As individuals, one of the hardest decisions we make in life is about our careers. Growing up, I always loved sports. And, as I developed a propensity to write, I had visions of being a sportswriter or a sports information officer. I mean, how cool would that be? You get to watch sports for a living. Seems pretty awesome.
As it turns out, it’s not as glamourous as it sounds. The hours are brutal and the pay is low. It’s hard work and definitely not for everyone. I quickly found out after college that that path wasn’t for me. My desires began to shift, and God led me to where He has me today.
In the process, it raised some important questions for me that many Christians face in their lifetimes. What is God’s will for my life? What does God want me to do? What path am I supposed to be on? Does my career even matter to God?
Let’s Start Here: You Matter to God.
We were all created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). We were fearfully and wonderfully made, knitted together in our mother’s wombs (Psalm 139). God loved us so much that He sent His son to die for us (John 3:16; Romans 5:8). If we matter this much to God, it stands to reason that the details of our lives matter to Him.
God is detail-oriented. If you look around at creation, it’s obvious that He cares about the details. If you stop to think about it, if Earth were a tad bit closer to the sun, or a smidge further away, we wouldn’t be able to survive here. Or, take a symbiotic relationship like the buffalo and the red-billed oxpecker. The oxpecker provides a couple of needed benefits to the buffalo: ridding it of parasites and making a loud noise to alert the herd of nearby predators. In return, the oxpecker has an endless supply of nutrition, and a little protection from predators of its own.
These wonders of nature are by design, not by accident.
God’s love of detail is on display throughout the Old Testament is well. Consider the setting up of the Tabernacle. God was very specific about the process, even down to how it was transported from one place to another.
I’ve always been fascinated by this. The Kohathites, who were Levites, had the important task of carrying all of the holy items from the sanctuary (Numbers 4). They had very specific instructions; in fact, they couldn’t touch anything directly or they would die. Also, they didn’t have carts to transport these items, like other groups. They had to carry these things on their own shoulders and backs. “But to the sons of Kohath he gave none, because they were charged with the service of the holy things that had to be carried on the shoulder” (Numbers 7:9). It was grueling work, no doubt.
Later, these descendants of Kohath rebelled against God and Moses. As punishment, God split the earth and swallowed them up (Numbers 16:32). But, the story doesn’t end there. Those few descendants who were spared eventually were given a new responsibility generations later--as worship leaders in charge of music in the temple! God redeemed the line and put a new song in their hearts. You can read some of their songs in Psalms 42-49.
The details mattered to God then, and they matter to God now.
God cares about our work, but I don’t believe we can get caught up in our careers in the same way. Yes, God gives us talents and abilities for the specific purpose to glorify him through our work. He even calls some of us to specific responsibilities to further the kingdom. But, unlike the sons of Kohath, we don’t have a Moses or an Aaron detailing to us the exact job we are to do and how we are to do it. What we do have is God’s Word. It reminds us that it’s not the “what” we should be focused on as much as the “why” and the “how.”
The “Why” and “How” Matter to God.
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him… Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:17, 23-24).
This means we can work on Wall Street--and glorify God. This means we can work in an office – and glorify God. This means we can be a delivery driver--and glorify God. This means we can raise a family--and glorify God. God cares what we do. But He cares even more about why and how we do it.
Martin Luther King, Jr. gave an amazing speech on this topic called "The Street Sweeper."
“Now the thing about the length of life: after accepting ourselves and our tools, we must discover what we are called to do. And once we discover it we should set out to do it with all of the strength and all of the power that we have in our systems. And after we’ve discovered what God called us to do, after we’ve discovered our life’s work, we should set out to do that work so well that the living, the dead, or the unborn couldn’t do it any better…
“What I’m saying to you this morning, my friends, even if it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, go on out and sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures; sweep streets like Handel and Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.’
If you can’t be a pine on the top of a hill, be a scrub in the valley—but be the best little scrub on the side of the hill. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be the sun be a star. It isn’t by size that you win or fail—Be the best of whatever you are.”
This mindset gives us so much freedom!
Living in the freedom of Christ gives us the power to go out into whatever job or career we have and make an impact. God has called us to work. He’s given us tools to do a job. It’s up to us to follow Him and glorify Him by doing it to the best of our ability. And, that’s what God cares about most.
Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at www.apparentstuff.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.