Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Laurie Beth Jones' book, Jesus: Career Counselor: How to Find (and Keep) Your Perfect Work, (Howard Books , 2010).
God intends for your work to be about much more than just doing a job well. Work should be about a vocation - a whole lifestyle in which you honor God, contribute to the world in the ways you were uniquely designed to help others, and enjoy the process.
So don't settle for work that's anything less. If you're bored, frustrated, or confused about your career, go to the ultimate Counselor - Jesus - to help you make the best career decisions. Here's how:
Consider the guideposts Jesus has placed in your life. Noticing markers that point the way toward God's plans for you will help you find your vocation. Explore your mission by writing out your core values and creating a mission statement to express them. Assess your personality type by taking personality profile tests and asking friends and family members to comment on how they see you. Discover your four greatest talents by asking yourself what people tell you that you're good at doing, and what you love to do. Write a vision statement for yourself by imagining that you no longer have to work for money, but are free to contribute to society through any type of work you'd like to choose. Then write a description of what kind of work you'd decide to do, and what goals you'd like to accomplish through that work.
Develop strong leadership skills. Get rid of your fears, insecurities, and excuses so you can rise to pursue God's dreams for your life and career. Pray and think about where God may want you to move upward in your career, such as by seeking a promotion, gaining more education, viewing yourself in a more confident way, or applying yourself more to your current on-the-job tasks. Be willing to take whatever career risks God calls you to take. Keep in mind that when you do, God will change you for the better, from the inside out. Pray for the discernment to know what risks God wants you take, and to understand what fears may be holding you back. Break down the steps you need to take into small tasks on a to-do list so they don't seem overwhelming. Pray for the courage you need to take action on them. Don't hesitate to speak up whenever you need to bring attention to the value of your work or a situation that you think needs to be changed. Go ahead and talk with your boss, coworkers, and customers about critical issues rather than avoiding them because you feel uncomfortable. Get out of your comfort zone and make your voice heard.
Develop strong relationship skills. Make time regularly to reflect on what is most important to you, and why. Every day, consider who you are, and ask yourself: "Am I the person God wants me to become?". Then make your career decisions accordingly. Pray about your career often, listening carefully for God's wisdom. Renew your career in whatever ways God leads you, such as developing a fresh attitude or a new set of skills. Get enough sleep each night and observe a weekly Sabbath day of rest from work. Thank Jesus for restoring you spiritually by using your work to help others who need restoration in some way - working to help meet their needs as God leads you.
Develop strong character traits and habits. Be willing to remain in the same place in your career for as long as God wants you there, rather than trying to move along prematurely and miss the growth blessings God has for you. If you've strayed from your career mission, ask God to help you return to it and fully use the gifts He has given you to fulfill that mission. If you find that the work you're currently doing doesn't represent what you truly love to do, regenerate your career, in ways such as: taking on new projects, meeting with a mentor, offering to mentor someone else, and learning something new that will help you approach your job in fresh ways. If a negative event has impacted your career, remember that: God is still on the job when you've been laid off; God is never idle when you're retired; God stands by when you've been fired; God remembers when you've been forgotten; and God sees when you've been passed up. So open yourself up to the all the possibilities of a better career, and expect God to help you when you place your trust in Him.
Develop strong creativity and innovation skills. If you've lost your enthusiasm, drive, or energy to do your best in your work, ask God to revive you and breathe new life into your career. Purposefully release all of your gifts into the world through your work rather than burying some of them out of fear. Make whatever career changes you need to make to ensure that you're in a job that allows you to fully release your gifts. Don't hold onto any job position you've grown comfortable in if it's keeping you from being optimally productive. Release any bitterness that's interfering with your growth by forgiving the people who have hurt or offended you. Rejoice by frequently celebrating the ways God is at work through the work you do for Him. Instead of viewing your work as drudgery you have to do, ask God to help you see it as something valuable and fulfilling that you want to do. Enjoy spontaneous moments of joy and humor with your coworkers. Thank God often for giving you great work to do and empowering you to do it well.
Adapted from Jesus: Career Counselor: How to Find (and Keep) Your Perfect Work, copyright 2010 by Laurie Beth Jones. Published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Nashville, Tn., www.christian.simonandschuster.com.
This article was originally published on Crosswalk.com.