The Ultimate Question
“What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?“ Ecclesiastes 1:3
Solomon’s question in verse 3 begs for an answer. Mine goes like this: What you gain from your labor depends on why you are doing it. There is a huge difference between living for your career and being sent on a mission. The Bible never talks about having a career. You’ll never find the word in the Bible. Having a career is not a biblical issue. Having a mission is.
It is not that Christians don’t have careers. We do. Some of us are painters, some are doctors, some are computer scientists, some are bankers, some are nurses, some are teachers, and some are writers. And some are home-makers and mothers (an honorable and often overlooked career). But the difference is this: The people of the world live for their careers; the people of God don’t.
When your career is central in your life, then you are career-driven and career-minded as you climb the career ladder. You take a job and leave it two years later because it’s “a good career move.” You break all the significant relationships in one place and move across the country because your career demands it. Everything is calculated to get you someday to that elusive place called “the top.” When you get there, your career will be complete and the world will applaud your achievements.
I am suggesting that being career-minded in this sense is precisely what Jesus meant when He said, “Whoever wants to save his life will lose it” (Mark 8:35). Your career may well keep you from fulfilling your mission in life, and your mission may never make much sense as a career.
Your career is the answer to the question, “What do you do for a living?”
Your mission is the answer to the question, “Why did God put you here on the earth?”
If you are just here to eat, sleep, go to college, get a degree, get married, get a job, have some children, climb the ladder, make some money, buy a summer home, retire gracefully, grow old and die . . . then what’s the big deal? All of that is OK, but if that’s all there is to life, then you are really no different from the pagans who don’t even believe in God.
It’s nice to have a career; it’s far better to be on a mission for God.
Ask yourself, Did Jesus have a career? No, He had a mission from God to be the Savior of the world. Nothing He did makes sense from a career point of view. Being crucified is not a good career move. Yet by His death, He reconciled the world to God. Was He a success or a failure?
Eternal God, You alone give meaning to life. Give me such confidence in Your Son that I might follow in His steps forever. Amen.