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Building your career vs. doing your dream (pt. 1)

I write a lot about faith – about how you have to do your dream. Saturday’s blog recounted how I did my dream in Swaziland despite innumerable obstacles. Sadly, in our risk-averse society, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met who trade their dreams in on some stra…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

I write a lot about faith – about how you have to do your dream. Saturday’s blog recounted
how I did my dream in Swaziland despite innumerable obstacles. Sadly,
in our risk-averse society, I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met
who trade their dreams in on some strange concept of security which end up becoming their “career.”

What do we know about careers?

  • We all have them, so
    it’s more about priority than an either/or decision.

  • Careers have to do
    with continuity within your chosen field – they are about

  • Careers are
    associated with a set of competencies.

  • Careers are tangible
    & public and are associated with a certain esteem by one’s

In contrast, dreams exist in the heart and are very

  • Dreams invite
    naysayers and critics.

  • Dreams have a high
    failure rate.

  • Dreams require a
    great deal of commitment and passion if they are to become

For some of us, the idea of a career has become an
idol. And idols

get in the way of dreams. In the belly of a whale, Jonah came
to faith and realized, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace
that could be theirs.” (Jonah 2:8) If you cling to a career, you could, for
example, forfeit a marriage.

1 John
2:15 says, “Do not love the
world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the
Father is not in him.” Reflect on those words for a second. Those are harsh,
stark words. If you’re not a Christian, you’re off the hook. It’s the rest of
us who claim to follow Jesus that have to struggle with them. They speak of
priority. Do we love anything in the world? Has our career become something of
an idol?

Of course we all need to be intentional and focused in
how we spend our working lives. Career planning helps us to do that. Careers
are predicated on someone else’s agenda. You perform and you’ll be rewarded.
It’s an endless series of quid pro quos. A career says, “You need to keep
climbing. If you’re not climbing, you’re not OK.”

There is greatness within each of us that is tied to a
dream and the pursuit of that dream. And a career says, “Do what’s prudent.
Make compromises. Don’t sell out to a dream.” Career climbing nibbles away at
the greatness in you and leaves you wondering, “What

mortgage your dreams for someone else’s dream. They take the gonzo
craziness that is you, starch it and press it into a mold that looks
enough like you that you stay in the game, but at the end of the day,
you’re left thinking to yourself, “I wonder if I sold out?”

Part 2 tomorrow

Comments (12)

  • I am thankful to have come across this post. As a single 41 year old woman, I am just now coming to the realization that I have wasted most of my life living for others (particularly my family). I have erected idols and have neglected the work/gifts/talents that I know Christ has called me to do/use. I am an artist and I am a social worker, I love them both, as each exercise a level of creativity and potentially change lives.

    Because I have had beaten into my head that I would not amount to anything, I believed that lie and chose to sit on the sidelines, dying inside because I am living in disobedience- not grave sin, but unbelief and apathy are also stenches in God’s nostrils.

    In June 2009, I resigned from my job (yes in this economy) after praying and fasting. I was so excited at the possibilities to devote time to my dreams: developing my skills in photographer and other mediums, and starting a private counseling practice for Christian women. God, however, had other plans. He literally pumped the brakes on all of my plans and showed me myself (it was uugggllleee). Have you ever been surprised at the stuff that comes out of your heart? During this time, I’ve lost earthly things that I relied on more than God. I asked Him to remember my dreams..the ones that would not replace Him in my life, and just began this process of surrendering my life, making a commitment and following through. I did not go quietly…I still tend to kick and scream sometimes. But God is patient and loving and He cares about what concerns us.

    It looks like I’m rambling on, sorry. I guess what I really want to say is that God is so very good. He is the keeper of our dreams when they are aligned with His word. Accomplishing our dreams requires a commitment to Jesus Christ. It requires being purified in the fire and set apart for His glory. When we abide in Him, our dreams will ultimately be to glorify Him through whatever means He has given us, the Word foremost, and then through gifts/talents, etc.

    I pray that each of your dreams be accomplished .
    In Christ,

  • What happens when your dreams look like foolishness and recklessness, not to your peers and critics, but to your family – to your wife, kids, and those who rely on your steadiness. What then? How can men be providers but reckless followers of God?

  • It’s not a career, Seth. It’s just buying time… Learning patience or something like that…

  • i am with #2…the difference between following dreams and being “responsible” to provide for you family…or make their dreams come true…of course there are the obvious deals “that is where faith comes in” or “you will not know until you try”…living the dream…abundant life…i am pushing in that area but wondering if dreams are for every day or for certain seasons

  • When our dreams or careers or passions are tied closely together with God’s global cause, significant will mark our lives in the end when the stories will be told.

    Our immediate needs and responsibilities engage the Master caring heart and He ever craves for a chance to show He’s in charge and cares.

  • regarding number 2 and number 5:

    I went through this also, only at the other end – I had already been married for about 10 years, had two kids, mortgage and all that.

    Throughout my struggle to decide ‘should I stay or should I go?,’ I was always stopped at the fact that I, and only I, was responsible for providing for my family. I could give up everything, but not my family.

    One day, as I was praying, I was talking with God about this very question. I said, “God, I can’t give up this responsibility. You gave it to me!” He said, “You can give it to me.”

    This may be a ‘duh’ moment for some, but for me it was a revelation; that I could give the responsibility of my family to God.

  • no good ideas from here, love the blog and this topic. I just can’t see any answers other than an all or nothing thing. Jeff, I am hearing you man.

    Sometimes i think that the only way we have of proving God and the gospel is to stop half stepping and go for it, the evidence of God’s miracles in our reckless actions will prove him. Look at peter walking on the water.

    If we live like this, at some point the Christians in our lives will have to believe in our God, which I hope is the God of the bible.

  • My husband has been working for the telephone company for close to 17 years. He is miserable and only happy on his days off.

    His job is to way to demanding and he has to work off of fear and intimidation all the time.If my husband were to die tomorrow, most of my memorys about him would be his sadness and anger he gets from his job and all the days he lived out his life in misery due to his job.

    He makes about 75k and is 48years old( just to give you the gist of our situation).Money means nothing to me. I am a God fearing women and I trust and love Jesus very much. I would rather live in poverty and worship and honor God,then to live like this.

    I would like him to quit and find something that makes him happy. I know that God will take over our finances and medical benefits if we ask Him to.

    I pray all the time about it. But my husband believes that he is resposible for taking care of the family (two kids.)I work part time.

    It makes me nuts, when I know how easy it would be to turn this over to our Father. I want to see my husband happy and not see him nash his teeth every time he walks out the door to go to work.I feel as if my husband is not trusting God and is worshipping his job!

    Any one with me on this?

  • I resigned from my work and decided to go with the youth ministry instead. My work is a hindrance to my real duty as a Christian. I would say that anything that hinders me is an idol.

  • This is definitely an interesting one. On the one hand I only just really earn enough to get by working full time, and have been in the situation where I was depending on God and others for the money to pay my bills (sounds a whole lot more romantic than the experience of it.) As I don’t currently have any dependents the main Biblical principles that can play on my mind are those of not being in debt (eg. Romans 13:8) and of not being a burden to others (1 Thess 4:11-12).

    On the other hand, how foolish am I to think that I can provide for myself? I can’t change anything, God provides for me whether I’m aware of it or not. He could take everything away tomorrow, or give me more. I think it’s important not just to follow our dreams but also God’s leading as, if He tells us to do something, to me that means he’s putting his personal guarantee on providing what we need for it.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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