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What’s at Stake When Looking For Work (Part 1): Reality

Editor’s Note: This is the first article of a series about “What’s at Stake When Looking for Work?” We know job searching is hard and it is important you are equipped well because there is a lot at stake. If you are looking for a job or need career clarity, check out the Career Navigator, career coaching program offered in individual or group settings.

I asked her where she was headed. She said, “well that’s what you’re supposed to tell me. Why do you think I’m paying you to be my coach?” I responded, “where did you think you’d be at this point?” She searched for the words and started to cry. “Not here.”

Where was “here”? A seemingly dead end job that sucked the life out of her. “Here” was in a company that didn’t care about caring for their employees, a company whose morale and performance just declined more and more rapidly during the 2020 pandemic. The ongoing toxic atmosphere was driving serious doubts about her future but she didn’t know what to do.

Most of us have faced uncertainty in our careers. Most of us have hit a wall of unknowing. In this post, I’d like to share three reasons vocational confusion is so hard. In summary: your work shapes your reality in three significant ways.

First, your work shapes your practical reality.

Work defines your schedule. Work defines your income. Work defines the geography you travel and the network you inhabit. Consuming about half of your waking hours each week, work defines what you are actually doing most of the time. Work even shapes the language we use and the way we dress. Practical realty = work reality.

Second, your work shapes your existential reality.

Questionable as it may be from a spiritual lens or a psychological perspective, our identities are wrapped up in our work. My family name, Roper, came about because my ancestors supplied chordage to shipwrights and sailors back in the 18th Century. Some of us stand taller because of our job titles and some of us shrink back.

Finally, work impacts your spiritual reality.

If your career journey has been going well, you may wonder what God wants you to “do with it.” How you should steward it. If your work journey is a mess, you wonder how God could be in it. Why has he abandoned you? Did you do something wrong?

The first step in finding and following God’s path for your work is to realize that you have a lot of skin in the game. It really matters to you. We begin in this place of honesty and it opens us up to our need for a wisdom beyond our own, a wisdom we will explore in our next post.

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