Have you been to a career fair before?
If you have, you would be familiar with the many booths and attractive selling points that companies boast of, like a large pay package, opportunities for overseas travel and working in new environment. A vocation is one’s main occupation and in a rapidly progressive society like Singapore, there is pressure on students to decide what their interests are. The most concrete choice would possibly be whether they would prefer to be in a “science stream” or “arts stream”. There are also options of pursuing education in less conventional routes like homeschooling, Lasalle College of the Arts, and the Singapore Sports School which provide differing career paths.
The issue we discuss today is this: as Christians, what are we to do with our lives? How will we know if we are meant for one job or another?
In Japan, there is a concept of Ikigai which states that the purpose of one’s living is an intersection between what you love, what you are good at, what you can be paid for and what the world needs. Others would say that you can simply “follow your heart” when it comes to these decisions. While these models seem to break down large concepts simply, they do not mention God.
We must never forget that the sovereign God is the Giver of our abilities and the Sustainer of our lives. He creates us fearfully and wonderfully (Ps. 139:14) and forms our brain, heart, limbs and sets in motion our bodily functions so that our intellect, our motor function are all determined by Him. Has not the Potter power over the clay? This is to God’s glory and to His child’s comfort, that “he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory” (Rom. 9:21-23). Since He has prepared His people for glory and eternal life, He will surely provide for us in this life which is but a short sojourn!
The Bible says the following about work:
- We should work hard. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do,
do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecc. 9:10).
In this life, the ability and opportunity to work are God-given and we should be thankful for them. God works by giving us personalities and interests, flaws and strengths that make us able or unable to work at each time in our lives. While we hem and haw about having to go to work while other matters of life trouble us, we must always give thanks for the ability to use our lives and gifts to serve others and treasure the opportunity to do so for it can be swiftly taken away from us.
- We should seek first the kingdom of God.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33).
What are “these things” that will be added? They are food, drink and clothing, the daily necessities of life. Proverbs 30:8-9 records a special prayer, a request to “give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.” As a child of God, we trust that God will provide for our daily necessities, and acknowledge that the other pursuits of life are not essential. These other pursuits including wealth and status are instead ‘vanity’ as Ecclesiastes 5:10 reads: “He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity.” Help us realise that God’s provision and anointing is sufficient for our cup to run over.
As a lady myself I feel compelled to add that Titus 2 gives instruction that older women should teach younger women to be sober, to love their husbands and children, to be discreet, chaste, and keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. Although women in the workplace do not fall within the scope of this article, these words are clear regarding the occupation of married child-bearing women. From my mother’s example, serving at home as a full-time mother definitely keeps one very occupied!
What can we do to prepare now?
Other than much prayer for God to lead and make one’s path clear, let me offer a few simple ways for preparation:
- Find out about the vocation. “Every purpose is established by counsel:
and with good advice make war” (Pro. 20:18).
Speak to older Christians who have been in the vocation previously, who can identify the struggles that Christians may have in the field and also continue to mentor you should you embark on the similar path. Proverbs 20:18 says that every purpose is established by counsel, and the wise Old Testament kings did likewise before heading to war. Try out the job if you can too! It may seem like a completely different experience compared to what you see from a third person’s point of view.
- Understand that every job has its difficulties.
Just as we have difficulties in our family life, our physical health and even our spiritual life, each vocation will have days of utter weariness. As difficult as it may be, and perhaps after a period of rest, we must continue to be thankful for our jobs, for God has given them to us. A clear situation to watch out for would be a job that clearly conflicts with the life of a Christian, one which contradicts the teachings of the Bible. Then, it may be wise to seek counsel and leave the job.
- Get prepared for changes in your life.
“Prepare thy work without,and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house” (Pro. 24:27).
Unlike school, work will not end just after lunch and there is usually more hierarchy in the workplace. Organise your time with room for church activities, exercise and your own interests. When you start the job, give yourself time to adjust to a different environment (e.g. standing all day long, a new route to get to work) and people with different belief systems and working styles.
What is the blessedness of honouring God in our lives?
Honouring God through our lives will allow us to savour all the promises in His word. He will add “all these things” unto us and we will be pleased to live out His will as “vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory.”
Written by: Julia Koh | Issue 41