This last question seems to be a revolving one that pops up at various stages for most of us. We get a job work at it for a while, then an opportunity to move up appears…or discontent may have us looking elsewhere altogether. Either way we ruminate on whether we should pursue a change.
Question 3: Does God care what job I take?
In the beginning, God planted a garden and made Adam it’s caretaker. It was a self-watering, fruitful place so I don’t know how difficult this first job was, but we don’t read about Adam having any complaints. After he was tossed out, however, working the ground came with a little sweat. Gen. 3:17-19)
After Adam, most individuals worked the land, shepherded, or had livestock. Then God called Noah to build ark according to specific instructions. After the flood and much later, Joseph was sold into slavery, ended up in prison, then was promoted to second in Egypt. He said God sent him there to save many lives, which of course came about because his authority allowed him to preserve food before famine hit. Four hundred years after that, Moses was tending sheep when God called him to be Israel’s deliverer from Egypt.
I bring those men up because unless God called someone out individually, and for a specific purpose, everyone usually worked as their forefathers before them—they learned a trade—worked the land—or shepherded flocks, anything that provided a living. The point is they did something.
Prov. 12:11, 14, 24 ESV Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. From the fruit of his mouth a man is satisfied with good, and the work of a man’s hand comes back to him. The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.
The point is God intended for mankind to work, but He allows us some freedom in that.
Psalm 104:21-24 ESV The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God. When the sun rises, they steal away and lie down in their dens. Man goes out to his work and to his labor until the evening. O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Once Saul was called to be Christ’s witness and became Paul, when he went out to preach earning a living as a tentmaker. (Acts 18:3; 22:3; 26:4-5) On the other hand, Peter doesn’t go back to fishing for a living, nor does Matthew resume tax collecting after Jesus ascends. They and the other apostles continue growing the early church. Was Paul wrong for working, or Peter for not? Neither. Paul cites other brothers laboring on behalf of the church, asking they be supported (1 Cor. 16:1-11, 15-18; 2 Cor. 2:17; 1 Thess. 5:12-14), but he states why he tries to support himself. (2 Thess. 3:6-12)
From this, we can conclude that whether someone is supported for their mission work, or supports themselves outside their calling, neither is an issue as long as they continued the work they were called to. (1 Cor. 15:58, 1 Thess. 4:10-12) Not everyone is, however, called to ministry. Lydia was a seller of purple, who helped support the work of the Lord.
My point is, unless God calls a specific individual for a specific purpose, the work of an individual seems to be a matter of personal choice. Other than being mindful of the great commission, for which we are all called, most of us can pursue a promotion, or change jobs to earn a living.
Clearly, we should pray about each endeavor, and I believe if we are following what God has called all of us to do already, then we can have confidence that our decisions will be guided by God as well. (Acts. 17:26-27)
Col. 3:23-24 ESV Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.