“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Research has demonstrated that there are common attributes evident in people who are effective and successful in the workplace. These “success factors” are demonstrated by believers and nonbelievers alike. And while these characteristics on their own may be of some value, as believers we need to take into account the very clear words of Jesus when he said, “without me, you can do nothing.” A success factor may be great characteristic to have but, like everything, if not used in line with God’s direction, it may work against us. So, let’s consider what it might be like to work from the heart of God…
Take Ambition, for example. For the right cause, ambition is not a problem. Passion and ambition are attributes given by God to fuel the fire that Jesus started; a wildfire to spread the good news of the Kingdom of God! But Career Ambition? Do you really want to expend all your passion and gifts on the pursuit of an upward-spiraling series of work assignments and positions? To what end—so that you can leave a nice resume behind when you die? Let’s be clear, whatever work you do must be done with excellence and to the best of your ability. At the same time, your greatest joy and sense of purpose will be found if you are willing and flexible enough to be led by the Spirit to any place God wants to place you. That means some of your assignments may appear to be moves in the wrong direction—lateral moves, backward moves, moves to unglamorous organizations that need your help… As salt and light in the workplace, believers should never be surprised to find themselves in some pretty dark places. In other words, the “career path” you may be asked to follow could look foolish to the world but, where the Spirit leads, the possibilities for making a Kingdom impact are great.
So think about this—what really bothers you, in the workplace and in the world right now? What human plight causes you to burn with the righteous anger of God? Now, what are you prepared to do about that? Turn your ambition towards that pressing need and ask God how you can expend your energy and gifts to make a difference in that situation. Perhaps you will earn the money that fuels missionaries and ministries working for that cause. Perhaps you will work directly in and for organizations that are meeting that need. Whether you make your contribution directly or indirectly it takes intentionality to make a difference…you cannot make an impact if you wait for some time in the future to start contributing. Make a small step today and keep moving. You can actually earn eternal compensation in heaven. How about that?
And wherever you are working, make it your personal cause to demonstrate all the fruits of the Spirit every day and in every situation. Love, peace, joy, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, humility, goodness, and self-control are, unfortunately, uncommon worker attributes today. Have the ambition to imitate Christ with these characteristics and you will change the lives of your coworkers and the culture of the organizations in which you work.
How will you know if you are demonstrating this success factor? You will be someone who:
- knows what God wants you to do in life and actively works on it daily
- is knowledgeable about, and excellent in, the practice of righteous behaviors and workplace best practices
- trusts God for assignments, compensation and promotions
- makes things happen as directed by the Spirit
- boldly offers skills and gifts to others in humility
- does NOT rely on others for direction or to open doors.
The Secret: Shift your focus from building a career to leaving a legacy —in the workplace, in your community and in your family—as your “Kingdom footprint.” Claim your heavenly reward: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19