How Should Christians Think About Changing Jobs?

Big cities often foster a culture of living in a perpetual job search mode. How can Christians remain anchored to Christ when we plan our next career move?

Constantly looking for the next job, or at the very least, being actively curious about better roles and compensation, has become a state of being in modern professional life in India.

There may be rare times when this fades out of our conscious thinking. But social media platforms, like LinkedIn, are always quick to drag us back into living in a perpetual search for the next job, sometimes even anxiously or greedily so.

But how should Christians think about changing jobs? Or in other words, how should your faith in Christ inform and shape your next career move?

Discerning Our Cultural Moment

Formed by Culture

An entire earlier generation of professionals lived out their careers motivated by a deep need for ‘job security.’ For the present generation though, it is all about ‘self-actualisation.’ It is about being the best I can be, earning the most I can earn, and still, playing the most I can play.

If the earlier generation was not really concerned about self-actualisation, this present generation does not care much about job security.

The first step in developing a Christ-centered career is to understand how our unique cultural moment is shaping us. This is not as easy as it sounds.

At best, we spend three hours in Sunday worship and perhaps a similar amount of time in weekly small groups. On the other hand, 50-60 hour work weeks are the norm for most people living in cities. We spend ten times as much time in our work context than we spend in the church context.

The values of our culture—some healthy and much unhealthy—will inevitably shape how we think, act, live, and plan our careers. Our culture often forms many of our loves and desires, and fears and anxieties at work.

Moved by the Gospel

We not only need to learn to see our culture clearly and see Christ clearly. We also need to see Christ in relation to our culture.

If job security is your predominant idolatrous inclination, hearing about how Christ is our greatest prize may not really draw you to worship and sanctification. You need to hear about how Christ is your firm foundation and strong tower.

The Bible warns us against selfish ambition. But it does not call us to eschew ambition.

Similarly, if self-actualisation is the cause of your sinful striving and workaholism, hearing of Christ as your ultimate security will not move your heart much. You need to hear about the Jesus, who was rich and yet became poor, so that through his poverty you might become rich (2 Cor 8:9).

We need to learn to preach the gospel to our souls in light of the unique cultural moment we are living in.

Searching Our Motivations

When Christians are thinking about changing jobs, we need to strip away all the cultural conditioning and pressures that control us. Only then can we truly begin to examine our deeper and intrinsic heart motivations for desiring a new job.

A need for money could be a genuine motivation or a selfish one.

Our desire to grow in stewarding the gifts God has given us may be motivating us, or we may be striving for more personal significance, looking to our careers to give us what only Christ can provide.

God himself may be sovereignly elevating us (Ps. 75:6-7), or it could just be our greed and selfish ambition driving us.

We may have come to a place where we have done all we could and grown all we could in the present role; or it could be that we are trying to hide and run away from our weaknesses and failures.

In instances where we are working under an unreasonable boss, is God calling us to stay and be discipled through such hardship? Or is God delivering us from a bad boss by showing us a new job opening?

The more we are drawing our value, worth and significance, and our ‘functional salvation,’ from our careers, the harder it will be for us to discern the next godly step.

Clarifying Our Ambition

The skewed and fallen way in which our culture has come to define ambition muddles all this even more.

What is your ambition in life? When this question was posed to us in our childhood, it was perhaps the moment when our hearts were awakened to the professional life.

The present culture also conditions us to believe that ambition is all about ‘being someone’ and not about ‘serving anyone.’

In childhood, our answers were innocent enough. “I want to be a pilot,” or “I want to be a doctor,” and so on. Nonetheless, these innocent answers were our first steps in misunderstanding ambition.

In our culture’s paradigm, our ambition was all about our identity and success. Serving others through our work was mostly an unacknowledged byproduct.

As a Christian, how is your career unique and different from the careers of those who are not?

But the gospel of Christ compels us to live life the other way around. Our ambition must be about serving others. Our significance from it is a mere byproduct.

The Bible warns us against selfish ambition. But it does not call us to eschew ambition.

“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3).

Consciously and subconsciously, it is ambition that motivates us toward job changes. Clarifying godly ambition from worldly ambition can be extremely helpful, whenever we feel the need to look for another job.

Living and Working in Communion With Christ

Here is a simple, yet profound question that can help us dream about our career growth and also plan for it in a godly way.

As a Christian, how is your career unique and different from the careers of those who are not ?

Doctors who are Christian, and those who are not, both treat sick people. How are the two different?

Mere excellence cannot be the differentiator. Those who are Christians and those who are not, both should and do aspire for, and achieve the highest levels of excellence.

The most crucial differentiating factor between our careers and theirs should be our Christlikeness.

The very core and essence of Christ is in the way he laid down his life for the sake of others. Jesus was crushed so we could be blessed. He was punished so we could be forgiven. He was humbled so we could be lifted up.

Translated into our professional lives, Christlikeness compels us work so that others are blessed through our labour.

Too many of us acknowledge this theology, in general, only to brush it aside as naive or unrealistic in the specific context of our professional world.

This is not easy. But this is the essence of Christlikeness. If God has invited us to this, he will also empower us for this, one small sacrifice at a time.

We need to learn to sing and live out Paul’s ode to Christ in the harsh realities of our professional lives (Phil. 2:3-11).

Growing in Christlikeness in Our Careers

The best way to grow in Christlikeness in our careers is to remain in communion with Christ in the context of our careers.

It takes God’s grace and our participation, prayers, reflection, repentance and faith, the encouragement, exhortation, and loving correction of our gospel community for us to be mindful of Christ in our work lives. Without all this we are very likely to shut Christ out from our consciousness in the busyness of our careers.

Every moment we prayerfully contemplate on the nature of Christ in the context of our careers, is a moment of being transformed into his image and likeness. Go on, pick your next job and build your career on the foundation of such moments.