Thursday, February 28, 2008

How a Christian Finds a Job

A couple of weeks ago, we explored how a Christian deals with losing his job. But what if you're actually looking for work? Are there biblical guidelines for how a Christians should approach this pursuit?

For many Christians, exploring the possibility of a new job, often triggers questions about how to find "God's will". At times, discovering the will of God can appear to be a mysterious, mystical experience. Yet, is this the right approach to important life decisions? As I've considered new career opportunities that have come my way, I've found tremendous help from the book, Finding God's Will: A Pagan Notion? by Bruce Waltke.

In the book, Waltke questions the wisdom of "finding God's will". In fact, he asserts that many of our attempts to do so can be rooted in unbiblical practices. Instead of finding God's will, we should be actively pursuing God's help in making the critical life decisions.

Waltke also outlines a six step approach to gaining God's guidance. Although I generally look skeptically upon the simplistic, methodological approaches, I believe his proposed steps actually bring clarity to the potentially confusing decision making process. Here are the six steps, outlined in his book -

1. Read the Bible - God has actively revealed His will to us in the Bible . All that we need for life and godliness are available to us in scripture. "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

2. Develop a heart for God - "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." (Psalm 37:4). God often leads us by working through our desires but it starts by getting our hearts aligned with His.

3. Seek wise counsel - Getting help and advice from other godly men and women is part of God's plan for guidance.

4. Look for God's providence - God is at work in the circumstances of our lives, orchestrating events for our good and His glory.

5. Use good judgment - God isn't expecting us to mysteriously sense His will but rather, He expects us to use our minds and exercise good judgment. Does the opportunity or decision make sense to you?

6. Miraculous divine intervention - This is the last consideration and in Waltke's opinion, should be viewed as exceptionally unusual. In fact, he says that there is no New Testament evidence of God intervening miraculously as a response to seeking His will. However, I presume Waltke includes this as a possibility, since God may do as He wishes and has certainly intervened miraculously for other reasons.

One key point he makes is that these steps should be viewed sequentially in order of priority. In other words, you shouldn't seek counsel from others (step 3), if you haven't first spent time reading your Bible (step 1) and developing a heart for God (step 2).


What do you think of Waltke's approach? Also, Waltke's book doesn't speak directly to the challenges facing a job search but rather addresses the general issue of obtaining guidance in any decision making process. What would you add that might be helpful for a Christian to know when he/she is seeking a new job?

14 comments:

Daniel said...

I think Waltke’s list is a great starting point. Specifically, (1) and (2) must be first while (3) and (4) could be interchangeable. I agree that we should not seek mystical or mysterious signs to discern God’s will, but we also know that our God is not a god of mystery. Yes, we must do our due diligence and pursue possible job leads. But what happens when a job opportunity may look great on paper but other countervailing considerations conflict (i.e., uprooting family from church and kids from schools or moving to a poor climate)? Or what if God leads us to accept a lower paying job? What if it’s God’s will that a job move is not lateral or upwards? I would only add that we should fully consider God’s leading in a job search, rather than only giving Him a few pre-selected options from which He can choose.

Thanks for the interesting food for thought!

Tony Rossell said...

Ecc 11:4 says,
"He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap." Another key to looking for a job is to take daily action. Tony

Tony Rossell said...

I also like Eccl. 11:6,

"In the morning sow your seed, and at evening withhold not your hand, for you do not know which will prosper, this or that, or whether both alike will be good."

Talk to a lot of people and look at a lot of options. Tony

Brett said...

In Sunday School we have been asking the questions "Why Study the Bible?" and "Why Don't We Study the Bible?"
If we take time to study the Bible, His will can be made known. How can we be obedient to God when we don't know what to obey? Why would God make His will known in areas that may not be so clear when we don't do God's will in areas that are plainly obvious? Bible study is one of these areas. Everyone knows they should, but few do it unless they are in a pinch and looking for answers.
I think I agree with your post, and definitely agree that it starts with scripture.

mark said...

when considering miracles:
if God were, at my request, to cause my fireplace to stay stoked without human intervention, I would also be denied the sweet relationship and fellowship of man who supplies me firewood. my interest is my self, God's interest is relationships.

yet, doesn't downplaying the "miraculous," seem out of style of the biblical example. consider exodus 23:25, and isiah 58.

and inline with tony's contrib about talking and looking much around, we should be aware that when we sow "seeds" we are sowing the gospel by our manner of sowing professional interaction for job oportunities, yet that one job landed, is still just as divinely appointed as any governments power. it is just that sometimes we are resistant to living as broadly, maybe even professionally gregarious, as God desires of us.

tony, the smile in your picture helps sweeten the Lord's discipline in Ecc.

peace

L.L. Barkat said...

Sometimes I think we just need work. Then we can look for a "better" or "more suitable" job from there. Which is why I have two in-between-jobs pastor friends who are cleaning houses and doing carpentry, respectively.

Every Square Inch said...

Daniel

Thanks for your thoughts here.

I think you're right that it's not always the obvious "better choice" that we should take - such as passing up a high paying job but taking a job that is lower paying but allows us to do other things that God may be calling us to do.

Yes, in fact as we gain a heart for God, our priorities in evaluating a job may be reworked.

Every Square Inch said...

Tony

Thanks for the scriptures...they are so practical and applicable. We actually have to take action, figure that!

Brett,

Yes, it starts with scripture. I realized in my own life that I was not giving myself to study or meditation of scripture the way I ought to. You see life much more clearly when you're immersed in God's word.

Mark,

Great insight - God doesn't intervene supernaturally through miracles because he provides through natural means and through the people he's placed around us.

Every Square Inch said...

LL,

In speaking with friends of mine who have endured extended periods of unemployment, one of the primary challenges they face is the sense of feeling productive.

Moe said...

Thanks for such a great post. I agree with most of the points here. My wife who was fired when she was 8 months pregnant, went 15 months without work. She recently started to get intimate with God regarding her employment situation and being led by the spirit with her job search. It took about 1 month and she got an interview, and just yesterday an offer. She did accept the offer and it was all for the glory of Christ.

Every Square Inch said...

Moe

Thanks for stopping by with a comment. What a wonderful anecdote of how God met your wife at her point of need.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I wonder how clinging to the security of the "known", even if it isn't - or has ceased to become - a good fit can affect being able to see God working in this area of your life and heart.

I feel Him stirring and moving in this manner in my own life I think, showing me that my current circumstance is not suited for my life, but it's not time for a change just yet. So, I wonder if this is just God allowing me to become more open to options that I do not, as of yet, know exist.

George said...

I would like to hear more about Moe's wife's experience.

Perhaps for you all it goes without saying, but for me learning God's will begins with knowing God thru the relationship enabled by Jesus "The Word" Christ. Bible study is useful, but prayer is essential. It is true that scripture is God-breathed -- imbued with God's inspiration -- but it is also true that the inspiration is not simply available by reading: recall that Jesus needed to explain it, Philip needed to explain it. The Spirit explains it to us. Unless we already "know" what we want it to say.

I fully agree with those who observe God is not necessarily concerned with putting us into a better paying job. He has offered to meet our actual needs. And He expects us to fulfill the good works made available for us to do (Eph 2.10).

Seeking wise counsel, being alert to opportunities, and using good judgment (if "good" means consistent with God's general intent for us) are all appropriate strategies. Just as we see in OT bible stories, God uses circumstances to provide for us. Tho others may have acted for their own self-interest, God uses those acts and outcomes for our good.

Ted M. Gossard said...

I think I agree. I'm quite leary of the idea that a job drops on us from heaven; that kind of sense would be much out of the ordinary.

The job from heaven comes through the ordinary course of life, and the thougts here from Waltke and you, I think are sound and good, as we keep looking to God in prayer to help us.