Women: Follow Your Faith to Success at Work
- Monday, January 14, 2008
Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Amy C. Baker's new book, Succeed at Work without Sidetracking Your Faith: 7 Lessons of Career Excellence for Women, (New Hope Publishers, 2007).
As a working woman of faith, you have the potential to make a significant impact for Christ in the marketplace. Your work isn’t just something you do to earn a living, and you don’t have to sidetrack your faith to do it well. If you follow God’s lead on the job, you can create a career that will glorify Him while bringing you success and fulfillment.
So approach your work purposefully, letting your faith lead you to real success. Here’s how:
Take charge of your career planning. Be intentional about your career rather than just coasting along with whatever happens. Expect that if you own your career and plan it well, you can become more successful, more satisfied with your work life, and increase the significance of your impact on the world around you. Accept the fact that career planning is your job, even if it’s not on your job description. Decide that, whatever type of work you do, you’ll do it excellently and with the purpose of growing personally and spiritually through your work experiences. Think and pray about your interests and talents, and once you discover them, aim for jobs that you enjoy doing and can do well. Look for opportunities where you can affect God’s kingdom through your work. Base your plans on what God reveals to you about His will and timing for your career, instead of the world’s definition of success. Pray for the creativity and courage you need to try new things to grow your career. Don’t settle for second best; dream big dreams and trust God to help you make some of those dreams come true. Expect God to surprise you along the way. Be most concerned about what you can give rather than what you can get. Aim to contribute to the world in the ways God leads you to do so. Strive to reflect God’s love in the marketplace through your relationships with coworkers, customers, and everyone else with whom you interact. As you plan, write down roles you could potentially fill that would use your strengths and challenge you to broaden your skills. Meet with people who do those jobs, and learn what it would take for you to enter those types of jobs. Get feedback on your strengths from people who know you well. If you have a manager, meet with him or her to discuss how you could advance your career in ways that would benefit both you and your company. If you can’t grow much within your current company, think about what other companies you could work for, and what specific jobs you could do. Consider meeting with a recruiter or career counselor for advice. Before you even make any job changes, ask God to help you view your current work from His perspective, focusing on its true significance.
Deal wisely with organizational politics. Acknowledge that every workplace – even Christian ones – are fraught with politics, because every group of people is imperfect and prone to political maneuvering. Don’t be naïve about the office politics that surround you, but know that you can avoid being drawn in by them. Trust that God will use difficult situations to accomplish something good in the long run. Know that the truth will eventually prevail. Whenever you encounter a political situation, ask God to help you discern whether God is leading you to refrain or to get involved (and if so, how). Recognize that, often, the best plan is to avoid becoming involved yourself and simply pray for the situation and all the people who are involved. But, if God does lead you to get involved, carefully determine how the relationships are connected, what the motivations are, and how you should respond in a way that will allow you to be as successful as possible given the circumstances. Recognize that certain things are out of your control; don’t attempt to do more than you can or should do. Whenever someone slights or offends you directly, choose to let it go if at all possible and stay focused on doing your job well. Decide to be guided by God rather than by fear, anger, or ambition. Know that if you respond in the power of the strength God gives you, others will notice your faith and be drawn to it themselves. Ask God to use you to shine His light into a dark situation. Write down strategies for keeping your words and actions pure amidst stress, and practice those strategies with faithful coworkers you trust to be your allies even while chaos swirls around you. Constantly pray for God to help you view political situations the way He sees them, so you can approach them from the right perspective.
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