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Should I Stay or Should I Go (Now)?

There’s always angst about career choice floating in the ether. Over half of us workers would change jobs if we could and 50% of Millennials think they chose the wrong career.

So how do you know if it is time to go?

Short answer: 1) Understand your moment and 2) respond accordingly.

When we survey biblical characters, we see that most of them wrestled with dilemmas related to vocational direction. Consider their stories below, identify your moment, and act accordingly.

The Nehemiah Moment – A Clear no. Nehemiah is a favorite personage for those of us who crave strong biblical models of leadership. At one point in his quest to restore the fortunes and functioning of God’s people, Nehemiah was focused on rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. His enemies were attempting to slow him down. They sent messages to him while he was working up on the wall. They were asking for a meeting. Nehemiah’s answer: “I am doing a great work, I cannot come down.”

If you are in a Nehemiah moment you have clarity regarding what you’re doing now – you know it's important, you know it is your assignment for the present season. You are solidly focused on getting a project done, learning a new skill, winning a certain client, serving a client, hitting a revenue target, or training a successor. In a Nehemiah moment, you say “no” to all other offers and keep your focus on that task at hand.

Paul and Asia – Keep Knocking (Looking for Yes). When we join the Apostle Paul in Acts 16, he wants to go to the Roman province of Asia but each time he is met with a closed door. Finally, he has a dream in which a man from a certain region begs him to come to Greece. So Paul purchases passage and heads off to Macedonia.

If you’re in a Paul & Asia moment, you have to keep pressing for your next. You may not leave your job while looking for the next, but the key is not to give up. Keep looking until the door is opened.

Ruth – Advance Where You Are. Ruth found herself in a starting over moment. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, though weighed down with her own issues, provided good counsel. She helped Ruth find a way forward in her present circumstances. She directed Ruth to harvest in the fields owned by Boaz. Naomi coached her to find her way into Boaz’s good graces. In a Ruth moment, you don’t want to leave. Instead, you make the most of the opportunities hiding in your current situation.

David on the Run. David had a fairly awful career journey. He was a nobody. Then he was the favored musician in the court of King Saul. He was a hero for killing Goliath. Then he was the object of the King’s jealous hatred. So what does he do? He runs for his life. He stays away from Saul (who was trying to kill him) and he focuses on two things: 1) surviving, and 2) maintaining his integrity.

If you’re in a David moment, maybe you need to leave fast. Or maybe you need to avoid certain people and just keep your head down and survive. Like all the other scenarios, it is just a moment! It doesn’t last forever. After David’s season on the run, he became king.

Esther. Esther was the queen. However, she had no power of her own and could only speak to the king when summoned. Her uncle, Mordechai, learns of a plot against the Jews and begs Esther to speak to the king and save her people. Esther risks her life by going to the king unannounced. An Esther Moment is where we lay it on the line and risk our future. We may need to take the risk to put forth an idea, offer constructive criticism, or stand up for someone on our team who has been treated unfairly. Instead of just leaving or hiding, we take a risky stand. That is the play when you’re in an Esther moment.

Joseph Moment – The Right Opportunity (Yes). Joseph’s life unraveled over and over. He goes from favored son to Egyptian slave, from favored servant to an Egyptian jail. While he was a precocious young man, he didn’t deserve any of the calamity that came his way. Then one day he was summoned to Pharoah, invited to interpret a dream, and promoted to second in command of the entire kingdom. Joseph was a man of real integrity and a man with a plan to solve Pharaoh's problem.

When we are offered an opportunity that we can confirm is a step into better use of our gifts and a clear opportunity to have an impact – especially when we’ve been stuck in a job or career that has not afforded those possibilities – the answer is yes. “Yes, I’d be honored to leave my old role and work with you.”

Wisdom Situation. Deciding whether or not to leave your job and search for something new is a Wisdom Situation. That means the best path is not obvious and you must make a judgment call based on what you know, what you value, and what God has called you to (in terms of purpose and values).

Use the above examples to gain clarity regarding what kind of moment you’re in as you consider changing jobs. Based on your moment, what should you do?


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