In the film Forrest Gump, Tom Hanks had been running for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days, and 16 hours. In his wake a band of significance-hungry people had been trailing his every step, waiting for some words that would change their lives. Suddenly, he stops and one of his followers cries, ‘Quiet, quiet! He’s gonna say something!’
Forrest gazes into the distance and declares in a profound way, ‘I’m pretty tired… I think I’ll go home now.’
Many of us are not only looking for success in our careers but also significance – that hole inside each person that can only be filled when we know what we are doing is the reason we were set on this planet. It could be coaching a boys’ football team or doing the accounts for a local charity. As ‘deep calls to deep’ (Psalm 42), the inner you will just know when you’ve found ‘it’!
But here’s the rub. Which of the following would you say you are?
- Option 1: You are what you do; or
- Option 2: You do out of what you are.
Think about it – they are subtly different. It is good to seek significance in our lives – a deeper meaning to account for why we are living and breathing. However, a common trait that many of us share is that we often fall for Option 1 – where we look to our jobs for our self identity and raison d’être.
Jesus, on the other hand, operated out of Option 2. The whole focus of his life was his relationship with Father God. This was where his identity and significance lay. Everything that he did and said stemmed from this – not the other way around. John 5:19 ‘… he [Jesus] can do only what he sees his Father doing …’
Jesus did and said only what he heard from his Father after spending time in His presence. For those of us looking for greater significance in what we do with our time, the answer to our quest must lie in the time that we actually spend listening to God. If God spoke to Jesus, then, if we allow it, He will also speak to us about how we can find significance in what we’re doing. After all, like Jesus, we are also His sons (Romans 8:15).
How do we obtain this significance in our careers? For some of us it may lead to a 180-degree course change, whilst for others, something more subtle. Here are some tips to get you going:
- Make a decision to move your attention away from your job as the source for your identity and significance.
- Make a commitment to spend time reading the bible and being still and quiet. It takes practice but it may surprise you how easy it becomes to hear God speak to you about what He wants you to do.
- Once you think you’ve heard from God, share your thoughts with a trusted friend and/or your church leader. Pray about it.
- If it still seems good, step out in faith and test it. If it is from God, then doors will open.
- Soon, you will be doing out of what you are – a significant son of God.
Charles Humphreys is an experienced careers coach and founder of a Christian-based careers coaching service called Want2 get on? He is author of The Christian Guide to Jobs and Careers: www.hope4acareer.com.