Or Are You Being Pushed or Pulled to Make a Change?
Don’t you wish you could peer into the future to see if you are making the right career decisions? When do I move on? Do I accept that offer? Should I push for a promotion or stay where I’m at? If you’re like most you’ve had your share of good and bad decisions. So how do we know what path to choose? Is there some way we can tilt the odds in our favor?
First of all, you are not left to your own devices when it comes to making these hard decisions. The Bible speaks of the confidence we have when it comes to determining the direction we should go.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”— James 1:5 NIV
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” — Proverbs 3:5 NIV
God is not unconcerned with our lives and will not abandon us when we are facing tough decisions. He promises to guide and direct us throughout the twists and turns of life. But if we are unaccustomed to listening to his voice and our priorities are not in line with his then there is little chance we will accept his guidance when these decision times arise. Our sensitivity to the Spirit comes from a heart that is continually seeking to align our steps with his purposes. If we are seeking a life that is pursuing his kingdom priorities we will then find it immensely easier to discern his immediate will.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.”— Psalm 32: 8, 9 NIV
But after we have examined our hearts and have yielded our priorities to his then let me give you two principles that I believe will help guide you into making better career decisions. They are represented by the terms “push” and “pull” and are found in every good career decision.
We need to believe that our present circumstances are not adequately utilizing our talents, gifts and abilities or are in some way inadequately meeting our needs. Let me be very clear “push” does not mean that every difficult job is one that we need to jettison merely because it is hard. Every career has difficulties just like every relationship goes through seasons of trials. We are called to develop a spirit of endurance and it is exactly these times of trials that produce this godly quality in us. Push means that we have come to a time in our career where we are facing a systemic, un-altering, limiting environment that is incompatible with long term career growth. It may have nothing to do with a toxic work environment. It may be that it is just a wrong fit for you. You may be the proverbial square peg trying to fit in the round hole. This is when you feel the push for something different … a better fit … a more challenging opportunity. You may be very uncertain about the next step but every day that passes is filling you with greater certainty that your present place not where you should be.
In this step we experience some of our greatest fears. We question our own abilities to find something better and rationalize that our present job is “better than nothing”. We may even question God’s goodness because we reason that our present circumstances are somehow a reflection of his plan for our lives. When we give into these fears we become immobilized and can’t move forward. This is especially sad when we allow our fears to make us sour, critical, and unproductive in our jobs resulting in becoming the very opposite of what we are meant to be.
So when you feel push what should you do? Here are three steps:
- Carefully consider if this is truly a push or are you just facing a temporary difficulty.
- Seek discernment regarding your feelings. It is helpful to identify what we are feeling and attempt to articulate the areas that cause us concern. This may require connecting with a counselor, pastor or mentor to help process what you are feeling. This can be a very fruitful time of discerning your true calling and identifying the threads in your life that brings insight into who God created you to be.
- Remember you do not need to know where you are going at this time, only that you are feeling a push from your present situation. At this time you are like Abraham leaving Ur, Moses fleeing into the wilderness or Paul bouncing around Asia before receiving a call to Macedonia. I have found that these are precious times of listening, learning and discovering God’s call that prepare us for the next step; pull.
Pull is when we uncover our gifts, talents, abilities and passions and discover a place where we can use them. Why is this so important? Because until we know who we are we will not have confidence in what we do. Instead, we will make decisions based upon our circumstances or worldly priorities. Money, power, convenience or other’s expectations will become our primary filters as we consider opportunities. And what is even more disastrous is we won’t see the opportunities that are before us because we dismiss them without consideration. This is the perfect recipe for a frustrating and unfulfilling life. How do we discover pull in our lives?
- Get alone with God and his Word and get quiet. Listen for his voice and his blessed assurance of his love and plan for your life. Only with this confidence can we hope to break through and find his will.
- Look for the threads in your life. These will be those things you have done when you’ve felt especially useful, effective or successful. Generally these will also be times when what you are doing seems effortless like there was a powerful wind at your back that was propelling you along. If you’ve never experienced this then ask those who know you well and can identify what you do well.
- Begin the exploration process where you open the doors to new opportunities and possibilities. During this time you will be tempted to throw out the impractical options as fantasies. Don’t do it! Keep everything in play. You never know where one impossible idea may lead you. Great things are being done every day by those who leaned into the foolish, impractical and insane possibilities. Make a list and make it long.
- Finally, dip your toe into some of these possibilities. Do research on what a career path in that area would look like. Take a class at the community college in something that interests you. Speak to someone who is doing what you would like to do and listen to their story. Above all don’t give up. Even if your steps are small keep moving forward all the while asking God for his wisdom and direction.
As always if you have any questions or comments please don’t hesitate to let us know in the box below.