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5 Criterion for Career Decisions

June 08, 2018
By Dr. Jason Song

I have spoken with hundreds of young people who were looking for work or career. Most of them are looking for guidelines that they can use to make a good decision. It is obvious that simply graduating from college or having majored in a certain field does not give people wisdom needed to make a very important decision. So, when they approach me, I share the following five guiding principles with them.

#1: The big question.
Will the position/job/career glorify God, expand His kingdom, and bless His people?  For Christians, this has to be the most important question in any decision making. This question essentially eliminates career types and work that are illegal, unedifying, selfish, or questionable. The answer to this question depends on one's depth of knowledge and relationship with God.  Will God be pleased with what you are about to do? Will He be glad to be part of your journey? Is this something that you are proud to do for the Master who gave you an opportunity to serve? Will others be positively affected by your work? These are the more specific questions, and those who are about to make a major decision must answer them honestly and transparently.

#2: Gifts and Talents
The second question is related to one’s endowed gifts or talents: Am I good at it?  I believe that God endows every person with special talents and gifts. This makes one particularly and consistently better than others when doing specific tasks. For example, there are those who are far more athletic than others, and then there are those who are far more academic than others.  Some people are gifted with their hands--they can fix anything, or make things with their hands. Some people are gifted in relating to others, listening to them, and providing support and comfort. Some people are much much more logical and, thus, able to work out complicated problems. So, it is important for those who want to embark on a career to consider their strengths, talents, and assets.  

#3: Desire and Passion 
The third question is related to one's desire or passion: Do I like what I’m about to do, and do I want to continue to do it?  You must like what you’re doing. In other words, it is absolutely criticial that you don't take on a job or a career just to get a check.  Such jobs will not give you long-term satisfaction. Now, this does not mean that you should not engage in learning about your interest or passion by taking on jobs.  I am, however, saying that if you are looking for a long-term career, you must do what you like to do, what you are passionate about. If the passion isn’t there, you’ll quickly find your work tedious. Doing things you don't like to do everyday will not bring out the best in you. So, it is very important to align your work with your passion.  

I must add that some people have dreams or passions that are completely unrelated to their gifts or talent. This is a mismatch that can cause a lot of frustration, missed opportunities, and lost time. Remember that aligning your talent with your passion is critical to finding a long-term career that you will enjoy and be very good at.

#4: Finance and Money
The fourth question is related to finances or money: Can I make a living at it? I firmly believe that the Bible teaches the followers of Jesus Christ to engage in activities or work which renders financial benefits. It is necessary for those who work to earn a living so that they can take care of themselves as well as their loved ones. If, for example, what you are passionate about doesn't earn you any money or very little of it, you're going to have some major problems. While pursuing your passion is important, you must figure out if that pursuit will produce financially benefits necessary to make a living. If you can’t, it might be necessary to visit Questions 2 and 3, the ones about talent and passion, to think things through more carefully. Unless you have someone who will pay for your living, or you’re willing to make the sacrifices to pursue your dream, you might have to go back to the drawing board and figure things out again.

#5: Affirmation
The last question is what about other people’s objective opinion on what you are about to do: Do those who love you, and you trust, affirma and support your decision?  What do your mentors, family members, and trustworthy friends say about your decision? While others’ input should not be the overriding determinant of your decision, you should take into consideration the collective wisdom, experience, and honesty of those who truly care about you. Often, their affirmation and support play the role of confirmation on your career choice or decision making.

I must caution that people's input should be filtered.  There may be meddlesome parents or others with ulterior motives who can potentially steer you in the wrong direction.  hat is why it is very important to seek objective opinions and input.

As you can see, using the five criteria and questions can help you to navigate through doubts and confusion related to choosing a career.

Please share this with other young people in your life searching for a direction.  Or, if you’re such a person, well, I hope you’ll find it useful and illuminating. Keep in mind that, as you pose these questions, pray and seek God’s will.  He will give you peace, signs, and confidence as you move forward in His will.