Your faith can guide your major and career decisions.
Career development is a life-long process that includes many steps and stages. To make wise decisions regarding major choice; related part-time, volunteer and internship experiences; full-time jobs after graduation and career changes, you need to be able to evaluate your skills, interests and values and know how to make decisions based on what options best suit you. At times, this can seem like an intimidating process. Fear and doubt may confuse and distract you. Do you really know who you are? What if you choose the wrong major? What if you get stuck in a job you hate?
It is important to remember that we are not alone. God constantly guides, nurtures, supports and encourages each of us along our life paths. Our Heavenly Father has a purpose for each of His precious children. Prayer helps us to discern His will for our lives, eliminate fear and doubt, understand our spiritual gifts more clearly, make decisions with more confidence and expand our understanding of meaningful work and vocational calling. Whether you are called to the ministry or to the non-profit sector, to the missions field or the executive board room, whether you are a teacher, lawyer, doctor or mechanic, you are fulfilling God's purpose in your life. No matter to what setting you are called, you are in your right place and will have the opportunity to let your light shine to the world through your love of Christ Jesus and your fellow man. Your faith, conversations, dealings with others and ethical decision making will be a witness to the power and glory of God.
This webpage encourages students, faculty/staff, alumni and others in the Samford community to reflect upon and learn about vocation and calling from a theological standpoint. The following rhetorical questions and corresponding Scripture verses from the King James Version of the Holy Bible may serve to inspire and encourage your prayerful study.
I. Identity and Purpose
Who are you? What is your identity as a child of God? For what purpose were you created?
Consider what Genesis tells us about our heritage and reason for being:
"God created man in His own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God saw every thing that he had made and behold, it was very good."-Genesis 1: 27, 28 &31
Consider what Jeremiah revealed about what God knows of and plans for us:
"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end." -Jeremiah 29:11
Christ Jesus was clear what the ultimate purpose of life is:
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself."-Luke 10:27
What does Paul tell us about who we are and the purpose to which we are called?
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ."-Romans 8: 16 & 17
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose."-Romans 8: 28
Will discovering my purpose be a confusing struggle? Will I ever be able to understand what it is that God wants me to do?
Christ Jesus promised:
"Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."-Luke 12:32
Paul knew the assurance we have in God's plan for us as well as our ability to fulfill that purpose.
"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."-I Corinthians 15:58
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work."-II Corinthians 9:8
As you prayerfully consider your selfhood and purpose in life, which Bible verses have been most inspirational to you?
Who can you talk with in depth about this? Your parents, youth minister, pastor, a trusted Samford professor, a caring high school teacher, a Christian counselor?
II. Discovering and Using Spiritual Gifts and Talents
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."-James 1:17
Evaluate your special skills and abilities. Which ones bring you joy and satisfaction? Which gifts do others recognize, appreciate, benefit from? Ask someone whose opinion you value what gifts he/she sees in you.
"Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues; But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit,"-I Corinthians 12: 4-11
What careers are you considering? How can the spiritual gifts you express be useful in each career option? Talk with people in each career field. Consider contacting Samford alumni.
"So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us,"-Romans 12:5&6
Try to become more aware of the spiritual gifts of the people around you. Begin to appreciate the different abilities and methods of getting things done in your sphere of influence such as parents, siblings, youth group members, classmates, fellow workers.
As you pray about your spiritual gifts and talents, which Bible verses have been most inspirational to you?
III. Developing an Understanding of Meaningful Work
Are there only certain jobs that are meaningful/worthy? Think about ways in which the work of a missionary is meaningful. Then think about ways in which the work of an elementary teacher is meaningful….a police officer…..an interior designer…a youth pastor….an engineer.
"Whatever you do in word or deed, do in the name of the Lord Jesus…do your work heartily as for the Lord rather than for men…It is the Lord Christ whom you serve."-Colossians 3:17, 23, 24
How can a successful Christian business executive who deals lovingly and ethically with his/her employees and customers perform meaningful work? How can a Christian public relations director who raises funds for a non-profit human services agency perform meaningful work? How can a Christian computer programmer who loves his job and volunteers his/her time for the community perform meaningful work?
"For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?"-I Corinthians 12:14-17
Are people defined by what they do or by who they are? Is it your job title that makes you worthy? Is a successful career the ultimate goal or is a career one of many opportunities to be a witness to God's grace and glory? What is the true "job description" for every committed follower of Christ?
"Then said they unto him, what shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."-John 6:28&29
IV. Discerning and Implementing Individual Callings
How can you begin to interpret and understand your calling?
"Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."-Proverbs 3:5&6
"I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go:"-Psalms 32:8
"Be still and know that I am God:"-Psalms 46:10
"Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."-Luke 11:9&10
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."-Philippians 4:13
Is a calling a one time event? Is it a constant, conscious striving to serve God and mankind? Are we called to be the best witnesses for God's power wherever we are and whatever we are charged with doing at that time: as students, at our first part-time job, at our volunteer commitments, in our first after-graduation job, in our second career change?
"I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."-Philippians 3:14
"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure."-I John 3:2&3
How can you discern God's calling for your life from the pull of the world and the temptations of human will?
"But they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing."-Psalms 34:10
"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus: For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure."-Philippians 2:5&13
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."-II Timothy 2:15
"But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally…and it shall be given him."-James 1:4&5
What are your values? What is important to you? How do you want to contribute in your work, community, family? How important is it for your values to be in harmony with your career choice?
What are some of the "roadblocks" you may be facing in rightly interpreting God's calling for you life? Fear, doubt, negative thinking? How can you begin to identify and eradicate those obstacles?
"In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion."-Psalms 71:1
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."-Isaiah 26:3
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee: yea, I will help thee: yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."-Isaiah 41:10
"There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear:"-I John 4:18
"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace."-I Corinthians 14:33
What if you mistake God's calling and follow an erroneous path?
"And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, this is the way, walk ye in it,"-Isaiah 30:21
Consider talking with a trusted spiritual advisor or joining a bible study group to follow up with these issues. As you continue to explore your career choices from a theological perspective we in the Career Development Center pray -"That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;"-Colossians 1:10