I wanted to be a writer when I graduated from college, but I never thought of myself as a career woman. It was the mid-90s, and it was still common for many girls to get married soon after school and begin the full-time job of stay-at-home mom. I thought that was my destiny, too—I would just write some freelance articles to bring in extra income while the kids were napping.
But the mommy/freelance writer career path never materialized. I was single and needed to support myself. About five years into the working world (and still single), I got an administrative assistant position at a large corporation, thinking I would stay there until I found a writing job. Eventually, I got a promotion that required my writing and editing skills. Several years later, I transferred to another department that enabled me to learn new skills, write, and develop significant relationships.
Fifteen years later, I’m still at that company in yet another new position. Whether I like it or not, I’m a career woman—something that didn’t change after my marriage at the age of 41. Over the years, I knew without a doubt that God’s sovereignty was at work in my unsought career, just as it was in my undesired singleness. I’m glad I trusted Him with these unexpected life paths. He’s taught me many things because I did, and here are a few related to my career.
1. When God opens a door in your life, go through it. Even if it’s not the door you expected.
Somewhere along the way, I realized that while the marriage and motherhood doors weren’t opening, the professional door was. I had a choice: I could walk through that door in faith, or I could accept a status quo work experience, viewing my job as a waiting period for my “real” career to begin. If I hadn’t walked through the workplace doors He opened, several aspects of my life might be stuck or stagnant. Psalm 37:23 is applicable to our jobs: “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord.”
2. Take advantage of the opportunities your company provides.
My husband calls this spoiling the Egyptians, when the people of God are blessed with provisions from the world like the Israelites were when fleeing Egypt. Whether it’s the opportunity to attend a workshop, the provision to learn a new skill, or the chance to travel, go for it! Take these opportunities seriously, as ways to grow personally and not just professionally. You might not have these same opportunities if it weren’t for your company, and you have no idea how God might use them in other areas of your life.
3. There’s nothing wrong with advancing in a company.
As long as we’re not living with selfish ambition, as the book of James warns, why shouldn’t we advance? Think of how God advanced Joseph, in the book of Genesis, from slave to servant to prisoner to number two in the country. God used the skills Joseph had developed to save not only the Egyptian nation, but his own. If there’s anything the secular marketplace needs, it’s executives and directors who serve God and exemplify Him.
4. There’s nothing wrong with earning more money.
It’s an appropriate result of hard work and skill development. Proverbs 13:4 says, “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; but the soul of the diligent shall be made rich.” Proverbs 10:22 says, “The blessing of the Lord makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” A well-paying job provides a single person without family expenses a greater opportunity to support missionaries, ministry organizations, and other people as God leads.
5. A full-time career doesn’t mean you can’t pursue other personal and, perhaps, more meaningful dreams.
This has been one of the biggest lessons for me. It’s required discipline, but I’ve still been able to write about topics close to my heart even though I don’t get to do that for a living. Don’t use your job as an excuse to keep you from pursuing other dreams God has put in your heart.
I’m so thankful for the career God has given me, even though it’s far different from the one I wanted. Through it I’ve had opportunities to share the gospel, travel to places I otherwise wouldn’t, and use the gifts God has given me. My employers may not know the Lord, but I do. He is able to use everything in my life to make me a vessel that shines brighter with His glory.