The Idol Of Career

We live in a world filled with opportunities to replace God with fake gods. The Bible calls this practice idolatry and warns us to “keep” ourselves from it (1 John 5:21). Idolatry is finding what is and should be ultimately found in Jesus Christ in created things. Things like relationships, possessions, and careers.

This year, Providence Young Adults is taking time to unpack and discuss a handful of idols we face in our monthly gathering. September’s monthly gathering was on the idol of career. We had a panel discussion with several godly Providence family members to discuss the ways they’ve struggled with this idol and fought for greater satisfaction in Christ. The following is a list of questions that Providence Young Adults asked anonymously that have been answered by a member of our panel and elder of Providence, Tim Albury.

If you enjoy these questions and answers, be sure to join us for our future monthly gatherings! More info at pray.org/youngadults.

What are your thoughts on married women working after having kids? Is there a reason to continue working after kids even if it is not financially needed?

I believe that each couple should ask God this question, seeking a yes or no answer. The Proverbs 31 woman worked, made money, and maintained her responsibility for co-discipling her children. The priority is discipling the children. If a couple can do that well while both working, and God has called them to it, that is awesome. However, our desire to work outside the home is a distant second for either spouse, especially if one spouse makes enough for the home. Discipleship of the children is paramount above all.


What encouragement do you have in regard to inflation and the rising cost of living? Career equals income, but salaries are so low these days that many of us cannot afford to live on one income, so we have to have two jobs.

First, be generous and honor tithing to the Lord while you live on less. Having two jobs is an option if you genuinely can’t afford to live on one income. However, pray first about whether you need two incomes for preferences or for necessities. If for preferences, cut spending first.


How should I approach burnout? I try to have a larger perspective and lessen the importance of my job, but it still takes 50 hard hours, everything’s behind, and clients are angry.

As I mentioned that night, margin is the opposite of stress. I suggest scheduling margin in your life. Schedule time for God and family. If work demands continue to impede that, consider a different employer with a culture that truly values balance. On a side note, 50 hours a week may be appropriate, but some employers let you flex time which 50 hours of your week that is. I have chosen to go to bed early, wake up early, and work 2 hours before the rest of my peers show up to work. Then I leave on time, have time with family, spend less time on entertainment, so I can get to bed early again. I work 50 hours a week but have margin such that I am not stressed and my family is not ignored.


What is one thing you have found helpful when displaying Christ in you to your co-workers and managers?

Actively look for opportunities to encourage others with your words and to pray for others. Every time I hear someone mention a personal problem at work, I credit that to the Holy Spirit, prompting me to pray for that person and let them know that I am a man of Faith and will be praying for them. I look for opportunities like this to bless people at work.


How does your relationship with Christ affect the way you work in your job?

My relationship with Christ is everything because He is my Employer.  Colossians 3:23-24 is clear that I work for Him, not for men. So, I should be the best worker in the Company.


“Working onto the Lord” is a frequently used phrase from Christians. What practical ways can we live this command from scripture out in our work?

Strive for excellence. Deny self by exalting others. Give credit where credit is due. Thank God for your job and ask for His help frequently. Take criticism well.


It sounds like all of you have children. How do you balance family life and career and keep priorities aligned?

Family is second, God is first, and work is third. My calendar is where I manage priorities. I schedule family priorities immediately as I learn them. I prioritize these family appointments. Sometimes, I have to miss, but that is the exception, not the rule.


Have you ever faced a situation where your faith and work responsibilities clashed? How did you handle it?

Yes. I don’t judge people at work, I don’t “Bible thump,” and I don’t apply labels to people. I do apply labels to ideas. I keep my opinions and convictions between me and God unless I am asked. If asked, I am true to my convictions without casting judgment on others. For example, as a member of management, I was recently asked in front of my peers about our LinkedIn posts during the upcoming Pride Month. I said something like this: “I know that all of you know my spiritual convictions in opposition to this celebration. But, I don’t need to go there. I simply ask the rest of us what does our Company have to do with sexuality? We sell clinical documentation services. That has nothing to do at all with sexuality. Many in our market have convictions like mine, and such posts divide unnecessarily because they distract from what we sell. I believe that we should point all of our marketing arrows at what we sell in our marketplace instead of practicing politics. That said, I recognize I am one voice. I am not on a Crusade – just stating my solicited opinion.”


How do you pursue satisfaction in Christ? Smashing an idol is important, but how do you avoid just replacing it with another idol?

This is a broad question. I consume His word every day by reading through the One Year Bible every year. I pray with my wife and alone throughout the day. I look for opportunities to obey His commands every day. I serve His church every Sunday and many times throughout the week. Christ is everything to me and the priority of every day. I start my day with Him and end my day with Him. I am addicted to this lifestyle because this is what it means to thrive.


How do you find a sense of purpose and meaning in your work as a Christian professional?

I make work a mission for Christ. Otherwise, it is empty. I seek opportunities to speak about Him, share the Gospel, bless people, pray for my Company and peers at work, etc. Some of my four are at work, and I pray for them often.


How are ways we can encourage our spouse when they are struggling with feeling discontent in their job?

That is a tough one. I can only speak in generalities without knowing a specific couple. Discontent usually points to a fleshly want that is not fulfilled. If we are being missional at work, we should be content. If we are not getting anticipated fulfillment of career goals at work, career goals are optional – therefore, we should still be content. I have had to let go of many career goals in my life – most people would say that I have not lived up to my potential. But, that is not the way God sees it. My potential should only be measured in spiritual terms. God is my portion, not my career.


Can you share an example of a time when you were able to positively influence your workplace/colleagues through your faith values?

One of my employees came into my office and closed the door in tears. He proceeded to tell me that his son, who is violently autistic, is committed to a home for special needs children because he is so violent. At home, he finally found a volunteer that he loved and loved him. That weekend, the volunteer drowned in a swimming accident. Through tears, he asked me why God would allow this to happen. 

I paused to pray. Then I shared with him that I don’t know why God would allow this, but I know I can trust Him. I shared that while I will never know the depth of pain he is feeling, God does because He patiently endured the rejection of His son, including His execution – God knows our pain. And, God has a reason that we may not initially see. Trust God and take your pain to Him – He will understand, comfort, and heal. I shared that my wife and I will be praying for him and his entire family for care, comfort, and healing. He thanked me and left.

An hour later, the head of HR came into my office and closed the door. Before she could get a word out, I told her that I knew why she was coming to see me, and she could trust that I knew my boundaries. She stopped me and said that my worker had come to speak with her and shared our conversation. She said that my worker had never felt so cared for by someone at work his entire life and that the conversation was a huge blessing and comfort to him. She said, “Tim, I don’t know exactly what you said to him, but I know it had something to do with God. If your words can have that kind of impact on employees, feel free to do this over and over again.” I was blown away!


As a Christian, how much should salary/income play into the work you choose to pursue? Is it Biblical to pursue new job opportunities that are driven mainly by income?

It is Biblical to be content and not idolize career over God. And, that does not make it wrong to seek more income, especially if your family necessities require it.


Are specific Bible verses or teachings guiding your approach to work and professional ethics?

Colossians 3:23-24, Galatians 2:20, Proverbs 3:5-6, Philippians 2, to name a few.


As Christians, aren’t we called to be the best employee/employer we can be to glorify Christ through the workplace? How is the motivation to want to be the best not impacted by some sort of idolatry?

We want to be the best because God is the Employer. We want to be excellent workers because He is an excellent worker, and we follow Him. If we tie our pursuit of excellence to anything but His pleasure, then it becomes an idol. But, if that pursuit of excellence is strictly for His pleasure, we are worshiping God.


How have you seen the Lord shape your career path?

He has directed every step and accomplished Kingdom priorities in every post. I look back and see that clearly, even if I did not see it at the time.


How do you prioritize Sabbath/rest within your career?

This is a longer discussion, but “Sabbath” for Gentiles is less about “Saturday” and more about resting at least one day out of every seven. In the Gentile West, we observe a different calendar than Jews observe. Scripture is clear as Jesus shares that the day of rest is for our good. To not observe it rejects God’s command, but he designed us to need it just like He observed it. God commanded a 6-day work week, and we in the West generally observe a 5-day work week, except for retail. Whether we observe a day of rest on Saturday, Sunday, or another day is less about the specific day of the week and more about the fact that we have one every seven days.