Are you who you thought you’d grow up to be? Are you doing what you wanted? Are you in a vocation of your strength? ♦
When the young high school student was asked that common question young people get about what they want to do when they finish their education (i.e., “what do you want to be when you grow up?), he found himself replying with the same answer: he was going to be a doctor. This would invariably get the questioner nodding in obvious approval and an encouraging reply, “Oh, that’s very good!”
The young student was lying. Not maliciously. He actually had no idea what he wanted to be. He merely realized that the “doctor” answer sounded good and would get people to stop pressing him.
Heart of Hearts
By his senior year in high school he would confide with close friends that, in his heart of hearts, what he really wanted to do was teach high school English literature and coach the football or baseball team on the side.
The young man played both these sports in high school and had an influential English teacher. It’s not unlike many young boys who wanted to follow in their father’s employment footsteps or on the heels of influential uncles, brothers, teachers, mentors, and coaches. We tend to gravitate toward what we know and are surrounded by.
But I believe it actually goes beyond that.
I believe we are each wired in special ways. Yes, specific God-given gifts, talents and proclivities. And the sooner one figures this out the better, as it is better for all if you operate in your areas of natural strength rather than in areas outside of your “wheelhouse.”
To miss on this can lead to years of wayward living, not necessarily disastrous, but potentially a life out of sync and out of sorts.
Some people take a lifetime to figure this out. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Here are 4 keys to a healthy Christian perspective about work:
1. We are all called to work. – Work is mentioned in the Bible as a responsibility and a necessity. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. (Exodus 20:9) For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
2. It’s not really about what work we do specifically. – God uses (even “calls”) various people to certain jobs in the Bible (Noah, Moses, Aaron to specific tasks; Samuel, Jeremiah, and others as prophets; Joseph, Gideon, Saul, David into political leadership; Bezalel and Oholiab as chief craftsmen for the tabernacle; Barnabas and Saul to be missionaries, etc. This isn’t the overt case for all of us however.
3. Our vocation is not necessarily about ministry work. – Don’t confuse vocation with ministry work or the need to “witness” in the workplace. Be a witness with your life; you need not be an evangelist. Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16) Guilt-ridden Bible thumpers need not apply. God doesn’t need forced and unnatural proselytizing.
4. Our priority is God. – We are to follow God and seek Him in all things, even in our work or vocation. Our motive is to surrender whatever we do into the hands and guidance of God. Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus. (Colossians 3:17) Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all of these things shall be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33) Let Him manage the career.
That being said, what job am I supposed to really take?
What am I supposed to be when I grow up?
Go Where He Leads You
The surrendered life is one given up to God in prayerful submission of your own mindful will, heart, and soul under the authority of His leadership and control. Difficult to do, particularly if you really want to be a dentist or an architect or a doctor, or even a football player or coach. The operative word is submission to His will, not yours. That is, say you want to work with children, or teach, or build a company, or design software.
Then pray as follows:
“Lord, I surrender my life, talents and desires to your good purposes. Open and shut windows and doors of opportunities so that I am led to thrive in the desires of my heart that align with the gifts, talents and purposes that you have given and desire for me in Your kingdom. Bless me to be a blessing and a testimony to Your good plan and direction.”
You’ll do best when you do what God has wired you for, particularly when you give it up to Him and let him direct your path.
Today I Teach and Coach
I was the young man who used to tell people I wanted to be a doctor when what I really wanted to do was teach and coach. I got caught up in the business and high-tech sales world and built a career in that arena. Not too many years ago my wife made an interesting observation. She said, “You know, Mike, you actually became what you always wanted to be in your heart of hearts: a teacher and a coach.” She pointed out that I coached our children’s soccer, basketball, baseball and football teams for 13 straight years and that I became a teacher of Bible studies as well as developed a business of coaching and teaching companies and their sales organizations about sales effectiveness and top performance.
I finally connected the dots. I do know that along the way I surrendered my life to have God do with me what He wanted. It took years and my wife’s observation for me to realize that God answers prayers and ultimately achieves what He wants, and which can bring joy and good in ways beyond what we would have imagined.
Have you given up your dreams to God? You may be surprised some day.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2