What Kind of Work Does God Want You In?
How do we know we are doing the job God has created us to do?
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Given the fact that we belong to God and that life is all about stewarding or managing what God has given us, the question naturally arises in the heart of a Christ-follower: “How do I choose a career that honors God and brings me true fulfillment?”
Let’s look at a few key Scripture verses to get started:
Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
Isaiah 43:6-7: “Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”
Psalm 139:13-16: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
These passages indicate that:
- God shaped you for a purpose,
- You are unique, and
- You are wonderfully complex.
About 20 years ago, a mentor of mine, Pastor Rick Warren, came up with a tool called SHAPE to talk about the five things that make you, you. SHAPE is the way God wired you for your life’s work. Understanding the SHAPE God uniquely gave you is the key to finding His will for your career.
SHAPE is: Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality, Experiences
The Bible teaches that God gives every believer certain spiritual gifts to be used in ministry and in your career (1 Corinthians 12, Romans 8, Ephesians 4). However, I believe spiritual gifts are only one part of the picture. Sometimes, spiritual gifts are emphasized to the point at which believers excuse themselves from service because they claim they are not 'gifted' in that area. But the absence of a spiritual gift is never an excuse to disobey a command such as the one to share the gospel. That's a responsibility we all share. Natural abilities that you were born with also came from God. So do your experiences and inborn personality traits. Your creator planned these factors as well.
The Bible uses the term “heart” to represent the center of your motivation, desires, interests, and inclinations. Your heart determines why you say the things you do (Matthew 12:34), why you feel the way you do (Psalm 34:7), and why you act the way you do (Proverbs 4:23).
Physiologically, each of us has a unique heartbeat. Each person has a slightly different pattern. Likewise, God has given each of us a unique emotional “heartbeat” that races when we encounter activities, subjects, or circumstances that interest us.
God had a purpose in giving you your inborn interests. Your emotional heartbeat reveals a very important key to understanding his intentions for your life. Don’t ignore your natural interests. People rarely excel at tasks they don’t enjoy doing. High achievers enjoy what they do.
These are the natural talents that you were born with. Some people have a natural ability with words. They came out of the womb talking! Others are naturally good with numbers. They think mathematically and they can’t understand why you don’t understand calculus.
Exodus 31:3 gives an example of how God gives people “skill, ability, and knowledge in all kinds of crafts ….” in order to accomplish his purposes. In this case, it was artistic ability to be used in building the Tabernacle.
It’s obvious that God has not used a cookie cutter to create people. He made introverts and extroverts. He made people who love routine and those who love variety. Some people work best when given an individual assignment while others work better with a team.
There is no “right” or “wrong” temperament. We need all kinds of personalities to balance the church and the workplace and give it flavor.
Your personality will affect how and where you use your spiritual gifts and abilities. For instance, two people may have the same gift of evangelism, but if one is introverted and the other is extroverted, that gift will be expressed in different ways.
When you minister or work in a manner that is consistent with the personality God gave you, you experience fulfillment, satisfaction, and fruitfulness. It feels good when you do exactly what God made you to do.
God never wastes an experience. Romans 8:28 reminds us of this: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Consider five areas of experience that will influence the kind career you are best shaped for:
- Educational experiences: What were your favorite subjects in school?
- Vocational experiences: What jobs have you enjoyed and achieved results while doing?
- Spiritual experiences: What have been the meaningful or decisive times with God in your life?
- Ministry experiences: How have you served God in the past?
- Painful experiences: What are the problems, hurts, and trials that you’ve learned from?
God sovereignly determined your shape for his purpose, so you shouldn’t resent it or reject it. “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?” Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” (Romans 9:20-21)
Instead of trying to reshape ourselves to be like someone else, we should celebrate the shape God has given to each of us.
Wise stewardship of your life begins by understanding your SHAPE. You will be the most effective and fulfilled in your life’s work when you use your spiritual gifts and abilities in the area of your heart’s desire and in a way that best expresses your personality and experiences.
What God made you to be determines what God intends for you to do.
Pray this week:
God, please show me how I can use the gifts you have given me in the way that best honors you and maximises the talents you’ve provided me. Thank you for your daily blessings in my life and walking through this with me. Amen.
What is one thing you have done in life that you have talent in and have found great joy in? How could this relate to a possible career choice?