Earlier this month, I went on a short walk around the neighborhood just before the sun went down to take advantage of the unseasonably warm weather. It gave me some much-needed time to reflect and pray.
I currently work at Fort Leonard Wood as a U.S. Army civilian and have a heart for the military community. They need to hear how God’s presence in our work, what I’ve termed Immanuel Labor, will directly impact their army experience.
One of the most relevant aspects of God’s presence in our work is that of trusting him during the job assignment process. Whether you are in the military or not, you can probably relate to what it feels like when your career feels out of your control.
God Is in Control
A Christian in the army needs to understand the sovereignty of God. He is always in control. He reigns. Additionally, he is an all-powerful, all-knowing, loving, and faithful God.
If your next job assignment is literally in the hands of someone you have never met (such as someone at Human Resource Command at Fort Knox, Kentucky), you must know that God has you in his bigger hands. He knows where you need to go, what you need to do, who you need to serve with, and the right time to move you for his purposes.
My Experience as a Recruiter
For those who are on active duty, officers and enlisted personnel will get sent to a variety of assignments every two or three years according to “the needs of the Army.”
During my twenty-plus years on active duty, my wife and I have recognized that each time I was up for reassignment, there was what we called “an angel in uniform” who watched over the process. God needed us to be his representatives and do his work at just the right places at just the right times as we were stationed around the country and overseas.
However, that did not mean that I had success everywhere I went.
A prime example is my sixteen months as an army recruiter in Fort Collins, Colorado. Even though I worked hard and was trained to be able to paint a picture for my potential recruits of how the army would help them meet their personal goals, I could not get folks to commit. I did not handle their objections well on a consistent basis. I could not produce the results they expected every month.
The funny thing is, I had specifically requested that assignment. (You have to be careful what you pray for, because you just may get it.) After my nine-month training and evaluation process ended, my chain of command submitted a packet to relieve me from recruiting duty as an ineffective new recruiter. It was a humbling process, but one that I was grateful for and convinced was the right thing to do. After several months, they decided that I would be immediately reassigned to Fort Hood where I could better serve the army.
God’s Timing at Fort Hood
Looking back on this move, I can see how God can use us at the right time and place in our workplaces to build his eternal kingdom.
In the spring of 1995 at Fort Hood, Texas, I worked behind the scenes to try to get a small group from my own chapel to attend a Promise Keepers men’s conference. This simple act later developed into a major effort that involved several army chaplains from other chapels on post. We were able to bring a total of 168 soldiers from all ranks, races, and backgrounds to the Houston and Dallas Promise Keepers men’s conferences that year. These events were life-changing for many of these soldiers and their families and was a real faith-builder for me. Only God could have pulled this off.
Timing is everything.
If I had been a recruiter for three years as originally planned, I may or may not have been attending chapel at Fort Hood in 1995 for God to use me as a catalyst to bring all of these soldiers to two Promise Keepers conferences. He clearly worked all things out for good (Rom. 8:28).
God’s Sovereignty in Your Career
My story would be of little value if it were not supported by scripture. How can you know that you can trust God in every new assignment throughout your career and beyond?
Joseph also found himself in places that he did not plan to go. However, God had it planned all along. In Genesis 45:7–8, Joseph concludes that despite what his brothers did to him, it is not man who causes things to happen to us but God. He alone is sovereign.
We read from the prophet Isaiah that “we are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand” (Is. 64:8). God sovereignly works in the circumstances and hearts of his people to prepare them to do his work and to mold them as he desires to fulfill his purposes.
Everywhere I have ever been, the sovereign God has worked things out for his purposes and for my benefit. God is present with every person who abides in Christ. You can trust him with your career path.
Editor’s note: This blog contains excerpts from Russell Gehrlein’s book, Immanuel Labor – God’s Presence in our Profession: A Biblical, Theological, and Practical Approach to the Doctrine of Work.