Someone has said, our lives are either thermometers or thermostats. The difference? Thermometers dutifully reflect the temperature of their surroundings, while thermostats determine the temperature.
Jesus said His followers are the salt to preserve our world. We are to be thermostats! But, He warned, if we are not salty—if we simply reflect our sinful world—we will be considered good for nothing and thrown out to be trampled by men.
In this series I’ve called “Blinded by Culture’s Lies,” we are considering many ways the church in America has been absorbing the ways of this world, to our own shame and to the hurt of our nation. We may preach revival with our voices, but our lives speak a different message.
One of the ways we mimic the world is in our elevated view of career. Mind you, career is not inherently evil. On the contrary, we are to work at our jobs with all our heart for Him (Colossians 3:23-24). But when we think of our careers more highly than other more important priorities, we actually hurt the cause of Christ.
Part of our attraction to a successful career is the good life it allows my family and me to enjoy. An enviable career also provides me with bragging rights to my friends.
You readily see this when meeting an acquaintance on the street. Ask that man or woman how he or she is doing. In response, most will, with a self-assured smile, indicate how busy they are. Mind you, they’re not complaining; they are telling you they’re engaged in something of great importance. But, woe to that man or woman who must shamefully confess that he or she is “between careers”!
Tragically, our world’s growing love affair with career and “the good life” has made it difficult for men and women to be content with God’s priorities for family. Consequently, it is increasingly expected that both husband and wife should be in the workforce. Inevitably, this has resulted in couples choosing fewer or no children, and placing whatever offspring they do have in the care of surrogate caregivers most work days.
While it’s easy to point fingers at mothers who disregard scriptural priorities for the sake of career, we fathers are not exempt from blame either. It’s often we men who put pressure on our wives to seek employment to help make ends meet. Ask yourself, Is this really God’s best for my family?
Permit me to share a bit of my own struggles here. My wife, Marcia, taught high school prior to the birth of our firstborn. But, by God’s grace, she has been a stay-at-home mother since then. Also, with total credit to Him, we ultimately were blessed with a dozen (12!) children. They grow up so quickly that I’m extra glad Marcia was able to spend quality and quantity time with them. And, despite our having only one income, God has marvelously and miraculously met our needs, often in response to fervent prayer.
That’s the good news. But now for the other side of things. Truth be told, for most of my life, I personally have struggled with this idol of career, somehow believing that what I do is more important than who I am. I know this has negatively impacted my dear wife and children, for which I grieve.
For those who struggle as I do, it doesn’t help that our American culture applauds the workaholic man or woman who puts career above most other things in life. So for us to successfully resist these pressures, we need to paddle our canoe upstream against a raging current, looking to our Lord for strength.
I personally have found meditation on Scripture (such as Colossians 3:1-4; Psalm 73:25-26; Matthew 6:19-21) and having my wife and others hold me accountable to this weakness has been helpful. Also of great assistance is believing the truth that my real prize in life is not career achievement, not the applause of men, not even a loving spouse and family; it is almighty God Himself! Only He can fill the cavernous hole in my heart that hungers for Him.
Ultimately, while we will never attain perfection, as we repent of sinful habits and keep our eyes on Jesus, we can better mirror our wonderful Savior to a watching world. The world needs to see the body of Christ living for Him, loving each other, and reaching out in love to the world at large. Then we can trust Him to bring the revival and spiritual awakening we long for and so desperately need.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV).