I’ve always put a lot of stock in my career choices; so much so that career and identity are often synonymous in my mind. People ask me what I do, how I am, or what’s happening in my life and work is always the first thing I talk about. I gauge the quality of my day based upon what happened at my job. This sentiment is pretty normal for our culture. We’re asked from a young age what we want to be when we grow up. As we get older, we’re asked what we want to study in school, where we want to work after college, and about our plan for our career. One of the first questions adults ask each other, whether out of real curiosity or lack of other conversation, is what they do. As I’ve entered the work force, the two questions I’ve been asked the most are these: “Where do you want to be in five years?” and “What’s your end game?”
Cue identity crisis.
Up until this point, I’ve always had a plan. I’ve always known my next checkpoint and the steps it will take to get there. But here I find myself. I’m a year out of college, working at a great job for an amazing boss, in the field that I studied. I have all these things going for me, yet I’m unable to envision myself five years in the future or fashion an answer as to what on earth my end game might be. For a person who has always equated their worth with their career goals, that’s a terrifying place to be.
But maybe a shift in perspective is needed here.
We have a culture that values career so highly. In most jobs, it’s understood that you have to put work above all else if you want to succeed. And for some people, that works. The other day, I was talking to a friend of mine about what she does. While she told me about her job, she also talked about the idea of living to work versus working to live. As well-worn as that phrase is, that’s the perspective shift I’m currently undergoing.
For so long, I’ve lived to work. My whole life has centered around getting the grades to get into the school to study the thing that would get me the job. And I’m not complaining, because that path has brought me here. But I’ve now realized that, while that can still be part of my life, there are more important things than being successful in my career. My church is one of them. In the last year, I’ve come to find that my heart is to build the house of God. But even more than that, my heart is simply for God. Whatever he wants to do with it, I’m in.
The Westminster Shorter Catechism states this beautifully. When asked about the purpose of man, it states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy Him forever.” If you think about it, that’s a fantastic thing to have as your driving force in life. Regardless of what happens in my career, in my church life, or in my personal life, my chief end should be God. His glory. His presence. That’s the best end game I’ll ever have.