At Work & Theology 101

How Does Your Theology of Work Help You in Your Job Search?

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Over the past several months, I have seen occasional glimpses of recent college graduates who are posting on social media their utter disappointment in America due to their difficulty in finding meaningful employment.

I have a simple message I want our students to hear. This is not a political issue. It’s not about economics, and it has nothing to do with what is happening in the world today. It is much bigger than that. It has to do with theology.

I have a burden to introduce students and new graduates to the theology of work. Understanding what God’s Word says about work and knowing how to practice the presence of the triune God at work will change their perspective about where they will spend the majority of their waking hours every single day for the next forty years.

Let me explore some of the challenges that Millennials and Gen Z are facing, and then provide a biblical and theological perspective that may better prepare Christian students who will graduate this spring with a way forward.

Where Are the Struggles?

In one article I read, it quoted a few recent graduates who were frustrated with their lack of employability in this economy. Let me summarize some of their concerns:

  • “I’ve been applying to marketing jobs,” but the jobs that pay “$150,000 to $200,000 a year, I’m not getting those.”
  • “No matter how many jobs I apply to, getting a job feels impossible.”
  • “Unless you know somebody or you’re super qualified, there is like a 9 out of 10 chance that you are not getting the job.”

What I see is a combination of unrealistic expectations, a sense of hopelessness, and a frustration with the education system that failed to prepare them for the tough challenges of finding employment after receiving a bachelor’s degree.

How Does the Bible Address These Issues?

The struggles that these college graduates face are valid. However, it was clear they did not have a biblical basis to frame their job search. This would offer them hope in a God who is faithful to provide for us when we seek him.

The Bible speaks to these concerns: God promises to meet the needs of his children (Phil. 4:19). Income will grow after a season of diligent work and God’s blessing (Prov. 10:4). God opens doors for those who use their skills well (Prov. 22:29).

More importantly, unbelievers do not have much of a chance of finding meaningful work or anything else good in this world without first being reconciled to God through faith in Jesus Christ. The clear message of Ecclesiastes is that life under the sun (versus life under the Son) is “meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Eccl. 2:11).

Consider this. Jesus told his disciples, “Seek first his kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33Lk. 12:31). In context, Jesus was speaking about how God would meet the basic needs (i.e., food and clothing) of his creatures, including us.

Certainly, God is more than able to provide directly for us by miraculous means. But how does he normally meet those needs? God usually does so indirectly through our jobs, which provide money to buy food and clothing for us and our families. I see a very clear connection between seeking God first and finding the right job.

What Advantages Does a Christian Student Have?

I have to agree with the student quoted above who said that unless you know someone, you probably won’t get the job. For the Christian, it does come down to who you know. Knowing God makes all the difference in finding a job.

With God’s help, Christians who are looking for work will find one that meet their needs. A follower of Jesus has all the resources he or she needs to identify their divine design and find a job where God can use them as his coworker to meet the wide spectrum of human needs. They can seek God’s wisdom and will find it in his word, which will help students to be more successful in their job search.

R. Paul Stevens, in Work Matters: Lessons from Scripture, helps us to appreciate God’s providence in our lives. He writes, “It means that God is even more interested in our life-purpose than we are … Such an understanding of God’s providential ordering of our lives should stimulate our confidence, gratitude, and faith.”

Many years ago, I was in the same situation, looking to find my first teaching job after I graduated. He provided. A couple of years later, I sensed a call to ministry. A few years later, that door closed, so I joined the army. After twenty years of active duty, I retired, but now I work for the army in a civilian capacity. Throughout my winding career path from math, to ministry, to the military, I clearly saw God lead me.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I hope I was clear enough in my explanation above to argue that yes, Christian college (and high school) graduates do have certain advantages when it comes to competing successfully in the job market. Perhaps I could offer up a word of encouragement by way of modern application from the writings of the Apostle Paul: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom. 8:31).

Finding a job is always going to be a spiritual journey for the Christian. Here are a few practical tips from my own experience that I can share with you:

  • Cast a wide net – Apply for jobs outside your comfort zone with respect to your major, your geographical preferences, and ideal positions
  • Use all means available – Use job search websites, network, attend job fairs, and consider making cold calls to businesses or organizations that might need someone like you
  • Just get your foot in the door – You can keep looking for that dream job while employed full-time

God loves you. He is very much present in your job search. I challenge you to get on your knees long before you hit the pavement looking for that first job. And when you get rolling along in your job search, continue to pray. Keep seeking him and expect good things from your heavenly father. He will provide in his time. He is faithful, if you trust him. When you do get that job, give him all the glory.

(Note: I invite you to read a relevant article I wrote for the Nashville Institute for Faith + Work entitled, “Encouragement for New Graduates on God’s Presence in Your Vocational Journey.”)

Editor’s note: This article was republished from the author’s blog with permission.

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