February 1, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.
1 Corinthians 7:20 (NIV)
I don’t know if it was despite the sunny pictures I tacked to the walls of my cubicle, or because of them, but in my last year working in high tech marketing I could not wait to get out of that office fast enough. Every day I planned my escape. Maybe I could teach school. Or start my own home-based business. Or move to an island and live off the land. But what land-based agriculture is available to island dwellers whose skills are limited to high tech marketing?
In the bright shiny future of my fantasy world, any job sounded better than the job I had at that moment. Even fantasizing about a new job was a welcome escape from the humdrum of troubleshooting email databases and watching the clock inch forwards towards 5pm.
Looking back at that job, I had a lot of potential to make a difference in that workplace. I didn’t, though. Instead, I spent most of my time wishing I were somewhere else. I hadn’t internalized the advice in 1 Corinthians 7:20: “Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.”
I’m not the only person to ever want to escape a boring job. I bet many of the new believers in Corinth were itching to leave the places where they worked when they found Jesus. It’s a natural line of thinking: If Jesus could turn them into new people, couldn’t He also give then new jobs? Maybe new exciting ones? Somewhere less dusty and more glamourous?
Instead of rushing them into new careers, Paul cautioned the early Christians to stay put in whatever jobs they had. Learn what it looks like to be a Christian exactly where you are right now is the message I take from 1 Corinthians 7:20.
I’m not saying you should never change jobs, as Martin Luther argued from this passage (his contemporary John Calvin disagreed.) In fact, tomorrow I’ll make an argument that it’s often right to look for a new job when you feel stuck.
But the meat of 1 Corinthians 7:20 is that your calling to follow Christ isn’t tied to any particular job or location. I’m not meant to follow God away from a cubicle and out to an island. I’m meant to follow Jesus in my attitudes and actions right here, wherever I am today.
If I had been honest with myself back then, staying in that cubicle job was the right thing for me to do at that time. I had obligations to fulfill, a family to support, coworkers who relied on my expertise, and clients who had come to depend on me. I was there for a reason. Instead of praying, “God, how can I get out of here?” I should have been praying, “God, how can I serve you here today?” When discontentment comes knocking at your cubicle door, slow down and ask some hard questions.
Explore more on the Making It Work Podcast: What Am I Supposed To Do? Defining Success For a Purposeful Life
Something to Think About:
Is my job really making me unhappy? Or is it something in me that needs to change?
What are my responsibilities in the moment, either to my work, to myself, or to others who depend on me?
Is there such a thing as a “perfect” job, or is it just a fantasy I make up when work is hard or boring?
Something to Do:
Make a list of all the things about your job that make you grateful. If the only thing on your list is a paycheck, dig deeper. For example, the difficult aspects of your job may provide valuable opportunities to grow and mature.
God, show me how I should view my work today. Help me see my job through your eyes. Whether I stay in my current job or go on to the next one, may I follow your true calling for me. Amen.
Thanks for this. Much to consider. Been praying lately to learn what I need to learn so that I can move on.
Thank you, Brian. May it be so, for all of us!