Is it okay for Christians to want career success?
When we allow success to be defined biblically and not culturally, then of course. All Christians should long for success in their careers. We just need to make sure that we’re defining success properly.
Our culture sees success as wealth, status, popularity, and power. Functioning within this framework allows for relational and personal values to be discarded in order to achieve success. This definition of success is also very shortsighted and ultimately very self-centered in nature. The pursuit of cultural success within the workplace is very misleading. It promises stability, happiness, and a better life, but often brings heartache and tragedy in many different forms.
Biblical success isn’t determined by a salary or a title. Instead it’s defined by Jesus’ two greatest commands: to love God and love others. When you can remain obedient to God and never compromise loving others, you’re living out a life of true success.
If you’ve obtained a high paying salary, but mistreated others along the way then you haven’t achieved true success. This isn’t to say, you can’t receive wealth, status, popularity, or power within your career, but these are not the markers of biblical success and shouldn’t be the most pressing goal as you work.
The foundation of biblical success even within your career is to love God and love others. These should be the two greatest motivators of your heart as you carry out your job from day to day.
Though this list is not exhaustive, here are 4 ways you can move towards success in your career as a Christian.
1. Seek the Wisdom of Others.
Sometimes, it can seem as if success in your career is a guessing game. You might not even know if you’re in an industry that is right for you or whether or not you should pursue another career opportunity. There will be many decisions you have to make personally––and, if you find yourself in a place of leadership, organizationally.
In the midst of all that, there’s great wisdom in seeking the counsel of others as you have to make decisions regarding your career or within your current job responsibilities.
Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.
Being a person who seeks and respects the counsel of others is valuable. This doesn’t mean you should aim to please everyone around you, but that you should surround yourself with people you trust to give you sound advice. It will still be your responsibility to weigh their advice and decide how to respond. You will benefit greatly from another person’s perspective and expertise.
You should never feel shame in seeking advice on a given situation. In fact, the biblical proverb says you will be more successful by asking the advice of others. There’s a measure of arrogance in those who decide to never seek the counsel of others in their life and in their career.
Seeking counsel from others will go a long way in arriving at the best decision and it will give value and respect to the thoughts of others.You will benefit greatly from another person's perspective and expertise. Click To Tweet
2. Place a high value on honesty.
Dishonesty often stems from our desire to care for ourselves. We fear losing relationships and opportunities, so we compromise truth for our gain. This happens often in the workplace. But it shouldn’t be this way for Christians. We shouldn’t feel as if dishonesty is our only solution.
The Lord detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights.
God calls us to live by a higher standard for the betterment of ourselves and those around us. God doesn’t honor speaking mistruths in order to get a leg up in your career.
Be that as it may, honesty doesn’t always result in getting what you want. In fact, placing a high value on honesty might even cost you a job at some point. But even in this case, you must stand firm on the truth. God will care for you and honor you for your obedience to what he’s called you to. This isn’t always easy, and the temptation to stretch the truth will certainly arise. But true long lasting success will come with honesty.
This means honesty in every area of your work life. You should be a person who doesn’t try to cheat the system but aims to be honest within its structures. You shouldn’t be looking for ways to get around the rules and expectations set before you.
It’s true that you might be able to operate this way for some amount of time and still see a measure of success. But at some point there will be a cost to be paid.
You don’t have to live by the idiom to “look out for number one.” You can trust God will care for you as you remain obedient to the life he’s called you to. And that includes your work situation.You can trust God will care for you as you remain obedient to the life he's called you to. And that includes your work situation Click To Tweet
3. Be Open to Constructive Criticism.
I can’t think of one person who enjoys criticism. There are many who would agree there’s great value in receiving and applying feedback, but it’s certainly never enjoyable. Criticism often feels incredibly personal, and it identifies your shortcomings or weaknesses. We all know we have them, but to have others point them out to us can be painful.
Whoever heeds discipline shows the way to life,
but whoever ignores correction leads others astray.
There’s great wisdom in paying attention to the corrections spoken by others in your life. We’re often blind to our own shortcomings which are often apparent in the eyes of others.
You will have to exercise wisdom as you weigh what to apply and what to disregard. But the bible is clear that we need correction in our lives. We need to listen to some of the corrections given to us.
Learning how to process and receive corrections is vital to success in your career. Being a person always looking to learn and grow should be a defining quality of every Christian. That’s what sanctification is all about—being transformed to be more like Jesus. This means we always need to be growing and learning.
The Holy Spirit will use the correction of those around you to move you further along your sanctification journey. It doesn’t matter how many years of experience you have or how old you are, there will always be opportunities to glean from the correction of others in your life.It doesn't matter how many years of experience you have or how old you are, there will always be opportunities to glean from the correction of others in your life. Click To Tweet
4. Don’t get too big for your britches.
When first starting out in the workforce, most of us would easily admit we had a lot to learn and wouldn’t call ourselves “experts” by any means. As you gain experience and become more comfortable with your own talents and skills, your confidence begins to grow.
This is a natural progression, but the trouble begins when this confidence turns into arrogance and haughtiness.
Do you see a person wise in their own eyes?
There is more hope for a fool than for them.
Maintaining a sense of arrogance is a quick way to lose allies within the workforce. Counting others as wise and valuable will lead you further down the road to biblical success than seeing yourself as the wisest in the room.
Arrogance is antithetical to humility. As Christians, we’re called to be people of humility. We should find ways to build others up, rather than constantly building ourselves up. Knowing your worth and your value in your field of work is important. Just don’t leverage it inappropriately for the sake of success.
True biblical success will come through recognizing the value in those you work with. Regardless of what type of field you work in, your success will always be intertwined with the work of others and your relationships with them. Burning bridges with those around you through your arrogance will never work out well. Loving others begins with a posture of humility.
Success in your career is an extension of your Christian witness.
Every aspect of your life should be a witness to your faith in Jesus. This includes your career. So you should desire to be successful in your career, because that means through your career you are being intentional about loving God and loving others.
As we begin to move away from a compartmental faith and into an all-consuming faith, we can see our careers as an extension of our witness. Regardless of what career path you’re on, biblical success will look the same. You have an opportunity to honor God through using your gifts and talents to serve others in your everyday life, through your career.
MORE RESOURCES TO CHECK OUT
If you found this article helpful, these books might be useful resources to you.
- Thanks for the Feedback: The Science and Art of Receiving Feedback Well by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
- The Lost Art of Listening, Third Edition: How Learning to Listen Can Improve Relationships by Michael P. Nichols and Martha B. Straus
- The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World by Peter Scazzaro