"What does God want me to do with my career?" is a question many of us ask at various points in our lives. Equally important as the question are our expectations of how God will guide us in finding an answer. While we may want direct guidance with a specific answer, God doesn't usually choose to act in that way. God certainly can indicate supernaturally which job or career path we should pursue. At times, he may choose to do so. More typically, however, he calls us to take responsibility for making good decisions about how to use our gifts in the world. As Dallas Willard counsels, "...in general, it is God's will that we ourselves should have a great part in determining our path through life...God both develops and, for our good, tests our character by leaving us to decide. He calls us to responsible citizenship in his kingdom by saying---in effect or in reality---as often as possible, ‘My will for you in this case is that you decide on your own.'"
In the absence of direct supernatural guidance, we need to assume that God wants us to decide prayerfully and thoughtfully which work or volunteer alternative is the best choice. "It is possible to pray, read God's Word, seek counsel, and still not feel led by God," says Bruce Waltke. "That's the time to rely on sound judgment. God gave each of us a brain, and He expects us to put it to good use."
Scripture illustrates that even biblical superstars such as the Apostle Paul saw making decisions to be a natural, normal and necessary part of life. Paul did receive divine guidance, but he and others also made decisions. Gordon T. Smith writes, "The capacity to make a decision well, to choose wisely and confidently, is a fundamental skill for Christian life and ministry. Few things are so crucial as evidence of spiritual growth and maturity."
When making decisions related to career choices, your starting place is understanding your God-given design, which continues to grow and develop throughout your lifetime. As Elizabeth O'Connor says, "We ask to know the will of God without guessing that His will is written into our very beings. We perceive that will when we discern our gifts." Your first step in knowing God's will for your career, therefore, is understanding your gifts. Having an accurate picture of your gifts includes being able to name and prioritize your skills, interests, passions, motivations, values, personality traits, spiritual gifts, preferred roles, and ideal working environments. This is not easy to do and thus most people have very limited information about their God-given design when they are making career decisions.
If you are serious about seeking God's will for your career, you will want to begin by setting aside time and resources for this discovery process of understanding your design. You are unique and complex, but fortunately there are tools that can help you in this process. You can begin with simple tools such as reflection about what you like to do as well as getting feedback from other people. Most people, however, need other tools and resources to be able to make a confident career decision. These resources can include books that contain assessment tools (such as our book, Live Your Calling: A Practical Guide to Finding and Fulfilling Your Mission in Life). The best, most thorough and reliable resources are career testing and counseling from certified career counselors. Career testing is powerful because the results provide information such as how your interests and motivations compare with people who are in a wide range of careers.
When exploring career testing and counseling, it is important to know what to look for in a counselor. The best career counselors will have a designation such as National Certified Career Counselors (NCCC) or Master Career Counselor (MCC). Also, when you want to deal with issues of God's will it is important to choose a Christian who can help you to integrate the career testing results with issues of your faith. Finally, know what average fees involve. For example, according to the International Coach Federation, the average career coach charges $160 per hour. Other career counselors have packages of services and some charge lower fees such as those of the Christian Career Center (which are $125 per hour). Also, most work with a certified career counselor can be tax-deductible.
Taking appropriate action can mean the difference between staying stuck in work that doesn't fit you well and moving into meaningful work toward which God is calling you. Click here to explore career services offered by the Christian Career Center in more detail and to schedule a career services consultation.
Some parts of this article were taken from Live Your Calling (Jossey-Bass, 2005).
© Article copyright by Kevin and Kay Marie Brennfleck, National Certified Career Counselors, ChristianCareerCenter.com, ChurchJobsOnline.com and ChristianJobFair.com. All rights reserved. The above information is intended for personal use only. No commercial use of this information is authorized without written permission.