Question of the Week: If a Christian is unhappy where they are working, should they pursue another career or learn to be content where they are?
The answer to the question is one of attitude rather than circumstances. If we are looking for peace and happiness apart from God, then it won’t matter where we are are working or how we’ll we’re treated there. The solution is to seek contentment where you are at by serving God rather than men in those circumstances. If we are pursuing God but simply can’t find His peace where we are at, then you’re being given a hint that He’s calling you elsewhere. The focus needs to be on the goal rather than the motivation or lack thereof.
Paul the Apostle presented two scenarios where people were feeling discontent. In the first century, over half the Roman population was composed of slaves. Some by force, others to pay off debt, but freedom from those circumstances wasn’t available to everybody. When addressing the people who were victims of the fallenness of man and ended up in that circumstance regardless of their person decision on the matter, he called them to make the most of it by serving the perfect master. God could give them His peace and contentment even in the worst of circumstances if their attitude and heart were to please Him first.
Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
Ephesians 6:5-8 (NKJV)
On the other hand, Paul also addresses those who had the opportunity to pursue freedom and if it was wrong to consider pursuing that kind of change in their lives. To them, the focus remains on their relationship with Jesus above their circumstances.
Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.
1 Corinthians 7:20-24
Note that Paul doesn’t address what needs to be done, but what ought to be done given the goal they have in mind. Wherever someone would find themselves, slave or master, they’re still serving God. If they can do so while free, they should pursue it. If they can do so where they are currently, they should remain there. Christians had no political power and remained a persecuted minority within the Roman Empire until the 4th century. They couldn’t enact the abolition movement or address the topic of slavery in any meaningful sense. Therefore, Paul’s focus is to make the most of their circumstances. If they are a slave, they should consider themselves slaves of God rather than their earthly master. If they have the opportunity to pursue freedom, they should do so if it gives them a greater opportunity to serve the perfect master. The terms change but the application remains the same. If you have a boss that you can serve as if they were Jesus, do so. If you have the opportunity to pursue your relationship with and service to Jesus elsewhere, you should do so. That’s what needs to be our focus. Whoever we’re serving and wherever that service is done, it should be done as if it were to Jesus.
Our focus shouldn’t be to find peace in our careers. We won’t find it. Our solution to problems shouldn’t be to move away from them. We carry all of the baggage that gave us a lack of contentment with us wherever we go. Our focus should be to serve Jesus where we are. If we examine our hearts and motives for seeking new careers and find them in line with our pursuit of Him, then we should go wherever Jesus is calling us. If we’re simply experiencing a lack of motivation or even discouragement, we shouldn’t seek new circumstances. We should seek a closer relationship with Jesus wherever we are through whatever we are doing.
A Reason For Hope is a ministry of Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson
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