will consist of you becoming a police officer, and truly loving the criminals you come in contact with while sharing the Gospel with burned out co-workers. Maybe, you’re called to be a politician of class and integrity, and to use your position to tell people about the amazing grace and salvation of Jesus Christ. Maybe, you’re called to be a teacher and to love your students with joy while teaching them to value knowledge.
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No matter your lot in life, no matter what position or career you find yourself in, you can and SHOULD follow the call of God on your life. Whatever work you find yourself doing, all God asks is that you do it with all your might because you’re serving him, and that you live a life that honors God and points people toward salvation. If you’re doing that, you’re following the call of God.
So choose a career based on your personality and what you love, for those are God given things as well. Work your hardest, shine the light of Christ, and love the people around you. God is honored when we glorify him in whatever career we choose more than if we refuse to do great work because we think we can’t glorify him in a broken world.