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Career Choice and the 21st-Century Christian

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Career Choice and the 21st-Century Christian

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It is a wonderful blessing to enjoy one's work, and since most adults with full-time jobs spend about half their waking hours at work, that's all the more reason to find work you enjoy. While much can be said about this subject, there are several guiding principles that may be helpful for a Christian.

First, a job or career field should provide sufficient interest. As Dr. David Campbell said, "If you don't like it, you're never going to be good at it" (If You Don't Know Where You're Going, You'll Probably End Up Somewhere Else, 1974, p. 78). Boredom can lead to frustration, no matter how high the salary. Discovering one's interests and whether or not they mesh with a particular field is a challenge.

Career-interest or other tests along with a skilled counselor can be helpful in the discovery process. Sometimes taking a particular class or finding experience during an internship that strongly resonates with individual interests can help. Interests may change over time, and it is not uncommon to find new direction in mid- or even late-career stages.

A second principle to consider is that the employment or career should provide income sufficient for you and your dependents. This consideration is particularly important for heads of households, but should be considered by every adult, since circumstances such as illness or death may force a wife to take on financial responsibility for the family.

Not all jobs or career fields are equal in terms of the financial reward they provide. It is possible to have good work habits and character qualities, to work hard and still struggle financially. As one man remarked, "It is possible to work hard and go broke."

Also, the amount and difficulty of academic work in a particular field does not always correspond with its pay following graduation. So, although possible financial reward should not alone be the primary reason for choosing a career field, it ought to be considered.

A third principle is that work, as much as possible, should provide an element of service. "One motivation that seems important to almost everyone is the feeling that they are doing something worthwhile," said Dr. Campbell (p. 72). A Christian would want his or her work to provide some positive benefit to society, directly or indirectly.

A fourth principle is how much a potential career might provide time for relationships. Time for family and other relationships can contribute to general happiness and well-being. While some job descriptions carry with them regular hours, it is increasingly common to find a written or unwritten requirement for additional hours beyond a 40-hour week, sometimes including nights or weekends. (Long workweeks and limited vacation are more common in the United States than in a number of other countries.)

Whether or not the employee has a degree of control of extra hours is an additional consideration, since it may seem easier to require more of oneself than to have requirements imposed from without.

Follow your passion! If you do what you like, you will find you enjoy your labor and are likely to become proficient. Consider, "What would I do if no pay were involved?" To be successful where strenuous interest and effort are required, it is almost essential that a person's heart and mind be engaged in the pursuit.

While it is important to make decisions using facts and logic, it is also important to be honest regarding what you really want to do.