Balancing your career and spiritual life
Career is a life-long job that a person wants to pursue in life. This can be a result of his academic inclination or otherwise, a choice emanating from his interest. It is such that gives him a satisfaction and joy throughout his life days. On the other hand, academics is a scholarly or an intellectual design for a study. In any case, we want to see how we could pursue a career and at the same time not leave our academic work to suffer bearing it in mind that our primary purpose in school at any level is our academic work and it demands all the concentration that we can give it. However, our spiritual life interacts with our academic life whether we recognize it or not because we are spiritual beings. Thus, there are underlying spiritual factors that drive our academic life whether we know it or not. Secondly, our spiritual life is also very important because we shall leave this world one day and we will face the God that brought us here to give account of what we have done. In preparation, our spiritual life, or may I call it Christian life, must be taken with all seriousness and in strict obedience. As I mentioned earlier, though the two lives can be seen as theoretically different, they practically interact. What is the use, gaining the whole world: becoming a famous, rich, successful academic and influential man in the society when his soul will be lost on the last day. Again, these two interact because someone’s career may even lead him to hell in the same way that someone’s Christian life can help him to make a choice that both pleases God and makes him successful in a life career. I must say to us all that though it good to be successful in academics, it must not be at the expense of your Christian life; our Christian life must not suffer for it. God knows how to make a success of those who are faithful to Him.
Balancing the sides
The balance we need to discuss is that some people think they can concentrate on only being a fine Christian- studying the bible, praying and attending church regularly without reading their books conscientiously, and expect to be successful academics/career personalities. No! God cannot be bribed with devotion to him without works. Chapter two of the book of James is very explicit about the balance between faith and work and I will like you to study it prayerfully to see that none of them stands alone. Let’s look at these five verses: Ja.2:14, 17, 18, 20 & 22
“What does it profit, my brethren, though a man says he hath faith and hath not works? Can faith save him?… even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea! A man may say thou has faith and I have works… Shew me thy faith without thy works and I will shew thee my faith by my works” … But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead… Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect”
May the Lord give you understanding and wisdom to apply the instruction in the passage to bring you into a practical balance in Jesus name. Amen. Try to use simpler versions of the bible in your study to assist comprehension. I have highlighted a few words to assist our preliminary understanding of the passage: The passage shows that there is no profit nor advantage nor even gain in nothing if you say you have faith and will do no work. That means your faith being dead, will fail to achieve whatever your it is set to obtain. It has also described those who embark upon faith without work as ‘vain’
I know that some of us believe in this ‘faith and work’ balance, but the question also is whether the work we intend to use to balance the faith is sufficient. You must work as if you don’t have faith and exercise faith as if you will not work. Work must adequate, having the same weight as faith. Faith is defined by our Christian life, not just a receiving-faith to obtain a certain item from God, but a living faith to walk with God and please Him all the days of our lives. We must not neglect our faith just because we are working. That attitude can lead to self-confidence to achieve our set career/academic goals and objectives. May the Lord teach us the balance through his Holy Spirit. Amen.
To start to look at ‘work’ more closely, let me bring us to the importance of correct choice of course (career/academic goal) because balancing two items that have not been properly chosen will be difficult. You must set your heart to do what God has designed you for from the beginning. This is very important as you cannot walk properly (balanced) when you wear another person’s shoes. It is our responsibility to find out God’s will for our academics and career and stick to it by declaring independence of the influence of others who may want us to pursue their own interest. Unfortunately, some of our parents are guilty of this; many chose courses for their children because of the value the society attaches to such courses/profession e.g. medicine, engineering, architecture, pharmacy law, and other loud high-sounding courses. They also want to use the career of their children to make themselves important in the society, boasting among their peers and other parents of their children’s course of study not minding the interest and the make-up or the innate ability of the child. When this is not in place a balance between academics and faith with be very difficult to achieve. Before such parents or mentor or counsellor finds out the damage already done to the child, a lot of the child’s years have been wasted and it is almost too late to correct. Though they do it as an expression of sincere love, they are sincerely wrong. A number of times, I had the privilege to counsel some students who said to me that they have now finished their courses of study but that what they read was never what they wanted. So, I ask how they got into it and what they want to do then? One of them said “I will give my certificate to my parents and go to start my life afresh because they were the one that pushed me into the course against my wish and interest” Sometimes people even use what is in vogue to choose courses in school or chose what a loving friend has chosen, ignoring the unique abilities. Instead of looking at their God-given abilities and talents they put their legs in another man’s shoes to please other people for different reasons. It is good that both parents and children/wards understand this principle.
Choice of course/career was made simple by God when he created us with diversity of abilities. His purpose for excellence is only achieved when we find out our purpose and walk in it. When we deviate from this, excellence may never be achievable in life again. Such child will only be sweating, struggling against his/her creation. Imagine a child who is very good and gifted with literary subjects such as English literature, classics, English, communication & language arts, theatre arts etc. He understands and passes them almost effortlessly n any examination, but now finally finds himself studying medicine or any of those other more valued courses because his uncle or parents who are responsible for his career wanted it. He now sits with a child who is talented with Physics Chemistry and biology who passes them without stress, in the same class. Who will sweat better? Though the former may also be passing and not failing because he seems to be intelligent ‘all-round’ He certainly has an area where excellence awaits him. It is worse if he is not an ‘all-rounder’ because he will continue to struggle with no excellence at sight and will unfortunately be made to believe that it is one enemy that is pursuing him from home or he’s under the influence of witchcraft or he’s a product of conflicts in polygamy. Yes! Any of these may not be remote but when you as a Christian child finds ourselves where God wants you, it won’t be difficult to fight. Some might prescribe forty days fast or be asked to see a prophet or spiritualist to solve the problem. But the answer is in the correct choice of course. God, in his wisdom, has in nature, put in every one of us a special ability through which he wants us to excel and achieve His set purpose for our lives. We must work hard to find out the innate God-given abilities by studying the trend of our performance in school. You will find out that on the average, a child will consistently express a mastery of a subject naturally when examined, whether he’s a believer or not. Christianity only comes in to boost and provide a platform for excellence because whatever is committed to God, He handles without fail. May the Lord teach us all.
On the other hand, walking with God even helps you to gain the understanding of your purpose early in life apart from primarily preparing you for eternity. A healthy spiritual life, not enhanced by charms and fetish supports will work it out. Some church people say “heaven help those who help themselves’ That phrase is not in the bible. If anyone says he is a Christian and finds himself locking something else round his waist or use “ogun isoye” to pass exams, he doesn’t belong to God. He’s an idolater. God wants us to put our trust in him fully without an alternative. Alternative means “in case God fails…” Do you really have a spiritual life or you just go to church? A regular quiet time in a healthy personal relationship with God and fellowship with other saints will create a balance and allow a student who has found out his purpose to excel in life and career.
As you aspire to create a balance, make sure your reading culture matches your intellectual capacity. I say this because many of you keep wrong friends and company. Within the same ability, levels of intelligence differ. If you have average intelligence and would need to read a course or topic three times in order to score 60%, it will be wrong for you to set your reading culture with a friend that passes above 70% without a single revision. You must come to study yourself and know yourself and accept yourself as you are made by God. Thus, the choice of companions/friends may cost you your academic life no matter how healthy your spiritual life may be as a Christian. This knowledge of yourself will help you to formulate an independent study pattern and culture and your faith will answer to it. Walk with people who can help you and don’t be too proud to ask an assistance from an unbeliever in understanding a subject, without allowing yourself to be influenced by his carnal nature and life pattern. Choose your friends wisely. Don’t miss your classes because you have a fellowship meeting or activity group meeting. Don’t be involved in so many activities in your fellowship or secular society. It doesn’t necessarily make you spiritual. Spend moderate times in fellowship and provide enough rest for yourself – sleep enough because nature will ask you and prayers won’t answer for it when your health starts to go down because you have abused your body.
Finally, run away from sin as fast as you can. Cheating in an examination must never be seen as God’s help. As a Christian, whether you are caught or not, you will suffer for it and you will not be released till you pay dearly for it. The Lord will only remind you what you have learnt/read. Write whatever you can write prayerfully and leave God to intervene in the grading of your scripts. There are many phases to success for a hard-working, faithful Christian student. Continue with the prayers you started with before your exams till your results are announced because things happen during the grading and recording process to your advantage or disadvantage. The spiritual control comes in here through God’s favor. God will always be present where you are not present in the process. Watch distractions by social activities. They can destroy your life if you are not disciplined. Freedom has a way of wearing you out. Many of the students who are advised to withdraw from the university actually came in with very brilliant top results. But they rely on their entry performance and carelessly gave in to social activities since they are just enjoying freedom for the first time in life. Freedom is very hard to manage. Be consistent: don’t leave your books till two weeks to exams and be serious with every test as if it is an end-of- semester/term/session examination. Trust in God and do the right. Seeth thou a man diligent in his ways, he will stand before kings and not mere men. May the Lord keep your head in favor above the waters as you trust in the God of Daniel for excellence, working mightily that you may not be ashamed in anything now and in your future if the Lord tarries. Amen.
God bless you.