Does Your Career Consume You?
By Sarah Martin
July 9, 2012
Sarah Martin is a writer, speaker and blogger offering encouragement to twentysomethings in transition. In addition to blogging at LiveitOutBlog.com and serving on the writing team at SheSeeks.org, Sarah is the author of the book, Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties In A Decade Of Drama (Thomas Nelson, 2012).
As an aspiring sales representative fresh out of college, I spend most of my time researching the sales industry, networking, and job searching. Although I was told by a recruiter at a college career fair that I wasn’t ready to take on this type of job, I was determined that one day I would be. Several years later I did in fact find myself working for a large sales company and loving life. Day in and day out I thrived on successful sales calls, and the company rewarded me nicely for my passion and intensity.
My whole world revolved around this dream job—it had become my passion. I lived for this dream job, but at what expense?
Career-Driven or Career-Consumed?
Tunnel vision can be a positive trait when you’re working against a deadline or while in the midst of a job hunt. However, when we wear our blinders our focus can quickly turn away from the Lord.
My dream job in sales quickly consumed my life. I spent hours at night responding to emails, preparing for the next work day and researching industry trends. Not until late in the evening would I finally surface, only to notice that I had neglected housework, my fitness routine, and my loved ones. This really didn’t bother me, however, since I had my tunnel vision blinders trained forward and upward along the trajectory of my career path.
Working for More Than a Paycheck
A narrow focus on our dream job isn’t necessarily bad. Some of us are highly driven, and this serves us well. The problem comes in when we neglect the big-picture life with which God has blessed us, and instead go for climbing the career ladder or obtaining that holy grail of a dream job. In the end, living life with God in our sights is all about worshiping Him, serving Him and balancing the rest of our life (including our career) in conformity to His direction. This happens when we train our focus on Him alone. Not on our job. Not on our paycheck. Not on our next career move. On Him alone.
The Lord spoke to my heart on this issue and set me straight. I needed balance in my career life. Prior to this, I’d been all about my job. Then one day during my Bible study a verse jumped out at me, and I found myself unable to backpedal away from it, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23–24 NIV)“As working for the Lord ... ” Have you ever had a Bible verse smack you in the face? This one smacked me and alerted me to a cold, hard truth. I wasn’t seeking to please the Lord with my work; instead, I was laboring to collect a fat bonus, to impress my boss and to boost my self-esteem.
Practical Ways to Keep Perspective
After a while I realized that although this job was itself a gift from God, I was never intended to place my whole world around it. True and meaningful success comes when I work to please the Lord alone. But there’s a fine line I cross when I live as though my life depended on my work. Here are a few ideas to help you maintain balance in your life with regard to your career:
Be patient, work hard. If you’re passed over for a promotion, keep in mind that you are to continue to work hard and to develop a plan for the next promotion. This isn’t the end of the world.
Bring balance to your work schedule by spending quality time alone with Jesus. Whether that happens before you start your workday, during your lunch break, or in the evening, consistency is key. Day-to-day communication with God points your focus in the right direction.
Pray throughout the day. It’s so easy to get caught up in office gossip or a customer crisis, while forgetting to bring it all to Him in prayer. The Holy Spirit doesn’t shy away from giving us guidance, even in our career.
Godly success is achieved when we work our tails off within whatever position God has currently placed us. By worshiping Him in our job situations, whether or not the circumstances are ideal, we can run smack dab into happiness, blessings and fulfillment.
Excerpted from Stress Point: Thriving Through Your Twenties in a Decade of Drama by Sarah Francis Martin. Published by Thomas Nelson, Inc. ©2012. Used with permission.