Question & Answer Forum

How can parents advise children regarding their choice of a career?

Parents are responsible to provide guidance for their children (Proverbs 22:6), while allowing for the child’s individuality and responsibility in making choices. Since a child is a stewardship entrusted by the Lord (Psalm 127:3), a parent seeks the Lord’s, rather than his own, will for that child’s life. A child’s suitable development outweighs a parent’s wish to continue the family business. Positive incentives may help, but self-serving demands or pressure to fulfill a parent’s frustrated dreams don’t.

Modeling and discussing (Deuteronomy 6:7) the value of responsibility, serving others, and honesty are part of “child training.” Countering society’s idolizing of money, self-serving superstars and glamor queens, and amoral heros is important and most effectively achieved by directing attention to historical, global, and local individuals who model Christian ethics.

Parenting is a growing relationship of communication, mutual respect, and love. Such a relationship will guide a child proactively, rather than reactively. In a child’s early years, his unique and useful capabilities should be recognized and encouraged. Without pressuring a child to make decisions beyond his maturity or unnecessary for his age, parents can encourage discussions of these matters. Parents don’t need to squelch a child’s imagination, creativity, personality, or capabilities while helping him to be realistic in his goals.

D. Oliver

What guidelines can you give a young believer in selecting a career?

The Cretan’s poet described them as “lazy gluttons” (JND, “slow bellies,” AV) in Titus 1:12. Christian teaching directed them to “maintain good works for necessary uses” (3:14) Weymouth Translates this, “to set a good example in following honest occupations for the supply of their necessities.” Paul wanted the Thessalonian believers “to work with your own hands.., that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing” (1 Thessalonians 4:11, 12). Money is not the first consideration. These passages suggest some leading questions in deciding on a career.

1. Will this help my testimony?
2. Is this consistent with Christian ethics?
3. Is it honorable work (not a means to hastily acquired wealth, Proverbs 23:5)?
4. Does this career serve a necessary purpose for others?
5. Will it enable me to be financially responsible?

These questions filter through the many options and point to a broad field of choices.

The possibilities further narrow with more personal concerns.

1. Is this career a suitable use of my God-given abilities?
2. Will this allow me time for the most important priorities in my life (spiritual priorities, first)?
3. Will it limit my consistent participation in assembly life?
4. Will this enable me to win souls?
5. Do I know enough about this career to choose wisely?
6. Is this a reasonable fit with my personality?

The paramount concern is to know and do the will of God. All of these considerations are helpful only in the degree to which the believer undergirds his entire life with the sincere desire, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?” (Acts 9:6).

D. Oliver

In what way can a younger believer respond appropriately when other believers question his career choice?

When believing parents or other Christians with a sincere concern raise a question about a younger believer’s choice of a career, it is wise to consider what they have to say. “Without counsel, purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22). Twice Solomon states, “In the multitude of counsellors there is safety” (11:14; 24:6). In addition, Proverbs 20:5 says, “Counsel in the heart of man is like deep water; but a man of understanding will draw it out.” With sincerity and humility, when a young believer attempts to draw out the thinking of those who question his choice, he will receive the benefit of their counsel. Some scriptural principle is likely in their mind and drawing from the well of their concern will only be helpful. Ultimately, the young believer must make his own choices, but gathering all the help he can from reliable believers is wise and safe.

D. Oliver

What circumstances guide a believer in selecting a specific job?

Assuming that the anticipated career move involves a suitable occupation for a believer, here are some questions based on biblical principles:

1. Has the path opened in answer to prayer?
2. Is this for greed or need – to become more financially responsible and more able to help others)?
3. Will this job remove me from contact with some who have shown a response to the gospel?
4. Is this move consistent with the Lord’s previous leading or does it reflect personal instability?
5. Do I understand all that the job involves?
6. Will this hinder me spiritually, including my ability to attend all assembly meetings?
7. Is this an escape from scripturally resolving interpersonal relationship problems or will it immerse me in such problems?

D. Oliver