Trusting God to guide our careers
"Something I've asked myself time and again is whether I'm willing to recognize God as the biggest influence on my career."
In Today's Business world, it's tempting to look at a degree from a particular university, a supportive network of friends and contacts, or just plain luck as somehow playing a role in the development of our careers. But something I've asked myself time and again is whether I'm willing to recognize God as the biggest influence on my career. Sound a little risky? It depends, really, on how we perceive God.
The Bible portrays God as the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving Father-Mother of the universe. His creation is made up of ideas that are never separate from Him, the one Mind. This would mean, then, that God is governing every step of His children. He always knows what's best for His idea; His plan for His creation is good. No other power—not an unreasonable boss, a dire financial predicament, nor a dead-end job—can stand in the way of the execution of His plan. If this is what we understand about God, then trusting our careers to His keeping is anything but risky.
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So how can God be of any practical help when our careers are in trouble? Actually, Mary Baker Eddy reminds us in Science and Health that "His work is done, and we have only to avail ourselves of God's rule in order to receive His blessing, which enables us to work out our own salvation" (p. 3). A recent experience proved for me the truth of this statement.
Last year I decided to leave my job and go into business for myself, a decision made relatively easy by the promise of a full-time consulting contract with another company. It was a "sure thing." Shortly thereafter, however, this company found itself in serious financial straits, and after less than five months of working with them, I was informed that my consulting contract would be terminated. With bills to pay, and any financial cushion already absorbed by my initial investment in setting up a home office, the situation looked grim.
I had learned through experience, however, not to look at human circumstances for any indication of what lies ahead in our lives. As the Bible says: "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit" (I Cor. 2:9, 10). This Spirit is the presence of God Himself, revealing to our innermost thoughts His goodness, His power, and His love for us—even when our outward senses are telling us that our life is a mess. And it's this revelation that brings a sense of peace in time of distress. In my case, it eliminated anxiety and paved the way for me truly to trust God's plan for me.
If we admit that God allows our life to change from good to bad—from financially secure to financially insecure, from a clearly defined career path to one with little or no direction—then we must also admit that God Himself can change from good to bad, from loving to uncaring. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The key to demonstrating constant progress in our careers is not being frightened or distracted by what would appear as career "ups and downs." The Apostle Peter illustrated this need for us. One evening, while he and the other disciples sat on a ship, they saw Jesus walking toward them on the water (see Matt. 14:22–33). Peter called out to Jesus, asking that he be able to join him. At first confident in his efforts, Peter began to walk on the water toward the Master. But when his attention was distracted by a "boisterous wind," he became afraid, took his eyes off Christ Jesus, and began to sink. Pleading with Jesus to save him, he soon found the Master's hand lifting him up and heard his voice saying, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"
I began to see what God had been seeing all along—progress, direction, continutiy, perfection. This was the turning
The lesson is clear. We must keep our thought focused on the spiritual and true—on the Christ ideal, man always at one with and supported by his Maker. And we must not be distracted by any material, human condition, no matter how aggressive or persuasive, whether it be a violent wind, as in Peter's case, or a termination notice. Science and Health tells us that we must "divest thought of false trusts and material evidences in order that the spiritual facts of being may appear... " (p. 428).
As I sat in church one evening, this thought of getting rid of "false trusts" came to mind, and I began to think about what was really going on in my experience. I realized that my only true occupation was to advance spiritually, which necessitated giving up a mortal sense of things. I began to see the importance of keeping my thought focused on what was spiritually true. Most important, I began to feel willing and even grateful for the opportunity to see in my experience what God had been seeing all along—progress, direction, continuity, perfection. This was the turning point in my thought.
Later that week I called a friend and former business client, telling her of my need to find additional work. She, in turn, told me of a new position with her company that she had just advertised. Although the position was not exactly what I was looking for, I decided to make an appointment with her, following God's direction all the way. Not long after this, both of us agreed on the terms of a contract, filling a need completely different than the one she had advertised, and one I hadn't realized existed prior to our meeting.
I had to ask myself if anything had really changed. One week I was an independent contractor, working with a client in another city. The next week I was still an independent contractor, working with a different client, but still working. One week I was the perfect idea of God, the reflection of His unchanging good. The next week, I was that same perfect idea. My experience had proved that God's guidance of my career was constant.
God is the only true influence on our lives. This influence is not ethereal and intangible, but practical and substantial. It provides all the ability, support, inspiration, purpose, and opportunity required for us to lead happy and fulfilling careers. Transitions in our human occupations are inevitable. But we can take comfort from the fact that, when we continue to lean on God, each of these transitions will always be a steppingstone in our spiritual advancement.