by Pete Wilson
Recently, a young lady was explaining to me her plans after college graduation: “I just want a job that pays well, has flexibility, sends me around the world, offers great benefits including extended vacation options, and allows me to make a real difference.”
As I stared back at her in shock, she looked me in the eyes and said, “Is that too much to ask?”
I lead a church that ministers to a lot of college grads who are trying to figure out what’s next. This “work” thing is a big deal — what we do, where we work, whether we enjoy it or not. It consumes so much of our lives. In fact, you’re going to spend about half of your life at work.
That’s right, half.
So how can you get your dream job and live happily ever after? While there are bookshelves full of helpful info on this topic, I don’t know if anyone can really answer that question for you.
On the practical side, there are several things to keep in mind.
1) Beware of the trendy career of the week.
You may be tempted to chase after some trendy careers like flipping homes, writing your own reality TV show (yes, they’re somewhat scripted), or becoming a top chef on the Food Network. But trends fade. How can you realistically work with your passions?
2) Think in steps.
This year, 1.5 million people are graduating from college. An additional 660,000 are graduating with master’s degrees. It’s competitive out there. Chances are you won’t be able to start in the job you prefer. However, make sure the job you land will lead to the job you really want.
3) Don’t be afraid of trial and error.
In life, the reality is you’ll have some great jobs and a few crummy ones. While there are some great vocational assessments out there, nothing beats trial and error.
Don’t get discouraged if your first few jobs don’t work out. View them as part of a learning process moving you closer to where you want to be.
Let’s focus on another important aspect of finding your dream job: understanding identity and purpose.
UNCOVERING YOUR PURPOSE
Why do so many of us feel so dissatisfied in our jobs? It has a lot to do with a lack of identity and purpose. The absence of identity and purpose will always equal dissatisfaction.
You’ll never find your dream job or discover true meaning and fulfillment apart from your purpose. Job dissatisfaction is directly connected to low levels of purpose in our daily jobs.
An essential part of job satisfaction happens when you connect your God-given purpose with your daily job. But when we’re looking for careers, rarely do we try to match the daily activities of that job with our purpose.
In fact, many of us don’t even know what that God-given purpose is.
What happened to your purposeful image? It got covered up. Go back to the beginning of Genesis. When Adam and Eve were created, they were the same person inside and out. After the Fall, they became compartmentalized and divided. Their rebellion breached their relationship with God, with one another, and within themselves. Their true, authentic self was shattered. They began the construction of a false self, living apart from God’s original intention for their lives. They lost their identity.
So now we try to find our identity in other things, including an elusive dream job.
Some find identity in being ladder climbers. They get to the top and boost their own sense of worth — often at the expense of others. There’s also the doormat embracers, who feel less worthy and don’t have the emotional stamina to fight for themselves. So they get stepped on over and over again.
Our identity should be a position-based identity in Christ. Position-based identity doesn’t come from your performance or another’s evaluation of your performance; rather it comes from how you feel about your place in Christ.
This doesn’t mean that you don’t work hard or care about results; it just means your identity is not totally wrapped up in what you do. You are more than your giftedness. You are more than the title you desire or position you dream of.
You can’t find your identity in what you do but rather in who you are.
THE TRUTH ABOUT SATISFACTION
Aaron is 27 years old. He landed the broadcasting job he wanted right after college. He’s received several promotions, is making great money, and his bosses couldn’t be happier with his performance.
However, it took me about 15 minutes to discover he’s miserable. Why? Because somewhere along the line, he started to believe that the things the world says are important would bring him satisfaction.
Let’s say you eventually land a job that allows you to accumulate money, power, and accomplishments. You get the larger office, the bigger paycheck, and the grander title.
The Bible says it’s all meaningless. It’s like chasing after the wind. It doesn’t satisfy the human heart because you were made for more than moving piles of rocks or accumulating wealth. We’ve been made in the image of a purposeful God; therefore, it drives us crazy when we’re asked to do things over and over with no purpose at all but to make money and climb the ladder.
The Bible teaches that God has carved out a role that fits your personality, your experience, your giftedness, and your intellect. It’s powerful when people figure out that they can hook up with God and start living with a worthwhile purpose at the center of their lives.
When you get that purpose in your heart, it changes the way you get out of bed in the morning. It changes the way you act and relate and spend your time and money. It changes the way you view your talents and skills.
YOUR DREAM JOB
I love the passage in Matthew where Jesus walks up to a couple of guys in the midst of their work routine.
“As He was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. ‘Follow Me,’ He told them, ‘and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed Him” (Matthew 4:18-20).
Now, there’s nothing wrong with catching fish. They were making a living. But Jesus wanted them to think of themselves as fishers of men and women. We see this theme all through Jesus’ teaching: Money isn’t the greatest treasure in this life; people are. Loving people, serving people, developing people, and encouraging people — it’s part of our purpose.
Whatever your job is — whether you’re a pastor, hair stylist, accountant, police officer, nurse, or chef on the Food Network —eventually you’ll wither on the inside. You’ll become dissatisfied and bored until you discover the one true treasure that can add challenge, meaning, and purpose to any job — the treasure of people.
That’s countercultural, isn’t it? Didn’t most of you go to school so you could get a good job and make a lot of money? Haven’t we been shaped to believe that the real treasure is profit? Or power? Or achievement?
Don’t miss it: Your global purpose is to bring glory to God in every single thing you do. The key is not what you do, but doing whatever you do in a way that shines a spotlight on the glory of God.
That’s your dream job.
Pete Wilson is the founding pastor of Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tenn. Cross Point is a 7-year-old church that reaches more than 3,000 people each weekend through its four campuses around Nashville. Pete’s a pastor, speaker, and author who resides in Nashville with his wife, Brandi, and their three boys.
Boost your Résumé
- Get Internships. Get jobs. Volunteer if all else fails. Get some experience on your résumé.
- Delete info about hobbies and interests unless it applies to the job you’re shooting for.
- Join the Chamber of Commerce. This will open doors your peers are oblivious to — serving on boards, attending seminars … basically, getting legit.
- Get published. Transfer your expertise to print creds. Try trade journals, your local newspaper, magazine, or school newspaper, and so forth.