In this crazy thing we call “life”, we are told from a young age to find what we’re passionate about and go about doing it. You know, what “it” is; the motivation that will get you out of bed in the mornings without trepidation.
But there’s a problem with this notion, in that much of what we do career-wise often does not fit our passions (or even our education or experience). Not to mention, what we do for a career is probably NOT our personal ministry. Full-time vocational ministry is actually statistically rare (but that’s a topic for another day).
As I mentioned in my last blog post, there are a lot of motivational memes and messages out there. The word “quit” is used as a scapegoat for many of them. And oh boy, is it overused!
“Don’t give up!”
“You’re almost over the mountaintop!”
I’m sure you’ve heard them all!
There is validity in those statements if what you’re involved with currently is indeed what you’re supposed to be doing. By all means, keep going and get past any roadblocks you encounter! Sometimes we need that extra push forward, but maybe what we really need is to be pushed out.
Quitting something that’s wasting your time (and everyone else’s) is actually a very good, productive move. Without “giving up”, you’re further delaying the inevitable crash.
This is not a post about giving up on life, obviously. Instead, this is about embracing a better life through seeking opportunity and alignment (finding a better fit, if you will). This is something all of us must process at some point.
John Maxwell once said,
“Sometimes you have to lay down the good to pick up the great!”
This means there are plenty of good opportunities around. Opportunities that will make offer a decent paycheck and with that money, you are supplied for. With that in your pocket, at least, you are somewhat satisfied on a day-to-day basis.
But what’s your best?
Not only that, but you must realize that not everything in your life can receive 100% effort or attention. We often spread ourselves too thin where everything we’re touching is below expectation. “Under promise, over deliver” is something I must remind myself of all the time!
This is often an issue related to not truly being in our place of purpose. We arrive there when we narrow our focus, delivering the best of us.
Some questions to ask yourself to help determine what that looks like:
Is what you’re doing now part of your dream? Fulfilling a passion? Or much deeper than that, answering a “calling”?
Are you doing what you do well, or just well enough?
Is there upward mobility in your current position? Or are you regimented in both and in worth?
What are the external pressures you have to maintain your current occupation/income?
Do you have anything put away to enable a transition?
Something else to consider…
This country has changed. America has in many ways become a “service economy” where less and less is being produced domestically, while the services surrounding products has increased (especially with new technologies).
With this, however, comes an interesting and positive result: More people than ever are pursuing their passions! Instead of working in a mill or factory (to which there’s absolutely nothing at all wrong with that), they’re now making their way as a caterer, a florist, a web designer, a pastor, etc.
From my observation personally and via social media, there are a lot of folks starting their own businesses or getting involved with direct sales companies like Avon, BeachBody, Rodan + Fields, Amway, etc. They’re able to “be their own boss” and control the amount of work to some degree, but also directly reap the rewards if they put in the extra work. Salaried employees get paid the same regardless of effort.
Will this entrepreneurial nature continue in years to come? Who knows. But what I’ve found is that your career, ministry, and life don’t have to be opposed to one another. Simply put, you should love what you do.
Does that mean to love the work itself? Not always. Sometimes that is merely looking at it on-the-whole; what your job brings to your life and to others. I doubt many accountants love generating expense reports, but they do love the value they add to their clients or an organization.
That word, value, derives from primary motivation.
For those in the Christian faith, the Apostle Paul speaks to what should drive us in Colossians 3:
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
What are you in it for? Whose approval do you seek? If no one else was watching, would you still work as diligently, with excellence? Does your current occupation enable you to glorify God? The answers may surprise you.
Paul was encouraging slaves to work with excellence for their masters. He wasn’t advocating slavery, but instead promoting the idea that work done well may point to God! The tricky part in application to us today, of course, is that slaves were obviously locked into their “career”. We, however, can go anywhere and do just about anything we want to. But should we?
Perhaps a career change isn’t in order for you. Maybe you just need a shift in perspective.
Stemming from that, a sixth question:
Can you glorify God from where you’re at now?
The answer, I suspect, is going to be a, “Yes!” more often than not. God values productivity and missional impact more than He does our personal comfort. That 9-to-5 job you’re “stuck in” that “pays the bills” may also be a divine appointment to impact that group of people for Him. You never know! THIS may be your place of ministry. (as awful as that may seem)
However, that may not always be the case. If your work is indeed a soul-crushing affair, day-in-day-out, I would tend to say: Make the move!
We are only given one shot on this earth to fulfill a calling or purpose and part of all that includes an occupation that best fits our passions, skill-set, life goals, and our faith.
Chris Honeycutt is the Founder and Lead Consultant of Training Churches. He resides in Spartanburg, SC with his wife Heather and their son Nelson.