You walk into a restaurant with the longest buffet table you have ever seen. There are well over 1000 choices. You must pick one item to eat for the next 45 years. To make things worse, you have no experience eating at buffets.
Welcome to the world of choosing a career! Between 16 and 20 years old, you will make a selection from the career buffet. Your career choice will affect your life for the next 45 years. So how can you decide what to study or which job to accept?
The Test of Time
Even if you are unemployed right now, you still have a full-time job. God has hired you as an administrator of time. Every year, He gives you 365 days to use. Therefore, as the Bible says, a Christian should "live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God" (1 Peter 4:2). Since you will spend approximately 90,000 hours at work over the next 45 years, be sure to invest your time in the way God wants.
Any more, the corporate world will eat up the hours of your day and happily gulp down your weekends for dessert. You need to select a career where you can make time for God. Do you really think He wants you to travel 300 days a year with little time for family or the local church? Would God plan for you to take a job working every weekend? Careers require a time investment, but not at the sacrifice of marriage or spiritual life. Will your career allow you to become all God wants you to be?
The Implication of Location
"Location, location, location." What’s true in real estate is true for a believer in assembly fellowship. God did not place Adam on Mars. He gave Adam the first job of naming animals right in the presence of the Lord. God also gave Israel their campsites in the wilderness, always around the testimony of God (the tabernacle) and near others (the tents) with the same spiritual convictions.
Do you think God wants you to become an explorer north of Greenland? At the present, there are not a lot of assemblies in the Arctic Circle. God warns of, "not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some" (Hebrews 10:25). Will that job offer allow you to be at the meetings or will it be an hour and a half drive that will be "too risky" on a cold winter evening? Hannah sought career training for her son Samuel shortly after he got out of diapers. She left him for an apprenticeship with Eli the priest at the house of the Lord in Shiloh. Her overwhelming desire was that Samuel’s life would revolve around God’s people and God’s testimony. And it did!
The location of the career you choose is vital. Moses had an inside track on a job opening for a prince in Egypt. He declined, "choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin" (Hebrews 11:25). You need to be sure you will live near other believers with the same convictions and near an assembly around which you can establish your life.
The Matter of Money
Money is not everything, but it helps pay the bills. One extreme is to pick a career solely based on the size of the starting salary. The mentality that "I need lots of money to be happy" is dangerous and certainly not Biblical. The other extreme is to not even think about money. Doing volunteer work is noble, but pay is limited. If God’s will includes marriage and children, will you be a responsible provider? You may enjoy your career, but will you enjoy watching your children go without shoes?
So, avoid extremes. Sort out needs from wants. Think of your responsibilities now and in the future. Prayerfully, you must seek that delicate balance of providing for your family and yet "be content with what you have" (Hebrews 13:5).
The Openness of Opportunity
Even if you do get your dream job, you won’t be working for McDonalds or Microsoft. You will be working first for the Lord. He has job openings in factories, farms, hospitals, offices, corporations, classrooms, family-run businesses, and in many other places. Yes, the company president may sign your check, but "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men … You are serving the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:22-24). The issue is this: how can you serve God in your career?
God used Moses’ education and employment to train him for future service for God. First, Moses studied under the great architects of the pyramids and "was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (Acts 7:22). Wouldn’t that come in handy when God would make him project manager of building the tabernacle according “to the pattern"? After graduation, God arranged a job interview for Moses in Midian where he would complete a 40-year work/study program on shepherding. In this work, Moses would be a testimony so that his boss (and father-in-law), Jethro, would leave Midianite paganism to serve God. Would this training be useful when God promoted Him to shepherd the nation of Israel in their 40-year trip through the wilderness?
Your career will be an opportunity to serve God and to be trained for God. So, will your job give you a way to witness for Him and to improve yourself for His service?
Training of Talents
The false reasoning of some believers is that since "I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh" (Romans 7:18), therefore, whatever I want or like, must be evil. Not so! God says, "Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4). If you focus on fellowship with the Father rather than fretting about the future, God promises to give you healthy desires. It is not sinful to take into consideration your interests. If you love medical issues, don’t cancel your plans for being a nurse because it is your desire. Perhaps that desire is coming from the Father, not the flesh. If you love children and have a burden to serve the Lord in a third-grade classroom, could that be God "giving you the desire" in your heart?
Also, what are you good at? If you struggle with math, you may not be suited to be an accountant. If you have been cooking since you turned four, maybe you should be a chef? God made you with strengths and limitations. What are your interests and talents?
After careful and prayerful consideration, you must eventually step out in faith. Make your decision of a career with God’s help, while asking Him to readjust your path if you are mistaken about His will. So now, grab a plate, step up to the buffet table, and may the Lord help you to use these principles as you take on the challenge of the career you choose.