Friday, October 30, 2009

How Should I Plan My Career?

Students are aware that so much lays before them. Unfortunately, many feel the pressure to make "just the right” decisions about their “careers.” From choosing a major to landing that first job, what a set up for frustration! Thankfully for believers, we don’t find out about our careers till later! We follow God's vocation.

While many worry and plan, weighing the pros against the cons of every decision, you who believe can rest confident. Consistently following Christ, you will one day look back on your career and marvel at God. God lives in you! He loves you more than you love yourself. He alone sees the end from the beginning. He is:

“. . . able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, . . .”
Ephesians 3:20

Christian, don’t tell me you don’t hear God’s voice! You may not express what you are hearing the same way I do, but you hear His voice. Jesus said:

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
John 10:27

He says that if you are His, that you do hear His voice. And His voice in your life is way better than any “career plan." Instead of having your “career plan,” ask God about your present “vocation.” The words “career” and “vocation” both come from the Latin. “Vocation” has the same root as “voice” or “vocal.” It is your “calling,” from God. It used to be, that if a child didn’t grow up working the farm, but felt called of God to serve mankind in some other way, they had a vocation; or “calling.” Nowadays the word has been reduced to “job.” I’m choosing to use the older meaning of the word. Saul of Tarsus may have made tents for a living, but his vocation was to be an apostle. We, like Paul, are expected to be listening to God’s call in our lives. Jesus said:

“Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

Matthew 4:4

Jesus is talking here about the Spirit breathed word of God. If you are born again, you are able to hear God’s words. If you eat three square meals a day, you might try listening to what the Spirit is saying to you at least as much.

“Career” comes from the Latin for “road.” Those who don’t have God, labor to make their own road. Fearing insignificance, people plan, worry, and strive to make an impressive career. But, for all anyone’s efforts, students rarely end up doing what they and their guidance counselors came up with, years ago. Life has twists and turns. Times change and opportunities arise. It’s good to be flexible. But so much energy is spent, designing a tomorrow that rarely unfolds as such.

God doesn’t need goals. He has His will. We often pray that His will “be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.” In finding out His will, and by increasing our consistency in heeding when He reveals it to us, we find ourselves agreeing with the Psalmist, who says of us:

“They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion.”
Psalm 84:7

We don’t even need to ask, “What would Jesus do?” Jesus said, “Never will I leave you.” He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” He said, “Whenever two or more of you are together, there am I in the midst of you.” I imagine sitting at a table with my family and friends, and hearing, “I wonder what Tom would want for supper?” “Do you think Tom wants to play checkers? What would Tom do?” Tom would probably slap someone.

Believers don't have to ask, “What would Jesus do?” He is right here!

“Be still and know that I am God.”

Psalm 46:10

We are called to be a people of revelation, not a group of masterminds. There’s probably a time to plan. But too often, people want all their questions answered before they’ll budge, when God has already spoken. Sometimes even in ministry, there’s way too much grown up talk; and way too little revelation! You’ve heard the old quip, “When all is said and done, a lot more is said than done.”

I’ve been a heart patient for 25 years. I have "numbered my days" often. Frankly, I’d rather clutch my chest where God has sent me, than in some meeting room, still planning how best to go about it.

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding.
In all of your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will keep your paths straight.”

Proverbs 3:5

This verse isn’t just a beautiful verse. It's a command! If we are not to lean on our own understanding, we don’t need answers before we act! If He can “do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,” then we can’t really strategize. By faith we should just move, saying “yes Lord” to whatever He says. We’ll find all we need to know, along Obedience Way. Hasn’t God always worked with us this way? He said to “the father of faith,” Abraham:

“Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”
Genesis 12:1

Abraham had to leave first; and then he'd see what God had for Him. Look, I don’t mean to annoy planners. I’ve often been told, “If you aim at nothing Tom, nothing is what you’ll hit.” But honestly, if the need is as great as it seems, just aim into the crowd. You’ll hit something! If God tells us to do something; we’d best be about doing it.

Maybe we plan because it's scary when God tells His people “how” to do what He's calling them to do. God can seem wild! He told Gideon to fight a war with only 300 men. He had Israel circle Jericho city seven times and shout, to get the walls down. He chose a virgin to give birth, and He had the disciples get thousands of people to sit down and then offers them 5 loaves and two fish. Following God requires utter faith in Him. But if I first come up with a doable plan that I can achieve, then all I’ll see is what I can do. If you want to see God work, then let Him lead. You’ll be amazed. And if you do it consistently, your life will be amazing!

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8,9

Even when Jesus says that we should “count the cost,” (See: Luke 16:28-33), He’s not advocating us planning. In context, He’s talking about the cost of becoming His disciple. And as with Abraham, following God costs all we know. The verses prior, explain how one must abandon all to follow Him. Then right after, He teaches the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. We are to abandon our own life to become His disciple. Then God will do whatever it takes to keep us His; (even if our journey gets a rather messy; like the prodigal son’s.) The life of a Christian is not, “better safe than sorry.” We aren’t polished professionals here. Christ, having given all to save us, expects us to give up all to follow Him. Discipleship looks less like careful planning and more like reckless abandon. Though with God, we can rest assured.

After Jesus said. . .

“The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Matthew 9:38

. . . He then immediately chose the twelve, and sent them out. They went. Instructions simple, he exhorted them with warnings and blessings. No time for a conference. Harvest time was now!

When you do hear God’s vocation for you today,(And be ready for anything), determine in your heart, to say “yes.” And expect opposition. God once had me leave my work to go to Haiti. The more I prayed, the more I heard “Haiti.” So I resolved to go. God worked out all the details. Before leaving I had something like an anxiety attack. As if my voice kept telling me what a huge mistake I was making. It said:

“You idiot! You flunked French and Spanish in school! Nobody speaks English there! Are you crazy? You have left your dream job for this? You’ll probably get AIDS! Nobody will hire you when you return! Your career is over! You’ll never be a doctor now!…”

Then there was this awkward moment of silence, and then. . .

“Hey!” I about shouted. “Wait a minute!” I said, “I never wanted to be a doctor!?!”

It was just Satan. He really had me going for a minute there! But with that last line, the demon exposed his hand. Ha! I said, “In Jesus name, I am going to Haiti! And if I die walking in God’s will, it is better than living out of it.”

Satan’s opposition really just served to firm up my resolve to obey God. I actually agreed that this, “career-wise,” seemed unwise. But God was leading.

Four days into my Haiti journal, I never wanted to leave. I never would have chosen Haiti for myself. But the God who knows me better than I know myself; and who loves me, knew. There have been many vocations for me since. My career and yours is going to unfold. Don’t stress coming up with the perfect career plan. Instead practice listening to God’s vocation: to His voice. You'll be amazed!


Becky said...

Our difficulty is that, while continuously praying for guidance, we don't seem to be getting any direction and things are getting pretty dire financially. What does one do in situations like that? Where there doesn't seem to be any revelation, yet things continue to get worse...even though one is praying?

Twin Imaging said...

We're in the same situation as Becky. I'm asking for help and direction and our situation is getting worse. It has me very discouraged and depressed.