This subject we will discuss has been a stumbling block for so many in the church over the years. The reason is that many have overemphasized financial security (Revelation 3:14-22). That is the lukewarm state the church sits in today. So many believers prioritize the temporal and less important matters of life to the detriment of their spiritual health. Needless to say that we have thoroughly discussed the “lukewarm” topic in other discussions throughout this ministry. Therefore, the reader should already understand that particular issue.
Nonetheless, almost every believer will have to decide what to do to support themselves and their family (if married). One of the most daunting and difficult decisions in life is choosing a suitable job/ career. Children attend grade school and then pursue their area of interest after they graduate. Many often switch majors, and some drop out of college altogether. Some young people know what they want to do before they graduate, while others have no clue what interests them. Every person is different.
The topic of jobs and careers is a thorny issue that one must approach without dogmatism or any agenda. Why? We will see in the points below. There is no “one way” to approach it because God calls us all to different things. I cannot choose the right path for another brother or sister. That decision is between them and the Lord.
But someone may want advice regarding the questions, “what job should I take? How should I go about this? How Should I view the job I currently have?" Hopefully, the following points will help in considering these matters. But no person can ever give a direct answer (unless it becomes obvious said career will negatively affect the believer’s walk with the Lord). So below are some things to consider. All the points below are realistic circumstances and possibilities that may or may not apply to some individuals. However, at least some of them apply to everyone. Ultimately, the best way to discern what the Lord wants us to do is to grow spiritually. But the points below should still be helpful.
Just because we don’t like our job very much does not automatically mean we made the wrong decision
We may not like some jobs, which the Lord leads us to for the purpose of testing and growing our faith. For example, we may take a position only to come to find out we hate it. Maybe we don’t like the boss, managers, and employees we work for. Perhaps our job is demanding and stressful. Yet, just because circumstances are rough does not mean that God doesn’t want us to be with that particular company for at least some amount of time.
To add to that, let us say we just took a job. We begin to worry about whether we will like it. Is this right for me or not? We can pray about these things all we want, but sometimes we are not meant to know because God is testing us! The Lord can and will use situations like these to grow and strengthen our faith. That doesn’t happen for everyone, but it does for some people because our Lord is sovereign by doing what He wishes based on what He knows will benefit us the most. And if the job turns out to be one we dislike, we must take pains to be joyful James 1:2-4 (this doesn’t mean we have to like it). We must be good witnesses to others who will be watching us. Our Lord and His angels are also observing our every move (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Of course, that doesn’t mean we made the right decision, but both are possibilities. God may have certain believers transfer from one position to another before they finally settle down into a career that He wants for them. We should not assume that just because we took a job that we hate that that automatically means we made the wrong decision (even if that is a possibility).
We are not to act based on our desires, but based on what God would want us to do
Even if we don’t know whether God will test us by putting us in a particular area (not sure if we will like something or not), the believer should always first seek the Lord’s counsel and desires before their own James 4:13-16 (even if there are some things we just can’t know ahead of time). We should never just “wing it.” We don’t make decisions without at least giving thought to them. Even if we end up hating the job we take, if the Lord wants us to be there for a time, then that is His desire for us. We are not to act based on our desires but on what God would want us to do (assuming the Lord does intend for us to know something ahead of time). We must also remember that nothing lasts forever. We may hate the position we have now, but rest assured, the Lord has something better for those who belong to Him.
“How should my job relate to my ministry?”
A key question for the believer is, “how should my job relate to my ministry?” There is no one answer here because that depends on the believer’s spiritual gifts and calling. Of course, all believers should minister to others at their workplace if they have the opportunity, but God calls some Christians to use their gifts primarily at work, while others, mainly outside the workforce. There are variables there as well.
Regarding work schedules, we need to make sure we leave time for spiritual growth
Although there is no rule on how many hours one should work a week, all believers need to ensure adequate time for spiritual growth. In other words, everyone needs to take a job or career that will allow them ample time during the day to get in the Word, pray, receive good solid Bible teaching, and deploy their own spiritual gifts. Believers need their spiritual food. If we deprive ourselves of good spiritual nutrition due to excessive work hours, that is a problem that will hinder our walk and damage our faith.
Regarding work schedules, we may temporarily be called upon to bear up under challenging circumstances to grow our faith
However, the above again does not eliminate the fact that it may be the Lord’s will for some individuals to labor under stressful circumstances for a certain amount of time to refine their faith. All believers undergo testing of various difficulties and duration throughout their lives. But testing is only temporary and always comes to an end so that the Lord always brings around better opportunities more suitable for personal spiritual growth (not to suggest they prevented us from attending to our spiritual duties originally). But never will these periods ever deprive us of the opportunities to get in the Word and grow in it. All believers have time - the issue is whether they take it or not! If more time is needed and desired, then perhaps finding a job with fewer hours may be the best option if that is something the individual feels they really need to do.
Some roles in the body of Christ need more time for their ministries, like Bible teachers
But what about a believer who is seeking a more permanent profession to settle down in? What about long hours then? More hours at work may not hinder individuals whose primary ministry occurs at their job as long as they still manage to find enough time for Bible study and prayer (some people are very disciplined and good at balancing things because they can handle the long hours). However, many who minister elsewhere (especially teachers) will need more time away from their careers to fulfill God’s mission for their life. Teachers not only have to study but also prepare and divvy out their teachings. And of course, the issue of how many Christians are actually called to fulfill their primary service to Christ through their careers is one not worth getting our minds wrapped. The point is that some are called to minister at their jobs, not matter how few they may be.
With all this said, it is no bad thing to aspire to jobs that give us more time for spritual growth
We should all strive to find a job that allows us as much time for spiritual growth, progress, and production (even if the Lord intends for some to wander in the “wilderness” for sometime before settling). What this looks like will vary from individual to individual, meaning there is no one size fits all. God calls everyone to different things.
We all of have our own callings and circumstances, coming to us from the hand of God
Everyone has different callings and circumstances. For example, you have two believers both living and choosing for God as they should. One works twenty hours a week while the other works forty. Does this mean the individual who works more should work less because he isn’t as noble and spiritually mature as his brother? Absolutely not! What works for one person may not work for someone else. If God wants us to do a certain thing and we obey His will, that is all that matters. Whatever profession God leads us to, we can rest assured that He has our best in mind. All that matters is that we seek His guidance and follow His convictions.
No two ministries will require the same amount of time and preparation to carry out. For example, teachers called to learn the biblical languages, textual criticism, and other intensive academic disciplines will need perhaps a bit more time than teachers whose ministry will require less laborious and time-consuming studies. Due to the variety of spiritual gifts in the body, many will work more or less than others because there is a division of labor in the church. Some can afford to work more time while benefiting the most from what God calls them to do. Others will work less due to the nature of their work and the training required to carry it out. With this, we present our next point.
So decisions on the career front really are up to individuals
The decision of what job to take is the individuals. We should never let other people make our decisions for us. However, we need to be open to good biblical advice, such as what we present here.
Because we are not them, we ought not legalistically judge the decisions others make here
Christians must not judge each other based on their careers without the sufficient knowledge to make a proper assessment (John 7:24). We must not fall into legalism! Everyone lives in different circumstances with varying gifts, ministries, and callings. We may not like the job another brother or sister has. However, we don’t know what the Lord’s plans are for that person per se and whether the Lord is trying to grow them through their experiences. What if it is only temporary? On the other hand, what if God wants to keep them there for a long time? It is true, the believer in question may not have discerned things correctly and made a poor choice. But how is anyone else supposed to know that? We should refrain from judging things we don’t know.
Income level is not important, so long as we are where God wants us
People with higher incomes are no better than low or middle-class citizens (to state the obvious). Just because some make more money than others does not mean the less wealthy have necessarily made poorer spiritual decisions (that can border on the false health and wealth gospel). It is true; some people need to make more to support a family. For others, material and financial wealth is an asset that allows them to help other believers who are struggling. And some people fall into poverty unnecessarily due to poor spiritual and economic choices. Many people can choose to pursue a more promising career. But that doesn’t mean that is what God wants them to do.
Our Lord has a different plan for everyone, and no two people are entirely alike. It is also wise to pursue things we are good at and will enjoy (not that this will always result in what we want - see above). We don’t want to be fish out of water in an atmosphere where we just aren’t good at what we do. Many careers pay differently, and what people choose to do will rest on these most critical factors.
God actually calls some believers in the body to spend all their time on ministry, without working regular jobs to support themselves
God calls some believers not to work at all! Some of our brothers and sisters in (as two examples) evangelism (missionary work) and “some” teaching ministries should (if possible) receive support from their local congregations. If that is the case, then they are relieved from the workforce because of their ministry requirements. That doesn’t mean they won’t ever have to work at all at some point, but that much of their living costs and support will come from their fellow workers in Christ.
People called to celibacy can get away working less, since they don’t have to provide for a family
God calls some believers to celibacy. But for those gifted to remain single, money should be less of an issue because they don’t have a spouse or child to support.
God can use temporary poverty or long-term financial stress as a way to test believers
God can use temporary poverty or long-term financial stress as a way to test believers. Some of the greatest believers in our day have almost nothing! Yet God will continue to provide for them as long as they live so that it will not hinder their spiritual growth and production.