This post is the first in my new series, Work Elevated: Finding Spiritual Purpose in Secular Workplaces. Learn more about the series here.
Have you ever felt a conflict between your work and your faith? By this I mean, if you are ambitious, pursue your work and career goals, does it mean putting your faith in second place?
Yet, you want to discover spiritual purpose in your secular work?
Recently, I had a long discussion with my son, Max. He was struggling over whether pursuing his education and a career looked like he was putting a higher value on his secular work than his church-related activities.
Max’s college studies are demanding and, of course, he wants to do well. Alongside this, from the get-go Max got involved in the university’s Christian Union. He attends church with a bunch of other students.
Yet, Max was still troubled. The message he seemed to be getting was Bible study and bringing people to church must come first. Unless these types of pursuits were a priority, he was neglecting his faith.
It got me thinking. Did Max have to choose between doing the best he could in his studies and career, and being fully committed in his faith?
As I thought about it, I saw a way to encourage my children. Pursuing their careers and being devoted Christians does not have to be a one or the other choice.
There is a biblical way to be fully committed to work and a career path that does not compromise devotion to God.
If you are a student, perhaps you are asking yourself similar questions: Can I excel in my Christian faith and be dedicated to a secular college or work environment?
Or, if you’re a parent, perhaps you are worried as your child moves into a secular world. Having left the security of a faith-filled home and the familiarity of the church he or she grew up in, you wonder how your child will fare navigating the demands of vocation put upon them.
However, this issue is not just for graduates or parents of graduates. It is for all of us who want to reach our goals in our jobs while being faithful in what we believe.
We want to find satisfaction in what we do at work, while we work out our faith.
And so, I want to help you discover spiritual purpose in your secular work.
As I turned to the Bible to find what I could learn on this subject, I was drawn to the story of Daniel.
Daniel, a young man probably around the age of my son, ended up in a challenging situation not too dissimilar to the ones we have been discussing.
The only difference is Daniel did not have a choice about his work environment. Forcibly removed from his religious and cultural environment, Daniel was thrown into a world conflicting with his way of life and beliefs.
Daniel could have decided not to do his best in the work requested of him. He could have stubbornly refused to be a part of the training and opportunities in front of him.
Yet, Daniel worked hard at his studies and for his new employer, even though he did not agree with Nebuchadnezzar’s beliefs and lifestyle. Daniel thrived in both his work and his duty to God.
I read the story of Daniel with fresh eyes and discovered a remarkable faith, which didn’t stand at odds in his totally secular job within the pagan culture he was thrown into.
Daniel’s beliefs didn’t cause clashes or disruptions like we tend to think happens when faith and work collides.
Daniel didn’t come across as awkward or disruptive as he stood up for his faith. He pleased everyone around him and he was rewarded and sucessful in his work.
Daniel completed three years of training before he went into service to the king of Babylon. Sound familiar? It was like Daniel entered further education before he took on a job.
Daniel shows us we can do our best in work and faith. We can be successful in what we do while doing what God wants.
The more I delved into Daniel’s story, the more I saw parallels with our own situations and that of my young adults.
I want you to learn you, too, that you can reach for your career goals while staying grounded in your beliefs.
It is not a matter of choosing between your work and your faith. Believe you can thrive in your secular and spiritual calling.
You and your children can step out into the world of work, and into successful careers, with confidence that will bring honor and glory to God.
Success in our secular work can have sacred significance.
I hope you will join me for the lessons we can learn from Daniel.
Dear Lord. I want to learn how I can do the best in my job and career while not compromising my commitment to you. Show me how I can be like Daniel as I work through these lessons each week. In Jesus’ name. Amen