How Careers Happen

Moses retained some identification with the Israelites, in spite being raised as a crown prince in Pharaoh’s palace. This resulted in Moses slaying an Egyptian who was oppressing a Hebrew slave. When news of the slaying got out, Moses fled to Midian. Forty years later, “The angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed.” Exodus 3.
 
Something beyond the normal dimensions of life was present, so Moses turned aside for a closer look. God then called him by name and reinforced the spiritual significance of what he was seeing. “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” 
 
God then commissions Moses as his representative to go and deliver the Israelites from Egypt. What had been a human and family impulse before now turns into a divine mission. What he accomplished will be the subject of our next post. Let us note for now that Moses is regarded as a Prophet by Jews, Christians and Muslims.
 
Peter was a fisherman – until the day Jesus displayed his utter mastery of fishing. Peter was initially so undone by this experience, he asked Jesus to leave. But Jesus reassures him with a call to “be a fisher of men” (Luke 5). This calling defined the rest of life for Peter – as well as Andrew, James and John.
 
Saul (later the Apostle Paul) was a prominent Pharisee, lawyer and avid persecutor of the fledgling sect of Jewish Jesus followers – until he encountered a bright light and a voice: “I am Jesus, the One you’re hunting down. I want you to get up and enter the city. In the city you’ll be told what to do next.” Within three days, Saul had received both his conversion and his commission. (See Acts 9).

  • Samuel was dedicated to God by his mother Naomi. When he was still young, God spoke to him personally.
  • Mary received her call from an angel.
  • Joseph, her fiancĂ©, learned his unique role from an angel speaking in a dream.
  • John the Baptizer received his call through an angelic appearance to his father.
  • David was anointed King by Samuel at God’s direction.
  • Timothy came to faith through family heritage; to his apostolic role by Paul’s anointing.
Ezra arrived at his defining contribution through study of Scripture. He was already well-known as the most capable scribe among the Jews in exile in Babylon. As some Jews returned from Babylon to Jerusalem, Ezra 7:10 records this: “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel. (Italics added) Those are the operative words. Ezra concluded that the outworking of all that the Scripture said was inextricably bound up with Jerusalem. He had to go there. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah highlight his irreplaceable contribution.
 
I was a pre-med zoology student in the spring of my sophomore year when I was awakened from a sound sleep. While there was no audible voice, I had a strong sense that I needed to consider my career direction. Over several hours of thought, prayer and reflection on several passages of Scripture, I made a commitment to not apply to medical school. Over the next two years I took all my electives in business and leadership – and have never looked back.
 
Observations
  • God is a very effective press agent when he deems it desirable. If a leader (e.g. patriarch, prophet, apostle) needs credentials, God makes sure he has enough.
  • A credentialed leader may use his/her clout to appoint or anoint a following leader.
  • Many callings unfold as a matter of logic and preference. Ezra recognized his work pointed to Jerusalem as the locus where God would work next.
  • The defining moment in our sense of calling does not have to be overtly miraculous. Probably for most of us it is not.
  • That does not mean that God is not active in the design and events that lead us forward. As Paul expressed it to the Areopagites in Athens: “He doesn’t play hide-and-seek with us. He’s not remote; he’s near. We live and move in him, can’t get away from him! One of your poets said it well: ‘We’re the God-created.’” (Acts 17.27-28, The Message)
  • A calling can come when you are eighteen or eighty.
  • Leading or working in a significant way requires a decision. Even if you fall into it, you still must pursue it. Otherwise you will be caught by entropy, weeds and distractions.
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. (Col 3.23-24)

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