Thank you for downloading the Define Your Career Success PDF Photo and Accompanying Guide!
Step 1: Download the PDF of the picture to the right.
Step 2: Read the text below for support on how to fill in this picture and define career success.
Step 3: Fill in the form and then make it visible in some way.
Step 4: Refer to it often! We all need to be reminded of what career success entails.
Subconsciously we all work with an image of success in our minds. But most of us haven’t defined what success means. As a result, the picture in our minds of career success is empty, skewed or incomplete. The standards of others – not necessarily aligned to our values – can subconsciously creep into our thinking and actions at work. Let’s change that. Here are some thoughts from my book Reframing Career Success to help you fill in your frame.
We typically associate career success with money, influence, prestige and power. As a Christian, I believe success could entail these outcomes, but not necessarily. Also, if such money, influence, prestige and power is achieved unethically, then it would certainly not personify success. The term "blessing" has been misconstrued to mean that our actions lead to God providing our desired career outcomes, when in actuality blessings are anything God gives that makes us fully satisfied in him.
To me, keywords and phrases that embody career success as a Christian are:
- Being wise and responsible financially so we are not dependent on others
- Using our gifts and talents to the best of our ability
- Learning and depending on God in all circumstances
- Being an ambassador for Christ with the means we have been provided
- Serving others instead of ourselves
- Generating the maximum impact according to the Lord’s will
Considering the various circumstances of my life, my definition of overall career success is:
I am a child of God. I will do my work with integrity.
Education (the sector in which I primarily work) and wisdom are important for the flourishing of this world. I will do my work with excellence, not for personal glory, but to contribute my part to advancing knowledge at this given point in time.
I am to financially provide and care for my family through my work. I will continually look for ways to increase my income and impact as the Lord wills and look to give back as I am able.
The gospel message provides everlasting peace. I will look to advance that message through my book project and in building relationships as part of my work.
This is intended to serve as a reference point for you. It isn’t necessarily perspective - everyone’s definition and style of communicating it will surely look different. There is a good chance my responses will evolve over time (hence the importance of having a dry erase marker).
In coming up with your definition, consider the following:
1. God is in control through the good and bad times. This is the case even if we can’t understand this with our human lens. Isaiah 55:8-9 states: "My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the Lord. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts."
2. We are not “the captain of our careers.” It is nice to think that the outcomes of our work are 100% the result of our abilities and the hard work we have poured into our crafts. Unfortunately that isn’t the case. God is the owner of our careers. We didn’t choose per se our parents, upbringing, natural talents and the chance encounters that lead us down different paths. We can accept that hierarchy or not. When we do so, it can help us to have a holistic approach to our career decision-making, both large and small.
3. Jesus understands our career frustrations. During his career pinnacle - his crucifixion and resurrection - Jesus experienced betrayal, unjust blame and abuse. He shows us the power of forgiveness. His resurrection underscores the promise of redemption. Perhaps in due course, like Jesus, you too will see the victory on earth as it relates to overcoming any career disappointment. But maybe we won’t see such an outcome on earth. May you take hope that Jesus’ death has made heaven possible. May you realize that we can experience everlasting healing from his wounds.
4. Be careful about career idealism and making work an idol. Painful toil is part of the work experience, as noted in the book of Genesis following the sin of Adam and Eve.
5. Also, there are different seasons for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3 includes powerful lines such as a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to tear down and a time to build, and a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them (among other verses).
Remember the fleeting nature of our careers. A century from now, practically nobody will remember your work accomplishments and setbacks. This reality about forgotten career legacies can be freeing. When we take the pressure off ourselves, we can think about how our individual contributions can potentially impact our families and communities long after we have died and our names are forgotten.
Heed Jesus’ advice in Matthew 6:19-20: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
Be grateful. It is important to have a heart of gratitude, to eliminate actions and situations that trigger comparison and to pray about our work, not with the aim that every career-related request is answered the way we would like, but rather as a means to building connection with God.
Now it is time to write out your definition of career success. Fill in the PDF with your career success definition. You can always go back and erase what you wrote so just start writing your ideas as they come to mind. Print this out and make it visible in some way. Let’s capture a spiritual image of career significance! This new framing can provide joy, motivation and everlasting peace that can transform how you work.
Refer to my book “Reframing Career Success” for more perspective. The book draws out the above principles based on research, Biblical analysis and stories. Coming in October 2022.