Career advice that ignores sound theology and catechism while focusing on productivity, pleasure, possessions, positions and philosophy shouldn’t just be taken with a pinch of salt. It should be ignored. This is why.
You probably heard numerous times people quoting Proverbs 15:22 which says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” But, honestly, searching for good advice is like looking for black ant
You probably heard numerous times people quoting Proverbs 15:22 which says, “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” But, honestly, searching for good advice is like looking for black ant in a dark night – possible but very hard.
It’s much more arduous finding good career advice if you’re a young Christians. There’s a lot of bad advice out there. And it takes great wisdom and guidance to find the right career tips.
In this article, I will expose the most common lies found in the career advice that young Christians often get from their parents and church leaders. Finally, I will share with some lessons I learned from Christian books that talked about careers.
My goal is to help you choose a career that will not sway you from a strong fellowship with God and assist you to take a career path that God graciously equipped you to take.
7 Career Advice That Will Make You Miserable
After graduating from high school, my uncle scoffed when I told him that I planned to go to university. He had better career tips for me, so he thought.
“Why do you want to waste your time at university? After all, even if you get a bachelor’s degree, you will come back and teach high school.” I didn’t want to be a teacher. No one wants to be a teacher in Zimbabwe. Teachers are one of the least paid civil servants.
“Why not go to a teacher’s college? In two years you will be done with college.” I didn’t want to be a high school teacher. I wanted to be a natural scientist or a chemical engineer or an actuarial scientist. That’s why I did mathematics, chemistry, physics and further mathematics at Form 5 and 6.
They’re many well-meaning Christians who are giving very ill-informed career advice to young people. They twist Scriptures, create false teachings and peddle falsehoods. Ignorance is ruining the future for most young Christians; they are bullied from pursuing a career they’re good at, ridiculed for trying to do what they’re passionate about and manipulated into doing what they hate or never good at.
I have found seven reasons why young Christians frequently get bad career advice.
1. Misunderstanding God’s order
A Christian website devoted to teachings in complementarism in marriages claim that the Bible teaches women should only be housewives. Greed and disobedience causes women to pursue a career outside of the home, they wrote. John Piper also claimed women can’t take jobs that strain biblical manhood and womanhood dynamics, such as being a drill surgent or police officer.
2. Misunderstanding God’s protection
A respectable Christian parent boast that she refused to send her daughter to college because colleges are a hive of immortality. A young woman from a nice Christian family left for college on fire for the things of God but came back four years a lesbian.
3. Misunderstanding God’s commands
A vibrant preacher publicly condemns all young Christians who pursue a career in law because ‘lawyers are paid to hide the truth instead of upholding the law.’ He continues, “Christians are supposed to expose sin, love the sinner but hate the sin. And there’s no room for that when you’re a lawyer.’
4. Misunderstanding God’s word
A parent refuses a young woman to pursue a career in biological sciences because of the evolution stuff in the biology textbooks. The concerned father thinks they’re actually guarding their child’s faith and demonstrating their allegiance to Proverbs 22:6.
5. Misunderstanding God’s calling
A young man drops out of grad school because they can’t see how they can serve God as a college professor or a scientist. They believe God called them into ministry and the science community is not a place for that considering most scientists are atheists.
6. Misunderstanding God’s provision
A young woman refuses to go to a four year college and opts for a paid vocational training because ‘I need to take care of my mother with the wages. I think that’s God’s plan for providing for my family now.’ Yet, his mom took care of the family for the past 15 years since his father died.
7. Misunderstanding God’s plan
A young man spends ten years doing nothing except trying to get into medical school because ‘you can be anything you want to be in life and noone can stop you.’ His grades clearly show he’s probably good in humanities but humanities don’t bring food at the table, he was told.
4 Career Paths That Will Make You More Miserable
The book of Ecclesiastes reveals why those 7 terrible career advices are often found attractive by young Christians. They are like Deepak Chopra sentiments, convincing at first glance and illogical and unscriptural on second or third look. So then, how can you train your eye to be wary of the bad career advice?
In his new book, Searching for Happiness : How generosity, faith, and other spiritual habits can lead to a full life Martin Thielen identified for ‘dead-end’ paths most people take in pursuit of happiness.
the writer of Ecclesiastes realized that the four paths he had spent most of his life traveling— the paths of philosophy, pleasure, possessions, and production— were ultimately bankrupt in terms of producing happiness. They could not satisfy; they could not offer contentment.
Although Martin Thielen wasn’t talking about how to choose a right career as a Christian, I have found that we often choose our careers based on these paths. And that’s wrong.
This is why.
1. The Path of Philosophy
Confession. I chose a career in scientific research and academia to prove to people that poor people can be smart. In high school, I studied hard, as a result. I went to university and for graduate school, I searched for fellowships almost every day.
Today, I have a PhD and I now realize that I don’t need to prove to anyone anything. Like most people, I believed I can ‘find meaning in life through education and knowledge.’ I was chasing a white rabbit.
2. The Path of Pleasure
When I was in college I came across a John C Maxwell book, which taught ‘do something you enjoy doing until someone starts paying to do it.’ It’s a cute career advice but one that needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
In Zimbabwe today, because of the economic turmoil and general low regard of the value of a stable career, most young people have turned into music. If you walk into the city most of the kids you meet are Zimdancehall musicians – they are turning pleasure into careers.
3. The Path of Possessions
After graduating from high school, I took up a job as a substitute teacher at a country school. Around that time, tobacco farming was the in thing so most farmers were cashing in on their crops. One day, I told one of my students to take high school seriously if he wanted to pass. It was a good career advice considering the Zimbabwean economy.
“I don’t need to pass. My father gave me land to farm. Very soon I will be driving a nice car and you will be teaching dull kids with nothing to show for it.” This problem is not isolated to country kids, this pursuit of possessions has led thousands of high school kids in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to drop out of school and cross the border to work in South Africa.
4. The Path of Production
Guilty as charged. I have a problem of trying to do a lot of things at the same time, as fast as possible and to the best of my abilities. I thought that way I could become a full professor before I turned 35. The only way to accomplish my dream was through publishing several articles per year.
Productivity has been elevated above character as a virtue even among Christians. Pursuing production as your ultimate career goal is not worth it. You might lose everything that really matters to you in the process – family, friends and an effective and fruitful knowledge of Jesus Christ.
5. The Path of Positions
I think there’s one more path Ecclesiastes mentions that Martin Thielen didn’t mention – the path of positions. In a traditional African society, positions are much more important than possessions, pleasure or philosophy. People are grouped into classes, hence you find most Africans get offended if you don’t address them by their title.
If you ask yourself why you want to be a doctor, engineer, company manager or lawyer it’s not surprising it’s because you like the prestige associated with that position. I thought becoming a professor will be the most satisfying thing in my life. I discovered this wasn’t true when I sat with several professors from around the world.
What is a good career advice for a young Christian?
Pursue a career that grants you the satisfying opportunity of revealing God’s glory through the execution of your God-given talents. Above all, it helps you serve God’s wonderful creation with grace and love. You can be a good steward to God’s gifts as a lawyer, farmer, police officer, high school teacher, soldier, musician, physician, scientist, accountant or a doctor.
Can you think over Martin Thielen’s words in Searching for Happiness:
everyone needs to be productive in some way. We all need to work, either on the job, at home, or in a volunteer capacity. Work is a crucial part of life. So while these four paths [Philosophy, Pleasure, Possessions and Production] are all important, they are not the secrets of happiness. Why? Because contentment does not come from external circumstances. Instead, contentment is “an inside job.”
Because of the rampant prosperity gospel ravaging African nations, God’s gifts have been reduced to tools for financial gain. But you need to consider Paul’s advice in 1 Timothy 6:6-7, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.”
If you follow the path of godliness and contentment you can avoid the tragedy that Richard Taylor fell in. In an interview with Keith Seddon, Richard Taylor confessed and gave excellent career warning to all young people:
Most of my life was foolishly spent, and parts of it I can only recall with shame. For one thing, I was under the illusion that happiness is the reward of success and recognition, which are really opiates. Approving audiences, distinguished academic chairs, rapid advancement, even the taste of fame— these are heady things, but they are blinding. My eyes began to open when my self-centredness and disdain for basic decencies nearly led to my moral and intellectual ruin.
5 Books on How To Choose A Career As A Young Christian
Good books addressing career problems faced by young Christians are rare. I was fortunate to come across a few that have proven helpful.
2 Books for a Young Christian Pursuing Full-time Ministry Career
Ministry is a noble career. But if you walk around an African city on a Sunday you will be greatly dismayed. God is raising young people as great ministers of the gospel in Africa. Unfortunately, these young people neglect faithfulness to the call, neglect the value of character before calling and even neglect theology education.
However, if you believe God called you ministry these two books may help you become a better theologian.
1. The Little Book for New Theologians
First of all, this small book was written in the style of Helmut Thielicke’s A Little Exercise for New Theologians. The central theme of Kelly M. Kapic’s The Little Book for New Theologians is young people pursuing a career in ministry should strive to make theology accessible. Hence, growing in the knowledge of Christ requires you to be able to integrate your life with theology, faithfulness, humility, prayer and a love for God’s word.
2. Theology As Discipleship
The main challenge you will probably face when you’re pursuing a career in theology as a pastor is understanding how theology is useful after the Sunday sermon. Today in most African nations, churches are being founded and led by young people with no theological education. A young person senses a calling from God and the next thing they do is start a church.
If you value your calling and you’re a faithful steward, you will invest in theology and strive to make that knowledge of God fruitful and effective in your life. This is the message Keith L. Johnson teaches in Theology As Discipleship.
3 Books for Young Christians Pursuing A Vocational Career
Theology is not exclusive to pastors, even accountants, police officers, firemen and college professors require it. As a young Christian, you should be careful of any career advice that ignores the importance of sound theology and catechism. The following books helped me understand that I can serve God faithfully as a scientist, a politician and/or a philosopher. You can too.
3. The Little Book for New Scientists
Theology and science fascinate me. A lot. Theology teaches me about the Creator and science informs me about the Creation. Josh A. Reeves and Steve Donaldson opted for the two books metaphor – the Bible and the book of nature – in their new book, The Little Book for New Scientists. The perceived animosity between science and Christianity is a recent import. Christians have made significant contributions to science without losing their faith.
However, throughout the book Reeves and Donaldson highlighted the importance of young scientist to put their trust in God, value community and consistently practice humility. Reeves and Donaldson further advised that young people who want to pursue a career in science should learn how to interpret the Bible. Science is a noble career, as a result scientists have the privilege of sitting in the front row watching God’s creative mysteries.
4. The Little Book for New Philosophers
Do you know why young Christians avoid a career in philosophy? “The conventional view in many churches is that, more often than not, the study of philosophy erodes faith and creates barriers to belief.” But Paul Copan in The Little Book for New Philosophers observed, “by God’s grace, philosophy can enhance our understanding and our worship of God, aid us in the pursuit of the life of the mind,” wrote .
And he added, philosophy “enrich our study of the history of ideas and their justification and implications, and assist us in winsomely defending the coherence of our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, “who became to us wisdom from God” (1 Cor 1: 30).”
5. The Political Discipline: A Theology of Public Life
How can a young Christian follow Christ while working in a public office? Sadly, in Zimbabwe the presence of Christians pursuing a career in the police force, hospitals, revenue authority, city council or politics just made the situation worse. Corruption is rampant everywhere yet Zimbabwe boast of having more than 85 ℅ Christians.
Vincent E. Bacole advised in The Political Discipline: A Theology of Public Life, “The public domain is there for our participation and transformative presence.” Christians should participate in public offices. But importantly Christians should transform the public offices. When you take up public life remember that you’re an agent of change and a beacon shining the glory of Jesus Christ. If you dream of working in the public arena, Bacole’s book offers great career advice for you.
An additional book you might want to read.
6. Chemistry: Enriching Your Christian Faith through Academic Studies
Daniel R. Zuidema answers the question should a Christian pursue a career in chemistry or science in general? “The ultimate goal of scientific learning is to help bring us to a knowledge of God that will deepen our love for him.”
Unlike Reeves and Donaldson’s The Little Book for New Scientists, Zuidema’s Chemistry is thoroughly based on Scripture. He walks the reader on the why you should take up chemistry. And how to conduct yourself as a chemist in a manner that glorifies God. I really enjoyed this book. It offers great career advice for young scientists.
The best career advice for you should emphasize godliness and contentment above all else. Philosophy, pleasure, possessions, production and positions come and go. They’re flirting like morning mist. God has much more to say about your career than anyone else. After all, he’s the one who gave you the gifts and is the one who works in you to do and to will.