Careers and God are a tough balance. Recently, I started to ponder whether God was really calling me to write, speak and blog about Him. It is hard to decipher whether you are following His will or your own will. One idea that did pop into my mind was the monetary piece of a career. Money is such a game changer for many of us. When money is involved, it is hard to leave a career that you have devoted so much time to (even when God is tugging you in a different direction). It certainly would have been nice for Pete and I to have a little extra cash for raising our kids. Next year we will have 3 kiddos in private schools and that takes a huge chunk out of our monthly income. So far, God has provided for our 2 kids in private schools. I just have to bank on God being there for the third. Yes, the extra money from my job at the church would have been nice, but was it really necessary? Do you choose God’s Will or do you choose money? It seems so obvious when I say it that way, but it certainly isn’t an easy choice when God is asking you to change your game plans. Pete and I had planned out our kids lives. We have budgeted and saved for all kinds of different scenarios in life. We have laid out some very strong plans. So, when I decided to leave my job and start to write, there really wasn’t a plan for that. When we decided to switch two of our kids to private schools because that is what they needed, it really wasn’t part of the plan. Yes, God was laughing a little in heaven. Just like my mom always says, “When you want to make God laugh, just tell Him your plans.” It was very true. We had planned out our entire life together and it all dwelt upon money.
From a very young age, it was instilled in me that self-value is measured in terms of success, and success is measured in terms of money. If I am successful in my career, then I will be rewarded with money. Now, there are careers that this is simply not the case (teachers for one), but for the majority of the business world, we see that success has a direct correlation to income. So, as I pondered over this, I realized that if I take away the money component of my job, would I still love it? In other words, would I do my job for free?
Well, guess what? I would do my job for free (and I do). I speak for free, I write for free and I blog for free. Sure you could say that my book costs money, but I haven’t seen any revenue from it (at least not yet) and I would still do it all over again. In fact, my career has cost Pete and I money. I think of it as an investment in God. God gave me this talent and I am investing in it. I hope it will reap many rewards – mostly changing people’s lives. Just look at what the bible says in the story of “The Talents” in Matthew.
Matthew 25:14-28 “For it is just like a man about to go on a journey, who called his own slaves and entrusted his possessions to them. To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey. Immediately the one who had received the five talents went and traded with them, and gained five more talents. In the same manner the one who had received the two talents gained two more. But he who received the one talent went away, and dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.
“Now after a long time the master of those slaves came and settled accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came up and brought five more talents, saying, ‘Master, you entrusted five talents to me. See, I have gained five more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“Also the one who had received the two talents came up and said, ‘Master, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more talents.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave. You were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things; enter into the joy of your master.’
“And the one also who had received the one talent came up and said, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you scattered no seed. And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’
“But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest. Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
For many, careers are a daily grind. You force yourself out of bed to go to work. You come home disappointed, angry and bitter that you work with people that seem to undervalue you. You cannot seem to find pleasure in anything you do. You procrastinate the work that needs to be done because you don’t have any motivation to do it. It is a paycheck and nothing else. It is supporting your family. Right? I imagine that is how the servant that was given the one talent felt. He thought just doing enough to offer back the exact same thing to God would be enough. He hadn’t harmed the talent. He hadn’t made the situation worse. He just gave back the identical talent. Unfortunately, we all do this in our careers. We hand back the same thing day in and day out to our bosses. Some bosses are okay with that, while others are not. Some will expect more to be given back in return.
Why can’t we seem to motivate ourselves to do more? Mostly because we aren’t doing what God called us to do. We are misinterpreting our talent. We are misguided in how to use our talent. We are stuck in a rut and we just don’t have the energy to get out of it! It is easy to stay the same (like the servant with one talent); it is a challenge to produce more (like the servant with five talents). We have to take steps to challenge ourselves to find God’s will. We have to step out of the box (which is uncomfortable for all of us). Sometimes, we have to take a pay cut. Ouch. Sometimes we have to use our talents outside of our job – like volunteering.
Once we do find how to reproduce our talents, I truly believe that God gives us blessings. They may be little, but you will recognize them because you are unknowingly becoming closer to Him. Giving up my job was hard. I loved the people that I worked with. I love giving back to the church. But what was the cost to my family? By using all my energy at work (and producing nothing more for God) I had to question myself: Are you supporting your family by devoting most of your week to a job that holds you prisoner? Do you really have anything left after your day to give to your family? I know I didn’t. I was exhausted from holding it together in a job that while it was meaningful work; it wasn’t really what God called me to do. I was drowning myself in work that wasn’t producing any more talents. I was just staying the same. No growth was happening for me (even working at a church).
Am I telling you to quit your job today? No, but take baby steps to find out what God needs you to do. Maybe it is within your work place, but you are just in the wrong position. Maybe you just need to change your own view of your job. Maybe it is a completely different adventure. Good Christian leaders are needed in our world today. That is only going to happen if we are reproducing talents for God. When we stick it out for money or notoriety, our talents will only stay stagnant. When we find the joy in our “work,” then God will show us the joy and blessings of His presence.
One thing I can say for sure is that I get up everyday, and look forward to my “job.” It doesn’t bring home the bacon. It doesn’t get me notoriety from society. It surely doesn’t look like a job to many people. Here is the thing: I am doing God’s work. I feel valued everyday and it is not from the money I am bringing home. It is better than that: it is support from God.
I get to work everyday, and still have tons of energy for my family. Why is it so important to view your career in God’s eyes? Because there is so much joy that comes out of doing God’s will. It isn’t draining, it is exciting. Breaking free of the chains of “work” will be life changing. You know what’s even better? Creating talents for God that you didn’t even know were possible.
Let God help you find your game changing plans today!