When I was in my early 20s, just out of university, I had three questions at the forefront of my mind: (1) What should I do with my life? (2) Who should I marry? and (3) How does God fit into everything? Eventually I had to realize that I had the priority order around a bit, that God was the center of my very being and that I should choose both my wife and work to bring Him maximum glory.
However, that still left me with a bit of a quandary: With all the opportunities that we have in this day and age, what was God calling me to do?
I think balance is the key to answering this particular question. So often Christians swing to two extremes when living out the answers to these questions. Some focus so heavily on grades, school and getting a good job that they forget that God doesn’t automatically call everyone to make lots of money or have a secure, safe life. Others focus so heavily on God’s will that they might spend months or even years in agonized “waiting,” desperate to be sure of what that one path might be, not really making the most of the precious time they have in the present.
Throughout Scripture (1 Thessalonians 4, Ecclesiastes 9:10) God reveals that His main concern with our lives is our sanctification more than our comfort, the how and why we work rather than what we do. I highly doubt there is just one best job or career path that you could take. You could be a missionary to Africa or a businessman in Shanghai, and God could still be equally as pleased with you. You could be a mega-famous pop star or a stay-at-home mom and honor God equally with either lifestyle choice.
The key is to honestly evaluate your motivations and heart behind each decision, making sure those match up with the plumb line of Scripture and God’s heart for the world.
However, even though you’re free to do pretty much any job that honors God (might be hard to be a drug dealer or arms smuggler for Jesus), that doesn’t mean you necessarily should. Each of us is unique, and we should wisely seek to use our gifts to bring maximum benefit to the kingdom and fit with His design of us as much as possible. After all, there are more jobs out there than just lawyer, doctor, engineer or accountant.
Here’s an axiom that I offer to anyone trying to figure out what they should do in life: “Look at where your gifts, skills and desires meet the needs of the world.”
Gifts: Abilities God has given you, spiritual or not, including things you’ve always been good at
Skills: Things you’ve learned or been trained to do, whether through education or experience
Desires: Anything you enjoy and that no one has to tell you to do: activities, specific cultures, anything that makes you come alive
Needs: The world’s needs that really get to you (i.e., effect strong responses/emotions). It could be world poverty, lack of drinking water, human trafficking, bullying in school, bad teaching in the church, etc.
Spend some time praying, thinking and asking others these things about your life and write them all down. After a couple weeks of collecting data, take some additional time to pray, think and talk with others about possible connections or clear relationships that emerge.
Let me give you some examples.
One of my friends was an engineer who graduated with a master’s from Stanford. With his training and heart for those in poverty, he co-founded a company that would produce high-quality solar powered lights for third-world countries without access to running electricity.
Another one of my friends had a great desire to see justice done among the poor in Hong Kong and studied law in order to offer top-tier legal advice to those who couldn’t afford it.
As for me, I’ve always been a gifted teacher, who was trained to create systems and manage organizations in university. I’ve used this skill to implement plans for churches to more effectively reach urban young adults — the least reached demographic in the developed world — and my gifts are to teach these plans to other people and so equip others for the task.
Anyway, enough about me. What are some of your gifts, desires, skills? What are the needs that really get to you? Share them. Maybe you could find other people like yourself, and you could brainstorm ways to bring them all together.