Does God Have One Right Job in Mind for Me?
Friday, July 12, 2013Tweet
When I shared what not to say to a friend going through a tough time, I mentioned how annoying it is when people offer certainties about things they can't actually be sure about (as in, "I'm sure you'll find the right partner soon" or "I'm sure your business deal will go through.")
Now that I've been back on the job hunt again, I've realized that there is an insidious faith-based spin on this: the "God will..." or "God must..." tactic.
"I'm sure God will heal you from this disease."
"God must have someone special in mind for you."
"I'm sure God will bless you with many children."
And so, when my most recent job rejection happened (which was a surprise and a major blow -- apparently I impressed them too much and they thought the job wouldn't be challenging enough for me), I had a whole bunch of people tell me, "God must have a specific job in mind for you, and I'm sure you'll get it soon."
I can't believe this. I don't want to believe this.
There are a few problems with this "God is directing your job search" idea.
First, I had a horrible experience with my last job, even though, as you might remember, I thought it was the perfect job for me. Was God carefully guiding that job search? If so, either God was incredibly cruel to want me in that job, or I managed to miss all the signs steering me away from it. If every job I get is pre-ordained by God, then God doesn't seem to care very much about my mental and emotional well-being. And if I just completely screwed up and missed God's guidance, who's to say that couldn't happen again?
Second, the "one right job" idea is just as problematic as the "one right person" idea in dating. PerfectNumber628 has written several posts on why this idea is problematic in the realm of dating. Essentially: Only one of the seven billion people out there is truly compatible with you, and you're supposed to just find them? And even if you believe God is going to bring that person to you, that means you have to evaluate each person you meet not just as "Would I like to spend more time with this person?" but "Is this the soul mate God has brought me?" And every relationship problem becomes not, "Is this relationship still what I want out of a relationship?" but "Is this a sign from God that we should break up?" That's a lot of pressure!
Similarly, when I start believing there's one right job out there that God wants me to have, every job posting has that much more pressure on it. It's hard enough trying to figure out "Is this a job I'd be interested in? Am I qualified for this job? How much time would working and commuting to this job take per week?" but when I throw in, "Are there signs that God wants me in this job?" it becomes even more ambiguous and stressful.
And then the worst part is when I start thinking, "This really feels right. This feels like where I'm meant to be," and then I get turned down for the job! If God really has a job in mind for me, then I clearly have no idea how to figure out what that is, because I keep getting it wrong!
Also, this kind of thinking puts more importance on the job I end up in than I think it really deserves. I appreciated that my counselor continually stressed that whatever decision I made about a job or career path was something I was doing "for now." I'd like to find a job I can be in long term, but I may decide to cut back when we have kids or move somewhere else if a different opportunity comes along. I may decide to stop applying for a while and focus on my freelance work, and I want the flexibility to say, "This isn't working" and start applying again. But if I feel like this is my God-ordained job, that seems to take my own agency and ability to make changes to my life out of the equation.
And along the same lines, if I take "God is directing your job search" to its logical conclusion, then it seems like I could just stop everything I'm doing -- applying to jobs, networking, telling people what I'm looking for -- and eventually someone will magically offer me the job where God wants me to be. Somehow it doesn't seem right that I just sit on my butt and say I'm waiting for God's chosen job to show up.
Don't get me wrong. I think it's possible for God to guide someone's job search. When Mike got his job out here, it felt to both of us throughout the entire process that there were giant God-arrows pointing us here, as there were just far too many coincidences and signs to ignore. We are both incredibly happy here, and I think it would be wrong to say that trusting God played no role in his applying for and accepting this job. And I believe pretty strongly that God brought Mike into my life.
But do I believe that this is the only job Mike could have been happy in, or that if I'd never met Mike I necessarily would have never married or had a happy marriage? No.
So to all the people who are sure that God has a particular job in mind for me: I know you mean well, but you're really not making me feel any better. I believe God gave me a lot of wonderful skills and the ability to seek out and apply for jobs, and I believe that God has answered my prayers in helping me to do my absolute best in each of the interviews I've had. But I don't believe I'm on a hunt for the one God-approved job out there for me.
What are your feelings on God having a plan for your work life or love life? Do you find the "one right one" idea reassuring or frustrating?