As a young believer, there are, arguably, two choices that will have the greatest impact on your whole life as a Christian. The first is your choice of marriage partner and the other is your choice of career. An article in the Truth and Tidings magazine listed several questions that a Christian executive might face in their career. The author stated that ‘the time to ask these questions is not when one is presented with the possibility of becoming an executive, but rather at the beginning of a career’.1 This introductory article will examine various scriptures that the young believer should be familiar with when thinking about career choices and will attempt to provide information that will help them make the best career choice in the light of scripture. Subsequent articles will be written by people with personal experience of different spheres of work to show how their work has impacted on living for Christ.
At the outset, it is well to remember that work was always envisaged as part of human life2 and that hard work would be essential for mankind to provide for himself.3 Adam learnt that work was not going to be easy, in all sorts of ways, but it should not be avoided, as Paul commands that if we are not willing to work then we have no right to eat.4 The danger comes when we become so focused on the rewards of work, e.g., the salary, that we become servants to rewards and not God Himself. Our Saviour taught bluntly that a Christian cannot faithfully serve God and money at the same time.5
The Bible also envisages that when we work we may be working for an earthly employer, but we should always remember that all work that we do is ultimately for our heavenly Master.6 This would preclude certain types of work that are plainly contrary to God’s will. There may be other careers that are not unscriptural in themselves but may have aspects that will negatively affect our ability to be obedient to God. Naturally, you may be considering a career that suits your abilities and skill sets, but do remember that these ‘talents’ have been given to you by God. God expects us to use our talents wisely and for His glory, not primarily for our own benefit.7
A young person embarking on their career has, potentially, over 90,000 hours of work ahead of them, if God wills it. Clearly, this will greatly impact on all areas of Christian life, and we will briefly consider some of these areas.
The Psalmist wrote of the blessings that flow from ‘meditating on the law, day and night’ and our Saviour found time to pray early in the morning and late at night.8 The lesson here is that your work should never hinder your routine ‘quiet times’ with the Lord. Fellowship with God can also be spoilt by personal sin that may be related to a work culture that could lead a believer away from the Lord.
With regards to your service for God, the Christian is described as a soldier of Christ. The Christian soldier should never get so caught up in work that they are unable to effectively serve and please their heavenly Master.9 The Christian also has responsibilities to the local assembly, and work should not regularly prevent us from attending the Lord’s Day or weeknight meetings.10
If you become a parent, then you will take on added Christian responsibilities relating to motherhood or fatherhood.11 Thought should be given to the fact that some careers might negatively affect your ability to perform those duties. For instance, will you be able to spend time with young children in the morning, before they go to bed or at weekends?
Finally, with respect to your testimony, you should remember the great commission of the Lord to ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’.12 This surely includes the workplace, and so you should note careers where you would not be allowed to talk about your faith.* There are also some careers which may involve practices that come into conflict with biblical teaching. An example is the case of doctors performing abortions, where the UK’s 1967 Abortion Act has a ‘conscience clause’ that permits a doctor to refuse to perform such surgery. Evidence from the British Medical Association (BMA) in 2016, however, suggested that those who object to being involved in abortions face having their careers limited.13
You can see from these few comments that there are many issues to be considered when choosing a career. My prayer is that you will find this series helpful in highlighting some of the issues that need to be considered.
*Editor’s note – we should be conscious that we are employed to do the work of our earthly master, Col. 3. 22-25, Eph. 6. 5-8, Titus 2. 9, 10, but that some employers are making it increasingly difficult to be honest about your faith in Christ within the workplace.
Gen. 2. 15.
Gen. 3. 19.
2 Thess. 3. 10.
Matt. 6. 24; 1 Tim. 6. 10.
Col. 3. 22-25.
Matt. 25. 14-30.
Ps. 1. 2; Mark 1. 5; Luke 6. 12.
2 Tim. 2. 4.
Heb. 10. 25.
Eph. 6. 4; 1 Tim. 5. 14.
Mark 16. 15.