What if I make the wrong career choices?


What if I make the wrong career choices? Is it possible I have missed my calling?

Those who are deeply anxious about this matter may believe there is a job out there with their name on it. They may also believe that God’s callings operate within a rigid, highly detailed blueprint for one’s life.

But God’s providence is much more creative, responsive, and innovative than the blueprint model implies. God’s sovereign providence overrules even our wrong choices. If, like Jonah, we reject or evade what we know God has called us to do, God has a way of overruling our rebellious and resistant ways. As the Joseph stories in Genesis make so clear, God uses both our good and evil choices to fulfill God’s purposes. This does not excuse our wrong choices, but it does put them in a larger providential context.

Sometimes a spiritual conversion or renewal causes us to wonder about the choices we made in light of our earlier priorities. Perhaps we’ve entered a profession to gain wealth or social status and later realize that these are bad reasons to choose a profession. In that case, we should first discern the possibilities for serving our neighbors in our current profession; it’s possible to reorient our professional work to serve others.

In other cases, it may be better to choose a different occupation that better aligns with our newly discovered moral and spiritual values. If concrete opportunities to enter a new profession are possible, it may be wise to strike out on a new path. After prayer, reflection, and consultation with wise and trusted friends, you may discern that God is calling you to embark upon a new career path.

The specific career choices we make are important, but they are not the most important part of our Christian lives. The most important thing is Matthew’s counsel: “Seek first [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things [we are so anxious about] will be given” to us as well (Matt 6:33).

About the Author

Douglas J. Schuurman is a professor of religion at St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn.