Jesus used the parable of the sheep in John 10:3-5 to illustrate how we follow Him in a hostile world full of false shepherds and "strangers." We need to hear the voice of our Shepherd over the clamor of societys expectations, our unregenerate flesh and the countless "voices of strangers" that call to us every day. Sometimes a strangers voice may not be overtly evil; it is simply a voice other than our Shepherds.
It takes time and effort to keep our ears trained to hear Gods voice so that we can follow His leading. We need to develop our hearing for more than just making major decisions for the future. We must also receive direction and clarification from God about the career choices we make. As we seek counsel from God in prayer, He can also give us midcourse corrections if a change is needed or if we start to veer off course.
Many years ago, a faithful Christian named Ruth served as a registered nurse in the operating room of the most active trauma hospital in the country at that time. She worked overtime frequently and often felt overwhelmed by the demanding nature of her job. Weary and facing burnout, Ruth traded her work at the trauma hospital for a more low-key nursing position at a specialized center. Not long after leaving her old position, she realized she had made a mistake. The job at the trauma hospital was the place God had planted her. Ruth prayed for divine understanding regarding her career, and God clarified His purpose for her in her original position.
With renewed passion, Ruth returned to the trauma hospital and excelled in her work. She also excelled in taking Jesus to work. She always made it a point to model the care and compassion that she would want to receive if she were in the patients shoes. She ministered the saving grace of Jesus Christ to those near deaths door, including the most horrendous cases of gunshot or stabbing wounds and drug overdoses. Ruth consoled families who were in deep despair and held the hands of many who were lonely or fearful. She also encouraged and prayed for her co-workers when they felt tired or weary. Ruth wound up becoming an outspoken and effective advocate for high-quality patient care. She was an amazing model of a marketplace missionary for me and for countless others. Ruth was also my mother.
As He sent my mother, God is sending you and me into our places of work so we can confront the powers of darkness with the Gospel of Christ. Your gender, your race, your gifts and your talents are all part of how God has formed you to have a special impact on people who need your unique qualities. It may be hard to understand sometimes, but Gods thoughts and ways are always higher than our thoughts and ways (see Isaiah 55:89). God is simply waiting for you to take the position He has ordained for you. And if you know you are already in the position God has ordained for you, then He desires for you to approach your responsibilities in a righteously strategic manner and step into whatever leadership roles He opens for you. He wants you to take the step that sets you apart from others and live out your faith in your place of employment.
Dr. Vera R. Jackson is president and CEO of a nonprofit in the Washington, D.C., area and author of Taking Jesus to Work (Chosen/Baker Publishing Group, www.chosenbooks.com). An accomplished executive, she has senior leadership and consulting experience with government, not-for-profit and for-profit organizations. She may be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.