ReThink: Career

Have you ever been asked one of the following questions? 

  • What are you going to do when you graduate? 
  • What do you do for a living?
  • When are you going to land a career?  

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, I want you to:

  • Pick one
  • Think of 2-3 words that describe how you felt the first time you heard it

Chances are, the words you chose aren’t positive. If they are, congratulations. That is awesome. Still, read on.

There is a false narrative in the US that says your career defines you. That if you have a full-time, career-type job, you are a legitimate man. You are relevant, happy, and living the dream. The problem is, it’s a false narrative. It’s not true. It is in fact a very destructive narrative that has poisoned American society since the middle of the 20th century. It has poisoned you. To add to the problem, it’s really hard nowadays for men to land a career-type job and so they therefore spend a life-time pursuing it. That’s what we do. We pursue the things we can’t have. Get out of our way. We are men.  

If you’ve ever searched for relevance, freedom, acceptance, or to make a name for yourself, through a career, please let me tell you, your wounds and insecurities will not be healed or transformed by it. Lay the pride, lust, and lack of self-awareness aside, and let God fulfill the longing in your soul for these things you search for.

It is not a career that completes you. You are already enough.
It is not a career that defines you. God does.
It is not a career that makes a difference in this world. Your voice does.

If you were brought up in the U.S., there has been an invisible force at work in your life since birth, that sets your personal goals and values without you knowing. This force is a liar. It says that money equals significance. Your career defines you. That what you do for your job is who you are. It says that if you work a couple of part-time jobs you are worth less than those that have one full-time career-type job. It says without one you will never be enough. Like I said, this force is a liar. 

If this is the voice of your past or present, I want to introduce you to a new narrative.

Here’s what the voice of Truth says:

  • You are complete in Him who is Head of all principality and power (Colossians 2:10)
  • You are born of God, and the evil one does not touch you (1 John 5:18)
  • You are holy and without blame before Him in love (Ephesians 1:4, 1 Peter 1:16)
  • You are alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5)
  • You have no lack for your God supplies all of your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)
  • You can do all things through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:13)
  • You are God’s workmanship, created in Christ unto good works (Ephesians 2:10)

In the book Garden City, the author, John Mark Comer, offers a theology of work and rest that I think is helpful. When it comes to work (or job or career), John Mark says the world needs your voice not your career. What you do is important, but who you are and how you do what you do is much more important. 

Your voice is made audible when you discover your calling. To discover your calling is to discover your unique voice – which the world needs to hear. It is no longer the pursuit of a job, but a pursuit of God, who will ask you to speak in unimaginable places, and to do things you were made to do all along, yet never knew. God is the one that reveals, and fulfills what you search for and what the world needs, not career. 

Here are some questions to help you discover your calling and uncover your voice:

  • What do you love? are you passionate about?
  • What makes you sad?
  • What are good at? bad at?
  • What does your world need?
  • What are the open doors in your life?
  • What is God blessing?
  • What are people who know you saying about you?
  • What is the Spirit stirring in your heart?

My voice is “Encouragement.” God uniquely made me to connect with people and encourage them. I love to listen to their story and get to know them, hear about their day or weekend, and find ways to affirm and encourage them, wherever they’re at.  If I am with people and get to encourage them, I feel at peace and in a place to thrive. This I could do as a retail worker, teacher, crossing guard, waiter, college counselor, or writer. 

It’s about the voice, not career.

Maybe your voice is “Healing.” It pains you to the core that so many people are hurting, abused, and broken in this world, and you greatly desire for them to be whole and healthy. As a healer, you could thrive as a counselor, social worker, pastor, nurse, nutritionist, doctor, or yoga instructor. 

It’s about the voice, not career.

Maybe your voice is “Developer.” You love nothing more than to empower and build people up. You hate that millions of people in this world are oppressed and neglected. Especially that women and children are barred from education.  As a developer, you could find joy and fulfillment as teacher, coach, physical therapist, camp counselor, activist, or human resource specialist.

It’s about the…

Perhaps you’re a “Creator.” You are drained and depressed that there is so much darkness and ugliness in the world and you long to see it renewed and beautiful. Brightening someone’s day and bringing light to the world in creative ways gives you so much life. Perhaps you could live a life of impact as a painter, barista, gardener, architect, interior designer, urban planner, or ball room dancer.

…Voice, not career.

Wherever you’re at, my hope and prayer is that you let a new narrative of what it means to be a man re-wire your brain and take root in your heart. At the least, understand that your job (or jobs) do not define you. And the reception of fulfillment, security, influence, purpose, impact, whatever it may be, does not come from your job, it comes from being. Just being. Being who God made you to be. The true you. Moving, living, and working out of your true self. I pray you discover the true you; your true voice. And are open to taking it and letting it speak, wherever we need to hear it. 

Be courageous. One conversation, task, and word at a time.

Joshua Fieldson

Josh is a thoughtful and passionate leader. Currently, he is serving with Azusa Pacific University as the Assistant Director for Mobilization, where he leads marketing, educational programming, and on-going research and assessment for the Center for Student Action. Josh resides in Long Beach, California with his wife Stephanie of two years, where they enjoy outdoor adventures and the eclectic mix of cultures. In 2012, Josh earned his Master's in Public Health from Long Beach State University and just started his Master of Arts in Leadership at Azusa Pacific University.