The Christian Teen’s Guide to Choosing a Career
What the Bible says, and how to make that big decision!
Picking what career you are going to pursue when you finish school can be a hard decision. And for Christians, it can be difficult to figure out how you’re going to honour God with your work!
In this Christian Teen’s Guide to choosing a career, we’re going to take a look at what the Bible says about work and choices, and then think about some practical tips for making that big decision!
What does the Bible say about work?
The Bible has a lot to say about work. Here are four big principles we can take away!
Work is good
When God created the world, he made Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eve. There he gave them a few instructions, including that there were to work the land.
Work actually predates the fall! The entry of sin into our world has meant that work is now hard, but work in itself has great value. When we work, we partner with God in sustaining this world. Striving for a career is a completely worthwhile pursuit for Christians, as long as we keep in mind that we are working not for own glory, but for God’s.
Almost all work is valuable
As you can read in this article on Fervr,
“At times we think that Christians should aspire to "Christian careers" like working at a church or in a parachurch ministry. We may realize that Christians can also work outside the walls of the church or the Christian name, but then we tend to limit ourselves to the “helping” professions. Christians can be doctors, nurses, teachers, child care workers, social workers, law enforcement officers, or counsellors.
But a businessman? A lawyer? An IT guru? An inventor? A builder? A fashion designer? A news anchor? A TV producer? A musician? An artist? We tend not to list these jobs among the most desirable work for Christians. But there is nothing biblical about such a limiting stance.
Christians can consider almost any career. Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 7:17, 20-21 and 24...
Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches. . . . Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called. Were you a bondservant when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.) . . . So, brothers, in whatever condition each was called, there let him remain with God.
Paul does not tell the believers to leave their current work and become missionaries or pastors. He tells them to remain where they are and serve God there. Paul wrote something similar to the Colossians, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him" (Colossians 3:17). It is not so much what we are doing that matters, as for whom we are doing it. We glorify God when we work hard and cheerfully, whether as a pastor, an investor, an actor, a stay-at-home mother, or a barista.”
Some work is not appropriate for Christians
As you can probably guess, while most work has value as we work for God’s glory and partner with him in sustaining the world, some work is not good.
There are jobs that are clearly wrong, like prostitution, pornography and anything illegal! But there is also work that Christians need to be very careful about, and make wise decisions about.
Some Christians will choose not to pursue work that is related to gambling or alcohol, as those are things that can harm people. Others may make the judgement that they can have a positive impact on those industries from the inside.
Some Christians will decide not to pursue work that may require them to be dishonest or take advantage of people, like working in telemarketing or even journalism.
But let’s be clear: the Bible doesn’t specifically deny Christians the opportunity to pursue these jobs. Obviously any Christian who is asked to lie in their job ought to say no, and some people may recognise they are going to find saying no to their boss hard, and so steer clear of those jobs
But any job that isn’t inherently sinful is open for Christians to pursue, with wisdom and discretion.
People are suited for different types of work
God makes us each different (1 Corinthians 12; Romans 12:4-8) with unique desires, talents, and interests, and for unique purposes. That means that while some people may be well suited to certain careers working closely with people, others might be better suited to working solo on in-depth projects.
However God has gifted you, don’t be concerned that he may have made a mistake! Your unique talents and gifts are yours for a reason, and you can use them for God’s glory.
Let’s get practical
Now that we’ve outlined some important biblical ideas around work and choosing a job, let’s get a little more specific and talk about your personal career choice. How can you work it out?
Think about what you care most about
As we mentioned above, God has given every Christian unique gifts and skills – and he has also given us all different passions.
While as Christians, our biggest passion should be Jesus, that doesn’t mean we have to ignore every other passion we have! The people who do the best in their jobs are people who have pursued things they care deeply about.
Maybe you’re really passionate about mathematics. Great! Maybe you should be a maths teacher, or a university researcher, or an engineer?
Maybe you’re really passionate about music. Brilliant! Could you become a music journalist, a songwriter or a performer?
Maybe you just love animals. Amazing! Becoming a biologist or vet could be perfect for you.
And maybe you just love talking about God and sharing him with others. That might mean vocational ministry (as opposed to the volunteer ministry all Christians should do!) is the right pursuit for you.
All of these careers are worthwhile and valuable in God’s kingdom, so think about what you care most about and see if you can find a job that aligns with your God-given passion.
Proverbs 15:22 tells us that other people can be wise counsellors for us, helping us to make decisions in our lives. Who knows you best? You might like to ask them for advice as to what careers they think might suit you.
You could also ask other people who are already working in fields you might be interested in. Ask them what they like and dislike about their jobs, and if they’re Christians, ask them how they see their work playing a part in God’s work!
As Tamara Guy explains in this article, “Last but definitely not least, pray about your career. Ask the Father for help and he’ll show you.
You may be really scared or doubting yourself. Do you ever talk about a serious matter and your friends just laugh at you? Have you spoken to your family or even best friend about a possible career and they told you that it was a crazy idea? Have you even doubted that you were good enough to do well in a particular job?
If you answered yes to all of these, then you are in good company. The Bible is filled with many stories of people who were given an assignment/job and completely doubted themselves. One of the greatest examples is in Exodus 3, when God tells Moses to go and rescue the Israelites, and he doubts himself so much he tries to refuse God!
Stories like this were not included in the Bible to make us feel good about how confident we are by comparison. Actually, these show us that even when we are filled with doubt and uncertainty, God can lead us to our answer anyway. He’ll do the same for you. Your creator would love to share with you why you were made.”
Take steps forward
Once you’ve considered what the Bible says about work, thought about your gifts and passions, talked with others and prayed, you can be confident beginning to take steps towards your career of choice.
Figure out the pathway to your chosen career – maybe it’s university or an apprenticeship – and how you can get there. You could try shadowing someone else in work experience as well.
If this is the career God wants you to pursue, you will probably find him opening doors for you. But if he doesn’t, don’t worry – he might want you to be persistent in pursuing your goal! Or he might be pointing you in another direction.
Keep praying and asking God for guidance and he will lead you where he wants you to go.
Questions to think about
- What does the Bible say about work? Does this match up with your view of work?
- What careers do you think are wrong for Christians to pursue? Why?
- What are you good at, and passionate about? Are there careers that line up with your gifts and passions?
- Who could help you consider your future career?
- Spend some time praying about your future, and asking God to lead you where he wants you to go.