Career Choice


by Clem Boyd

Joshua can really pitch. What an arm! He's only 15 but can zip it past his 19-year-old cousin who plays college ball. You can imagine attending his professional games and giving what-a-great-kid interviews on TV.

So how does his love of math fit? Don't worry. The only geometry in this boy's future involves a leather-covered sphere speeding across a five-sided home plate.

Parents always imagine the grandest outcomes for their children. We move easily from watching Amber sing in the school musical to picturing her belt out a tune on Broadway. We read Tyler's history paper on the U.S. Constitution and envision a Supreme Court justice.

What if they show interest in a career that doesn't seem to match their natural talents? What if one of them receives a scholarship but chooses not to attend college? What if they investigate professions where financial security may be dicey? We're thinking, foul ball, but God may be saying, "Home run!" How can we determine if the problem is our children's thinking or our own perspective?

The following questions may help:

When I hear my son or daughter talk about a possible career direction, do I get angry?

Anger is usually a red flag that the problem is mine. If my daughter says she would rather raise a family than have a career, even though she's a gifted communicator, I should be happy for her. So why would it be easy for me to get angry? Would she be giving up a dream I once had for myself? Can I grant God the space to develop her communication gifts as He sees fit, rather than the way I pictured?

Can I speak confidently about my child's vocational interest?

Even if I'm unsure about my son's direction, I should resist feeling ashamed. If he's talking with God and seeking counsel from me and other mature Christians, then I should be willing to talk openly about the paths he's exploring. If I can't, perhaps I'm too concerned about losing face.

I can make an effort to put aside my anxieties. With the Lord's help, I can try to learn more about what has led my son to consider a certain field.

No one in my family ever worked as a writer. But my mom and dad encouraged me when I told them my aspirations in high school. They read my stories in the school newspaper and letters to the editor in the local daily. They talked positively with friends about my desire to pursue journalism.

Am I more concerned about my child's security or status than about supporting his passion?

I don't want to see my kids struggle financially. So I'm inclined to steer them toward careers that appear more secure or have a higher status. But they may show interest in a job field where the yearly income is low and few regard it with high respect. Will I let my fear speak, or can I trust God to care for my kids? Do I fear that my child is missing her call? What if my kids consider a career path different than the one God made for them? My son David is a math guy. It's hard to imagine him not doing something with that. My daughter, Bethany, is a natural teacher. The hard part for me would be giving them the freedom to discover other vocational interests.

The Lord has given us a role in shaping our kids, so we shouldn't fear speaking up. In some ways, we may know them better than they know themselves, and God may want us to share something that no guidance counselor will ever see.

We also need to embrace the truth that our children's heavenly Father is their best career coach. He's able to transform wandering imaginations into minds with purpose, whatever their job course. We need to ask for patience and wisdom, especially when they throw us a curve ball.

This article first appeared in the April/May 2009 issue of Focus on the Family magazine. Copyright © 2009 Clem Boyd.


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